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Izu Peninsula
The Izu Peninsula

Greater Tokyo’s best national parks and seaside retreats

Heading to Japan but want to get away from it all? Take a day trip to Greater Tokyo's wild side

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Written by
Tabea Greuner
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Despite its reputation as an urban megalopolis, Tokyo is a surprisingly green city. Nearly every neighbourhood has its own little green space, but they can get crowded during weekends and holidays. So the next time you’re visiting the Japanese capital and craving some fresh air in a lush green environment or just looking to escape the tourist traps of Harajuku or Akihabara, consider one of the national parks and beachside retreats below. Recreation and relaxation guaranteed!

Discover Tokyo’s wild side

Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

2-3hr train ride from Shinjuku Station (depending on the exact area)

Bordering Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Yamanashi and Tokyo, the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is so huge you need to plan your trip wisely. You could see 
Mt Fuji while cycling around the park’s five lakes, or relax in Hakone’s natural hot spring baths after exploring the volcanic landscape of Owakudani. Prefer the sea? The Izu Peninsula is home to white-sand beaches and fresh seafood restaurants. If you have time, venture even further afield to the Izu Islands for snorkelling and scuba diving. There, that’s your entire holiday sorted.

Mount Takao

Mount Takao

55min train ride from Shinjuku Station to Takaosanguchi Station

Hop on the Keio Line to Tokyo’s western fringe and explore Mount Takao (599m above sea level), Tokyo’s most popular hiking spot. You can expect easy trails leading through a lush green forest – there’s even a ropeway halfway up, which will take you to the mountain’s observation deck. In summer, you can sip on an ice-cold lager at the pop-up beer garden while taking in the scenery. Further uphill you’ll find the Yakuo-in temple, founded in 744 – but be sure to book ahead if you want to sample shojin ryori (traditional vegetarian Buddhist cuisine) at the temple’s private dining rooms.

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Okutama

Okutama

1hr 45min train ride from Shinjuku Station to Okutama Station

Located in the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, Okutama is a district in the far west of Tokyo, popular for its forests. While most Tokyoites come here for the fishing and barbecue spots along the mountain streams, you can also hike up Mt Mitake (929m) to 
Musashi Mitake Shrine’s sweeping lookout point. Or take on one of the bicycle tours. Since Okutama is famous for wasabi, it’s common to find snacks enriched with the green spice in the area’s cafés and stores.

Minamiboso Quasi-National Park

Minamiboso Quasi-National Park

3hr train ride from Tokyo Station to Chikura Station

The Minamiboso Quasi-National Park, located in 
Chiba Prefecture’s south, boasts sandy beaches to the west facing Tokyo Bay, and shingle beaches and cliffs at the side of the Pacific Ocean. Famous for its numerous flower farms, you can visit several nature parks, botanical gardens and flower fields year-round. Head down to Shirahama in Minamiboso city and gaze at a gorgeous panoramic view over the Pacific Ocean from the Nojimazaki Lighthouse, one of the most important lighthouses in the world. Rent a bicycle at Chikura Station and cruise along the road which connects Tateyama and Chikura. Also known as the ‘Flower Line’, you can see seasonal flowers along the way.

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Ogasawara National Park

Ogasawara National Park

One-day ferry ride (11am to 11am the following day) from Takeshiba Pier in Tokyo

Even though Ogasawara National Park, with its 30 islands, is located 1,000km south of the Japanese capital, it’s still technically a part of Tokyo. Only two of the islands are inhabited (Chichijima and Hahajima) and it's a bit tricky to get there. The ferry ride takes 24 hours but it’s worth it. With its Okinawan vibes, Ogasawara offers a variety of nature tours: whale-watching, swimming with dolphins, diving, etc. Due to its untouched nature, you can even discover rare and endangered tropical plants and animals here. The best time to visit is between May and November.

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