Sightseeing in Tokyo is great, but surely there are a lot of people out there who would like to get out of the crowded metropolis to relax amidst nature once in a while. In this article we present you with 5 recommended sightseeing spots full of greenery that you can visit on a day trip from Tokyo.
1. The Hakone Open-Air Museum (Kanagawa)
Hakone is not only one of Japan's most prominent hot spring resorts, but it is also home to many attractive art museums, which makes it very well known as a city of art as well. The exhibitions feature a wide array of genres, including Japanese art, Western art, sculptures, and even glass works. Among these, we especially recommend the Hakone Open-Air Museum, which is famous for being the first open air art museum of Japan. The museum exhibits a permanent collection of about 120 works by representative contemporary sculptors scattered all over the 70,000 square meter richly green gardens of the museum, which offer a view of the mountains of Hakone. The sight of the sculptures amidst the nature of Hakone, which offers beautiful scenery all throughout the year, is really impressive. Strolling about the garden while looking for the artworks is a lot of fun too! In addition, the grounds of the museum are home to a Picasso Building featuring about 300 works by Picasso, 5 indoor exhibitions, and a natural foot bath using hot spring water, so both grownups and children can enjoy a fun day here. The museum can be accessed by a 90 minute train ride from Tokyo - make sure to visit it!
2. Sawara (Chiba)
Sawara and the area around it developed as a stop on the Tone River's transportation route. It developed into a flourishing commercial city on the banks of the Ono River in the Edo Period (1603-1868) to the point that it was said "if you want to see Edo, then come to Sawara, as Sawara Honmachi is as great as Edo." Its townscape, including shops made with mud walls and Japanese-old style townhouses with vertical timber bars on the facade that remind one of the past prosperity of the city, was designated in 1996 as an important preservation district of historic buildings, a first in the Kanto area. Sawara was also home to Tadataka Ino, a merchant who produced the first map of Japan based on an actual survey, and his old residence, along with a commemorative building, can still be found here. This is a great place to stroll about leisurely while enjoying the view of the town, but we also recommend trying and getting on the Edo-style tourist boats that sail along Ono River. Sawara is located just a 90 minute highway express bus ride away from Tokyo, but here you will surely feel as if you had slipped back to the Edo Period.
3. Shosenkyo Gorge (Yamanashi)
Mitake Shosenkyo Gorge, which is registered as a special place of scenic beauty in Japan, is a gorge located upstream of Ara River in Yamanashi. The granite, cliffs, rare stones, and strangely shaped rocks, all of which have been polished to their current form by the passage of time, show a different appearance depending on the changes in the surrounding nature. The gorge is rather short, running for about 5km from the Nagatoro Bridge to the Sengataki Falls, but it offers many sights worthy of note, such as Kakuenpo, a giant rock from which water falls almost perpendicularly from a height of 180m, Ishimon, a giant granite rock naturally shaped into an arch, and the Sengataki Falls, which have been selected as one of the 100 most beautiful falls in Japan. Breathing some fresh air amidst the rich greenery of this valley will surely refresh both your body and heart.
4. Hitachi Seaside Park (Ibaraki)
The Hitachi Seaside Park is a government-managed park located in Hitachinaka-shi, Ibaraki. The total area of the land amounts to 350ha, 200 of which are used specifically for the park. The park features 7 different areas that include the West Entrance area with flower fields and a water stage, the Pleasure Garden area that's set up like an amusement park, and the Miharashi no Oka with a view of the Pacific Ocean. All areas offer the beauty of nature for visitors to enjoy throughout the four seasons. Among these, the Miharashi no Oka area is especially noteworthy, and its best season is between late April and mid-May, when 4,500,000 nemophila flowers bloom and cover the whole surface of the fields in blue. The Miharashi no Oka is the highest place in Hitachinaka-shi, which means that from the top, of the hill you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and three different shades of blue: the sky, the ocean, and the flowers on the ground. Wouldn't you just love to surround yourself with all these natural blues to forget about the daily hustle?
5. Sarushima (Kanagawa)
Sarushima is the only desert island afloat in Tokyo Bay, and it is the largest natural island in the area. It can be accessed by train and boat from Tokyo in a little less than 2 hours, and it offers a wide array of leisure activities that include barbecuing, fishing, and ocean swimming, which makes it a very popular sightseeing spot. In addition, it played a key role as a fortress island in protecting Tokyo between the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate and the end of the Pacific War. The ruins of the fortress built during the Meiji Era still stand on the island, and have been designated as a historic site. The island is also equipped with a promenade, so visitors can tour the ruins. The thick vegetation growing wild all over the island, along with the ruins covered in moss as if they had been left behind by time, have a whimsical feeling to them that will surely make you feel as if you had come to a different world.
Did you enjoy the article? There are many cities with attractive places to visit in the area surrounding Tokyo. If you get tired of the crowds in the metropolis, we recommend getting on a train and going on a small excursion! A day amidst the rich nature will undoubtedly help both your body and mind refresh!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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