We all know already what has happened in Japan, so I don’t want to make light of anything that’s happened to families, friends, or neighbors who live there and are trying to cope with the impact of the earthquake, nuclear leak, and everything else they must be going through. It’s been a tragedy and nobody can explain how deeply sorry that this incident has made me feel.

What I hope to do by this article is to show that Japan is a hidden treasure for those thinking about visiting sometime in the future. Japan is a place, not only of technology and bright lights, but of beauty and escape. There are so many things you can do in Japan that would be much better than visiting the Philippines or even the Fiji Islands. Take a look and see what I mean.


A city called Ichinomiya is the gateway to Japan’s most popular place for surfing. Surfing in Japan is quite established; with pro championships where folks like Kelly Slater are visiting and competing in. Another great aspect of living in or visiting Japan is that if you reside in the metropolitan area, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to drive hundreds of miles to the beach. You could take a walk to the beach, surf, then be back home for lunch. It’s all so close!

What’s crazy about Japan is that there is so much to this country. One day you could spend hours in the mountains, then ext day on a beach, the day after that would be snowboard day, and the day next would be sitting in the hot springs. Even the Japanese haven’t fully discovered Japan’s own potential for enjoying every aspect of the outdoors and its activities.

Hiking and Biking

Whether you like to tread the forest floors with your feet or your wheels, Japan has a great amount of forestry. You could ride you bike 45 minutes west of the city and instantly be transported to a whole new world of silence and nature. The sounds of cicadas and temple monks humming would be your muzak. There is so much adventure to be found in Japan. The country is 75% mountainous and consists of world-class rock climbing, sub-tropical beaches, and rapid rivers through thick forest. “Shrink seven western stats into California and that’s what you’ve got here” says 62-year old American Bill Werlin, general manager of Patagonia Japan and a six-year resident of Yokohama. “This is the best kept secret of the world.” This would be heaven for any hiker or biker.

The Japanese

The Japanese are a wonder to behold as well. These wonderful people are amazing at so many things. And when they put their mind to something, they pretty much obsess about it. The term for hobby in Japanese is closely related to the word obsession. These folks hold world records and climb mountains (a 70 year old Japanese man climbed Mount Everest becoming the oldest man to do so) and even travel other countries because they love a sports team. These people are always have a do-or-die mentality and they are the best at what they do. It’s just amazing to me. I have so much respect for this nation and its people.

Rock Climbing

Like I mentioned earlier, Japan has many mountains areas. This country is mostly made up of mountains. Therefore you can find many people spending time climbing 5.9’s and other extraneous terrain to get their climbing fix in. These individuals are world-class at what they do as well. There are many professionals practicing and having a great time climbing the steep rocks of Japan.

Some of the greatest sites while climbing in Japan are the temples. The architecture and design of these magnificent buildings brings you back ages to a time when the Samurai were well received and trained on a regular basis.

Natural Hot Springs

Nothing in Japan is better for following up a full day of activities than to bathe in the natural volcanic hot springs. There are also public baths that use the same volcanic onsen to heat their pools. What a great way to relax after a day of stretching and ripping apart your muscles. And a real treat whenever you visit Japan. This has got to be one of your main stops if any.

Getting to Japan

There are many deals nowadays that you can find to get to Japan. Priceline.com is a nice place to barter for reasonable deals for flights and hotels. Most major carriers fly to Japan. There are a couple that fly daily to Tokyo’s Narita and Osaka’s Kansai airports from the U.S.

  • American Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • All Nippon Airways

Fares range from $400 to around $800 except during peak travel time. So look often and you’ll find some great deals.

Getting Around Japan

Once you’re there, you’ll want to know how to get around. Japan has a great railway system that can easily be accessed and used by any visitor. Most railways are run by Japan Railways (212-332-8686; www.japanrail.com). If you’d prefer a bus, highway buses are a great option. Go to www.bus.or.jp/e for this. And if you’d like to pay around $80 per day, you can rent your own vehicle.

Beyond Tokyo

If you’re looking to go outside the metropolis and journey into even more unknown, there are plenty of places to visit.

  • The town of Minakami is an adventurous place for all-season activity

o   Contact Mike Harris at Canyons (011-81-278-72-2811).

o   Hot Springs: www.japaneseguesthouses.com

  • Boso Peninsula – southeast of Tokyo

o   David Green’s Hakkakuso Lodge (www.discoverjapan.co.jp)

  • The old capital of Kamakura

o   The best view of the giant Buddha

o   Rent a sailboard from Seven Seas (www.7seas.jp)

o   Kamakura Prince Hotel (www.princehotels.co.jp/kamakura-e)

o   Ikona (www.royalparkhotels.co.jo) – your own hot springs!

  • Niijima – best surf spot in East Asia

o   Yoshida-Ya (011-81-4992-5-1661)

o   Evergreen Outdoor Center (www.evergreen-outdoors.com)

o   Hana No Ki (www2.ocn.ne.jp/~hananoki)


So these are just a few of the places you can visit on your trip to Tokyo and beyond. There are plenty of activities to enjoy while you’re out and about, whether you like to spend time in the mountains or in the ocean. Have a great trip!