When the world gets back on its feet…. I’m fairly certain all of us who suffer from travel-lust (not just travel writers and tour operators) will be desperate to bust out of isolation and travel our buns off .
So in an effort to maintain positivity and look towards the future, (while I have time to do so and you have time to plan an amazing trip ready for the green light) I’m going to share a few words and pics over the coming weeks – basically, an overview the very cool areas visited from late 2019 to late Feb 2020 – ie. 10 weeks of story research and hosting our Zenbu Iro Aji Tour. By the way – I kept myself super-well despite the virus doing the rounds – so I’ll share some more on that too in case it helps.
First up is Kanagawa prefecture, which lays directly adjacent to Tokyo’s southern border and encompasses Hakone, Kamakura, Yokohama and their lesser-known neighbours – Odawara and Kawasaki.
Hakone, about 1 hour by train from Tokyo and at very close proximity to Fuji-san or Mount Fuji, has long been known as the city’s escape and is a blissful retreat full of mountain-side holiday homes and onsen resorts (from affordable to luxury) with loads of forest and river hikes, or gentler walks, art galleries including a spectacular open-air sculpture park.
Odawara, a castle town right next door, is known for its fish market and seafood eateries, izakaya and citrus orchards. There’s a somewhat boho, blossoming crafts and interior design scene – and the newest instalment to the arts scene is the spectacular Enoura Observatory. Hiring a car would be a great advantage to locating excellent mountainside temples.
Kamakura is a walkable seaside town with views of Mt Fuji from the beach (and adjacent accommodations and restaurants) and is famous for several stunning temples, shrines and their gardens, as well as a Daibutsu or giant Buddha statue, a modern art gallery and plenty of hidden shops or galleries run by local craftspeople. Walking around the backstreets, dropping into teahouses or neighbourhood cafes is an absolute delight.
Yokohama is more than just a delightful port town – although you wouldn’t necessarily know it. Most people don’t get past the well-groomed bay area which offers sophisticated waterside wandering, dining and shopping. There’s also a well -known Chinatown, and tonnes of ramen stores (also the popular cup noodle museum – where you can make your own!) . Yokohama’s food is across the board – fabulous. It’s the place where Tokyo folks are moving when they’ve done their time in the big smoke and looking for life to be a little more laid back.
Kanagawa is where I lived for a short time 30 years ago when I was working in Tokyo. I sadly haven’t returned to my old ‘hometown’ in recent years but I am planning that for next trip. What I remember are the sleepy, wholesome neighbourhoods along the Odakyu train line, including my own small suburb at Yomiuri-Land station which I’m sure looks extremely different to the 1 cafe, 1 pharmacy and 1 noodle shop village of my youth. Machida, a larger town where I’d shop on weekends is, by all reports, now a buzzy city . I can’t wait to get back and explore and share it with you when I do!
There will be more from me on all these places in the future…. but for now – if you’re interested, take some time to look at the local tourism websites for more. Start with Tokyo Day Trip: Kanagawa on Instagram and the Kanagawa Prefectural tourism website .
And start dreaming!0