The Hakone Tozan Train runs from Hakone Yumoto Station to Gora Station. The train ride gives you wonderful views of mountains, deep ravines, and passes through the lush forests of Hakone. This is one of Japan`s most impressive and historical train routes because of the views and incline of the tracks. The train ride takes you from the base of the Hakone mountains to the Gora area in about 40 minutes and 6 stops along the way.
The Hakone Tozan Train makes its way up the steep mountains by using a switchback system to criss cross up the mountain. The train has formed a relationship with the famed Rhatische Bahnrailway in Switzerland.
The Hakone Tozan train was completed in 1923 to give visitors easy access to the cool weather in the mountains of Hakone during the humid and sweltering Japanese summers. An important driver for the construction of the railway was the completion of the Fujiya Hotel in the Miyanoshita area. The Fujiya Hotel was one of the first “western” hotels in Japan catering to foreigners. Many famous people stayed here, including Charlie Chaplin, Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, and more. This long tradition and history is highlighted by the new innovations and award winning designs of new trains running the route.
Each station along the route has its own personality and characteristics. Here are some of the highlights and recommendations for each area.
Hakone Yumoto is the start of the Hakone Tozan Railway. This is also the place to change trains if you are coming from Tokyo or Odawara by Odakyu Line. The is a wonderful shopping street to enjoy and many places to stay in the area. You can spend a few hours looking at the easily accessible sites or join a walking tour.
Tonosawa is a small and quaint little station hidden in a beautiful valley. This is also the station for access to some of Hakone`s most historical ryokan located below the station. A wonderful hiking trail can also start here that takes you along hte outer rim of the Hakone area. A 15 minute walk up the mountain path will take you to the beautiful and secluded mountainside Amidaji Temple, also known as the “Hydrangea Temple” when the flowers bloom during late spring.
Ohiradai Station is one of the switchbacks the engineers used to allow the Hakone Tozan Train to climb the steep mountain. There are a few day hot springs and accommodation in the area.
The Miyanoshita has a long and distinguished history of welcoming visitors from around the world. One of Japan`s first “Western” style hotels, the Fujiya is located here. Follow in the footsteps of Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin at their tea room and garden. There are wonderful coffee shops like the Naraya and antique shops lining the road here.
Kowakien Station is an access point for many of the accommodation in the area, including the famous Yunesan Hot Spring theme park. The Chisuji waterfalls are also a short walk from the station.
Chokoku no Mori Station (Hakone Open Air Museum)
This station is only a 2 minute walk from the world famous Hakone Outdoor Museum. This enjoyable museum features famous outdoor sculptures and a Picasso Pavilion surrounded by the beautiful natural surroundings of Hakone.
Gora is the final stop on the Hakone Tozan train. You can continue your journey on the cable car up to the Hakone Ropeway or take some time to enjoy the museums, gardens, and shops in the area. There are many places to stay and eat in the area. Gora is also the place you can change to a bu if you are headed to Sengokuhara or the Goetnba area at the base of Mt. Fuji.