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Planning a trip along the Tokaido


Densha

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Hi guys,

 

On 14 September I will arrive at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, after which I will be staying in Japan until February for studying purposes. I will be starting off with two weeks of travelling, because I only need to be in my dorms from 27 September.

 

The problem is, because I've been so busy I didn't get to decide on an itinerary yet, let alone book a hotel or so to stay at. And there's only three weeks left!

 

I at least want to start off with a few days in and around Tokyo. After that I want to do some day trips to places such as Kamakura, Hakone, the Izu Peninsula and the Oigawa Railway, and thus slowly travelling along the Tokaido route to eventually end up in Hikone, where I need to be from the 27th. I'm going to skip and quickly travel through Aichi prefecture because it's very close to Hikone, which means that it will be better suitable for day trips at a later point in time. I want these two weeks to be mainly focused on both touristy and (a bit of) nature sightseeing, and obviously also some train riding and picture taking.

 

This is the itinerary I thought of, all days in September:

14: Arrival at Haneda Airport, getting to hotel in Tokyo

15-20: Tokyo sightseeing, Nikko day trip (optional), etc.

21: Leave hotel in Tokyo > Odawara sightseeing > Arrival at hotel in Odawara

22: Kamakura

23: Hakone

24: Izu Peninsula

25: Leave hotel in Odawara > Gotenba Line (optional) > Fuji station (Main Line) > Shin-Fuji station (luggage in locker) > sightseeing > Shin-Fuji station (pick up luggage) > Fuji station (Main Line) > arrival at hotel in Shimada

26: Oigawa Railway

27: By train from Shimada to Hikone

 

As for things I want to do at their respective places, here's some things I thought of...

 

Tokyo

Skytree

Tokyo Tower

Shibuya pedestrian crossing

Tokyo Rainbow Bridge

Imperial Palace

Senso-ji, Asakusa

Tokyo Station

Shinjuku Station

Ochanomizu Station

Toden Arakawa Line

JR East Omiya Railway Museum

 

Odawara

Odawara Castle

 

Kamakura

Kōtoku-in (with the famous Buddha statue)

Sasuka Inari Shrine

Shakado Pass

Enoshima

Enoden

Shonan Monorail

 

Hakone

Getting to the top of Mt Hakone for view of Mt Fuji

Hakone-Tozan Railway

 

Izu Peninsula

Atami

Shimoda

Izukyu

 

Fuji (city)

Getting the cliché photo of Shinkansen together with Mt Fuji

Gakunan Railway

 

Oigawa Railway

Oigawa Main Line

Ikawa Line

 

I have some questions about some of the things I mentioned above. The first thing that I just can't figure out if it is possible in September to normally get to the top of Mt Hakone. I know there's a ropeway up to the top, but it doesn't connect to the Hakone-Tozan Railway, and it's very unclear about whether there is a connecting bus from Odawara or anywhere along the Hakone-Tozan Line to the station of the ropeway. Some web pages say there is, but at the same time don't provide any time tables or whatever, so it is very unclear. Another troubling thing is that it looks like there is no coin locker that fits a suitcase at Fuji station on the Tokaido Main Line, which means that I need to walk or get a bus to and from Shin-Fuji station just to put my luggage in a locker there, even though I don't need to be there at all. I doubt there is another solution for this, but if you know any I would be glad to hear about it! I also have yet to look up whether the Oigawa Railway Ikawa Line actually runs around this date, because it looks like a typical seasonal service train, but I may be wrong.

 

I would like to hear you guys' opinions about my itinerary in general and if you have any recommendations about what I could/should change and whatever interesting places may be nearby where I am already planning on going. And if you have any recommendations for places to get photos of trains with nice scenery, please post them as well!

 

And another small question: do you think it would be wise to get a Suica smart card? I was thinking about getting a Suica because it appears to be compatible with many other smart cards as well, and I will absolutely be needing that compatibility during the almost 6 months I will be staying in Japan.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Wow! Densha san is on his way to Japan! Lovely!

 

It seems you will be doing quite a sum of travelling. Would the Rail pass be more worthy? Then again, you do have non JR ones like Odakyu (for Hakone, I assume you wanted the Romance car and Hakone Free Pass which is really good value: http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/), Enoden, Shonan Monorail etc...  

 

I'm not sure if you are referring to the Cable car to Owakudani for Mount Hakone, it is covered under the Hakone Free pass, along with the buses and ship cruise and pay a little more for Romance Car (highly recommended). The website above has more information on this.

 

I cant offer much advice for the other areas as I have yet to visit (but will visit sooner or later, I hope...)...

 

Have fun planning, and sorry but the time is running out fast!  :P

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A few thoughts :

 

Tokyo

Skytree = might be expensive / have long lines to get up ; still fun to see from the bottom - for another high view, try the Tokyo City View of Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills or the free Observatory in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku

Shibuya pedestrian crossing = enjoy the view from the Starbucks' windows on the 2nd floor.

Tokyo Rainbow Bridge = ride the Yurikamome across it ; push to Odaiba to see the life-sized Gundam statue

Senso-ji, Asakusa = nice but a lot of people during the day, a lot less in the evening ; the nearby streets are nice too ; if you like to cook, don't miss Kappabashi dori with its dozens of shops which isn't far away

Shinjuku Station = have a stroll in the evening to enjoy the neons or the small izakaya streets such as Omoide Yokocho

Ochanomizu Station = they are renovating a bridge or constructing something on the canal, so the view is currently somehow blocked but still enjoyable (witnessed on 08/08 ; might be done when you'll be there) ; go up the hill and visit Kanda-myojin shrine

You're missing Akihabara on your Tokyo tour : train shops and interesting atmosphere when the sun is gone
Ride the Tama Toshi Monorail

 

Kamakura
Visit the Kencho-ji temple and climb the stairs in the back to the top of the hill : there are beautiful Tengu statues and a nice view

 

Suica Card = very convenient, period.

 

Hotel recommendations = what's your budget ?

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JR500,

 

Well, yes I will doing quite a lot of travelling, but very spread out over the two weeks (not that much train travel in Tokyo probably), and considering that I intend to use many non-JR lines too, I don't think the 46,390 yen for only JR lines is worth the price. The Hakone pass sounds rather interesting, though I was intending to spend only one day at Hakone even though the 4000 yen pass is valid for two days. :/ On the other hand, this means I can do some extra Hakone sightseeing already on the 21st.

 

At Hakone I want to use the Odakyu and Hakone-Tozan trains to get to Gora, then the cable car to Sōunzan, and then the ropeway over Owakudani, to eventually end up at Togendai. However, about 6 kilometres south of Togendai there is another ropeway, to the top of Mt Komagatake: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakone_Komagatake_Ropeway The problem is getting around from Togendai to the lake side station of the Komagatake Ropeway, I hope there's buses running over there.

 

I also should note that I do not really care about express trains. I rather save a bunch of money and just ride a local or rapid, even though it will cost a bit more time. Actually, local trains have more appeal to me anyway.

 

splifdfx,

 

Thanks for the ideas!

 

Just like with the travelling, I also want the hotel to be as cheap as possible. I only need very basic stuff, the price is the most important. So far I found some cheap hotels in Hiratsuka, just 20 km east of Odawara. I mainly still need to figure out where to stay in Tokyo during the first week.

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At Hakone I want to use the Odakyu and Hakone-Tozan trains to get to Gora, then the cable car to Sōunzan, and then the ropeway over Owakudani, to eventually end up at Togendai. However, about 6 kilometres south of Togendai there is another ropeway, to the top of Mt Komagatake: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakone_Komagatake_Ropeway The problem is getting around from Togendai to the lake side station of the Komagatake Ropeway, I hope there's buses running over there.

 

I've been up that one, it's accessible by bus - I can't for the life of me remember where we got it from, but we were staying near the Hakone-Tozan line. If memory serves correctly the bus line and the area around the ropeway is Seibu "territory", whereas the classic Hakone-Tozan/Owakudani route is Odakyu, and they're two independent worlds of their own almost. It's a somewhat run down cable car but relatively quiet and the mountain is good for hiking or at least a pleasant walk.

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Hmm... according to the map on this page (edit: this map only shows lines covered by the Hakone Free Pass), there should be Odakyu buses running from Togendai to Hakone-en, connecting the stations of the Sounzan-Owakudani-Togendai ropeway with the Komagatake ropeway. Looks like they only run once per hour, but they should be included in the Hakone free pass because it is Odakyu. Let's hope these buses do indeed run, otherwise it will make for a nice stroll along the lakeside. It also looks like I need to get to Komagatake in the early morning to be able to get some clear shots of Fuji, even though it fits better in the schedule to go there in the afternoon.

 

Do you have any recommended walks for Komagatake?

Edited by Densha
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Hmm... according to the map on this page (edit: this map only shows lines covered by the Hakone Free Pass), there should be Odakyu buses running from Togendai to Hakone-en, connecting the stations of the Sounzan-Owakudani-Togendai ropeway with the Komagatake ropeway. Looks like they only run once per hour, but they should be included in the Hakone free pass because it is Odakyu. Let's hope these buses do indeed run, otherwise it will make for a nice stroll along the lakeside. It also looks like I need to get to Komagatake in the early morning to be able to get some clear shots of Fuji, even though it fits better in the schedule to go there in the afternoon.

 

Yeah, racking my brains I remember walking from near Togendai a short way to get a bus to Hakone-en (which is definitely a Seibu property) but it could well have been an Odakyu bus and I think the Seibu bus was the one we got before (probably because it was early in the morning and the cable cars weren't running).

 

Do you have any recommended walks for Komagatake?

 

 

Unfortunately not, we just wandered around for a while, in one direction there's a lookout point with an excellent view all the way down to the coast at Odawara.

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The map on the first link shows Izuhakone buses also running in the area, and considering that a Google search for 伊豆箱根バス results in buses with Seibu Lions logos might explains quite some things. Considering I might want to get up to Komagatake in the early morning, I should try to look into that more then.

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Great. Just discovered that the Sessokyo-Onsen to Ikawa section of the Oigawa Ikawa Line is closed until November this year because of landslides. This is what happened in 2011: http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/skt48/diary/201107230000/

 

I wonder if I should go another time, or just go and miss out on that small section of the Ikawa Line and still have the other parts of the Ikawa Line and the whole Oigawa Main Line to see. Has any of you been up to Ikawa and was the last section of the line really that interesting?

Edited by Densha
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