When one mentions Japan, you would most probably think of the uber urban Tokyo rather than the other parts of the country. Unknown to many, the other regions of this land of the rising sun (as well as heavenly convenience stores and life-saving vending machines!) have just as much to offer, if not more.
P.S. Don’t forget to download the HHWT Travel Planner app, available on Google Play for Android andiTunes Store for iOS, to make your trip to Tokyo even easier! You can find attractions as well as halal food and prayer spaces near these attractions, so no worries on not being able to find halal food anymore!
Credit: Yoshikazu Takada on Flickr
You can’t miss a trip to Yokohama when you’re in Japan. Just half an hour from Tokyo by train, Yokohama offers many amusing museums like Cup Noodles Museum and Anpanman Museum, as well as the iconic Red Brick Warehouse, where you can sit back at one of the cafes and enjoy the magnificent waterfront view of the city. Don’t forget to check out our guide to Yokohama!
How to get there: Tokyu Toyoko Line is the cheapest way to get to Yokohama from Tokyo (270 yen from Shibuya Station, 25 minutes). Check out Japan Guide for more options.
Go back in time and walk along the main street of Kawagoe that is lined with the old fashioned kurazukuri (warehouses with steep tiles and clay walls) buildings. Dubbed as “Little Edo”, Kawagoe is a historic town that retains the architecture and ambience of the Edo Period. Make a detour to Kashiya Yokocho, or “Candy Alley” for various mouth-watering local sweets such as grilled mochi and Kintaro candy!
Credit: oh my omiyage
How to get there: From Ikebukuro, you can take the Tobu Tojo Line express to Kawagoe for 450 yen (31 min trip). Visit Koedo for more options.
Choose to spend an afternoon admiring the nature while riding Hakone Tozan Railway, Japan’s oldest mountain railway, or on sightseeing boats at Ashinoko (or Lake Ashi). If it’s your lucky day, you may be able to view the grand Mount Fuji there. Otherwise, make a trip to Gotemba Outlet Premium not far from Hakone and shop to your heart’s content! Before heading back to Tokyo, don’t forget to unwind and take a dip in the world renowned hot spring.
How to get there: From Shinjuku, take the Odakyu Electric Railway to Hakone-Yumoto for 2020 yen. The journey takes roughly 85 to 100 minutes. Visit JP Rail for more options.
4. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea in Chiba
Have some fun and unleash that repressed 5-year-old in you at “the happiest place on earth”, Tokyo Disneyland! Shake hands and have a photograph taken with your favourite Disney characters (and even villains). If you want something a little different, head to Tokyo DisneySea instead, its companion park with a nautical concept that caters to mature visitors with more thrilling rides. Popcorn is a serious business here, so be sure to taste some of the unique flavours such as white chocolate, milk tea and black pepper.
[Check out: 6 Reasons to Ditch Tokyo and Head to Chiba!]
Opening hours: 8 am to 10 pm (may vary, do check park’s website for more details)
Admission fee: 7400 yen (adult), 6400 yen (ages 12-17), 4800 yen (ages 4-11), 6700 yen (senior citizens over 65). This one-day ticket only admits you to one park (either Disneyland or DisneySea).
How to get there: Take the train to Maihama station, Disneyland is around a 5-min walk from the station. There are also direct buses from Tokyo to Disneyland with prices ranging from 720 yen depending on where you board. Visit their website for more info.
Enoshima is a charming small island to the south of Tokyo which offers a variety of attractions including the prominent Enoshima Lighthouse Observation Tower (or famously known by its nickname “Enoshima Sea Candle”), Enoshima Shrine, temples and caves. Enjoy a date at Enoshima Aquarium to catch a sight of enchanting jellyfish and penguins, as well as a dolphin show. This island is also famous for cats! It is said that over 1000 cats reside here, but do note that it is prohibited to feed the cats. You may instead support the locals care for these street cats by donating to the fundraising boxes that can be found throughout the island.
If you come in late July or early August, be sure to check out the fireworks display at the local beach. Lots of small booths selling food and drinks will be lined up on the street for this event.
How to get there: From Tokyo Station, take the JR Tokaido Line to Fujisawa Station (970 yen, 45-50 minutes) and transfer to Odakyu Railway (160 yen, 7 minutes) for Enoshima. Visit Japan Guide for other options.
Known as Kyoto of Eastern Japan, Kamakura is widely famous for numerous historical sites and ancient cultural treasures, including the iconic Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha Statue) located at Kotokuin Temple. Stroll down Dankazura that is lined with cherry blossom trees in spring to admire the flowers in full bloom. There’s also a shopping street parallel to Dankazura known as Komachi-dori where you can find boutiques, Japanese-style cafes, a selection of snacks and souvenirs. For otakus, don’t miss your chance to get a photograph taken at the railroad crossing in front of Kamakura High School, made famous by the classic “Slam Dunk” manga.
Credit: square(tea) on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: Avoid visiting on the weekends as the crowd will be massive!
How to get there: One way trip from Shinjuku Station to Kamakura Station by JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line costs 920 yen and takes about 90 minutes. Do note that only the trains bound for Zushi take you directly to Kamakura Station.
Credit: Hidetsugu Tonomura on Flickr
Karuizawa is a town in Nagano Prefecture that has inspired many writers, and is also the set for Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, “The Wind Rises”. The best way to get around this town is by cycling. Rental bicycles can easily be found near the train station with prices ranging from 500 to 1000 yen a day. The town is famous for being a summer retreat, but it’s a great place to visit in all four seasons. Take a stroll down the lovely Romantic Road in autumn, and catch the sight of snow monkeys at Jigokudani Park in winter. Outdoor activities like skiing, ice skating and golfing are also a popular choice here.
Credit: Vicky Chung on Flickr
How to get there: Take the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Karuizawa in 65-80 minutes and costs about 5,500 yen.
8. Mount Fuji
Certainly, you can catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji almost wherever you are in Japan, but nothing beats seeing (or even climbing!) this majestic mountain up close. Although the Mount Fuji can be viewed all year long, the best viewing season would be between March to May. As for climbing, the official season starts in July and ends in August. Pay a visit Murayama Sengen Temple before you climb as Japanese people believe in a connection between the sacred mountain and God. Once on top, be sure to purchase an official certificate that verifies your ascent!
How to get there: There’s a Fujikyu bus that runs between Shibuya, Fuji Q Highland, Kawaguchiko Station and Fujisan Station which costs 1800 yen and takes about 2 to 2.5 hours.
Although it’s not a well known tourist location, Sodegaura has plenty of charm. Tokyo German Village is a massive theme park with five different areas, including a mini-golf course, a pond, and a fruit farm. Since it’s a less popular spot compared to Disneyland and Tokyo Dome City, this theme park will have less crowds which also means shorter waiting time! In winter, the whole park will be covered in colourful LED lights illumination at night, creating a stunning view!
Address: 419, Nagayoshi, Sodegaura-shi, Chiba, 299-0204
Opening hours: 9.30 am to 5 pm (last entry at 4 pm), 9.30 am to 8 pm (mid-November to early February)
Admission fee: 1200 yen per adult, 600 yen per child.
How to get there: From Tokyo Station, take the JR Sobu Line to Chiba Station. Tokyo German Village is accessible by the Kapina Highway Express Bus from JR Chiba Station. For more information, visit the website.
10. Lockheart Castle in Gunma
Credit: su neko
Lockheart Castle was originally built by the Lockheart family in Scotland before a Japanese actor bought it and had it moved to Japan. It’s now a famous castle that has been used as a filming location in numerous dramas and films, such as “Kaibutsu-kun” and “Atashinchi no Danshi”. Within the ground, known as Marble Village, a lot of museums and galleries can be found including World Santa Museum, Bridal Dress Gallery and Teddy Bear House. Visitors who come with their significant other shouldn’t miss the chance to ring the Spring Bell because it is believed that those who do shall be granted eternal love 😉
Address: 5583-1 Takayama-mura,Agatsuma-gun, Gunma,377-0702 Japan
Opening hours: 9 am to 7 pm (last entry is 30 minutes before closing)
Admission fee: 1000 yen per adult, 400 yen per child (4-12 years old). Discounts for groups of 10.
How to get there: Unfortunately there’s no direct public transportation besides taxi. From Numata Station, the fare costs around 2500-3000 yen one way. Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and transfer at Takasaki Station on Joetsu Line to Numata Station.
So if you’ve already explored Tokyo, perhaps it’s time to bookmark some of these cities for your next trip to Japan! And if you’re planning your trip, don’t forget to download the HHWT Travel Planner available on both Google Play for Android and the iTunes Store for iOS. You can find all of these halal food places in Tokyo and MORE on the app so you can easily add these places to your itinerary 😉