A friend posted a picture on Facebook a long time ago while she lived in Tokyo. I was absolutely blown away and awe struck by the significance and serenity of the entire picture’s composition. It was a scene I wanted to be in, badly. It was so picturesque, I knew this would be my next item on the “bucket list.” Hakone, I was coming for you!
So the next time I was due to be in Tokyo, I made arrangements to visit this beautiful land of the lakeside shrine. From Tokyo, it was a quick hour and a half long smooth express train ride (not a bullet train unfortunately) followed by a half hour bus ride that takes you over to the foot of Lake Hakone. You will be in the actual town of Hakone where they have a few shops and restaurants.
Once you start walking, you’ll come across a path that takes you to exactly what you see in all of these magnificent pictures – the giant floating torii shrine. Remember, you aren’t in Kyoto so you won’t see an endless amount of these shrines, but rather you’ll see one at this lakefront and one if you decide to do more than just an Instagram picture by taking the MUST do boat ride to the MUST do cable car ride up Mount Komagatake with views of the iconic Mount Fuji to the MUST do walk around the actual Hakone Temple.
How to do this:
There are many ways to reach Hakone from Tokyo but the way I did was to go via Shinjuku Station. There is a Hakone “Romancecar” Express train that takes you 4 stops (1 hour 30 minutes) into the Hakone-Yumoto Station.
Here you will exit the station and fine a bus stop for Hakone, or you can pay much more for a taxi. This will be another 30 minute ride.
Visit the lakeside torii shrine first. From where the bus drops you off, face the lake and walk along it to the RIGHT. A short 5 minute walk and you’ll see the massive torii gate to your left.
After taking your pictures, walk back to where the bus dropped you off and purchase round trip tickets at the boat station. This boat makes a giant circle, with another boat going the opposite direction. Once boarded on the boat, you’ll pass the lakeside torii gate. Only one stop will see you to the foot of Mount Komagatake where you’ll be around many tourists and locals alike eating, drinking local Hakone-brewed sake (as I did), or buying souvenirs.
Your boat pass allows you to board the ropeway which takes you to the summit of Mount Komagatake where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Asha, Mount Fuji, and the land of Hakone.
At the top, walk outside the ropeway station and explore. This is the temple of Mount Hakone – Mototsumiya Temple.
Take it all in. Meditate and be grateful. You are in a beautiful place.