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SUITCASE Advertorial | Odakyu Electric Railway
Combining the traditional with the futuristic, visiting Japan – and Tokyo in particular – is an electrifying experience. It can also be exhausting. Tokyo’s fast pace can be hard to maintain, so we suggest a day trip beyond the neon city as an appealing shift in gears. The best way to explore outside the capital? By train, of course.
Take the Odakyu Electric Railway on a memorable excursion from Shinjuku station to Tokyoite-favoured spots such as Hakone, Ōyama and Enoshima. En route, rolling panoramic views undulate from mountain peaks to crystalline waters, and your train itinerary can be just as variable. Allow for stopovers to take in natural landmarks, a spa session or simply enjoy a leisurely city walkabout – you’re not on Tokyo time now.
Best for Beach: Enoshima
While you may know Enoshima as a place of pilgrimage, Tokyoites would say that the Kanto area’s main draw is its surf. The popular beach destination is well suited to boarders hoping to break away from the urban buzz and trade cityscape for rural coastline. Those with limited time should make tracks for Shonan, a trendy beach spot in the south. Grab that Wes Anderson-esque green, electric train from Kamakura and Fujisawa, making spontaneous stops along the coast as you go.
If you’ve got a full day to explore, it’s most economical to purchase a day pass for 600JPY (£4). Drop towel at Enoshima Beach anytime between July and August for the best waves and dine at GARB 江ノ島 – a stylish, beachside restaurant kitted out with a pizza oven and views of the surf. After dinner, take a stroll to the Sea Candle lighthouse. Other pitstops worth noting include Hase for the great buddha at Kotoku-in temple and Fujisawa for a visit to the conceptual Shonan T-Site bookstore; you’ll fit them all in if you use the Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass. From Shonan, brush off the sand, pack away your flip flops and jump on a train back to Tokyo.
Best for Spa: Hakone
Mention the name Hakone to any beauty swot worth their weight in high-end skincare and watch them squeal. One of the most renowned hot-spring resort towns in Japan, hilly Hakone is approximately 80 minutes on the Odakyu line from Shinjuku, Tokyo. With not a single high-rise in sight, its zenified surroundings – think outdoor baths lined with cedar trees – are made for respite. On arrival, take a ropeway – and then a cruise – before reaching the serene Lake Ashi. Take in views of Mount Fuji’s tip before venturing along the rocky banks of the Hayakawa River to Bansuiro Fukuzumi onsen. Known for its magnesium- and sulphur-filled pools, these alkaline waters are thought to rejuvenate your skin. The volcanic valley of Ōwakudani is an equally revitalising outpost worth exploring.
When you’ve had your fill of relaxation, tackle Hakone’s hilly terrain for an afternoon hike. For something less energetic, explore the areas many art museums. Resort-style lodgings are the way to stay in Hakone and Hakone Highland Hotel – the former residence of a baron, which also houses a relaxing spa and wellness centre – is among the best. Book well in advance to secure a room facing the garden. Alternatively, for a day spa make tracks to Hakone Yuryo.
Best for Nature: Oyama
From Shinjuku station, ride the Odakyu Odawara line to Isehara, then take a bus to Oyama. Hiking trails beckon active city dwellers to the peak of Mount Oyama, located within the Tanzawa-Oyama Quazi-National Park. Express trains depart frequently from Shinjuku Station – you’ll reach your destination in a neat 60 minutes. Non-hikers will be just as enthralled by the region’s historic temples and shrines with must-sees including Oyama-dera temple and the Afuri-jinja shrine. Made up of two parts, the lower shrine (known as the Shimosha) which sits at the top of the cable car line is the most compelling. Take in views of Enoshima Island and the Miura Peninsula from this unique vantage point.
Save money and time with the Tanzawa-Oyama Freepass (valid for two days) which covers transportation to and from Shinjuku (and other stations – including Hon-Atsugi-Shibusawa area), plus a return cable-car ride and unlimited use of designated bus lines. The journey from Shinjuku to Isehara (the closest station to Oyama) takes one hour – if you’re unsure of your route, head to Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centres to seek advice from helfpul, English-speaking staff. Reserve a seat on the Limited Express “Romancecar” for a small surcharge and some major brownie points (as well as a snack set from the roving food cart).
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