Japanese cities are vibrant, busy, and full of energy, but that can be exhausting! There are actually a lot of great day trips to give your senses a break.
While most suburbs of Tokyo seem more like cities, you can still get a more relaxed atmosphere and a bit of nature if you choose wisely. Just 15 minutes from Shibuya is Kichijoji, a suburban center with a relaxed atmosphere, and home to the beautiful Inokashira Park. In fact, you can find many large parks and temple areas not too far away from the throbbing masses, perfect for a picnic or just relaxation.
Parks in the City
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji is a great option, but even more centrally located parks can give you a different perspective on the city even if you aren’t really getting out. Our favorites are:
・Shinjuku Gyoen, a former imperial residence
・Yoyogi Park, right by Harajuku
・Hamarikyu Gardens, on Tokyo Bay and featuring a nice teahouse
・Ueno Park, which also has a lot of museums
・Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, right next to Tokyo Dome, but stunning
Tokyo seems big, but it’s more dense than anything. Travel even 30 minutes outward on a train and suddenly you’re in a different world. There are some great hiking spots easily accessible from most big cities, such as Mt. Takao, but many other options are there for you such as Nikko or Chichibu. No need to stay the night, just get an early train and head out for the day for a taste of the countryside. Just be prepared to come back late!
From any major city there are always more day trips available than you have time for. While there are a lot of options to be had, here are a few of our favorites, all around 60~90 minutes from the city:
・From Tokyo: Kamakura, the former capital city that’s still home to ancient temples and culture. In the summer there are also great beaches nearby.
・From Nagoya: Ise, home of the Ise Grand Shrine, which has a history going back nearly 2,000 years.
・From Osaka: Kyoto can be a day trip if you don’t have much time, but Nara is also a great option, and preserves a great deal of “old Japan”.
If you have more time, there’s a lot more that you can do getting out of the city. In fact, much more than we can go into here, so if you’re flexible you can make your way several hours outside of any city and still travel light. The key to making the most of your time is to get on early trains and rest once you’re on-board.