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“The Hello Kitty of rail transport”

Hakone Tozan Railway
Ranked #8 of 101 things to do in Hakone-machi
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Railroad buffs in particular will enjoy a ride on this small train, which includes two stretches, the more scenic of which is Hakone Yumoto to Gora.
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“The Hello Kitty of rail transport”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 7, 2014

I was staying in a ryokan in Gora for one night and needed to get there from my cruise ship at Harumi Port in Tokyo. There are lots of ways to make the trip but I chose to take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Odawara (35 mins), transferred to the Hakone-Tozan train (around a 15 minute walk platform to platform in Odawara.) From Odawara to Hakone-Yumato takes around 15 minutes with a quick one-minute walk to transfer one track over at Hakone-Yumato. Then another 40 minutes or so to Gora on a second train.

The little red train from Odawara to Hakone-Yumato is...in a word...adorable! It is the Hello Kitty of rail transportation. Three cars, each with purple velour benches and plenty of standing room shuttle passengers on a 5 stop journey. A uniformed driver at each end manually pilots the train back and forth along this route.

At Hakone-Yumato, you easily transfer to an even cuter mountain train! Because the path is so steep, several methods are used to make the journey easier.

Firstly, there are tunnels cut right into the mountain. Secondly, the train makes a few switchback stops where we head down in elevation only to head back up in a zigzag pattern. Thirdly, we coil around the hill like a boa constrictor.

I know that this is Japan. Every visual cue within the Hakone-Tozan train belies it but to look at the little station of Gora, a log and stucco structure surrounded by snowy mountains...you think... Switzerland? The cable cars connecting the railway to even higher elevations eventually linking to the Mount Fuji ropeway gondolas simply reinforces the idea.

It was cheap and easy to use and a totally unique experience! I loved it in winter and want to do it again in every other season.

Visited February 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
72 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“A way from A to B”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 19, 2014

There isn't much to say about the Tozan Railway.
As others have said, it is rather small, it can be crowded, but at the end of the day it is an impressive piece of engineering when you consider the location and gradient of mountain that it is built and ran on.
A good transport to allow visitors to complete the Hakone loop, and as part of the Hakone Free Pass, why would you not experience it?

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
Thank Ali T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Level Contributor
730 reviews
471 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,152 helpful votes
“Horribly overcrowded”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 15, 2014

The Hakone cable car runs from Gora Station to Souzan Station, where you can board the Hakone Ropeway. It is part of the 6 part circular loop of Hakone and is included in the 2 day free pass of Hakone. When I came it was overly crowded with people packed in like sardines and was uncomfortable as. No way around this though.

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
Thank Rowan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Level Contributor
730 reviews
471 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,152 helpful votes
“Overcrowded and painfully slow”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 15, 2014

The Hakone-Tozan railway forms part of the 6 part Hakone loop taking travelers from Hakone Yumoto to Gora. It is an old train that performs 'switchbacks' in which is travels to one station before reverting its direction and going back the way it came until it reaches a point on the track where it could've taken another course, which it ends up taking. Problem is, there is around 8 stops between hakone and yumoto including 2 switchbacks, so very few people get off and you get exposed to an overly long train ride. In addition it is always packed to the rafters meaning you have to stand as the train travels excruciatingly slow. A painful experience for all involved.

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
Thank Rowan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
11 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Only remaining "mountain" train in Japan”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 14, 2014

It used to be horse drawn trains, and near early 1900's it become electric train. During the ride, you get to go through several switch backs, one of the train carriage is from the 50's. Best view of the leaves turning colours during autum.

Visited January 2014
Helpful?
Thank melody105
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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