Of Tokyo’s three surrounding prefectures it’s fair to say that Kanagawa offers some of the better attractions for day trips from the capital and so this list was certainly easier to compile than the Top 10 Saitama Sights (see here) and the Top 10 Chiba Sights (see here). However, it should be understood that there’s far more to this area than just Yokohama which is of course included.
Here then, in no particular order, are my top ten things to do in Kanagawa featuring a mix of famous sights and some hidden gems too.
* Nihon Minka-en – A unique museum as visitors get a rare opportunity to walk through and experience ancient Edo period style architecture first hand. This folk village (below) has been reconstructed to feature a variety of buildings such as farmhouses, a water mill, a kabuki stage, a ferryman’s hut and an exhibition hall. More details here.
* Sarushima – The naval port city of Yokosuka is the gateway to this island. Sarushima a.k.a. Monkey Island (above) consists of a small black sand beach at one end packed full of day trippers having barbecues while the rest of the tiny island consists of vegetation surrounding the brick lined WWII tunnels and the remains of artillery positions. But are there actually any monkeys?! More details here.
* Enoshima – The black sand is certainly not the best, the water isn’t the clearest but there’s a charm about this place (below) and its island (connected by a bridge) is definitely worth a wander before or after the beach. The glass tower in the gardens towers above the island and is reminiscent of Scaramaga’s lair in a 007 movie! More details here.
* Yomiuri Land – Old fashioned theme park (above) with a standing roller-coaster (with a loop), a spaghetti-type wooden roller-coaster, a bungy jumping area and a huge floating rapid water-ride. A great day out in the sun. More details here.
* Kamakura – Perhaps one of the most famous day trips for tourists to do whilst visiting Tokyo. There are about 70 shrines and temples which is fine if you like that kind of thing. If you don’t, then the hiking trail from Jochi-ji temple to the 13.35 metres tall Great Buddha (below) is a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. More details here.
* The Penis Festival – Yes, you read that correctly. More formally known as Kanamara Matsuri (above) this is the quintessential quirky festival to attend on the first Sunday each April. More details here.
* Shomyoji Temple – Faded red bridges, murky brown water full of turtles and temple buildings fringed by some lush green vegetation covering hills which make a nice, simple hike with some fine views of Yokohama’s landscape. More important than all of that, it featured in a Manic Street Preachers music video! More details here.
* Hakone – This place (above) may reek a bit of conveyor-belt tourism with everyone doing the same loop through the region on all manner of transport modes but if you get lucky with the weather (I never have!) then some picture-postcard views of Mount Fuji are reward for your efforts. More details here.
* Yokohama – Japan’s second largest city (below) has a far more continental feel about it and some actual room to breathe! A much nicer place to roam than most of Tokyo’s most famous districts. Attractions deserve a blog entry of their own (now there’s an idea!) and include Chinatown, Yamashita-koen, Cosmo World, the Ramen Museum, Nissan Stadium and the Landmark Tower. More details here.
* Sankei-en Gardens – Picturesque landscaped gardens (above) with walking paths around ponds as well as some traditional tea houses and a pagoda. More details here.
Bonus: Kurihama Hana-no-kuni (Kurihama Flower World) a.k.a. Gojira-koen – Amidst the lush, green scenery of this park there is also a huge Godzilla statue that doubles up as a kids slide. More details here