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Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/30 15:54

I want to visit both places as a day trip from Tokyo in mid-late November.

The main plan is to leave quite early in the morning from Minami-Senju station to Odawara, then taking the scenic Hakone-Tozan line to Hakone-Yumoto and then ride a bus to Moto-Hakone, where I want to go for a relaxed stroll around the lake while visiting the iconic red torii and maybe the old cedar avenue.

I would like to do all that at a leisurely pace and be back to Hakone-Yumoto before the sun sets for a little break and then go back to Tokyo. Does it look feasable to you?

Also, I would like to know how long it takes to walk from one of the ship cruise docks to the other. I'd really love to walk around the lake and then make my way back by boat.

by Second-timer (guest)  

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/30 22:29
Are you taking the shinkansen to Odawara or ordinary trains? It's a little more than 90 minutes via local and shinkansen to Hakone-Yumoto from Kita-Senju and a little more than 120 minutes using only locals.

Usually when people refer to the scenic part of the Tozan line they're talking about the section from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora. Maybe I'm just not easily impressed but I don't remember the 4 stop trip between Odawara and Hakone-Yumoto being all that scenic except maybe between Iruida and Hakone-Yumoto?

If you don't mind walking all uphill, I think there is a bus stop near Yunessun near the Kowakidani stop on the Tozan line that continues to Moto-Hakone, the bus might go all the way to the Tozan there. I know there is a bus route from Moto-Hakone to Yunessun, as I've taken it, so I am assuming there must be a route in the opposite direction? I also know there is a bus stop to Moto Hakone near the Fujiya Hotel at Miyanoshita because I took the bus from there in 2016.

It's about 12 kms between the Old Tokkaido Road and the dock for the Pirate Ship boat. I can not vouch for whether the roads you would need to walk are pedestrian friendly as I've never personally walked them. How long it takes you to do 12 kms depends on you. If you want to visit Hakuryu jinja as well as Hakone jinja it will increase your route substantially because you will need to back track quite some ways as there are limited paths/roads based on Google Maps.

I guess you could also bus it from Hakone-Yumoto to Moto-Hakone, do whatever you want there, do the hike to the boat dock and then take the boat and then take the bus back to the Tozan line and then take the Tozan line to Hakone-Yumoto. I'm 99% sure the bus goes down to either Kowakidani. Coming back from Moto Hakone, the walk between Yunessun to Kowakidani is all downhill and at least some of it had a sidewalk because I did do that walk lol The walk from near the Fujiya Hotel back to Miyanoshita Station is all uphill though and really steep.

Good luck!

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 06:45
I'll definitely have to reconsider my options, because 12 Kms is way more than what I would like to walk :_D

Regarding the Hakone-Tozan train, I labeled it "scenic" based on what I saw on some photos, if the trip from Odawara to Hakone-Yumoto is not that awe-inspiring I might consider going to he other side of the lake (I guess the cablecar is my only choice for that? I've read that due to a recent increase in volcanic activity that service might not be available in a while) and then sail to Moto-Hakone and check the surroundings before going back to Hakone-Yumoto and then going back from Odawara to Tokyo.

Another (less-ambitious) option could be to visit Odawara Castle, head directly to Moto-Hakone and stroll around the lake until it starts getting dark, even if I just spend three or four hours in the area.

A million thanks for all your detailed information.
by Second-timer (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 07:17
Hi, I was in Hakone a few weeks ago for the first time in 10 years or so (it hasnt changed). Just a few comments:

1. Odawara Castle isnt all that interesting IMO. It is pretty enough, but essentially the inside isnt even a replica of an original. It is more like Osaka Castle which I also think is a bit meh on the inside. It is nothing like (say) Matsumoto castle or Hikone castle. There are some nice artifacts but not to the extent of Matsumoto castle. In a nutshell, I'd visit it if you have an hour or two to kill in Odawara but I wouldnt change my plans for it.
2. The really pretty part of Hakone IMO is the train trip from Hakone Yumoto to Gora. There is an outdoor museum at one of the stops which is worth seeing as well. I'd recommend you get on the train, it is a fun ride.
3. I didnt get to the lake this time but did years ago. We had the experience of a cloud spilling over the lip of the crater and coming across the lake which was spectacular. It is a nice little chug around.
4. we had walked through the cedar grove. It is pretty enough but not "wow!" pretty. I wouldnt go 2 hours out of my way to see it. I wouldnt walk all the way around the lake, for sure.
5. The cablecar is running, parts of the ropeway are not.

If you are after some really interesting artifacts and watery beauty, I would also suggest a day at Kamakura and Enoshima. Enoshima is one of my favorite places in Japan - plenty of things to do but quite a bit of nature as well, and the train ride along the coastline at Kamakura is a lot of fun as well.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 07:44
I would really love to visit Matsumoto Castle, but maybe on a future trip in which my "base" is not 3 hours away from it. I didn't visit any castle in my first visit to Japan and the one at Odawara is close to the station, where I will have to stop anyway... but yeah, is not a priority at all, just an option to make that day's experience even more complete and different from the others.

I'll keep in mind your suggestion about going all the way to Gora. From what you said I understand I would still have the option to go from there to the ship dock at lake Ashinoko and then sail to the other side of it, near the cedar avenue, the red torii and such?

Also, Kamakura is certainly on my checklist for this second trip as Enoshima was on my first. Nice place.
by Second-timer (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 09:03
Yeah I didnt do it this time, but apparently the parts of the ropeway not accessible are covered by bus https://www.hakoneropeway.co.jp/foreign/en/calendar/. A lot of people were still going up in the cablecar from Gora though.

I'm not sure whether the part that crosses the crater is still going, that was a butt clencher for sure.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 09:08
The answer from @rkold is a bit odd and not like their usual answers. Maybe because I do many different routes around the area and visit several times a year (three times in the last couple of months) I am more used to the different transport options and getting around.

First up, Hakone-Yumoto would normally be considered the gateway to the Hakone area. You could argue Odawara is, and the short trip between the two is pleasant enough. Getting to/from the area from Tokyo in a day, and doing it at a leisurely pace is also easy. I often include a stop at Odawara to visit the castle. yes, the castle is a re-build, but has some relevant history, especially with the actions of the Meiji Government and then the story of how it came to be replaced.

From Hakone-Yumoto there are at least three direct bus routes to Moto-Hakone. I can think of no reason to get the train towards Gora and then bus from the Yunessun/Kowakidani stop or other combinations involving the train to Gora (like a bus from Gora to Hakone-Machi)

Walking between the two boat docks at the Hakone-Machi/Moto-Hakone and takes around 30 minutes and includes part of the Takido (road), but not the stone path section near Amazake Chaya. "the best preserved section leads from Moto-Hakone to Hatajuku (75-100 minutes)" https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5205.html You could actually get the direct bus Hakone-Yumoto to Amakaze Chaya ("K" line).

The Hakone Shrine is ok, but not particularly special in my opinion. Mostly people taking selfies with the torii gate.

If you wanted to walk around the lake to the Togendai end, that is quite a long way - about 10 km and a couple of hours. not sure how well it is suited for pedestrians - some of the roads in the area have footpaths, others do not.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 10:13
@JapanCustomTours, in the TMI department, I admit I am a bit distracted right now as a bat has taken up residence on my screen door. I'm worried the poor little thing is sick or injured, so perhaps I've not been reading as closely as I ought.

To be fair, I'm not a big Hakone fan. I honestly don't see the appeal of taking lots of different types of transport. I love using public transportation, but I like it as a means to an end, not as a means unto itself.
I've been 4 or 5 times over the years (I honestly can't remember) and about the only impressive scenery I've ever seen is the Tozan line between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora during hydrangea or ajisai season. That is quite lovely.

The reason I was recommending the bus from Kowakidani or Miyanoshita or Gora or Yunessun, is I think that the Tozan line from Hakone-Yumoto is the best part of the route and in my opinion the most scenic outside of maybe the ropeway. Skipping the most scenic part to just take a bus to and from the lake seems a waste in my opinion. But again, I'm also not a fan.

I despise the boat. I utterly despise the boat. I don't despise it because it's cheezy, I enjoy cheezy, I despise it because it is boring. It takes what seems like ages to load it full of people and then for the boat to actually travel across the lake and then even longer to get everyone off. I have never seen compelling scenery at Moto-Hakone outside of the delicious pizza place that appeared through the rain on my last trip and sold us a vegetarian hot meal when we were sad and hungry. It also had yummy gelato.

I have to think we are thinking of two different piers at Moto Hakone for the walk though. I could have sworn OP wanted the one at the end of the ropeway at Togendai and there is no way that is a 30 minute walk to the Lake Asashi Cruise Pier, I'm getting 11-12 kms depending on starting point. If OP was thinking of walking from one pier at Moto Hakone to one a little further off.. I guess you could do that and then you're only stuck on the boat for like 5-10 minutes, but I'm also not sure if that would give you a really different view vs walking, since you don't go that far from shore. The Togendai route would give you different views than walking, since it's in the middle of the lake vs. around an edge. I would think there is a bus to Togendai, but OP asked about walking. I plan to walk 10+ kms my upcoming trip on the Yamanobe no Michi, so to me 11 km doesn't sound so bad if it was something I really wanted to do. I'd love to do the whole Yamanobe no Michi route, but I don't know if my child would enjoy it as much as me.

I have never seen Mt. Fuji from Hakone. I have been in October and in March which are prime Fuji viewing times with clear skies and no Mt. Fuji. I do see Mt. Fuji almost every trip to Japan from Tokyo, even the ones in the Summer when you never expect to see Mt. Fuji. I just saw it from the Tokyo Disney Monorail at the end of last June.

As I said, I like cheezy, so I enjoyed Osaka Castle. They had some simple dress-up costumes there which always leads to a fun time. I've not been to Odawara Castle, but I can see it being enjoyable enough.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 10:34
If you like cheesy, Odawara castle has a ninja experience where you can show off your ninja skills. My wife was keen, but we had been drenched by the downpour of the 21st and had to give it a miss. The ninjas looked sad, I think we broke their little black hearts as the place was pretty empty given the weather.

I agree re the train line to Gora, it is really pretty especially when you go over the big gorge. You can keep your flowers, though, I just like the forests.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 11:22
Hi @rkold - good distraction - fortunately the bats around my apartment tend not to fly into the house.

For Hakone, I am also not a fan. A lot of the people I take there are also not that impressed - about half wish they had done something different with their day, but some people actually do love the place. And that is despite the hordes of grumpy/unhappy/rude tourists that get told it is one of the best places in Japan - it's not.

For the pirate ships (cheesy), for me it's a way to sit and do nothing for 30-40 minutes. The scenery (for me) isn't that great so just a way to get from A to B to link up with the ropeway. There are three docks, so walking between Hakone-Machi and Moto-Hakone doesn't take long via the Hakone Checkpoint and the cedar avenue (which is pretty). For me a 10km walk wouldn't be an issue, but as I said some of the roads in the area are not as suitable/safe without dedicated footpaths. I haven't walked to Togendai, and you comment about what the OP might have been thinking (boat one way, walk the other) could be correct.

The Tozan line in hydrangea season is nice, and for a first-timer it is quite scenic. When crowded to over-flowing, standing for 45 minutes isn't the nicest way to enjoy the views.

As for viewing Fuji - winter time - I would not consider March or October prime viewing months. In fact I would say March to October (inclusive) are months to avoid unless you are simply lucky. There was an interesting article this month about air quality and Fuji visibility - makes for interesting reading.

Along with cleaner air, visibility in Tokyo has also improved. Sky-watchers at Seikei Meteorological Observatory in Kichijoji have been recording the visibility of Mount Fuji, some 83 km to the southwest, at 9 a.m. every morning since 1963. While observers could see the iconic peak on only 22 days in 1965, after 1973, the figure improved to about 70 days per year on average.
. . .
By 1999, the number of visible days hit an all-time high of 107, followed by 131 in 2011, and 135 for both 2017 and 2018, according to data from the observatory.

by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 11:24
@Lazy Pious, we're going to try the ninja experience near Akame 48 Falls. It gives me a new destination and a ninja experience for my daughter. I would like to do the Ninja Village in Koka or Togakushi at some point, but both will be a future trip. While I do better in the heat than most, I'm still hoping to escape a bit to Tohoku to see if it is cooler. But I can see how depending on OP, it could be fun to see Odawara Castle. I've seen a bunch of original castles (Matsumoto, Hikone, Himeji, and Hirosaki, I was in Marugame but my daughter didn't want to see the castle) and a few repros (Osaka, Okayama, and Wakayama) as well as some partials (Aoba, Ueda, Kanazawa.) There are probably others and I am forgetting. I've actually enjoyed all of them.

The woods are pretty but the flowers make it something I would be more willing to go out of my way for, but then I'm a great fan of flower viewing, which is not everyone's cup of tea. I am particularly fond of hydrangeas, which helps make up for the heat and rain in June. The ropeway is OK... it's like any other ropeway in Japan, of which there are many. When you can walk around Owakudani, the ropeway is more interesting, but I'm pretty sure that is not going to be an option for a while. The cable car between Gora and Souzan is pretty boring though and I only like it because the mountainside is pretty steep and sometimes I am lazy.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 11:56
To the OP: Regarding walkability of the lake. I did walk from Togendai port to the shrine (quite nice walk on a walking path) and the on to the Hakone-en aquarium a few years back. And then took a boat from there to Hakone Machi. That part of the walk around the lake was very much enjoyable and the path mostly was separated from the cars. However you need to get to Togendai first.

Regarding the pirate ship, I actually normally donft like cheesy BUT I personally quite like the ship. Itfs for me a sweet youth memory. So maybe different as many other people. Also taking the boat in Hakone-en instead of at one of the main ports makes boarding really swift.

Regarding the train ride, yes the really scenic part is Hakone Yumoto to Gora. You could just ride it up and back down again. Or just get done with it and do the entire loop. I am actually not a big fan of Hakone, but for me personally one of the attractions are all the different rides. And maybe you are fortunate until you go and you can go on the volcano again. That IMHO is quite an experience. There are other places in Japan (eg Hachimantai) where you can walk through volcanic fields, but none are so accessible from major tourist destinations as Hakone. And hey, how often are you going to walk through a volcanic field in your life. However it does get closed quite often if the volcano is too active. So check out the conditions before going.

Hakone is one of those spots that have both fans and anti-fans. I have done a fair bit of traveling around Japan and I am a slow traveler. For me it is enjoyable if I can stay at least 1 night and get a good soak in an onsen as well. As a daytrip you can do it, but I would not do the full loop. And I think there are other places around Tokyo like Chichibu, Kamakura, Enoshima,Takahatafudo,Takaosan that are easier to access and nicer. Specially Kamakura of which I never tire.

So everyone is different. Give it a try!

Enjoy your trip to Japan!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 12:42
@JapanCustom Tours,

Fortunately, the bat is not in my house, just on the outside. If it was inside, the bat would need to be collected by DEEP to check for rabies and we'd all be getting a lot of unpleasant shots. Instead, I get to just worry about the bat. I'm afraid I might need to pay someone to bring it in to a rescue, as he's still sitting on my screen despite it being late at night.

I guess I think of March as prime viewing because I've had some amazing views from Tokyo in March, though honestly the best view I've ever had is from the air one trip during Golden Week when I used Chubu rather than Narita or KIX. I know I've been to Hakone in February as well and no Mt. Fuji. It's just not someplace I've ever gotten lucky. It sounds like I did get lucky in terms of crowds when I went during hydrangea season though. It was extremely rainy and we had no problem getting a seat let alone being crowded in. It was also within a year of the last volcanic alert which I'm sure kept the crowds down as well.

I honestly mostly run into friendly other tourists as well as friendly locals? Maybe I am lucky on that count too. We've not been back to Hakone since 2016 and its not on the itinerary this year.

I am not sure which piers OP was thinking of. I'd forgotten the pirate ship does two stops on the Moto-Hakone side because I'm usually just so happy to get off and be done with the ship, so my first thought was Togendai. I would like the ship a lot more if we all wore pirate hats and/or an eye patch or there was some sort of cheesy pirate show or well something other than sitting on a boat. As it stands right now it is just dull. I also was not a fan of the Hozu River Boat Tour, which makes me think I would not like the Geibikei boat trip either, I might not be a boat person outside of honest to goodness white water rafting which I love.

I tend to tour moderately to fast depending on what I am doing. I'm a decently active tourer, though now that I have a child, I do spend more time taking breaks in a cafe.

I do think air quality in Tokyo has improved. My earlier trips to Japan, pre-'07, I rarely saw Mt. Fuji and since '07 I think I've seen Mt. Fuji every single trip including the June ones over the last 3 years.

Good luck OP and I agree with a lot of @LikeBike's suggestion of other places to consider as well. I think part of it is that I also think Hakone is sort of expensive for what it is. However if you're someone who loves taking lots of forms of transport, Hakone is probably a great option for you.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 17:40
Wow, this has turned into a REALLY interesting conversation, and since many of you don't seem too fond of the Hakone area despite its fame, I must confess that I have mixed feelings about it too. In the end I chose it has an option because I can't think of anymore feasable daytrips from Tokyo.

I'll be visiting Nikko, Kamakura, Takao-san and Yokohama for the first time this year and in my first visit to the country I went to Nara, Miyajima and Enoshima. As I searched for interesting one-day trips from the capital I concluded that maybe Hakone was the only interesting option left for me: the lake, the views of Mount Fuji, the scenic train ride and the Odawara castle as a bonus (as I've stated before, I've never seen a castle in Japan and Matsumoto is too far away) might make for a fun, different day.

Of course, if you can think of an interesting alternative, I'll gladly listen. Just keep in mind that this time I won't be having a JR Pass with me and Shinkansen is, sadly, not an option.

Also, In a future third trip to the country (I'll write as Third-Timer by then) I hope to make Toyama my headquarters so I can visit Shirakawa-go, Nakano, Matsumoto, Takayama, Kanazawa, Hida-Furukawa and other nearby places much more easily. This time I wanted to "clear" the Kanto area.
by Second-timer (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 17:48
Well, Hakone IS definitely an option.

Other options would be Chichibu if you like some light hiking from temple to temple (I specially enjoyed the area around Urayamaguchi where you have about 4 quite different temples in relatively easy walking distance from the station.

Izu peninsula is also an option or Miura peninsula.

Sawara and Katori jinja on the Chiba side are nice.

But Hakone isnft that bad either.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 20:18
Bessho Onsen is worth a crack especially if you like onsens
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/5/31 21:38
What time of year are you going?

I've not spent a lot of time in Gunma-ken, but it's somewhere I considered for my upcoming trip. But I keep getting thwarted by age requirements for all the adventurous things I want to try lol It's why most of the amusement parks have gotten nixed as well. All the good coasters want you to be 10+

Again, since I like flowers and in particular hydrangea, I was looking at a few hydrangea parks in Chiba-ken at one point, but I think they are done by the time I arrive in Tokyo, they're best in early June. If I was in Japan during wisteria season I would definitely hit up Ashikaga.

I like Kairakuen in Mito. It might make a Tokyo Wide Pass worthwhile to you. It's particularly amazing in Ume Season. I'd love to visit Nasu-Shiobara.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/6/1 07:33
I'll be staying from November the 13th to November the 27th.

The distance is important because at that time of the year it gets dark quite early and aside from being a sun person I like to take things nice and slow and can't enjoy rushing from one place to another. That's why cool places like Izu Peninsula, Matsumoto, Nokogiriyama or Sawara might be out of the question for this very trip, especially since (due to a travel buddy with far less budget than me) I won't be able to take any shinkansen, thus being """"forced"""" to stay within the Kanto region.

by Second-timer (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/6/1 08:45
There is actually quite a lot to do inside of Tokyo, and not all of it is well known.

If you have a few bucks to spear, I would probably get this book: https://www.amazon.com/Tokyo-Adventures-Glimpses-City-Bygone/dp/407975... It is old... but the parts of Tokyo didnt change so much.

There are great walks around Nakameguro or in the area around Ryokoku.
Last time I was in Tokyo I enjoyed a half day in Shibamata: http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/2019/04/gw-2019-day-2-shibamata... A place quite unknown to foreign tourists, but with a magnificient temple. Rivaling the ones in Nikko, but actually much easier to see up close.

Close to my office in Tokyo is Hamarikyu garden, which often features on the front page of the Japan Guide web page, and is a very nice combination with a ride on a boat to either Odaiba or Asakusa.

There are infinite possibilities within Tokyo or very close to fill weeks IMHO.

There are also some regional passes, like Tokyo Wide Pass that can make sense if you want to go a little bit further afield - including Shinkansen - e.g. to Karuizawa, which probably at the time of the year you are going is going to be magnificent with koyo. (I went in hot summer and also enjoyed it): http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/2018/09/relaxing-karuizawa.html

I am sure you'll find a lot of interesting places close to Tokyo.

by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Moto-Hakone + Hakone-Yumoto 2019/6/1 08:46
As you said, you have already visited Nikko and Enoshima, but there are other day-trips around Tokyo using the local trains, but even some of those can take a couple of hours - just they do't cost as much as long distance shinkansen rides. (And if you did several, the 3-day Tokyo wide pass might come in handy.)

One of the day trips I plan to do this month is to get to Okutama, and the Japan Times had an article about Mitake this morning (on the way there). Mito is often listed as a day-trip destination along with Ashikaga (for the flower park) or Kawagoe (although I was't particularly impressed when I visited). I did a trip out to Fukushima Aquamarine Aquarium a few years back, quite impressive, but I think they were still adding things. But, even within Tokyo there are many many places you could spend a day.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

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