Hiking in Hakone 箱根
Hakone is a famous Onsen (hot spring) region and offers many hiking trails to catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji. For example from Mt Komagatake, on which you get with a cable car.
Further, you could visit Hakone-jinja Shrine at the Check-Point or ride a pirate ship on Ashi lake.
Or, like already mentioned, book a night in a beautiful Ryokan with a private onsen. Book here and receive 15 USD.
Here is the description of our day spent hiking in Hakone on Mt Kintoki, from where we were rewarded with a great view of Fuji.
We boarded the train in Tokyo early in the morning and ride until Odawara and then took a bus to Kintoki-Jinja-guchi 金時神社口バス停 (complete journey takes about 2 hrs, the train part is included in the JR pass, the bus costs $10 each way. )
Mt Kintokiyama 金時山 lies in the North of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. In Japan, every child knows this mountain due to a story about general Kintaro, the strongest man in Japan at his time. On Mt Kintoki, he defended himself from a big bear named Sumo with an ax and therefore you find several of these tools on the hike.
The 6,8 km hike starts at Kintokijinja shrine 金時神社. There you climb the steep steps up to 1213 m to the peak of Kintokiyama 金時山. At the top, you can marvel at the view over Hakone to lake Ashi and on the other side to Mt Fuji. On your way down, you can choose to walk to a second crest until you reach the main road, from where you can walk back tot he bus stop.
The hike on Mt Kintoki
From the bus stop to the shrine
At Kintoki-Jinja-guchi bus stop 金時神社口バス停 you have to continue for about 10min up the road in order to get to the starting point of the hike. You will pass a Lawson store, where you can stack up on drinks again. Then, you arrive at a small outdoor installation for golfers to practice their shot and at the end of the parking lot there is a toilet hut with free toilets. The trail starts behind the toilets. In case you are worried about getting lost, you could leave a post card in the wooden container with your route and estimated return time, so that the police could find you in case you get lost. Since we were two fit people, we ignored the box and walked the first 100m to Kintokijinja shrine 金時神社. Every year on 5th May the Kintaro festival is celebrated at the shrine. Next to the shrine, we discover the first axt with which Kintoki fought against bear Sumo.
From the shrine to the next crossroads (50 min uphill)
We continue our way to the right and find the first sign pointing us to the peak of Kintokiyama 金時山. From there we continue on many steps until we reach a big rock which is split in two (Kintokiyadoriishi金時宿り石). The trail leads past the rock and again, we climb more steps. Parts are covered in mud and roots, which would be slippery after rain or in snow. At the next sign (after about 50min), you can choose to walk on to the peak or go down a little and continue to the next mountain. Of course, we chose to go up but then took this second route on our way down.
Up on the peak
Once you climb the last step and reach a rock plateau, your mouth will go ‘wow’. It’s incredible how close Mt. Fuji suddenly is towering in front of you. Really mystical this mountain. If you are cold or hungry, there is a restaurant hut (Kintokimusume 金時娘) which serves Udon soup for $5 to $7.
Up on the peak, you see signs leading to other peaks, so that you can prolong your hike. From there we follow the signs to Otometoge basutei 乙女峠バス停. Over the crest we slowly descend. After a few minutes, we are on Mt Nagaoyama 長尾山. Unfortunately, there is no big view here. We move on and descend a long stairway to Otometoge pass 乙女峠 .
There are tables, an old mountain hut and two viewing plateaus from which we can see Fuji and its surroundings again. Then, it’s time to go further downwards over more steps and walk towards Sengokuhara 仙石原 . Don’t worry, at all the important intersections there are signs in English and Japanese. Soon we walk along the main road towards Koushu-Benjo公衆便所. Somewhere along the road, we see a big buddha statue. Then, we spot the bus shelter where we got off and wait for the bus in a little hut.
Conclusion: In nice weather, I really recommend this hike because you will walk through a magical scenery, although the hike consists of a lot of stairs. In bad weather, I advise you to wear good shoes, so that you won’t slip.
If you don’t have a JR Pass you can take Odakyu-Hakone-Kosoku bus from Shinjuku West Entrance 新宿駅西口 (about 2000 Yen). Then you won’t have to switch vehicles and can ride straight to Kintoki-Tozan-guchi 金時登山口バス停 from there, you walk 800 m along the road until you reach Kintoki-Jinja-guchi 金時神社口バス停 .
Further interesting cities in Kanagawa prefecture
#1 Yokohama 横浜
Yokohama ist he second largest city of Japan and lies a 30min train ride south of Tokyo. A nice sight is Sankeien Park, which has a lovely lake and samurai houses. In Yokohama’s city center you should explore the shopping and entertainment district Mirai and you could ride the roller coaster by the ocean. Apart from that, Yokohama offers a fun China Town with lots of delicious food stands.
#2 Kamakura 鎌倉
Kamakura is only 1 train hour from Tokyo and offers many temples and gardens to visit. Tourists especially like to go there because it was the home of the emperor from 1185–1333. A nice monument is the big seated buddha, which welcomes all the visitors. Further, Karakura offers many hiking trails and in summer you should visit the cooling Taya Cave, which you explore with candles.
Next to Kamakura you find the half-island Enoshima (65 min from Tokyo by train), which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. On the island you find a botanical garden, a tower with a nice view and a pretty shrine. Apart from that, you will encounter many cats on the island. That’s why the island is also named cat island.
#5 Odawara 小田原
Odawara is a small city directly at the ocean and is famous for ist castle, which now is a museum. If you are in the Hakone region anyway, you might want to stop by and have a picknick in the big castle garden.
#6 Kawasaki 川崎
We all know this name from the motorcycle brand but did you know it was also a city? Kawasaki is 30 min by train from Tokyp and offers Kawasaki Daishi Temple, which is dedicated to the pilgrim Daisho Koto. Compared to Asakusa Temple in Tokyo, this one isn’t as swamped by tourists. The most interesting thing in Kawasaki is probably the open-air museum Minkaen which showsnice farming houses from all over Japan.
Or how about a day trip to Nikko? Read the post about it soon.