Shopping, eating, DisneySea… this is the Tokyo that most people know. But the land of the rising sun has so much more to offer than just tourist attractions. While those stuff are great (love DisneySea by the way), if you happen to find yourself getting bored of walking in the footsteps of a tourist, these are the things you can do to get off the beaten path — all while staying in Tokyo!
Rarely you would hear someone go, “I’m going to Tokyo to climb a mountain!” That’s because hiking is completely understated in the city of bright pachinko lights and giant manga stores. Japan is made up of more than a thousand mountains and several of them are just right outside Tokyo.
If you take the train, it takes only an hour and a half to Mount Takao, the nearest mountain from Tokyo city which makes it one of the most popular. It offers seven different trails up the peak, each with increasing difficulty.
To get a much quieter hiking experience, Koburi pass is a hidden gem of a mountain not widely known to tourists yet. The view is a breathtaking surprise that will leave you awestruck for like forty five minutes.
2. Morning stroll at a huge gorgeous park
The fragrance of dried grass tingles in the air of the vast open fields, sweeps pass tranquil ponds with the occasional ducks and relaxes every muscle in your bones. This will not just be a casual stroll, it will be a walk of mindfulness that leaves you with an inexplicable joy.
The city is filled with tons of parks and Japanese gardens, and each one of them is humongous. Not just good for viewing cherry blossoms, these parks are great for kids (and adults) to run about and be in touch with nature.
3. Roller Skating
Disco ball — check. Neon lights — check. Checkerboard floors — check. The skating arena at the Tokyo Dome gives off the charming 80’s derby vibes that we only see in movies now.
I did the roller skates which I think are a little more difficult than inline skates. But after a couple of inevitable falls, I was gliding round the rink imagining I’m Jessica Simpson in A Public Affair. Don’t judge.
4. Visit the Space Museum
Here’s another activity kids would like.
Although the educational parts are mostly read off cute wall panels and displays, the videos reimagined evolution with creative illustrations that might capture the attention of the little ones even if they’re not old enough to read yet.
Otherwise, they can always have fun doing these.
5. Stay in a traditional Japanese house
It’s not easy to find a traditional Japanese house in Tokyo these days. But there are a rare few that survived the 1945 bombing AND made it on Airbnb.
If you somehow managed to snag one, you’ll experience how locals live in the olden days. Tatami mats, futon beds, sliding doors and kneeling on flat cushions for your meals.
Just don’t think about the echoes, creaky wood noises and random cupboards you find around the house.
6. Karaoke at a bar
What’s there to hold back when you’re in a foreign country where no one knows you? Sing your heart out like you know you want to.
The bar had a huge selection of English songs and even Chinese songs too, so there’s something for everyone. Order some fish and chips, have a few drinks and put your bathroom singing to stage.
More than shopping and eating
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to get off the tourist track. But if you’re just like me, looking for rich experiences to bring back stories untold, follow for ways to make your trips meaningful every time.