Day Trip out of Tokyo, Tokyo
Since I lived in Kyushu and Honshu I found a lot of interesting places off the beaten path. I personally wouldn't recommend going to Tokyo. It's an ugly city, steel and concrete, full of people, cars, trucks, and buses. If seeing hi-tech Japan is your thing then have at it.
The Japanese culture has evolved over a couple thousand years. The most noteworthy period of Japanese history isn't represented in the cities. You have to get out and away from them. Kyushu is a good place to start. The geography is beautiful. From active volcanos, to green pastures, terraced rice paddies, and beautiful isolated beaches. One place that very few foreigners have ever been to or know exists is a memorial in Chiran. It is dedicated to all the kamikaze flyers from WWII. It is essentially a shrine/museum/memorial with exhibits, personal effects, and pictures of every kamikaze pilot. It is quite a moving experience to go there and is well laid out. Well worth the visit if you are ever in the Kagoshima area.
Another place that is worth a visit is anywhere along the old Tokyo-Kyoto road. I can't remember the exact name of it. It was the foot road between the two cities during feudal times. Parts of it, especially in the mountains is quite beautiful and alot of the buildings retain their original appearance from those Edo days.
Of all the temples to visit in Japan. I'd go back to Chio-in (I think I spelled it right)in Kyoto. It is magnificent, very old, and very ornate. The best time to visit it I think would be in the early spring before the summer tourist season arrives. If you can be inside it on a cool morning by yourself like I was fortunate enough to do on my first visit, then I'm sure you will have a very memorable experience.
In northern Japan, I wasn't too crazy about it. I was just up there in Jan/Feb. Yes, tons of snow and it was quite beautiful driving through snow covered country towns but there is a reason why the population is lower up there and there are far less attractions......it gets freakin' cold in the winter!! I've done the Saporro Ice festival thing a couple times. It's O.K. to see once. Don't expect to get a clean picture of anything though. If you're already up that way you might as well drive on up to the northern most point on Hokkaido. If you make it, there is a shrine on top of a hill over-looking the point. It is dedicated to a U.S. WWII submarine sunk in the straits between Hokkaido and Sakhaline. About a 100 yards away from that shrine is another monument dedicated to the KAL flight 007 that the Soviets shot down in those straits in 1983?
Again there's not much up there but if you want to eat some good king crab and see what the harsh elements shape the environment and culture into then check it out.
For theme park junkies (er... that would be me huh?), DON'T MISS the Sanrio Puroland Theme Park located in Tama City here in Tokyo. Enjoy a fun-filled day with your favorite Sanrio characters... yes, like Hello Kitty! :-))
Mt Fuji, here I come! Well, no visit to Tokyo is considered complete if one doesn't conquer Mt Fuji. You can join an excursion tour or go there on your own. For more details, do check with your hotel concierge. He'd be able to help you make the necessary arrangements and give you some great tips.
P.S. Pic taken from a moving train!
To enjoy the beautiful scenery of Fuji at the time of enjoying your hot spring, you may consider of going to hot spring centre there.
Kamakura is much more that Great Budda.
Let's experience MORE