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A Hakone Trip in Autumn

Updated on September 19, 2014
Autumn in Hakone
Autumn in Hakone

Hakone - An Escape for Tokyoites

When Tokyoites need a short break from their busy lives, many choose to go to Hakone. . Being that it's only a short 70-minute train ride from Shinjuku, it's the nearest major hot springs resort from Tokyo.

Once you get there, you'll be rewarded with an abundance of natural beauty, therapeutic onsen baths and if you're lucky, a view of Mt. Fuji.

A friend of mine was visiting from Singapore and since it was his second time to Tokyo, I wanted to take him somewhere he had never been to. He told me that he'd never experienced autumn before and had always wanted to see the changing colors of the leaves.

He also requested that he wanted to go someplace quiet and out of the city. Since it was still early for the leaves to change in Tokyo, Hakone sounded like the perfect destination.

*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.

The Romance Car Train
The Romance Car Train

Taking the Romance Car

The easiest way to get to Hakone from Tokyo is by taking the Romance Car from Shinjuku Station. There is a special platform for exclusive use of the Romance Car. The trains are extremely comfortable with attendant service offering food and drinks on the train.

Although it's only a 70-minute ride, the journey takes you from the concrete jungle of Tokyo to the rice paddies of the countryside finally ending in the mountainous region of Hakone.

On the train, attendants come down the aisle offering a range of light boxed lunches, snacks and drinks for a fee. The over-sized windows of the train let you watch the scenery change and unfold before your very eyes.

The seats are not only spacious but recline to give you extra comfort. Restrooms and an onboard cafe car are some of the extra amenities on board this train.

*Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The Best Guide to Tokyo

Time Out Tokyo (Time Out Guides)
Time Out Tokyo (Time Out Guides)

Even though I live in Tokyo, I used this guidebook for research purposes. This is one of the rare books that have enough information on Hakone and other short excursions near the city.

This book not only has information on the major tourist destinations, but also hidden gems that aren't included in most guide books. Highly recommended for first time visitors.

 

The Romance Car Journey to Hakone

Arriving in Hakone

Lake Ashi
Lake Ashi

Most people disembark at Hakone-Yumoto station which is the main terminal in Hakone. All transportation to area attractions start from this station including trains and buses. Since we had reservations at a hotel near the lake, we needed to take the bus. Since check-in was not until 3 pm, we decided to take in some sights. After a quick lunch of soba, we caught the bus to Lake Ashinoko.

There are many things to see in Hakone but my favorite place in the area is Lake Ashinoko. It's a beautiful lake that was formed inside a caldera of Mt. Hakone after the volcano's last eruption about 3000 years ago. It is also one of the best place to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.

Arriving at our Resort Hotel

Prince Hakone Hotel
Prince Hakone Hotel

I had reserved a room at the Prince Hakone. This beautiful hotel sits directly on the lake in a remote area that makes this resort very special. The views from the room are beautiful and the atmosphere is serene.

Since we both wanted to take it easy and just relax on this trip, we booked a 60-minute aromatherapy massage and made dinner reservations at Nadaman, one of the more famous restaurants in Japan that specializes in kaiseki cuisine, considered the most formal and extravagant style of Japanese dining.

After a dip in the onsen(public bath) overlooking the lake, we enjoyed a kaiseki course that was extravagant, elegant and delicious. After an hour of rest, we headed down to the spa to enjoy our massages. Needless to say, we were both completely content and relaxed. I slept like a baby.

Lake View, Autumn Foliage and A Feast Fit for a Samurai

The view from our room balcony was stunning and incredibly peaceful. I could have stayed here all day gazing at the horizon.
The view from our room balcony was stunning and incredibly peaceful. I could have stayed here all day gazing at the horizon.
Here is a picture of the indoor hot springs area. I couldn't take a picture of the outdoor one because there were people there.
Here is a picture of the indoor hot springs area. I couldn't take a picture of the outdoor one because there were people there.
Leaves changing color outside the restaurant.
Leaves changing color outside the restaurant.
Our Kaiseki dinner at the famous Nadaman. Fall appetizers consisting of Hakone tofu and mountain vegetables.
Our Kaiseki dinner at the famous Nadaman. Fall appetizers consisting of Hakone tofu and mountain vegetables.
The sashimi course was refreshing on the palate and prepared us for the next course.
The sashimi course was refreshing on the palate and prepared us for the next course.
A deep-fried sweet potato concoction was the next dish, which was absolutely stunning.
A deep-fried sweet potato concoction was the next dish, which was absolutely stunning.
Grilled fish caught in local waters with autumn harvest. The presentation was rustic elegance.
Grilled fish caught in local waters with autumn harvest. The presentation was rustic elegance.
The warm dessert was warming and perfect for this cold season.
The warm dessert was warming and perfect for this cold season.
My friend ordered the cold dessert, which was perfectly light and refreshing to finish off the extravagant meal.
My friend ordered the cold dessert, which was perfectly light and refreshing to finish off the extravagant meal.

Japanese Hot Springs in Your Home

Tabino Yado Hot Springs pH regulated ''Beauty Skin'' Bath Salts Assortment Pack from Kracie (12 25g Packets, 300g total)
Tabino Yado Hot Springs pH regulated ''Beauty Skin'' Bath Salts Assortment Pack from Kracie (12 25g Packets, 300g total)

Experience the rejuvenating effects of a traditional Japanese bath with this assortment pack of bath salts. Far from a perfumed or bubble bath, these salts include minerals that promote circulation and warmth to the body while healing aroma relax you.

Each box contains 12 individual packets of 4 different Japanese hot spring spa experiences, making this set a perfect way to try them all.

 

A Beautiful Morning

The view from our hotel room balcony.
The view from our hotel room balcony.

After a restful sleep,we awoke to a beautiful day. When I opened the window from our room, the only sounds I could hear were the chirping of birds. I looked out at the spectacular view from my balcony and immediately felt a rush of happiness course through my entire body. I was so mesmerized by the view I could have stayed there all day.

After a short dip in the hot springs, we headed down to a delicious buffet breakfast. Afterwards we strolled along the shores of the lake around the resort before checking out of the hotel to enjoy the rest of the day.

Japan Poll

Do you think you would enjoy visiting Hakone in Autumn?

See results

Highlights of the Second Day

Beautiful autumn foliage in Hakone
Beautiful autumn foliage in Hakone

Today was also going to be about taking it easy. It was also the day that my friend was going to see autumn leaves in all their glory. We first needed to take a boat ride from the resort to the nearest town. This is where we would board gondolas that would take us pass Owakudani, an active volcanic zone with lots of hot springs and hot rivers can be seen.

After soaring past Owakudani, we continued on to Gora where we got off to visit a very beautiful moss garden inside the Hakone Museum of Art. It was the first time for me to come here and I was looking forward to seeing it. The place is famous for its maple trees especially during the autumn season.

After a stroll through the beautiful gardens, we had a cup of matcha (green tea) in a pavilion overlooking the autumn foliage. It was a time to just sit and savor the moment. All too soon, it was time to start heading back home to Tokyo.

Crossing a Lake to Get to Iwakudani

The boat we're taking to get to base of Iwakudani, the area where lots of volcanic action is going on.
The boat we're taking to get to base of Iwakudani, the area where lots of volcanic action is going on.
The ride to the base was calm and the air was crips.
The ride to the base was calm and the air was crips.
We've arrived!
We've arrived!
The view of the sulfuric gases coming from the very active Owakudani.
The view of the sulfuric gases coming from the very active Owakudani.

Essential Information

To get to Hakone, it's just a 70-minute train ride from the center of the city. Here is some information to help you enjoy your trip.

Information on Hakone

Odakyu Transportation Information

Autumn Foliage in Hakone
Autumn Foliage in Hakone

Other Japanese Hubs You Might Like

If you enjoyed reading about Hakone, you might find some of my other articles interesting. Please feel free to check them out.

An Oasis in the Heart of Tokyo

Ome-A Hidden Gem Right Outside Tokyo

Three Days in Hiroshima

Let Me Know What You Thought. Please Leave Your Comments Here. Thanks!

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    • profile image

      Alice 2 years ago

      我覺得 其實中國人本身一直不懂得欣賞自己的傳統文化 是的 近代許多發明和科學發展都源自西方國家 但這不代表中國的文化沒有可取之處呀 飲水思源 不代表全套照收 而是真真正正appreciate自己國家的文化 proud of my country 中文一直都被香港人的歧視啦 英文好好重要 中文不好沒關係的 一樣可以是學校的寵兒 英 美留學 更是令人加分的一點 我回香港的結果也是如此吧 我以前有好多同學 英文很好 中文很糟 常常用英文跟大家說中國怎樣怎樣不好 還說自己是 美國人 拿美國護照 討厭中國又討厭中文 還有精選警句 我是香港人 不是中國人 我心想 如果你討厭中國 又討厭中國人的身分 乾脆去染金髮 整容改高鼻子 然後吃飯不用筷子 不要慶祝中國人的節日 連假期都不要放 好了

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thanks so much for the kind words BarbRad. Glad you enjoyed the virtual trip.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you for taking me on this wonderful autumn trip. I wish I could walk right off the screen and into some of those photos.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @MarcellaCarlton: Awww thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so happy you enjoyed the trip with me. Hope you're having a great day.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 3 years ago

      I would love to visit this place! It is so beautiful--we have a Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon that is only about an hour away. You have put together a stellar lens here. I feel like I've been on vacation just looking at the photography.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @ecogranny: Thank you Grace for visiting. i'm so happy you enjoyed the visit.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I have not, but all the beautiful scenery, sights and adventures you share make me think it would be wonderful to visit. Your joy in your landscape and in living every moment to the fullest fairly leaps off the page.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @VinnWong: That's the best time to go!

    • VinnWong profile image

      VinnWong 3 years ago

      These are some really beautiful photos. I love Hakone especially in Autumn.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      Stopping by again. The food looks so delicious! Also, I forgot to give this a "like" the first time I was here.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @tbonestakes: Thank you so much for reading.

    • profile image

      tbonestakes 3 years ago

      Super lens Japan is a wonderful land!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @sybil watson: Thank you so much! I really enjoyed making this lens. Hope you're having a great day sybil.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Snakesmum: Glad you enjoyed it snakesmum. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      sybil watson 3 years ago

      I would dearly love to go to Japan. This lens is simply stunning.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      You've made me really want to visit Hakone! Beautiful images, and the food made me hungry. :-)

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @josietook: Thank you josie. It's really a great place to visit.

    • josietook profile image

      josietook 3 years ago

      Would love to go. Another great lens.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @kristalulabelle: Aww thank you so much! Please visit if you can. :)

    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 3 years ago from Wisconsin

      Your photos are breathtaking! I've never seen this side of Japan before!

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 3 years ago

      Great pictures of fall in Japan! Thanks for sharing your Autumn trip. I have been to Japan; we landed at the Narita International Airport in Tokyo & then caught a plane to Okinawa to see our son, who was stationed there with the US Navy. I saw very little of Tokyo but Okinawa was one of the most amazing places I've been. It was a wonderful experience!

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @sousababy: Thank you so much. It really is a beautiful place to unwind.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @lesliesinclair: It sure is Papier. I'm itching to go again.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @VspaBotanicals: Thanks Vspa for reading. I always appreciate your visits. :)

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 3 years ago

      Gorgeous, wonderfully told with your photographs too. I'd certainly enjoy that view (titled A Beautiful Morning) all day long.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      This looks like a fabulous quick and easy trip from the hustle bustle to the serene, and in Autumn it's a dream vacation.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 3 years ago

      I wish I could go there. Excellent lens.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @RinchenChodron: So happy to hear that. Please let me know if you are planning to. i'll give you extra tips!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      I'm putting Hakone on my top list for places to experience while in Japan.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Minoru10: Yes it really is beautiful in autumn.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Michelllle: It's one of the best places to go for a short holiday. I hope you get a chance to visit one of these days.

    • Minoru10 profile image

      Michael Yoshinaka 3 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      Beautiful pictures, I love that time of year in Hakone.

    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 3 years ago

      Wow. Looks like a beautiful place. I would love to visit.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @captainj88: It truly is a special place. If you ever make it over here don't miss it!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @ForGoodPeople: Thanks so much! Autumn really is one of the most beautiful times of the year.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Diana Wenzel: So glad you enjoyed one of my favorite places near Tokyo.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @WriterJanis2: Thanks so much WriterJanis. I really appreciate you visiting my lens.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Gorgeous photos. I love the autumn colors. This looks like a very enjoyable excursion destination.

    • ForGoodPeople profile image

      Pinar Unlu 3 years ago from Mugla Turkey

      Colors are beautiful, amazing autumn..

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      Oh yes. I loved this virtual tour. I have long wanted to visit this region of Japan. Wow. Glorious setting and photos. Breath-taking.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      I really liked your lens. Beautiful pictures.