5 best outdoor activities in and around Tokyo
When travelling, you don't want to spend all your time holed up in bars, clubs and the hostel. It feels good to get outside, where you can enjoy a more active adventure full of sights, people and some pretty cool experiences.
Tokyo has plenty of activities to get you out of bed. Here are our five favourites.
1. Cycling in Yoyogi Park
Tokyo has been described as one of the best cities in the world to discover by bicycle. It's relatively flat but with enough hilly neighbourhoods to keep things interesting, and while parts of the city can become gridlocked, the air quality is pristine compared with, say, Bangkok or Hong Kong.
Given its size, you could cycle for a week and still only scratch the surface of Tokyo. So where to start?
The Tokyo Bay area is a favourite among locals but for a more secluded ride, complete with clearly marked cycling lanes, Yoyogi Park, a vast expanse of greenery near the trendy Harajuku neighbourhood, is hard to beat.
2. Jogging round the Imperial Palace
For the most part, Tokyoites tend to rub along nicely – no mean feat for a city of almost 13 million people. The path running around the grounds of the Imperial Palace, however, is the scene of the occasional contretemps involving pedestrians and the hordes of joggers.
It's a safe distance from traffic, the views of the skyscrapers hugging the park's perimeter are impressive, and no one will sneer if you turn up in cheap running gear and proceed at a crawl. Along the route are markers for all of Japan's 47 prefectures – with a leap of imagination you could be running the length and breadth of the country. Just keep an eye out for perambulating tourists.
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3. Yakatabune boat trip
Yakatabune – literally roof boats – are supposed to resemble traditional Japanese homes, with their long, low tables, tatami mats and plentiful supplies of sashimi and tempura. Several companies operate yakatabune as pleasure boats in Tokyo Bay for groups who like to do their socialising at sea.
In summer, a yakatabune trip is one of the best ways to view the firework festivals, while the night-time views of the island of Odaiba and the illuminated Rainbow suspension bridge are always impressive. A word of caution: the drink-all-you-can deal is enticing, but remember that a yakatabune dinner entails at least a couple of hours at sea on a fairly small boat.
4. Urban fishing
Anglers who prefer the smell of early-morning dew as they bait up would probably be horrified, but if you prefer convenience and almost guaranteed results, it is possible to catch freshwater fish right in the heart of Tokyo. The Sumida and Tamagawa rivers aside, the best option for tourists is a day at Ichigaya fish centre, a collection of five rectangular pools filled with small carp and fed by the waters of the Kanda river. Ichigaya might also appeal to those with a competitive streak: anglers weigh their catch at the end of each hour – reach seven kilograms and you can fish free for another hour.
For all their charms, Tokyo's urban onsen are ultimately a poor imitation of the hot-spring resorts found all over Japan. Immersion in a genuine onsen is as easy as jumping on a train at Shinjuku bound for Hakone, 70 minutes away.
Most of Hakone falls within a volcanically active national park centring on Lake Ashi, and the area is packed with public bath houses and ryokan (inns), many of which open their doors to day bathers. But to do Hakone justice, find a reasonably priced ryokan and take a couple of days to explore the volcanic geysers of Owakudani, the botanical gardens, the cherry blossoms in spring and Hakone shrine on the shore of the lake.
Can't wait to slip into the warm waters of a Japanese bathhouse? Check out our Asia Tours deals – with up to 15 per cent off Geckos and Intrepid tours. Offer ends January 31, 2016.
This article was written by Justin Mccurry from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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