Hakone Two Day Itinerary: First-Hand Advice & Tips

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I have to admit, whilst we were excited about getting out of Tokyo and spending two days in Hakone, we were also a little confused, as it wasn’t immediately clear how to navigate the network of transport options around Hakone.

In this Hakone two day itinerary, we use our first-hand knowledge of travelling through Hakone to help you plan out your own trip.

ABOUT THIS 2 DAY HAKONE ITINERARY

This Hakone two day itinerary is designed to give you one day of relaxation, and one day of exploring the popular sights of Hakone.

On the first day you’ll arrive in Hakone, and recover in one of the world-leading hotsprings.

On the second, a day of adventuring, including some unique types of transport, eating eggs cooked in the mountain and visiting an iconic shrine.

You can leave Hakone either on the second evening, or stay a second night and get the Shinkansen on to major cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto of Osaka the next morning.

OUR JAPAN CREDENTIALS

The Reeves Roamed for 25 days through Japan, taking notes as we went. Our route was based on our typically thorough research, though we also found some surprises along the way. We only write about places we’ve actually been, so you can be confident that the details are first-hand.

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Ben Reeve
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Top Hakone Tips – Read This First

There are a few things we wished we’d known before planning our two days in Hakone:

  • When searching for how to get to Hakone by rail, don’t search ‘Hakone’ as it is a big place, search instead for ‘Gora Station’, this is the station you’re most likely to need.
  • The area around Gora is incredibly hilly, even if somewhere looks like it’s within walking distance, it might be a very taxing walk.
  • Don’t get the bus from Odawara Station to Gora unless you have to, as the mountain railway route is fantastic.
  • Chances of seeing Mount Fuji are varied. We missed it, but a day later it was clear skies and a perfect view.

Hakone Two Day Itinerary: Highlights

  1. Relaxing in an onsen.
  2. Eating hot spring boiled black eggs, which are said to extend your life by seven years.
  3. Taking the cablecar over the steamy sulphur mountain.
  4. Voyaging across Lake Ashi on a Pirate Ship.
  5. Getting photos of the famous red torii gate on the banks of Lake Ashi.
  6. Seeing Hakone Shrine.

Hakone Itinerary, Day 1: Get to Hakone & Relax at the Onsen

🚇 GETTING TO HAKONE: HINT AND TIPS

  • Get the JR Line from Tokyo Station to Odawara
    • Get the local train service (Hakonetozan Line) from Odawara to Gora Station. This will involve a quick change at Hakone-Yomoto Station (these are on opposite platforms, so it is an easy change, just buy a ticket straight through to Gora from Odawara).
    • The local train is a very impressive, historic line. Google Maps seems to recommend the bus, but we tried this and it was packed. The journey back on the train was much more enjoyable.
  • Ideally, find a hotel near Gora Station, or one has free transfers from the station.

Arriving in Hakone

traing ride from odaware to hakone
The fantastic rail journey from Odaware to Hakone on one of the world’s steepest railways

The journey from Tokyo should take between 1hr 30mins and 1hr 45mins depending on your timings, so you should be in Hakone by midday if you leave after the morning rush hour.

Getting to Hakone is a little confusing, as there are so many options, and it’s quite a sprawling town, but refer to the grey box above for hints and tips.

There are a couple of important things to stress:

  • Try and stay close to Gora Station or at a hotel which has transfers.
  • Get the local Hakonetozan Railway. Whilst this is technically two trains, they are often on exactly the same platform, so layovers are short. The local rail journey is incredible, and one of the steepest in the world, and much more enjoyable that the bus.

Afternoon of Relaxation

On the afternoon of day one, we recommend taking the time and just relaxing ahead of a busy itinerary on day two.

Hakone is world-famous for its hot springs (onsens), and this was the most relaxing part of our entire trip to Japan.

We have not spent extensive time in Hakone, so cannot offer a comprehensive review of multiple onsens, so it you are looking for one, we would defer you to this piece – the best hot springs in Hakone for all budgets.

Asante Inn

onsen at asante in hakone
The private onsen at Asante Inn | Hakone 2 Day Itinerary

What we can recommend, however, is a fantastic guesthouseThe Asante Inn – which is a very steep walk down from Gora Station, or the friendly owners will do pick up and drop off from the station.

They have two private onsens which can be used throughout the day, and booked in 40 minute slots post 4pm for free. Because they are private, it means that if you have tattoos like me, you will be allowed to use them.

#1 RATED STAY IN HAKONE
garden at asante inn hakone

Asante Inn

9.2 Rating on Booking.com – 942 Reviews

Stunning guest house, with manicured Japanese gardens, traditional rooms and on site onsen which can be used for free.

Hakone Itinerary, Day 2: Cable Car, Ropeway and Pirate Ship on Lake Ashi

💥 HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Hakone Shrine
  • A cable car through an ancient volcano
  • Eating black eggs
  • Sailing aboard a pirate ship

🚇 HOW TO NAVIGATE THE DAY

  • Get to Gora Station – the mountain railway leaves from here
  • Buy the Hakone Freepass (¥5,000) which will get you on the Tozan Cable Car, Hakone Ropeway and pirate ship across Lake Ashi (confusingly, the cable car is actually a mountain railway, and the ropeway is actually a cable car!)

🕖 HOW LONG IS THE DAY?

  • We got the 0945 Tozan Cable Car from Gora and were back at Gora by 1600
  • If you leave earlier, you could easily be back at Odawara in time for a transfer to Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka

Navigating From Gora to Lake Ashi

Just to reiterate, the navigation around Hakone is a little complex.

I’ve put the main details above, but to put it simply:

  • Everything starts from Gora Station
  • To get over the mountain you take:
    • The Tozan Cable Car (which is actually a mountain railway)
    • The Hakone Ropeway (which is actually a cable car)
    • The Hakone Ropeway is split in two, so everyone has to get off and transfer at Owakudani
  • At the bottom of the mountain, you then take a ship (which is actually a pirate ship, yes really) to the other side of Lake Ashi

See, I told you this was confusing!

hakone sightseeing map

This map should help you to understand the area, Gora Station is just above centre, and then you go west towards the northern shores of Lake Ashinoko, before getting the boat down to the southern shores.

From here can can get a bus back to Gora Station, or just retrace your steps.

🔥 HOT TIP: Buy the Hakone Free Pass. It costs ¥5,000, which covers all your tickets for the day (a saving of ¥680 if you go across Lake Ashi and back), and also will pay for your rail fare back to Odawara.

Tozen Cablecar (Mountain Railway)

a view through the window of the hakone cablecar down the tracks
The view from the window of the Tozen Cablecar

The first leg from Gora Station on the Tozen Cablecar takes just over twenty minutes.

It is an impressive railway, going up the mountain at a steep angle.

🔥 HOT TIP: Get in one of the carriages at either end of the train for great views to the front and back up at the mountain.

Hakone Ropeway Leg 1

hakone ropeway cablecars at their station
The Hakone Ropeway, which is definitely a cablecar!

The first stop is at Sounzan, where you’ll get off of the cablecar and on to the ropeway. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s definitely a cablecar right? Just look at the photos!!

steam coming out of holes on the ground, mostly sulphur
The sulphur vents at Owakudani

This leg caught us a bit by surprise, as once we crested the mountain, this was the view below us.

This is the reason for all those hot springs around Hakone, the volcanic activity which sends clouds of sulphur gas into the air, and makes the whole place smell like scrambled eggs after 30 minutes in the microwave!

Owakudani & Eating Black Eggs

At the top, there is a transfer to another ropeway at a place called Owakudani.

This is more than just a transfer station, there is a lot to do around Owakudani (as long as you can put up with the smell!).

warning sign at hakone for volcanic gases

There is a gift shop, a number of restaurants, some great views out of the steamy mountains and – mostly interestingly – a chance to try the famous black eggs of Hakone.

a large statue of a black egg, surrounded by steam
If you didn’t know about the black eggs already, this statue gives a subtle hint

The black eggs are slowly boiled for sixty minutes in one of the local hot springs. The eggs shells react with the high levels of hydrogen sulphide, which turns the shell black.

The eggs are not just safe to eat, it’s said that eating them extends your like by seven years (I had two to be safe).

a hand holding up a boiled egg, half peeled. the shell is black
My first taste of the famous Hakone eggs

It is no longer possible to hike to the location they boil the eggs due to volcanic activity, but the eggs are available (and still warm) from the main black egg shop for ¥500 for four (it’s not possible to buy them singly).

Make sure you get them from this store, not from the gift shop by the cablecars, as here they’re still nice and warm.

Hakone Ropeway Leg 2

expectation vs reality a cloudy scene in japan which should have been mount fuji
Expectation vs reality! This is what we would have seen on a clear day

The second stage down to the lakeside would have been beautiful on a clear day, with views to Mount Fuji, but we were in a big cloud, so we had to settle for some photos, which taunted us from the window as we hopped onto the second cablecar.

Pirate Ship

a photo of a pirate ship on a lake in hakone in japan

Of the list of things we expected to do in Japan, taking a trip on a pirate ship wasn’t on there, but this country always has another trick up it sleeve.

The boats left about every forty minutes, and the queue got pretty big. There are some cafés at the waiting area, but not a lot else to do here, so we joined the queue early, and were thankful we did as it meant we got seats for the 45 minute trip across the lake.

There are two stops for the boat, one at Hakonemachi-Ko and one at Motohakone-Ko.

We opted for the second one as we wanted to go to Hakone Shrine.

Motohakone-Ko

a man dressed in traditional japanese clothing making candy stand with a pirate ship in the background
Confectionary seller at Motohakone-Ko

Motohakone-Ko is a small town on the southern shore of Lake Ashi.

It felt very busy with the tour buses around, but it was easy enough to get a seat at one of the little cafes for some lunch.

The views from here to Mount Fuji would be amazing on a clear day, but it was cold and alittle gloomy, so we set off on the short walk to Hakone Shrine.

Keep an eye out for the small stall crafting hand-made confectionary near the path to get to the torii gate. This guy was an absolute artist!

Hakone Shrine Torii Gate

a red japanese tori gate beside a lake with dark trees behind it
The iconic torii gate at Hakone Shrink on Lake Ashinoko

One of the most iconic views in the Hakone area, is the torii gate on the shore of Lake Ashinoko.

Most people get a photo of themself under the gate with the lake behind them.

But I’ve got bad news for you…

a queue of people waiting to take a photo of a tori gate
The queue for famous Hakone torii gate photo

…this is what it looks like in reality!

A huge queue of people waiting to take the perfect #hakoneshrine Insta shot.

We gave it a pass and headed up the hill to the main shrine. Take my advice, get a decent lens and grab a shot from the boat!

Hakone Shrine

japanese dragon statues with yellow eyes and water coming from their mouths at hakoe shrine in japan
Dragon statues at Hakone Shrine.

Hakone Shrine was well worth the effort of scaling the hill, and reminded me of a small version of Nikko near Tokyo, with it setting in a damp, mossy forest.

a man standing in front of a shrine at hakone in japan
Posing for a shot outside Hakone Shrine.

Founded over 1,200 years ago, this Shinto shrine is dedicated to the deity Hakone-no-Mikoto, revered for protection against natural disasters and ensuring safe travels. The shrine’s history is deeply intertwined with the region’s cultural heritage, serving as a spiritual haven for emperors, samurais, and travellers seeking blessings for their journeys.

It was busy, but the shrine somehow managed to still be peaceful in a way only sacred buildings can.

The walk back towards Motohakone-Ko down the cedar-lined avenues was a great finish to the day.

Getting back to Gora Station

You can either get back to Gora Station by retracing your steps over the mountain (which is what we chose) or get a bus back.

the reeves family picture

AUTHOR – BEN REEVE

Reeves Roam, is a first-hand travel blog. The Reeves have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia and have travelled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.

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Thanks – Ben, Becca and Gracie

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