Our Hakone Travel Essentials lays out the essential information you need to help you plan your trip to one of the most popular destinations in Japan. No matter how frequently you travel, some questions will always need answers: What's the weather like? How can I get from Tokyo Haneda (HND) Airport to my hotel? What currency and type of plug do I need?

    We have all these answers and other basic info about the best time to go, getting there, getting around, and a few helpful travel tips. You'll also learn about the most famous landmarks in Hakone, such as the Hakone Shrine, The Hakone Open-Air Museum, and the volcanic area of Owakudani. Plus, discover which are the most popular festivals and events in Hakone. It's all compiled in this Hakone Travel Essentials. After reading this short and easy-to-read guide, you will be more prepared to start your trip to Hakone, Japan.

    1

    When is the best time to travel to Hakone?

    Hakone has a humid subtropical climate with warm summers and chilly winters with some snowy days. The average temperature is 3°C in winter and 24°C in summer.

    • The rainiest time of the year is between June and September, with an average of 13 rainy days per month. Note that with an oceanic climate prevailing, there is rainfall during all months of the year in Hakone.
    • The best months to visit Hakone are April–November. Spring, summer, and autumn are peak tourist seasons, so expect elevated hotel and flight prices.
    • December–March is also a great time to visit. The weather is clear and crisp, and you may be fortunate to get some snow. You’ll also avoid the peak season crowds, and flight and hotel prices are more affordable.
    2

    Hakone basics

    • Plug type: A and B
    • Electricity: 100 V – 50/60 Hz
    • Currency: Japanese Yen (¥)
    • International dialling code: +81
    • Emergency telephone number: 119 (medical emergency), 110 (police)
    3

    How to get to my hotel in Hakone?

    The closest commercial airport to Hakone is Tokyo International Airport, also known as Haneda Airport (HND) in Tokyo, 80 km away. The airport is served by Japan’s major domestic airlines, plus international carriers such as Qatar, Lufthansa, British Airways, and United Airlines. You’ll find a great range of dining and duty-free shops as well as Wi-Fi, ATMs, and currency exchange services.

    There are several transfer options to reach Hakone:

    • The fastest way (1.5 hours) is to take the Shinkansen bullet train to Odawara Station and switch to the Limited Express Odakyu service to Hakone-Yumoto. A more economical option is to take the local JR Tokaido Line to Odawara Station.
    • The easiest route is the Odakyu Romancecar, which runs directly from Tokyo’s Odakyu Shinjuku Station to Hakone Yumoto Station.
    • Car rental agencies are also available at Haneda Airport.
    • Hop on a highway bus at the Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal.
    4

    How to get around Hakone?

    Travel tips

    The municipality of Hakone is spread across a large area and consists of lakes, mountains, hot springs, religious sites, small mountain towns, and much more. Fortunately, all of the most famous sights and landmarks are accessible by public transport.

    Save time and money by buying Odakyu's Hakone Free Pass. The reasonably-priced 1, 2, or 3-day pass includes the round trip from Tokyo to Hakone, plus unlimited rides on selected trains, buses, boats, and ropeways in the Hakone area.

    A popular way of exploring the region is on Hakone’s sightseeing loop, known as the Hakone Round Course. The loop is included in the Hakone Free Pass and takes you around the area on various – and fun! – modes of transport, including:

    Hakone Tozan Railway

    This scenic train is Japan's oldest mountain railway and runs every 15 to 20 minutes between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora. The train climbs 300 metres in altitude and takes you through a densely wooded valley, over bridges, through tunnels, and along 3 switchbacks. At Gora, you can transfer to the cablecar for Lake Ashi.

    Hakone Tozan Cable Car

    This steep funicular railway connects Gora with Sounzan, 214 metres up the mountainside. You can enjoy a panoramic view of Hakone's picturesque scenery year-round from the cable car's large windows.

    Hakone Ropeway

    The gondola travels high above the mountains from Sounzan to Togendai Station (at Lake Ashi), stopping at Owakudani and Ubako stations. You'll fly over stunning landscapes. And on clear days, you can enjoy spectacular views of Mount Fuji in the distance.

    Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

    Take in gorgeous views of Lake Ashi, surrounding wooded mountains and Mount Fuji aboard a pirate ship. The quirky mode of transport travels from Togendai-ko to Hakone-machi-ko and onto Moto-Hakone-ko, stopping at several ports along the lake.

    Hakone Tozan Bus

    The Hakone Tozan Bus system offers 14 different bus routes, including from Lake Ashi to Hakone Yumoto Station and Tokyo's Shinjuku Station. To see the complete bus network, pick up a paper bus trip map from a Hakone Tozan Bus Information Office.

    Taking a taxi in Hakone

    You’ll find taxi stands outside the main train stations. Taxi fares are generally calculated by distance.

    5

    What are the main annual events in Hakone?

    Hakone Cherry Blossoms

    • Mid-April–early May
    • See the famous cherry blossoms in bloom at a beautiful park set amidst a magnificent backdrop of Lake Ashi, Mount Fuji, and Mount Komagatake. The park features an imperial villa and garden built in 1886.
    • Where: Onshihakone Park

    Lake Ashi Summer Festival Week

    • End-July–early August
    • This annual festival is dedicated to the 9-headed dragon living at the bottom of Lake Ashi. For 6 days, Shinto rituals are held at various places around the lake. You can also enjoy street food, fireworks, floating lanterns, and live performances.
    • Where: Lake Ashi

    Daimyo Gyoretsu

    • November 3rd
    • This spectacular autumn procession re-enacts the lavish parades of feudal lords who were required to spend alternating years in Edo (now Tokyo). The streets of Hakone come alive with dancers, marching bands, and hundreds of people dressed as samurai, princesses and other historical figures.
    6

    What are the main landmarks in Hakone?

    Hakone Shrine

    Hakone's most famous shrine lies beneath Mount Hakone on the shores of Lake Ashi, surrounded by dense forest. The shrine dates back to 757 and has massive torii gates standing tall in Ashinoko Lake. The shrine is open and free to enter at any time.

    The Hakone Open-Air Museum

    A highly acclaimed outdoor museum with a collection of abstract sculptures from Japanese and international artists. The Symphonic Sculpture is a magnificent spiral staircase surrounded by colourful stained glass. The indoor Picasso Exhibition Hall showcases more than 300 of his works.

    Hakone Gora Park

    A French-style landscaped park on a steep slope above Gora Station –  the terminus of the Hakone Tozan railway line. The park opened in 1914 and it is a peaceful place to enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, hydrangeas in summer, and views of Hakone all year round.

    Owakudani

    A famous viewpoint overlooking an active volcanic zone created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone approximately 3,000 years ago. Mount Fuji is visible on clear days. Try “black eggs” – a local speciality boiled in Owakudani's hot spring pools, believed to prolong one's life by 7 years.

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