Fuji Hakone Odakyu Pass – booking, itinerary and experience


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Although the Fuji-Hakone route is widely explored by travelers, I had a huge struggle in planning this leg of the journey. The information provided online is either incomplete or in bits and pieces and I simply could not find any blog or forum which puts them all together. The Fuji Hakone Odakyu Free Pass had been modified on 1st April 2016 to a price of 8000Y (previously 7200Y), with an increased coverage of buses and trains.

A lot of time & effort was spent in preparing this entry and I hope that it will be of good help!

Note: this post will only be talking about the planning, purchase and transport coordination. Reviews of each individual attraction/accommodation will be reviewed in a later post.

Here’s a summary of my itinerary, in order of the sequence I visited.

fuji hakone odakyu guide

Booking was a complete mess and headache

  • Fuji Hakone Pass cannot be booked/purchased online unless you are booking it as a package together with a hotel accommodation
    * Hotel + Pass package can be found at Odakyu Travel Website
  • If you are planning to take Romancecar (a faster train between Shinjuku & Hakone Yumoto Station), it is advisable to make a payable booking online before your trip as tickets may run out early on popular dates.
    It is an additional 890Y (on top of the 8000Y you will be paying for the pass) and it guarantees you a comfortable seat for the 85-min journey.
    Should you choose to take the public train (free with the pass), be prepared to squeeze with the usual Japanese crowd along the Odakyu line which runs southwest of Tokyo. Furthermore, there are no reserved seats and the journey takes approximately 2 hours long with a change of train @ Odawara Station.
    *** If you are holding on to a JR Pass, it is advisable to take JR Lines to Odawara Station and purchase the cheaper Fuji Hakone Pass at 5,650Y.
  • Fuji Hakone Pass only covers highway buses from Kawaguchiko to Shinjuku Station (not Shibuya Station). Please do NOT book the wrong one.
    Booking of bus ticket is necessary and tickets for the later timings often gets “booked” out very quickly.
    While we were purchasing the Fuji Hakone Pass at Shinjuku Odakyu station one day before the trip, there were only morning return options from Kawaguchiko to Shinjuku station. It wasn’t the best case scenario as we planned to explore a couple of attractions in Kawaguchiko prior to our return. (I’ll talk more about it in my experience below)
    Do note that booking for these bus tickets can only be done one month in advance on the highway buses website and the crappiest part of this booking is that payment is not required and you do not get any email confirmation. Only first name, last name and contact number is required and you need to print out your confirmation.
    Why is this crappy? Irresponsible people can book multiple timings without any penalty if they do not appear. There were empty seats in our bus.
    If you were not able to get a seat in the buses back to Shinjuku, do note that buses to Shibuya and trains back to Tokyo is not covered with the Fuji Hakone Pass.

My long and complicated annoying experience (can skip if you don’t intend to be confused)

Click to read my experience


Despite my usually foolproof planning due to my extensive research, I made a small mistake in remembering my booking which resulted in us spending slightly a bit more money as a result. As mentioned above, the booking of the return highway bus tickets was somewhat necessary and I knew this information long beforehand and I checked for availability exactly one month in advance but the website had a huge problem and I couldn’t book the bus ticket at all (reflects as 0 available timings). After trying for a few days, I facebook message the company and they informed me that their website is down and the only alternative was to call them for a booking. To be honest, I wasn’t willing to spend on an international call and I was uncertain of the communication barrier. They informed me that the 4 to 7 pm bus timings were no longer available, only 3pm and 8:15pm were left yet I still couldn’t get through to the website. Weirdly, they informed me that the ticketing for the Kawaguchiko Shibuya route was working well and I could consider booking that route since Shibuya was only a 5 min train ride from Shinjuku. I can’t remember what happened but I eventually managed to book a 8PM+ bus and printed out the confirmation. Note: There’s no freaking email confirmation for this “free” booking and I actually couldn’t remember/got confused with the station names. In my mind, I booked the Kawaguchiko-Shibuya route but in reality I booked the Kawaguchiko-Shinjuku route. So.. when we were queuing up at the Odakyu counter to purchase the Fuji Hakone Pass (Please pre-purchase the pass as the queue can be really long! It took us almost an hour.), the staff informed me that my Kawaguchiko-Shibuya bus route (which I thought I booked) was not covered by the Fuji Hakone Pass. As there was no email confirmation and I did not bring the printout along with me that day, I couldn’t double confirm my booking with the staff. I wanted to re-book another bus timing for the Kawaguchiko-Shinjuku route but I was informed that there were only morning timings left (which would screw up my planned itinerary). Eventually, the staff recommended us to buy the cheaper Fuji Hakone Pass (5,650Y), the Romancecar Train ticket (880Y), the bus ticket (1,750Y) separately. Total damage was 8,280Y, 280Y or 3.5% more expensive but it would solve my problem of not having to leave Kawaguchiko early on the last day via bus. The 5,650Y (Start at Odawara) Fuji Hakone Pass was intended to serve the JR Pass holders but I ended up buying it due to the stupid confusion (or perhaps temporary memory failure) of the 2 different bus interchanges. Don’t understand why the pass only includes the Shinjuku route and not the Shibuya route when it is both run by the same company? Anyway, I only found out that I booked the Kawaguchiko-Shinjuku route when I checked my booking printout when we returned to our accommodation that night and we could have save the extra 280Y. Another comment I have is that the staff at Odakyu counter was not very familiar with the various bus routes too. There were a couple of questions that I needed to reconfirm with them (e.g. a bus route that I wanted to take only had 3 timings according to Google Maps) but they did not know exactly what I was referring to and had to go back and forth with their “manager” in charge. I guess it explains the 1-hour wait for the pass purchase.. It is confusing, but it can be done; not to worry.

The Planning of Itinerary

The first (usually the toughest) question is usually to decide if you should start off with Kawaguchiko or Hakone first? Initially, I preferred to start off with kawaguchiko as I felt that returning from Kawaguciko to Tokyo was riskier as it can only be done by buses which has lesser capacity compared to the trains. Furthermore, trains are likely to be more reliable in timings. However, while searching for ryokan accommodation, I chanced upon a ryokan which gives you Mt Fuji view from your bedroom window at $200/night (includes breakfast, no dinner)! The catch was that toilets and shower facilities are shared but at the price for that view, it was too good to be true! This ryokan (which only had 5 rooms) was only available on my 2nd night and it was the LAST ROOM LEFT according to booking.com. Without hesitation, I booked it immediately (2 months prior to my trip) since it was free cancellation (up to 14 days). I was really very lucky to even get a room as this property is usually sold out!

Using the only recommended itinerary of Hakone I found online as reference, I started to draft my own itinerary.

1 day hakone itinerary

Day 1

[8:53] Romancecar Train from Shinjuku (Odakyu Line) to Hakone Yumoto Station
Tickets were pre-booked prior to trip. Romancecar tickets are reserved seating. Surprisingly, no one checked our tickets this time round. I guess the train conductor would probably have a list of reserved seats and as long as there’s no one sitting on a supposedly empty seat, they wouldn’t bother to check our tickets.

[10:36] Arrival at Hakone Yumoto Station
Weirdly, I couldn’t find a counter which has the stamp/chop. I thought it was a common thing for train stations in Japan.
Anyway, it was quite a straightforward station, follow the signs and you should be able to find the bus stop to Moto Hakone.
There were several souvenir shops in the area but we didn’t stop by any as we were in a rush.

[10:50] 40 mins Bus ride to 元箱根 (Moto Hakone) at Lake Ashi
If you are holding on to a Fuji/Hakone Pass, you can just flash the pass before you board and alight.
If you do not have a ticket, please remember to collect a ticket which indicates which station you boarded the bus from. You will have to pass this ticket to the driver when you alight and pay the bus fare as indicated on the screen in the bus. If I didn’t record wrongly, the bus ride cost 960Y from Hakone Yumoto to Moto Hakone.

[11:42] Walk & Explore Hakone Shrine + Tori Gate in Water
After alighting the bus, we took a walk towards Hakone Shrine. It was quite a bit of walking (maybe it felt tougher because of my 3D2N load + tripod). After visiting the shrine and doing the usual routine, we walked down searching for the semi-submerged Tori Gate. We waited a really long while before being able to take a photo without any human disturbance. I got to admit that my photos for the entire trip were quite terrible as the weather/sky wasn’t good and I don’t have time to do any editing. So.. I’m just showing the reality of a not-so-good-sky-day photo.


[12:42] Lunch at random restaurant
We had lunch at a random (somewhat traditional) ramen/soba place near the Pirate Boat area. It tasted very average (kind of disappointed); nothing worth mentioning.

[13:20] 30 minutes Pirate Boat ride to Togendai

This Cruise/Boat ride in a Pirate-looking ship will bring you to Togendai. It is the second boat terminal you see if you’re walking away from the Hakone Shrine. Please make sure that the boat you are boarding brings you to Togendai. (There are other cruises for sightseeing which makes a loop trip) You can check the timetable if you want to plan more accurately. With Fuji Hakone Pass, the ride is free. Without it, it will set you back at 1000Y. You can print out a 10% coupon from this website too.
When you are in the cruise (and feeling bored), there are trick eye pieces that you can take photos with.

[14:06] Ropeway from Togendai to Owakundani and down to Ubako
Once you reach the dock, follow the crowd/signage to Togendai Station (Hakone Ropeway aka Cable Car). The cable car is covered by the Fuji Hakone Pass (otherwise it is 1370Y). It will bring from Togendai to Ubako. However, you have an option to take the ropeway to the next station (Owakundani) for a round trip. Do note that you will have to leave your cable car, walk a small passage way within the station, but you will not be allowed to leave the Station due to presence of volcanic gas. You will be able to smell some sulphuric gases and this is not ideal for pregnant woman or people with respiratory problems. A small wet towel is given in case you need to block the smell from your nose. Furthermore, there’s a small emergency kit located in every cable car.

If I don’t recall wrongly, each cable car can sit 8 people and they will assign you base on the crowd. Although it wasn’t particularly crowded, we still had 8 people in our car; not lucky enough to have a private one. As you ascend up, you may feel a slight change in ear pressure and on good days, you can chance upon Mt Fuji!

The view gets better when you go higher so I recommend that you do the extra loop to Owakundani!


[14:44] Bus transfer to Souzan
As the ropeway is not operating from Owakundani to Souzan, you will have to return to Ubako and take a bus transfer to Souzan.

[15:18] Tram down to Gora Station
From Souzan Station, you will transfer to the Hakonetozan Cable Car (which feels more like a tram ride – similar to the one in Hong Kong Victoria Peak)
It will be a very expensive 10 minutes ride, costing 420Y without the Fuji Hakone Pass.

** If you are ending your day trip in Hakone, you can return to Odawara or HakoneYumoto by taking the Hakone Tozan Train. If you travel in June, you will be greeted with full bloom Hydrangea flower lining the sides. More information.

[15:29] Walk to Hakone Open Air Museum
Instead of waiting for the train, we decided to save time by taking a 15 minutes walk from Gora Station to Hakone Open Air Museum.

[15:45] Hakone Open Air Museum (Close at 5pm)
The entrance fee was not covered with the free pass but we had a discount  paid 1400Y (original 1600Y). Don’t forget to flash your Fuji Hakone Pass as there will be discounts at most attractions! The annoying thing is that I couldn’t find a listing of discounted attractions online.. (A kind reader left me a link for the list of attractions which provides discount, but they don’t state how much is the discount.). Alternatively, you can print a 100Y discount coupon from their website online.

There are lockers available at the entrance of this museum and the best part was that the 100Y we inserted was refundable! It was nice to deposit our heavy backpack and enjoy the afternoon walk in the museum with just our camera and valuables.

The premises is pretty big, even if you intend to rush through everything, you will need at least an hour. If you have the luxury of time to appreciate and photograph every single artwork, I think it will require at least 3 hours! There’s a special museum dedicated to Picasso too. There are a few areas suitable for children to play or climb up. Would have been a fun place if I were a lot younger.

TIP: Don’t forget to leave some time for this free outdoor foot spa (65 degrees). If you need a towel to wipe your feet after you are done, you can get a souvenir towel at only 100Y! There are limited slots available so you might have to wait patiently for your turn. It was definitely a relaxing session after a whole day of adventure.

The museum closes at 5pm and we had just enough time to rush to the bus stop to catch the last bus to our accommodation. If I didn’t recall properly, the bus was supposed to arrive at 17:08 but it was delayed. Japanese public transport is so reliable such that if the bus didn’t come on time, we will be doubting the accuracy of the bus timing that google maps provide us with. Thankfully the bus eventually came and this 20-min ride (450Y) was once again covered by the Hakone Free Pass.

[17:13] Bus to Accommodation – SHINANOKI ICHINOYU 『品の木 一の湯』

Click to read Review of Ryokan in separate entry.

Day 2

[9:20] Bus to Little Prince Museum
Little Prince Museum was a 11-min walk away from our accommodation (according to Google Maps) but we managed to hop on a bus (covered by Hakone Free pass) with courtesy of Google Maps directions and reached Little Prince Museum in 5 minutes.

[9:28] Reached Little Prince Museum
There are lockers at Little Prince Museum as well, however, this time it was chargeable (100Y). Ticket price was 1450Y with the Free Pass (Original 1600Y) and you can also download a coupon to receive a 100Y discount from original price.

I highly recommend everyone to read the book or at least watch the movie before visiting this museum. Otherwise, the museum may be a lot less meaningful with you as you will not be able to understand how the museum attempts to draw parallels between the author’s life and the story. There’s an all english guide which you can read while walking through the exhibits. I had a lot of interesting insights through the walk as there were parts in the book which felt so negligible yet has a deep significance in the author’s life. Highly recommend a visit if you’re visiting Hakone. However, this place may not be suitable for children as the interactive areas were minimal. The gift shop was awesome.

[10:40] Bus to Sengoku
Followed the directions of Google Maps and we ended up with a route which required almost an hour of wait time at Sengoku. Do note that as it was a Saturday, the bus timings were a lot less frequent compared to regular weekdays.
[12:03] Arrived at Sengoku + waited
[11:40] Bus to Gotemba
Without the Free pass, the bus ride would have been 670Y. Anyway, for this part of the journey, google’s map routing of Gotemba is inaccurate for reasons I do not know. But basically, just confirm with your bus driver that you are heading for Gotemba station.

[12:03] Arrive at Gotemba
[12:08] Bus from Gotemba to Kawaguchiko
When you reach Gotemba, you will have to climb up the station steps, cross over to the other side and climb down the station steps to get to the bus stop which will bring you to Kawaguchiko. It was a mad dash for me as my friend was literally running towards the bus after her visit to the restroom. Thankfully the driver was patient enough to wait.

The bus ride was approximately 100 minutes long and it will bring you pass Lake Yamanaka along the way. Below is one of the few photos I managed to snap while I’m on the bus. Would love to return one day to complete my visit of all 5 lakes of Mt Fuji.

[13:39] Arrived at Kawaguchiko Station

This is definitely one of Japan’s prettiest train station with Mt Fuji as a backdrop!!


[14:05] Queueing + Lunch at Noodles Restaurant opposite the station
After purchasing tickets to the no-longer-pink-moss flowers festival, we had lunch at this famous and traditional noodle house, Hoto Fudo. It was situated right opposite the train station and it has a queue (I mean things with queue should hardly go wrong..). It was 1,050Y for the pot below and this serving could easily feed 2! To be honest, I’m still unsure about Japan’s sharing culture. For example in some cafes, we do see fine print which says that each person has to order at least one drink.. so we’re not sure if it’s the same for F&B. There might just be an unspoken rule which you will get eye-judged if you didn’t follow. Who knows?

It could be just me or perhaps udon is just not my thing. The soup was nice but it gets a bit gelat after a while. Furthermore, there’s no meat in the dish so my meal feels a little incomplete =

[15:01] Bus to Pink Moss Flowers Festival
We deposited our backpacks in the lockers at the station. The lockers were almost 90% taken and we were very lucky to find a medium-sized locker for sharing at 500Y if I didn’t recall wrongly. Do note that there are more lockers situated outside the station, somewhere on the right side. We only discovered this info on our last day! Anyway, the people using the lockers are very trusting. Inside the locker room, there were a few big luggage left unattended. These luggage obviously couldn’t fit into the lockers provided and the owners just left it inside. When we returned at 5pm, they were gone.

[15:34] Arrive at Festival Venue
Despite being informed that the peak for Pink Moss Flowers Festival is over (they even show photos of the current situation), we decided to proceed with our visit as it was a Mt Fuji viewing spot too. There was even a discount for our (bus+ticket) purchase as the Festival area is now free and all that we were paying was for the two way bus ride. Price was 1450Y (discounted from 2000Y) and there was no extra discount for the Fuji Hakone Pass.

The Sakura flavoured ice cream was not nice at all =( I guess Sakura does not have much flavour to begin with)

Anyway this video sums up my experience of expectations vs reality..


[17:00] Bus back to Kawaguchiko Station
It was a pretty rush visit for us as we had to make sure we got back to Kawaguchiko Station in time to transfer to the last bus for the red line which will bring us to our accommodation for the night,

[17:45] Board Last Red Line Retro bus to Komaya Ryokan
Thankfully, we were able to made it in time and the driver of the bus was really nice! When we boarded, he asked where we were staying for the night and even stopped us nearer to our accommodation even though it was not a stop!
If you don’t have the Fuji Hakone Free Pass, you will have to pay 1200Y for 2 days unlimited usage of the Retro bus. If you just need a one-way trip, the price ranges from 150 to 480Y depending on the distance covered.

[18:07] Alighted & Walked to Komaya Ryokan
The accommodation we stayed in was pretty much a self-service ryokan. For the first time ever (in all my ryokan stays), we were instructed to self-service our mattress and bed sheets from the cupboard. Will talk more about this accommodation in a separate entry. We stayed in the second room from the left!

[18:47] Walked out to find Dinner
I did not book the half board option as I wanted to save money and the plan was to grab cup noodles prior to going to the ryokan but we were rushing too much that we didn’t stop by the convenince store. Thankfully, the old granny at the recep understood what we wanted which was “food” and gave us a map to find food. It took us almost half an hour to walk and decide on a restaurant amongst the 3 empty restaurants in that area. The town was kind of dead quiet and there weren’t many people on the streets either.

[19:14] Dinner @ Unagi Restaurant
We eventually settled for an Unagi Restaurant (we were perhaps the only customers that night) which was pretty pricey. I paid 3600 for an Unagi Set + Gold Flake Sake. The sake felt really cool though, like you’re drinking gold.

*Thankful for the minimal english*

We stopped by Lawson’s on our way back. It was an approximately 15 to 20 minutes walk from our accommodation. I recall that the night was pretty chilly with constant winds as we trekked the dark path back. Do note the the road lamps in such outskirt places can be quite far apart.

Day 3

Set my alarm at sunrise to take several photos and videos. The plan was to get out of my room but I was already so satisfied with the view, thus I didn’t bother walking out =p

Breakfast was a simple affair at Komaya but I recall that slice of melon being exceptionally sweet and tasty!! The melon is likely to be a seasonal fruit so keep your expectations low! Fruits in Japan are rather pricey and I was a little surprise that that a lower budget ryokan would serve it.


[9:15] Left Komaya Ryokan
If we could, we would have left earlier but the earliest public transport (Retro Bus) reaches our stop only at 9:24.
Familiarize yourself with their bus schedule here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/heritage-tour/detail/id/1/

[9:24] Board First Red Line Retro bus to Natural Living Center
Since it was a loop bus starting from Kawaguchiko Station, we hopped on the earlier bus and visited this Natural Living Center (which was the turning point stop)

[9:32] Arrival at Natural Living Center
It was a wise decision to visit this place! We could see Mt Fuji at this area and it was really worth the short visit! We couldn’t linger longer (only stayed for 10 mins) as we had to rush for our planned itinerary.

Ever wondered why Japan is a clean country? It was 9+am on a Saturday morning and there were groups of people strolling everywhere to pick up rubbish. These groups of people (of all ages) were probably the residents around the area as I saw that them gathering at a school nearby. I’m really curious if this project was voluntary or an “unspoken compulsory” as I could sense the differing enthusiasm levels (especially from the teenagers who looked really tired). Nevertheless, it’s a good and healthy habit – having a morning exercise and keeping their surroundings clean at the same time!

[9:42] Board Red Line Retro bus to Kawaguchiko Station
[10:09] Arrive at Kawaguchiko Station
Once again, we deposited our backpack into the lockers at the station. As we were early, we were able to secure a small locker (300Y) each.

[10:50] Board bus heading to Mt Fuji 5th Station
The bus to Mt Fuji 5th Station (Subaru Line), is not covered by the Fuji Hakone Pass. Tickets were bought at a ticket counter within the station. We bought round trip tickets at 2100Y and there were no reserved seating. After you buy your tickets, it would be advisable to start queuing at the boarding area. The bus that ferried us to Mt Fuji was not the 42-seater. It was perhaps a 20-seater with a bigger standing area. We were lucky to secure a seat at the back of the bus!

[11:45] Arrive at Mt Fuji 5th Station
As it was a Sunday, the Mt Fuji 5th Station was swamped with coach buses, private cars and a lot of people. Note: if the climbing season is open (usually in July), private cars are not allowed to go up to the mountain. We visited the shrine (I did the usual fortune lot thing), bought some amulets, visited the gift shop and climbed up a viewing platform. After which, we just walked around the area while waiting for the next bus which would bring us down the mountain.

To be honest, visiting the 5th Station without the actual intention to climb up seems like a “Been there, Done That” agenda. There’s nothing much to do there and I may suggest you to drop this off your agenda if you don’t plan to climb up (or at least explore a portion of the hiking trails). I don’t think I will return here again in the near future.

[12:40] Depart Mt Fuji 5th Station back to Kawaguchiko
[13:25] Arrive at Kawaguchiko Station

[13:30] Lunch at Tempura Restaurant
We discovered a Tempura restaurant (Fuji Tempura Idaten) which was about 5 minutes walk leftwards of Kawaguchiko Station (back-facing). It was not bad and there’s an english menu! I remember having a lot of fun trying out the various salt and seasoning. Can you see the white saucer which looks like Mt Fuji at the bottom of my photo? I really love it a lot but I didn’t see it when I was there! Regretted not asking the staff where they bought it from =( If you happen to see it, please help me get it if it is less than 500Y!

[14:40] Board Green Line Retro bus to Saiko Bat Cave
The next part of the journey – is something that I have debated within myself for a long while on whether I am brave enough to visit the suicide forest. This part deserves a full entry on its own so I’ll just post a few pictures. It is very accessible via the Retro Green Line (bus frequency 30 mins).

[15:21] Arrived at Saiko Bat Cave + Start Aokigahara exploration

[16:00] Got out of forest and found Lake Saiko


[16:19] Board bus to Kawaguchiko
Anyway, the only bad thing about Google Maps is that the Retro Bus schedule and route is not found in Google Maps (as at July 2016). I relied heavily on their bus schedule and it can be a little problematic if I don’t know where the bus stop was. Thankfully, my guess-timade skills and a very calm traveling partner allowed us to walk randomly before chancing upon a bus stop. Perhaps we missed the Retro bus (which was 30 mins frequency), but we managed to wave down another Keio bus (covered by Fuji Hakone Pass) which was heading towards Kawaguchiko Station. The place we were at was a yet-to-be-in-operation summer vacation houses/campsites and there were barely 10 people we met along the way. Even if we were to ask for directions, it would have been tough.

[16:43] Arrive Kawaguchiko Station
Since we still had time to kill before our bus at 8:30pm, we decided to visit the photogenic Pagoda which I didn’t put it as a must-go as it had 400 steps and we couldn’t make it in time for the best view in the morning. Anyway, do note that the last retro bus is about 5-6PM so do plan the places you wish to visit via train at the later part of the day.

[16:55] Depart by train to Shimo-Yoshida Station
[17:14] Arrived at Station and walk to Arakura Sengen Shrine + Chureito Pagoda

Directions to the Shrine and Pagoda from the train station is pretty straigh forward. There are signs along the way as well!

The #nojoke 376 steps left be breathless. I stopped a lot of times to snapchat my climb and to catch up on my breathing. haha.

The view is really quite nice up there (despite all that fog or haze). I would definitely recommend a visit to this place even though you can’t be there at the most optimal timing (early morning). However if you do drive, don’t forget to visit this place in the early morning where the skies will be at its clearest!


[18:55] Train back to Kawaguchiko
We had dinner at the convenience shop (Lawsons) which was a short walk away from the station. Do note that the gift shop at the station closes at 8pm do if you’re intending to get some souvenirs or last minute snacks, do make a purchase before they close. From 8PM to 8:30PM, there’s nothing much to do in that area but wait for the bus which will bring us back to Shinjuku.

[20:30] Bus back to Shinjuku

*****

That’s all I have to share about the complicated planning for Hakone and Kawaguchiko using the Fuji Hakone Free Pass.

Now let’s do some numbers to investigate if the Free Pass is worth the money.

880Y – Train from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto
960Y – Bus from Hakone-Yumoto to Moto Hakone (Hakone Shrine)
1000Y – Pirate boat ride
1370Y – Hakone Ropeway
420Y – Tozen Cable Car (aka Tram)
200Y – Hakone Open Air Museum Discount
450Y – Bus ride to accommodation
150Y – Little Prince Museum Discount
670Y – Bus to Gotemba
1510Y – Bus from Gotemba to Kawaguchiko
1200Y – Kawaguchiko 2 day retro bus
600Y – 2 way ticket from Kawaguchiko to Shimo-Yoshida (Pagoda)
1750Y – bus ride back to Shinjuku

Total: 11,160Y

Why pay 11,160Y when you can pay 8000Y for the Fuji Hakone Free Pass? Don’t forget to grab your pass at the Odakyu Travel Counter at Odakyu Station!

**************

Need help with your plans in Tokyo? Check out this post for a 3-day Tokyo Itinerary Guide!

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  • Hi, I am glad I found your Hakone-Kawaguchiko post as info of ppl covering both of the places is very very little.

    I will be going japan in coming january. These my plan so far

    Day 1- Arrived in Narita(AM)-Ueno-Asasuka-Ginza
    Day 2-Meiji Shrine-Harajuku-Shibuya-Shinjuku
    Day 3-Early bus to Kawaguchiko. stay a night in kawaguchiko.
    Day 4-Bus from Kawa to Hakone. Explore Hakone. Stay a night in Hakone
    Day 5- Bullet train from hakone to Kyoto.
    Day 6-Kinkakuji-Kiyomizudera-Gion
    Day 7- Fushimi Inari- Arashiyama
    Day 8-Train to Nara- nara park- train to osaka
    Day 9- explore Osaka
    Day 10- day trip to Kobe/ Himeji
    Day 11- flyingg back from kansai airport.

    Would you recommend to go both Hakone & Kawaguchiko or is it too hectic?

    Based on my plan above, do you have any comment?

    • Hi there, your trip looks very packed but I believe it is still do-able but it will be super rush. Imagine having to unpack every night and pack up every morning. Given that it is gonna be winter, I’m not sure if the flow would be as smooth as you hope to be. (That being said, I’ve yet to visit Japan in winter) Also, I’m not sure if you’re intending to get the JR pass but commuting to so many cities could be expensive. For your visit to Hakone/Kawaguchiko, what do you hope to see? If you just want to see Mt Fuji, I would suggest that Kawaguchiko and the lake view is sufficient. Hakone is a little time consuming with all the bus and cable car transfer and it is not cheap without the Fuji Hakone Pass. If I’m not wrong, the view of Mt Fuji is best in winter.

      Anyway, at the end of the day, it depends on how rush and pack you want your trip to be. For myself, I know I will be visiting Japan again so.. there isn’t a need to pack so many places in one single trip.

      Hope my comments help! Enjoy planning for your trip 🙂

  • Hi,

    Very interesting travel log.
    I planned a trip to Japan this Fall.
    I just have one question, if you buy Fuji-Hakone freepass, is it possible to stay outside Hakone?
    for example I will stay at Tokyo as I already have JR Pass.

    I looked on Odakyu website that they will collect the pass at the end of our journey, is it true?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Hi there, are you looking at the Fuji-Hakone free pass which starts from Odawara station?
      I don’t think they collected the pass from us on the last day but if you buy the full pass which starts from Shinjuku, there’s a high chance they will collect your pass when you board your return train/bus back to Tokyo.

  • Hi there.

    Was really glad to stumble upon your post. It was really informative.

    Just wondering if I buy my Fuji-Hakone pass at Odawara, can i buy the pass today but tell the counter staff I will only start using tomorrow?

    Dionne

    • Hi there, I am not sure about purchasing at Odawara but when I bought mine at Shinjuku station, I bought it 2 days before actually using the pass. I guess it is possible.

  • Hi there, your post was great giving lots of info for Hakone and Kawaguchiko.

    I will be in Tokyo next Monday 28/11/16, and would like to visit Hakone (3D2N) then proceed to Kawaguchiko (3D2N). My trip to these 2 places will be precisely 5D4N, as such I am skeptical of which passes i should get to minimise my budget. Any advise that you can provide?

    Can i take the Romance Car to Odawara to avoid the crowd then grab the 3Day Fuji Hakone Pass ¥5650?

    Does the Fuji Hakone Free Pass cover the bus journey from Hakone all the way to Kawaguchiko Station?

    Appreciate your advise.

    Regards teh

    • Hi there! Yes you are able to buy the romance car separately and start your 3Day Hakone Pass from Odawara. In fact, that was what I did in my trip (but it was a mistake because of some other bus tickets issue).
      Yes the pass covers the bus journey from Hakone to Kawaguchiko. It involves a bus transfer at Gotemba.

      For your case, it might be good for you to do a separate calculation and decide if the pass will be worthwhile. You might want to take a look at the summary that I did at the end of the post and calculate if the places that you will be visiting and the transport you might be utilizing is more than 5650Y for the 3 days.

      Enjoy your trip!

      • Yeah thanks much for your advice.

        By the way would you happen to know of any budget direct train or buses from Narita to Shinjuku without having to transfer too many times?
        Regards
        Teh

        • Narita to Shinjuku – you have to choose between budget or more transfer/longer transit timing.

          I did the Narita – Tokyo Station bus shuttle (1000Y) and transferred to the metro to get to Shinjuku.
          Alternatively, you can consider Narita Express (4000Y) which does not require any transfers.

          • Hi there,
            Thanks again for the info, option 1 sounds good by shuttle bus to Tokyo then transferred to Metro for Shinjuku.
            Rgds
            Teh

          • Hi there again
            In the romance car website i am confuse as to which arrival i should be selecting; odawara or hakone yumoto? If i select hakone yumoto’s arrival can i alight in odawara to get the 5650 Fuji Hakone pass then hop in to the next romancecar to hakone yumoto?

            Thanks n Rgds
            Teh

          • Hi there, you can purchase your 5650 Fuji Hakone Pass at Shinjuku even though you only intend to use it at odawara. I did that for my trip.

          • Oh great! thanks much for the info, this will save us time from stopping over in odawara to get the pass.
            Thanks for your advice.
            Rgds teh

          • Hi there, I did some calculations and wonder if is the right fare, perhaps you could advise if I’m wrong:

            ¥880 – Shinjuku to Hakone Yumoto
            ¥890 – Romance car
            ¥5650 – Fuji Hakone Pass (3Day), get it at Shinjuku station but usage from Odawara
            ¥1200 – 2 Day retro bus fare for Kawaguchiko area
            ¥1750 – Keio Highway bus from Kawaguchiko back to Shinjuku

            Total fare – ¥10,370 for 5D4N (Hakone & Kawaguchiko)

            If that’s the correct fare… I’ll be saving¥1470/pax, yeah!

            Thanks so much & Rgds
            Teh

          • Hi there, the fares are accurate as per my trip in May. If there had been any adjustments, I will not be able to advise.
            I don’t really know how you compared your cost savings in your calculations. It only make sense to compare if you add in all the attractions that you intend to visit.
            Also, if you are buying the Odawara pass, you can choose to take the highway bus to Shibuya too. I think the price is more or less the same.
            Anyway, good luck for your trip and I hope that you will get a great view of Mt Fuji!
            Hope to hear from you when you are back 😀

      • Hi there again,

        Re the romance car ticket, can i buy it in advance through online prior to buying the express train ticket when i arrived in Tokyo?

        Thanks
        Teh

  • Hi there, I’m so glad I found this post on Fuji Hakone pass as I plan to use the same pass for my trip this April. Since I’m thinking of travelling from Kyoto to Odawara, I’ll have my suitcase with me. Do you think this will make it difficult to travel on buses in Hakone? I guess in Fuji area I can deposit my suitcase in Kawaguchiko like you did.

    Thank you again for sharing this, I know the ads for the passes all sound great but knowing your experiences will help me see if it fits with my travel plan.

    • Hey! glad that you found my post useful! I can’t recall for sure but there might be luggage area for some buses in Hakone. Are you intending to do like a one way route (like what I did) with no detour? If the luggage is an issue, you can consider staying at a hotel near the Hakone Train Station or any bus station that can bring you to Kawaguchiko. After depositing your luggage, you can explore the area comfortably. Hope this information helps!

      • Thank you, I’m thinking of finding a hotel near Gotemba, since the bus station to Kawaguchiko is from there.

        The thing is there’re 3 different stations with access to Hakone from Kyoto. I already crossed off Atami because bus ride won’t be covered by the pass. So that left Mishima Station and Odawara Station.

        And yes, I will have no detour, just 1 night Hakone, 1 night Fuji and back to Tokyo. Anyway, I think finding a hotel near transportation is probably my best bet!

        • I think it would be good if you stay at Odawara or Hakone-Yumoto or something. I remember seeing some accommodations near there too. From there, you can do a loop like what I did – lake Ashi, Hakone Ropeway and then take the train back to Hakone-Yumoto. I’m not sure if there’s any direct transfer from Hakone-Yumoto directly to Kawaguchiko.
          Anyway, good luck on your planning!

          • I’ve changed my plan and will only go to Fuji area now. I’ll buy a JR pass and the Fujigoko Passport so I can use the train and buses in Fuji. The only thing is that information about Fujigoko Passport is mostly in Japanese! It’ll sure be an experience getting this in Japan.

  • Hello.. Thanks for your Travel Log.
    i have a question.
    I’m planning going to Hakone-Kawaguchiko from 12-14 apr 2017 (3d 2n).

    For the hakone fuji pass,
    if i puchase on 11 apr 2017 morning, will the 3day valid pass starts count (until 14 apr 2017 morning)
    or
    it will starts count since first time i use (on 12 Apr morning and end on 15 apr 2017 morning) ?

    Since i’m planning return from kawaguchiko to shijuku was on 14 Apr 2017 evening which not cover if the validity ends on 14 Apr 2017 morning.

    And for the Chuo Bus, will i must to reservation online first 1 month before, and get the reservation + hakone fuji pass to change it at Kawaguchiko station bus office?

    Thanks alot for your information

    Regards

    • Hi there, you can purchase your pass earlier on 11 Apr and start using it for 3 days from 12 Apr.
      Usage of 3 days means that you can use it for 12 Apr, 13 Apr and 14 Apr (Full day).
      If you start using on 12 Apr morning, you will still be able to use it on 14 Apr evening.

      Yes for the Chuo Bus, all you have to do is to make a reservation online and you can exchange for the ticket at Kawaguchiko station.
      There is no payment involved during the reservation.

      Also, please note that my information is as accurate as of May 2016. I am unaware of any changes of the system (if any).

      Good luck for your trip!

  • Wow, thank you so much for this comprehensive post! If it weren’t for you, I would never have known that I have to make a reservation for the bus back to Shinjuku! 🙂 Really grateful for all the information that you have provided here!

  • Hello!

    After being to Hakone and Kawaguchiko, which one do you think is more worth it? Im a first timer to Japan!

    It will be for a day trip and i will be going from Tokyo.

    • Hi there, I personally enjoyed the lake view at Kawaguchiko where you can see Mt Fuji’s reflection but you will only be able to see it when the water is very calm.
      At Hakone, you will not be able to see Mt Fuji from Lake Ashi. You can only see it while taking the ropeway. However, Hakone has more attractions like the shrine, the boat ride, little prince museum and the art museum to explore and some fanciful train right (which I did not take) which may have nice blooms if you travel during the right season.

      I guess, you will have to decide whether you like Mt Fuji view more (Kawaguchiko) or whether you prefer exploring more places (Hakone).

  • D: The shibazakura look really sad in the video… How late did you go? I will be in Kawaguchiko on 24 May this year, and the festival “ends” on 28 May. Would you say that is too late?

    • Hi there, yes it will be too late for the festival. However, before you decide to go, they will actually show the photo of the place at the bus counter before you purchase the ticket. So when I was there, the photo looks pretty bare but my friend and I decided to visit the place since we had already planned for it. There was a ‘discount’ too because the fields were bare from the pink flowers so you don’t have to pay entrance ticket to the park. The money that you paid was just for the two-way bus ride.

  • Hi there, I am nadiah. For this particular pass, I was wondering if it’s true that the pass only allows a round-trip where one of the trips from / to shinjuku is by bus and the other by train? Because it seems to me that you took both trips by bus! (if I read your entry correctly). Hope you could reply me as I’m going there soon as well!

    Also, we’ll be there mid-may, and I was wondering when you went for the shibazakura festival as we’re thinking if it’s worth to go there as well. Hope to hear from you!

    • Hi there, I took a train (upgraded to romance car) from shinjuku to Hakone and a bus from Kawaguchiko to Shinjuku.

      For the shibazakura festival, you can decide when you are there as they will show you photos of what the festival looks like before you purchase the ticket at the bus counter. We decide to visit even though it didn’t look good because it was in our plans. I believe that if you visit in the morning, the view of Mt Fuji could be better but I’m not 100% certain of that.

      Wishing you a good trip!

  • Thanks for your post! V informative indeed!
    I’m also looking to visit both Hakone and Kawaguchi. Thinking of spending a night there each (do u recommend airbnb?). For transportation from Shinjuku, are these all I need to buy?

    1. Romancecar (Shunjuku to Hakone)
    2. Fuji Hakone 3 Day pass (Does this cover most of the attractions in both Hakone and Fuji 5 Lakes?)
    3. How do I get back to Shinjuku from Kawaguchi?

    I know no.1 romancecar can be bought online. How about no.2 and no.3?

  • Hi there,
    can i just ask how may i book the chuo bus line tickets? as i fear that if i were to book when im in japan the time i wanted will all be sold out.

    i actually tried booking from the website given in the link, but they ask me to make a payment of 1750 yen before i may book?

  • Hi, just wanted to confirm if the bus from Gomteba to Kawaguchiko is cover by Fuji Hakone Pass?
    any reservation require? where can i get the timetable of the bus?

    • Hi there, you can find information on the schedule in this link – http://www.japan-guide.com/bus/gotemba.html

      With regards to reservations, I don’t think it is required as the bus is like a public bus (with huge standing area), not a 40-seater type tourist bus. There’s a chance that you might not get a seat on the bus too.

  • Hi! Love the blog, very informative but do you think it’s possible to do day trips to fuji and hakone with the fuji-hakone pass?

    Like for example,
    -day 1 to fuji area and back to shinjuku
    -day 2 to hakone and back to shinjuku

    what i’m concerned is whether my pass will be forfeited/collected at the end of the day..

    • Hello, I don’t think your route is possible as the fuji-hakone pass only allows 1 trip from Shinjuku to Hakone and a trip from Fuji to Shinjuku.
      You will not be able to book 2 return journeys..

  • Hi there,
    I am just wondering, what is the recommended Romance Car departing time I should reserve , if I were to purchase the Fuji Hakone Pass in the morning (at 8am as the Odakyu Sightseeing Svc center open at that time) the very same day. I am afraid I will miss the train as I don’t know how long the process of purchasing the pass could take. Is the 8.53am train too soon, or better to take the next train at 9.27am to be safe? I’ll be arriving in Tokyo via Haneda airport the night before.

    Appreciate your advice.Tq

    • Hi there, will you be going on peak dates (weekends/holidays)? If not, I think it would be better for you to book the train tickets when you buy the pass. For myself, I bought the Fuji Hakone Pass one day before my actual journey. We went about 10am and we had to queue for quite a while (at least 30 to 40 mins) before we were served. I am not sure if 8am would be as crowded but I guess it’s better to not take the risk.

  • Hi,
    If I only have 1 day (like 12 hours) to visit Kawaguchiko and Hakone, could you share the itinerary (which spots that are must visit and so on). Since this Fuji-Hakone pass is quite new, I only found few people sharing about this (and I guess only few people spending one day trip to Kawaguchiko and Hakone)…

    Thanks a lot.

    • Hello! thanks for leaving a commment. I feel that 12 hours to cover both Kawaguchiko and Hakone is a little rush. I assume that it will be a day trip and you won’t be staying over right? If I could only choose between both places, I would prefer Kawaguchiko as the chances of seeing Mt Fuji is higher! Whereas in Hakone, you can only see Mt Fuji when you take the ropeway.

  • Thanks for the comprehensive post. I’m going to Kawaguchiko (1 night accomodation) in Dec. I intend to buy the Tokyo Wide Pass.
    1. Do I buy the Fuji Hakone Pass at Shinjuku?
    2. Do I book Romancecar for Odawara-Shinjuku or Hakone Yumoto-Shinjuku for return from Hakone to Tokyo? Should I choose Front or Back observation deck or is there no view since I intend to book return around 8pm?
    3. How early do I need to leave Kawaguchiko in order to have enough time in Hakone before return?

    • Hello! I’m not sure about the Tokyo Wide Pass but it seems like it covers the route from Tokyo to Kwaguchiko. If that’s the case, maybe you can just buy the Fuji Hakone Pass (without the two say transfer from Tokyo).
      1. It can be bought at a counter at Odakyu Shinjuku Terminal.
      2. Yes, I will advise you to book your tickets early. You can book from Hakone Yumoto back to Shinjuku. I didn’t do a stopover in Odawara so I’m not sure if there’s anything there. However, if you do the reverse of my route, you should be able to catch a bus from Hakone Shrine area back to the train station. Please try to check the last bus schedule in Hakone as well! Their buses might end early at 5/6PM and you wouldn’t want to risk it!
      3. It depends on how much you want to see at Hakone. If you want to visit the museums and do the usual sightseeing cruise + ropeway + shrine, I think you need to leave really early! Furthermore, the bus frequency isn’t very fantastic so you will have to factor in waiting time as well. Then again, is there anything to do in Kawaguchiko in the morning (assuming you covered the destinations in the previous day).

      Hope my information helps you in some way or another =)

  • Hi, Thank you for sharing your itinerary, it’s really helpful!
    I’m planning to get the Fuji Hakone pass for my trip in March but still thinking if it’s actually worth it.
    I was wondering if the 3 days pass means 3 full days? I plan to start using the pass on 15 March in the afternoon as I will arrive in Narita on the same day in the morning and go to Hakone directly. Does it mean that it expires on 17 March? I plan to leave from Kawaguchiko on 18 March in the afternoon. Does it mean that my last day won’t be covered?

    • Hi there, if I didn’t recall wrongly (and that it is the norm in Japan), days in Japan restart at 23:59 every day. It doesn’t work as a 24-hour pass whereby if you start late, you can end late. If you intend to stay 4 days in Hakone/Kawaguchiko area, you will not be able to use the 3 day/2 night pass. However, you should check directly with them as I may be wrong as I last traveled in 2016. If you are unable to be entitled for your last day bus from Kawaguchiko since it is day 4, you might want to consider doing it ala carte as the cost savings may not have a of difference.

  • Hi…Love your post..helps alot in my planning..
    would like to know aside from bus, is there a train from Kawaguchi Station back to Tokyo?

    • Hi there, sorry for taking so long in my reply. I can’t be 100% sure but I think there isn’t any direct train from Kawaguchi Station to Tokyo. You will have to make transfers if you intend to take the train.

  • Hi Honeystars!
    Very nice post and good explanation on the Fuji Hakone pass. I will be going in the nearest future and hope can maximize the time and money using the valuable information you provided.

    God bless!

    • Hello! Thanks for your kind comments and I’m glad that you found the information useful. Please note that my visit was in 2016 and things may change since then. It would be good to cross check my information with official sources nearer to the date =)

  • Hi, love your posting…..

    Want to ask you, I am traveling to Hakone and Fuji soon, at 3 apr 2018 to Hakone, back by 5th April, I not yet buy or book any bus ticket back from Kawaguchiko…… I check the bus website, if book currently, we need to pay already….. but with Fuji Hakone Pass, I think is free….. then why need to pay during the booking ? I am quite confused now…. do you have any idea ? Thanks

    Koay

    • Hello! I’m afraid that the bus ticket website has revamped in 2017 and you can no longer make any reservation online if you plan to travel using the Fuji Hakone pass. I’ve verified with them via their Facebook page. The only way to make a reservation is to pay (but this might will not be refunded). However, if you read my post, there is minimal cost savings with the Fuji hakone pass.. so, maybe it would be better to book separately?

  • Hi!

    Thank you for sharing the blog!!

    I still have some queries for my planning, are you able to help me out?

    I will be traveling to hakone and mountfuji soon & will be spending a night at hakone. I am considering betweeen hakone 2day pass and Fuji Hakone pass.

    My plan for now is:
    Day 1 – early morning take train to kawaguchiko to see the lake & pagoda & back to hakone. I’ll be staying one night at hakone.
    Day 2 – Tour around hakone and night take the train back to Shinjuku.

    Or

    Day 1 – train from Shinjuku to hakone.
    Tour hakone & stay one night.
    Day 2- early morning train to Gawaguchiko tour the lake & pagoda. Take the chuo highwaybus back to Shinjuku.

    Can you advice me which planning is better with which pass? The route that I planned is it all included in the Fuji Hakone pass?

    Your help is definitely appreciated!

    Looking forward to your reply!^^

    Best regards!!

    • Hello. Thanks for leaving a comment =) Hope my answers will help.

      Visiting Kawaguchiko is best done in the morning. For my own experience, the chance of seeing Mt Fuji is higher in the morning. That being said, it is also highly dependent on the weather, whether it is cloudy or not.
      That being said, I think it is better for plan one, supposedly if you can catch the earliest bus/train to Kawaguchiko (not sure where you are coming from). The earliest bus it 6:05am from Shinjuku and it takes about 2 hours.
      From Hakone to Kawaguchiko, there are only buses and from my experience, you will need to change a bus at Gotemba (my experience was in 2016, not sure if anything changed). The bus timings is every 30 mins or 60 mins so if you happen to miss it, the waiting time might be a little annoying.

      With regards to deciding which pass to buy, my suggestion is that.. you have to decide which are the attractions you are intending to visit.
      i have a pricing summary at the end of my article and you can take a look. You might not have enough time to cover all the places I covered since mine was 3 days, and yours is only going to be 2 days.
      The pass might not be worth it after all.

  • hi, i’m glad i found this post. if i use 3 days fuji hakone pass ¥5650 from odawara, is it include bus back to shinjuku?