Visiting Hakone or Kawaguchiko is a question many people think about when making their final itinerary plans for a visit to Japan. Seeing Mt. Fuji is one of the most popular things to do in Japan and these two locations provide the views and much more.
Kawaguchiko gives one of the best views of Fuji in all of Japan, but the logistics of getting there and other activities are very limited. Hakone has good views of the mountain, but convenient connection to transportation and many other attractions in the area.
Getting to each area is quite different. Hakone is located between the main transportation link, the Tokaido Shinkansen, connecting Tokyo and Kyoto. Hakone can also be easily reached by the Odakyu line with a direct train from Shinjuku, Tokyo or on the local JR Tokaido line with a transfer at Odawara Station. Kawaguchiko is reached by the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku, but if you are connecting to other areas you will have to make the 2 hour train ride back to Tokyo to use other transportation.
The views of Fuji from Kawaguchiko are spectacular and especially beautiful when enjoyed with the lake view. Hakone also has views of the famous mountain, but with view of the base partially obscured by the surrounding mountains. Head up to the steaming vents of Owakudani on the top of Hakone to get great views and even see the mountain from the ropeway that connects you to Owakudani. If you are set on getting a view of the whole mountain, the Hakone Freepass and bus system takes you through a short tunnel to the town of Gotenba, where you get the same amazing panoramic view of Fuji, but without the lake.
A visit to Kawaguchiko gives you an awesome view, but options for other activities are somewhat limited. A bike ride around the lake is popular and you may also be interested in the Fuji-Q theme park for their amazing and exciting rides. Hakone has been at the geographic, historical, and hospitality heart of Japan for centuries. The Hakone area has attracted visitors for the historic locations, variety of accommodations, cultural activities, and food for thousands of years.
If you are choosing between a visit to Hakone or Kawaguchiko the main factors are the views of Fuji, access, and opportunity to do other things while there. Kawaguchiko has an amazing view of Fuji, but is limited in other things to do, and may not be convenient in terms of transportation. Hakone is easy to visit and fit into the itinerary, there are many things to do in Hakone, and the views of Fuji are pretty good.
If you have any more questions about Hakone or the Kawaguchiko area, feel free to contact us anytime. We look forward to you experiencing Japan and hope you make some wonderful memories.