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Thoroughly Enjoy Hakone! A Comprehensive Guide to the Hakone Freepass

Hakone is one of Japan's leading resort areas. You'll want to see as much as you can if you are visiting, so think about purchasing the Hakone Freepass – a handy pass that gives you unlimited access to a variety of transportation systems and discounts at several stores and facilities. This article introduces an itinerary exploring Hakone using this pass.

2018.07.13
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What is the Hakone Freepass?

Hakone Freepass is a discount excursion pass that includes a roundtrip ticket between any station on the Odakyu Line (such as Shinjuku Station in Tokyo) and Odawara Station in Kanagawa Prefecture, unlimited rides on eight transportation systems in Hakone, and a range of discounts at stores, attractions, and other locations. First up is an explanation of the characteristics and benefits of this pass.


What is the Hakone Freepass?

The Transportation Systems and Areas Covered

This pass includes unlimited rides on the eight transportation networks listed below, giving you access to popular destinations like Hakone-Yumoto, Miyanoshita, Gora, Moto-Hakone, and Sengokuhara, as well as Owakudani, which is high up in the mountains. It covers transportation not only to tourist attractions, but also to shopping areas like Gotemba. Another appeal is the opportunity to take several modes of transportation, such as a sightseeing cruise or taking a ropeway up mountains. The more modes of transportation you take and the more places you visit, the more you benefit!


▼Unlimited rides on the entire network▼
Hakone Tozan Train, Hakone Tozan Cable Car, Hakone Ropeway, Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (cruises on Lake Ashi), "KANKO SHISETSU-MEGURI" Bus (Hakone Tozan Bus)

▼Unlimited rides in designated areas▼
Hakone Tozan Bus, Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus, Tokai Bus Orange Shuttle

*Izu Hakone Bus is not included


How Good of a Deal is It?

It would normally cost 9,138 JPY to follow this sightseeing plan. However, if you use the Hakone Freepass, it'll cost just 5,140 JPY per adult. You'll be saving roughly 4,000 JPY - what a steal!
Another great perk of this pass is the discounts at museums, shops, and other facilities. For example, at the Pola Museum of Art, there is a 200 JPY discount on the regular entrance fee of 1,800 JPY, so you can get in for 1,600 JPY. Discounts apply at more than 50 locations, including hot springs, beauty salons, museums, famous sites, restaurants, and stores.

Pricing

There are 2-day and 3-day passes and the pricing depends on the departure station.

▼2-Day Pass▼
・Depart from Shinjuku Station: 5,140 JPY/adult, 1,500 JPY/child
・Depart from Shin-Yurigaoka Station: 4,890 JPY/adult, 1,450 JPY/child
・Depart from Odakyu Tama-Center Station: 5,010 JPY/adult, 1,480 JPY/child
・Depart from Machida Station: 4,820 JPY/adult, 1,420 JPY/child
・Depart from Odawara, Hakone-Yumoto, Yugawara, Mishima, or Numazu: 4,000 JPY/adult, 1,000 JPY/child

*For 3-day passes, add 500 JPY to the 2-day pass prices for adults and 250 JPY for children

Where to Purchase This Pass

It can easily be purchased from automatic ticket machines at all Odakyu Line stations (not available on some ticket machines) on the day of travel. They can also be purchased up to one month in advance at travel agencies like Odakyu Travel. They are also available at the ticket counters of major transportation networks included in the Freepass, such as Hakone-Yumoto Station, Gora Station, and Sounzan Station on the Hakone Tozan Train (with English-speaking staff), as well as at the information center of Hakone Tozan Bus.

(Suggested Itinerary) Day 1: Start at Shinjuku Station & See the Fantastic Views Hakone Has to Offer

On the first day, you will depart from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, see the major sites in Hakone, and stay at the famous Gora Onsen. You will make full use of the pass by taking the ferry and ropeway.


Start: Shinjuku Station

Depart from Shinjuku Station by entering the Odakyu Line area from either the West or South Entrance and taking a train bound for Odawara. You will be able to use the Hakone Freepass to enter the station. Upgrading to the limited express Romancecar, which comes with luxury seats, is recommended, although it will require a separate ticket. Relax on the train and enjoy the view through the windows.


Hakone-jinja Shrine

The first destination is Hakone-jinja Shrine. It is a prestigious shrine that has been revered as a sacred place for over 1,200 years and is still visited by members of the Imperial Family. It is considered to be a "power spot" with numerous benefits. It is said that it will help make your wishes regarding romantic matches and commercial success come true, so why not take this opportunity to make a wish? Once you've visited the main shrine, be sure to check out the Heiwa no Torii, which is an unusual gate standing out on Lake Ashi. There is a lovely reflection of the vermillion gate on the lake's surface, making it the perfect spot to take photos. The gate is beautiful when seen up close, as well as from the ferry that’ll be introduced later and from the other side of the lake.

▼How to get there▼
From Shinjuku Station, take the Rapid Express to Odawara on the Odakyu Line. At Odawara Station, change to the Hakone Tozan Bus (heading for Hakonemachi-ko) and alight at Hakone-jinja-iriguchi. Walk for around 11 minutes. (travel time: approx. 170 minutes)

▼Length of stay (approx.)▼
50 minutes



The Shore of Lake Ashi & Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

Lake Ashi is a mystical lake that carries a myth of a dragon living in it. Together with the surrounding mountains, it creates a beautiful scene that is representative of Hakone. In particular, the "upside-down Fuji” – consisting of the sacred mountain, Fuji, reflected on the glassy lake surface – is a fantastic view that you won't want to miss if you are in Hakone.
The best way to enjoy this lake is to take the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. Use the Freepass for a boat ride that takes 30 minutes one way. There are three boats, including the Royal II that is modeled on an 18th century French battleship. All of these glamorous boats are worth seeing and riding on them will take you away from your everyday woes.

▼Foreign languages▼
English, Chinese

▼How to get there▼
Walk east from Heiwa no Torii along National Route 1 for about 10 minutes. (travel time: approx. 10 minutes)

▼Length of stay (approx.)▼
30 minutes



The Shore of Lake Ashi & Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

Hakone Ropeway from Togendai

Disembark at Togendai-ko and you will see Hakone Ropeway Togendai Station right in front. You can get on the ropeway right away, but it is recommended to take a look at the souvenir shops in the station. Togendai is famous as the sacred place of the animation series, Evangelion, so there are many Evangelion goods in the souvenir shops that fans will not want to miss.
The ropeway to Owakudani departs every minute. The panoramic view of Mt. Fuji and Lake Ashi from the gondola is stunning. You can also see the smoke from Owakudani, which is the next destination.

▼How to get there▼
Disembark at Togendai-ko and go to Togendai Station on the Hakone Ropeway, which is right in front. (travel time: none)

▼Length of stay (approx.)▼
20 minutes



Hakone Ropeway from Togendai

Eggs, Souvenirs, and Lunch at Owakudani

Owakudani is a crater that was formed by the eruption of a volcanic mountain in Hakone approximately 3,000 years ago. There is still volcanic activity today and the sight of white smoke coming out of the desolate landscape is stunning. Even the strong smell of sulfur adds to its appeal. It was once called Jigokudani (hell valley) because of its unreal appearance.
Once you've had your fill of the fantastic scenery, go to Wakuwaku Kitchen in Owakudani Kurotamago-kan, where you can enjoy a lunch buffet with views of the smoky landscape of Owakudani and of Mt. Fuji.
There are also souvenir shops in the building. The Kuro-tamago – a boiled black egg that makes use of a chemical reaction between the geothermal energy and volcanic gas – is a specialty that is only available in Owakudani.

▼How to get there▼
Take the Hakone Ropeway from Togendai Station to Owakudani Station. (travel time: approx. 16 minutes)

▼Length of stay (approx.)▼
100 minutes

*People with respiratory diseases are restricted from entering the area around the crater of Owakudani due to the volcanic gases. Check their official website for more details.



Eggs, Souvenirs, and Lunch at Owakudani

Appreciate Art and Try a Foot Bath at Hakone Open-Air Museum

The next stop is a visit to an open-air museum set in a location with the mountains of Hakone in the background. There are approximately 120 sculptures by famous modern artists, such as Rodin, Bourdelle, and Moore, exhibited among 70,000 sq.m. of greenery. This is a great place to relax and appreciate art whilst surrounded by beautiful nature. There are also five indoor exhibition spaces, including the Picasso Pavilion. There are English audio guides available.
Unique to this museum is the hot spring water that bubbles up on the premises. There is a free foot bath in a shady area that’s filled with 100% natural spring water from the source. It is a great spot to take a break while enjoying views of the garden and outdoor sculptures.

▼How to get there▼
Take the Hakone Ropeway from Owakudani Station to Sounzan Station. Change to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car and alight at Koen-Shimo Station. Walk for 13 minutes. (travel time: approx. 50 minutes)

▼Length of stay (approx.)▼
90 minutes



Appreciate Art and Try a Foot Bath at Hakone Open-Air Museum

Walk Along Hayakawa River in Miyanoshita & Stop at a Cafe

Miyanoshita is an area that was once a popular health resort for foreigners. It has many retro buildings in a beautiful natural setting. Dogashima Promenade is a popular walking path along Hayakawa River with wonderful views, such as of a suspension bridge and moss-covered stone steps, offering a relaxing stroll.
This area also has many stylish cafes, such as NARAYA CAFE, which is in a renovated building that was built about 50 years ago and has a foot bath on a wooden deck. This is a great place to enjoy sweets or a light meal with views of the mountains of Hakone. There is also a wide selection of drinks, including coffee and alcoholic beverages. Naraya Parfait, which is an original parfait made of azuki bean paste and soft serve ice cream, is recommended.

▼How to get there▼
From Chokokunomori Station, take the Hakone Tozan Train bound for Hakone-Yumoto and alight at Miyanoshita. (travel time: approx. 15 minutes)

▼Length of stay (approx.)▼
60 minutes



Walk Along Hayakawa River in Miyanoshita & Stop at a Cafe

Enjoy a Hot Spring and an Outstanding Dinner at an Inn in Gora Onsen

Gora Onsen is one of Hakone's foremost hot spring areas. It is known for its hot spring water that comes in five different colors, including milky white water from Owakudani, light amber, light green, light yellow, and clear water.
The recommended place to stay at is Setsugetsuka, which is one minute on foot from Gora Station. It is a traditional Japanese inn with free-flowing water from two sources in a variety of baths, including large shared open-air baths, indoor baths, and three rustic open-air baths that can be reserved.
After bathing, guests can enjoy sumptuous dinners in one of two restaurants: Kacho, which serves up Kaiseki cuisine (Japanese multi-course cuisine) and hot pot dishes made with local seafood, or Fugetsu – a restaurant that offers Wagyu shabu shabu, sushi, and tempura. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the building and staff who speak English.

▼How to get there▼
From Miyanoshita Station, take the Hakone Tozan Train bound for Gora and alight at Gora Station. (travel time: approx. 13 minutes)

Enjoy a Hot Spring and an Outstanding Dinner at an Inn in Gora Onsen

Go to Reservation Site(booking)

(Suggested Itinerary) Day 2: Shopping!

The second day centers around shopping, with an option to stop by Hakone-Yumoto.

Enjoy Shopping and Lunch at Gotemba Premium Outlets

Gotemba Premium Outlets is one of Japan's largest outlet malls with approximately 210 stores. It is a Northern American-style structure with the beautiful Mt. Fuji in the background. It is full of shops that belong to famous domestic and overseas brands, ranging from luxury brands to casual brands that are popular among the younger generation. This is a great place to purchase a variety of items, from clothing to cosmetics and sporting goods, at outlet prices. There are also a variety of restaurants, such as Torafuku that serves up wonderful Japanese food, as well as a food court with several different eateries. You can even find shops for children, such as the Pokemon Store selling original Pokemon goods. There is enough here for a full day of fun! The Welcome Center has a range of services for foreigners, including tourist information in English and Chinese and a foreign exchange machine.


▼How to get there▼
At Gora Station, take the Hakone Tozan Bus (“KANKO SHISETSU-MEGURI”) to Gotemba Premium Outlets and alight at Gotemba Premium Outlets stop. (travel time: approx. 50 minutes)

▼Length of stay (approx.)▼
150 minutes

Enjoy Shopping and Lunch at Gotemba Premium Outlets

---Travel From Gotemba---

The next destination after lunch is Hakone-Yumoto, but some people may wish to go straight back to Tokyo at this point. Here are two ways of going back to Shinjuku Station, so take your pick.

▼Via Odawara▼
At Gotemba, take the Hakone Tozan Bus ("KANKO SHISETSU-MEGURI") bound for Tenyu and alight at Chokoku-no-mori bus stop. Take the Hakone Tozan Line bound for Hakone-Yumoto to Hakone-Yumoto, and then change to a train bound for Odawara. At Odawara, change to the Okakyu Line Rapid Express heading to Shinjuku.

▼On the Highway Bus▼
At Gotemba, take the Hakone Tozan Bus ("KANKO SHISETSU-MEGURI") bound for Tenyu and at Ninooka, change to a bus bound for Gotemba Station and alight at Tomei Gotemba. From Tomei Gotemba, take the Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus to Shinjuku. If you have a Hakone Freepass from Shinjuku, the fare is 870 JPY one way for an adult.

*Reservations are required for the Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus. Also, the bus that goes directly from Gotemba Premium Outlets is not included in the Hakone Freepass.

Enjoy Hakone-Yumoto and its Townscape

Hakone-Yumoto is one of Hakone's leading hot spring areas with a history of 1,200 years. It has long prospered as the gateway to Hakone, and has many souvenir shops and restaurants, including unusual ones like the official store for the animation series, Evangelion.
It is a great area to stroll in thanks to its many traditional Japanese inns. When you tire of walking, go to Kappa Tengoku, which is about three minutes on foot from Hakone-Yumoto Station, and enjoy the foot baths and open-air baths with free-flowing water from the source.
The town is filled with places to see, including the famous Soun-ji Temple and cobblestone streets. On November 3, the annual Daimyo Parade and Geisha Dance are held. There are guided tours in English for these festive events, so you can enjoy them while learning about the events and sights. Be sure to participate!

▼How to get to Hakone-Yumoto▼
At Gotemba, take the Hakone Tozan Bus ("KANKO SHISETSU-MEGURI") bound for Tenyu and alight at Chokoku-no-mori bus stop. Take the Hakone Tozan Line bound for Hakone-Yumoto and alight at Hakone-Yumoto. (travel time: approx. 80 minutes).



Enjoy Hakone-Yumoto and its Townscape

There is much more to see in Hakone beyond a one or two day trip, so take advantage of the discount pass to fully enjoy the sights it has to offer!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: iizuka

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