I had a 3 day trip in Tokyo, so I have time to trek to a further away spot. Originally I was thinking to stay a night in Hakone, but I didn't feel like carrying my bag on multiple modes of transport. Plus, staying in Tokyo was so much cheaper..
Next is to pick which day out of the 3.. It's more optimal to go early in the day, since not a lot of action after sunset (the ropeway actually shuts down at 4:15pm!). Because my flight arrives at 5:30am, I decided to use day 1.
The Hakone adventure is a loop. Starting at Odawara -> Hakone-Yumoto -> Gora -> Togendai -> Moto-Hakone -> Hakone-Yumoto -> Odawara. From Odawara, there are various ways to/from Tokyo - I chose the Shinjuku route (which is also where I'm staying for the night).
Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto
I got to the Odakyu side of Shinjuku station right at 8am, when they opened the tourist info center, which sells the Hakone Free Pass for Y5100. It includes 1 round trip to Odawara, and unlimited rides of selected modes of transport within Hakone, and discounts to a few spots.
Due to the confusion between Local, Express, Rapid Express, Limited Express (which costs extra), I ended up on the Express, which was about 30 minutes slower than the Rapid Express.
The transfers between modes of transport was rather painless - you walk right up to the next platform. After the Odawara transfer, I figured I'll check out Hakone-Yumoto a bit. After walking a block, I abandoned due to the morning chill, and hopped onto the next train, which turned out to be interesting because it switched back around 3 times due to the hills.
Hakone Open Air Museum
With a friend's recommendation, I went to the Hakone Open Museum, which provides a discount with the Hakone Free Pass at Chokokunomori Station. Overall it's just art, which was not exactly my cup of tea.
The highlight was the free open air foot onsen.. Quite nice in the slightly chilly weather.
Then, by the time I got back to the station, the train was approach, so I hopped on to continue to Gora. Otherwise the noodle place across from Chokokunomori is recommended by some travel guide. Once I got to Gora, I got hungry and hunted around for food. And why not a drink from the vending machine while I'm there - it's hot!
Now is the time for the exciting part of the trip.. Great view climbing up on the cable car from Gora to Souzen, then the Hakone Ropeway over to Odawari. Breathtaking view of Mt Fuji and the volcano along the way on this super clear day.
Time for highlight #2 - the black egg. I did not want to get a pack of 4 or whatever, so it's skipped. And also skipped extending my life by a few years.
It's a little smelly and steamy up there.. I guess it's a volcano afterall
Apparently we're in danger zone and can't do the hike.
Welps, more snap spots for Mt Fuji!
They even have a food spot indoors with the view! (which helps.. It's a bit chilly outside..)
Odawari -> Lake Ashi
It's actually a different cable car to take you down. This is about a 15 minute ride. View on the way down is not too bad.
Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (Pirate ship)
There is nothing of note at the pier. It's just a spot to get off the cable car and get on the boat. The boat itself is somewhat interesting, checking out the lake. No view of Fuji in sight. It's a little chilly outside, so I stayed mostly inside for the 40 minute ride.
The boat makes 2 stops - Hakonemachi-ko, then Motohakone-ko. I opted for the latter since it looks like there's more to do, and there's a good number of people still on the boat after the first stop.
There's a few things I don't quite get - what's so interesting here, and why is there a line to take a picture with an inari that's in the water, but you can't get close enough to it. Whatever - I walked back to the pier for the next adventure.
That's when I discovered this interesting looking cafe... Why would anyone sit outdoors in this cold weather? Because it has free foot spa................ with an awesome view...... yesss.......
Motohakone-ko -> Hakone-Yumoto
This is the challenging part, since it's bus only and a lot of options.
I assumed R is the fastest, counting the number of dots. I don't know if I'm right, but I missed the first bus because they asked if anyone want standing room only and the bus is tucked behind another bus. Fine, 20 minutes later I get a seat for the ride while the bus was packed.
I could have went to Odawara directly, but I wanted to hit an onsen before I leave! That took me a walk along a nice river about 15 minutes from the train station.
The onsen itself, of course, didn't allow pictures, so that's all you'll get!
After that, back to Shinjuku - except this time I found the Rapid Express that took 90 minutes.