Hakone Lake Ashi1/3
Photo: Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd.
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Photo: Kunpei Otsuka
Hakone Otsuka3/3
Photo: Kunpei Otsuka

The accessible guide to Hakone

Your ultimate guide to barrier-free activities, transportation, restaurants and cafés in Hakone

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Odakyu Electric Railway
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Hakone, a mountainous town in Kanagawa prefecture, is a great day trip or weekend getaway about 80 minutes by train from Tokyo. Scenic throughout all four seasons, Hakone boasts not only lush scenery but also many onsen (hot springs), a variety of museums, a ropeway ride over an active volcano, and sightseeing cruises at Lake Ashi, complete with jaw-dropping views of Mt Fuji on clear days.

Save money by purchasing the Hakone Freepass, available at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centers in Shinjuku and Odawara and at any Odakyu line station, which grants you unlimited rides for either two (¥5,700, children ¥1,500) or three days (¥6,100, children ¥1,750) on eight Odakyu-operated means of transportation in the area, including the train ride from Shinjuku to Hakone and back. Here’s our guide to the best activities, hotels and restaurants in Hakone, all accessible and easily enjoyable for everyone.

This guide was produced under the supervision of Kunpei Otsuka, representative director of the Accessible Lab nonprofit.

Hakone accessible guide pictograms
Hakone accessible guide pictograms
Photo: Time Out Tokyo

Transportation

Romance Car
Romance Car
Photo: Odakyu Electric Railway Co.,Ltd.

Odakyu Limited Express Romancecar

Multipurpose toilet | Diaper-changing table available | Step-free entrance | Ostomy toilet available | Elevator

Hop on the Odakyu Romancecar in Shinjuku that brings you directly to Hakone-Yumoto Station, from where your Hakone outing will start. If you’ve purchased the Hakone Freepass you’ll only need to get a seat reservation by buying a limited express ticket, which will set you back another ¥1,110 as a surcharge. The approximately 80-minute ride provides picturesque views of the countryside just outside the capital, with mountains towering in the background. Enjoy the scenery while snacking on an obligatory bento box, which you can buy on board at certain times of the day or at Shinjuku Station. Note that the location of the wheelchair-compatible seats differ by train model: they’re in car four on the GSE, car eight on the VSE, and cars five and eight on the MSE, EXE and EXEα.

Hakone Yumoto Station
Hakone Yumoto Station
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Hakone-Yumoto Station

Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Multipurpose toilet | Diaper-changing table available | Step-free entrance | Universal seat (adjustable bed) available | Ostomy toilet available | Elevator

The Odakyu Romancecar brings you directly to Hakone-Yumoto Station, from where buses depart in all directions within the Hakone area. The station is equipped with escalators and elevators, making it easy to move around in wheelchair, plus multi-purpose toilets behind the ticket gates on the same floor as the train platform.

Close to the ticket gates you can find a large souvenir shop filled with local specialities and various knick-knacks to bring back home. Here you can also choose from a wide range of ekiben (the type of boxed lunch sold at train stations), which you can devour – like the locals – during your scenic ride back to Tokyo. If snacking on trains is not your thing, then visit the on-site Hakone Café with views onto the train tracks and fuel up on a variety of baked goodies. Shopaholics should also check out the shotengai (traditional arcade) in front of Hakone-Yumoto Station, a paradise for souvenir-hunters. You’ll find yosegi marquetry boxes, hot spring minerals and much more.

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Pirate Ships
Pirate Ships
Photo: Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd.

Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Step-free entrance | Wheelchair rental | Ostomy toilet available | Universal seat (adjustable bed) available | Accessible parking | Elevator

These gaudy-looking sightseeing ships can be boarded (for free with the Hakone Freepass) from three points located on the shores of the 3,000-year-old Lake Ashi. If you’ve already explored Hakone Shrine, Hakone Sekisho, and the large number of cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops in the vicinity, then hop on one of these three vessels from either Motohakone-ko or Hakonemachi-ko port. The 30-40-minute cruise takes you across the lake, complete with views from the upper deck of Hakone Shrine’s red-coloured ‘peace gate’ that stands partially submerged in water near the shore, and – on a clear day – picture-perfect vistas of majestic Mt Fuji towering over the mountainous landscape. The ship decks are connected by an elevator, which makes it easy to explore these stunning vessels to the fullest.

Arriving at Togendai-ko port, you could either transfer to the ‘ropeway’ (cable car) that brings you up to the volcanic formation of Owakudani, or simply remain on board and enjoy the trip back to your point of embarkation.

Hakone Ropeway
Hakone Ropeway
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Hakone Ropeway

Elevator | Multipupose toilet (approached from the right) | Diaper-changing table available | Universal seat (adjustable bed) available | Wheelchair rental | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible Parking

Your Hakone adventure should definitely include a trip to Owakudani, a crater of the Hakone volcano that was created during its last eruption 3,000 years ago. From Togendai Station, the Hakone Ropeway (free to board with the Hakone Freepass) takes you directly to Owakudani. Despite the name, the ropeway is actually more like a cable car, big enough to carry up to 18 passengers and lots of luggage, and is easy to access for wheelchair and stroller users. During the 16-minute ride you’ll have scenic views of Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji.

As soon as you exit Owakudani Station you can gaze at smoke rising from the desolate ground – a clear sign of the power of the volcanic activity going on here. Don’t leave without trying one of the iconic kurotamago (black eggs), boiled on site in hot spring water and said to prolong your life by seven years when eaten on the spot. The egg shell’s unusual black colour comes from a chemical reaction with geothermal heat and volcanic gas.

Hotels

Hotel Hatsuhana
Hotel Hatsuhana
Photo: Hotel Hatsuhana

Odakyu Hotel Hatsuhana

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Wheelchair rental | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

Located between Hakone-Yumoto Station and Moto-Hakone, the area along the shores of Lake Ashi, the Odakyu Hotel Hatsuhana is popular for its hot springs and is the perfect place to unwind. Upon arrival you’ll be welcomed with a cup of green tea and wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery) to start your stay in an ideally relaxed state. Rooms are spacious and combine traditional Japanese elements with modern designs. The various indoor and outdoor onsen baths set in a separate building stretch over four floors, connected by a ‘slope car’ (a kind of tiny monorail) that makes them wheelchair-accessible as well.

Odakyu Hotel de Yama
Odakyu Hotel de Yama
Photo: Odakyu Hotel de Yama

Odakyu Hotel de Yama

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

Once the villa of Koyata Iwasaki, the fourth president of Mitsubishi and the nephew of the company’s founder Yataro Iwasaki, Hotel de Yama was turned into a beautiful resort hotel in 1948. Its picture-perfect location overlooks Lake Ashi. The hotel was fully renovated in 2015, combining history and luxury in a setting surrounded by lush greenery. Guestrooms boast dark wood furniture to emphasise the structure’s history, while large windows provide splendid views of Lake Ashi, Mt Fuji, and – the highlight of Hotel de Yama – a 130,000-square-metre garden. Plan your visit in May, when you can find yourself surrounded by approximately 3,000 blooming azaleas of some 30 species, plus about 300 rhododendron of about 20 varieties, all planted way before the hotel opened over 70 years ago. The main path that winds through the azalea garden is accessible for both stroller and wheelchair users (Whill electric wheelchairs are available for rental).

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Odakyu Hakone Highland Hotel
Odakyu Hakone Highland Hotel
Photo: Odakyu Hakone Highland Hotel

Odakyu Hakone Highland Hotel

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Wheelchair rental | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible Parking

This spacious hotel complex is situated in the lush mountains of Hakone. Its 49,000 square metres invite you to unwind and enjoy the abundant greenery of a vast lawn-covered garden. Binoculars are placed in every room, so visitors can watch the many local birds of the Sengokuhara forest. The entire facility is replete with slopes and elevators, making it easy to push strollers or move around in a wheelchair. The Hakone Highland Hotel houses a hot spring facility, complete with indoor and outdoor baths, jacuzzi and a sauna, while those who prefer more privacy can opt for a room with a private open-air bath. The hotel’s convenient location means that many popular museums, including the Little Prince Museum, the Hakone Glass Forest Venetian Glass Museum and the Lalique Museum Hakone, are situated just a stone’s throw away.

Hakone Pax Yoshino
Hakone Pax Yoshino
Photo: Hakone Pax Yoshino

Hakone Pax Yoshino

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Universal seat (adjustable bed) available | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Stroller rental | Accessible parking

This typically Japanese onsen resort hotel is located along the Sukumo River a five-minute taxi ride from Hakone Yumoto Station. Book a ‘Japanese-Western’ room that faces the riverside and provides a modern but still traditional ambience with comfortable beds, a private terrace and a semi-open-air hot spring bath with a tub made from Japanese cypress wood. You could also make a reservation for Kumo, a large private open-air bath (¥3,000/60min) that’s easily accessible for wheelchair users, as the floor is flat and handrails are available. After dipping your tired body in the healing water, enjoy a Japanese-style multi-course dinner before closing the day with a karaoke session in one of the designated rooms on the first floor.

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Hanaori
Hanaori
Photo: Hanaori

Hakone Ashinoko Hanaori

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

Located close to Togendai, the point of departure and arrival for the Hakone Ropeway and the ships of the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise, this beautiful new hotel provides great views of Lake Ashi from its lobby, terrace and foot bath counter. The barrier-free rooms face the lake and feature balconies that are also wheelchair-accessible. There’s a large hot spring area with two types of baths, but you could also make a reservation for one of their two private, semi-open-air baths (¥3,000/40min).

Museums

The Hakone Open-Air Museum
The Hakone Open-Air Museum
Photo: The Hakone Open-Air Museum

The Hakone Open-Air Museum

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) |  Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Stroller rental | Accessible parking

Art fans will love this unique venue full of picturesque sculptures, opened in 1969 as the first alfresco art museum in Japan. Here you can gaze at around 100 modern and contemporary outdoor artworks spread across an expansive 70,000-square metre park. You’ll find works by Henry Moore and Fernand Léger, plus a pavilion dedicated to Pablo Picasso that contains a collection of about 300 works, of which 100 are on display. The museum itself is very family-friendly, and some of the installations even double as kids’ playgrounds.

Pick up the museum guide for visitors using wheelchairs or strollers to find the best routes for your needs. Wheelchair users may want to bring someone to assist, as some of the paths are a bit unstable.

Pola Museum of Art
Pola Museum of Art
Photo: Pola Museum of Art

Pola Museum of Art

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) |  Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Step-free entrance | Stroller rental | Accessible parking

The Pola Museum of Art is home to a superb collection of around 10,000 pieces, including a large number of French impressionist artworks, Japanese paintings, Oriental ceramics, glassworks and cosmetic utensils. Highlights include Monet’s ‘Water Lily Pond’, Renoir’s ‘Girl in a Lace Hat’, and Picasso’s ‘Mother and Child by the Sea’. Take a closer look at the building itself, too, as it was constructed by Nikken Sekkei and received a prize from the Architectural Institute of Japan in 2004. Wheelchair and stroller users can enter through the museum’s special entrance towards the right side of the parking lot.

Don’t forget to pick up a little souvenir, as the on-site gift shop provides about 2,000 different items, including some adorned with motifs of famous paintings displayed in the museum. If you feel peckish, you could either opt for some Western- and Japanese-style lunch options (vegan options available as well) at restaurant Array or sit down for some cake or light snacks at Tune Café, complete with views of Hakone’s mountain range and its abundant nature.

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Okada Museum of Art
Okada Museum of Art
Photo: Jin Kashima

Okada Museum of Art

Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Universal seat (adjustable bed) available | Wheelchair rental | Step-free entrance | Stroller rental | Accessible parking | Elevator

This is one of the most impressive museums in Hakone, exhibiting mainly Japanese, Chinese and Korean art on five floors and across 5,000 square metres. The collection is home to works from antiquity to the present, turning your visit into a journey through the history of East Asian art. Explanations for many of the 450 pieces on display can be received through touchscreens, which offer information in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, plus a children friendly version in Japanese. Finish your visit with a foot bath at the museum’s outdoor ashiyu area, from where you can admire the stunning mural 'Wind/Time' by Kotaro Fukui, depicting the gods of wind and thunder.

Lalique Museum Hakone
Lalique Museum Hakone
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Lalique Museum Hakone

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

René Lalique (1860-1945) was one of the most famous artists in the field of decorative jewellery and glass. He spent time in the French countryside while growing up and was inspired by the nature, which had a big influence on his works, resulting in motifs such as insects, birds and flowers.

The Hakone-based museum exhibits 230 items, including glassworks and 40 original and innovative pieces of jewellery, out of a collection of over 1,500 works. You'll get to enjoy  works from a variety of genres, including artisanal perfume bottles; jewellery pieces that reflect the seasons, including ones incorporating motifs of cicadas and other insects; vases; chandeliers; and car hood ornaments in the shape of fast animals.

Sights

Hakone Shrine
Hakone Shrine
Photo: Nobezi/Photo AC

Hakone Shrine

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Step-free entrance

When riding the ships of the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi, which shuttle between Togendai and the Moto-Hakone area, you can already see the iconic red 'peace gate' of Hakone Shrine. Standing partially in the water, it’s one of the best known –  and most Instagrammable – spots in Japan.

Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura shogunate, both held the shrine in high regard. From the main parking lot, take the elevator in the shrine’s treasure hall up to the sacred grounds. Follow the signs that lead wheelchair users to the shrine’s main hall and to the nearby Kuzuryu Shrine, known as a bringer of luck in matters of both money and love. Since both shrines are staircase-free in front of their offertory box, praying won’t present an accessibility issue.

80-1 Motohakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa. 0460 83 7123.

Hakone Sekisho
Hakone Sekisho
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Hakone Sekisho

Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Diaper-changing table available | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

Hakone Sekisho was the biggest and most important of the 53 checkpoints that the Tokugawa shogunate placed on major roads across Japan to defend Edo (now Tokyo). Established in 1619, its main task was to check on women who planned to leave Edo, especially the wives and children of feudal lords who planned to flee from the city without permission. Those who couldn’t submit a valid note of permission were not allowed to pass through the checkpoint and, instead, were kept as hostages in Edo. Women who were caught trying to escape over the mountains were executed.

The place operated until the Meiji Restoration in 1868 and was demolished in 1869, but was fully restored in 2007 after the discovery of a detailed report from 1865 about the dismantlement and repair of Hakone Sekisho. Visitors can look at reproductions of that time, such as buildings, workers’ offices, weapons and a jail. There’s also an indoor museum on site where you can look at original hand-written documents of the past and see how the restoration of the Sekisho took place. Visitors in wheelchairs should ask for assistance, as the approach to the museum has a steep stone-paved slope.

Restaurants

Bakery & Table Hakone
Bakery & Table Hakone
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Bakery & Table Hakone

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Diaper-changing table available | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

For panoramic views of Lake Ashi, pay a visit to this three-storey eatery close to Motohakone-ko, one of the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise ships’ ports of call. The first floor houses a bakery that’s especially famous for its Hakone (¥220), a bread made with gobo root, carrot and bacon; the curry buns made from rice flour with an egg filling (¥350); and – our favourite – a baguette sandwich with ham and camembert filling (¥420). You can order to go or use the elevator to bring your baked treats up to the second floor, where you can pair your goodies with a coffee or another drink. Sit down along the panorama window, through which you can overlook the entire lake.

Visiting during lunchtime or evening hours? Head straight up to the restaurant on the third floor, where you can devour the eatery’s signature dish: the ‘King of Sandwiches’ (¥2,980), a 20cm tall sandwich with bacon and domestic roast beef. Grab a counter seat along the window front, which is big enough for wheelchairs as well: you’ll have superb views not only of the lake but also of the chefs, who’ll assemble your sandwich right in front of your eyes.

9-1 Moto-Hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa. 0460 85 1530. Bakery (1F) 10am-5pm, cafè (2F) 8.30am-5pm (last orders 4.30pm), restaurant 11am-6pm (5pm), on Sat, Sun & hols open also for breakfast 9am-11am.

Lys Cafe & Restaurant
Lys Cafe & Restaurant
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Lys Cafe & Restaurant

Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

This spacious café and restaurant belongs to the Lalique Museum and borrows the French name for lily, as many of Lalique’s works incorporate designs of this gracious flower. Lys provides space for about 100 hungry visitors, who can choose between indoor seats in a modern, light-flooded ambience, and tables on the spacious outdoor terrace – either way you can enjoy beautiful views of the Sengokuhara Heights. Lys offers casual French cuisine, sweet treats and light snacks, made with mainly local, seasonal ingredients. We recommend the lunch plate, which lets you enjoy both meat and fish.

186-1 Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa. 0460 84 2255. 9am-5pm daily (breakfast served until 10am, lunch until 4pm, dessert until 4.30pm).

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Owakudani Station Shokudo
Owakudani Station Shokudo
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Owakudani Station Shokudo

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Diaper-changing table available | Wheelchair rental | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

After getting off the Hakone Ropeway at Owakudani, stay in the facility and take the elevator up to the second floor, where you’ll see the colourful entrance to Owakudani Station Shokudo. Locals and visitors alike love the restaurant’s spicy Owakudani curry with minced meat, topped with a crispy cutlet and a soft-boiled egg (¥1,550). From the tables next to the windows you’ll have Instagram-worthy views of the volcanic Owakudani landscape. Known for being very family friendly, the restaurant provides hot water for formula milk, and they’ll also warm up your baby food for you.

Tamura Ginkatsutei
Tamura Ginkatsutei
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Tamura Ginkatsutei

Multipurpose toilet (approached from the right) | Diaper-changing table available | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

Located close to Gora Station, Tamura Ginkatsutei is the only place in Japan where you can sample tofu cutlet simmering in a hearty broth, served teishoku style with rice, miso soup and pickles (¥1,518). The eatery provides both tatami mat and table seating, set in a friendly and traditional ambience. As the flat path leading to the eatery has quite a steep slope, wheelchair users may want to bring a friend or family member along to help out.

1300-739 Gora, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa. 0460 82 1440. 11am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-7.30pm, Tue 11am-2.30pm, closed Wed &Tue evening.

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Komon Café
Komon Café
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Komon Café

Elevator | Multipurpose toilet (approached from the left) | Diaper-changing table | Ostomy toilet available | Step-free entrance | Accessible parking

Chaya Honjin Hotoriya at the shore of Lake Ashi is home to a couple of souvenir shops and the large Komon Café on the second floor. An elevator connects the first and second floors, and gentle slopes make it possible to easily navigate the structure in wheelchair. Ask for a window seat, where you can enjoy superb views of Lake Ashi, the surrounding mountain range and majestic Mt Fuji in the background.

While relaxing, grill some dango dumplings and mochi rice cake at your table over a small grill by ordering the Honjin dango set (¥1,020), which comes with three types of dango – plain, matcha and black sesame – and a piece of mochi. Dip the little treats in either a sweet mitarashi soy glaze, coarse sweet red bean paste or grated daikon. The set is served with a cup of hojicha (roasted green tea) – itadakimasu!

Kunpei Otsuka
Photo: Accessible Lab nonprofit

Kunpei Otsuka (Representative Director, Accessible Lab)

Born 1980 in Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Kunpei Otsuka founded real estate company Oreal in 2006. He suffered a spinal cord injury in a 2009 accident and has been using a wheelchair ever since. Kunpei’s own situation inspired him to strive for improving the living environments of people with disabilities. In 2013 he established Accessible Lab, a nonprofit dedicated to making it easier for disabled people to move around outside their homes. Having experienced life both before and after disability, he provides consulting services on barrier-free matters both 'hard' and 'soft' through his company and Accessible Lab respectively.

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