Exploring Beyond Tokyo

[Updated 27 Feb 2015]

Living or visiting Tokyo and would like to see more than just the Big City? With a short train ride, you can get out to rural Japan and experience a Japan that is so different from the capital city.

Here are some of our ideas for a day-trip out of Tokyo.

1. Enoshima & Kamakura
Enjoy the lively streets and laid-back feel of the popular coastal town of Enoshima, followed by a visit through the to the famous big Buddha in Kamakura! If the weather is good, you can even see Mt Fuji!

The big Buddha at Kamakura
The big Buddha at Kamakura

2. Hakone
Anyone who is living in Tokyo, or even just visiting will know about Hakone. It’s famous for its hot springs, beautiful scenery of the lake and Mt Fuji, Owakudani, an active volcanic area that smells of sulphur, and the onsen-tamago (eggs boiled in the natural hotspring)!

While in Hakone, have an onsen-tamago! Each egg is said to lengthen your life by 7 years!
While in Hakone, have an onsen-tamago! Each egg is said to lengthen your life by 7 years!

3. Misaki Tuna Auction
Did you miss the Tsukiji Fish Market? How about visiting Misaki, famous for its Tuna Auction! You can experience the famous tuna auction and try fresh tuna dishes in town. It’s not so far from Tokyo, just a short train ride! You can also take a stroll around Jogashima and enjoy rural Japanese life.

Uma no Sedomon rock formation
Uma no Sedomon rock formation at Jogashima

4. Nikko
Nikko is a popular day-trip from Tokyo, famous for the extravagant Toshogu Shrine, which is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition, Nikko is also famous for its autumn scenery.

A path of stone lanterns next to the famous Toshogu Shrine
A path of stone lanterns next to the famous Toshogu Shrine

5. Edo Wonderland
Don’t you want to dress up as a ninja, or samurai, or a high-class Japanese lady from the past? Let’s do that at Edo Wonderland, a ninja theme-park! Watch the street fights, attend ninja training, and become a Ninja for a day!!

6. Kawagoe
Located only 30 mins by train from Tokyo, the streets of Kawagoe are lined with historical Edo-style buildings, allowing visitors to travel back in time to the Edo period. Take a walk through this traditional and historical town and experience a Japan that is so different from modern Tokyo!

Kawagoe
Kawagoe

7. Atami
Atami literally means “Hot Ocean” and it aptly describes this onsen town located next to the sea. In the late 80s, it was a bustling tourist destination for onsen and beach-goers. Today, it is a quiet little town with buildings reminiscent of its glorious days.

Atami beach bustling with activity during the summer!
Atami beach bustling with activity during the summer!

8. Sawara
Another “Little Edo”, the quiet little town of Sawara in Chiba is well-known for its small district of preserved and restored traditional residences, merchant shops and warehouses from the Edo Period. Take a walk around this town and experience traditional Japan!

9. Okutama
Did you know that on the westernmost side of Tokyo is a great national park with forested mountains, hills, gorges and some rural towns? The area is known as Okutama and offers plenty of hiking and walking opportunities! Let’s take a break from the city and enjoy this unspoiled nature!

Hiking along the Okutama walking trail from where you can see people rafting below in the river
Hiking along the Okutama walking trail from where you can see people rafting below in the river

10. Iwamotoyama in spring time
Iwamotoyama Park is not just any other park. From here, you can get a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji, Hakone and Izu Peninsula. And come spring, you will see the famous snow-capped Mt Fuji and the beautiful cherry blossoms! Come spring, and it’s a great place for Hanami party! How Japanesey~

11. Nokogiriyama
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(Read our trip report here.)
Although Nokogiriyama is home to the largest stone Buddha in Japan, it is not an area that is known to many. This could be because it takes a while to get there – you need to catch a train to Yokohama, followed by a bus to the port, a ferry across the Tokyo Bay, and a ropeway up the mountain. At the top of Nokogiriyama is Nihonji temple, where you can find two large Buddha statues. The temple grounds are huge and throughout the trails, you can find more than 1,500 small stone statues of arhats, people who have sought enlightenment. From Nokogiriyama, you can also get a great view of Mount Fuji and Tokyo Bay.

12. TOP SECRET HIDDEN GEM: Hottarakashi Onsen!!!
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A quiet little onsen spot hidden away in the mountains of Yamanashi prefecture, Hottarakashi Onsen is our new-found favourite! The only way to get there is by a rental car (keep a look out here, for we organise such a road-trip every so often!) Because it is located in the mountains, you can also get a great view of Mt Fuji. And of course, don’t forget to tuck into some local cuisine houtou in Kofu City.

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