Akiba’s Electric Town with its cheap electronic shops, manga & anime stores; Harajuku, the heart of Tokyo’s fashion; the popular shopping and entertainment area of Shibuya with its iconic Scramble Crossing; Roppongi and its never-ending nightlife; the luxurious Ginza area and many more.
I’ve no doubt that all these famous spots will make you fall in love with Japan’s unique capital, especially if you are a big-city person (and if you are a huge fan of manga & anime too!!).
But what about those travelers who are more into nature, outdoor adventures, or who would simply like to take a break from the lights and crowds of the city?
Do not despair!! There’s plenty of day-trip adventures you can take from Tokyo to satisfy your own tastes!
A chill hike through the peaceful woods of Mt. Takatori is the perfect way to escape the chaos of one of the world’s most populous cities.
On your way to the top, you’ll come across Jimmu Temple (after a brief but nice 30-minutes walk).
Jimmu-Ji (Ji stands for “temple” in Japanese) dates back to the VIII century and it belongs to the Chinese Buddhist sect of Tendai. Looking at the old structure of the temple, you can’t help but feel like time has stopped around here. Interestingly, this is believed to be the place where samurai warriors took refuge when fleeing from the siege of Odawara Castle in 1590.
Following up the trail, the path gets just a little bit steeper with several stairs and a small area equipped with chains just in case you need to hold on.
In about another 30 minutes, you reach the top, which features an observatory (from which you can enjoy a 360° view over Sagami Bay and Tokyo Bay), and training cliffs for rock climbing.
This is a very popular spot among rock climbing enthusiasts and what is left of the old mine (several interestingly shaped cliffs) has been equipped for this purpose.
Many people just stop here and then start heading to the train station, missing out on what is actually the best part!
Yes, because if you continue down the path, you will find an 8 meter tall Buddha carved in a monolith stone and surrounded by trees, branches, and moss. This statue, which is only 65 years old, stands in a small clearing and is definitely a gem immersed in nature. This was absolutely the perfect spot to take a nice break and put my photography skills into practice.
Not only did I enjoy the walk there but throughout the whole hiking trail, I found several photogenic spots, so I highly recommend it for all those who love nature photography!
If you keep walking down the many stairs, you eventually end up in Oppama, from where you’ll be ready to head back to what I like to call the Tokyo jungle!
Mt. Nokogiri – Chiba Prefecture
So far my favorite day trip from Tokyo!
Mt. Nokogiri is another popular hiking spot in the Chiba Prefecture. Rather than going directly there by car or train, I highly recommend taking a different route and accessing the area by crossing the bay on board the Tokyo Wan Ferry.
How to get there by ferry:
Head towards Keikyu Kurihama Station in Kanagawa Prefecture (about 53 minutes from Shinagawa Station – Keikyu Line) and, once there, take the Bus No.7 or 8 bound for Tokyo Wan Ferry Terminal (about 10 minutes).
Prices are as follows:
- One-way ticket to Kanaya Harbour: Adults 720 yen/ Children 360 yen
- Round trip ticket to Kanaya Harbour: Adults 1320 yen/ Children 660 yen
The 40-minutes cruise on board of Tokyo Wan Ferry will be a pleasant and relaxing experience to revive your senses. The deck is the best place to enjoy the sunbeams and the swinging waves, as well as to breath the salty air of the ocean and to appreciate the lovely view of the bay.
Once in Kanaya Futtsu, walk towards the Nokogiriyama Ropeway Station (about 10 minutes on foot).
Forget the traffic and crowds of Tokyo, as you will find yourself in a small coastal town (or I should probably say a village), where the only thing you’ll see is almost deserted streets and fishing boats anchored in the waters of a picturesque small port.
The cable car that will bring you to the peak of Mt. Nokogiri runs every 5 minutes and prices are as follows:
- One-way ticket: Adults (over 12 years old) 500 yen/ Children (between 6 and 11) 250 yen
- Round trip ticket: Adults (over 12 years old) 930 yen/ Children (between 6 and 11) 450 yen
Once there, you can start your hiking route!
Just like any other mountain, there are several routes that you can take. Those who prefer long hikes could also avoid taking the cable car and climb directly from the bottom of the mountain following the trail starting near Hama-Kanaya Station.
Here is, however, my recommended route (recommended just because I followed it and enjoyed a lot, though I’m pretty sure there are several other nice alternatives).
Top spots in order:
(Note that all these attractions are part of Nihon-Ji temple, Kanto region’s oldest Buddhist temple, which has been declared an “Important Cultural Property of Japan”. To access its premises, you are required to pay an admission fee of 600 Yen for adults and 400 Yen for children).
Sancho Observatory on top of the cable car station: great view over the ocean and, if you’re lucky enough, you could also spot Mount Fuji’s iconic cone shape popping up over the horizon!
Hyakushaku Kannon: hidden among the trees and moss of the mountain stands this 30-meter tall statue carved in the mountain cliff. The statue depicts the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy and was built in 1963 to pray for the peace of World War II fallen soldiers. Today, worshippers pay a visit to the Goddess to seek protection from traffic accidents and make offerings for safe travels.
Jigoku Nozoki: Looking down the legendary “View of Hell” will make your heart beat faster and faster! If you are afraid of heights like me, stepping on this piece of cliff suspended over the steep gorge will definitely turn into the challenge of the day!
Sengohyaku Rakan: Along the path, you will find these fifteen-hundred statues of arhats, representing Buddhist monks “worthy of respect”.
Ishidaibutsu: The big stone Buddha is undoubtedly the main attraction of the area. Originally constructed in 1783 as a symbol of prayer for the world’s peace and safety, with its 31 m heights, this is the biggest sitting Buddha statue in Japan. The open space in front of the statue is equipped with tables and benches, making it the perfect spot for a break or a picnic.
On the left side of the big Buddha, there is also a smaller statue of Jizo, surrounded by thousands of cute little white “Onegai Jizo” figures (wish-granting Jizo). Jizo are believed to be the guardians of children (especially those who died prematurely). Visitors to the temple buy them to make a wish and then place them around the main Jizo statue. Of course, when visiting I couldn’t help but do the same!!
After taking the time to enjoy the hike, you are now ready to head back to Tokyo. You can either go back by train from Hana-Kamaya station or opt for the ferry once again. As you can imagine, I would recommend the second option, as you can find pleasure in the nice ferry ride once more, before finally being back to the busy city life.