5 Outdoor Adventures You Have to Experience in Tokyo

Tokyo may seem as urban as cities come, but it’s not all subways and office buildings. As Selena, our local insider finds, there are plenty of active things to do in this massive, vibrant city.


Tokyo by Bike Photo © iStock/kainsaw

It's easy to get caught up in the go-go-go of this major metropolis, with its whizzing trains, neon screens, and blasting pop music. But when your thirst for adventure turns from the gridlock to green spaces, Tokyo has you covered.

Whether your thing is hiking, biking, taking a dip in hot spring waters, or doing a deeper dive to get up close and personal with the marine life, you can do it in or near Tokyo.

Shinjuku Gyoen

Smack in the middle of the city sits Shinjuku Gyoen, a 144 acre park and garden providing a lush respite from the surrounding skyscrapers. Known for its beauty during cherry blossom season, the park is a splendid and convenient place for a picnic or stroll. 

The park holds a classical Japanese garden, as well as a teahouse, where visitors can partake in traditional tea ceremony. Opening hours and a small entrance fee apply.

Tokyo by Bike

Though it may not have as many bike lanes as some other cities, central Tokyo is nevertheless quite navigable by bicycle, and there are millions of bikes on the road every day.

There are some set cycling courses in places like Yoyogi Park or the Imperial Palace, but it’s also a treat to just get lost and explore the alleys and backstreets of random neighbourhoods.

You're sure to turn up some gems like small temples, neighbourhood bars, and old shopping streets. There are many places to rent a bicycle. Just beware not to ride by yourself after dark.

Urban hot springs at Ooedo Onsen Monogatari

The Japanese archipelago was formed along the Pacific Ring of Fire, and the country is littered with volcanoes and natural hot springs. Even in Tokyo, you can experience Japanese style communal bathing in the restorative hot spring waters at places like Ooedo Onsen Monogatari, a large hot spring spa complex decorated to look like the Edo-era capital.

Don a cotton yukata, dip your toes in the steaming footbaths, or take it all off for a relaxing soak in the open-air pools. Note that, as in most hot springs in Japan, tattoos are not permitted.

Hiking Mt. Mitake and Mt. Takao

At the western of edge of Tokyo, still within the city limits in the Tama region, are Mt. Mitake and Mt. Takao, two popular spots for people who want to get in some more serious hiking.

Both can be reached by train from central Tokyo in about an hour or so, and then you can hike or take a cable car up the mountain. You’ll find more walking trails, ancient shrines and temples, beautiful flora and fauna, and stunning views of both Tokyo city and distant Mt. Fuji.

Diving Ogasawara

The Ogasawara Islands lay a thousand miles south of Tokyo, a few green dots in the blue ocean, yet they are considered part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. 

These far-flung islands offer clear water, high cliffs, unique local flora and fauna, and excellent diving and snorkelling among the tropical fish and coral reefs that ring the islands.

There are more than 30 islands to choose from, which can be reached by ferry to the main island of Chichijima, or “Father Island.” 

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