Hakone Gora Travel Guide

Discussion
  • Gora lies in the heart of Hakone and with its central location, it’s a great choice for ryokan stay if you’re spending a few days to explore Hakone. In Gora, besides fabulous hot springs, you can visit the beautiful french-style Gora Park, explore nearby museums, or try the famous katsu from Tamura Ginkatsu-tei.

    the fountain at Hakone Gora Park - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Gora is about 40 min by train on the Hakone Tozan Line from Hakone-Yumoto station. It’s where our family typically stay when we visit Hakone. The area is beautiful with lush green mountain scenery. There are many activities to do in Gora and the convenient central location makes it easy to visit other parts of Hakone.

    In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the beautiful Hakone Gora Park, shops around Gora Station, one of our favorite katsu restaurants, and the recent ryokan where we stayed. The area is also dotted with many museums including the very popular Hakone Open-Air Museum. We’ll cover those in the Museums of Hakone post.

    Gora Station 強羅駅

    Gora Station is one of the bigger hubs on the Hakone Tozan Line with shops and restaurants nearby the station. Many of the stations on the line are pretty simple with just boarding platforms for the train without any retail stores. If you want to drive to Gora Station from Hakone-Yumoto station, it’s about 20 a min drive by car (with no traffic).

    Hakonetozan Line - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Hakonetozan Line

    Gora station is where riders can transfer from the Hakone Tozan train to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car. The cable car travels up 702 feet (214 meters) in elevation in a short 3/4 mile (1.2 km) to Sounzan Station (早雲山駅). The weather and temperature at Gora Station could be quite different from Sounzan Station at the top so keep this in mind when you visit. When we visited during the summer it was 91 F at the bottom and 77 F at the top of the cable car ride,

    Hakone Tozan Cable Car - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Hakone Tozan Cable Car

    When you exit Gora station, you’ll see a number of shops and restaurants. If you are in the area for just a day trip, this will be the best location to grab a bite to eat.

    Gora Station - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Gora Station
    shops and restaurant near Gora station - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Shops and restaurant near Gora station

    Hakone Himitsu-Bako (Japanese Puzzle Box)

    As you travel around Hakone you’ll see many gift shops selling the local woodcraft it’s known for. At Gora Station, one of the stores has meticulously created Japanese puzzle boxes called Himitsu-Bako (ひみつ箱). These were first created by Okawa Ryujiro in the 19th century as souvenirs for visitors to came to the Hakone area for hot springs. Each box required exact and precise movements of wooden parts in order to open.

    Himitsu-Bako secret box - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Himitsu-Bako “secret box or Japanese puzzle box”

    These puzzle boxes range from moderate to expensive prices but could be a cool gift for friends or family.

    secret box by Okawa Ryujiro - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Secret box by Okawa Ryujiro

    Tamura Ginkatsu-tei 田むら銀かつ亭

    When we’re in Gora, we almost always stop by Tamura Ginkatsu-tei for lunch.  The restaurant is crazy popular and the wait is easily over an hour on weekends and holidays. They are known for their tofu-katsu with ground pork stuff in the middle. It is really tasty so we highly recommend it if you are in the area.

    Tamura Ginkatsu-tei in Gora - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Tamura Ginkatsu-tei is actually split between two buildings, the new larger restaurant and the old wing. The old wing only offers two menu items, tofu katsu-ni set meal or tofu katsu-ni gozen. Gozen comes with more side dishes compared to the set meal.

    The new larger restaurant has a wider variety of food items on the menu, including oyakodon, ebi-fry, sashimi, and pork katsu. At times the wait at the old wing is much shorter so it might be something you want to consider.

    sign with the two dishes offered at the old wing at Tamura Ginkatsu-tei - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Autographs of celebrities on the wall at Tamura Ginkatsu-tei - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Autographs of celebrities on the wall
    Tofu katsu-ni set meal at Tamura Ginkatsu-tei - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Tofu katsu-ni set meal

    Hakone Gora Park 箱根強羅公園

    Hakone-Gora park is just a short walk from Gora Station. It is located on a sloping hill and has cafes, a traditional tea house, and a craft workshop on the park ground. Inside the craft workshop, you can make ceramic and glass projects including glass blowing and pottery painting.

    fountain at Hakone Gora park - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    glass and ceramic crafthouse at Hakone Gora Park - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Glass and Ceramic Crafthouse
    Hakuun-Do Tea Garden Hakone Gora Park - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Hakuun-Do Tea Garden

    The park is over 100 years old and opened in 1914. As it’s located on a hill, keep in mind it could be challenging for older travelers to walk around. There are plants and flowers all over the park including a rose garden.

    Rose garden at Hakone Gora Park - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Rose Garden

    pathway inside Hakone Gora Park - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    The main reason for our visit is our son is obsessed with beetles and there was a special exhibition inside the greenhouse. It was fascinating for him to see so many different types of beetles in one place.

    boy holding a Hercules beetle perched on a short branch in Hakone Gora Park - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Hercules beetle
    stag beetles climbing on a tree branch - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Stag beetle

    Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku 早雲閣

    Gora is home to many ryokans and after exploring Hakone for the day, soaking in the hot springs is what we look forward to the most. During our most recent visit, we stayed at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku. It is a traditional Japanese ryokan located near the Sounzan Station at the top of the Tozan Cable line. It does not have many rooms so the hotel is not as crowded as some of the more popular ones in Hakone.

    Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Staying in a Japanese Ryokan

    If you plan on staying at a ryokan, we recommend checking in around 3 pm. The check-in process for ryokan is much longer than checking into a hotel, requiring at least 15-20 min.

    lounge area inside Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    When you check into a ryokan room, the staff will bring your suitcases and belongings to the room for you. Shortly after, the staff responsible for your room will show up and explain the facilities of the ryokan, hot springs hours and policies (ryokan often switch male/female hot springs between day and night time), and take down your preferred mealtime for dinner and breakfast.

    sitting area around a traditional Japanese hearth at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku

    Depending on the ryokan, some require you to remove shoes after you enter the lobby but most of the time you can wear them to the entrance of the room. When walking around the ryokan please wear the slippers they provide especially when going to the hot springs. We’ve seen guests wearing outdoor shoes to the hot springs and its not appropriate.

    Standard room at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Standard room at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku

    Standard room at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    view of Hakone from Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    View of Hakone from the ryokan room

    Kaiseki Meals at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku

    I had mentioned in one of our previous posts our preference for ryokan is based on the food ranking. The food at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku was elegantly prepared and highly rated by visitors. The owner is from Hida Takayama area so some of the dishes feature ingredients from the Hida area (such as Hida beef and hoba leaves). Most ryokans in Japan serve Kaiseki meals during dinner showcasing the local ingredients and chef’s skills in preparing a course meal.

    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku horse mackerel, konjac, edamame, pike eel sushi - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Horse mackerel, konjac, edamame, and pike eel sushi
    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku sea perch in clear soup - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Sea perch in clear soup
    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku seabream and shrimp sashimi - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Seabream and shrimp sashimi
    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku Amberjack, squid, tuna sashimi - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Amberjack, squid, tuna sashimi
    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku stewed dish eggplant, lotus root, and prawn - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Stewed dish eggplant, lotus root, and prawn
    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku Hida beef and vegetables - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Hida beef and vegetables

    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku Hida beef and vegetables - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com

    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku steamed tofu - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Steamed tofu

    The hotel entry and reception area were very well decorated and kept but the rooms feel a bit dated and could use a refresh. The meals were all excellent and the hot spring was relaxing. If you are looking for a hotel to stay in Gora we would not hesitate to recommend Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku. If you want to splurge on a more premium experience, the sister property Gora Hanaougi is right next door and it’s one of the more high-end ryokans in the area.

    Kaiseki meal at Gora Hanaogi Sounkaku Japanese teacher - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Japanese breakfast

    Watanabe Bakery 渡邊ベーカリー

    Not exactly in Gora but if you are driving from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora, stop by Watanabe Bakery to pick up some bread. The bakery has been around since 1891 and features many traditional and unique pastries. It’s known for stewed bread but offers Japanese classics like red bean, chestnut, and salted plum red bean bread.

    salted plum and red bean paste bread at Watanabe Bakery - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Salted plum and red bean paste bread
    Various types of stuffed bread at Watanabe bakery - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Various types of stuffed bread
    Watanabe bakery store license from 1891 - Hakone Gora Travel Guide | www.justonecookbook.com
    Watanabe bakery store license from 1891

    Activities to do in Gora

    This is not a comprehensive list of things to do in Gora. For fun, you can go to Yunessun and try its 23 hot springs and water slides. If you prefer quiet time, there is the Museum of Art, Museum of Photography, Meissen Museum, and Okada Museum of Art.

    Thank you for reading our guide to Gora and we’ll hop on Hakone Ropeway and visit Hakone’s Hell Valley – Owakudani.

    Just One Cookbook Hakone Travel Guide

    1. Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum
    2. Odawara Castle Guide
    3. Hakone Yumoto and Hakone Freepass
    4. Hakone Gora
    5. Riding Hakone Ropeway and Owakudani
    6. Museums of Hakone
    7. What to do around Lake Ashi in Hakone

    You Might Also Like...

  • Just One Cookbook: Essential Japanese Recipes

    Love Our Recipes?

    Leave A Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    What type of comment do you have?

    Discussion

  • Patrick wrote:
  • Karen Lam wrote: