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Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

Ottawa, Canada
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Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

My Japan itinerary for this Fall is pretty much set in stone, but the part I've been kind of waffling on has been Hakone. I thought it would be nice to end my trip with an evening at a Ryokan with a mountain-side view.

However, with my tight schedule, I can only spend one night there, and the current plan is to head there from Kyoto in the late afternoon in time for dinner, then spend the next day exploring and being back in Tokyo by the evening so that my last day before my flight is there.

I guess my question is if this will turn out to be too much of a hassle or a rush? Will it be easy/affordable to find transportation from the Odawara station to somewhere closer to the lake that is direct and not following the loop? If I'm pressed for time the next morning, is it easy to get to attractions without doing the loop i.e. straight to the open-air museum?

Conversely, if you think this limited amount of time will not be ideal and I change this to just spending more time in Tokyo and/or Kyoto, is there another good alternative spot to recommend either in those two cities or in the journey in-between? I know there are tons of Ryokans in both but many don't seem to have outdoor onsens and I'm worried it will still have the feel of being in a big city.

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Kyoto
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Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
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Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
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Odawara
Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
8 replies to this topic
Columbus, OH
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1. Re: Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

It's worth it, but you probably won't be able to do/see everything with that limited amount of time. (My husband and I ended up spending almost all day at the Open-Air Museum - it's incredibly beautiful and serene, plus there's just a lot of ground to cover.) Pick a few spots that you want to prioritize. Regarding transportation, I'm not sure what you mean by the loop, but once you get up into the mountains, your options are fairly limited.

Edited: 13 June 2018, 00:04
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2. Re: Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

>>I know there are tons of Ryokans in both but many don't seem to have outdoor onsens and I'm worried it will still have the feel of being in a big city.<<

You are right that Kyoto is a big city, and it is not an onsen place (and thus practically no outdoor baths).

Um, ... Tokyo is a good city, and I like living in Tokyo, but most things offered by Tokyo are offered elsewhere in Japanese cities including Kyoto. I don't think it matters much whether you'd have a long last day in Tokyo (you can do your midnight last hour shopping at Don Quijote store and last midnight izakaya crawls in Tokyo). Tokyo does offer many things but that would be endless.

Edited: 13 June 2018, 00:16
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Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
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Tokyo
Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
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3. Re: Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

It depends on your itinerary, but if you have about 3-4 days for Tokyo in general, you should be able to cover already quite a lot for a single visit. Rather, spend some time exploring other places in Japan, exploring the world of regional specialties.

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Tokyo
Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Rayleigh, United...
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for Seoul, Rothenburg
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4. Re: Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

not really sure why you're anti "the loop". It's a series of different transport means and you can use it as a loop (either way) or as there's buses that cross between stations on the different rail lines. So yes you can take a train straight to the Open Air museum. There's no compulsion to stay on any vehicle and you can get off where you like and get back in the opposite direction if you want.

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5. Re: Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

During daytime, it's not a hassle at all to take the Hakone Mountain Railway from Odawara with a change to special tracks/train at Hakone Yumoto (for the bit run down onsen town), up the way to Chokokuno Mori (for the Open Air Museum) or Gora for a change to bus for Yunessan (for Okada Museum of Art or swimsuit onsen theme park). Cable car will take you from Gora to Sounzan (where the top ryokans are located), and Ropeway to Owakudani for the volcanic opening, then onto Togendai (by Lake Ashi) where the Pirate Ship will depart to Hakonemachi (for Hakone Checkpoint Museum and Oncho Hakone Park [former Imperial Villa]) and Motohakone ports. Returning to Hakone Yumoto is easy. Going to other areas within wide Hakone such as Sengokuhara plains and Otome Pass seems rather tricky but easy if you change to bus at Gora or Hakone Yumoto.

There is a bigger issue which might be the increase of tourists (Hakone is the nearest hot springs resort from Tokyo, and there can be some people of the generation of the Cultural Revolutions who were taught to speak and act rough and tough from our giant neighbor - they are welcome at least for mutual understanding but sometime it's too excessive).

Edited: 13 June 2018, 00:47
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6. Re: Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

Map: https:/…hakone_map.pdf

Tourists of all nationality, ethnicity, and religion are welcome to Japan. Badly mannered tourists of all kinds, including the Japanese of course, are not welcome.

Edited: 13 June 2018, 00:56
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Ottawa, Canada
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7. Re: Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

@ethelman2: Not really "anti-loop". I guess I was just concerned since most of the transportation discussion online for Hakone focuses on those options, and based on my googling, it seems if there are other options people didn't know about it, because there were complaints of people struggling for a fast way back to their hotel while in Hakone. I guess I was just worried that if I do end up spending too much time somewhere if the only travel options were tourist buses making tons of stops or only going in a certain direction.

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Hakone Hotel
Hakone Hotel
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Hakone-machi, Japan
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8. Re: Hakone worth it on tight schedule?

There are just two bus routes between Hakonemachi Port and Hakone Yumoto. It depends largely on timing and how much attention is made to the sign Express 急行.

Take a look at the map (and routes K and R): https:/…hakone_busroot.pdf

Edited: 13 June 2018, 02:05
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Hakone Yumoto Hotel
Hakone Yumoto Hotel
81 Reviews
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