Exploring Outside Tokyo

Several train rides from the bustling Tokyo and you’ll arrive in Japan’s countryside, the secret gem of the country. See the vestige of Japan’s first feudal capital in Kamakura, trace the inspiration behind some of the beloved Anime shows in the villages of Yuigahama and Fujisawa, and witness the breathtaking sunset in Enoshima Island. I explore the places outside Tokyo, where the atmosphere of the country’s past decades survives, and where you could have a unique and legit Japan travel experience.

Travel Budget Breakdown

hotel Hotel $22 (per day, capsule)
van Transport $2 – $18 (Depending on destination)
dinner Food $5 – $20 (per meal)
Buddha-god-Buddhism-statue-india-china0A-512 Entrance Fees $4 – $7 (per tourist spot)
shopping Shopping $9 (clothes) / $5 (small souvenirs) / $5 (chocolates)

#10 See Mt. Fuji up close in Shimoyoshida

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Credit: livingnomads

At Kawaguchi Station take the local train going to Mt. Fuji station to get to this hidden place called Shimoyoshida located in Fujiyoshida. There’s a breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji here and very few tourists visit the place. See the three torii gates leading to the sacred mountain and maybe eat some ice cream along the way. (Geek Rate: Mortal worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

#9 Fall in love with the view of Lake Kawaguchiko

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Lake Kawaguchiko is beautiful during the spring season but equally mesmerizing during winter, too. There’s a bus from Tokyo (Shinjuku Bus Terminal or in Tokyo Station) that will take you directly to the Kawaguchi Bus Station for about 2 hours. From there, buy an unlimited ticket that will allow you to ride the buses going around the five lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji. It will give you the power of hopping in and out of the bus whenever you see a cool spot to take photos. (Buses stopped by on bus stops typically every 15 minute or 30 minutes, check the line color). (Geek Rate: Mortal worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

#8 Ramen hunting at Kawaguchiko Herb Hall’s Café Green House

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The ramen hunting continues, this time in the town of Fujikawaguchiko. Kawaguchiko Herb Hall provides a stunning view of Lake Kawaguchiko surrounded by a lush garden. Its Café Green House is where I had one of the most unique-tasting ramens ever. It also offers an amazing chocolate coffee with bits of herbs in it. Try their lavender ice cream with real flowers, the reason why most people flock to this place. (Geek Rate: Sun god worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

#7 Visit the Yuigahama beach, famous spot for Anime fans

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There’s a beach known only to locals in the areas of Zaimokuza, Ōmachi, and Hase called Yuigahama. Jump out of Yuigahama Station in Enoden Line (EN13), the beach is just a 6-minute walk from there but you need to use Google Maps for that. Walk in the narrow streets of the quiet neighborhood and once you turn around, the shimmering sea will greet you. If you’re lucky, you can see a view of Mt. Fuji at the distance. Nearby, you can visit Shonan Fujisawa High School. It is the school which is the inspiration behind the Shohoku High School in the popular anime Slam Dunk (nope, not the Shohoku College). And yes, this beach is featured on the anime’s opening credits. (Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

#6 Go see the giant Buddha in Kotoku-in Temple

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Equally popular to the tourists is the Great Buddha of Kamakura, a giant bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotoku-in Temple. The statue was cast in 1252 and originally located inside a large temple hall but it was destroyed multiple times by typhoons and a tsunami in the 14th and 15th centuries. So, since the late 15th century, the Buddha has been standing in the open air. There are two ways of reaching the Kotoku-in Temple. From Kamakura station, ride the Enoden Line and alight in Hase Station (EN12). Many tourists think that the temple is within walking distance of the Kamakura Station. They’re wrong. It is still two stations away. But I prefer to walk towards the temple, stopping by to try some of their tasty street food or buy some local souvenirs. (Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

#5 Watch the sunset in Enoshima Island

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My favorite place in Japan, Enoshima Island is a piece of paradise that only the most persistent tourist go visit. From Kamakura Station take the Enoden Line to ride all the way to this island. Join the locals in viewing the breathtaking sunset, walking along the shores while seagulls fly over you. Visit the top of the Enoshima Sea Candle, also known as the Shonan Observatory Lighthouse, the observation tower, and lighthouse which gives you a good view of the island. (Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

#4 Ride the Enoden Train

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The ride inside the Enoden Train is a treat in itself. The view of the sea during the late afternoon is mesmerizing and oddly peaceful amid the chatter of students and locals on board. It’s just you and the locals, the view of the countryside, and the sea! And did you know that this train was featured in the opening credits of the popular anime Slam Dunk? (Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

#3 Taste Japan’s local coffee

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Take a break from all that walking and taste Japan’s countryside coffee while people-watching with the view of the sea in the background. (Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

#2 The ultimate shopping experience at Komachi Dori Street

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Forget Shinjuku or Akihabara. Komachi Dori Street is the place to be when buying souvenirs to take home. This place is tucked beside the Kamakura Station, mostly ignored by tourists going to Enoden Line to see the Giant Buddha. But this street is a popular place for the locals where they eat and just basically roam around. The cobbled street is dotted by various shops on both sides, soothing music playing on the recorder overhead. Stroll at this place late afternoon and score some cheap stuff. There are manga here of popular and obscure anime (mostly in Japanese though), a legit kimono for just 1000 yen, a huge stuffed Doreimon (500 yen!), and quality shirts for only 500 yen (Tokyo sells it for like 1000-2000 yen). Come over to this street before tourists swarm the place. (Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

#1 Explore the side streets of Kamakura’s villages

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Credit: Matcha-JP

Exploring side streets of the countryside and small towns is my favorite thing to do in Japan. Ditch the train ride to and from tourist spots and walk along with the locals around the side streets of Kamakura’s villages. Afar from tourists, admire the old Japanese houses, watch students going around town after school, and eat some of the street foods that are sold only in this place. (Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

Geek Guide Data

vector-sign-of-people-icon People – The Japanese are most courteous people in the world, and most especially in countrysides. They might not be used to seeing tourists, but they will welcome you with a smile.
IMMIGRATION Immigration – Stern officers but efficient nonetheless, the line in the immigration counters in Haneda International Airport (the closest gateway to Tokyo and other prefectures) and in the Narita International Airport is short and you’ll get out of the airport in a breeze.
1022px-aiga_railtransportation_inv.svg Transport – The local train system is small and simple but convenient. It’s usually just one straight line not unlike in big cities where you have octopus lines that are really confusing. Use Google Maps to checkout the schedules of trains.
wifi WiFi and power plugs – The WiFi connection in Japan is awesome and super fast. Free WiFi in every place! The voltage in Japan is 100 Volt, which is different from North America (120V), Central Europe (230V) and most other regions of the world.
shopping Shopping and English – English in this place is almost non-existent, as is the case on most countries in Asia (except The Philippines and Singapore). Trying to communicate will be a challenge but most locals have adapted to the influx of tourists that they can understand a bit of English. Shopping in countrysides are the best for they have souvenirs not available in the cities.
weather Weather – Japan has four distinct seasons: March to May is spring; June to August is summer; September to November is autumn; and December to February is winter. Each season has very different temperatures and climates.

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