During my 2-week trip to Japan in late October 2018, I decided to take a quick trip out of Tokyo to experience the mountainous town of Hakone, and to finally see Mount Fuji.
I bought an 8,000 yen Fuji Hakone pass for my 3-day 2-night Hakone – Fuji trip. This discount tourism pass included:
- a one-way trip on the Odakyu Lines from Tokyo (from Shinjuku Station to Odawara Station) and a one-way trip back via the Chuo Highway Bus (I chose to arrive at Shinjuku Station from bus terminal near the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park)
- free and unlimited use of public transportation in the Fuji-Hakone area (includes Hakone Tozan Line and the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise)
- discounts at more than 90 locations (over 50 in the Hakone area and over 40 in the Fuji area)
I decided to pay an additional 1,090 yen to take a 75-minute express train ride on Odakyu’s Limited Express Romancecar train straight to Hakone-Yumoto Station, the area where I would be staying and starting my 3-day journey.
Hakone and Fuji tips:
- Go in the middle of the week to avoid crowds
- The sun sets early in autumn, so end your outdoor activities by 5pm and chill in the outdoor onsens at night
- Visit Hakone in autumn to see its extremely popular autumn leaves
- Get a Fuji Hakone pass for free public transportation and discounts
Day 1 in Hakone -Lake Ashi, Hakone Shrine, Owakudani volcanic area, Tenzan onsen
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
- 6.00am: Woke up to 15 degree weather. Checked out from nine hours Shinjuku-North. It’s a super clean and minimalistic capsule hotel. I really like it. The capsules are pretty spacious (maybe because I’m only 160cm tall?)
- 7.15am: Took the JR line from the Shin Okubo Station to the Shinjuku Station. Dropped off my luggage bag at one of the station’s coin lockers. Paid about 500yen/day for a medium-sized coin locker near the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center. There are a ton of lockers available at different sizes and prices, so look around for your best fit.
- 8.30am: Boarded Odakyu’s Limited Express Romancecar train (Train 7 – Car 4 – Seat 8C) at the Romancecar platform near the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku train station’s west exit. I munch on a meron pan (melon bun) I bought from a bakery at the train station. It’s yummyyy!
- 10.30am: Arrived at Hakone-Yumoto Station. Boarded the Hakone-Tozan bus from the Hakone-Yumoto bus stop to the Motohakone-ko bus stop (stops right in front of Lake Ashi). The bus ride is so scenic, especially because it’s the beginning of autumn, and the surrounding tree leaves are a myriad of green, red, yellow, and brown. Reminder: You need to flash your Fuji Hakone Pass to the bus driver each time you board and alight from a bus.
- 11.15am: Walked the pathway along Lake Ashi towards Hakone Shrine to check out the famed orange-red Torii gate in Lake Ashi. The morning weather and view are picture perfect.
- 12.30pm: Walked back towards the Hakonemachi-ko port. Had a steaming pork katsudon bowl for lunch at a quaint little restaurant. Great for a cold day.
- 2.00pm: Boarded the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise pirate ship from Hakonemachi-ko port to head over to Togendai-ko port. An adult ticket normally costs 1,000 yen, but I rode for free with the Hakone Fuji pass. The ship ride is very relaxing – I enjoyed the sounds of gentle waves, the chilly wind in my hair, and the gorgeous view of Lake Ashi.
- 2.30pm: Arrived at Togendai-ko port. Rode the Hakone Ropeway cable car towards Owakudani Station to check out the volcanic area of Owakudani. Sometimes the ropeway is closed depending on the concentration of volcanic gas, so be sure to check Hakone Ropeway website for its availability.
- 3.15pm: Boarded the ropeway cable car from Owakudani Station to Souzan Station then transferred to a Hakone Tozan Cable Car headed towards Gora Station. Finally, from Gora Station, I take the Hakone Tozan Train (the only mountain railway in Japan) back to Hakone-Yumoto Station. What’s special about this train line is the switchbacks that occur halfway up the line, where the driver and the conductor change shifts and the train switches to reverse travel direction. It was an interesting experience!
- 5.00pm: Walked about 5 minutes from Hakone-Yumoto Station and checked into the Hakone Suimeisou POSADA annex for single travellers. Went to enjoy the sunset by the Hayakawa river with a delicious Cremia ice-cream cone. The river is next to the Hakone-Yumoto Station, you can’t miss it!
- 7.00pm: Took the bus from the Hakone-Yumoto Station to the Oku-Yumoto bus stop after dinner to check out the Tenzen Tohji-kyo onsen. It allows entrance to tattooed people (where most onsens don’t). I get a 100 yen discount because of my Fuji Hakone pass. Score! Spent about 2 hours in the different open-air hot spring pools. My favourite is the milky mineral pool. The temperature of it is juuuust right. I feel self-conscious at first, but after a couple of minutes, being naked amongst the other women doesn’t feel all that weird. It’s pretty freeing, actually.
- 9.30pm: Had a leisurely stroll back to the hotel from the Hakone-Yumoto Station bus stop. It’s a chilly night that feels very peaceful. A nice ending to a beautiful day.
Day 2 in Hakone/Fuji – Sengokuhara pampas grass field, Gora Park
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
- 8.00am: I booked a private onsen at the hotel for an hour. Wore a kimono in the hotel, it’s nice and warm. I have a great view of the greenery outside as well as the Hayakawa river. A friendly bird joins me at one point for a while. I cannot get enough of this calm and tranquil atmosphere. Need moreee!
- 10.00am: Checked out of the hotel and headed to Gora Park after a yummy bento breakfast. It’s a bit hotter today. Walked around the park and checked out the surrounding area. It’s all very quaint and clean. Took the bus from Gora Station to the Sengoku Kogen bus stop.
- 2.00pm: Walked through the Sengokuhara pampas grass field. It looks like a field of gold under the sun. The tips of the Japanese pampas grass look super pretty as they sway with the wind. Lots of walking is involved – omg I’m sweating. After, I go to a nearby Lawson’s convenience store for some yummy rice balls for lunch. They’re about 100 yen a piece. Then, I take the bus to Kawaguchiko Station.
- 5.00pm: Sunset. I arrive at Mount Fuji Station after a quick train ride from Kawaguchiko Station. Checked into Hostel Fujisan YOU that’s nearby the station. It’s a cozy place with lots of personal touches. I spend the rest of the night chatting with other travellers over homemade bread and jam.
Day 3 – Lake Kawaguchiko, Mount Fuji, Fuji-Q Highland
Thursday, 25 October 2018
- 8.00am: I have a nice breakfast at the hostel and then head over to Kawaguchiko Station after I check out. Not sure why, but I decide to walk from Kawaguchiko Station to Lake Kawaguchiko that’s about 1km away. Maybe because it’s only 14 degrees. Yay to not sweating!
- 9.30am: Took a trip up the Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway to view Mount Fuji. Apparently timing matters, because it can get pretty cloudy, which obstructs the view of Mount Fuji. So morning time’s probably your best bet for a perfect view. The view that day is incredible! I felt really lucky to be able to meet this Japanese icon.
- 11am: To be honest, Fuji-Q Highland is a major reason why I decided to go to Fuji in the first place. This amusement park is home to some of the craziest roller coasters in the world. I rode them till 5pm. My favourite is Fujiyama aka the ‘King of Coasters’, which has a maximum speed of 130 km/h. Oh happy day. I bought my Fuji-Q Highland ticket via Klook for RM199.
- 5pm: Caught the bus back to Shinjuku Station from the bus terminal near Fuji-Q Highland. Arrived back in Tokyo around 7.30pm. What a great short trip it’s been!
I highly recommend getting a discount pass if you’re planning a short trip out of Tokyo. Even though I didn’t do much sightseeing (mostly because I wanted to take it easy), I still saved quite a bit of money by using my Fuji Hakone pass on public transportation throughout the trip.
Have you been to Hakone or Fuji? What do you recommend doing or seeing there? Share your comments below! 😀