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Mount Fuji 8

Mount Fuji 1

Climbing Mountain Fuji is a dream for mountain climbers and visitors alike. You can climb all the way up to the summit and watch the sunrise beside the spectacular caldera. What an amazing life experience! Here, I am going to tell you my story about climbing Mt. Fuji and let you in on all of the things you need to know before departure. So get ready with me! Here is all of the essential information to consider before your departure. So when you’re ready, double check your backpacks and head to the 5th station!

Why Should I Go?

Mount Fuji 13

Fuji-san is 3776 meters tall and it is the highest mountain in Japan. On clear days, Mount Fuji can be seen from as far away as Tokyo, Yokohama and Hakone. If you are visiting Tokyo at the right time of the year, there is no reason not to check out this breathtaking natural masterpiece. It does not matter whether you have determined to climb all the up to the summit, or just want to appreciate from a far view, or even chill around the lower levels, these are all amazing stories you can share with your families and friends.

When Is The Best Time to Climb Mount Fuji?

Mount Fuji 4

The official climbing season for Mount Fuji is from early July to mid September. During this period all the facilities and services are open, the weather is suitable for climbing, and the trails free of snow.

Different trails have different opening dates. It is highly recommended to climb during official season for your own safety. Below are the opening times for all trails in 2016:

  • Yoshida Trail: July 1 to September 10 (The descending trail will remain open until September 11 morning)
  • Subashiri, Gotemba, Fujinomiya Trails and Ohachi-Meguri Trail (The trail of crater rim): July 10 to September 10

I choose the Yoshida trail because it is the most popular and is accessible to new climbers. Most people start to climb from Subaru line 5th station, easily commute from Kawaguchiko (Fuji Five Lake Region). The ascent from 5th station to the summit will take approximately 5-7 hours, and the descent trail  (a separate trail), is another 3-5 hours.

Many mountain huts line the Yoshida trail around 7th and 8th stations. Here you can get food, water, rest, or even an overnight stay (reservation required; average charges for mountain huts are 5300 yen without meal and 7400 yen with two meals). Prices getting higher as the altitude increases; if you forgot to bring it with you, make sure to buy it early!

I chose to start my journey in early July, when the weather is clear and the trails less crowded. August can get very crowded, as the school term over and the traveling season starts. During these times, you may even need to wait in the line to get through some of the more narrow paths.

Now I Want To Climb! How Do I Get To Mount Fuji?

Mount Fuji 2

Mount Fuji is located to the west of Tokyo on the main island Honshu, between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. There are couple of options to get there and I choose to go with the easiest and cheapest way – highway express bus! I purchased the round trip tickets from this site, which cost 3500 yen from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko (1750yen/way). It runs regularly from 6 am to 11 pm, please check the timetable. Tickets sell out fast during climbing season, so please purchase tickets in advance to ensure yourself a spot! It takes about 1 hour from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko if traffic is in good condition. However it took us more than 3 hours the way back from Kawaguchiko, so be ready to adjust your plan accordingly!

After you arrive at Kawaguchiko, go to the ticket office at the left side of the Kawaguchiko bus terminal station and get a bus ticket to the “Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station” bus. Don’t worry about getting lost; they know exactly why you are there.  The tickets for this leg of the trip go for 1540 yen for one way or 2100 yen for round trip.

Caution: The first “Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station” bus runs from 6:40 am till 7:05 pm. If you plan to catch the first bus, be sure to purchase tickets a day before at the ticket counter (cannot be purchased online) because the ticket office is not open until 6:45am! Unfortunately this happened to us, and we had to wait to get on the second bus!

And while you are waiting for the bus to take you to Mount Fuji, take a few minutes to figure out your schedule. Be sure to check the arrival time of your return bus from Fuji to Kawaguchiko. This way, you can coordinate it with the bus you will need catch from Kawaguchiko back to Shinjuku. The return bus can get really crowded, so do not wait until last bus! You might not be able to squeeze in!

How Should I Prepare to Climb Mount Fuji?

Mount Fuji 3

Okay, finally we are heading to Mountain Fuji and start to get more serious! Keep in mind that Fuji-san is not a difficult climb, but it’s not a cakewalk, either. Do not even think about going all the way to summit without the following gear and enough energy–

  • Good Climbing Boots. The most essential thing for this climb is a sturdy set of climbing boots. Some rocky and steep areas are hard to climb. Good hiking boots are necessary to support you and protect your ankles.
  • Waterproof Jacket. Temperature and weather changes are unpredictable on the mountain. It can be cold, even in summer, and a strong wind will make it worse. A rain squall can also blow through, and you will want protection from the variances of the weather.
  • Protective Accessories. Sunglasses, hats, gloves, and sunscreen. The ultraviolet rays is very strong above the cloud cover. You do not want to get sunburned, so be sure to bring all these protections.
  • Hiking Stick. Due to lots of rocky and steep sections, you may need hiking sticks to aid you climb up all these tricky rocks. At Mount Fuji’s 5th station, you can get a wooden climbing stick that doubles as a souvenir of your trip! Some of them are decorated with colorful wraps, small bells and flags, and cost anywhere from 1300 to 2000 yen (depending on your decorations). Even better, you can get stamps burned into your stick at the huts along the trail. Each stamp  cost around 300 yen, and turns it into your unique souvenir! Get all the way to the top for that special summit stamp and show it off to your friends back home!

Mount Fuji 11 Mount Fuji 12

  • Flashlight. A flashlight is necessary for those of who are determined to climb overnight to see the sunrise. Even though the trail is illuminated during the peak season, for your own safety it is still highly recommended.
  • Snacks and Water. You’ll need some snacks to support you and help you get your energy back. Especially closer to the top, when there are fewer huts and things get more expensive. Water and meals can be purchased with a correspondingly higher charge at higher altitudes. Water is definitely a must. I recommend at least four liters, more if you can carry it.
  • Cash. Huts do not accept credit cards, and you need coins to use their toilets.
  • Trashbag. Please do not litter on the mountain. If you take it up, bring it back down. Also, there are pretty heavy fines if you get caught.

Before you start your climb, visit the Tourist Information Center to get maps, ask questions, and get the emergency phone number. Please call 0555-72-1477 if you run into any trouble while climbing.

What A Climb! Now What Can I Do Around Kawaguchiko?

If you are not in the rush, there are so many things you can do around Kawaguchiko. You can explore it before your climb starts, or before you go home! The beautiful Kawaguchiko Lakes are a 20-minute walk from station and are definitely worth visiting. You can get some snacks, sit beside the lake, and enjoy a relaxing moment.

There are also several museums located in this small town. Kubota Itchiku Museum, The Museum of Art, The Music Forest, The Gem Museum and Herb Hall. They’re bound to have something you like! You can even go to Fuji-Q Highland, a popular amusement park with exciting roller coaster and haunted house. Fuji-Q Highland is only two train stops away, and is a good way to get a warm up before a second day of climbing!

As for dinner, you don’t want to miss out the traditional dish especially from Yamanashi prefecture – Houtou. There are several good restaurants in town, so be sure to check opening hours and get in before its last order! You deserve a good meal after a long day.

Mount Fuji 7

If you have enough time, there is another spot you do not want to miss. The Chureito Pagoda is a five-story pagoda on the mountainside, which you can climb in about 15 minutes. The breathtaking view overlooks the whole of Fujiyoshida city and Mountain Fuji, and the view from here (as well as a picture) at the right time is going to be a cherished memory of your trip. During the cherry blossom season, this is a fantastic photography spot for that classic Mountain Fuji photo shot. To get there, take the train from Kawaguchiko station to Shimo-Yoshida Station (3 stations away). Follow the signs after leaving the station and you can easily reach the Pagoda. I was lucky enough to arrive there at sunset, and the view of Mountain Fuji surrounded by a sunset glow and cotton candy clouds, with the whole city slowly lighting up, was an amazingly beautiful sight!

Mount Fuji 8

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to climbing Mount Fuji and what to do afterwards. Remember, hydrate, wear sunscreen, get a stick, and have fun!

To explore other experiences in Japan, click on the articles below–

July 22, 2016 0 comment
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Kasai Rinkai Park Tokyo Japan

Kasai Rinkai Park

Kasai Rinkai Park Tokyo Japan

Need to get the family away from the city for a while? Kasai Rinkai Park in Edogawa might be just the place to visit! This enormous park has plenty of green space and benches to host your picnic. Or you can make a getaway to one of its two man-made beaches to relax and take in the view of beautiful Tokyo Bay.

Kasai Rinkai Park Tokyo Japan

Kasai Rinkai Park Tokyo Japan

After a nice picnic or a stroll on the beach, head on over to the Tokyo Sea Life Park Aquarium. Host to a variety of exotic fish and sea-life from all over the world, the aquarium features a penguin viewing area where you can watch the birds swim and play. (Tokyo Sea Life Park Aquarium – Adults 700 yen, Middle Schoolers 250 yen, younger children free. Open 9:30 am – 5:30 pm, closed Wednesdays and December 29th – January 1st).

Are you interested in birds? The eastern end of the park hosts a walk-through bird sanctuary. Paved paths guide visitors through the sanctuary, and tall walls protect our feathered friends. Be sure to stop at one of the many observation points to catch a glimpse of the sanctuary’s residents, and stop at the Sea Bird Center to learn more about the sanctuary’s inhabitants.

Kasai Rinkai Park Tokyo Japan

Top off your visit to Kasai Rinkai Park with a ride on the Diamond and Flower Ferris wheel, the second-largest of its kind in all of Japan. From this lofty vantage point you can see Disneyland, Tokyo Bay, and on clear days even all the way to Mount Fuji! At night, the Ferris wheel’s bright neon lights display elaborate patterns for viewers to enjoy. (Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel – open Weekdays 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, Weekends 10:00 am – 9:00 pm. 700 yen per rider).

Kasai Rinkai Park is a perfect place for anyone wanting to escape the noise and crowds of central Tokyo on a gorgeous day off!

Kasai Rinkai Park Location Information

Website | Facebook (visitor reviews)

Nearest Station: directly off of Kasairinkaikoen Station ( JR Keiyō Line or Musashino Line)

Hours of Operation: Park – 24/7; Aquarium – Open 9:30 am – 5:30 pm (Closed Wednesdays); Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel – Weekdays 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, Weekends 10:00 am – 9:00 pm

“Why Go?”: Amazing views on a beautiful Ferris wheel, fun aquarium for families and beautiful scenery away from Central Tokyo craziness!

Click on one of the tags below to explore other relaxation options in Tokyo–

July 8, 2016 0 comment
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Kiso Valley Nagano Japan

Kiso Valley Nagano Japan

Not all Japan travelers want to stay in cities like Tokyo and Osaka, and that’s okay. If you are an outdoorsy type, consider heading up to Nagano Prefecture for a few days to hike the Kiso Valley Nagano Trail and staying in a tradition ryokan.

The Kiso Valley Nagano Trail runs between the towns of Magome and Tsumago. During the Edo Period, the trail was used as a part of the road between Tokyo and Kyoto.  The trail winds through the rice paddy fields, villages, and beautiful forests along the Kiso River. The entire trail is clearly marked in both Japanese and English. It is a two to three hour hike, if walked at a moderate sightseeing pace.

If you want a downhill walk, head from Magome to Tsumago. If you are looking for a challenge, do just the opposite. Both towns have Tourist Information Centers who can help with your luggage, should you have any–one center will deliver your luggage to the other if dropped off between 8:30-11:30am.  and picked up after 1:00pm. This service only operates from late-March through November, and they charge ¥500 per item.

During the summer, Kiso Valley has many opportunities for outdoor activities such as rock climbing, bicycle touring, canoeing, and kayaking. Not coming until winter? Well, that’s the perfect time to enjoy one of Kiso Valley’s many ski resorts.

But you’re not just going to walk the trail and leave, are you? Both Tsumago and Magome’s architecture are reflective of the Edo Period and are gorgeous in their own right. Once you arrive in one of the towns for the night, go the traditional route and stay in a Minshuku-style ryokan.

Kiso Valley Nagano Tourism Information Offices

Tumago Tourism Association Tourist Office

Website

 Hours of Operation: 8:30am- 5:00pm (17:00)

Address: 2159-2 Azauma, Nagiso-chou, Kiso-gun, Nagano

Phone: 0264-57-3123

E-Mail: info@tumago.jp

Ryokan in Tsumago:

Yamamizuki URARA Tsutaya

  • Address: 2012-4, Fukushima, Kiso-machi,  Kiso-gun, Nagano
  • Phone: 0264-22-2145
  • Booking: http://travel.rakuten.com
  • Expected Price: Around ¥15,000 per night

Minshuku Murachiya

  • Address: 5373-1 Yasawa Fukushima, Kiso-machi, Kiso-gun, Nagano
  • Phone: 0264-22-3186
  • Booking: https://www.tripadvisor.com
  • Expected Price: Around ¥6,200 per night

Tsutaya Tokinoyado Kazari

  • Address: 5623-2 Kaida Kogen Suekawa, Kiso-cho, Kiso-gun, Nagano
  • Phone: 0264-42-1188
  • Website: http://www.kiso-kazari.com/lg_en/
  • Expected Price: Around ¥22,500 per night

Ryokan in Magome:

Tajimaya

  • Address: 4266 Magome Nakatsugawa-shi, Gifu-ken
  • Phone: 0796-32-2626
  • Website: JapaneseGuestHouses.com
  • Expected Price: Around ¥7,000-¥10,000 per night

Magomechaya

  • Address: 4296 Nakatsugawa-shi, Gifu-ken
  • Phone: 0573-69-2038
  • Website: JapaneseGuestHouses.com
  • Expected Price: Around ¥7,000-¥10,000 per night

Iwatake

  • Address: 4254 Magome, Nakatsugawa-shi, Gifu-ken
  • Phone: 0573-69-2201
  • Website: JapaneseGuestHouses.com
  • Expected Price: Around ¥7,000-¥10,000 per night

Nearest Station: Kiso Fukushima station

“Why Go?”: It’s a great opportunity to explore the Tokyo-Kyoto road as it was in the Edo Period, and stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan!

Click on one of the tags below to explore other cultural options in Tokyo and beyond–

July 1, 2016 0 comment
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Urawa Red Diamonds

Saitama Stadium

Japan might be known for its baseball popularity, but there is also a very strong football culture (Japan has qualified for the last five FIFA World Cups). Football games in Japan aren’t like with those in other countries in Europe or South America where there might be a dose of hooliganism. J1 League games (the top professional football league in Japan) are festive events where family and friends get together to cheer their teams, but not in a tribalistic manner. Indeed, the ratio of women attending Japanese football games are around 40%, which is higher than most countries such as in England, where female attendance is generally 20%. Japanese football fans are passionate, where throughout the game you’ll hear chants, people jumping up and down, and supportive flags waving feverishly. Moreover, there is a low-entry barrier for football games in Japan as ticket prices are much cheaper than those found in Europe (prices generally range from ¥2,500-¥5,000), as well as easy transport options to reach the various stadiums.

Apart from the atmosphere of the games themselves, Japan also has fantastic stadiums for watching Japanese football. Saitama Stadium particularly stands out as one of the best, with its lack of a running-track around the field, ensuring more excitement and closer proximity to the action. Saitama stadium was built in 2001 in preparation for the 2002 Japan-Korea World Cup, and is one of the largest football-specific stadiums in Asia, with a total capacity of 63,700 spectators. The stadium dominates the landscape of Saitama, a satellite city just one hour by train from Tokyo. The scale and design of the stadium is impressive, walking up to it, you would think that it’s the Emirates Stadium in London. The stadium makes for especially interesting match viewings as it is home to the Urawa Red Diamonds, the most supported league football team in the country with an average home crowd of 37,000. Watching a home game here with the Urawa Red Diamonds is lively experience, with passionate fans filling the huge world-class stadium.
Urawa Red Diamonds
In 2015, the J1 League changed its system where it became a multistage arrangement, with the year split into two principal seasons. The winners of the first and second season, as well as the highest ranking club on the league table (apart from the first and second winners) will qualify for a Championship Stage.  This system is not seen in Europe, and makes the J1 League a much more exciting league to follow. With this system change, as well as with the unpredictability of the J1 League, viewing a match will most likely top your expectations, and could certainly be a highlight of your visit to Japan. The next stage starts July 2nd, so look at the schedule below and plan your football outing today!

Saitama Stadium Location Information

Website (Find out about J1 League match schedules here) | Facebook
Nearest Station: 21-minute walk from Urawa-Misano (Saitama Rapid Railway Line)


Estimated Price: ¥2,500-¥5,000 for J1 League matches.
“Why Go?”: If you want to watch Japanese professional football in a world-class stadium.
Click on one of the tags below to explore other entertainment options in Tokyo–

June 30, 2016 0 comment
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IMG_1230editBaji Koen is a beautiful, horse-centric park in Setagaya-ku that spans 45 acres that is great for children and families. The park was originally built in 1940 by the Japan Racing Association to become the first comprehensive horse facility in all of Japan. A few decades later it even held events for the 1964 Summer Olympics that were held in Tokyo! Although the park is located relatively far from central Tokyo, it has a variety of facilities , indoor and out, related to equestrian events where you can see over 100 horses grazing or training for competitions. On weekdays you can go to the horse-petting areas to hangout with these amazing animals or even enjoy free pony-riding for the kids. The real fun happens on the weekends however, when you get to see the equestrian matches live or see one of the horse  shows where the horses perform their best tricks!

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Even if horses are not your thing, the park also includes beautiful Japanese gardens with plenty of seasonal flower arrangements that make it easy to stroll and relax on a nice day.  Baji Koen is the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon, and best of all, its free!

TIP: Make sure to check the Baji Koen website and calendar beforehand to make sure they have the events you want to see.

Baji Koen Location Information:

〒158-8523  2-1-1 Kamiyoga, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Website | Twitter 

Nearest Station: 15 minute walk for Yõga Station (Tokyu-Den-entoshi Line) (click on the google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: March-October: 9AM-5PM, (November-February: 9AM-4PM)

Estimated Price: Free

“Why Go?”: Beautiful parks and equestrian events all for free!

 

June 10, 2016 0 comment
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Ueno Zoo is a top-notch Tokyo destination great for families and couples alike. It’s easy to get to, it’s not expensive, and they have pandas! The Zoo is also in Ueno Park, which is home to many of Tokyo’s other cultural attractions (such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum).

But what if you’re new to Tokyo? You don’t speak the language, you’re afraid of getting lost, and you’re not even sure if you can get tickets once you get there? Well, that’s where we come in! My trusty camera-woman and I went to the zoo and filmed the entire process. All you have to do is watch the video, and there’s no way you’ll get lost!

 

GETTING THERE

Ueno Station is on the JR Yamanote Line. Once you arrive at Ueno, you will depart via the Ueno Park Exit. Once outside, you will cross the street to enter Ueno Park proper. From there, the Zoo is only a few minute’s walk, and you will see the entrance almost immediately after entering the park.

GETTING TICKETS

The very front of the zoo has a number of electronic ticket machines, similar to the ones at the train stations. Here, you can select English (or a number of other language options) and buy tickets. Adults (age 16+) are 600 yen, Students (age 13-15) are 200 yen, and children 12 and under are free! After that, you get your ticket stamped, go inside, and get your English-language map of the Zoo. And now you’re ready for your day!

Ueno Zoo, Tokyo Japan

…AND THE REST

Go and see the pandas right away. They are to the right of the Main Entrance Gate, and that line isn’t going to get any shorter. Beyond that, let your map and your interests be your guide. Don’t miss the Children’s Zoo–you may get the chance to pet some bunnies and guinea pigs!

Ueno Zoo, Tokyo Japan

As you can see on the Zoo Map, the Zoo itself is split into East and West Gardens, connected by a bridge. Ueno Zoo can be quite a hike, so be ready with your water bottles and snacks. If necessary, you can rent strollers (300 yen) or acquire a wheelchair (free) at any of the entrances. If your feet get too tired, you can take the monorail back and forth between the Gardens (150 yen for age 13+, 80 yen for age 12 and under).

There are no language barriers at the Ueno Zoo–every exhibit, sign, etc. is subtitled in English. Even if you are struggling with the local lingo, you’ll find no problems here. And if you are studying the language, let the zoo help you learn the names of the animals in Japanese!

Jackass Penguin Sign Ueno Zoo Tokyo

Even better, the Zoo can be your gateway to the other attractions at Ueno Park, which are just as English-friendly and easy to get to. So don’t just sit home on another long weekend! Plan your trip to the Ueno Zoo today!

Ueno Zoo Information

Ueno Zoo (English site)

5 minute walk from Ueno JR station (click on the map pin for directions via Google Maps)

 

Hours: 09:30-17:00, closed Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday is a public holiday). Last tickets sold at 16:00.

Ticket Prices: 600 yen for adults (age 16+), 300 yen for seniors (age 65+), 200 yen for students (age 13-15, free if living in or attending school in Tokyo), Free for all children age 12 and under. Does not include concessions or souvenirs.

“Why Go?”: It’s an inexpensive, easy outing for families and lone travelers. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Not to mention pandas, and penguins, and lemurs, and…

Rhino Ueno Zoo Tokyo

Ueno Zoo, Tokyo Japan

 

February 11, 2016 0 comment
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Top 5 Fall Foliage: Gotokuji Temple, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan

Though Japan’s internationally admired cherry blossoms typically come to mind when thinking of seasonal delights, the country is equally stunning during the fall. The brilliant crimson and golden leaves are a particularly nice touch of nature amidst the urban sprawl of Tokyo.

Here are 5 of our favorite fall foliage viewing spots in and around Tokyo that we recommend you visit this autumn.

A word of warning: head out early to avoid the camera and tripod-wielding photography enthusiasts that love to block the paths!

Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

 

If you’re looking for a spot to enjoy the autumn chill right in the heart of Tokyo, Yoyogi Park the perfect place to relax and and enjoy a lazy fall afternoon. You can either join in the fun and games or tuck yourself away into a quiet corner in the massive park.

Closest Stations: Harajuku Station, Meijijingu-mae Station

Fall foliage at Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo

The nearby Shinjuku Gyoen is another wonderful place to enjoy the fall colors. Unlike Yoyogi Park, there’s a small entrance fee but you’re rewarded with a stillness and quiet that make you feel as if you stepped into another universe. And once you’re ready to take on the crowds again, you can enjoy some shopping in East Shinjuku.

 

Top 5 Fall Foliage: Gotokuji Temple, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan

Gotokuji Temple in Setagaya

 

Gotokuji, Setagaya, Tokyo

You know that adorable paw-waving cat (the maneki neko) that you see everywhere in Japan? Though the story changes, one version is that one day a daimyo was passing by a temple when his attention was caught by a cat that appeared to be beckoning him in. As soon as he entered, a downpour began. Feeling grateful that he avoided the storm, the daimyo afterwards bought and restored Gotokuji temple and the maneki neko has since been associated with good luck. So it’s no surprise that you’ll find thousands of the statues here, both large and small. You’ll also see retirees relax and paint as you wander through the small, but interesting temple grounds.

Address: Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku, Gotokuji 2-24-7
Closest stations: Gotokuji Station, Miyano-saka Station
Note: It’s not a straight shot to Gotokuji from Gotokuji Station so you may want to use Miyano-saka Station instead.

 

Top 5 Fall Foliage: Manekineko at the Gotokuji Temple, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan

 

Mount Takao

If enjoy hiking, then you likely already know of Tokyo’s best hiking. With well-maintained paths of varying difficulties (and the monkey park!), Mt. Takao is a great place to visit any time of the year. The scenery here is particularly spectacular in the fall, however, and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see Mount Fuji on a clear day. Trails can get crowded, so this is one spot you definitely want to arrive at early.

 

Fall foliage at Hondoji, Chiba, Japan

Hondoji Temple

Hondoji, Matsudo, Chiba

Though a bit out of the way compared to some of the other spots, Hondoji temple is a great place to enjoy the fall leaves. The old wooden buildings provide the perfect backdrop to the vibrant leaves. The grounds are spacious enough that you don’t have to jostle your way through the crowds and there are a variety of buildings and gardens to look at. Simply take the Chiyoda line to Kita-Kogane station and it’s a short walk from there.

Address: 63 Hiraga, Matsudo, Chiba 270-0002, Japan
Closest Station: Kita-Kogane Station.
Note: Kita-Kogane Station is easily accessed from Tokyo via the Chiyoda line.

 

Hondoji

 

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2015 0 comment
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Kickflip, pop shuv-it. 360-Bar Spin, Half Cab. Watch out for the old lady! The taxi cab! Oops! Ooof… ugh.

The streets of Tokyo are too crowded for you to get your skate/bike on. That’s why there are strict laws against skateboarding here. For a place that seems like heaven to most skaters/BMXers, it is quite depressing when you learn that the gates to skate/BMX utopia are closed unless you want to get your board or bike confiscated by the 5-0.

That’s why we at Enable Japan put together this list, so that you can skate/BMX in peace and harmony without having to worry about that old lady, taxi cab, or the police.

**Public parks are usually free to enter, but not always. Private parks have a fee depending on the day/time**

Miyashita Park (Nike Park): Shibuya

Miyashita Park is the place for some light vert/street sessions. It is an outdoor park, so that means you’re SOL if its raining or other inclement weather. It’s a simple skate park with a bowl, a few vert ramps, and boxes. Helmets are mandatory, but the park does provide helmets if you forgot yours or just don’t own one. Important Note: is that WAX is PROHIBITED. So don’t bring a 1/2lb of wax, as the guard is going to kick you out as soon as he sees you waxing that board.

Website

Nearest Station: 4-minute walk from Shibuya Station

Address:
 

Hours of Operation: 09:0 am – 10:00 pm daily.

Estimated Price: 200 yen (public) or 100 yen (primary and secondary students) for 2 hours. Free helmet rental (helmet is required to use this facility).

T3 Trinity (Trinity B3): Funado Itabashi

This park is located all the way out near Saitama. But this is the park that we know from TV, magazines, and videos. Inside T3 (or B3, depending on who you’re talking to) you’ll find one of the best-looking parks in Tokyo. Plenty of ramps, stairs, bowls, pipes, and rails for you to tire yourself out during an all-day session. Trinity is inside, which means rain, sleet, snow—it doesn’t matter. Skate/bike your day away.  Also, Trinity supports a wider range of extreme sports: from BMX to inline skating, most of your favorite extreme sports are covered. There’s also a shop that sells tools, parts, gear, and clothing—and apparently they offer lessons (in Japanese of course). This park also holds regular events, so don’t be surprised if you’re unable to skate/bike because of an event.

Facebook (Japanese) | Blog (Japanese/English)

Nearest Station: 16-minute walk from Ukimafunado Station (Saikyo line)

 

Hours of Operation: 1:00 pm – 12:00 am daily.

Estimated Price: Unavailable. Pro shop available.

Nissan Skate Park: Shin-Yokohama

Beautiful. Skate/BMXtopia. Dope. Three words I can think of off the top of my head to describe this skate park located underneath the Yokohama F. Marinos Nissan Soccer/Football Stadium. This park has loads of quarters, flat banks, ramps, boxes, and plenty of free space for some flat ground skating as well. Rainy days are no problem here, as a majority of the park is covered by the stadium. This is a must-skate/BMX park, so whether you’re just visiting or a long-term resident, make sure you plan a trip to this beautiful skate park.

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 12-minute walk from Kozukue Station  (Yokohama Line)

 

Hours of Operation: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm

Estimated Price: Free entry.

4. Kawaguchi Skate Park: Kawaguchi, Saitama

Don’t underestimate Kawaguchi Skate Park because of its size—this small, concrete skate park has a small bowl, some ledges, flat banks, and rails. The park is outside, so it’s closed on rainy days and days of inclement weather. But if you’re a Saitama resident, and don’t want to go far, don’t skate on the street—make your way over to this little gem of a skate park in Kawaguchi.

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 12-minute walk from Kawaguchi Station (Keihin-Tohoku Line)

 

Hours of Operation: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (April – September), 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (October – March). Closed December 29th – January 3rd (winter holiday) and during inclement weather.

Estimated Price: Free

Tokyo is a concrete jungle, but skating on the street is banned and BMXing is frowned upon. Don’t break the rules; choose one of the above parks and break out some new tricks where you don’t have to worry about the 5-0 stopping you, the old lady in your way (and vice versa), or the taxi cab driver running you over. Go forth, and skate/BMX in harmony and peace.

Check out our interview with local amateur skater Patrick Herbert for more tips. 

October 18, 2015 0 comment
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EnAble Japan met up with local amateur skater Patrick Herbert, to conduct a short interview and get a first person perspective on the skate scene here in Tokyo for foreigners. We also discuss his experience and how skating here in Tokyo has affected him. He’s a busy guy that had to get back to doing what he loves best, skating, gaming, or just being awesome, but he made time and here’s what he had to say:

EnAble Japan (EJ): What’s your name and how long have you been skating?

Patrick Herbert interview
Patrick Herbet (PH): Patrick Herbert. I would say roughly for 4 years.

EJ: How did you get into skating?

PH: From a video game and watching skaters fly across the air appealed to me.
Patrick Herbet, Skating in Tokyo

EJ: What’s the skating scene like here in Tokyo?

PH: Well, Tokyo…. skaters here seem to skate at night or in secluded areas as if they are afraid to be seen.

EJ: What’s your favorite park, and why?

PH: Shinyokohama. I say that because it’s the first park I had ever been to. And I have lots of friends there too.

Patrick Herbet, Skating in Tokyo

EJ: How often do you skate?

PH: I try to skate at least 30 minutes a day.

Patrick Herbet, Skating in Tokyo

EJ: On a scale of 1-to-10, 10 being pro, rate yourself.

PH: I’m probably a 4. Haha. That’s cuz I still have tons to do to ever gain the skill level to get noticed and etc.

Patrick Herbet, Skating in Tokyo

EJ: What’s the best trick you’ve ever landed? What trick are you working on now?

PH: The best trick? Hmm… I can do tre flip body varial which gets the skaters all psyched out… but for me… it’s just doing an Ollie or switch Ollie. Especially switch because it’s like learning to write with your non-dominant hand.

EJ: What’s the hardest and easiest trick to land?

PH: It might sound crazy but the hardest and easiest trick for me is the Ollie. The fundamental trick. Haha. But these days, I’ll say doing a heelflip.

Patrick Herbet, Skating in Tokyo

EJ: Have you learned anything from Japanese skaters? What?

PH: Honestly, not much. Maybe because people are still a bit shy. But it’s okay. I skated with this one group of Japanese skaters. It was fun.

EJ: Do you think that being in Tokyo has affected how you skate? In what way has skating in Tokyo influenced you?

PH: Well, I have never skated in the US. I picked the sport up because I was too much into gaming and wouldn’t get out my room. Haha. So I chose something that will get me outside everyday.

Big Thanks to Patrick, aka Hash Breezy, for making time for the interview!

Patrick Herbet, Skating in TokyoPatrick is a current student at Temple University Japan in Azabu Juban. He is an avid skater, video gamer, and an all-around cool guy. If you see him, make sure you show him some love, and tell him you read about him on EnAbleJapan.com! 

Want to know some of Tokyo’s best spots to skate? Visit 4 Parks to Safely Skate and BMX at Around Tokyo.

September 2, 2015 0 comment
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Shinjuku Gyoen Featured Image, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Edited by Daniel Foster
Music by Ean Cruz

For more information on this beautiful park, visit our article Shinjuku Gyoen: A spectacular garden amongst highrises.

You’ve been walking all day in Shinjuku, trying new and exquisite foods, buying souvenirs, and spending a lot of your hard-earned cash. We know what you’re thinking: “If only I could go somewhere and relax for a bit. Somewhere away from all of these skyscrapers and crowded streets.”— Then, mosey on over to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Easily one of the most beautiful areas of nature in Tokyo, Gyoen National Garden is located amongst the tallest skyscrapers and high rises in Shinjuku. Gyoen stretches over 58.3 hectares in area with a circumference of 3.5 km. Gyoen is home to three distinct styles of landscaping: French and English in the north, and Japanese in the south. In addition to those landscapes, Gyoen offers two Japanese traditional tea houses, a green house, and a “mother and child forest” (母と子の森).

Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Shinjuku Gyoen is a popular spot for couples, friends, and families. Cherry Blossom season is the most popular and people usually have picnics under the blossoms while enjoying the company of their friends, families, and acquaintances. That doesn’t mean you can’t do the same in any season, though, as people still hang out in Gyoen on sunny summer days as well as cooler autumn evenings. And don’t worry, if you’re drinking, be it water or beer, Gyoen has plenty of rest rooms (like any other park, though, don’t expect the cleanest ones).

Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Mostly characterized by its large field, the English garden has that back-home feel to it that UK and US residents will instantly recognize. A few trees here and there aren’t enough to stop you from throwing a Frisbee, kicking around a football, or just relaxing. This area also offers beautiful paths shaded by trees in late spring to late fall, as well as some small ponds and beautiful foliage.Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan People of French origin do not despair; the French garden is just as beautiful. Personally, I have never been to France, but you can instantly tell the difference in landscaping when you begin to enter the French garden. Instead of trees, the French garden has beautiful shrubbery populating its lawn. Still, this doesn’t affect how you can use the garden in the least bit. Hanging out with friends, playing some football, or just kicking back and relaxing is no problem.

Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

It should be noted of both gardens that you won’t be able to have a full on game with a group of 20 friends here. It is a National Garden and not a football pitch after all.

The Japanese landscape is just what one should expect: traditionally beautiful, with Japanese aesthetics and characteristics. This garden is the largest of the three and definitely the most luxurious. Shrubbery, Japanese foliage, and trees populate the landscape and are complimented with beautiful traditional tea houses, bridges, and ponds. As you traverse this area, you have colorful foliage in front of you, and colorful carp in the ponds underneath you. All elements of Japanese aesthetics have been properly placed for a most enjoyable experience.

Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Tired already? There are plenty of benches along the way for you to stop and rest at, and the pavilions have drink machines if you’re thirsty.

Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

The greenhouse is an added bonus. The greenhouse is humid in the summer, and cool in the winter, and is a great way to start or finish your visit to Gyoen. Lily pads, cacti, exotic flowers and various other plants all populate this magnificent area and offer an experience that plant-lovers and botanists will not forget.

Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan Shinjuku Gyoen, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Parks are hidden gems amongst the skyscrapers, high rises, and crowded Tokyo streets. Anyone who’s lived in Japan for some time will tell you your average park is usually a dirt lot with a few benches and trees. Also, you’re hard pressed to find a piece of nature in Tokyo, so don’t let the city overwhelm you. Take a break from the busy streets and fast life of Tokyo, and make sure you head over to Shinjuku Gyoen to revitalize your spirit, recharge your mind, and breathe and enjoy fresh air in the company of nature.

August 2, 2015 0 comment
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