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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Tokyo Tours - Excursions
Tokyo Tours Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Walking Tours

The Tokyo Tourist Information Office (tel: (03) 3201 3331) publishes a leaflet, ‘Walking Tour Courses in Tokyo’, explaining walking routes in several main areas of the city. Asakusa’s Goodwill Guide Club provides a free 1-hour English-language walking tour of this historical area every Sunday afternoon, starting from its offices on 2–18–9 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku. Details are available from the Asakusa Cultural and Sightseeing Centre (tel: (03) 3842 5566).

Bus Tours

Hato Bus (tel: (03) 3435 6081; fax: (03) 3433 1972), JTB Sunrise Tours (tel: (03) 5796 5454; fax: (03) 5495 0680) and Japan Gray Line (tel: (03) 3433 5745; fax: (03) 3433 8388) all provide a wide range of half-day, full-day and evening bus tours, with English-speaking guides.

For example, Hato Bus offers a half-day (09:00–12:30) ‘Tokyo Morning Tour’ which departs everyday from the Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal. The tour costs ¥5000 and visits several sights, such as the Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace Plaza, as well as driving through many of the cities lively shopping districts. Free hotel pick-up is available. Full day tours normally cost approximately ¥10,000.

Boat Tours

The Tokyo Cruise Ship Company (tel: (03) 3841 9178) operates a frequent waterbus service along the Sumida River, between Asakusa, the Hama Rikyu Gardens, Hinode Pier and Odaiba. The journey takes 40 minutes and costs ¥660 (one way). The company also operates a range of other waterbus services around Tokyo Bay, lasting between 5 and 55 minutes and costing ¥200–800.

Vingt-et-Un Cruises (tel: (03) 3436 2121) and Symphony Cruises (tel: (03) 3798 8101) offers 2-hour daytime and evening boat cruises around Tokyo Bay. The tours cost, on average, ¥5000 and ¥3000 respectively. Symphony Cruises depart from the Hinode Pier, while Vingt-et-Un cruises start from Takeshiba Pier.

Half Day Excursions

Kamakura

A small coastal town surrounded by wooded hills, approximately ten kilometres (six miles) south of Tokyo, Kamakura was once the seat of Japan’s 1st military government, the Kamakura Shogunate of 1192 to 1333. Well known for the imposing 12 metre-high (39 feet) Great Buddha, which dates to the mid 13th century, the town also contains many fine Zen temples, the impressive Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine and the nearby National Treasure Hall, which displays significant Buddhist art of the Kamakura period. Pleasant hiking paths snake through the surrounding hills and the beach is a favourite sunbathing and windsurfing spot in summer.

Trains regularly run to Kamakura from Tokyo Station and Shinagawa Station, on the Yokosuka line (journey time – about 1 hour). The Tourist Information Office in Tokyo (tel: (03) 3201 3331) offers a leaflet, Hakone and Kamakura, with information on transport and sights.

Whole Day Excursions

Nikko

Among Japan’s most famous tourist attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nikko is celebrated for the vividly ornate mausoleum of the 1st shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu (died 1616), who was the model for the fictional warlord of the novel Shogun by James Clavell. The intricately carved, elaborately painted and gilded gates, halls and storehouses of the mausoleum – called the Toshogu Shrine – presently appear somewhat gaudy but, as a mid 17th century political representation of shogunal power, they were truly a reflection of the times.

Located amid an ancient cedar forest, the sprawling complex also includes Futarasan Shrine, Rinnoji Temple and the smaller, somewhat less elaborate, mausoleum of the third shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu. A combination entry ticket for all four attractions can be purchased. Beyond Nikko lies Lake Chuzenji and the amazing Kegon Waterfall, reached by a one-hour bus journey up a scenic mountain road of hairpin bends.

Nikko is located approximately 150 kiloemtres (93 miles) north of Tokyo and trains depart several times an hour from Asakusa Tobu Station on the privately operated Tobu Nikko line (tel: (03) 3621 5202). The trip takes approximately 2 hours. JR Rail Pass holders might prefer to ride the slightly longer route of the JR Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Station or Ueno Station to Utsunomiya, switching there to a local train for Nikko.

The Tourist Information Office in Tokyo (tel: (03) 3201 3331) provides a leaflet, Nikko, with details on transport and sights, while the information desk in Tobu Nikko Station (tel: (0288) 534 511) offers leaflets and an English map.

Hakone

The Fuji-Hakone National Park, only 80 kilometres (50 miles) southwest of Tokyo, boasts a spectacular landscape of lakes, mountains and cultural attractions – for example the impressive open-air art museum – and (assuming the weather co-operates) the bonus of spectacular views of Mount Fuji. The popular circular route through the area by toy train, cable car and boat, runs through forests and old spa villages before whisking visitors high over sulphurous volcanic valleys and ending with a leisurely cruise on scenic Lake Ashino.

The Hakone Free Pass costs about ¥5000 (depending on the starting point) and permits unlimited travel on the area’s transport network. Hakone can be reached by Shinkansen Kodama ated Odakyu line, which departs from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station.

The Tourist Information Office in Tokyo (tel: (03) 3201 3331) offers a leaflet, Hakone and Kamakura, with details on transport and sights.