Monday, October 20, 2014

Circling Hakone

In my short visit to Hakone, I attempted to circle Hakone using the Hakone Free Pass as that's the easiest way to circle the entire region and have a quick look at what Hakone has to offer. You can begin the journey from the Hakone-Yumoto station.

Train for Hakone Tozan Railway to Gora
With the Hakone Free Pass, you can start your journey around Hakone starting from the train above. You will take around 40 mins to reach Gora. Throughout the entire journey, you will see the train changing tracks several times along the way so don't be surprised if you find yourself stopping at a station for some time. Some times, the track is only one-way.

Upon reaching Gora, you'll need to transfer to the tram up to Sounzan. Due to the timing, there were too many people taking the tram so I didn't get the chance to take a picture of the tram. It will take about 15mins thereabout. From Sounzan, you'll need to change to the Hakone ropeway via the cable car you see below.

Cable car for the Hakone ropeway

Interior of the cable car for Hakone ropeway
On the first day, the day was quite clear as you can see from the picture below. However, on the second day, it was so cloudy that we couldn't see anything.

View from the cable car

View from the cable car
You'll need to transfer at the station called Owakudani to another cable car. This station is a good rest stop as they sell kurotamago (some boiled in sulphur) and ice cream, in addition to the usual souvenirs. You can also take the short walking trail into the volcanic zone to a number of steam vents and bubbling pools.  The smell of sulphur is quite strong in the air. :)

As you walk out to the car park, you can try to see if you're able to see the elusive Mount Fuji. I wasn't that lucky though. :(  I could only the base of Mount Fuji.

Below are some of the scenic views that you can see from the ropeway.

From Owakudani, you'll pass by Ubako station before reaching Togendai, the station where you can sit on a pirate ship to cruise around Lake Ashinoko. If you did not stop in any of the stations, you'll take about 30 mins to travel from Sounzan to Togendai. There is also a souvenir shop at Togendai and a restaurant if you need a rest, having something to eat and do some shopping.

From Togendai, you can choose to cruise to Hakone-machi and then continue to Moto-Hakone. You can take a look at the pirate ship at Togendai from the picture below, and the scenery around Lake Ashinoko.

On the ship, we even had students randomly stopping some people to ask them questions in English. It was so interesting... :)

We disembarked at Hakone-machi and we walked upwards towards the Cedar Avenue, which is across the road by the roadside. That's about a 10 mins walk. Below is a road sign by the road showing the entrance to the Cedar Avenue.

The cedar trees within are quite beautiful and the walk within can be described as tranquil. You can take a look at some of the pictures I took below.

After you walked to the other end of the Cedar Avenue, you can cross the road and you will see a bus stop nearby. You can take bus H back to the Hakone-Yumato station, which will take about 45 mins.

This makes one round trip around Hakone, all using only the Hakone Free Pass. You can visit Hakone in one day but I think it's better to stay at least 2 days so that you can visit some of the attractions near some of the stations. You may want to stay longer if you want to visit every attraction at Hakone, which we didn't. Of course you should not forget about the Ryokan, which is also one of the key attractions of Hakone.

Stay tuned for more posts of the additional places I visited in Hakone.

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