Hakone, famous for its onsen (and Evangelion), is about 90 minutes from Tokyo. That’s by the most common way of getting there: Odakyu’s Ltd. Express Romancecar — that’s what its called, really! But there are other ways of traveling between Hakone and Tokyo, including cheaper and faster options (though sadly not options that are both cheaper and faster).

However you choose to travel, odds are, you’ll save money with a Hakone Free Pass. This generally excellent value pass covers various forms of public transportation around the Hakone area. It can also cover all or some of the transport to and from Shinjuku, and gives you some discounts at Hakone area sights.

tl;dr Odakyu’s Ltd. Express Romancecar service is our recommended way to travel between Tokyo and Hakone. It’s comfortable, convenient, and fast — taking you from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto Station in 90 minutes with no transfers. Pair it with a Hakone Free Pass for maximum savings.

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Transportation options to Hakone

The gateway hub for Hakone is Hakone-Yumoto. If you opt to travel by train, your destination will be Hakone-Yumoto Station, from where you can catch onward transportation to different areas of Hakone.

Hakone-Yumoto is only served by one train operator: Odakyu. If you want to use JR trains — because you’re traveling on a rail pass — you can travel as far as Odawara by JR trains (including the Shinkansen!). At Odawara, you can catch a local Odakyu train to take you the final 15 minutes to Hakone-Yumoto.

Odakyu Line trains depart from Shinjuku Station. You can also take regular JR lines to travel between Tokyo and Odawara. This might be more convenient if you’re departing from somewhere other than Shinjuku — there’s just not any special deals (at least that we know of).

How to get from Tokyo to Hakone

TransportTravel timeCostCost with a Hakone Free PassBooking link
Ltd. Express Romancecar90 minutes¥2,470¥1,150¥1,200Not available
Regular Odakyu trains90 minutes or more¥1,270Free!Covered by the Hakone Free Pass
Tōkaidō Shinkansen1 hour or more + transit time¥4,190¥3,830Book one-way ticket or JR Pass
Odakyu Highway BusAbout 2 hrs 15 mins¥2,240¥1,000Not available

Not sure yet what you want to do in Hakone? Check out our Hakone day trip guide for recommendations.

Hakone hot springs
The steamy, extra volcanic part of Hakone. | Photo by iStock.com/Shubhashish5

Ltd. Express Romancecar

The most convenient option

Direct, partially covered by the Hakone Free Pass
¥2,470 (or ¥1,150¥1,200 with the Hakone Free Pass)
90 minutes from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto

The Romancecar is Odakyu’s limited express service between Shinjuku Station and Hakone-Yumoto Station, and is the most comfortable and convenient way of traveling to Hakone.

All seats are reserved, so you’re guaranteed a seat. This also means you have to buy tickets in advance, which you can do online, at an Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center, or at an Odakyu ticket machine. You can get tickets up until shortly before departure, so long as they’re available. The Romancecar runs about twice and hour, so you never have to wait too long for the next one.

Another big perk is that the Romancecar is partially covered by the Hakone Free Pass. The pass covers the basic fare between Shinjuku and Hakone-Yumoto, which is ¥1,270. You do still have to pay ¥1,150¥1,200 for the limited express surcharge — the extra fee the train companies charge you to ride their fancy trains with reserved seats. Buying an e-ticket gets you the ¥50 discount price.

Regular Odakyu trains

The Cheapo favorite

Fully covered by the Hakone Free Pass, some direct trains
¥1,270 (if you’re not using the pass)
90 minutes (or more) from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto

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You can also take regular Odakyu trains between Shinjuku and Hakone-Yamoto. And if you time it right, a regular train can get you there about as quickly as the Romancecar.

True, you are not guaranteed a seat. However, you also don’t have to worry about getting that extra Ltd. Express ticket — or paying for it, if you’re (smartly) using the Hakone Free Pass. That’s also why we opted to use it as part of our Hakone day trip itinerary.

The downside is that regular trains can be a little tricky to sort out if you’re not used to riding Tokyo commuter trains. The Odakyu line branches a few times, so you have to make sure you are on a train towards Hakone-Yumoto or Odawara.

Ideally, you want to get one of the special express (tokkyū; 特急) trains that make limited stops and do the whole journey direct in 90–100 minutes. These run anywhere from once an hour to three times an hour, depending on the day of the week (weekday or weekend), time of day (morning or afternoon), and sometimes the direction of travel.

Otherwise, any express train to Odawara is your next best bet. Really, we don’t recommend trying any other trains unless you know the Odakyu lines well. At Odawara, you can transfer for a local train to Hakone-Yumoto. Taking the express (instead of the special express) to Odawara and having to transfer adds about 30 minutes to the journey.

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Odakyu does have the timetables online in English, so you can check ahead. Also: note the time of the last express trains back to Tokyo. The special express (as well as the Romance Car) stop running before 8 p.m. After that, you’ll have to take a local train to Odawara, and catch an express onward from there.

Hakone-Yumoto Station. | Photo by Maria Danuco

Taking the Shinkansen to Hakone (sort of)

For travelers using a JR Pass

Mostly covered by the Japan Rail Pass
¥4,190 (or ¥360 if you’re not using a JR Pass)
45 mins from Shinagawa (or 50 mins from Tokyo Station) + transfer time

If you want to use a JR pass to travel between Tokyo and Hakone, you can take the Tōkaidō Shinkansen from either Tokyo Station or Shinagawa to Odawara. The ride is about 30 minutes. Note that only Kodama service trains (and some Hikari trains) stop at Odawara.

At Odawara, transfer to a local Odakyu Line train to get to Hakone-Yumoto. The local trains run several times an hour, so don’t worry about the wait. You can also get a Hakone Free Pass that starts in Odawara (and is thus a bit cheaper than the one that covers travel from Shinjuku), but which will cover the short Odakyu line journey between Odawara and Hakone-Yumoto.

Likewise, if you are visiting Hakone not as a return trip from Tokyo but as part of an extended trip through Japan, you can link up with the Shinkansen network in Odawara.

Taking a Highway Bus to Hakone

For points other than Hakone-Yumoto

Partly covered by the Hakone Free Pass
¥2,240 (¥1,000 for pass holders)
About 2 hrs 15 mins from Shinjuku to Tōgendai

Another option is to take an Odakyu Highway Bus from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal. This service goes via Gotemba to Tōgendai, which is on the north shore of Lake Ashi (so on the oppposite side from Moto-Hakone).

To be honest this isn’t our favorite option, given the cost is almost as much as the Romancecar. I guess if you wanted to avoid the crowds at Hakone-Yumoto Station, and get a headstart on the sights — or set out on the first pirate ship of the morning across Lake Ashi. You can also get off at a bunch of small stops between Sengoku and Tōgendai, which might be convenient for some onsen ryokan and hotels.

Buses do also make sense for certain itineraries. For example, if you’re keen to visit the Gotemba Premium Outlets, there are direct buses between the outlets and Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal. These take about 90–100 minutes and cost ¥1,800 one-way (or ¥1,000 if you have a Hakone Free Pass). Buses between Hakone and the Gotemba Premium Outlets are also covered by the pass, so you can work in a stop on your way back, for not much extra cost.

Currently all of the Odakyu Highway Bus info is in Japanese. But presumably you can inquire at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station.

Pro-tip: This one-day tour will take you to Ōwakudani and Lake Ashi in Hakone, halfway up Mt Fuji, and still give you two hours at the Gotemba Premium Outlets.

Sightseeing ship at lake Ashi and Mountain Fuji in background
At Hakone you can ride this pirate ship across Lake Ashi. | Photo by Getty Images

The Hakone Free Pass

Hakone is pretty spread out, and to see and do a bunch of different things, you’ll have to ride various forms of transport, including: trains, buses, a funicular, a ropeway, a cable car, and a pirate ship, which are mostly run by different operators. With the Hakone Free Pass you can all of them for 2 or 3 days at a fixed cost.

This pass almost always saves a bit of money, and also saves you from having to work out payment each time you hop on a bus/cable car/whatever. The pass also comes with discounts to some popular attractions, like ¥200 off admission to both the Hakone Open Air Museum and the day spa Hakone Yuryō.

You can get a Hakone Free Pass that starts from Odawara or Shinjuku, depending on how you’re getting to Hakone from Tokyo.

What about driving to Hakone?

Driving to Hakone gives you the freedom to plot your own course independent from bus schedules, etc. It’s also convenient if a car makes sense for your onward travel plans.

But you don’t need a car to get anywhere within Hakone. And there are a lot of downsides, too: For one, Hakone’s mountain roads are all one-lane in each direction, steep, narrow, and winding. If you’re the kind of person who thinks driving roads like that sounds fun, know that you will spend most of your trip stuck behind a bus anyway.

Plus traffic between Tokyo and Hakone is often not great; free parking is scarce around Hakone; and round-trip highway tolls can add up to over ¥5,000. Also you’d miss out on the ropeway and the pirate ship, which are honestly kind of fun.

Tours to Hakone

If you found all of the above overwhelming, perhaps you’d like someone else to take care of the logistics? Hakone is a pretty popular destination, so there are usually a decent variety of tour offerings. For example, here is a one-day tour to Hakone that also visits Mt Fuji.

The downside with tours, of course, is that you may not get to do everything you want to do. For example, few Hakone tours include onsen visits.

While we do our best to make sure it is up to date, information is subject to change at any time.

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