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What Kyoto and Hakone have in common is the land loved by celebrities!


What Kyoto and Hakone have in common is the land loved by celebrities!

Hello from K’s House Kyoto!

I found a common point when I searched the mystery of “Why Hakone loves Hyotan (gourd) Shape?” on Hakone Trip.

I will tell you about my favorite places in Hakone and Kyoto where I enjoyed celebrity as a key.

And the end of this article, I also posted how to plan Hakone Journey, which I noticed using both “Hakone Free pass” and “Hakone Tabidasuke Pass”.

I’m happy if this will help you.

Sengoku(Japanese war era) Celebrity: Taiko-Han (Hideyoshi Toyotomi)

The Japanese historical rising celebrity of the Sengoku period(1467-1615) is Hideyoshi Toyotomi. He rose from a peasant to a great samurai unifier of Japan.

Statue of Hideyoshi Toyotomi(豊臣秀吉像 in Osaka)

There are anecdotes about how flashy and banquet-loving things are left, such as having a grand cherry blossom viewing at Daigoji Temple and making a golden tea room with gold leaf on the entire surface.

I saw a big gourd-shaped light up on a mountain when I passed Miyanoshita by bus at night.
Why gourd? I searched and found that Toyotomi Hideyoshi healed his fatigue at a natural hot spring near Miyanoshita when he attacked Odawara in 1590.

Hideyoshi is famous for having “Gourd” as a horse sign. Miyanoshita holds a festival called “Hyotan(gourd) Masturi(festival)” in the summer and lights it up at that time. (Though it was winter when I visited …)

For history lovers, “Taiko-no-Iwaburo(rock bath of Taiko)” which Hideyoshi and Ieyasu took is good for visiting. But I prefer the “Taiko-yu” bathhouse for taking a hot spring spa.

Taiko-yu (Hakone-Miyanoshita)

A 10-minute walk from Miyanoshita Station, a public bath loved by locals.

In the famous TV show “Matsuko no Shiranai-Sekai” Mr. Tanaka, Hakone’s local master said that the best quality hot spring water is used by small old-fashioned bathhouses.

This is one of them, which has a high moisturizing effect and is also called “Beauty spring”.
In addition, “Yasaka-yu”, which is the best bath for Mr. Tanaka, is nearby K’s House Hakone in Hakone Yumoto!

Please try there when you stay at our Hakone branch. You can also relax by taking the hot spring spa of K’s House Hakone. (This is a promotion)

Access/Opening Hours

Taiko-yu official website (Japanese Only)
Access: HakoneTozan railway Miyanoshita St.
Opening hours: 13:00-20:30
Closed: Wednesday, 2nd/4th Tuesday
Fee: 600Yen

Hideyoshi is the Sengoku samurai who is loved by the Kyoto people for regenerating the land of Kyoto that was devastated by many years of war.

As with Daigoji Temple mentioned above, there are many places related with him in Kyoto like Jurakudai. Among them, my favorite is Toyokuni Shrine, which enshrines Hideyoshi, which is also characterized by gourd.

Toyokuni Shrine (Kyoto)

A 15-minute walk from K’s House Kyoto. 

The shape of Ema(votive tablets) is very unique, and there are gourd type and zori(traditional sandals) type. Both are votive tablets for good luck and success.

Zori is from the famous episode that Hideyoshi warmed Zori of Nobunaga (his boss) in his bosom in winter. A man who can care others will be promoted.

And it is worth a look that many gourd-shaped and sandals-shaped tablets are hung!

My friend got a first-low seat ticket of a very popular concert by making the wish with a Gourd Ema, so I will do the same at my next big concert.

Access/Opening hours

Access: 5-mitute walk from Kyoto City bus Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae stop/ 15-minute walk from K’s House Kyoto
Opening hours: museum & reception 9:00-16:30
Closed: open every day
Entrance fee: Free, museum 300Yen

Overseas celebrities

Many people may think from the title, “Kyoto and Hakone are both famous tourist destinations, so a lot of celebrities must have visited”, and indeed so.

Here are some of my favorite people and places.

Hakone-Miyanoshita: Charles Chaplin, John Lennon 

Hakone was developed as a hot spring resort close to Tokyo.

Fujiya Hotel, a hotel exclusively for foreigners, was established in Miyanoshita in the Meiji era (1868-1912) and many celebrities, including royalty, have stayed here.

The Fujiya Hotel itself, which incorporates both Japanese and Western styles, is lovely, and it’s fun to take a walk around the area where they walked.

The path where Charles Chaplin, the king of comedy who stayed at the hotel in 1932, took a stroll is still there as “Chaplin no sampo-michi (Chaplin’s Promenade)”.

In addition, the Shima Photo Shop, which was established in the Meiji era, right next to the Fujiya Hotel, has photographs of famous people on display.

Among them, a photo of the John Lennon/Yoko Ono family made me happy as a Beatles fan.


HakoneTozan railway Miyanoshita St.

Queen (Kyoto / Heian Jingu, Kwasan Astronomical Observatory)

The British rock band QUEEN, which has once again gained worldwide popularity with the hit of the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”, is famous for their fondness for Japan.

Among them, the late singer Freddie Mercury used to visit Kyoto on his own and buy antiques and kimonos.

One of the most famous photos is from their first visit to Japan, taken at Heian Jingu Shrine.

You can see them by doing an internet search for ‘ QUEEN 平安神宮 ‘. They were taken in the Japanese garden inside Heian Jingu.

Though there is a fee, it is a really lovely garden, so why not take a walk?

Heian Jingu Shrine (平安神宮)

The guitarist Brian May is also an astronomer and has left an autograph at the Kwasan Observatory.

It’s fun to take a public tour of this wonderful observatory, where the oldest telescope in Japan and some of the world’s most valuable telescopes are still in use.

Incidentally, the thing that impressed me most when I saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” was that Freddie’s house had a paper amulet of the Kinkakuji temple(Golden Pavilion)on the entrance wall.

Access/Opening Hours

Heian Jingu official website
Access : 5-mitute walk from Kyoto City bus Okazakikoen Bijutukan/Heianjingu-mae stop,
10-minute walk from Kyoto City subway Higashiyama station,
15-minute walk from Keihan railway Sanjo station or Jingu-marutamachi
Opening hours: 6:00-18:00, Japanese Garden 8:30-16:30(seasonal changed, please check the website)
Closed: open every day
Entrance fee: Japanese Garden(神苑) 600Yen

Kwasan Observatory official website
Access : 10-mitute walk from Keihan bus Kwasantenmondai/Agon stop
Opening day, public tour: Basically weekend, booking required, Language: Japanese
Fee: depend on the tour, about 1500-3300Yen

Kwasan Astronomical Observatory(花山天文台)

David Bowie (Kyoto / Furukawacho Shopping Arcade)

David Bowie, a world-famous rock star from the UK who was active at the same time as QUEEN, also visited Kyoto so often that there were rumors that he might have lived in Kyoto for a while.

The photo taken in front of a Hankyu train bound for Umeda, which is said to have been taken at Kawaramachi Station, is very famous,

as well as the photo of him buying Yawata-maki at a shop in the Furukawacho shopping arcade is so popular. He liked Yawata-maki so much that he often bought them.

Unfortunately, the shop has closed, but the Furukawacho shopping arcade is an old-fashioned, Showa-era Kyoto-style shopping arcade where you can take a leisurely stroll.

It is only a 15-minute walk from Heian Shrine, so why not drop by when you are in the Okazaki area?

Yawata-maki is a Kyoto cuisine of burdock wrapped with eel and can be purchased at a fish store near K’s House Kyoto.


Furukawacho Shopping Arcade official website
Access: Kyoto City subway Higashiyama station,
5-minute walk from Keihan railway Sanjo station or Jingu-marutamachi

Orient Express where celebrities would have travelled (Hakone-Sengokuhara / Lalique Museum)

The Lalique Museum in the Sengokuhara area of ​​Hakone is the museum of the French glass master Lalique, has the dining car of the Orient Express, for which Lalique worked on the glass decoration in the museum grounds.

When I think of the Orient Express, I am first reminded of the British detective novel “Murder on the Orient Express” of Hercule Poirot.

As ladies and gentlemen did in the film, you can enjoy the beautiful decoration and a cup of tea in the actual dining car, where many celebrities must have boarded.

This train has been running between Lyon and Nice since 1929 and between Paris and Istanbul between 1976 and 2001.

Also, the train has travelled across Japan on the Trans-Siberian Railway to return to France once.

Although the car is attached to the museum, it is possible to enter only the special exhibition Orient Express “Le Train”, which can be reserved on-site on the day of the visit.

Access・Opening Hours

LALIQUE MUSEUM official website
Access: Hakone Tozan bus Sengokuhara-annaijo-mae(247)
Opening hours: booking required(on-site on the day of the visit.), 40 minutes, First group 10:00/ last group16:00(7times a day)
Closed: 3rd Thursday (open every day in August)
Fee: 2,200Yen(a tea & a sweet included)

Is there a bus/train pass for travelling around Hakone? Do I need it? Which one is good? I tried using both!

Hakone is dotted with numerous hot springs of different types of spring qualities, historical sites and museums, so if you want to ‘go around’ visiting hot springs, museums, power spots, etc., you will certainly need transportation.

As a result of trying both, I would like to tell three patterns depending on your purpose (not needed / Hakone Free pass is good / Hakone Tabidasuke Pass is good).

1) not needed

you have a clear purpose and don’t move much from there.

For example,
“I want to spend a whole day enjoying the Hakone Open-Air Museum.”
“I want to visit the museums in Sengokuhara (The Little Prince Museum/Venetian Glass Museum/Lalique Museum)”
“I want to explore the Miyanoshita area, visit the Fujiya Hotel, see the Taiko-no-Iwaburo and walk along the Chamberlain’s Path.”

If you don’t move much from one place, you have only to pay for the bus/train fare just to get there and back.

It’s a wonderful trip to take time to visit museums and stroll around, enjoy one place satisfactorily.

Hakone Yumoto Dosojin(箱根湯本道祖神)

2)Hakone Free Pass by Odakyu is good

For example,

You want to do general “Hakone sightseeing” for beginners in Hakone,
to eat Owakudani’s famous black eggs for extending the life span,
to enjoy taking a pirate ship on Lake Ashinoko.

Public transport in Hakone is provided by two companies, Odakyu and Seibu, and buses follow almost the same route.

The main difference is that;

  • Odakyu goes to Sengokuhara and Owakudani,
  • Seibu to Hakone-en,
  • Odakyu’s Lake Ashinoko cruise boats resemble pirate ships from the Age of Discovery,
  • Seibu’s are stylish modern versions,
  • Odakyu runs more buses than Seibu.

So the Hakone Free Pass is convenient for those who want to do general going around Hakone sightseeing.

One of Hakone’s specialities is the magnificent volcanic landscape of Owakudani and the black boiled eggs known as ‘Kuro-tamago’.

Odakyu’s Hakone Ropeway is a convenient way to access Owakudani. (Although it is included in the Seibu bus route, buses are not so frequent and sometimes do not go.)

The Hakone Free pass, which includes the Hakone Ropeway, is available for 2day or 3day types, and there are several other types,
including ‘OWAKUDANI 2Day Pass’ and ‘ASHINOKO 2Day Pass’, so please check the official website.

You can also purchase the pass online or at Odakyu main stations or Hakone-Yumoto station.

Hakone Free pass official website:Hakone Navi
You can check them from ‘Discount Passes’.
Fee: 5,000yen for 2days / 5,400yen for 3days

3)Hakone Tabitasuke Pass by Seibu is good:

You want to enjoy the magnificent view of Mt. Fuji, Suruga Bay and the Izu Peninsula from the summit of Mt. Komagatake,
to visit the power spots of Hakone 3 Gongen shrines (Hakone Shrine/Kuzuryuu Shrine/Hakone Mototsumiya Shrine),
to be healed by the cute hot-spring seal in the aquarium at the highest altitude in Japan.

It takes 1,800yen for a round trip ticket of Hakone Komagatake Ropeway for getting to the mountaintop where Hakone Mototsumiya Shrine is located,
1,500yen for the entrance fee to the Hakone-en Aquarium at the foot of Mt. Komagatake, about 1,000yen for the one-way bus fare from Hakone-Yumoto to the Hakone-en area, so I think ‘Hakone Tabidasuke Pass’ 3000yen for 2days is very valuable if you would like to enjoy the Hakone-en Komagatake area.

Personally, I was so impressed by the beautiful view of the Izu Peninsula and Mt. Omuro, a mountain near K’s House Ito, from the top of Mt. Komagatake.

Also, the “hot-spring seal” that you can meet at the Hakone-en Aquarium seal show was really cute.

As an aside, for animal lovers, the Izu Shaboten Zoo at the foot of Mt. Omuro is also a wonderful place to get up close and personal with animals!

Especially the “Animal Boat Tours” where you can feed the animals, was the best. Please visit the zoo when you come to K’s House Ito.

K’s House Ito is famous for Ito’s oldest hot spring spa (This is a promotion).

For those who want to enjoy a different kind of Hakone trip, I recommend the ‘Hakone Tabidasuke Pass’ by Seibu.

The most accessible way to purchase the tickets is at 7ticket (buy through the internet with your phone or a machine in a Seven-Eleven store, then get the paper tickets at Seven-Eleven Counter).

Also, you can buy tickets at the IzuHakone Bus Information Centre(Cash Only) in front of Odawara Station, Moto Hakone and Hakone-en.

Hakone Tabidasuke Official, Izu Hakone Bus “Special Ticket”;
JP: 伊豆箱根バス お得な乗車券
ENG: Hakone Tabidasuke Pass
Fee: 3,000yen for 2days

We hope that the above information will help you on your journey.
Have a nice trip!

K’s House Kyoto:

written at 2022