[2018 Edition] 30 Things to Do in Hakone (Part 3 of 6)
Hakone is one of the most visited destinations in Japan. Its close proximity to Tokyo makes it ideal for a day trip, and its rich nature offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. This article is part of a series introducing 30 things to include in your Hakone travel itineraries, and this time we will introduce some ways to enjoy Hakone that don't require too much walking!
Oct 25 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
1. Journey Through the Air with the Hakone Ropeway
If the weather is good on the day, take to the air and ride the Hakone Ropeway! It runs between Sounzan Station on the mountain and Togendai Station, located on the shore of Lake Ashino, with gondolas departing at one-minute intervals.
For the duration of the approximately 25-minute journey, you'll be able to enjoy a panoramic aerial view of Hakone, with highlights being the crystal blue water of Lake Ashino, the lush nature that extends far and beyond, the majestic image of Mt. Fuji, and the boiling steam vents at the bottom of Owaku Valley. If the sky is especially clear, you may even be able to see Tokyo Skytree!
The ropeway is an excellent way to capture the overall feel of Hakone and its local environment.
2. Enjoy the Breathtaking Views on the Komagatake Ropeway
Another convenient ropeway is the Komagatake Ropeway, which runs between the shore of Lake Ashino and the peak of Mt. Komagatake, situated at an altitude of 1,356m. The 1,783m ride is only 7 minutes long, but the splendid landscape of the now dormant volcanic topography and mountain ranges, in addition to the beauty of Lake Ashino at the base, are worth every minute of it!
When you reach the terminus at the summit of Mt. Komagatake, you can take a casual hike up to the Hakone Shrine Mototsumiya (Hakone-jinja Mototsumiya) or the original Hakone Shrine, where you'll be able to further enjoy the distant views of Mt. Fuji and Sagami Bay.
3. Hakone Tozan Railway Is Just the Ticket!
Hakone Tozan Railway (Hakone Tozan Densha) is one of the authentic mountain railways of Japan, and has been in operation since 1919. The train will escort you on a gentle ride through the deep forests of the highlands, passing over bridges and through tunnels as it takes turns along the way. The railway is also known to have the steepest incline in Japan, and you can experience this through its special method of climbing the hilly terrain in a series of switchbacks.
The wonderful vista from the train changes with every season, but it is especially scenic from the end of June through mid-July, during the hydrangea season when they are illuminated in the evenings. Train enthusiast or not, you'll definitely enjoy the adventure on the Hakone Tozan train!
4. Travel up the Mountain on the Hakone Tozan Cable Car
Another mode of transport unique to the area is the Hakone Tozan Cable Car, which connects Gora and Sounzan - that's a 208m difference in elevation! The cable car route extends 1.2km between the two locations to provide a leisurely 10-minute ride.
What's interesting about the current Swiss-made, 2-car cable car is that it is designed with steps and tiered seats to accommodate the steep incline of the mountains. The lush trees lining the cableway offer a picturesque scenery that changes colors with the passing of each season.
5. Yo Ho Ho, It's the Hakone Pirate Ship!
Ship ahoy! How about taking a sightseeing cruise on a pirate ship at Lake Ashino that's sure to be fun for the whole family?
Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (Hakone Kanko-sen) offers three types of ships - the classic French naval ship named Royal II, the Victory which is modeled after an English warship, and the Vasa, designed after the Swedish warship - that stop at three different ports on the lake.
The boats are adorned with a pirate-themed decor, and you may encounter boat crew members who are dressed in full pirate garb, so this is the chance to get your cameras ready for some insta-worthy photos. If you want to immerse yourself in the panoramic beauty in extra-comfort, splurge on the luxurious First Class Cabin for an additional fee.
If you're looking to plan your Hakone day trip, check out the article below for a handy tour departing from Tokyo that will bring you around Mt. Fuji and Hakone!
Are you ready to explore Hakone? The above suggestions are great if you want to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Hakone at your own leisure. What you've read today is only a glimpse of everything that the area has to offer, so stay tuned for the next article in the series!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.