Living in Tokyo is an amazing luck, and it makes you feel at the center of the world, with everything you may wish and desire easily at hand. However, sometimes you might feel overwhelmed by the vastness of the metropolis, and you may want to get away for a while. So, here I am, to suggest you some very practical, enjoyable experience just outside Tokyo.
3+ Day-trips from Tokyo
At just one-hour-train trip from Tokyo (there are in fact three railway stations, Katase-Enoshima Terminus on the Odakyū Enoshima Line, Enoshima Station on the Enoshima Electric Railway, and Shōnan-Enoshima Station on the Shonan Monorail), you can discover the beautiful island of Enoshima, in the Sagami Bay (Kanagawa Prefecture). The island is consecrated to goddess of music Benzaiten who, according to the legend, had it surface from the bottom of the sea. The island retains much of its traditional charm, with old-style houses and alleys, shrines at the top of long stone-stairways, and the breathtaking bridge from which you can see the world stops while you stares directly at the Fujisan.
Again, in Kanagawa Prefecture, close to Enoshima, lies one of the most popular historical towns in the whole Japan. Kamakura, seat of the Bakufu between 1185 and 1333, holds traces of its important past in the huge amount of shrines and temples of different buddhist sects. You can easily walk through come of the most important of them (such as the Hokoku-ji, the Engaku-ji or the Tokei-ji), and you can rely on the bus to visit other interesting places such as the Hase-dera, the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu, and of course the Great Buddha. You may also attach the visit to Kamakura on your way back from Enoshima.
There are plenty of information out there about Kamakura shrines and temples, but I can suggest you to take a look here and here, with specific indications for every location and a detailed explanation of each temple.
Nikko is a jewel. Yes, it’s true, it is a little farther from Tokyo, about a two-hours bus ride. But I promise it’s worth it, completely. While you might stop to gaze at the Kegon Falls on you way to the town, it’s hard to describe exactly what will appear under your eyes when you enter the Tōshō-gū, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu and initially built in 1617, the place is filled with colors, gold, red, yellow, green, in a jubilation of animal carving coming to life under your eyes. Here you will meet the Nemuri-neko, the small sleeping cat carved over a passage in a hall, the Three Wise Monkeys teaching you not to speak, not to listen and not to watch evil, amazing white cranes flying of the shrines walls and dozens of dragon watching over you. A secret world populated by magical creatures in the middle of the forest.
As a bonus, I would also encourage you to visit two places where I couldn’t actually go (time seems to be never enough), but that I promised myself I would have visited.
As its official website reminds us, “he first harbor city introduced to the world as the entrance to Japan”. Mainly popular (among foreigners, at least) for its impressive China Town, it’s a city full of entertainment, onsen and night life. Aside from the Sankeien Garden and the Sojiji Temple, you must include the a visit to the Yokohama Not Teather, the Cup Nuddles Museum and the Yokohama Marine Tower.
For a full list of attractions and itineraries I would recommend you visit the official website here.
Have a look at my Vlog in Yokohama, to see what the city look like in real life!
I am truly ashamed to confess I haven’t visited Hakone (yet). It is the dream location for lovers of nature, history, relax and onsen, and it offers you one of the most beautiful views on the Mount Fuji. Despite the fact that is a relatively small place, you have a huge choice of activity to spend the time, from the Hot Spring (you can learn more here), to the amazing lake Ashinoko, from the Odawara castle to the Hakone Art Museum and the Pampas Grass Field. And of course you are on your way to the incredible Fujisan.
I encourage you to find out more here, and to let me know what you experienced and what you suggest!