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Hakone Freepass | Is it good value?

Hakone is a popular day-trip from Tokyo or an interesting short stay option.  For visitors who want an onsen experience while in Japan but don’t have the time to travel further afield it’s easily accessible in Hakone and there’s so much more to see and do in the area.  In an earlier post, we looked at a day trip itinerary for Hakone out of Tokyo taking in several of the highlights including the gorgeous views, cable cars, ropeways, the geothermal area at Owakudani, a cruise on the beautiful Lake Ashi and some glimpses into the history of the area dating back to the Edo period.

I recently reviewed the value we received from the Osaka Amazing pass and based on feedback from that one I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at some of the other passes we’ve used during our travels in Japan.  We don’t regularly buy city passes, often they’re not suited to our slower pace or the way we travel.  We like to throw in detours as we go and adjust plans when something takes our interest along the way.  We’re also quite selective about what we want to see and do with our limited time, we won’t go to something just because it’s a free inclusion on a pass.

An Overview of the Hakone FreePass

The Hakone Free pass includes all Odakyu-affiliated transport within the Hakone region.  It covers 8 forms of transport including trains, buses, cable car, cableway and boat that is sufficient to get you around all the major sights of the region including to the Gotemba Outlet Mall.  You also get discounts to a number of attractions including museums, gardens, hot springs, shopping and dining establishments.  A few attractions such as the Gora Park Botanic Gardens have free entry with the pass.  Just watch for the stickers on the doors or booking windows to show whether they participate if you aren’t sure.

There are are a variety of pass options available.  These include

  • a 2 or 3-day pass (we found the 2-day option can also be cost-effective for a day trip)
  • return transport from Shinjuku in Tokyo or only within the Hakone region, and
  • there are adult and child passes available

If you are already in Hakone, have an active JR Pass, or find it more convenient and cost-effective to travel direct from another city or part of Tokyo you might choose as we did to purchase the Hakone only pass.  If you choose the ticket including the Shinjuku return version you need to be aware that this now includes either the Hakone Highway Bus which takes around 2.5 hours or the normal fare portion of the Romance-car limited express train from Shinjuku.  If you select this option you will also pay a surcharge (currently Y890) which is the Limited Express Surcharge and seat fee for the train which reduces the trip down to around 85 minutes.

The ticket prices are: 

Inside the Hakone Area:    Y4000 for the 2-day pass, Y4,500 for the 3-day pass

From Shinjuku in Tokyo:    Y5,140 for the 2-day pass, Y5,640 for the 3-day pass

You can view more information on the discounted attractions at the Hakone FreePass Official site.

Tickets can be purchased from ticket machines or counters at Shinjuku station or arrival stations such as Odawara, the Shinkansen station in the Hakone area.  A new option is that you can now purchase the pass online before you travel.

The transport within the Hakone region covered by the FreePass can all be used as many times as you want within the period covered by the pass.  While most people complete the course as a loop you can change direction and repeat sections if you want to within the same day or on consecutive days.  This might be useful if you want to complete the course and go back to a section if you have time at the end of the day, or where you are using it across multiple days.

How we used the Hakone FreePass

Which Pass

Although we were only taking a day trip we purchased the minimum 2-day pass at Odawara Station for Y4,000 (around A$45).  The reason we started at Odawara not Tokyo was that we already had an active JR Pass covering the period.  The JR pass lets you use the Shinkansen at no incremental cost, so it’s both faster and offered more choices on when we started and ended our day.  The Shinkansen takes 35 minutes from Tokyo station, the Odakyu Romance-car takes 85 minutes from Shinjuku station which was further away from where we were staying.

Odawara to Gora

This leg takes about an hour travelling on the Hakone Tozan Railway.  You catch the Tozan train from the same Odawara station building that you arrive into on your trip from Tokyo.

We sat on the left-hand side of the train and got some amazing views out of the big picture windows.  During winter the mountain was covered in pure white powder snow, other seasons would be equally pretty though and we’re considering returning with a different itinerary for an autumn foliage visit.

If you want to go to the Hakone Open Air Museum get off at Chokoku no Mori station (one stop before Gora) and it’s an easy walk from there.

Cost without the Hakone FreePass would be Y670.

Hakone Tozen Train @ Odawara Station

Gora to Sounzan

It’s a very short walk from the Gora Tozan train station to the cable car station.  If you were going to walk from there it’s a very steep slope especially in the winters snow but the cable car makes the 1.2km track a breeze in around 10 minutes.  Make sure you position yourself to enjoy the view, it’s beautiful.

The cable car takes you to the boarding area for the first section of the ropeway.

Cost without the Hakone FreePass would be Y420

Hakone Tozan Cable Car | 2 Aussie Travellers

The Rope-way

There are 3 sections on the rope-way so it is a decent length ride to take a good look at the natural area and geothermal landscapes around and under you.  The first section is Sounsan to Owakudani, then Owakudani to Ubako and finally Ubako to Togendai station.

Take some time at Owakudani to have a good look around.  The views of Mt Fuji if you have a clear day are absolutely stunning from here.  If you walk up to the geothermal area you can see where they cook the black eggs.  There are large steaming vents in the mountain and pools of almost boiling water.  There’s a restaurant for lunch at the top and you can buy the black eggs said to give 7 years of good luck.

Cost without the Hakone FreePass would be Y1370

Hakone Ropeway | 2 Aussie Travellers

Hakone sightseeing cruise

From the last ropeway station at Togendai walk down to the edge of the lake.  We spent a while walking around a park area on the edge of the lake waiting for the next sailing time.  We weren’t sure on the relevance of the pirate ship on the lake but then the 1970’s swan paddle boats were a bit of a mystery too.  The views from out on the lake were excellent, you could see Mt Fuji and the Hakone Shrines floating torii towards the other end of the crossing.

During winter the hillside was quite bare and brown, at other times of the year you would expect to see it covered in blossom, coloured autumn leaves or greenery.

Cost without the Hakone FreePass would be Y1000

Hakone Lake Cruise | 2 Aussie Travellers

Hakone Tozan bus

We only used the bus to get back from Lake Ashi to Odawara station but there’s an extensive bus network if you’re staying in the area or want to visit attractions further out.

The bus isn’t our preferred transport in Japan, the seats are quite small, you board in the back door and they run on time so there is little patience if you’re a bit slow finding the right money.  Another reason why I like to have either a day pass or a stored value card for the transport.

Cost without the Hakone FreePass for this ride would be Y960

Is the Hakone FreePass good value?

The FreePass included value for the route we took is Y4420 for a purchase price of Y4000.  We did the course we planned to do and saved Y420 or 9.5%.

So we did find the pass worthwhile?  While the financial saving was minimal for a day trip it was very easy to purchase the Freepass at Odawara station and it meant we didn’t need to queue for tickets or find the right change throughout the day.  If collecting a pass from the Odawara Station Information Centre isn’t convenient there are also dispensing ticket machines at Odakyu stations along the line.

In hindsight, we didn’t feel the pass was a necessity for the day trip but there was no downside,  it was convenient and offered a small cost saving.  The cost-saving would be better for anyone either using the full round trip from Tokyo or staying in Hakone overnight and continuing their sightseeing on the second day.

Interested? You can save these images to Pinterest for later

Is the Hakone Freepass good value? Helping identify the best value for your travel dollar in Japan via 2 Aussie Travellers
Is the Hakone Freepass good value? Helping identify the best value for your travel dollar in Japan via 2 Aussie Travellers

If you want to know more about what there is to see and do in Hakone, or if you’re interested in some additional information and tips for planning your trip you may also want to read our article on A Day Trip to Hakone.

If you’ve visited Hakone either using the freepass or without, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  


  • Hi there 2 Aussie Travellers. in the process of planning japan trip for next May – 25 days – woo hoo. I am looking at staying in the Hakone area for 2 nights and have found fab looking accommodation in Gotemba. Planning on buying either of the free passes (will have a JR Pass as well). so my question is…I understand that coming from Tokyo the JR Pass will get us as far as Odawara and then we would use the free pass to get us further afield – is that correct? and it is unlimited use of the transport available with the free pass??? I am assuming we can use this free pass to get us to our accommodation in Gotemba (or my other accommodation choice is Ashinoko near the lake) and back again to Odawara so we can continue through to Hiroshima…as well as getting us around to all the attractions the free pass covers. I originally thought we would stay in Odawara untill I started exploring the area further…an opportunity to stay closer to Fuji-San is not to be passed up me thinks…
    My itinerary so far is – 4 nights tokyo, 2 Hakone area, 3 Hisoshima, 5 Kyoto, 2 Kanazawa, 3 Hakodate, 3 Sendai, 2 Nikko – head to airport back to OZ…
    Your thoughts and advice most welcome.
    Cheers Jo

    • Hi Jo. Yes if your JR pass is active I would use that to Odawara and then use the local Hakone free pass to get around as much as you want (within the route) when you are there. You can use each transport option as much as you want to. Gotemba is most popular if you want to go to the shopping outlets because it’s a bit off the scenic loop but you can get there by bus with the pass, personally, I love the view of Fuji over the lake (when the clouds are behaving).

      Your trip sounds fantastic,May is a lovely time of year to go, everything is green and flowering again after the winter browning off and it’s a good temperature for travelling

  • Hi Toni, thanks for a great article! I’m visiting Japan in September and am planning an overnight stay in Hakone from Tokyo and then will head to Kyoto. I’m wondering if the Hakone Free Pass would still be good value? Can I use it to travel from Shinjuku- Hakone – Kyoto? Just a little bit confused by it all!

    Also, I know you only went for the day but do you have recommendations of where to stay in Hakone? At the moment I am looking at staying right near Lake Ashi to take in the views but have heard Gora is great too!

    • Hi Grace. The Hakone pass will still be good value if you want to see the area on the loop but get the Hakone local area option and pay the train to Odawara (JR) or Hakone-Yumoto (Odakyu) separately as you won’t be using the return to Tokyo ticket.

      In Hakone there are quite a few good options, the whole area is very pretty. I like Hakone town, around Hakone-Yumoto station as the onsen around there are lovely. It’s a very small township with a few restaurants and you can walk along to a nice shrine and temple. For practical purposes staying here is close to the arrival point from Tokyo too so you can drop your bags at your accommodation early in the day (most transport on the loop is not well suited to luggage). We do love the area around the lake too and it’s very beautiful and nice to walk around in the early morning or evening, several of the properties near the lake have their own onsen. In Gora you have hot springs again and the outdoor art museum. I think I would choose based on which property you like best especially if you are going for a ryokan including onsen and meals. You might want to think about taking a small overnight bag to Hakone and sending on your luggage from Tokyo to Kyoto. Bags take 2 days to get there so it could work well in your situation. It’s reliable and reasonably priced in Japan and most hotels will be able to organise it for you. Then you don’t have the hassle of luggage to move around with you in Hakone.

  • Hi Toni

    we will be arriving in Hakone early afternoon, having the full day following then departing early the next day therefore 2 nights.
    if we purchase the 2 day pass upon arrival will this take us through to the day of departure meaning the 48 hours begins from purchase time or will that day count as day 1 therefore needing a 3 day pass?
    hope this makes sense 🙂


    • Hi Justine, The Hakone Freepass works on a calendar day so even though they are part days it would be 3 not 2 if you want to use the pass on each of the days. As you have an early departure on the 3rd day it may depend on whether you are using it as your way back to Tokyo or not as to whether you choose to have a pass to cover that day.

    • thanks Toni – we had decided on the 3 day – not much difference in price anyway.

      looking at Mount View Hakone for accommodation to experience ryokan (also doing in Nikko and Takayama) including the breakfast and dinner (love Japanese food) and onsen.
      in your opinion and knowledge of the area, is this location too far from transport for completing ‘The Loop’? we are there 2 nights so 1.5 days – it’s hard to guage from maps on the net.

      happy to hear of your suggestions for other great places that would provide the ryokan, food and onsen experience – this is for one of my milestone birthdays – won’t tell you which one 🙂

      ta muchly

      • Hi Justine. I don’t know the property but I know the area a little, it looks like you are only a couple of minutes walk from the Sengoku-annaijo-mae bus stop and from there buses run down to Gora-eki bus stop at Gora Station (about a 15-minute trip) a couple of times an hour. Buses are included on the pass but none of the local transport is well suited to large cases, overnight bags are best if possible sending on your luggage to your hotel in the next big city (or getting the previous hotel to hold it) can be a good option. You are fairly close to the ropeway there (one of my fave parts of the loop) and the open-air art museum, with onsen on site and breakfast and dinner included it looks look a great choice – would love to hear your on it after your stay.

      • Hi Justine, I just booked the mount view today for 2 nights. We are going in late September. If you go before I would love to hear your feedback on your time in Hakone and the Ryokan

        • Hi Steve
          Arrived back from Japan 2 days ago – had a fabo time.
          Mount View Hakone was great but expensive compared to our other accommodation – $450 AUD per night – this included the onsen daily fee of 150 Yen per person and daily brekky and dinner.
          The food was great, staff friendly and happy, room really big, onsen excellent.
          In saying this with the price, this may be average for Hakone – I can’t remember the other options now as we booked back in January.
          Location 30 min bus trip from Hakone-Yumoto. Catch T bus from the train station as this stops literally right outside Mount View – bus stop 248.
          A 5 min walk up the road gets you to bus stop 250 for S bus which takes you to Gora which is where we got the cable car then bus to Togendai for the ship. The buses replaced the ropeway as it was closed for several days due to volcanic activity – a little disappointing to miss this part of the loop but the replacement bus service was great and enabled everyone to complete the loop anyway – would have been disappointing if this wasn’t in place.
          The towns of Hakone-machi and Hakone-moto were gorgeous. We walked from one to the other through the Cedar Walk and onto the Torii gate in the water – waited an hour for photos – you’ll know what I mean when you get there. Everyone is so orderly – you take the photos of the people in front, they go, you hand your phone/camera to the people behind you and they take your photos – very cool!!!
          We needed the full day to do the loop. Caught R bus from Hakone-machi bus terminal which was an express bus back to Hakone-Yumoto where we then caught the old switch back train to Gora then the S bus back to bus stop 250 then the 5 min walk to Mount View.
          There is a supermarket very close (ACoop) as well as a Lawson store if you want beverages or other supplies to have in your room (a small fridge in the room).
          Didn’t have time for the outdoor art museum and Gora Park but this doesn’t worry us as we prefer to walk around the towns and get a good feel of the people and their culture.
          On day of departure we caught the T bus from out the front of Mount View all the way to Odawarra – 50 mins in total rather than the bus to Hakone-Yumoto then the train to Odawarra. The reception girls said this was quicker as no changing of transport therefore no waiting – more direct.
          Hakone-Yumoto itself is really sweet too. Walked around it for half hour along with a foodie place at the station itself.
          In terms of the buses, there are staff at the bus stands outside the train station who are so helpful and know of Mount View so they will confirm what we have told you and will put you at the correct pick up spot.
          We got the 3 day pass as we were there 2 nights so needed the third day of pass to leave.
          Hope this info is helpful. Have a great time. If we can help with any other details let us know, although Toni would still know more than us – haha.
          Feel free to reply upon your return – would be interested in your experience.

    • if using a JR pass to get to Odawara then buying the hakone free pass for a few days, where do you suggest is the best place to stay (we are a family of 4)?

      • Are you planning on taking full-sized luggage with you or just overnight bags? The local transport once you go beyond Odawara has less space and isn’t well suited to bigger suitcases so that would factor into my decision. We like the Hakone-machi area which is just the one train trip on from Odawara with good onsen and a nice local area to explore and small shops and restaurants

    • Hi Toni (again)
      We are just under 2 weeks away until our trip to Japan – very exciting.
      A couple of last minute questions for you please …. how much Yen would you recommend we have with us (from Australia)?
      From our readings, it seems there are ATMs at 7Eleven stores which is fine and use credit for accommodation etc but thinking of Nikko, Hakone and Takayama.
      Also, I read the Suica card can be used in most shops and restaurants (Tokyo only I would imagine) – your thoughts on that?
      Thanks for your replies in the past – greatly appreciated.

      • Hi Justine. We use mostly cash in Japan with the exception of our accommodation and transport, it’s very easy to get from the cash machines (select the English button) in the 7-Elevens and other convenience stores like Lawsons that are very common across the country. Post office machines are also good but less common, we’ve used the one outside Kyoto station by the buses quite a lot but otherwise just the convenience store ATM’s. Credit cards are becoming more accepted in the lead up to the Olympics especially in Tokyo, when we first started travelling in Japan you couldn’t use them in taxi’s, now it is very common. You can often buy tickets and tours online so that is fine and some restaurants will have no issue with credit but traditional or the smaller places, where some of the best food is found, still are cash only. We are comfortable carrying a fair bit of cash over there so generally we start out with around A$500 in yen split between us and go from there. Some of that usually goes straight into our IC card top-up. Most visitors will top up IC cards with cash so it doesn’t remove having cash at some point but yes tap and go for convenience stores and drinks machines are useful and stops the coins building up in your pockets as taxes mean everything is priced in an uneven amount. For places like Nikko, Hakone and Takayama I would usually get my cash from those days in advance where possible, you aren’t passing convenience stores all the time as you are in the cities and there are still some older ATMs that don’t have the foreign language options. Not long to go now, have fun!

    • Hi Toni
      Thank you for your reply to my questions regarding how much Yen we should pre arrange etc etc.
      I love your indepth responses – very helpful.
      Is there any need to pre book the IC card and Hakone Free Pass before leaving home or just as easy to buy IC card upon arrival at Narita and the Free Pass in Tokyo.

      • Hi Justine, it’s really a personal preference, you can definitely buy both in Japan once you are there with no issue and that’s the best option when plans aren’t fixed. The reason why we will sometimes buy tickets and tours online is to save a little time, you’ll sometimes get a slightly better price doing it online and if you want to pay on credit card rather than using cash on the day.

  • Hi, your contents are really helpful for family travellers like me. Hope you are able to help as I was not able to find the info – when they say 1/2/3 Days Hakone Pass, how do they time the validity? From the time you got the tickets or by the midnight? We are arriving into Hakone after 1pm and an overnight so we are unsure if we could complete the route on one day or need 2 days pass. We are heading to Osaka thereafter. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Laura, the passes work on a calendar day basis, the main route is comfortable to do in a single day but it does take most of a day if you are not going to be very rushed. There are 2 passes (2 or 3 days) so even for a day trip the pass you get is actually valid for 2 days so you won’t lose anything doing it that way.

    • Hi Camilla, there’s a Tourist Information Centre at the station and you will be able to buy it there or at the ticket machine. The machines have a button for English and then there is a tab to pick Free Pass and make your selection from there. Have fun.

  • Hi there,

    I have a question about Hakone transportation and the Hakone Free Pass.

    I would like to make a day trip to Hakone from Tokyo Station via Odawara on the Shinkansen and return on the Romance Car. Is this possible? I will be getting the Hakone Free Pass as well but should I get the pass at Shinjuku to get the round trip or should I get the pass at Odawara. Which is the better value?


    • If you are only going one way in the Romance car it’s better value to get the pass just for the Hakone region. It’s easy to buy it either from the office or machine when you arrive in Odawara. Then buy an individual ticket for the train back.

  • Hi guys! Another interesting post. My sister and I are spending our last weekend in Japan in Hakone and want to know if we will get value out of the Hakone free pass. We will be coming from Kyoto and have active JR passes for this journey, however our JR pass will expire while we are in Hakone and therefore will not cover our return trip to Shinjuku. Is there a way to get a one way trip back to Shinjuku with the Hakone pass or will it be best to simply purchase the hakone only pass and pay for our journey back separately? And if so, what do you believe the best option for that trip will be! Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Kaity, if you’re only using the pass one way to Tokyo then it’s more economical to buy the pass within the Hakone region and the return train ticket separately. Depending on where you are headed in Tokyo either the Odakyu Romance car to Shinjuku or JR will work.

  • Hi, Toni!
    Going to Tokyo in March next year and planning a trip to Hakone. I was on the Odakyu Line website for well over an hour and still wasn’t sure as to the most economical discounted pass to take. Was originally planning to stay 3 nights and trying to weigh the pros and cons of the 3 day Hakone Free Pass with or without the return trips from Shinjuku. But I’ve learned so much from this article and even more after reading the comments section.
    We might just opt for staying 2 nights instead of 3 to save my brain from frying further and also since you mentioned that accomodation in the area is expensive. So staying one night in a hostel and the second in a ryokan. So excited for this and the onsen experience.
    This will be our 2nd trip to Japan and I can relate to how you say you guys like to travel slow and not sticking to a rigid itinerary.
    Thank you and more power to you!

    • Thanks for leaving a message Virginia. It can be a bit time consuming doing the research but the Hakone onsen are amazing and the whole area is beautiful – I think you will find your time there well worth the planning. Have fun.

  • hey guys,

    thanks for the post. We need your advise. we’re planning to visit Hakone from Tokyo and staying for 3 days and 2 nights. At the end of our trip, we are planning to go Gotemba Outlet.
    What’s the most cost effective way using Romance Express for the trip?

    Purchase Romance Car Express from Shinjuku to Odawara and buy 2 days Hakone Free Pass in Odawara(5770 yen)

    seems to be cheaper than

    Shinjuku to Hakone Yumoto and buy the Free Pass at Shinjuku (6230)

    Does the above include a return ticket to Shinjuku? or just one way?

    Cause we’re planning to go to Gotemba Outlet and planning to go back from the outlet to Shinjuku by bus. so we don;t really need the return ticket from Hakone to Shinjuku via train

    thanks in advance

    • The Hakone Free Pass tickets purchased with the Tokyo (Shinjuku) connection include the base ticket for the return train trip, if you aren’t planning to use that then the pass purchased within the Hakone zone would be more cost effective so you aren’t paying for something you won’t use. This leaves you free to use another train company or mode of transport to get there and back. Have fun!

  • Hi! Again another great post, thanks!
    If we don’t have the JR pass, would it be best to buy the Hakone Free Pass only once in Hakone area or is it easy/cheap to get to Shinjuku if not staying around that area. We have no idea yet about where we are staying but hopefully soon!

    • It can depend where you are are staying Miia, we have now done 4 different options, the JR pass on the bullet train, JR local trains, the green car in JR local trains and the Hakone Free Pass. If I was staying fairly close to Shinjuku the Romance car is a comfortable way to travel the distance compared to the JR local train especially if you are heading out early in the day when they can be very crowed with the work and school commute. When we were staying out at Shiodome the JR direct train goes through the station nearest the hotel we were staying at so it was far more convenient than getting out to Shinjuku first so we used that. On the way back we upgraded to the green car, I think it was around a $10 supplement and well worth it at the end of a fabulous but very full day. It doesn’t need to factor in to where you stay, there are good options from different places but I’d choose how you get there once you have decided on your accommodation.

  • Hi, I stumbled onto your blog and it has been a great read. Planning a trip to Japan is so overwhelming!
    I am staying in Kyoto then heading to Hakone to stay overnight in ryokan before heading back to Tokyo. Keen to see the outdoor museum – should I get a Hakone pass? I will have activated my JR pass already.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Emma, if you’re only going to the the Open Air Museum you won’t need the pass, individual tickets or stored value card such as PASMO or SUICA will be much cheaper. The pass is great value if you want to do the circuit including the rope-way and trip on the lake. Is your ryokan along the Tozan train line somewhere too?

      • Thank you so much for the reply it’s my first time visiting Japan so I am incredibly nervous to get this right lol. I am staying at Ichinoyu Shinkan on the Tonosawa line. I will have a suica card too.

        • I think Ichinoyu Shinkan would only be a 2 minute walk from Hakone Yuryo Onsen that we visited in autumn last year – I would love to hear what you think of it as the location is very convenient with the shuttle bus down to Hakone-Yumoto where there are restaurants and and you can walk out to the shrine and waterfall temple from there. It sounds like a fabulous first trip, it’s an easy country to fall in love with.

          • I did choose it because it seems like I don’t have to change transportation a bunch of times as well as having a private onsen in the room (tattoos). I will let you know what it’s like! – I’m staying in early November. So you can use a Suica card in Hakone?

          • You can use the Suica (or other IC cards) in Hakone. You don’t need it if you have the Hakone Freepass but we’ve used it when we aren’t doing the full circuit.

  • Hi
    We are going to Japan in late sept/Oct for 13 days.
    First 4 days in Tokyo and taking tour bus to Hakone-stay overnight and then to Kyoto and back to Tokyo.
    activating Rail pass in Hakone for our trip to Kyoto-hiroshima-tokyo.
    -Hakone plaanning to use free pass
    -Rail pass can i use from Hakone-Kyoto and then side trip to osaka-back to Kyoto then Hiroshima and Tokyo?
    -also can we stop at Nagoya as planning on going to Toyota museum -will Rail Pass work? should we have to stay overnight?-then we need Nagoya to Kyoto- will Rail pass work?

    • Hi Ganesh, the Japan Rail pass will work for all those routes, either stopping overnight or leaving your luggage in a locker at the station while you visit on a stop over. The only restriction is that the travel all takes place within 7 consecutive days, or the length of the pass purchased, and that you are using Japan Rail trains which are available for all of the destinations you mention.

      The Hakone Free Pass should work well for you if you plan to do the circuit or travel through a good portion of it as you’ll be able to use it on both days.

      • Thanks Toni for your prompt reply.
        Hakone – what do you mean by the circuit for Freepass-is it the other areas around Hakone?

        also what is best place to buy Railpass?


        • The Hakone Amazing Pass is mostly a transport pass so it’s worthwhile if you are going to go around the Hakone sights on the Tozan train, cable car, rope way and boat etc.

          For the rail pass I buy them online from Japan Rail Pass, an official online vendor which I’ve found reliable and a good price but there are a number of online sellers and also high street travel agents that sell them.

  • How long does it takes for u to complete ur day trip in Hakone?
    Does the Hakone freepass only start from hakone yumoto station, can I catch the tozan railway from odarawa station to start my journey?

    • Hi Shin, the Hakone pass covers the whole Hakone area so it does cover the railway from Odawara. You can also get a version of the pass that covers the trip from Tokyo if you are wanting to leave from Shinjuku. It does depend how fast you travel, we tend to be slower travellers, but I would allow most of the day to complete the course especially if you want to do any additional parts along the way like the Open Air Museum, a visit to an onsen or exploring Hakone-Yamote and Hakone Shrine.

  • HI there

    We only have one day to spend in Hakone and we are going there next week. Does this above one day itinerary cover off going to the Shrine (the walkway with all the red lights along the side)? I couldn’t see it mentioned anywhere?

    we will be travelling to Hakone from Tokyo and we are not buying a JR Pass so how do you recommend we do this best?

    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Samantha, we’ve been to a couple of shrines in Hakone but the photo that’s often seen with the red lanterns I think will be Hakone Shrine. On this itinerary after the cruise across the lake you have 2 points you can get off. MotoHakone-ko is usually the second stop and closest to the shrine, it’s maybe a 10 minute walk. If you get off at Hakonemachi-ko you will be able to visit the Hakone Checkpoint museum and just past there is an avenue of cedar trees which is part of the old Tokaido road. Follow around the lake front and it’s about half an hour on foot to the shrine. You could get the bus closer but they are infrequent so would probably take longer that way, also your pass allows you to use the cruise as much as you want so you could get to the shrine that way but do check it is going to Motohakone-ko as the first stop or it could be a long trip. You may also spot the red torii gate at the lakes edge towards the end of your cruise.

      How I would get to the Hakone area without the JR pass depends on where in Tokyo we are staying. You can get the Hakone free pass and pay the supplement from Shinjuku if that is convenient to your hotel or last year we just used the JR Tokaido line to Odawara, it cost Y1490 ($15) then you can purchase the Hakone Freepass for the Hakone region.

  • Hi 2 Aussie Travellers,

    I am thinking of going from Tokyo to Hokone for a day and night stay on June 6 and move on to Kawaguchiko the next morning for a day trip, then go back to Tokyo in the evening.

    1) I would like to get your advise if I should buy a 2 day Fuji Hakone pass instead of a 2 day Hakone free pass?

    2) Is is correct that I can take a bus from Togendai station to Kawaguchiko?

    3) From Kawaguchiko, what is the best way to get back to Tokyo? Any suggestion?

    Any advise provided would be appreciated.


      • Thanks for your reply Toni.
        As my trip is still not finalize, would it be safe if I don’t do a pre-booking now? When I buy the ticket for the Romance car at Shinjuku the day before, can I do a booking there and then? I am travelling on a weekday, Thursday to be exact. Hopefully it is not crowded going back to Shinjuku from Kawaguchiko.

  • Hello ..
    We are staying in Asakusa. We have the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) . Can we use this pass to get to Odawa to purchase a Hakone Pass???

    • Hi Deion, neither of the JR East passes cover Odawara in the Hakone region. Of the current passes from Tokyo only the full JR pass covers it. Another option is to get the Hakone free pass from Shinjuku in Tokyo, when we were in Hakone again in December we had a chance to have a good look at the Romance car (the train they use from Shinjuku) and it looked very nice and comfortable.

  • Hi Toni,
    If I arrive in Shinjuku on say 18 Apr, then will go to Hakone on 19 Apr, should I buy Hakone freepass at Shinjuku station on 18 apr? as I go in a group of 8 people and plan to take the earliest train on 19Apr.
    What time the train start from Shinjuku to Odawara?
    Many thanks in advance.

    • Another query, what’s your suggestion to avoid crowded, the way as you did (start from Gora) or the other way (start from Lake Ashi)?

      • It can certainly be pretty crowed. We aim to go to those places mid week and not during a holiday and we start as early as possible in the day which puts us a bit ahead of the crowd. Our autumn visit late last year was busier than when we went in winter so I think seasons (sakura and fall leaves) make a difference.

        Although I don’t think it is quite so simple, if we did the full circuit again I would probably reverse it, head out and do the Checkpoint, shrine and boat trip first and then continue on. This would involve starting with a bus trip rather than changing platform to catch a train but because this breaks the flow a bit people tend to do it the other way so you could benefit from catching the transport going the other way.

    • Hi Ika, you can pretty much leave as early as you want. The first train of the day I found leaves at 5.31 am getting to Odawara just before 7 am. Here is the Hyperdia schedule for that route There are other schedules so I would suggest using Hyperdia and selecting Shinjuku (JR) and Odawara to find what suits you best.

      You can buy the tickets from the Odakyu vending machine, the English button is in the top right of the screen and you need both the Freepass ticket and the limited express supplement ticket if you want to get the train from Shinjuku. Limited express trains require a ticket and limited express supplement but the Freepass covers the base ticket so you only want to buy the supplement. The machines are quick and there is rarely much of a queue. You can advance purchase but in that case I’d buy it at the info counter instead and make it clear when you plan to use it.

  • Hello,
    Thanks for your advice and sharing your experiences for Hakone.
    I am going in July and am wondering whether to stay 2 nights or 3 nights. I want to get the 3 day Free Pass. Do you know if the pass is considered a 72 hour use, so if I arrive on day 1 (depart from Shinjuku) in the morning and stay day 2, stay day 3 and leave day 4 in the morning, does that qualify/fit in the 3 day pass parameters, or does it just counts # days, so really meaning 3 days and 2 nights, regardless of the time you arrive or depart Hakone?
    Thanks for your help. Just trying to figure out how many nights accommodation I would need to book for a 3 day Free Pass.

    • Hi Angie, the pass is for the calendar day not a 24 hour period. As accommodation is relatively expensive in the Hakone region most people find 2 nights (3 day pass) will be enough to enjoy the sights, soak in the onsen and relax especially if you don’t need to rush off to your next destination on that last day.

  • Hi, thank you for the very informative post.
    I am going to Japan this December (winter period), and thinking of visiting Hakone (2d1n). We will be going to Hakone from Tokyo, and then continue our trip to Tokyo. We have purchased the JRpass as well. Based on your post, we should be taking the Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Odawara, and then buy the Hakone Free Pass? Can the Hakone Free pass be used at Odawara- How to go to Hakone from Odawara?
    Also, do you have any Ryokan to recommend at Hakone? Thank you so much!

    • Hi Rachel, the whole area is referred to as Hakone, which part in particular at you wanting to get to? For example for the township of Hakone Yumoto where many of the onsen and accommodation are would follow the directions in the article taking the Odakyu train from Odawara station towards Gora but get off at the 4th stop for Hakone Yumoto.

    • Hi Toni,

      We are going to Hakone this June 18 and your information is so useful for us.
      Do we need to reserve the seat of the train from Odawara to Hakone? Because we would like to sit on the left side as you mentioned to see the beautiful view. Or we could see them from both sides of the trains?



      • Hi Angie, Odawara to Hakone is a local train so you can’t reserve a seat. The 18th is a Monday I believe so it will be a little less busy than on the weekend but it is a popular route. You will have a good outlook from either side but having done it a couple of times now we just like the left a little better 🙂 Enjoy!

  • Hi
    Thanks for the detailed blog, very informative. I will be buying a JR pass and plan to buy the two day Hakone pass. Would it be too tiring for us to be return back to Tokyo and go back again the next day to Hakone for enjoying the onsen and going to the museums?
    Thanks in advance!

    • It would depend on your travel style Raji but if you have the JR pass then it would be quite easy to do, it’s only 35 minutes on the shinkansen from Tokyo station and won’t add any extra cost doing it that way, you will actually be getting some good value from both passes. Co-incidentally I’ve just been looking at the day visit onsen options in Hakone today, we are headed back in a few weeks and plan to do a day out of Tokyo with a half day onsen soaking and relaxing and the other half exploring the Open Air Museum we missed last time and a few extra things if we can fit them in.

  • Hi there, your blog is very informative. Certainly worth sharing!

    I understand that the round trip package of the Hakone Free Pass involves either a bus ride or a train ride from Shinjuku and back. Do you know if the free pass gets activated upon the journey from Shinjuku to Hakone or only when I used it on the local train/cable car/bus rides (Hakone Tozan Railway etc.)? How does it work altogether – do you get separate passes for the transportation in Hakone, and a different one for the RomanceCar to Shinjuku?

    As I’ll be spending a full day hiking Mount Fuji, I’d hope that I can activate the pass later.

    • The pass is activated when you first use it whether that is Shinjuku or the Hakone region. If you are coming from somewhere other than Shinjuku I’d suggest you buy your Hakone Freepass within the Freepass zone without the Tokyo transfer included. You can buy a pass to use from Shinjuku or just within the Hakone zone so you aren’t paying for a transfer from Shinjuku that you aren’t using.

  • Hi !

    I love your blog and all the tips 😀
    I have been reading thoroughly to try and plan a day trip to Hakone for my dad and myself but got a little overwhelmed as to where to begin 🙁
    We would like to plan the day trip to Hakone, without using the JR pass what would you suggest be the best way to go?
    I do want to buy the Hakone freepass as well.
    Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much !

      • Hi! Thank you so much for your response 🙂 You are so sweet to help.
        I am right beside the Tamieke Sanno station but the Roppongi Itchome station is pretty close by too.

        • Hi Dori-Ann. As you aren’t using a JR pass I am guessing you would prefer to avoid the cost of the bullet train option.

          The slightly lower cost option at (Y1550) would be to use the subway from Tameike-Sanno (ginza line) to Asakasa-mitsuke then transfer to the Marunuchi line through to Shinjuku (~12 minutes) and buy the Hakone pass from there. The pass is an extra Y490 from Shinjuku over buying the Hakone region only pass when you get to Odawara plus you’d pay the limited express surcharge of Y890 and Y170 for the subway section. The train from Shinjuku takes 85 minutes. If you do this option just make sure you buy both the Hakone Free Pass and the limited express surcharge for the Romance car before you board or there will be an extra fee onboard and you won’t have a reserved seat.

          The slightly faster and simpler option (at Y1660) is to take the subway from Tameike-Sanno to Shimbashi (3 minutes) switch to the JR line and take the JR Tokaido line to Odawara (~80 minutes) then purchase the Hakone pass there either from the office or the machine (English available). Total time will vary a little depending on time of day and how long your transfer at Shimbashi takes.

  • Hello!
    Your post about Hakone trip makes me feel more excited to visit Hakone. However, my budget is quite a challenge. At first I decided to cancel my trip to Hakone but since I found your blog and friends are recommending this place, looks like I need to include this place back in my itinerary.

    I am still confuse about the way to get there. I have a JR pass and if I were to get to Hakone, is it recommended that:

    1. I take JR to Shinjuku (cost included in JR pass)
    2. Buy the Hakone day pass there (4000 Yen)
    3. Take JR to Odawara (cost included in JR pass)
    4. Train to Hakone (included in Hakone pass onwards)

    Is my understanding above true?

    Really appreciate your advice on this. Thank you so much and keep posting!

    • Hi Janna, if you have the JR pass already activated you would do it the same way we did. Use the JR Pass to get to Odawara station then you can purchase the Hakone Freepass there to cover just the Hakone region. You can do that at the office or through the machine. When you are done at the end of the day, or the next day, the pass will cover you getting back to Odawara and you can use your JR pass again to continue on to your next city

  • Hi Toni, thank you so much for the very detailed break down cost for the Hakone Free Pass! We are going to depart from Kyoto and stay in Gora for 3 nights, and onward to Tokyo. I think the free pass will definitely be worth it in our case. I can’t wait for October to come!

    • Will the free pass include Romance Car back to Shinjuku? If I understand correctly, train tickets in Japan has a base fare, + extra (was it depending on distance) + reserved seating (optional)?

      • Hi Yng, it looks like they have made a change to the way they are talking about the price on their website. You used to buy a ticket that was either from Shinjuku (return) or within the Freepass region. They’ve now seem to have split it out to talk about the Hakone pass being everything in the region and as it is the Odakyu company you can add-on the Shinjuku return for the reduced cost of just the limited express surcharge. If you are buying it at the Shinjuku end it should still be straightforward, if not they spoke English in the ticket counters and will be able to get you the right one. I think the change is quite new as I can’t find the price breakdown on the site anymore, we are back in a couple of months so will check it out and update the post with the new wording and prices if applicable as soon as I have them.

        Generally ticket prices in Japan for local trains are simple, on longer distance there is an extra fee for reserved seat (unless you are using JR pass which includes it) and a limited express surcharge on some trains. The limited express is faster as it has less stops and it just seems to be an extra charge for the convenience and based on demand. When you buy the ticket it’s clear on the ticket machine that you need to add it on, we normally use a JR pass which includes it so it isn’t an issue but have used it on the Limited Express from Kansai Airport. Prices shown in Hyperdia include it in the summary under the seat fee from memory. There are also sometime’s extra cost for special seating such as green car on the shinkansen or there is a viewing deck on the Romancecar that is extra.

        • Thank you for your reply! Through many online searches, I found that if the free pass is purchase in Odawara (because we’ll be coming from Kyoto), it won’t include the ride to Shinjuku.

          Which is ok, I think the price of (3 days) Shinjuku round trip Hakone Freepass with Romance Car (5460 +890 yen) versus Odawara only pass (4500 yen) + 1 way to Shinjuku Romance Car (2080 yen) are almost the same.

          Phew, my brain can’t comprehend all these details, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg for the entire Japan trip.

  • Hmm interesting to read this! In my experience it hugely depends on the weather; the savings are great and the cable cars are good and all, but if it is raining when you go then the cable cars might not even be running and it’s so difficult to get around Hakone without using taxis. 🙁

    • Hi Jessie, the cable cars run in they rain (unless it’s a monsoon of course), it’s generally very high winds or volcanic activity that have closed them. As travellers or tourists it’s always a bit disappointing when you run into heavy rain and only have a day or two to experience an area but we were there in mid winter with snow as you can see in the photos and got around very easily on the public transport with the Hakone Freepass and short distances on foot.

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