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March 27, 2013 - Hakone Day Tour Loop
For many people who have limited time in Tokyo they may complete a day trip to Nikko or spend a night in Hakone. The Hakone areas main strength wealth of different attractions in the area, along with being reasonably easy to get around. Below is a general introduction to the Hakone Loop with pictures taken from today and September 2012.
To start the general loop, you can catch a train or bus to Gora station from Odawara. You then catch the Cable Car for Sounzan. You can also get off at Gora Koen to visit Gora Park which is included in the cost of the Hakone Freepass. After that - you catch the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani.
Owakudani is one of the still active volcanic vents in Hakone. The smell of sulfur dioxide wafts through the air and it's famous for it's black boiled eggs cooked in the sulfurous waters. If your game - you can try the Egg Ice Creams which are black in color.
View from Ubako station on the Ropeway. There is meant to be a nice view of Fuji-san from here, but I did not see it on either dates I visited. There are quite a few nice walks in this area.
View of the Pirate ships @ Lake Ashi in Togendai-ko. On a clear day, you are meant to be able to see Fuji-san, but again I could not see it from this location on both occasions visited. Note that it is much less foggy down here then up at Owakudani.
One of the main attractions at Hakonemachi-ko pier is the Hakone Checkpoint. It's about a 5 minute walk from the pier which is the first stop on the boat from Togendai-ko. Entrance is 500 yen and includes access to a museum just past the Kyoto entrance of the checkpoint. Note that the museum is quite inaccessible compared to the checkpoint due to language barriers.
Once you pass the Hakone checkpoint museum, there are quite a few nice walks in a public park. The general trail tends to move towards the detached palace which has a nice view seen in the picture below.
To make your way to Hakonemachi-ko, you walk down and enter the Cedar path. It takes around 30 minutes to get to the next town.
Once you are a Hakonemachi-ko pier, you may visit the Hakone shrine which is another 10 minutes walk from the pier. Thankfully when I visited - it was quite foggy which added to the ambience.
To visit all of the locations above would make a very busy day trip. I suggest you drop a couple and do what interests you most if you are traveling from Tokyo.
Normally I don't include any pictures of the hotel I stay at - but on this occasion I stayed at the Fujiya and Miyanoshita which is one of the first western hotels in Japan. The buildings and gardens look quite nice and may be worth visiting if you catch the bus to Gora from Odawara.
If you head away from the Fujiya towards Odawara, you will come across a small shrine.
The Fujiya has quite a nice garden. It takes around 30-45 minutes to stroll around the gardens and would look fantastic in a couple of weeks when cherry blossoms are in full bloom.