Many international visitors who visit Japan for the first time tend to stay in Tokyo. Tokyo is indeed exciting and fascinating, but there are other great areas surrounding Tokyo that you can venture out to for a day to get a better feeling for what Japan is all about. In this cumulative article, I introduce 4 locations in Kanagawa, the prefecture next to Tokyo, which are close enough to plan a day trip to. Get out of busy Tokyo for a day to experience a different side of Japan. These locations are Yokohama, Enoshima, Kamakura, and Hakone.
No.1 Venture to Kamakura where traditional Japan is found
Take a 50 minute or so train ride from Tokyo, and you’ll find yourself in a city where Japanese traditional culture still impacts the daily life of everyday Japanese people. The city is called Kamakura, which is located along the coast South of Tokyo, facing Sagami Bay. Kamakura is known for its historical importance from the Kamakura period (1185–1333). Because of its historical importance, the city has many incredibly beautiful temples and shrines that have been essential for the lives of people since the Kamakura period. Such significant and popular shrines and temples are Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Hasedera Temple, and Kenchou-ji Temple to just name a few. This is also the city where you can see the Buddha outside at Kotoku-in Temple.
If you are seeking an adventure out of Tokyo to a historical city, this is where you’ll want to venture out for a day. The city is flat so it is easy to walk around visiting various temples and shrines.
No.2 Enjoy a day at the beach in Enoshima
For those who enjoy the beach, you’d like to take a day trip out to Enoshima. It is not like the beautiful beaches of Izu or Okinawa, but Enoshima is a popular destination for many Japanese who enjoy marine activities such as surfing, windsurfing, and just simply a day laying and chilling on the beach. Of course, if you do not surf, the beach is still too cold for casual swimmers at this moment, but all year long, you’ll see a lot of surfers catching waves at this location. For casual swimmers, the ocean opens up to public for swimming in July so if you are feeling hot one day on your vacation in Tokyo, this is where you can aim to have your beach day. Enoshima is also very close to Kamakura so you can enjoy a relaxing beach day in Enoshima and get a little bit of historical experience in Kamakura all in one day. In addition, there is the New Enoshima Aquarium where you get to see beautiful marine creatures of Sagami Bay as well as other cute marine animals.
No.3 Savor Japanese goodies in the port city of Yokohama
If you only have a little time, but want to see more than Tokyo on your trip in Japan, Yokohama is a great location to visit. It is a historical port city where many goods and people have traveled in and out of the port for over 150 years. Because of this, it is a pretty international city where many businesses and establishments attract not only Japanese people, but also international people. It is only 30 minutes away from Tokyo on train and many Japanese people who live in the surrounding area enjoy driving to Yokohama because of the scenic roads passing the Yokohama Bay Bridge and into the famous night city lights. If you are looking for a romantic night out of Tokyo with your partner, you should consider taking your partner here.
Because of its international environment, Japan’s biggest Chinatown is located in Yokohama and also an international beer fest, the biggest Oktoberfest in Japan takes place at the famous Red Brick Warehouse in October. Food is also crucial, so when you visit Yokohama be sure to check out two ramen related museums, Ramen Museum and Cup Noodles Museum, which both are in this area.
No.4 Refresh in the rich nature of Hakone
If you have a whole day or even two days, you may like to go little further away from Tokyo to Hakone. It takes about 2 hours or more to travel from Tokyo by train, so Hakone is recommended for those who have a little extra time. The most famous thing about Hakone is the rich nature and hot springs. Many people may be aware of the volcanic activity that worried many Japanese and international visitors back in early 2015, but now the volcanic activity has settled, thus it is safe to travel to this area again.
Even if you only have a day in Hakone, you get to experience one day of hot spring options at some hotels and ryokans (Japanese-style accommodations). Such places like Hakone Kowakien Yunessun is a great place to visit for a day, for those who are brand new to Japanese hot spring culture. This is where you can wear your swimsuit and enjoy hot springs with your friends and family at this hot spring theme park. Of course, there are more than hot springs. An open-air museum, Hakone Open-Air Museum, is a great place to visit if you enjoy arts and being outdoors. There are also other museums in the area, so there is a lot to do in Hakone if you are into nature and arts.
A day trip from Tokyo to Kanagawa
When you are new to Japan, it is a safe bet that you are traveling to Tokyo and maybe to Kyoto. However, you do not need to travel as far as to Kyoto to see a glimpse of historical Japan. You can go to Kamakura and see many historical temples and shrines and even experience being on a rickshaw. If your interests are more of a marine lifestyle, check out Enoshima, which happens to be right next to Kamakura. If you are a foodie, going to Yokohama provides many options and those options include more than Japanese food. If you happen to have little extra time, take two days of your vacation time to plan a quick hot springs getaway in Hakone, where your vacation can be both relaxing and refreshing in the rich mountainous nature of Hakone.
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