Travel to Tokyo without visiting the natural and historical sights in its neighbourhoods would be an unforgivable omission. Best day trips from Tokyo can bring you to the mountains or to the beach, ancient temples, or scenic lakeside walks. Let’s take a look at the best day trips from Tokyo.

Hakone:

The famous among tourists Hakone Park, with its lake Ashi (Ashi-no-ko) and the area around Mount Fuji, is located only 80 km from Tokyo. Today the lake and Mount Fuji on its background is the most recognisable symbol of Hakone.

Cruise “pirate” ships are floating around the lake. They are not just styled as pirate ships. These are copies of real ships: the French Royal Louis, the British Victory, and the Swedish Vasa.

One of Hakone’s main landmarks is an ancient Shinto temple dedicated to Mount Fuji. According to a legend, when the sun goddess Amaterasu disappeared in darkness and eternal night covered the world, she was called by a rooster that flew high on its roost and sang, causing the morning to come. In honor of this event, the gate to the Shinto shrine is called torii, which in Japanese means “the place where the rooster lives”.

We decided to finish our tour of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park with a trip to the pampas grass fields, the Sengokuhara Pampas Plateau. As a big fan of this plant, I couldn’t miss this opportunity 🙂 From the end of September to the end of October, tourists rush here to admire the field of thick pampas grass that waves in the wind. In March, following an ancient ritual, all the grass is burned, so that by autumn it once again plays gold in the sun.

Nikko:

The Japanese say, “Don’t say you’ve seen beauty until you’ve visited Nikko”.

Nikko is listed in the UNESCO Golden Fund as a complex of temples of global historical and cultural significance. However, the area can also amaze you with its beautiful mountain scenery, waterfalls, and lakes.

Nikko (” sunshine” in Japanese) – a small town located 135 km northeast of Tokyo, and at the same time – a famous national natural park, covering a huge area (1402 thousand square kilometres) and featuring unique landscapes and scenery. The main attraction is the Tōshō-gū Shinto shrine – the burial place of the great military leader and statesman Tokugawa Shogun Ieyasu. The shrine impresses with its exquisite openwork carvings and sculpture. Today, 5 kilograms of gold, 3 tons of varnish, and an enormous amount of enamel are spent each year to keep it in proper state.

Next we headed to the famous Lake Chuzenji. The lake, located 1269 meters above sea level, is especially beautiful when the cherry blossoms and red maples are in bloom. Unfortunately, we got here when all the leaves were already gone, so we had to change our route and visit Senjogahara Swamp. This huge swamp, which lies at the foot of Mount Nantai, is full of hiking routes, probably the best in all Nikko National Park. Here you can admire beautiful alpine plants, wild birds, and, of course, stunning landscapes of virgin nature.

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, Nagano:

A visit to Japan for us personally would not be complete without a trip to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. It’s probably the most photogenic and photographed place on earth 🙂 Opened in 1964, the park is considered the world’s largest snow monkey reservation. This species of monkey is on the verge of extinction and is under protection. In the harsh climate, where snow lies up to four months a year, the monkeys bathe in Jigokuya-Onsen thermal springs, taking hot baths.

You can observe the monkeys at arm’s length: the springs are not fenced, and the apes are so well adapted to humans that they are not scared to get close to visitors. However, the Jigokudani administration forbids approaching, feeding, touching, or making eye contact with the animals, as such behaviour is interpreted as hostile in the monkey world.

In future posts, I will share about our trip to Kyoto, its sightseeing and neighbourhood tour. Stay tuned!