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Side trips from Tokyo

Leaving the bright city lights behind

For those planning a trip to Tokyo after travel restrictions are lifted, here are five nearby destinations to take note for when you want a break from the bright city lights.

Chichibu

Chichibu is a city in western Saitama Prefecture, and is mostly covered by mountains and forest. Part of the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, the mountains in Chichibu offer great hiking opportunities. In addition to the great outdoors, Chichibu is famous for its Chichibu Yomatsuri, a night festival. The city has a number of shrines, and the most famous of them are: Chichibu Shrine, home of the night festival, Mitsumine Shrine on the summit of Mount Mitsumine, and Hodosan Shrine at the foot of Mount Hodo.

Kamakura

Located along the coast in Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura is a popular side trip from Tokyo. The former political center of Japan has many temples and shrines, and other interesting historical monuments. Today, Kamakura is a nice place to see seasonal flora and autumn colors, and its beaches are popular in the summer months for sunbathing and swimming.

Karuizawa

A holiday home retreat for well-heeled Tokyoites, Karuizawa offers an elegant mix of shopping, museums, dining and outdoor activities in the highlands. Thanks to its elevation at around 1000 meters, Karuizawa does not experience the high humidity and soaring temperatures like Tokyo does in the summer. Consequently, the town is a popular summer destination for those looking to escape the summer heat. Moreover, Karuizawa is also popular in winter as its ski slopes are one of the first few to open in Japan.

Kawagoe

The quaint town of Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture offers visitors a peek to how Tokyo may have looked like in the Edo Period (1603-1867). The main sightseeing areas in Kawagoe are all within walking distance from one another. Shops and restaurants line the warehouse district, while the candy alley typically delights children and those with a sweet tooth.

Nikko

Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture is a well-known sightseeing destination. The most famous attraction in the town center is Toshogu, a lavish shrine and mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. About 40 minutes by bus from the town center is Oku-Nikko, which is the mountainous region of Nikko. Hiking is a popular activity there as well as viewing the seasonal autumn colors and chasing waterfalls. Kegon no taki is one of Japan's top three most beautiful waterfalls, and it is located in Oku-Nikko.

Home Delivery by japan-guide.com is a series of articles on Japanese culture, life and travel for all of us who are currently staying home to flatten the curve. Many travel plans, including our own, have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. While we aren't able to share new content from the road, we hope this collection from our travel archive helps you explore a bit of Japan from your own home.
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