Connecting Odawara to Gora, the Hakone Tozan Railway has a history of over 130 years, including its start as a horse-drawn streetcar.
In 1888, the Hakone Tozan Railway began as a horse-drawn streetcar serving between Kozu Station and Hakone-Yumoto Station. It was expanded in 1919 to add the segment between Hakone-Yumoto Station and Gora Station, then expanded again in 1935 to include the leg between Odawara and Hakone-Yumoto Station. For over 80 years, the Hakone Tozan Railway has run between Odawara and Gora Stations. It takes approximately 40 minutes from Hakone-Yumoto Station to the end of the line at Gora Station. Climbing to a height of over 541 meters, the view of the mountains from the train car windows will take your breath away. Be sure to see the gorgeous hydrangeas in summertime.
The steep segment between Hakone-Yumoto Station and Gora Station is called the Hakone Tozan Line. After boarding from the peaceful platform at Hakone-Yumoto Station, you’ll experience the wonderful charms of this section. In a surprising twist, the driver and conductor flip between Tonosawa and Miyanoshita Stations, as the car changes directions in the switchbacks. The impressive train cars handle the intense curves and steep slopes of their route through the mountain. But that’s not their only feature. If you sit in the front or end seats of the train car, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the direction changes of the switchbacks. A key feature are the three switchbacks. These help the railcars handle the extremely steep slopes, with a peak gradient of 80 per mille (8%). Put another way, the railcars can go up one meter in elevation for every 12.5 meters of horizontal travel.
This railway is also nicknamed the hydrangea train, due to the thousands of hydrangeas blooming along the tracks during the summer (from mid-June to mid-July). Appreciate the breathtaking scenery that was incorporated into the route’s design. While you enjoy the gorgeous mountain scenery, gaze upon the changing colors of the hydrangeas along the route. The flowers bloom later the further up into the mountains you go, so you’ll be able to fully appreciate how the elevation affects the state of the flowers.
In 2001, this route was featured in a PC simulation game released on Microsoft (95, 98, 2000, ME, and XP). While the game only features the segment between Odawara and Hakone-Yumoto, the virtual scenarios are perfect. This older game has been refreshed. Why not compare the virtual atmosphere with a visit in person?
At Hakone-Yumoto Station, you can easily go from platform 1 to platform 3 for boarding the Hakone Tozan trains. Reservations are generally unnecessary (but are required for the special train service Nighttime Hydrangea Train) and seating is issued by order of arrival. As you ascend the mountain, you may be surprised at how few station employees you see. As such, if you disembark without giving your ticket to the conductor, we ask you please do not forget to put your ticket in the ticket collection box at unmanned stations.
If you’re the type to get motion sick from the countless curves buses take through the mountains, the railway is a great alternative for you. This single-line route from Hakone-Yumoto Station serves just six stations. We recommend our route for nature-lovers and train fans alike! We welcome all visitors who wish to board our quaint mountain route.