Many people who visit Japan plan an itinerary that starts in Tokyo and then quickly move further south to places like Kyoto or further north to places like Hokkaido. Of course, this is perfectly fine, what beautiful places to visit and should be included in any itinerary if visiting Japan. However, if your plans do start in Tokyo, I highly recommend including at least one day trip in either; Hakone, Kamakura or Nikko. You will not be disappointed. Hakone, in particular, is a very special place indeed.
Hakone is less than 100 kilometres from Tokyo, full of beautiful and amazing hot springs and is incredibly close to the infamous Mt. Fuji. After a few months of living in Japan, I had heard quite a lot about Hakone and it made me very eager to visit. However, I also knew that my parents and sister were going to visit towards the end of my first year and I decided to wait until then so I could experience it with them. And boy did we have an experience, it was stunning, amazing, incredible.
It is quite easy to buy a ticket to travel to Hakone, most people go directly to Shinjuku station and buy tickets in the Odakyu tourist office where friendly staff who speak English will help you.
A Hakone Freepass is the best and most popular option and the price of a two-day pass begins at 5,000yen. It includes boat, train, cable car and bus transportation which you can experience at your leisure. Stay overnight in a ryokan? No problem. Luxuriate in an onsen (hot spring)? No problem. One-day trip and experience everything it has to offer? Also no problem.
Maybe now you understand why one of the first things I told visiting family members was.....we are visiting Hakone. It was everything I hoped it would be and more, and I think they enjoyed it too.
Hakone is well worth a visit and encapsulates the traditions, culture and history of Japan and if you’re lucky enough, you just might see the glorious views of Mt. Fuji in the distance. For some more pictures, have a look at this photo story.
Hakone can be visited all year round but Spring and Autumn are considered the best times to go due to the weather.