- How much Money does the Hakone Free Pass Save?
- No Reservation Required to Buy the Hakone Free Pass
- Going on a Day Trip with the Hakone Free Pass
- 7:38 AM - Take the Romance Car to Hakone
- 10:30 AM - Enjoy Hakone, the Town of Yosegi Zaiku Crafts
- 12:00 PM - Good-luck Prayer at Hakone Shrine
- 1:00 PM - Visiting Narukawa Art Museum by Moto-Hakone Port
- 2:50 PM - All Aboard the Pirate Ship! A View of Mt. Fuji & Hakone Shrine
- 3:30 PM - Ride the Ropeway in Search of Black Eggs
- 5:00 PM Stopping by the Gora Area
- 6:30 PM Enjoy Hakone Onsen Hot Springs at Hakone Yuryo
- The Hakone Free Pass Saved me ¥1,500!
Hakone is one of the most famous tourist spots in Japan. This area in the Eastern Kanagawa Prefecture attracts more than 20 million tourists a year.
What kind of transportation would you use to travel from Tokyo to Hakone? It's great to rent a car and travel freely, but it is also recommended to try the exclusive vehicles in Hakone, including the dream train Romance Car, the pirate ships and the ropeway.
This time, I will introduce a wise way to go around Hakone on a day trip with a "Hakone Free Pass" issued by Odakyu Electric Railway. Why don't you try to travel freely in Hakone on vehicle rides from which you can enjoy seeing rich nature?
How much Money does the Hakone Free Pass Save?
Hakone Free Pass and Romance Car Limited Express Ticket
The Hakone Free Pass: the perfect Hakone travel companion
The Hakone Free Pass is issued by Odakyu Electric Railway. The ticket is a perfect "attendant" to take with you on a trip in Hakone, not only as a round trip ticket from your departure station to Odawara Station, but also as an unlimited ride ticket for vehicles in the Hakone area run by the Odakyu Group, including the Hakone Tozan Railway, the Hakone Tozan Bus, the Tozan Cable Car, the Hakone Ropeway and the pirate ships.
If you're wondering if the number of trains and buses in this area is limited, no need to worry. In the Hakone area, which is well-maintained as a tourist destination, buses run every 10 minutes and the trains every 15 minutes at the shortest interval. Therefore, you won't find yourself waiting for a long time at a bus stop or train station.
The Hakone Free Pass gives more than transportation discounts
The area where Hakone Free Passes can be used
First of all, let's check the routes where you can use a Hakone Free Pass. It can be used in the entire Hakone area, from Odawara to Gotemba Station in Shizuoka.
You may assume that Hakone Free Passes can only be used for vehicles run by Odakyu. Surprisingly, however, you can also get discounts with the pass at some facilities including hot sprints and museums.
No Reservation Required to Buy the Hakone Free Pass
Odakyu Electric Railway ticket vending machine *The image was taken on February 27, 2019
5 ways to purchase the Hakone Free Passes
There are 5 ways to purchase the Hakone Free Pass. Buying on-site, and reserving beforehand for pick-up are both available options.
■ ① Purchase tickets from ticket vending machines at each Odakyu Line station
From vending machines that are placed at each Odakyu Line station, you can get a Hakone Free Pass that is valid from the day of purchase. No reservation is required! Please note that the ticket prices vary depending on the departure station.
2 days: ¥5,700/adult ¥1,500/child
3 days: ¥6,100/adult ¥1,750/child
・From Shin Yurigaoka
2 days: ¥5,490/adult ¥1,450/child
3 days: ¥5,890/adult ¥1,700/child
・From Odakyu Tama Center 2
2 days: ¥5,600/adult ¥1,480/child
3 days: ¥6,000/adult ¥1,730/child
2 days: ¥5,420/adult ¥1,420/child
3 days: ¥5,820/adult ¥1,670/child
・Odawara, Hakone Yumoto, Gotenba, Mishima, etc.
2 days: ¥4,600/adult ¥1,000/child
3 days: ¥5,000/adult ¥1,250/child
■ ② Odakyu Travel Offices
Odakyu Travel Offices in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture also sell Hakone Free Passes.
■ ③ Hakone Tozan Railway Station / Hakone Tozan Bus Information Center
Hakone Free Passes can be purchased in Hakone as well. You can also purchase the passes at
Hakone Tozan Railway stations and the Hakone Tozan Bus Information Centers located in
front of Odawara Station and Hakone Yumoto Station.
■ ④ Seven-Eleven (Seven Ticket)
You can purchase Hakone Free Passes online. Then, you can simply go to the nearest Seven-Eleven store to receive them. Seven Tickets carry Hakone Free Passes only for departures from Shinjuku Station. There is no need to go to the station to get a ticket issued, as you can specify the dates of use within one month from the day of purchase.
■ ⑤ Travel agencies such as JTB
You can also purchase Hakone Free Passes at some travel agencies, such as JTB, KNT,
and Nippon Travel Agency. Please contact each agency for details.
Two-day and three-day passes have different prices
The Hakone Free Passes come as two-day passes and three-day passes.
There is no day-trip pass (for one-day use) available, but even if you purchase a two-day pass
for a day trip, you can still save enough money to make up for the ticket price.
Going on a Day Trip with the Hakone Free Pass
Odakyu Electric Railway Romance Car (Photo: Odakyu Electric Railway)
7:38 AM - Take the Romance Car to Hakone
This time I am going to try taking a day trip from Shinjuku to the Hakone area. The theme of this trip is the "ultimate plan to enjoy Hakone". I planned on enjoying everything Hakone could possibly throw at me, from the pirate ships and the ropeway, to Hakone’s famous cuisines, hot springs and traditional crafts.
Shinjuku Station Odakyu Line Platform (South Ticket Gate)
I arrived at Odakyu Shinjuku Station at 7:00AM so that I could fully enjoy Hakone. Without further to due, I bought a Hakone Free Pass and a limited express ticket for the Romance Car.
Shinjuku Station South Exit "Odakyu Tourist Information Center" (Photo: Odakyu Electric Railway)
In front of the Odakyu South and West Exits, there are manned ticket offices for foreign tourists, "Odakyu Tourist Information Centers."
They are open from 8 AM to 6 PM every day. Every day many foreign tourists visit these offices, which are known as places that provide support for trips to Hakone with Odakyu.
I purchased a Free Pass and a limited express ticket without any problems and got onto the Romance Car. Since a Free Pass substitutes for a train ticket, I only purchased a limited express ticket to take the Romance Car from Shinjuku Station to Hakone Yumoto Station.
I sat in a spacious seat on the Romance car, bought a cafe latte from the onboard services, and headed in a relaxed mood for Hakone Yumoto Statoin.
10:30 AM - Enjoy Hakone, the Town of Yosegi Zaiku Crafts
Platform at Hakone Yumoto Station
After about a 90-minute ride on the Romance Car, I arrived at Hakone Yumoto Station, the "doorway" to Hakone.
After relaxing a bit at a cafe inside the station, I put my baggage in a locker and got on a bus. All you have to do is show your Free Pass to the bus drivers when getting on and off the buses.
Hakone Tozan Bus Route H
Getting on a Route H Hakone Tozan Bus, I first headed for Hakone Sekisho-ato.
I headed for Hakone Sekisho by bus, to experience Yosegi Zaiku, Hakone's signature traditional craft making technique, which originated in the end of the Edo period.
Hakone Maruyama Bussan
I stopped by Hakone Maruyama Bussan(Product), which is located in Sekisho-ato. In addition to purchasing Yosegi Zaiku marquetry, you can also directly experience the technique yourself.
Here you can experience making a popular product of Yosegi Zaiku, puzzle boxes. Puzzle boxes, which are also called gimmick boxes, are types of treasure boxes that you can open by sliding their faces in certain directions.
I learned more about Yosegi Zaiku from the artisan. Yosegi Zaiku is made with the technique of kumi (joining wood together) without using nails. Japanese handiwork is very detailed and amazing.
I tried making a puzzle box
It costs 1,980 yen to make a small puzzle box. The box-making procedure involves assembling six flat wood pieces, putting stickers with Yosegi Zaiku patterns on them, smoothing them out with a file, and glossing the box with wax. Only at this store, you can experience box-making starting with the stage of assembling wood pieces into a box that opens with gimmicks.
Completed puzzle box
The finished puzzle box is about palm-size and it can only be opened by those who know the gimmicks. I was very satisfied to have gotten my hands on my own treasure box.
◆ Route to Hakone Maruyama Bussan
From Hakone Yumoto Sation, take a route H Hakone Tozan Bus (Hakone Machi Line) to Hakone Sekisho-ato.
The destination is about a-minute walk from the bus stop.
Read more about Hakone's "Yosegi Zaiku Crafts"↓↓
3 spots to experience traditional crafts “Yosegi Zaiku”
12:00 PM - Good-luck Prayer at Hakone Shrine
It was 11:00AM. After making Yosegi Zaiku marquetry, I went to Hakone Shrine, which is one of the most prominent spiritual sites in Hakone.
It is located at a 10-minute ride away on Route H Hakone Tozan Bus from the Hakone Sekisho-ato bus stop. You get off the bus at Hakoen Jinja Iriguchi (Hakone Shrine Entrance).
Hakone Shrine Main Hall
Then you arrive at Hakone Shrine after about a 10-minute walk. On the property of Hakone Shrine, there is also its shingu (sub-shrine that was constructed more recently) Kuzuryu Shrine, allowing you to pray at both during a single visit.
The divine benefits Hakone Shrine offers include victory, easy delivery, fortune, and good luck. Kuzuryu Shrine is believed to provide divine benefits of matchmaking as well as fortune and wish realization. I prayed so that I would be blessed with a good romantic relationship and fortune, and fully enjoyed the refreshing air surrounded by cedar trees.
◆ Route to Hakone Shrine
From the bus stop Hakone Sekisho-ato, take a Route H Hakone Tozan Bus (Hakone Machi Line) to Hakone Shrine Entrance.
The destination is about a 10-minute walk away from the bus stop.
Read more about the spiritual hotspots - Hakone Shrine & Kuzuryu Shrine↓↓
Guidance for Ryo-sha Mairi to Hakone Shrine & Kuzuryu Shrine
1:00 PM - Visiting Narukawa Art Museum by Moto-Hakone Port
Narukawa Art Museum
Did you know Hakone has various art museums all over? In this nature-abundant area, there are many art spots where you can immerse yourself in works of art while enjoying the scenery of trees.
Having heard that there is an art museum with a panoramic view of Lake Ashi, Hakone Shrine, and even Mt. Fuji, I decided to head for "Narukawa Art Museum" standing alongside Lake Ashi. With a Hakone Free Pass, you can get a 200-yen discount on the admission fee (100-yen discount for an elementary or junior high school student).
I took a Route H Hakone Tozan Bus from Hakone Shrine Entrance to Moto Hakone Port.
Exhibition room at Narukawa Art Museum (Photo: provided by Narukawa Art Museum)
Narukawa Art Museum is a museum dedicated to Japanese-style paintings. It has a lineup of beautiful works with gentle touches; many of them are themed with Kacho Fugetsu, which means the beauty of natural scenery in Japanese.
Here, I learned about differences between Japanese-style and Western-style paintings, and how to appreciate Japanese-style paintings.
I learned that Japanese-style paintings are painted with pigment called rock paint, instead of tubed paint.
Rock paint pigment
Rock paint was originally made by graining rocks and stones to make pigment. Because every subtle color of the rocks and stones reflect on to the stone as is, there is a total of over 100 different shades of rock paint. In order to actually use it as paint, it takes lot of work including dissolving the paint and mixing it with nikawa (a type of glue) to increase its viscosity.
Here too, I was able to experience subtlety that is rooted in a traditional culture and unique to Japanese people.
Observation deck at Narukawa Art Museum (Photo: Provided by Narukawa Art Museum)
In the back of the museum, there is a panorama observation deck where you can enjoy a superb view.
Unfortunately, it was cloudy this day and I didn't get to see Mount Fuji, but you can enjoy a view of Mount Hakone and Mount Fuji which varies from season to season.
◆ Route to Narukawa Art Museum
From Hakone Shrine Entrance, take a Route H Hakone Tozan Bus to Moto Hakone Port.
The destination is about a 3-minute walk away from the bus stop.
2:50 PM - All Aboard the Pirate Ship! A View of Mt. Fuji & Hakone Shrine
After leaving Narukawa Art Museum, I went to Moto Hakone Port across the street from the museum in order to get on Hakone’s unique pirate ship. There are currently three kinds of Hakone Pirate Ships, which are called Royal II, Victory, and Vasa. In April 2019, a new pirate ship "Queen Lake Ashi" will join the three.
Hakone Pirate Ship "Vasa"
Of course, with a Hakone Free Pass, you can get an unlimited ride on the pirate ship. With my Free Pass, I took a leisurely cruise from Moto Hakone Port to Togendai Port, which would otherwise cost 1,0000 yen.
I took the pirate ship Vasa that was a cute emerald green shade. The golden decoration enhances the dazzling image of pirates.
Although this day was a weekday in February, many tourists were waiting in line to get onboard. We got onto the docked Vasa and then our cruise started. The pirate ship started moving slowly with the engine sound.
Captain statue standing on the deck
Going up to the deck, I found statue of the captain standing in the center and crew statues standing on the lookout platform. The detailed pirate world got me excited as if I were a pirate myself.
Shrine Gate of Peace floating in Lake Ashi
The ride from Moto Hakone Port to Togendai Port is about 20 minutes.
En route, you can enjoy a wonderful view that includes the torii (shrine gate) of Hakone Shrine standing in the lake.
Although the winds were still cold, there were many people holding cameras to capture this superb view. Clouds blocked the view of Mt. Fuji, but I could fully enjoy a much more extensive view of Lake Ashi than I had expected.
New Pirate Ship "Queen Ashinoko"
The new pirate ship "Queen Ashinoko (Lake Ashi)" will be running as one of the Hakone Pirate Ships, starting on Thursday, April 25.
I recommend you try boarding the new pirate ship to join the three.
◆ Route to the Hakone Pirate Ships (Moto-Hakone Port)
From Narukawa Art Museum, walk for about 3 minutes.
Read more about the Hakone Ashi Lake pirate ships!↓↓
Cruise Hakone on a Pirate Ship!
3:30 PM - Ride the Ropeway in Search of Black Eggs
After I got off the pirate ship at Togendai Port, I decided to have a late lunch at a restaurant on the port, and then get onto the Hakone Ropeway to enjoy "a walk in the air."
Walk in the air on the Hakone Ropeway
The Hakone Ropeway operates at about 1-minute interval from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM from February to November and from 9:00 AM to 4:15 PM in the wintertime of December to January. Here too, all you need is your Free Pass to get onboard. I got onto one of the ropeways that was running one after another and headed for Owakudani.
I arrived at Owakudani after a 16-minute ropeway ride from Togendai Station. My main interest here are the black eggs sold in Owakudani.
Black eggs are one of the foods that represent Hakone; eating one of these eggs is believed to extend your life by 7 years. They are only available at the top of the ropeway in Owakudani.
White smoke rising all over Owakudani
When I left the station surrounded in the smell of sulfur, there was an extensive view of Owakudani with white smoke rising up. Owakudani, which is a well-maintained popular tourist spot, it was once the crater remains called "Jigoku Dani” (Hell Valley). Its history is as long as about 3,000 years. Being one of Hakone Volcano's largest crater remains, Owakudani still spews out high-temperature steam and sulfur.
Black eggs are boiled in hot springs of Owakudani. Iron, which is one of the components of a hot spring, attaches itself to egg shells, causing a chemical reaction, which turns the shells black.
Kurotamago Kan Owakudani
In order to taste these black eggs, I visited Kurotamagokan located right in front of Owakudani Station. In addition to souvenirs, I found five freshly made black eggs available for 500 yen.
Black egg (500 yen for 5)
You can have steaming hot black eggs with salt as needed.
The black shells had a slight scent of sulfur, and inside the thoroughly heated eggs were hot and fluffy egg yolks. I finished three of them by myself.
◆ Route to Owakudani Kurotamago Kan
From Togendai Port, take the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani Station.
The destination is less than a minute walk away from Owakudani Station.
5:00 PM - Stopping by the Gora Area via Cablecar & Mountain Train
After tasting the black eggs that had been my main purpose of my visit to Owakudani, I was set to take the Hakone Ropeway from Owakudani Station to Sounzan Station. Since the Ropeway happened to be under a regular inspection, I took a free shuttle bus running between Owakudani Station and Sounzan Station. The bus went down the mountain from Owakudani and arrived at Sounzan Station.
The sun was setting at a little past 5:00 PM in Hakone, and my fingertips were shivering from the cold. It was about time to take a Hakone hot spring bath to get all warmed up.
But before that, I stopped by the Gora area to get some souvenirs from Hakone.
The Hakone Tozan Cable Car
You can take the Hakone Tozan Cable Car from Sounzan Station to Gora Station.
I went down the precipitous path on the cute two-car Cable Car. The Cable Car continued to Gora Station, passing by museums and Gora Park. The Gora area also has plenty of facilities where you can fully enjoy Hakone. I decided to include visits to those facilities in a plan for my next trip to Hakone.
Platform of Gora Station
I decided to get off the Cable Car at Gora Station and take the Hakone Tozan Railway to Hakone Yumoto Station.
Outside the exit of Gora Station, there are many souvenir shops. At some stores you can get 5% discounts with a Hakone Free Pass.
Since the Hakone Tozan Railway trains run every 15 to 20 minutes, it may be a good idea to get some souvenirs while waiting for your train.
Trains of the Hakone Tozan Raiway are also called Ajisai (hydrangea) Trains; the trains are famous for the beautiful views of hydrangeas that passengers can enjoy on board.
Hydrangeas are usually in full bloom from mid-June, and there are six spots between Gora Station and Hakone Yumoto Station which offer admirable views of hydrangeas in full bloom. Hydrangeas bloom wet in June's rain (June is Japan’s rainy season). According to this timing of blossom, the flowers get illuminated.
◆ Route from Gora Station to Hakone Yumoto Station
Take the Hakone Ropeway (this time I used a free shuttle bus running in replacement due to a regular inspection of the Ropeway) to Sounzan Station.
From Sounzan Station, take the Hakone Tozan Cable Car bound for Gora Station to the final stop.
At Gora Station, transfer to the Hakone Tozan Railway bound for Hakone Yumoto Station and take the train to the last stop.
6:30 PM Enjoy Hakone Onsen Hot Springs at Hakone Yuryo
After I arrived at Hakone Yumoto Station, I picked up my baggage from the coin locker and headed for the final destination on this trip: the long-awaited hot springs.
Entrance to Hakone Yuryo (Photo: Provided by Hakone Yuryo)
I took a free shuttle bus from Hakone Yumoto Station to Hakone Yuryo, a hot spring resort. The hot spring facility has a traditional, tasteful structure like that of an old Japanese-style house, and you feel surrounded by a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere once you enter the building.
Here too, your Hakone Free Pass comes in handy. With the pass, you can get a 200-yen discount on the admission fee.
Having purchased a towel at the front desk, I headed for the public bath, passing by the Irori fireplace. The garden-like Irori fireplace was showing a fantastic expression, illuminated by soft indirect lighting.
Public bath at Hakone Yuryo (Photo: provided by Hakone Yuryo)
The hot springs of Hakone Yuryo are simple alkaline. The low-irritation springs are known as "beautiful skin spa."
I fully enjoyed the open-air rock bath, bath with an extensive view as well as the indoor public bath that reminds you of rural nature. Then I sweated a lot while enjoying the Rouryu service. I felt refreshed both mentally and physically after all these.
In addition to the public bath, Hakone Yuryo offers a total of 19 private open-air baths. You can enjoy Hakone hot springs in your private space with a reservation in advance.
◆ Route to Hakone Yuryo
Take about a three-minute ride on the free shuttle bus from Hakone Yumoto Station.
Read more about Hakone Onsen's hot springs and their types↓↓
Hakone Onsen's 6 Hot Spring Types: Their Characteristics & Effects
Read more about Hakone Onsen's "Juunana-yu" (17 hot springs)↓↓
Guide to the 17 Hot Springs of Hakone
The Hakone Free Pass Saved me ¥1,500!
Having healed my fatigue from the trip, I took the Romance Car for a relaxed ride back to Shinjuku Station from Hakone Yumoto Station.
I tried Yosegi Zaiku, enjoyed art, took the pirate ship and the ropeway, ate black eggs, and relaxed in the hot springs; with all these activities that I enjoyed on my Hakone tour, the Free Pass saved me a total of 1,540 yen.
Considering the amount of money saved for a day trip, you can be an even smarter saver to use a Free Pass on a Hakone trip for a night and two days.
A Relaxed Day Trip to Hakone with the Hakone Free Pass
Touring around an unfamiliar town by car can entail a lot of inconvenience, including renting a car, driving on precipitous mountain paths in Hakone and looking for parking lots. The roads in Hakone are narrow and it is a lot of work just to find a parking lot.
However, with a Hakone Free Pass, you can just show it to the conductors for an unlimited ride on the vehicles in the Hakone area. You can enjoy your trip in a free and relaxed mood, seeing the natural scenery outside the train window, and taking buses to stops close to shops of your interest.
If you are planning a trip to Hakone, please consider using the Hakone Free Pass.