Inside a large volcano caldera about an hour south of Tokyo is Hakone, a popular outdoor escape for Tokyoites and tourists alike. It is well-known for its views of Mount Fuji and the large orange torii gate that sits in the deep-blue waters of Lake Ashi. Day hikers will enjoy exploring the last remnants of the old cobblestone Tōkaidō road, which ran from Kyoto to the imperial city of Edo (Tokyo) through Hakone in the feudal era. It will likely be busy due to its popularity, but it remains a worthwhile stop for your first Japan itinerary, especially if you are traveling with children.
If you only have one day, start with this well-trodden “round course” to get the most out of a short stay. Conveniently, this itinerary begins just a block from Gôra Kadan, a luxury ryokan that is a longtime favorite of Hideaway Report editors. You can watch the video of our day in Hakone above, but the following will give you an idea of this daylong itinerary.
Start with a morning gondola ride to the volcano caldera on the top of Mount Hakone for a glimpse of of Mount Fuji. Be sure to try the famous black eggs that are cooked inside the volcano.
Next, board the large pirate ship ferry for a cruise across Lake Ashi to Hakone-Machi. From there, walk along the lakeside from the Tōkaidō checkpoint to the large torii gate and Shinto shrine.
In the afternoon, hike the Tōkaidō highway just over a mile to Amazake-chaya, the “last teahouse on the Tōkaidō road.” At the 200-year-old teahouse, enjoy yamasake, a non-alcoholic sake beverage, and a bowl of glass noodles. After a break, catch the bus to Hakone Yumoto and stop at the Hakone Open-Air Museum if you have time. If you’re tired from walking, return to your hotel to relax in the onsen.
We recommend purchasing the Hakone Freepass so all transportation for the day will be covered. The Hakone public transportation system is quite robust for such a small place, and gondola, boat and train travel make for a charming stay.