Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hakone & Mt Fuji & Gotemba Premium Outlets Day Trip with Hakone Free Pass

We have yet to see Mt Fuji so we wanted to view it this trip to Tokyo. Having read that you gotta be pretty lucky for Mt Fuji to show itself to you in Spring and Summer, we decided to visit Hakone (one of the few spots to view Mt Fuji) so that we can enjoy the scenery and visit one of the many Onsens even if the weather let us down on that day.


In case you didn't know, the best times to catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji is during the Autumn and Winter seasons, especially from Dec to Feb when the weather gets drier. Also, visibility tends to be better in the morning so do check the weather forecast before heading to Hakone to view the majestic Mt Fuji.


Anyway, we got our tickets for the 2 days Hakone Free Pass at 5,000JPY each on the 1st day we arrived in Tokyo. Since we were staying in Shinjuku area already, it was very convenient to walk to the West Exit of the JR Shinjuku Station to get more information from the Hakone Sightseeing Service Counter.

Odakyu Sightseeing Service Counter @ Shinjuku

Odakyu Romance Car Ticket Counter

If you prefer, you can also top up 870JPY for a ride in the Romance Car which will bring you to Hakone Yumoto by half an hour faster in 1.5 hours time.

We went for the normal Odakyu Express train, reaching Hakone in 2 hours instead.

Odakyu Line West Ground Gate Entrace @ Shinjuku

To get to the Odakyu Line, just look out for the West Ground Gate which is situated on the ground floor of the JR Shinjuku West Exit. We started our day very early the next morning taking the 7.01am train. To check the trains schedule, just go to www.hyperdia.com as usual.

Shortly after getting on the train, we snoozed all the way to Odawara even though we had a cup of coffee each.

View On Train From Odawara to Hakone Yumoto

You'll need to get off and change train at Odawara to Haknoe Yumoto and this journey is a short 15 mins one.

The journey and rides from here onward are all scenic ones and it was a really enjoyable way to start the day, especially after napping in the first leg of our journey. Hehe...

Hakone Tozan Railway

We took the classic "round course" way up but it wasn't a round course because we didn't take the same way back to Shinjuku, Tokyo. Instead, we were a little more ambitious and headed to Gotemba Premium Outlets after Hakone.


You can refer to the round course and the estimated travel time from here and this is our modified course:
  1. Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto 1150JPY
  2. Hakone-Yumoto to Gora 390JPY (We didn't get off to visit the museum etc. and continue to Sounzan) 
  3. Gora to Sounzan 410JPY
  4. Sozan to Togendai 1330JPY
  5. Togendai to Moto-Hakone (we didn't get off the Pirate Boat at Haakone-machi) 970JPY
  6. Moto-Hakone to Togendai 970JPY
  7. Togendai to Gotemba Premium Outlets
  8. Gotemba Premium Outlets to Shinjuku
The transport cost without using the Hakone Free Pass is in red. Do a fast calculation and you'll realise it's cheaper buying the pass and definitely less of a hassle searching for cash to make payment.

On The Way Up To Gora

Gora Station



View From Hakone Tozan Cablecar

It is indeed a scenic route up to Hakone and I would highly recommend you give this a try instead of taking the bus.

On The Way Up!

Smells of Sulphur Surround Us

Famous Owakudani Black Eggs

There's both half boiled eggs and hard boiled eggs available at Owakudani. These eggs have a slight sulphur smell to them and it's believed that you'll live 7 years more with every eggs you eat.

Buying the Hard Boiled Eggs

View From The Top

After buying the eggs, you can eat them on the spot on the many benches available right in front of the black egg store.


Feeling somewhat overloaded with eggs, we traveled on to take the famous Pirate Boat across Lake Ashi.


By the way, all our transport are covered by the Hakone Free Pass and it takes about 30 mins to cross Lake Ashi. 

Hotel @ Moto-Hakone Pier

We didnt get off at Moto-Hakone and continued by boat onwards to Hakone-Machi. You can also walk to Hakone-machi from Moto-Hakone if you can spare the time. I'm sure it'll be a lovely walk and it takes about 20 to 30 mins only.  

On good days, the magnificent Mt Fuji can be viewed on Lake Ashi but no such luck for us.


As you can see, dark clouds came our way by the time we reached Hakone-machi.


Feeling a little hungry, we had our lunch at one of the many restaurants along the street.


And I have eggs AGAIN for lunch. :S


With a hearty meal, we took our time to stroll along the lake to Hakone Shrine. I think we really enjoyed ourselves that day laughing and just relaxing as we walk along the lake. The air was fresh and the mood was calm. I really had fun!

To get to Hakone Shrine, just walk along the lake after turning left from the pier.


You'll come to a long road leading to the bright orange Hakone Shrine gates. 



Purification Fountain

You can read about how to visit a Japanese shrine here.


The Hakone Shrine is beautiful with its bright orange and red colour and I went shutter crazy.



Chinese Influences

Torii Gates

We read about the Hakone Shrine Torii gates here and this was one of the reasons why we decided to visit the Hakone Shrine. The gates can be seen from the Pirate Boat when approaching Hakone-machi and it's bright and grand.
Lovely Path Leading Back To Pier

Satisfied with all our photo taking, we headed back to Togendai for the bus to Gotemba Premium Outlets. Do note the timing for the last boat out from Hakone-machi. If I remembered correctly, it is 4pm. If you cannot get out in time, you may need to spend an a slow and quiet night at Hakone. ;)



Upon reaching Togendai, just check with the information counter what bus to take to Gotemba Premium Outlets. The bus will take you to Gotemba Station where you're required to change to the free shuttle bus to the premium outlets. This bus is yet again covered by the Hakone Free Pass.

My favourite scenic route in Hakone is actually the ride from Togendai to Gotemba Premium Outlets. It is a pity that it was raining then and everywhere I looked was wet... But the Onsens and numerous Ryokens that was situated along the road was charming!

My Japanese friend told me that we should have stayed overnight or give the Onsen a try because Hakone is one of the best places for hot springs. Some Onsens even have views of Mt Fuji. Hhhhmmmm....bliss! But tattoos are banned in Onsens so no hot springs for us.



Anyway, we arrived in Gotemba while it was still raining and the cheaper umbrellas from the vending machine were sold out by then. To cross over from the East side to the West, I had no choice but to buy a cutesy polka dotted brolly.



Ta-da, it stopped raining after a while and I just had to pose with my new super thin brolly.


We had a quick bite before leaving and Mt Fuji came out to say bye. Although we didn't get to see the magnificent mountain at Lake Ashi, we saw its silhouette when crossing the bridge. And I think you can even make out the snow capped tip from the pic.

A surprise goodbye moment from Hakone.... =)

Do note that the last Odakyu Bus out of Gotemba Station to Shinjuku is the 8pm bus. If you miss the bus, you can take the JR train back to Tokyo too. With the Hakone Free Pass, just top up 850JPY for the journey back to Shinjuku Bus Terminal and you can also reserve your seats in advance at the service counter.

I enjoyed my Hakone day trip and hope you'll have a good time there too!

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

hello, could you tell me how long it took to complete the round trip of hakone? i read that you left for hakone at 7am, but what time were you done? ty in advance, planning for my own trip in november.

Mei said...

Hi,

It depends on how long you spend on each location. We took it slow only s at Hakone-Machi.

By the time time we reach Gotemba, I think it was around 5+pm. And we left at 7+pm for Tokyo.

Cheers! =)

PixieBoo said...

Hi Hi, thanks for this!! I am leaving to Tokyo next week with absolutely no idea where to go and what to do! you are a great help :)

Mei said...

Hi PixieBoo,

Great to hear that! ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi! Can i check should i get off at moto-hakone or hakone machi to hakoke shrine? TIA !

Mei said...

Hi,

To get to the Hakone Shrine, you''ll need to get off at Hakone Machi.

NOT the stop before that which is Moto-Hakone. ;)

Cheers,
Mei

Anonymous said...

hey, thanks for your post.. its so detailed and really helped me alot on planning for my upcoming Japan trip ^^. With the Hakone Free Pass, it is unlimited rides for 2days right? Am planning to stay in on of the ryokans, with the pass can i go back n forth countless of times.. let say Gora to/fr Togendai? Thankss!

Mei said...

Hi there,

Glad to be of help! And yes, the pass is valid for 2 days. You can check out the details here: http://www.odakyu.jp/english/freepass/hakone_01.html

And you may go countless times from Gora to Togendai.

Have fun! =)

Anonymous said...

Hey,
Thanks a lot for your info..
One question :-) how did u get back to shinjuku from gotemba.? And is it covered by the 2 day pass? Thx :-)

Mei said...

Hi,

I took a bus back to Shinjuku because I wanted to zone out and not think about changing trains and such. It's not covered in the 2 days pass and the last bus is at 8pm.

Need to find out and book your tics before you go.

If you do end earlier, you can always go to the Gotemba bus station and ask to have your tics changed to an earlier one.

Important thing is to secure your tics for the last bus if you want to take the bus.

Good luck! =)

kelly said...

Hi, Great detailed blog, i stumbled across here & bookmarked it as i'll be traveling to Japan (1st trip) in June ^_^ and your info has help me lots!

Sorry, do you mind me asking, do you think we'll actually ve time for a short onsen/hot spring for a day trip in Hakone pls?

Kelly ;)

Mei said...

Hi Kelly,

If you don't intend to go Gotemba Premium outlet, I think you'll have the time for it.

But you prob can only stay there for an hour or so.

Cheers! =)

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Can I ask whether it's worth the trip to gotemba Outlet? I went to Hakone my last trip but didn't cover the outlet. So I'm wondering whether to travel all the way back just for the outlet? I went to the premium outlet in Seoul but didn't end up buying anything as I find the prices still dearer compared to Europe stores.
and this time round, we are travelling with two kids.
Isa

Mei said...

Hi Isa,

If you're comparing with Europe I think the Luxury good prices are still more ex. Only some items like Nike shoes etc are really cheap. It's not worth it if you don't have the time to spare.

We visited the outlet and coz we wanted to catch the view of Mt Fuji from there too.

Cheers! =)

csk said...

Hi,
I saw u have a lots of fun and relaxing time at Hakone. I'm planning to visit Tokyo next year February and its my first trip there! Hakone will be one of my destination as its the best place to view the Mt Fuji, not to miss Owakudani! :)
Can I know how long will it takes to travel from Hakone to Gotemba Premium Outlets? I plan to rent a car and time is important for me to return back the car on the same day.

Thanks in advance for your info.

Mei said...

Hi, it's very nearby. The bus ride is slightly below half an hour if I remember correctly.

It's fun and enjoy yourselves! =)

csk said...

Hi Mei,

Thanks a lot for the info.
Happy New Year 2013!! have a wonderful year ahead!

Cheers ;)

speedy speedy said...

Hi,

Can I travel bullet train with free pass.

Thks

Mei said...

Hi there, you cannot. Bullet train has to use JR pass which is only possible to get outside of Japan if you're a tourist.

Mei said...

Hi there, you cannot. Bullet train has to use JR pass which is only possible to get outside of Japan if you're a tourist.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mel,

I came across your blog and its really useful in planning my trip to Hakone next month, as I haven't been to Hakone on my previous trip to Tokyo. Just checking, I read from the Japan Guide link on your blog that it takes about 5 mins from Moto-Hakone to walk to the Hakone Shrine, but in your blog it states to get off at Hakone Machi to get to the Shrine. I want to visit the places that you post on the Shrine, so do I get off at Moto-Hakone or Hakone Machi. I will be travelling with kids, so less walking for them is always better.

Thank you

Mei said...

Hi there,

Moto-Hakone is nearer. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mei!
I am unsure of the fastest way to get back from Gotemba Premium Outlets to Tokyo Station directly instead of to Shinjuku. Are you aware of the bus schedules and fares?

Mei said...

Hi, I don't know the details but you can get it fro the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Counter @ JR Shinjuku station.

They speak English and will help with all Hakone info! ;)