Tokyo is one of the most exciting cities in the world. But while you’re there, don’t forget to explore the vast array of activities a short distance out of town.
Hakone is a bit less than two hours away from Tokyo by train. The town is one of Japan’s most popular hot spring resorts, offering hot spring baths in public bath houses or a Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn). Many Ryokan open their baths to daytime visitors as well as overnight guests. Those who are staying can use the baths multiple times for free, while daytime visitors can pay an admission fee of around £8. Autumn is a great time to explore this area, as the mountainside will be ablaze with scarlet-tinged leaves between November and December.
About two and a half hours from Tokyo by bus, Mt Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. People can only climb Mt Fuji between 1 July and 27 August, but there are year-round day-trips by coach to Yamanashi, which is nearby. The tours include lunch and an English-speaking guide, and you can catch a glimpse of the majestic peak and go fruit picking. There’s also an amusement park near the base of Mt Fuji. The park is home to the Fujiyama roller coaster, which has set four Guinness World Records as well as being the world's largest haunted attraction.
A two-and-a-half-hour ride on a bullet train from Tokyo, Kyoto was Japan's former capital and the emperor's residence for more than 1000 years. The city is awash with beautiful castles, temples and shrines. There are 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in and around Kyoto. The best seasons to visit are spring and autumn, as the beautiful architecture of the temples and castles is set off by cherry blossoms or changing leaves.