Welcome to Hakone by its other name — Tokyo-3. For Neon Genesis Evangelion fans, the hot-spring resort of Hakone, near Tokyo, offers the chance to visit locations from the anime, in real life. As the new capital of Japan designed to repel the Angels, several chapters of Shinji, Rei, and their friends’ lives are set here.

First: Getting to and around Hakone

We’ve covered it in our detailed Hakone day trip guide, but your main entry point should be Hakone-Yumoto Station. You can get there by taking the Odakyu Line, or the JR Shōnan-Shinjuku or Ueno-Tokyo lines, to Odawara Station. From there, you’ll continue on the Hakonetozan Line for four stops to Hakone-Yumoto Station.

When leaving Tokyo, there are a few places you can depart from. The most convenient is probably Shinjuku Station, as both the JR Shōnan-Shinjuku Line and the Odakyu Line call there. The Odakyu Line also has the Romancecar — a special Limited Express train that gets you to Hakone-Yumoto in 1 hour and 20 minutes, and passes through some gorgeous scenery along the way.

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Another swift option from Tokyo Station and also Shinagawa Station is the Shinkansen. A short trip on one of the Kodama or Nozomi Shinkansen that call at Odawara will have you there in just 30 minutes, plus the short hop to Hakone-Yumoto. It’s a pricey choice, but if you’re looking for speed, it’s the option for you.

Once you’re in Hakone, the easiest way to get around is taking the local buses. The routes are labeled by their main destination, with English signage on the bus stops. Staff are also usually on hand to help tourists at popular spots.

You can also stay on the train and continue on the Hakonetozan Line, which goes a few more stops, until Gora Station. While not going too far into Hakone, it connects to the cable car leading to Lake Ashi. It’s useful if you want to dash to the waterside.

To keep things cheapo friendly, we recommend buying the Hakone Free Pass. It covers your entire trip from Tokyo to Hakone return on the Odakyu Line (excluding the Romancecar surcharge), plus local travel in Hakone. It also comes with discounted entry to popular attractions.

Hakone-Yumoto Station: Starting Shinji’s journey

Where it all begins. | Photo by Maria Danuco

The place to start your Evangelion pilgrimage is right where you land — at Hakone-Yumoto Station. It shows up in the anime several times, such as when Shinji tries to escape from NERV and Hakone. Unfortunately, it won’t look quite like what you’re expecting, as the station has been remodeled since the anime came out. However, what will catch your eye is under the station.

Eva Store Hakone
Try to hold your NERV here … | Photo by Shyam Bhardwa

This is where you’ll find the official Evangelion store, Eva-Ya. The shop sells gifts and merch, with several unique items only available here. Most of the exclusive products are themed around Hakone, such as a postcard set featuring key moments from the anime and their locations. There’s also clothing, mugs, stationery, and games — no matter what you’re into, there’ll be something Eva for you.

Sengokuhara: School, shrines, and shining fields

No defense mechanisms here. | Photo by Shyam Bhardwa

Taking a bus further into Hakone gets you to Sengokuhara, a mountain-ringed district full of museums and hot springs. The popular Pola Museum of Art is accessible from here. But for the Evangelion fans, there are some other must-see spots dotted around. Starting in the center of the town, it’s only a short walk up to the old Sengokuhara Junior High School.

The now-closed school served as the inspiration for Tokyo-3 First Junior High School, where our favorite pilots study during the anime. You can pop by and see the classrooms and athletic fields, if you’re interested.

Further along is Kintoki Shrine, which you might recognize from Shinji’s scrap with an Angel. The public restroom at the base of the shrine has been kitted out in full Evangelion colors as the NERV Sengokuhara outpost.

On your way out of the area, make sure you get a glimpse of the susuki, or pampas grass, fields. Considered one of Hakone’s most beautiful sights, the grass glows in the sunset. It’s in these golden fields that Shinji meets Kensuke during the anime. Don’t stop for too long though, because ahead is something really cool.

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Tōgendai Ropeway Station: Cable cars, not trains

Where are the trains? | Photo by Shyam Bhardwa

You might be surprised by the lack of trains when you get to Tōgendai Central Station — it’s one of the main transport hubs in the anime, after all. However, Tōgendai Ropeway Station, as it is actually known in Hakone, offers a cable car service between Lake Ashi and Gora Station for ¥1,500 one way. The ropeway offers scenic views of the area — just make sure you leave some time to look around the station itself.

Do you have what it takes to pilot an Eva? | Photo by Shyam Bhardwa

Tōgendai Ropeway Station has been decorated with everything from Evangelion artwork to an EVA display model. You can head downstairs to a little store, which sells branded merchandise and snacks. It’s also the perfect place to take some photos.

Lake Ashi: Peaceful without Angels

Sightseeing ship at lake Ashi and Mountain Fuji in background
Even more beautiful without the sixth Angel. | Photo by Getty Images

If you watched the anime religiously, you’ll remember all the times this beautiful lake was the backdrop for the action. From Shinji and his friends’ days out, to battles with Angels, Lake Ashi was constantly in view. And it’s just as breathtaking in real life.

At the northern end of the lake, near Tōgendai Ropeway Station, you’ll see the whole breadth of Lake Ashi and the surrounding mountains. You can stay by the shore, or find a boat to head out onto the lake for different views. At the south end, you’ll also find Hakone Shrine, a tourist hotspot with its red torii gate in the water.

Owakudani: Waiting for Eva’s future

During the anime, Shinji spends time here while conflicted about his options, and an Angel briefly attacks over the area. However, the view from the ropeway might not be what you expect. In the anime, the area is full of homes and shops, but Hakone’s Owakudani is a set of jagged slopes formed by volcanic eruptions.

As you pass over, you’ll be able to see steam seeping from cracks in the ground, and the uneven terrain that makes the area an attractive hiking spot. The ropeway will also give you views over more of Lake Ashi and the forests that Shinji, Rei, and the crew explore.

At the end of your journey in Hakone, you might be lucky enough for one last surprise — a quick ride on one of the Evangelion-themed buses to round out your trip.

Your own Eva … sort of. | Photo by Shyam Bhardwa

FAQs

We answer some of the most common questions about Neon Genesis Evangelion stuff in Hakone.

Are there any Eva-themed restaurants in Hakone? Where should I grab a bite?

There’s a single themed restaurant area in Hakone, located in the Kowakien Yunessun Onsen and Spa. Their food court has themed items like the EVA-2 Parfait, and Rei’s favorite garlic ramen without pork.

Hakone is a great place to eat though, especially if you’re looking for traditional Japanese meals. Hakone Kawadoko Gyunabe Ukon comes highly recommended, offering premium riverside dining. Another popular spot is Tamura Ginkatsutei, known for their pork-stuffed tofu.

What if I want to stay the night? What are my accommodation options in Hakone?

If you’re looking to stay overnight, maybe to make the most of your Hakone Free Pass, there’s plenty of choice. If you’re willing to travel a little, you can stay in a traditional inn, or ryokan, complete with private onsen.

If you’re looking for somewhere more central, or just prefer the feel of modern hotels, there are a few near Hakone-Yumoto Station. The popular Tenseien offers Western-style rooms and easy access to public transport.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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