更新日: 2024年07月10日

Unveiling New Travel Destinations in Japan: Discover Hidden Gems around Tokyo for Day Trips

For those who love traveling in Japan and feel they’ve exhausted the typical tourist spots, we have some fresh suggestions.
Step away from the crowded mainstream destinations and discover new places that reveal Japan’s true charm.
This time, we introduce hidden gems along the Chūō and Ōme lines, perfect for a day trip from Tokyo.
Here, you can experience beautiful scenery throughout the seasons and unique local experiences.

Recommended Hidden Gems for a Day Trip from Tokyo!

Recently, while “over-tourism” is a hot topic in Japan, the number of tourists continues to rise.
The express trains bound for Mt. Fuji are often fully booked, making it difficult to find a seat.
However, Japan is home to many lesser-known spots that are perfect for a relaxed journey by local train.
This time, based on a survey conducted with active train crew members on the Chuo Line, we'll introduce four recommended spots mainly along the Chuo Line.

Hidden Gem 1: Katsunumabudōkyō Station for Cherry Blossoms

Shinjuku to Katunumabudokyo
▲Map is for reference only.
One of the highlights of traveling in Japan is enjoying its seasonal landscapes. Particularly in spring, Japan is famous for its cherry blossoms.
While well-known spots like Meguro River, Kawazu, and Lake Kawaguchi are spectacular, a local favorite for cherry blossoms is Katsunumabudōkyō Station, about a two-hour local train ride from JR Shinjuku Station.

Located in Kōshū City, Yamanashi Prefecture, Katsunumabudōkyō Station boasts around 600 cherry trees that bloom in spring, covering the old station platform in a sea of pink.
From the platform, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the vast grape fields, which were registered as a Japan Heritage site in 2018, and the Kōfu Basin.

The sight of the express train elegantly passing through the cherry blossoms under a blue sky is a moment worth capturing on camera.
Cherry blossom
▲Photo by Misa Kuroki
The surrounding area is dotted with wineries where you can sample local wines made from Yamanashi’s renowned grapes.
In autumn, you can enjoy grape picking. This region offers new discoveries with every visit, providing a quiet and peaceful atmosphere compared to crowded famous spots. Katsunumabudōkyō Station is truly a hidden gem where you can fully appreciate the beauty of nature and local charm.
Access to Katsunumabudōkyō Station here!

Hidden Gem 2: Saruhashi's for Unique Bridge

Shinjuku to Saruhashi
▲Map is for reference only.
Next, we introduce Saruhashi Bridge, located in Ōtsuki City, Yamanashi Prefecture, about a 90-minute local train ride from JR Shinjuku Station and a 15-minute walk from Saruhashi Station.
This bridge, built without supporting pillars using a unique construction method, is known as one of the Japan's three big uniqe bridges, along with “Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni” and “Kiso’s Bridge”.

The name "Saruhashi" originates from the scene during the bridge's construction when many monkeys connected together and successfully crossed to the other side, inspiring the bridge's name.

Saruhashi’s unique structure fascinates visitors, spanning a deep, beautiful gorge.
From spring to summer, the lush green foliage and the clear, cool water below offer a refreshing view, and in autumn, the colorful leaves create a breathtaking landscape. The bridge has also been loved by many historical literary figures.
Saruhashi Bridge
In the surrounding area, you can enjoy activities such as rafting on the Katsura River and sightseeing around Saruhashi (reservations required).
Additionally, you can experience shower climbing in the Maki River, which flows from Mt. Gangaharasuri. This spot offers a refreshing escape in the heart of nature, making it a valuable destination for a day trip.
Discover more about Saruhashi!

Hidden Gem 3: Hino City’s History and Sweets

Shinjuku to Hino
▲Map is for reference only.
Located in the center of the Tokyo Metropolis, Hino City is easily accessible from JR Shinjuku Station, taking about 29 minutes on the Chūō Line’s Special Rapid service.

Hino City is known as the hometown of the “Shinsengumi,” with notable figures like Vice-Commander Hijikata Toshizō and 6th Unit Captain Inoue Genzaburō having been born and raised here. The historic home of the village headman who supported them, Sato Hiko-gorō’s residence “Hino-juku Honjin,” still stands, offering visitors a glimpse into the past.

When in Hino, you must try the traditional sweets from the local wagashi shop “Kinokuniya,” which has been in business since 1961. The shop uses fresh and safe local ingredients to create delightful sweets. Their best-seller, “Karintō Manju,” has been extremely popular with our crew members.
Made with Okinawan brown sugar, the manju combines the crispy texture of karintō with the smooth red bean paste inside, making it a beloved treat among locals and a perfect representation of Hino’s gentle atmosphere.
Karinto manju
▲Proud specialty "Tama Karin"
Photo provided:Kinokuniya
For souvenir shopping in Hino City, the “Aeon Mall Tamadairano Mori” near Toyoda Station is the best spot. Compared to tourist destinations, it offers excellent prices and accessibility. Tax-free purchases are available only at “Aeon”-affiliated stores, and procedures can be completed at the service counter.

Hino City is also appealing to those considering relocation or travelers who want to experience everyday life in modern Japan.
Here, you can immerse yourself in the richness of history and traditional sweets while enjoying a relaxed pace of life.
Go try Karinto Manju

Hidden Gem 4: Ōme City’s Okutama for Nature and Accommodation

Shinjuku to Okutama
▲Map is for reference only.
For those who feel that a day trip is too short and want to stay overnight, we recommend Okutama in Ōme City. Located about an hour and 40 minutes from JR Shinjuku Station via the Chūō Line and Ōme Line, Okutama is at the terminus of the Ōme Line. Unlike the typical image of Tokyo with its glittering night views, Okutama offers a vast and nature-rich region, being the largest municipality in Tokyo.

Here, there is a unique project proposed by Ensen Marugoto Co., Ltd., called "Ensen Marugoto HOTEL," which utilizes unmanned station buildings as hotel front desks and lobbies, renovating vacant houses in the local community into hotel rooms. Local residents participate in hotel operations, offering a new style of accommodation experience where you can enjoy the entire line locally. This project plans to provide a unique accommodation experience, allowing guests to enjoy the entire area.

Moreover, in May 2024, the hotel's brand name was named "Satologue Ome.," with a restaurant and sauna opening first. This sauna uses authentic wood from Okutama as firewood and is equipped with a water bath using water drawn from the river.
After sweating in the sauna, you can enjoy an outdoor air bath in the lush field.

The restaurant offers a lunch course using local ingredients, and the accommodation building is scheduled to open in spring 2025. After the accommodation building opens, sauna use will be limited to overnight guests, so if you plan to use it for a day trip, now is the time!
tuk-tuks
Additionally, at Hatonosu Station, you can rent electric tuk-tuks or electric assist bicycles to explore Okutama.
Tuk-tuks can be driven with a regular automobile license, and electric assist bicycles allow you to easily enjoy the vast mountains of Okutama.

In Okutama, you can experience the charm of Japan through the stories of the locals and the serene scenery. This is a place where you can rediscover the true beauty of Japan, far from the typical image of Tokyo.
Learn more about Ensen Marugoto HOTEL
Click here for Satologue Ome. on sauna and restaurant.

Japan is Full of Hidden Gems

JAPAN RAIL CLUB
The spots we introduced offer new discoveries and thrills that you won’t find in typical tourist destinations. Along with the charm of local trains, explore the Chūō Line and enjoy the beauty of Japan throughout the seasons.
On your next trip to Japan, consider visiting these hidden gems for a unique and unforgettable experience.

If you want to discover even more about Japan, we recommend the subscription sevice JAPAN RAIL CLUB by JR East. By subscribing, you’ll receive a monthly delivery of selected Japanese snacks shipped directly from Japan, along with weekly news, special offers, and discounts that help you uncover Japan’s charms. Starting this july, you can also purchase selected JR East rail passes and attraction tickets.
Be sure to subscribe and discover various aspects of Japan!
Explore the Japan you haven't experienced yet!

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