17 Jul 2019 in Just Relax
Looking for a day-trip to take a dip or a hike? Discover the top spots near the capital.
Tokyo is a thrilling place in the summer. On top of its regular range of world-class attractions, it offers up an extra dose of estival excitement in the form of spectacular festivals, firework extravaganzas and lively beer gardens.
But the city can get hot and sticky in summer – and, after all that urban buzz, you may fancy a change of pace and scenery. So why not head out of town to catch some sea breeze or mountain air? Thanks to excellent transport links, the possibilities for day-trips are almost endless.
If you’re staying at HOSHINOYA Tokyo, the main train station is just a 10-minute walk away. And, after your day out, you’ll be able to luxuriate in the open-air hot spring baths on the ryokan’s top floor.
Alternatively, book yourself into Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka to discover Tokyo from a local’s perspective.
Beaches and bathing
There are several beaches within easy reach of the capital. Around an hour by train to the south-west, the Shonan area is a long stretch of coastline that follows Sagami bay. It’s known for its milder climate, long volcanic beaches and as a hotspot for Tokyoite surfers. And on a clear day, you’ll have magisterial views of Mt. Fuji.
Among the most popular beaches is Zushi, a 60-minute trip on the Yokosuka line. Because it’s easy to get to, the beach quickly gets crowded on hot days. The swell also means it’s a popular destination for surfers, windsurfers and paddle boarders.
Another crowd-pleaser is the island of Enoshima (1hr 15 by train), connected to the mainland by a bridge. On top of its sandy beaches, it’s home to a famous shrine, an aquarium and the Iwaya Caves, an underground network formed by oceanic erosion.
Fancy getting away from the crowds? Head to Hayama, a quiet coastal stretch that requires an additional 20-minute bus ride from Zushi. Hayama-Isshiki is a kilometre-long sandy beach surrounded by rolling green hills. The water is clear, the atmosphere laid-back and the sunsets are stunning.
A little further south, Morito beach is overlooked by a torii gate perched on rocks in the sea. The shallow water makes it kid-friendly and a good place for snorkelling.
Nature in Greater Tokyo
Even in the world’s most populous city, verdant surroundings may be closer than you think. Within the Tokyo Metropolis, there are several easy day-trips to immerse yourself in nature.
The Todoroki ravine is just 20 minutes by train from central Tokyo but a world apart in atmosphere. From the station of Todoroki, you’ll walk through a residential neighbourhood, before descending into a valley of greenery.
A short path follows the Yazawa River over boardwalks and stepping stones, past a waterfall and a temple. There’s even a teahouse where you can try the local speciality, sticky kuzumochi cakes.
Further away – but still within Tokyo’s western boundary – lies Okutama. Around 2 hours by train, this is a region of limestone mountains, verdant forests, lakes and rivers, all set within the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.
Keen hikers can set off to conquer Mt. Kumotori, Tokyo’s highest at 2017m, and be rewarded by first-rate views of Mt. Fuji. Casual walkers can follow paths through the Hatonosu Keikoku valley, taking in suspension bridges and waterfalls.
The area’s limestone rocks offer excellent canyoning, while the Nippara Limestone Cave plunges you underground to admire stalagmites half-a-mile deep into the mountainside. Okutama is also well-known for its wasabi production.
Keep your eyes peeled and you may spot wild wasabi in the forests.
A shinkansen ride away
Hop on Japan’s famed bullet train, and a world of day-trips open up to you. Just over an hour away, Karuizawa is a hot spring mountain resort set at 1000m in the foothills of the Japanese Alps. The climate is much cooler than Tokyo, and it’s a great introduction to the mountains.
How about a leisurely hike past the celebrated waterfalls of Shiraito and Ryugaeshi? Or a guided wildlife tour?
To make the most of this beautiful region, stay the night at HOSHINOYA Kariuzawa.
Another prime shinkansen outing is the 2-hour trip to Nikko, set in a National Park with easy access to Lake Chuzenji, the Kegon Falls and the exuberant Toshogu Shrine temple complex.
And if you’re not ready to head back to Tokyo straight away, why not make a weekend of it? Lakeside Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko is the perfect spot to prolong your time in the mountain air.