The Best Cheap Day Trips from Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan's busy capital, mixes the ultramodern and the traditional. Tokyo's neon-lit streetscapes still look like a sci-fi film set - and that's a vision of the city from the 1980s. Tokyo has been building ever since, pushing the boundaries of what's possible on densely populated, earthquake-prone land, adding ever taller, sleeker structures. Come see the utopian mega-malls, the edgy designer boutiques from Japan's award-winning architects, and the world's tallest tower - Tokyo Sky Tree - a twisting spire that draws on ancient building techniques. Tokyo may be forever reaching into the future but you can still see traces of the shogun's capital on the kabuki stage, at a sumo tournament or under the cherry blossoms. It's a modern city built on old patterns, and in the shadows of skyscrapers you can find anachronistic wooden shanty bars and quiet alleys, raucous traditional festivals and lantern-lit yakitori (grilled chicken) stands. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate and surrounding woods. The Imperial Palace sits amid large public gardens. The city's many museums offer exhibits ranging from classical art to a reconstructed kabuki theater. Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city and Japanese cuisine has been added to the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage list. But that's not what makes dining in Tokyo such an amazing experience. What really counts is the city's long-standing artisan culture. With so much to see, do, and taste, Tokyo is a great place to experience, plus it also makes a great base for exploring surrounding areas, and there are several options for day tour to nearby points of interest to help you make the most of your time here.
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Make your own way to Tokyo station in the morning and climb aboard a super-speedy Shinkansen bullet train for the scenic 2-hour journey to Nagano. On arrival, greet your guide and depart in a comfortable, air-conditioned coach; drive to the sacred and spectacular Zenko-ji Temple to enjoy a guided tour of the Buddhist monument. Gain fascinating insight into the rich history of the structure then revitalize with a hearty lunch of soba, buckwheat noodles, in a local diner. Head to Zenkojishita station to board a local train heading to Yudanaka, home to the majestic monkey park of Jigokudani, internationally renowned as the only place that snow monkeys can be seen enjoying soothing hot springs. Become mesmerized by the human mannerisms of the monkeys and gaze in awe as they socialize and soak in the steamy baths. After the park, return to Yudanaka station and take two trains back to Tokyo, where the tour concludes.
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Depart Tokyo and travel towards Mt. Fuji by motor coach, and get ready to experience one of the most beautiful mountains in the world with an English-speaking guide. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, Mt. Fuji and its surrounding area is a marvel of nature with its snow-capped mountains and lakes fringed by trees. Upon arrival, go to Mt. Fuji's 5th Station, located at 2,305 meters above sea level. Experience this shrine to the mountain at the souvenir gift shops, and encounter climbers getting ready to ascend the mountain. Then, travel to Lake Ashi and climb aboard a boat to cruise across the lake in style. Admire the vast expanse of the landscape from a different perspective. Then, ride the ropeway to get 360-degree views as you head towards the top of Mt. Komagatake. Admire the panoramic vistas on a short walk at the summit. Go to Hakone, famous for its hot springs and wind down before you take the bullet train back to Tokyo.
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Negotiate your way down steep canyons by rappelling and jumping waterfalls and cliffs, cascading down natural chutes and water-slides and swimming through crystal clear pools. 80% of the time is spent in the water. There are 2 courses to choose from to suit your thrill level; the Mononoke course is good for timid beginners, the Big Mononoke course is great for those that want to push themselves and explore into deeper canyons. A professional team of international guides will be there to support you the entire way. The guides can customize the trip to your ability and thrill level, so everyone is challenged to the perfect level. When the trip is concluded, meetup with your guide and teammates and look back at a great day on the river. Before you leave your guide can recommend you other things to do in the area such as soaking in the famous hot springs, eating in one of the local mountain food restaurants, or hiking to the spectacular local mountain shrine.
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Spend some time away from the big city on this day trip to Mt. Fuji. Depart from Tokyo toward the mountain, the largest in Japan. You will be taken up to the 5th Station, located 2,300 meters above sea level, where you can enjoy the view. The Fuji Visitor Center displays nature, culture, and artwork related to the mountain, and is a great place to stop off at to learn more. Next, head on to the nearby resort town of Hakone, famous for its onsen hot springs. Board a sightseeing boat for a delightful cruise around Lake Ashi, where you will see plenty of natural scenery and have the ability to look back at the mountain you were earlier on. After your boat tour ends, ride an aeriel cableway up and down Mt. Komagatake for a sweeping view of Hakone National Park, before returning to Tokyo.
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