A Journey through Hakone, Gion, Kurama, and Kibune

Japan is a fascinating country to explore, offering a wide range of experiences for all types of travelers. In particular, the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto are renowned for their bustling urban streets and historical charm. A three-day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto via Hakone allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds, with stops at popular attractions such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Hakone Open Air Museum, Gion district, Kurama, Kibune, and Kiyomizudera Temple. By utilizing the Odakyu Hakone Freepass and the Kyoto Osaka Sightseeing Pass, you can save money on transportation and make the most of your journey. This trip offers a mix of urban city experiences and natural scenery, promising an unforgettable and diverse adventure in Japan.

Embark on this exciting journey, where you’ll start in the vibrant city of Tokyo, explore the scenic Hakone area, immerse yourself in the historical charm of Kyoto’s Gion district, and venture into the spiritual Kurama and Kibune area. Throughout the three days, you’ll have the opportunity to take various forms of transportation, including trains, cable cars, ropeway, and buses. With each day bringing new sights to see and experiences to enjoy, this trip offers a perfect balance of cultural exploration, natural beauty, and adventure.

Day 1: Tokyo to Hakone

Taking the Odakyu Romancecar to Hakone

Welcome to the first day of your exciting trip from Tokyo to Kyoto via Hakone! Our journey begins in the bustling city of Tokyo, where we’ll start by taking the Odakyu Romancecar from Shinjuku Station to Hakone Yumoto. The Romancecar is a limited express train that offers a comfortable and scenic ride to Hakone. The journey takes about 90 minutes, giving you plenty of time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful countryside views as we leave the city behind.

Exploring the Hakone Open Air Museum

Once we arrive at Hakone Yumoto, we’ll have the opportunity to explore the famous Hakone Open Air Museum. This museum is known for its numerous large and interesting art installations spread across its beautiful grounds. Besides the impressive artworks, one of the highlights of this museum is the interplay between the art and the breathtaking natural scenery that surrounds it. It truly is a sight to behold!

Enjoying a relaxing soak in an onsen

After immersing ourselves in art and nature at the Hakone Open Air Museum, it’s time to unwind and rejuvenate with a relaxing soak in an onsen. Hakone is renowned for its hot springs, and there’s no better way to experience the local culture than by indulging in a traditional Japanese onsen. Many hotels and ryokans in Hakone offer onsen facilities, allowing you to soak in the mineral-rich thermal waters and soak away any stress or fatigue from our journey. It’s the perfect way to end our first day in Hakone.

Day 2: Hakone to Kyoto

Taking the Hakone Ropeway for panoramic views

On the second day of our trip, we’ll continue our exploration of Hakone by taking the Hakone Ropeway. This cable car and ropeway system offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including Lake Ashinoko and the iconic Mount Fuji on clear days. It’s a truly unforgettable experience to soar above the treetops and take in the stunning scenery below.

Visiting the magnificent Mishima Skywalk

After enjoying the views from the Hakone Ropeway, we’ll make our way to Mishima Skywalk, a unique and picturesque spot just south of Lake Ashinoko. Mishima Skywalk is a 400-meter-long suspension bridge that spans a deep valley. On clear days, it offers spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Walking across this bridge and taking in the breathtaking scenery is a must-do experience while in Hakone.

Taking the Shinkansen to Kyoto

From Mishima Station, we’ll hop on the famous shinkansen, also known as the bullet train, which will whisk us all the way to Kyoto. The shinkansen is not only a fast and efficient mode of transportation; it’s also an iconic symbol of Japan’s technological prowess. The journey from Mishima to Kyoto takes approximately two and a half hours, giving us plenty of time to relax and enjoy the smooth ride.

Exploring Gion district in Kyoto

Once we arrive in Kyoto, we’ll head straight to the Gion district, one of the premier historical entertainment districts in all of Japan. Gion is known for its well-preserved buildings and magical atmosphere. Walking through its narrow streets, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the era of geisha and traditional teahouses. The district is also home to several traditional shops, theaters, and restaurants, offering a glimpse into Kyoto’s rich cultural heritage.

Day 3: Kurama and Kibune

Taking a scenic train ride to Kurama

On the third and final day of our trip, we’ll venture into Kyoto’s verdant northern mountains. Our first stop is Kurama, which we’ll reach by taking a scenic train ride from Demachi Yanagi Station. The train ride itself is a treat, as it takes us through picturesque countryside and allows us to enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons.

Hiking to Kurama Temple

Upon arriving in Kurama, we’ll embark on a hike to Kurama Temple, the main attraction in the area. The temple is situated on a secluded mountain and is famous for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains. As we hike up the trail, we’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and peaceful nature, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere.

Experiencing a traditional tea ceremony

After our hike, we’ll have the opportunity to experience a traditional tea ceremony in Kurama. Tea ceremonies are an integral part of Japanese culture, and participating in one is a unique and immersive experience. We’ll learn about the art of tea preparation and have the chance to savor the flavors of matcha, a finely powdered green tea. It’s a beautiful and serene way to connect with Japanese traditions.

Visiting the charming Kibune Shrine

Our final stop for the day is Kibune, a charming town known for its spiritual significance. We’ll visit Kibune Shrine, a revered Shinto shrine nestled among the mountains. The shrine is dedicated to the gods of water and is believed to bring good luck and blessings to visitors. We’ll take a moment to soak in the tranquil atmosphere and admire the scenic beauty of the surrounding area.

After our visit to Kibune Shrine, we’ll make our way back to central Kyoto, where we’ll conclude our three-day trip. It’s been a whirlwind adventure, filled with stunning scenery, cultural experiences, and unforgettable memories. Whether it’s exploring the modern metropolis of Tokyo, soaking in the beauty of Hakone, or immersing ourselves in the history of Kyoto, this trip offers a perfect blend of urban excitement and natural tranquility. Sayonara, and until the next adventure!