Fabulous Ways to Sightsee Outdoors in Tokyo

Temples, shrines, rickshaws, waterbuses, parks, museums and much more

Chidorigafuchi Cherry Blossom © Shutterstock

Tokyo may be a big bustling city, and you can get around fast underground using the network of subway systems, but above ground there are outdoor experiences not to be missed.

Tokyo is blessed with much to do in the great outdoors, from leisurely sightseeing rickshaw rides in the scenic downtown through to some serious glamping and hiking in Tokyo’s west. If you love being out in the fresh air Tokyo has plenty of experiences for you. Here, Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau shares some fabulous and unexpected ways to enjoy outdoor sightseeing in Tokyo.

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Visiting Temples and Shrines

Asakusa Sensoji Temple © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

No visit to Tokyo would be complete without visiting some of the many temples and shrines. And visiting a temple or shrine is often mostly an outdoor activity. Particularly for some of the major sites, such as Meiji Shrine, which sits in the middle of a tranquil forest of 100,000 trees in central Tokyo and Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temples which is has a 250-metre long street of stalls from the KaminarimonThunder Gate until the main grounds housing the temple buildings. Some of these popular locations also have live webcams you can view before visiting to check on the level of visitors and avoid crowding.

Sensoji encourages people to monitor the level of crowds before visiting from a live webcam.
To learn about the differences between Temples and Shrines, and how to visit, click here.

Take a Rickshaw ride in Asakusa

Asakusa Rickshaw © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Whilst it looks and feels quite decadent, the rickshaw (jinrikisha in Japanese) was a common form of transport in the Edo era (1603-1867), much as a taxi is today. Nowadays a ride in a rickshaw is a great way to step back in time and get a taste of the old downtown area of Asakusa. Rickshaws are pulled by energetic young men who delight in sharing the tales of their local neighbourhood. The cost will depend on the length of your ride and can start from as little as AU$30 for a 10-minute whirl to a AU$250-$400 for a 3-hour, half-day of sightseeing.

More about Rickshaw experiences here.

Visit Tokyo’s Parks and Gardens

Shinjuku Gyoen © Axel Schwab

Tokyo has mountains in the west and subtropical islands in the south, but don’t forget even the city centre is blessed with abundant green space. The leafy parks and gardens are the lungs of this great city and can be enjoyed throughout the year. From formal Japanese manicured gardens to more relaxed parks designed for rest and relaxation the city has it all. Whether you go on a mission to see a particular seasonal natural highlight or just stroll into a park to enjoy a picnic lunch your senses will be refreshed and revitalised.

See some of the highlights and find out how to access them here.

Cruise the Tokyo Waterways on the Water Bus ferries

Water bus ferry © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Tokyo is built on a series of rivers and waterways that were essential trading channels and key to its commercial success in the old days. Historical documents make references that compare Edo to Venice. Today scheduled water bus ferry services are popular with locals and visitors alike, offering a leisurely way to get to and from areas like Asakusa and Odaiba and more. The water bus lets you discover a different Tokyo – both old and new – and sightsee from a different angle. Complete with English guiding commentary introducing the tourist highlights and some historical points along the way. You can even visit Tokyo waterways on Google Street View and travel virtually under the bridges – click here.

For more information, visit the Tokyo Cruise official website.

Step back in time at the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

This off-the-beaten-track outdoor museum is well worth a visit if you are interested in historical architecture. Located in Tokyo’s west, the Museum offers a life-size look back in time into Japanese culture. In addition to architectural ruins, there are many restored buildings making the museum an architectural park and cultural centre. Japanese history comes to life with seasonal events hosted in the museum grounds.

View the English Brochure here.
For more information visit the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum official website.

Going Hiking at Mt. Takao

View from Mt Takao © Slyellow/Shutterstock

Just 50 minutes from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station and you will find yourself at the foot of Mt. Takao. A favourite hiking spot for locals, this is the perfect day trip outdoor adventure. A number of trails lead walkers up the mountain to the summit (599 metres above sea level). Particularly beautiful in late-November/early-December when the Autumnal colours put on a show. Try to avoid a weekend as it gets busy with locals. Early birds may catch stunning views of Mt. Fuji. For more about Mt. Takao, click here.

Get a natural high – Glamping in the Okutama area

© Keikoku Glamping tent

Tranquil forests, sacred mountains, deep gorges with rushing rivers and waterfalls are not usually associated with Japan’s neon capital Tokyo, but the Okutama area in Tokyo’s Western side offers just that and much more. After a soak in one of the local hot springs why not indulge in an overnight Glamp in the natural surroundings. A place like Keikoku Glamping Tent is a calm retreat to heal the mind, body and soul.

Learn more about the Okutama area here.

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