The dormant volcano of Mount Fuji, 62 miles (100km) southwest
of Tokyo, has been revered since ancient times and no exploration
of Japan is complete without visiting the mountain that is
known fondly as ‘Fuji-san’ by the locals. It’s
symmetrical cone towers 12,388ft (3,776m) and Mt Fuji, with
its snow-crowned summit, has become as symbolic of Japan
as the country’s flag. Closest town to the volcano
is Fuji Yoshida, from where buses leave frequently for Fuji’s ‘fifth
stage’ (the usual jumping-off point for hikes up the
mountain) from outside the train station. There are six trails
to the summit, of which the Kawaguchiko Trail is the easiest,
quite manageable even by children and the elderly as long
as they have stamina and good shoes. Overnight huts are available.
Official climbing season is from 1 July to end of August
- in winter snow makes the ascent too dangerous.
555 72 0259 (Fuji Visitor Centre)
bus from Tokyo’s JR Shinjuku station
to Kawagutiko station. From Kawagutiko, take the bus to Fuji
The city of Kamakura, about 30 miles (50km) southwest of
Tokyo at the base of the Miura Peninsula, was the political
of Japan in the middle ages and the seat of government
for most of the 13th century. Because of its historic
boasts numerous monuments, temples and shrines of interest
to tourists. As an added bonus the city sports some sandy
beaches and good hiking trails in the nearby wooded hills.
many sights are too numerous to detail individually, but
most important of them all is the Great Buddha. This bronze
of the seated Amida Buddha is located in the grounds of
the Kotokuin Temple, standing 13,35 metres high (second
largest Buddha statue
in Japan after that found in the Todaiji Temple in Nara).
The Kamakura Great Buddha was cast in 1252 and was originally
in the temple hall. A tidal wave (tsunami) washed away
the temple in the late 15th century, but the Buddha prevailed
then has stood in the open.
JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo Station, or the Enoden Railway,
an unusual streetcar-like train service
While visiting Japan’s largest city, Tokyo, it is quick
and easy to pay a visit to the country’s second
largest metropolis as well: Yokohama can be reached
in less than 30 minutes
by train from Tokyo, lying south of the capital.
The main reason for visiting Yokohama is to marvel
at its futuristic new city
centre, and perhaps take a stroll through Japan’s
largest Chinatown. Yokohama’s Chinatown, entered
through four colourful gates and teeming with restaurants
and shops, developed after
the city became one of the first Japanese ports to
be opened to foreign trade after generations of isolation
ended in 1859.
Chinese traders flocked to the city, establishing
a cultural neighbourhood. Minato Mirai is the new
central city area around
the harbour, characterised by the Landmark Tower,
rising to 971ft (296m). Visitors can ride to the
tower’s observation deck
in the world’s fastest elevator, travelling
at 2,461ft (750m) a minute, for a view that on a
clear day stretches as
far as Mount Fuji.
Telephone: (0)45 441 7300 (Tourist
Information Center, Yokohama Station)
Transport: Toyoko Line from Shibuya,
JR Tokaido Line or JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo or Shinagawa