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This instantiates my broader question. Here, "near Tokyo" = within 300 km radius around Tokyo. I'm planning to visit Japan for 10 days and plan to apportion 5 days to Tokyo. For the remainder, I want to escape the megalopolis and implant myself into the (picturesque, scenic) rural backwoods/countryside? So would someone please suggest or recommend such a region? More criteria:

  1. No 100% untamed boondocks, bears and lethal animals, please.

  2. I won't drive, so must rely on public transport and walking (over reasonable distances).

  3. I must be able to see and access the ocean or a large body of water from this region.

  4. I want to evade temples and all buildings related to religion.

closed as too broad by David Richerby, Giorgio, choster, mkennedy, Robert Columbia Jan 12 at 11:15

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • How far can you go for "near Tokyo"? Are flights or boats OK? – jpatokal Jun 28 '14 at 11:57
  • @jpatokal I've enlarged on "near Tokyo." Yes, but I guess <= 300 km won't require them? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Jun 28 '14 at 16:24
  • This is the 4th time you have asked a nearly identical question - just how many different places do you think you can go in 10 days? – paul Jul 3 '14 at 11:54
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First of all, please let me explain what is Tokyo. Tokyo is not a city in its traditional meaning, Tokyo is a whole prefecture and at least half of it is covered by evergreen forests and scenic mountains. Quite unexpected for Tokyo, right?

  1. There are bears in Japan and even in Tokyo. But odds of meeting one are quite low, so I would not worry. Monkeys are much more of nuisance.
  2. This is fine as most Tokyoites don't have car anyways.
  3. Then, probably, we have to exclude Yamanashi, Gunma, Nagano - very close to Tokyo, very scenic and quite rural... I would offer Karuizawa which lies in Nagano prefecture, but there are only some lakes. Yamanashi prefecture got famous Fuji lakes, but it is landlocked otherwise.
  4. Impossible. Japan is very religious country and temples or religious institutions are virtually everywhere.

These are places I would highly recommend, but they fail by at lest one of criteria's you set:

  1. The most isolated place would be the western side of Izu peninsula. It is very rural, nature is breathtaking, quite wild, but trains don't go there. Car is the only option.
  2. Yamanashi prefecture. It is Tokyo prefecture neighbour, so it is very close. There are breathtaking views of Fuji mountain, five Fuji lakes, incredibly beautiful flower fields and much-much more. But it is landlocked, no sea is there.
  3. Nagano and Gunma - depends on the place, but really the wildest mountains you can imagine with places where no human foot stepped in. Trains do go there, and buses can be used for local commuting, but these two prefectures are landlocked too.
  4. Kanagawa prefecture - Shonan, Kamakura and Miura peninsula are within my Top5 of Japan's most beautiful places. Trains do go there, it is fairly close to Tokyo (in fact still within Bigger Tokyo Area), it is next to the beautiful sea, but you will see temples and pagodas on the every corner, because Kanagawa got very rich history.
  5. Isehara city in Kanagawa, Ooyama mountain - very close from Tokyo, access is perfectly good - just ride train to Isehara and bus from there to Ooyama entrance. The mountain is huge, nature is scenic, views from there are breathtaking. There are some bears sometimes and huge temple in the middle of the path.

So what do we have left?

  1. Atami. It is hot spring town in the northern part of Izu peninsula with scenic beaches. Quite mountainous with plenty of nature and wilderness. Trains go there (about an hour from Tokyo), but the town itself is sleepy and frozen in time. Worth to go, but not really the best place to go.
  2. Boso peninsula. Although geographically very close to Tokyo, access there is difficult - whether you have to ride slow, local trains around Tokyo bay, or go to Miura peninsula and ride ferry from there. It is quite wild, but remember that places accessible by public transport cannot be off the beaten path. I have been there several times and although Boso peninsula is very beautiful it is quite boring too.
  3. Hakone - great place with sea besides and warm lake in the volcanic crater. Hot springs, mountains and much more. Access is very easy - ride train to Hakone-yumoto, and take bus to Motohakone from there, or mountain cablecar to any station you wish - all of them are interesting.
  4. Southern islands of Tokyo aka Seven Izu Islands. Incredibly beautiful, still within 300 kilometers, accessible whether by boat from Takeshiba pier in Tokyo (JR Hamamatsucho station) or airplane from Haneda airport (Hachijojima island) or Chofu airport (other islands). There are no habu (yet) despite popular belief, by the way.

Update: according to islanders, Hachijojima have had a habu population, but introduction of weasels solved the problem.

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You may not realize it, but that's actually quite a difficult set of conditions. One by one:

  1. Well, this one's easy, there are no lethal animals anywhere near Tokyo.
  2. Also not a problem, public transport anywhere around Tokyo is also easy. "Off the beaten track" means relying on buses instead of trains, but you certainly don't need to rent a car. But...
  3. If you must be able to "see the ocean", only areas near the coastline qualify. However, more or less the entire eastern (Pacific Ocean) seaboard from Nagoya through Tokyo to Sendai is heavily industrialized, with only a few exceptions I'll get to later. (Check out a satellite map: not a whole lot of green on those coasts.)
  4. Most of the few remaining bits are national parks, and in Japan, virtually without exception, any mountain or scenic little offshore island will have a temple, shrine or both plunked on top.
  5. ...you do realize you're visiting Japan, yes, ? Maybe Mongolia might be a better idea.

So what does that leave us with? I'll throw out a few ideas. Note that all of these are popular with the Japanese as well, but tourism is pretty seasonal and it'll be fairly quiet on weekdays if you manage to avoid the major holidays.

  • The Izu Peninsula, about 2-3 hrs south of Tokyo by train, is a popular hot spring area with bits of perhaps only 50% tamed wilderness, like the rock formations of the Jogasaki coast near Ito, and a bunch of good hiking trails.
  • A bit closer to Tokyo, the southernmost bits of the Boso Peninsula are also a national park. Mount Nokogiri is the most famous spot around here, but (as usual...) it's encrusted with the usual temples and statues.
  • My top pick for you, though, would be the Izu Islands, 108-354 km away from Tokyo and easily reached by ferry or short flight. All feature volcanoes, volcanic black sand beaches, hiking trails, hot springs, cycling, scuba diving and more. On the downside, there are (rare) habu vipers and a slightly elevated risk of being killed by a volcano, but hey, this is Japan we're talking about, you can get stomped to death by Godzilla (or, more likely, an earthquake) anywhere.
  • +1 for the crowds! Japan and especially Tokyo is a bustling area. If you want to avoid crowded places...not the best option. – Aditya Somani Jun 30 '14 at 12:56
  • +1. Thank you. I remove the condition on crowds. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Jul 1 '14 at 3:33

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