Making the most of Hakone with the Hakone Loop
The Hakone Loop (also known as the Hakone Round Course) is the ultimate route for getting the most out of Hakone. A comprehensive journey featuring magnificent views of Mt. Fuji, ‘pirate ships’ by Lake Ashi, cable cars and art museums, the Hakone Loop is a popular route for a good reason. Normally, visitors do the Hakone Loop anti-clockwise, but taking the loop the other direction can also be good for avoiding potentially crowded areas and transportation, especially during the peak season.
Artistically going Counter-clockwise from Hakone-Yumoto to Sounzan through Gora
Visitors often start the route anti-clockwise from Hakone-Yumoto and make their way to Gora Station through the Hakone Tozan Railway, via a classical train that zig zags around the mountain. Along the way to and at Gora are a variety of hot springs and museums, including the Hakone Open Air Museum. Spread across 70,000 square meters, the Hakone Open Air Museum features 120 different sculptures, as well as a building holding 300 works by Picasso himself! Finish up by heading to Soun-zan Station by cable car and you’ll be back on the loop.
Up in the air and cruising through the seas – Sounzan to Hakone-machi through Togendai
Upon the most iconic part of the route are views of one of the most popular Japanese icons – Mount Fuji. Take the Hakone Ropeway from Sounzan to Tougendai and you’ll be greeted with volcanic views of Owakudani, with Mount Fuji in the distance. Owakudani is well known for its famous black boiled eggs, and legend has it that eating them will add 7 years to your lifespan! For those more daring, you can even try the black ice cream as well. From Tougendai, you will cruise through the beautiful Lake Ashi, and can ride upon the popular pirate ship-themed Hakone Sightseeing Boat. On days with clearer skies, Mount Fuji can be seen in the distance, all while you smoothly sail through to Hakone-machi.
Walk through time and visit a shrine – Hakone-machi to Hakone-Yumoto through Moto-Hakone
On the way to Moto-Hakone, you will come across Old Tokaido and the Hakone Checkpoint, which features a reconstruction of what the Hakone Checkpoint looked like during the Edo Period – gates, fences and all. Take the path through to Moto-Hakone, and you may also come across the Ancient Cedar Avenue. Before finishing the Hakone Loop, make sure to visit Hakone Shrine. Along the shores of Lake Ashi, Hakone Shrine has its steps decorated with lanterns, with one of its more well-known torii gates standing tall in the lake. Finish there and head back down to Moto-Hakone, take the Hakone Tozan Bus back to Hakone-Yumoto, and you’ve finished the Hakone Loop!