Beyond the city skyline awaits a world of adventure within Tokyo Prefecture. Stunning natural scenery and charming local communities full of fascinating traditional culture and much more value to Tokyo as a tourist destination than many visitors realize. Because all these spots are within Tokyo, accessing these areas beyond the skyline is convenient.
Explore Mount Takao in the Tokyo Suburbs
Mount Takao in Western Tokyo is known as a mountain that everyone can climb. Its 3 casual main hiking courses and scenic cable car and chair lift ensure that anyone can reach the top and take in the majestic views offered at the peak. Though it is an easy hike, Mount Takao reaches up to about 600 meters above the Tokyo suburbs. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance.
More than just a scenic destination, there are also many delicious Japanese dishes and snacks to try, like tororo soba buckwheat noodles, tengu yaki, mitsufuku dango, and much more. After hiking around Mount Takao and enjoying other outdoor activities around the area, you are sure to work up an appetite!
How to Get to Mount Takao
Getting to Mount Takao from the heart of Tokyo is simple. Starting from Shinjuku Station, you can use the Chuo Line to reach Takao Station. Then to reach the foot of the mountain, transfer to the Keio Line and get off at Takaosanguchi Station. The station at the foot of Mount Takao is beautiful and is connected to a relaxing Japanese hot spring.
Hino City: History and Culture in the Tokyo Suburbs
In the outskirts of Tokyo, you can find historical structures and traditional culture. Takahata Fudoson Kongoji Temple is one example of the exciting destinations outside of the heart of Tokyo. Around the temple are beautiful hydrangeas in early summer which invite festivalgoers and worshippers from around the area. Takahata Fudoson Kongoji Temple has the distinction of being the oldest cultural property structure in Tokyo. Together with the Niomon Gate and the Kongo Rikishi statues, they have been designated as Important Cultural Properties.
Hino City is also home to Hirayama Castle Site Park in the northern Tama Hills. This park has an interesting history related to a general named Hirayama Sueshige who was a member of a samurai clan that ruled Musashi Province. Within the park, there is also a shrine dedicated to Sueshige. This park can be reach from Hirayama Joshin Koen, which is a station on the Keio Line.
Rediscover Tokyo’s Wonderful Nature in Okutama
Okutama ranks as one of the best places to escape from the busy city while still staying within Tokyo’s boundaries. Those living in the city use Oktama as a place to recharge and feel at one with nature again while enjoying exciting outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, fishing, rafting, kayaking, bouldering, and ziplining. For relaxation, the natural Moegi no Yu hot spring offers soothing waters among the peaceful scenery around Tamagawa River.
With mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and colorful forests, Okutama certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to beautiful landscape panoramas. The Okutama area can be accessed from Shinjuku on the Chuo Line. Easy access and a variety of activities and scenic points make Okutama an ideal day trip from Tokyo for the family.
Elevate Your Tokyo Adventure at Mount Mitake
Though Mount Mitake, reaching up to nearly 930 meters, may be less accessible than Mount Takao, the gorgeous view from just about any point along the hike is amazing. Along with way, you’ll encounter lush forests, mossy rock formations, Ayahiro Falls, and the Nagaodairo Observatory. Of course, you also can’t miss the ancient Musashi Mitake Shrine at the peak of Mount Mitake.
Splash Down the Tamagawa River
A section of the Tamagawa River in Okutama has ideal conditions for a rafting adventure than even casual outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy. There are rafting companies that carry visitors on a thrilling ride down the river. It is an exceptionally fun way to beat the heat in Tokyo during the hot summer months, and the memories made are priceless!
Lake Okutama and the Ogouchi Dam
Lake Okutama is a man-made lake that was formed after the Ogouchi Dam was built on the Tamagawa River. Not only is the Ogouchi Reservoir the largest in Japan, the surrounding mountains and forests make it one of the most beautiful. You can take a scenic walk across the lake on a floating bridge to get a good look at the surprisingly beautiful nature of Tokyo. Lake Okutama is an especially popular scenic destination in autumn for the fall foliage reflecting on the still waters of the lake
Explore the Tokyo Suburbs In-Depth inside a Limestone Cave
Did you ever imagine that you can explore an exciting cave in Tokyo? In fact, there is an 800-meter-deep system of caves in Okutama. If you happen to be visiting Tokyo in the summer, the Nippara Limestone Caves provide plenty of fun as well as some relief from the heat. You may even want to bring along a light jacket!
The paths inside the Nippara Limestone Caves are well-lit and the interesting formations are beautifully illuminated with colorful lights. To get to the limestone caves in Okutama, take a bus which leaves about every hour from Okutama Station.
Relaxing Tokyo Outskirts: Higashi-Yamato and Higashi-Murayama City
Higashi Yamato City on the outskirts of Tokyo is home to Lake Tama, another man-made lake in the suburbs. Maruyama Reservoir, as it is officially known, also has some nearby attractions besides its natural beauty. The Seibu amusement park, for example is located near Lake Tama. The sophisticated architecture of Lake Tama’s intake towers are also photo worthy.
Sayama Park, part of Higashi-Murayama City connects directly to Lake Tama and provides a place to relax among the peaceful scenery of Tokyo. The rolling landscape transforms with the seasons, with a total of 1,318 blooming cherry blossoms in spring and autumn leaves in the fall.
Go Island Hopping in Tokyo
You may be surprised to know that Tokyo is also home to some sunny islands that make fun destinations for a summer holiday near the big city. Most of these lovely islands that make up the Izu Islands can be reached within a couple of hours from Tokyo, so be sure to give them a visit if you are in the mood for a beach holiday around Tokyo! The nine islands in Tokyo that make up the Izu Islands are Oshima, Toshima, Niijima, Shikinejima, Kozushima, Miyakejima, Mikurashima, Hachijojima, and Aogashima.
Oshima Island is the closest and largest of the 9 Izu Islands in Tokyo. At the heart of this island getaway is an active volcano called Mount Mihara that reaches 758 meters above the water which helped form volcanic cliffs and inspired the founding of the Izu Oshima Museum of Volcanoes. Since the island is thermally active, there are hot springs great for relaxation. The surrounding waters are also popular for snorkeling and other summer beach activities. Earlier in the year, the island shows off its delicate camellia flowers which bloom around the island from January through March.
Niijima Island is a well-preserved island near Tokyo that surfers and beachgoers refer to as their paradise, especially Habushiura Beach on the east coast of the island. Takeshiba Pier in Tokyo’s Minato Ward has an Express Jetboat that can carry passengers to the scenic getaway in the Izu Islands in less than 3 hours. Of course, Niijima Island is also volcanically activie, making it an ideal environment for natural hot springs and unique rock formations.
Hachijojima Island is located just 287 kilometers from Tokyo and offers a variety of hot spring resorts and outdoor activities among some of the most stunning views found within Tokyo. People compare the Hachijojima Island experience to a more affordable trip to Okinawa or Hawaii. One of the most notable landmarks is the gorgeous Mount Hachijo-Fuji, the tallest point in the Izu Islands, which offers unbelievable views from the grassy peak of the lush island landscape, volcanic rock formations, and crystal-clear ocean.
Despite its smaller size, Shikinejima Island packs plenty of scenic points and activities on its little spot in the sea near Tokyo. Shikinejima Island is especially popular with divers thanks to the beautiful emerald, green water and rock coasts that fish love to call home. Tomari Beach is one of the most popular destinations on the island for its appealing shape, rock formations, and refreshing waters.
Another unique draw of Sikinejima Island is the visually striking Jinata Onsen, containing iron sulfide that is said to have a variety of positive effects for nerve pain and rheumatism. This onsen is only available twice a day as the ocean tides roll in and out. Based on its looks, you’ll notice this onsen is about as natural as it gets, and the water’s temperature can become quite hot. However, its connection to the ocean makes this onsen experience truly special. Unlike typical hot springs, be sure to wear your swimwear when bathing!
Ogasawara Islands: The Galapagos of the Orient
The Ogasawara Islands make up an archipelago about 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo’s Takeshiba Pier in Minato Ward. These islands can only be reached by taking a 24-hour ride on an ocean liner. Though the Ogasawara Islands are too far from the city for a simple day trip, the environment is unlike anything else you will find around Tokyo. In fact, the Ogasawara Islands are called the “Galapagos of the Orient” for the variety of plants and animals that can be found there, and it became Japan’s fourth World Natural Heritage Site.