Japan

Where to go within 2 hours from Tokyo

By , May 16, 2017

Off the beaten path is increasingly becoming the preferred way (rather “non” way) to travel. Venture off the beaten path while still maintaining your inborn love for city breaks by travelling to Japan’s capital and then picking a couple of nearby destinations within 2 hours from Tokyo via the incredible Japan Rail!

1. Explore the charming bayside of Yokohama

Time from Tokyo: 15 minutes by train

Yokohama waterfront is full of things to do, from strolling along the 750 metre-long Yamashita Park, to shopping at the brand name Outlet Park right by the bayside marina. Japanese-beer lovers, Kirin beer is from Yokohama! Squeeze in a tour of the Kirin Beer factory while you’re here.

What to do:

Rent a kimono and become a time-traveller by wandering the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse (think Hamburg’s Speicherstadt). Then, make your own souvenir at the Cup Noodles Museum to create your own custom made cup noodles!

Where to stay:

Hotel New Grand 

We can’t get enough of the bayside location and the fact Charlie Chaplin and Babe Ruth were guests way back in the day!

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2. Indulge your inner child at Tokyo Disneyland

Time from Tokyo: 15 minutes by train

The first international Disney park outside of the United States, Tokyo Disneyland isn’t just a monumental part of Disney’s history but Tokyo’s. A favourite weekend-getaway for hardworking Japanese, a visit to this theme park is a genuinely authentic experience.

What to do:

Wander the beautifully landscaped gardens of the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, based off of the Queen of Hearts’ garden and, like Alice, follow a rabbit off the beaten path. The magical thing about Tokyo Disneyland is that park-goers create their own imaginative journey through the land of make believe which is pretty off the beaten path if we do say so ourselves.

Where to stay:

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel

The hotel: Take that imaginary world home with you by staying in a character room, such as the Tinker Bell room pictured below, at Tokyo Disneyland’s flagship hotel.

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3. Time-travel to Edo-period Japan in Kawagoe

Time from Tokyo: 30 minutes by train

One of many Edo-period towns around Tokyo, Kawagoe is where day-trippers ought to go to experience the rich cultural heritage of Japanese. There are many well-kept historic buildings including an old bell tower and traditional warehouses.

What to do:

The stretch of warehouses on Kurazukuri Street, dating back from the Edo-period, are now shops and restaurants. Wander along this path and you’ll feel like you’re in 19th century Japan! Another great detour is the small backstreet alley “Confectionery Row” where, as its name implies, old-fashioned sweets and snacks are sold, as they have been since the 1920s.

Where to stay:

Wakatake Ryokan

The Wakatake Ryokan is our hotel pick as it’s a 15-minute walk to the warehouse district (Kurazukuri Street) and right by the Kawagoe-shi Station – the Tobu-Tojo Line goes direct from Tokyo (30 minutes by express trains).

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4. Be like healthy-Japanese by hiking in Hakone

Time from Tokyo: 30 minutes from by train

What better day trip from the urban jungle than one spent in nature? And, there are quite a few spots for nice hikes around Tokyo. Our favourite is the  trail from Owakudani Valley to Lake Ashinoko.

What to do:

Wander on and off the Old Tokaido Road – the first well policed Edo-era road linking Tokyo with Kyoto, and experience the top notch hiking trails the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park have to offer, the best of which is the hike from Owakudani to Lake Ashinoko.

Where to stay:

Hakone Hotel Kowakien TEN-YU

In the centre of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is the hot springs spa resort and water park, Hakone Kowakien TEN-YU, which comes complete with four open-air baths. It’s about a 10 minute drive or 30 minutes by the Hakone Tozan Bus from the hotel to Owakundani.

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6. Admire Mt. Fuji at Lake Kawaguchi

Time from Tokyo: 70 minutes by train

Also within Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Lake Kawaguchi is the most famous of the Fuji Five Lakes. There are lots of cultural events around the lake – be sure to check what’s on when you plan to travel.

What to do:

One of the Fuji Five Lakes, easily accessible from Tokyo by rail. Where to go in Kawaguchi? Park yourself anywhere on the shore of Lake Kawaguchi and spend all daylight hours admiring Mt. Fuji.

Where to stay:

Fuji-View Hotel 

With 25 acres of garden each of the members of your family will find their own off the beaten path! John Lennon, Yoko and their kids stayed here!

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7. Visit the many shrines and temples of Kamakura

Time from Tokyo: 60 minutes by train

With a nickname “the Kyoto of Eastern Japan”, you know there’s a lot of culture to be found in Kamakura.

What to do:

Japan’s ancient capital, the seaside town is renowned for its resorts and historical shrines. Go off the beaten path on a hike of East Kamakura, discovering many temples along the way.

Where to stay:

Prince Kamakura Hotel

When standing on the hilly coastline of Kamakura, looking out into the deep blue pacific, we can see why Murakami’s character Kafka was drawn to the shore. All views from the bayside Prince Kamakura Hotel have guaranteed poetic views of the ocean and Mt. Fuji.

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8. Stay in the Japanese countryside in Karuizawa

Time from Tokyo: 65-80 minutes by train

A popular summer resort since the 19th century, there’s lots to enjoy in the outdoors. Rent bikes, go hiking, and simply take in all that nature has to offer – you wanted some downtime from the big city after all.

What to do:

Surrounded by forests and waterfalls, Karuizawa invites visitors to go off the beaten path and explore on either bike or foot. If journeying here in winter, you can carve out your own unique path on the ski slopes.

Where to stay:

Karuizawa Prince Hotel

The highlight about the Karuizawa Prince Hotel is that accommodations include fully furbished cottages! Now we can’t think of staying in anything but a cottage in this foresty area!

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