Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) calls on tourists to explore Japan beyond Tokyo – one of the world’s largest metropolises.During the summer months, hardcore adventurers can tackle the beautiful mountains, especially Mount Fuji, while those who want to immerse themselves in more relaxed outdoor activities, there are plenty of options. With Japan’s rail system being highly efficient and affordable, jumping on the train to access the neighbouring prefectures is a breeze, it says.
As of now, there is a ban on entry of foreign nationals from a host of countries, including Oman, due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, it is worthwhile making your plans for a visit after the Olympics when things open up. Here are some options to consider:
Just an hour and a half northeast of Tokyo lies the Hitachi Seaside Park famed for its year-round fields of flowers. Spanning a total area of 350 hectares, the park is a riot of colour at any time of year but plan your trip to coincide with your favourite flowers and you’re in for a treat. July sees the arrival of delicate orange native Japanese sukashiyuri lilies, followed by a riot of colour as 350,000 zinnias flower. A burst of sunshine takes over the park in August with 30,000 bright yellow sunflowers standing tall against the clear blue skies. And in mid-October the park turns scarlet as 32,000 kochia plants bloom, a dramatic contrast to the evergreen pines that cover the hillsides.
Not a lot of people know that Tokyo is home to lush forest, dramatic mountain scenery and plenty of outdoor activities, even within the metropolitan city limits. One of the most easily accessible mountains is Mount Takao with hiking trails, a chair lift and a funicular railway providing access to the mountaintop for everyone. It takes around an hour to reach Takaosanguchi station by train from Shinjuku or Tokyo. Once there, those who want to stretch their legs and fill their lungs with fresh mountain air can set off on one of the numbered hiking trails, with varying levels of difficulty to satisfy all types of hikers. For visitors of determination, small children, and those who just prefer to take it easy, the funicular offers a highly scenic journey and panoramic vistas. Mount Takao has been considered a sacred site for over 1,000 years.
Head to Shizuoka Prefecture southwest of Tokyo for a thrilling eco-adventure as you zipline alongside Japan’s longest suspension bridge at Forest Adventure Mishima Skywalk. The park combines a number of different aerial courses spread throughout the forest canopy, suitable for all the family. Grown-ups can tackle the treetops on the Adventure Course with climbing challenges, ziplines and more that are sure to get the adrenalin pumping. Younger family members, aged 10 years and above or taller than 140cm, can swing through the Canopy Course accompanied by an adult, giving them a sense of excitement and responsibility as they learn how to control their own safety equipment. The highlight is the 300-metre zipline running alongside Japan’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge – Mishima Skywalk – with Shizuoka’s spectacular natural scenery and views of Mount Fuji creating a breathtaking backdrop. A truly unforgettable experience.
Meanwhile, Japan’s northern Hokkaido region was supposed to offer cooler climes for next week’s Olympic marathons and race walks, but now the area is battling a heatwave.
Olympic organisers moved the two events from Tokyo in 2019, worried that even shifting the start times to dawn would not be enough to keep athletes safe from the heat.
The summer temperatures in Hokkaido’s Sapporo were expected to be kinder – around five or six degrees Celsius cooler than Tokyo – the International Olympic Committee said. However, in the last week, temperatures in Sapporo hit over 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit), and they are forecast to hover between maximums of 31 and 34 degrees over the next week, when the race walks and marathons will take place.
The mercury has surged even higher elsewhere in Hokkaido, with one town in the region becoming the first place in Japan this year to record temperatures over 38 degrees.
The men’s 20km race walk takes place in the region on Thursday, followed by the women’s race and the marathons for men and women over the next few days. Temperatures in Tokyo over the coming week are forecast to range from maximums of 30 to 34 Celcius.
Heat has been a persistent concern for organisers, with a raft of counter-measures drawn up including misting stations and ice jackets.
In its bid for the Games, Tokyo argued that its summer included “many days of mild and sunny weather” and would offer “an ideal climate for athletes to perform their best,” but many competitors and volunteers have struggled with the conditions.