Excursions around Tokyo   遠足

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Takao Cable Car to the summit of Mount Takao.

Takao Cable Car to the summit of Mount Takao.

The souvenir shops Kawagoe, the small Edo.

The souvenir shops Kawagoe, the small Edo.

Kencho-ji temple in Kita-Kamakura, the oldest Zen temple in Japan.

Kencho-ji temple in Kita-Kamakura, the oldest Zen temple in Japan.

Tsurumaki Onsen hot springs and soothing.

Tsurumaki Onsen hot springs and soothing.

Pots, table, and Mimatsu Mingei art are only 45 minutes from Tokyo Sinkansen.

Pots, table, and Mimatsu Mingei art are only 45 minutes from Tokyo Sinkansen.

Artisanal ovens Mashiko, birthplace crafts Mingei.

Artisanal ovens Mashiko, birthplace crafts Mingei.

Mount Takao top 599 meters.

Mount Takao top 599 meters.

Nature, craftsmanship and tradition

Tokyo, with its abundance of activities and multitude of attractions, has things to keep you busy for a long time, but going for a spin beyond the periphery is always nice, especially when it has hidden treasures.

Kamakura, Hakone, Nikko and Mount Fuji are popular destinations, with good reason, for inhabitants of Tokyo as well as tourists, but the area around Tokyo is also home to some lesser known places, perfect for a breath of fresh air and a therapy of tranquility.

The mountain on the edge of the city: Mount Takao

The Tokyo metropolitan area is so broad that it even includes mountains. 1 hour from Shinjuku, in the city of Hachioji, is Mount Takao, ideal for a short hike in the wilds. You can climb from the foot of the moutain or choose to take the cable car half-way if you are less sporty. From its peak of 599 m, on a good day you can admire Mount Fuji.

To get there: Take the Keio Line from Shinjuku (departures every 20 minutes, 50-minute journey for 390 yen) to Takaosanguchi Station. If you have the JR Pass, you can also take the Chuo Line to Takao Station.

"Little Edo": Kawagoe

The Kawagoe suburban town has been nicknamed "Little Edo" (Edo is the old name for Tokyo) due to the presence of old merchant houses dating from the 19th century. Ichiban-gai street, Kita-in Temple and its stone statues and Tour Toki no Kane (bell time) will plunge you into the atmosphere of the Edo era. Read more about Kawagoe .

The home of the Rinzai Buddhism: Kita-Kamakura

Kita-Kamakura is just as charming and historic as Kamakura, but with a more peaceful atmosphere and an accentuated feeling of distance from the city. In front of Kita-Kamakura Station, you can see Engaku-ji Temple, the largest zen temple in Kamakura. Further down the road, you will find the Kencho-ji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Japan. Do not miss the Museum of Ancient Pottery in its old wooden building. And finally, passing in front of Jochi-ji temple, a small hiking trail takes you towards Kamakura.

To get there: Take the JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo and Shinagawa, or the Shonan Shinjuku line, from Ikebukuro , Shinjuku and Shibuya .

For outdoor activities: Tanzawa

The relief of Tanzawa, in eastern Kanagawa Prefecture, offers outdoor sports fans something to be happy about. In addition to its unforgettable landscapes to enjoy during short hikes on the summits of Tonodake and Sannoto, it is possible to go camping or spend the night in mountain huts. You can choose the latter option if you want to climb Mount Tanzawa itself, culminating at some 1 567 m above sea level. After the effort, relax in the warm waters of Tsurumaki Onsen near the railway station of the same name, before heading back to Tokyo.

To get there: Take the Odakyu Line to Shibusawa then bus number 2 to Okura.

The birthplace of Mingei crafts: Mashiko

A little further, but fans of traditional crafts won't miss it: the town of Mashiko. In the southeastern part of Tochigi Prefecture, the city is known as one of the most important pottery centers in Japan. In the early 20th century, the potter Shoji Hamada, who founded the Mingei movement, to revive Japanese folk arts, with Yanagi Soetsu, set up his furnace here, thus contributing to the reputation of Mashiko. The Togei Messe Mashiko and the Mashiko Sankokan Museum (Mashiko's reference Museum") offer very informative exhibitions, and the town of Mashiko itself is home to some 300 kilns, where certain such as Tsukamoto or the Mashiko- yaki Kyohan sales center, demonstrate the manufacturing process.

To get there: Take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station (45 min, 4,930 yen) to Utsunomiya, then the bus to Toya Mashiko. Taking the JR Tohoku Line will only cost 1 940 yen but will take twice as long.

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