Kanagawa Prefecture is located just south of Tokyo. It’s known both for its modern cities such as Yokohama and Kawasaki and its charming old towns such as Hakone, Kamakura and Odawara. These destinations are just less than two hours away from Tokyo, perfect for those looking to escape the fast pace of Tokyo.
We spent a total of 3 full days in Kanagawa Prefecture, covering Hakone, Yokohama, Odawara and Isehara (Mt Oyama).
We started our trip to Odawara early in the morning. Tokyo is connected to Odawara station by Odakyu Railways, JR and Shinkansen.
From Shinjuku by Odakyu Line
From Odakyu Railway Shinjuku Station 小田急新宿駅, take the Odakyu-sen train bound for Odawara and get off at Odawara Station
Travel time : 1hr 35min by Kyuko Express train, 2hr 14min by regular train
Fare: 880 JP Yen
As this is a commuting train, it gets extremely crowded during rush hours and you may hardly find an empty seat. Anyway, this is the cheapest way to reach Odawara from Tokyo by train.
From Shinjuku by Odakyu Line “Romancecar”
From Odakyu Railway Shinjuku Station, take the Odakyu-sen “Romancecar” train bound for Odawara.
Travel time : 1hr 8min
Fare: 1770 JP Yen
Romancecar is a train with all reserved seating. The fare is almost double of the regular fare, but you can sit back and relax, without having to worry about no empty seats available. Advance booking is required
From Tokyo Station by JR Railway
From Tokyo Station, take a train on the Tokaido-honsen Line bound for Atami and get off at Odawara Station.
Travel time : 1hr 23min.
Fare: 1490 JP Yen
Tokaido-honsen Line is also a commuting train and it gets extremely crowded during rush hours. With an additional fare of 980 JP Yen, you can get a seat on a green car (first class car). The Tokaido-honsen train can be taken from Ueno Station, Shinbashi Station and Shinagawa Station and Yokohama Station. JR Rail Pass is valid.
From Tokyo Station by Shinkansen Bullet Train
From Tokyo Station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen Bullet Train “Kodawa” and get off at Odawara Station.
Travel time : 35 min.
Fare: 3540 JP Yen
Taking the bullet train “KODAMA” is the fastest but most expensive. This option is recommended for tourists who have a JR Rail Pass.
If you are planning to explore Odawara and Hakone together, it is best to get the Hakone Free Pass.
It provides transport from Shinjuku station to Odawara, then to Hakone, plus unlimited use of Odakyu-affiliated buses, trains, boats, cablecars and ropeways in the Hakone area and discounted admission to selected tourist attractions on two or three consecutive days. The pass costs 5140 yen (2 day pass, from Shinjuku station), 5640 yen (3 day pass, from Shinjuku station).
- The round trip is to be done by Odakyu Railways from Tokyo to Odawara Station by local or express trains (not including the “Romance Car”). Odakyu’s main station in Tokyo is Shinjuku Station, but the free pass can also be purchased for use from other Odakyu stations.
- A surcharge of 890 yen (one way from Shinjuku) and seat reservations are required when using a “Romance Car” limited express train.
- Passes purchased inside the free area, e.g. at Odawara Station, do not cover Odakyu trains between Odawara and Shinjuku.
- Unlimited usage of the Hakone Tozan Railway (Odawara-Gora), the Souzan Cablecar and Hakone Ropeway between Gora to Togendai, the Hakone Sightseeing Boats on Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Tozan Buses and Odakyu buses within the free area and Numazu Tozan Tokai Buses between Mishima and Moto-Hakone.
Onigiri and green tea from konbini (convenient store) is the best <3
We were so lucky to get a glimpse of the magnificent Mt Fuji from the train on a nice sunny day.
Our first stop was Odawara Castle. Founded in year 1447, it has been under control of different clans, including several samurai lords. A large part of the castle was demolished during the Meiji period (end ‘800). The structure that we can see today is a reconstruction built mainly in the 1960s.
The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park, and we were so lucky to be able to catch some early blooms.
The plum trees typically flower in early spring, during February to March.
Ume blossom is often overshadowed by cherry blossom but it does not mean it is not charming at all. The sight of ume trees are really beautiful too!
When in Odawara Castle, one must experience being a Samurai, Ninja or princess. Look out for the costume rental office in Tokiwagi Gate.
The costume rental fee is only 300 JP Yen for adult and 200 JP Yen for child at 12 years old or younger. (Open 9:30 – 3:30PM).
Here’s my handsome samurai husband!
I tried wearing a traditional kimono with head piece too!
We also visited the castle tower for the museum and observatory deck.
The castle tower opens from 9:00AM to 5:00PM (4:30AM) and the admission fee is 500 JP Yen for adult.
Here, one can discover many historical items like samurai armors, weapons, Japanese swords and a huge collection of artifacts.
The observatory deck provides a nice view of the city. On a nice sunny day, one can even see the Mt. Fuji from afar.
Address: 6-1 Jonai, Odawara-shi, Kanagawa
Admission: 400 yen
Closed: Dec. 31-Jan. 1, second wednesday of December
Getting Here: JR Odawara Station, then 10 min walk. The shortest way to reach Odawara Castle from Odawara Station is to leave the station from the East Exit and go up the street on the right side leading to the back entrance (North Entrance) of the castle park, it takes about 10 minutes on foot. From the station to the front entrance it will take about 20 minutes.
Fresh seafood is caught and sold everyday at Odawara Harbour, so the best place to have seafood is the Fish Market located near to the port.
Known as “Odawara Fish Market Den”, it is a gourmet destination where seafood restaurants and shops were gathered under one roof, offering authentic sashimi, rice bowls or grilled items.
The pricing here here is really reasonable. Our set lunch consists of a seafood bowl with three types of fishes: , deep fried aji (horse mackerel), simmered red snapper and miso soup is only 1700 yen! Shirasu (whitebait) is another famous item in Odawara, remember to order that too!
Odawara Fish Market Den
Getting Here: 20 minutes walk away from the front entrance of Odawara Castle Park. Those who don’t want to walk much may take a train and get off at Hayakawa Station that is only a few minutes walk away from the fish market.
Odawara City is the entrance to the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. Remember to stop by for a short visit on your way to Hakone.
From Odawara to Hakone, one can take the the Hakone Tozan line to Hakone-Yumoto station (18 minutes, 300 yen, included in Hakone Free Pass).
Hakone needs no further information, as we all know that it is known for its mountain trails, scenic boat and cable car rides as well as natural onsen (hot-spring baths). Our first stop was Hakone Shrine. The cedar trees lining up at the entry of the shrine are looking magnificent and creating a holy atmosphere.
The Japanese shrine seal book is a very unique and useful souvenir to buy, especially when you keep visiting Japan like us. You can bring it to the thousands of shrines and temples around Japan to collect stamps and special calligraphy by monks (for a fee).
Remember to behave calmly and respectfully in a shrine. If you wishes to pray, at the purification fountain near the shrine’s entrance, take one of the ladles provided, fill it with fresh water and rinse both hands. Then transfer some water into your cupped hand, rinse your mouth and spit the water beside the fountain. You are not supposed to transfer the water directly from the ladle into your mouth or swallow the water.
There’s a unique 9-Headed-Dragon purification basin at the shrine. The holy water comes from the each head of the nine-headed dragon.
There is a sacred tree at the shrine, popular as baby wishing tree where people come here to wish for babies and also to pray for the safe delivery. It is best to wash your hand at Nine-Headed Dragon purification basin before touching the tree.
Ema are small wooden plaques on which Shinto worshippers write their prayers or wishes and hang at the shrine.
The torii gate at the water’s edge of Lake Ashi is another popular spot for insta-worthy photo.
Getting Here: Approx. 38 min. from Hakone-Yumoto Station by Hakone Tozan Bus (H Line), get off at Motohakone-ko bus stop. Approx. 30 min. from Hakone-Yumoto Station by Hakone Tozan Bus (R Line), get off at Motohakone-ko bus stop. Included in Hakone Free Pass.
*Hakone Tozan Bus R Line (bound for Moto-Hakone) only operates on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
Lake Ashi is another well known attraction in Mt Hakone area. It was formed over 200,000 years ago due to an volcanic eruption. It is an extremely picturesque lake and is known for the view of Mt. Fuji and scenic boat rides. Fuji-san was too shy to make an appearance when we were there.
The Hakone Sightseeing Cruise runs between Moto-Hakone Port, Hakone-machi Port and Togendai Port. From Lake Ashi, we took the cruise from Moto-Hakone Port to Togenadi Port. We also bumped into our friendly readers from Melbourne, thanks for saying hi!
Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (Togendai, Hakone-Machi, Moto-Hakone)
Hours: 930 am to 4.00-4.30 pm
Admission: 360 to 1000 yen one way, included in Hakone Free Pass.
From Togendai station, one can take Hakone Ropeway to see the spectacular view of the crystal-clear blue waters of Lake Ashi, the rising volcanic fumes of Owakudani and the grandeur of Mount Fuji on a sunny day.
Hakone Ropeway (Togendai, Ubako, Owakudani, Sounzan & Gora station)
Hours: Year-round 9:00am to 16:00pm, except for second Thursday of each month for maitenance. If public holiday falls on these days, maintenance will be shifted to next day.
Admission: Fares start from 730 one way, 1310 return. Included in Hakone Free Pass.
We were short of time, so we did not stop by at Owakudani, another must visit places in Hakone. Here you can purchase eggs, cooked in the naturally hot water, whose shells are blackened by the sulfur and which are said to prolong one’s life by seven years.
Hakone Komagatake Ropeway
Hours: 9 am to 430 pm
Admission: 1300 yen return, not included in Hakone Free Pass.
Getting Here: Odakyu Hakone Highway Bys to Hakone-En station. Included in Hakone Free Pass.
It is time to checked in to our lovely ryokan – Ryuguden.
This has got to be one of best ryokan that I’ve ever stayed in. Surrounded by Lake Ashinoko and mountain ranges, the view from our room is spectacular.
The ryokan’s indoor onsen also comes with a beautiful view. Source of the springs is Takogawa Hot Spring near Lake Ashi and a soak in the onsen is good for neuralgic pain, sore muscles, relief from fatigue and etc.
For dinner, we experienced some authentic flavors of Japan in the hotel, which specializes in kaiseki. Every courses were well executed, and we really enjoyed our dinner with some atsukan (warm sake).
Add: 139 Motohakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigara-shimo-gun Kanagawa, 250-0522 Japan
Getting Here: Four free shuttle buses for Ryuguden run each day to Odawara Station (starting and returning at The Prince Hakone, reservations required). Odakyu Hakone Highway Bys to Hakone-En station. Included in Hakone Free Pass.
Our ryokan also serve Japanese style breakfasts, which consist of multiple dishes and feature local and seasonal specialties. It was so good that I finished the big bowl of rice, so satisfying!
Our ryokan is located within Prince Grand Resort Hakone and there are many amenities such as golf course, restaurants, work shop, souvenir shop and aquarium located within the same area. We were there during winter, so we got to experience snow sledding, so fun! 2 hours for 800 yen.
Yosegi-zaiku (寄木細工) or Japanese traditional parquetry, is a specialty of Hakone. Using different types and colors of woods, the crafter will assemble them to create distinctive, brilliant patterns. We had the opportunity to make our own yosegi coaster here at Prince Grand Resort Hakone.
Prince Grand Resort Hakone
Getting Here: Odakyu Hakone Highway Bys to Hakone-En station. Included in Hakone Free Pass.
Hakone is such a beautiful place, even during winter.
From Hakone, you can take the train to Odawara station via the Odakyu line. Alight at Isehara station, then head to bus terminal #4, take the Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu Bus (300 yen one-way) to the base of Mt. Oyama (25 min) and a short 15 minute walk uphill to the Oyama Cable Car Station.
Mt Oyama is famous for wooden “koma” (spinning tops), you can play a game by guessing how many koma you spotted while walking uphill to the cable car station.
The hike up to the cable car station can be quite tiring but the slope is full of atmosphere, with tiny shops and restaurants. We stopped by for a tofu kaiseki lunch at Ogawaya (とうふ処 小川家) as Oyama is also famous for tofu. The delicate flavor and elegant presentations, which are almost like works of art, will delight your eye and your palette. Average spend is about 3000 yen per pax.
Ogawaya (とうふ処 小川家)
Add: 637 Oyama Isehara Kanagawa
Hours: 11:30～16:00, 17:00～19:00
Getting here: Located on the way up to Oyama Cable Car station.
We were here during early February, and Mt Oyama was snowing heavily, making the scenery looking so beautiful.
Mt Oyama is actually a famous spot for red leaf viewing during autumn. The view on the way up to the mountain is truly magical, we heard.
We rode on Oyama’s brand-new cable cars to the Oyama Afuri Shrine, where the view from the shrine is rated two stars by Michelin Green Guide 2015 . Costing 450 yen one-way, the cable car service begins at 9 am and departs every 20 minutes.
Be sure to bring a water bottle so you can fill up with the shrine’s auspicious fresh spring water.
Mt. Oyama doesn’t see many foreign tourists, but we have fallen in love with this beautiful and charming mountain.
From Mt Oyama, we traveled to Yokohama to spend a night there, explore the city a bit before going to Tokyo.
First stop was Yokohama Red Brick House. Formally the Customs Inspection House for Yokohama Bay’s shipping activities in the early 1920’s, these handsome red brick buildings have been converted into one of Yokohama’s most popular family or date spots.
Inside the building there are many unique shops and restaurants. My favourite Bill’s is in here and there’s no queue!
Yokohama Red Brick House
Hours: 1st Building: 10:00am-7:00pm / 2nd Building: 10:00am-8:00pm(Restaurants open until 11:00pm)
6 min. walk from Nihon Odori or Bashamichi Station: Minato Mirai Line
15 min. walk from Kannai or Sakuragicho Station: JR Keihin Tohoku Negishi Line / Municipal Subway Line
Minato Mirai 21 is a famous spot for night scenery in Yokohama. There are many attraction and shopping malls located here too, such as Landmark Plaza, World Potters, Cup Noodles Museum, Sky Garden Observatory and etc.
Getting Here: Most attractions are within a 10 minute walk from either Minato Mirai or Sakuragicho station.
For dinner, we went to Kissho at Landmark Tower for shabu-shabu. From the restaurant we get to admire nice views of Yokohama Bay.
Our shabu-shabu dinner course consists of sashimi, onsen egg, noodles, beef slices, vegetables and etc. The soup base is actually very clear, almost tasteless so that you can focus on the beef taste. Hence, some of us liked it and some did not enjoy the broth. Average spend is about 6000-7000 yen per pax.
Kissho @ The Landmark Tower
Hours: 11AM–3:30PM, 5–10PM daily
Tel: +81 45-222-5522
We stayed overnight at Yokohama Bay Hotel that has the best location with easy access to almost everywhere! The Hotel is located in the Minato Mirai 21 waterfront area of Yokohama, hence the great view from our room. It is attached to a mall so there is always things to see and do. The room is spacious, modern and clean.
We really enjoy the hotel’s breakfast too – great selection of both western and Japanese cuisine, almost everything is freshly made to order and the view from the buffet restaurant is amazing.
The Yokohama Bay Hotel
Add: 2-3-7 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Pref., Japan 220-8543
Tel : (81) 45 682 2222
A minute walk from Minatomirai Station, Minatomirai Subway Line.
Approximately 10 minutes walk from Sakuragicho Station,which is serviced by the JR Keihin Tohoku Line (Negishi,Yokohama Line) and Municipal Subway Line.
We were so blessed with great weather in Yokohama! From the hotel, it was a 5 minutes walk to Cup Noodles Museum.
I’ve been wanting to visit the Cup Noodles Museum and it felt so surreal to be here, looking at hundreds to thousands of Nissan Cup Noodles on display.
The first instant ramen was introduced by Momofuku Ando in year 1958. His story is truly inspiring, after we watched a short clip about this legendary man.
Do you know that you can make your own cup noodles here for a small fee of 300 yen?
In a cup that you design, select your favorite soup from among four varieties and four toppings from among 12 ingredients. Altogether, there are 5,460 flavor combinations.
We also tried Cup Noodles soft serve at the noodles bazaar located on 4F. It was surprisingly good!
Before making your way out, remember to drop by the souvenir shop! There were so many Nissin related merchandises for sale.
Cup Noodles Museum
Add: 2-3-4 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama 231-0001 Japan
Tel: General information: 045-345-0918 / Chicken Ramen Factory reservations: 045-345-0825 (Reception hours: 10:00-18:00, holidays excluded)
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (last admission 17:00) Holidays: Tuesdays (when Tuesday is a holiday, closed the following day), year end / new year holidays
Admission: Adults: 500 yen (tax included) / high school age children and younger admitted free
Getting Here: 8 minute walk from the Minatomirai line Bashamichi Station/12 minute walk from the JR/Shieichikatetsu Sakuragicho Station
Lunch was an exciting affair, at Magurodonya Miuramisakiko in World Potters. It is also known as one of the better sushi joints in Yokohama.
We were so lucky to be there on a Saturday afternoon because they have a giant tuna cutting show every Saturday. We watched in awe as a big fat tuna is cut right in front of our eyes. The chefs were really entertaining and animated too, everyone had a good laugh.
It’s a typical conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, but the chefs will make you fresh sushi if you request it.
The sushis were really good, with thick, luscious and sweet seafood on top. You must also order the grilled tuna collar bone when you are here, so delicious and fatty!
Magurodonya Miuramisakiko, Yokohama World Porters
Add: World Porters 1F
Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays 10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
After lunch, we headed to YOKOHAMA HAKKEIJIMA SEA PARADISE, one of the top aquariums in Japan. It is a very large amusement park with specialty shops , great restaurants, a marina and a hotel located among wide grass and flower gardens.
The highlights for our visit is the daily marine mammals shows in which animals put on a series of performances.
The Fureai Lagoon is where visitors can pet a dolphin, beluga whale, and walrus. It is very safe, even for children, and the trainers and staff are very attentive.
Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise
Hours: Weekday 10am to 10pm, Weekend 9am to 10pm
3000 yen (Aqua Resorts)
3000 yen (unlimited rides at Pleasure Land) or individual rides at 300-1000 yen
5050 yen (Aqua Resorts and unlimited rides at Pleasure Land)
By Keikyu Railway and Kanazawa Seaside Line: Take the Keikyu Main Line from Yokohama to Kanazawa-Hakkei (20 minutes, 280 yen, frequent limited express trains) and then the Kanazawa Seaside Line from Kanazawa-Hakkei to Hakkeijima (7 minutes, 260 yen, frequent trains).
By Japan Railways and Kanazawa Seaside Line: Take the JR Negishi Line from Yokohama to Shin-Sugita (15 minutes, 220 yen, frequent trains) and then the Kanazawa Seaside Line from Shin-Sugita to Hakkeijima (18 minutes, 310 yen, frequent trains).
We also headed to Mitsui Outlet Park Yokohama Bayside for some shopping fun.
My favourite Franc Franc can be found here!
With approximately 85 outlet shops which are mainly directly-managed by major brands, there is sure something for everyone!
Mitsui Outlet Park Yokohama Bayside
Add: 5-2, Shiraho, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, 236-0007
Hours: 10 am to 10 pm daily
Getting Here: Torihama Station: Kanazawa Seaside Line
That’s all for our three eventful and fruitful days in Kanagawa Prefecture. Located on south of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture has got so much to offer in terms of food, culture, scenery and shopping. Next up, 3 days itinerary in Tokyo!