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.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.