5 excursions around Tokyo

Tokyo, with its endless options of activities and its multitude of attractions has what it takes to keep you occupied for quite a bit. However, that shouldn’t stop you from going to the outskirt of the city, as it is always a nice trip, especially when it conceals hidden treasures.

Kamakura, Hakone, Nikko and Mount Fuji are popular destinations, with good reasons, with both tourists and Tokyoïtes. But the periphery of Tokyo shelters less famous places, perfect for a breath of fresh air.

Mont Takao

A montain just outside the city: Mount Takao

The city of Tokyo is so extensive that it even includes mountains! Only one hour away from Shinjuku, in the city of Hachioji, stands Mount Takao, the perfect destination for a short hike in the countryside. You can choose to climb up from the bottom or to take the cable car to mid mountain if you don’t feel like walking too much. From its top, that is 599 meters high, if the sky is clear, you can admire Mount Fuji.
To get there, take the Keio line from Shinjuku (departure every 20 minutes, 50 minutes trip for 390 yen) to Takaosanguchi station.
If you have a JR Pass, you can also take the Chuo line to Takao train station. 



The "little Edo" : Kawagoe

The suburban town of Kawagoe was nicknamed “Little Edo” (Edo being the ancient name of Tokyo) because you can find there old merchant houses dating back to the 19th century. After a 10 minutes walk from the Hon-Kawagoe train station, you will discover the ichiban-gai street with its kurazukuri, warehouse-styled houses. The Kita-in temple and its  stone statues of 500 Buddha's disciples, or the Toki no Kane Tower (bell of time) will also take you back to old Edo.

The Tobu Tojo and Seibu lines from Ikebukuro will take you respectively to Kawagoe train station (30 minutes for the express trains) and Hon-Kawagoe train station (60 minutes), this last one being closer to the main attractions. The Saikyo/Kawagoe JR line also links Shinjuku and Kawagoe in 50 minutes. 




The house of the Rinzai Buddhism: Kita-Kamakura

Kita-Kamakura is as charming and as historically important as Kamakura but with an even more peaceful atmosphere and a feeling of distance to the ciy.
In front of the Kita-Kamakura train station, you can see the Engaku-ju temple, the biggest Zen temple in Kamakura. A little further down on the road, you will find the Kencho-ji temple, the oldest Zen temple in Japan. Don’t miss the Museum of ancient pottery and its old wooden building. To finish your tour, pass in front of the Jochi-ji temple and take the little hiking trail that takes you back to Kamakura.
The Yokosuka JR line from Tokyo and Shinagawa, as well as the Shonan Shinjuku line from Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Shibuya, will take you to the Kita-Kamakura train station. 



For outdoor activities: Tanzawa

Tanzawa’s landscape, in the east part of Kanazawa prefecture, offers to outdoor sports’ enthusiast reasons to be satisfied. In addition to its breathtaking views to enjoy while hiking on the Tonodake and Sannoto summits, it is also possible to camp or to spend the night in mountain cabins. It’s this last option that you will have to choose if you plan on climbing Mount Tanzawa and its 1567 meters.
After the hiking, relax in the hot waters of the Tsurumaki Onsen next to the train station before going back to Tokyo.
To get there, take the Odakyu line to Shibusawa, then the bus n°2 to Okura. 



Mingei craftwork birthplace : Mashiko

A little further away, but the traditional craft enthusiasts shouldn’t miss it: the city of Mashiko. In the South-East part of the Tochigi prefecture, the city is known for being one of the most important pottery center in Japan. At the beginning of the 20th century, the potter Shoji Hamada, founder with Yanagi Soetsu of the Mingey movement of revitalization of Japanese traditional arts, installed his oven, participating to Mashiko’s fame. The Togei Messe Mashiko and the Reference’s museum of Mashiko offer to see very interesting exhibitions, and the city itself is home to 300 ovens. In the Tsukamoto center or the sale center of Mashiko-yaki Kyohan you can observe the fabrication process of pottery.
To get there, take the Tohoku shinkansen from Tokyo train station (45 min, 4 930 yens) to Utsunomiya, than the Toya bus to Mashiko. Taking the JR Tohoku line will cost you 1 940 yen but take twice the time. 

To get to Mashiko


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