What to See Around Tokyo

What to See Around Tokyo

Japan’s capital is a mainstay on travel bucket lists (and for good reason). From multi-storey manga stores and weird-but-wonderful themed cafes to stunning shrines and sprawling markets, the city can quickly become a sensory overload. If you’re needing a break from the bustle, you don’t have to travel far for a change in scenery. The surrounding area of the city is well worth an explore, with nature havens, beaches and – of course – epic views of Mount Fuji. Here’s what to see around Tokyo




Hakone is where culture and nature meet. It also happens to be the perfect spot to rest weary feet and recoup after a busy couple of days exploring the city. Just 90 minutes from Tokyo by train, the mountainous town is known for its stunning scenery and soothing onsens (hot springs). Take a day trip to dip to the Yumoto hot springs and the town’s numerous art galleries. Once you’ve recouped, it’s time to bask in the surrounding nature. Head to Sounzan Station and take the Hakone Ropeway up to Lake Ashinoko. Stop at Owakundai (also known as Hell Valley) on the way up; this volcanic crater is lunar-esque and brilliant to explore for as long as you can stand the sulphur smell. Once you reach Lake Ashinoko, look out across the water for a stunning view of Mount Fuji. Want to get out on the water? You can on the lake’s very own pirate ship. 



Kurkku Fields

Swap shops and busy streets for serene scenery and fresh air at Kurkku Fields. The 74-acre space was set up as a way to reconnect Tokyoites with nature. You can take a day trip or enjoy a rustic farm stay in one of the lodges. Don’t be fooled, you might be in nature but there’s plenty to keep you busy. Brush up on your sustainable living skills and learn about the day-to-day running of the farm. Then, wander the grounds to see the playful art installations or get lost in Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room. The food over at Kurkku Fields Dining delivers hearty and rustic meals with a farm-to-table approach. Make your own pizza from scratch in the workshop or split a charcuterie board (you can purchase the fresh cheese and meats from the farm at the store, too). Don’t leave without trying the chiffon cake, made using eggs from the farm’s hens; it’s oh-so fluffy and just sweet enough to leave you craving another bite.  




Delve into the Edo period in Kawagoe. In the Saitama prefecture, the small town is just a 30-minute train ride from Tokyo, so it makes a great day trip if you have time to spare in the capital. The well-preserved streets give you a taste of Japan’s rich Edo period (there’s a reason Kawagoe is nicknamed Little Edo) and you can admire traditional buildings (now all shops, restaurants and cafes) on Kurazukuri Street. Walk down to the Toki no Kane bell tower, a 50ft structure in the centre. If you want to hear it chime, make sure to time your walk to arrive at 6am, 12pm, 3pm or 6pm. Bell tower ticked off your list, stop by the Hikawa Shrine where you can get a wish granted and, during the spring, see cherry blossoms blooming in the grounds. 




Get a taste for island life at Enoshima. This island just off the Shonan coast is well worth a visit if you’re wondering what to see around Tokyo for a relaxing break. Towards the southern coast of the island, you’ll find the Iwaya Caves. Head here for spectacular sunset views or to watch the locals fishing in the surrounding reefs. Back on the mainland, catch a picture-worthy view of the island from Katase Higashihama Beach (you can spot Mount Fuji and the Hakone mountains here, too). If those views don’t impress you, go one step further and drop by the Enoshima Sea Candle. From the observation deck of this towering lighthouse, you can get a birds-eye view of the coastline – and that all-important shot of Mount Fuji.



For hiking, head to Nikko in the Tochigi prefecture. The Nikko National Park is home to walking trails to suit all levels as well as plenty of hot springs and public baths to soak in once you’re done. The autumn is the best time to visit to see the luscious green forest turn an unreal shade of red. While in Nikko, take the opportunity to drop by the UNESCO-listed Toshogu Shrine to see the famous three wise monkeys of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil’ fame.  


Lake Kawaguchiko

One of the Fuji Five Lakes (the regions at the base of Mount Fuji) Lake Kawaguchiko delivers some of the most impressive views of the mountain. For the perfect shot, head to the north-eastern shore of the lake, next to the Music Forest – and aim for a visit in April to spot the cherry blossoms, too. Besides getting the once-in-a-lifetime Fuji pic, there’s not a huge amount to do here. Adrenaline lovers will jump at the chance to visit Fuji-Q Highland Theme Park though be warned – its roller coasters have made the Guinness Book of World Records (multiple times over) for a reason… 



Calling all foodies – if you want to know what to see around Tokyo that’ll satisfy your stomach, Kamakura has to be on your list. Yes, the town has plenty of shrines and temples – it’s not known as the Kyoto of Eastern Japan for nothing – but the street food should be your main reason for visiting. Tick off your temples list at Hokokuji, where you can walk through the bamboo grove, then get your shot by the huge bronze Buddha statue before digging in. Kamakura is known for its fresh seafood, so the deep-fried fish cake is a must-try. If you want an on-the-go snack, grab a sushi cup. As the name suggests, this dish is literally deconstructed sushi in a cup. And because Japan is kawaī crazed (that’s cute in Japanese), dessert has to be a buddha cake – fluffy pancakes in the shape of buddhas.




If you want to know what to see around Tokyo that catches the capital’s vibe without the frantic energy, head to Yokohama. The second-biggest city in Japan, it’s slightly more laidback than Tokyo. Stake out the many art galleries, dine on authentic cuisine in the mega-maze of Chinatown and catch the glimmering lights of the Minato Mirai waterfront by night. Ramen fans won’t want to leave without stopping by the two (yes, two) museums in honour of the noodle dish. Cup Noodle Museum and Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum are well worth a visit if you want to learn about the history of the meals and sample ramen from each region of Japan. 

Header Image: Nuria Val/Coke Bartrina