Kanto Adventure Tours: Discover the Lush Nature of Japan's Kanto Region Without Traveling Too Far From Tokyo
In this article, we introduce some great Kanto tour options for experiencing its vast and rich nature without having to travel too far from Tokyo. With these adventure tours (AT) you'll get to learn about your destination by taking the time to marvel at rich natural resources, experience the local history and culture, and interact with residents. In particular, Japan's Kanto region is the perfect area for adventure tourism and outdoor activities since it has a wealth of nature and no shortage of sightseeing spots. This article will feature areas that are blessed with lush greenery such as Nikko, Oze, and even some tropical islands that you can enjoy in the Kanto region.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through them, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Canoeing at Lake Chuzenji in Nikko (Tochigi)
Nikko is full of natural attractions, such as the Nikko Mountain Range, Kegon Falls, and the Kinugawa River.
While it may be most famous as the home of the world-famous Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine, when you want to go on an adventure in Nikko, the place you should check out is Lake Chuzenji. It boasts a staggering circumference of about 25 km and is believed to have been created by the damming of lava from the eruption of Mt. Nantai. It is surrounded by lush greenery, making it feel like the lake is surrounded by a forest.
If you want to enjoy its lush natural environment, you should try canoeing! Get on the canoe and row while gazing at the flowers that bloom on the shores of the lake in spring, the changing colors of leaves in autumn, and Mt. Nantai covered in snow in winter. Lake Chuzenji is the highest lake in Japan with an elevation of 1,269 m, and it is characterized by the cold winds that blow down to it from Mt. Nantai, which help make the area around the lake cool even in the summer. As such, the area has been popular for summer getaways since ancient times. It has also become popular for such events as yacht races at the British and Italian embassy villas by the lake shore.
So, how would you like to enjoy the nature at Lake Chuzenji while catching a glimpse and feel of the traces of its elegant past?
Trekking in Oze (Gunma)
Did you know that Gunma Prefecture has a marshland that impresses hikers from all over the world? That marshland is Ozegahara, a place so famous that virtually everybody who loves exploring the outdoors in Japan knows it. This marshland has also been named as one of the 100 best sceneries in Japan and designated as a national park.
Stretching 6 km east to west and 2 km north to south, it is said to have been formed over a long period of about 6,000 to 7,000 years. It is also home to rare species of fauna that are endemic to marshlands, such as skunk cabbages and peat moss. There are also boardwalks and benches built on the marsh, so you can go on a leisurely stroll around the area while admiring the rare nature that surrounds it up close.
There are also approximately 2,000-meter-high mountains that surround Ozegahara. On the east, there is Hiuchigatake that is known as the symbol of Oze, while on the west, you will get to see the gently-sloping Mt. Shibutsu that is famous for being a treasure trove of alpine plants.
Rafting and Canyoning in Minakami (Gunma)
Minakami Town, located in the northernmost part of Gunma Prefecture, is famous as a mecca for all kinds of activities involving rivers. Some even claim that this town is where the earliest commercial rafting took place in Japan, so it is no wonder that there are guides here who are armed with proper rafting skills.
When you go to Minakami, you can try whitewater rafting in the famed Tone River. We especially recommend doing this in early spring, when the melted snow—of which there is a lot, as Minakami gets some of the most snow in the Kanto region—flows into the river and transforms the stream into a world-class torrent. That said, a lot of people visit this town in the summer to play in the river and enjoy barbecuing on the dry riverbed.
There's also the canyon area of Tone River which is dotted with waterfalls with gentle slopes that have been polished by snow and crushed rocks over a long period of time. It is the perfect environment for some good canyoning! Experience the thrill of sliding down a waterfall and jumping into its basin.
After the adrenaline rush, relax with a peaceful walk through the forest or around the waterfalls.
Canyoning in Okutama (Tokyo)
If you are in Tokyo and want to go canyoning at a place that is not that far away, the closest spot for canyoning would be the Okutama area that is located in the western part of Tokyo. Most of the Okutama area is covered by mountains and forest, so it is definitely rich in nature. It is said to have the steepest mountain in Tokyo, as well as a narrow canyon. Given that kind of terrain, Okutama makes for the perfect place to try one of the most thrilling kinds of canyoning - the kind that uses a rope! Connect your harness to some rope and feel an exhilaration like no other when you slide down!
Okutama is teeming with many other outdoor activities that are made possible by its wealth of nature, including rappelling down waterfalls and sliding down the surface of a sloping river just like a water slide. Okutama is easily accessible as it takes just about two hours by train from the major stations in Tokyo, making it an enticing adventure.
Horse Riding in Nasu (Tochigi)
When it comes to highlands in the Kanto region, Nasu is definitely one of the top three. Stretching out across the eastern foot of the Nasu Mountain Range in the northern part of Tochigi, the Nasu Highlands is covered in lush greenery as far as the eye can see. The surrounding area is dotted with sophisticated lodging facilities and restaurants, so it has gained the reputation of being a trendy summer resort in the Kanto region.
Want to enjoy the great outdoors here? Give horse trekking a try. There's a special tour that will let you explore the grounds owned by the Imperial family. Almost needless to say, it offers an experience like none other. There’s also an additional option to the tour where, after the horse trek, you can enjoy coffee at a spectacular spot overlooking Nasu's famous peak, Mt. Chausu. You can also add a barbecue option to your adventure to make it even more luxurious! Savor the freshly-brewed coffee and barbecue with local Nasu beef, pork, and vegetables.
Sea Kayaking and SUP in Miura (Kanagawa)
If you want to enjoy marine activities in the Kanto region, you should head out to the Miura Peninsula, which remains rich in nature despite being relatively close to Tokyo. Zushi and Kamakura, which are located in the northwestern part of the peninsula, are particularly popular with tourists since they can play in the sea while still enjoying urban scenery.
However, this time, we'd like to recommend the Miura area at the southernmost top of the peninsula. With a bay known for its complex coastline, inlets, sea cliffs, and coastal terraces, the southern part of the peninsula is the perfect spot for a stroll. The terrain will not only protect you from the wind, but will also be a feast to the eyes as a work of art created by nature.
If you want to enjoy the Miura area to the fullest, there’s no better way than going sea kayaking or SUP (stand up paddleboarding), both of which will let you marvel at the gorgeous view from the sea. Glide on water while gazing at the beautiful sea, coastline, and lush nature and you'll quickly figure out the charms behind them.
Snorkeling and Diving in Izu Oshima (Tokyo)
Did you know that near Daimon/Hamamatsucho, the departure and arrival station for the monorail that is connected to Haneda International Airport, there is an entrance to Tokyo's remote islands? An easy way to reach the remote islands is to get on one of the boats that depart from Takeshiba Wharf every day. If you choose to go to Izu Oshima, the remote island that is closest to Tokyo, you can get there in about an hour and 45 minutes at the shortest. That's short enough to visit even just for a day!
The sea surrounding the island is famous for its extremely clear water. Despite being an island in Tokyo, Izu Oshima is blessed with fish that inhabit Okinawa and other southern regions thanks to the Kuroshio Current. This island is also known for its complex seabed terrain that is unique to islands formed by the eruption of a volcano. It's truly an amazing place for snorkeling and diving, so if you are into any or both of those activities, you should definitely come and visit Izu Oshima.
Snorkeling and Diving in Hachijojima (Tokyo)
Hachijojima is a populated island that is about 300 km south of the main Japanese island of Honshu, but still belongs to the Tokyo Metropolis. With no other inhabited islands around, Hachijojima is a completely solitary island where nature remains unspoiled even today.
If you peek into the sea, you will see endemic species swimming in a ball-shaped cluster and 5-6 green turtles relaxing and swimming in the water. The island also has a vast expanse of distinct coral reefs as far as the eye can reach. The extremely transparent ultramarine water is breathtakingly beautiful. If you get the chance to visit, we highly recommend enjoying the splendor of its underwater landscape by going snorkeling or diving.
Note that it is quite easy to reach Hachijojima. It is the only island within the Tokyo Metropolis that can be reached by plane from Haneda Airport, with the one-way flight time a surprisingly short 55 minutes or so.
Dolphin and Whale Watching in the Ogasawara Islands
The Ogasawara Islands, located 600 km south of Hachijojima, are isolated islands in the distant seas of Japan that can only be reached through a 24-hour boat trip from Takeshiba Wharf. These islands have never been linked to any continent since they were formed, so the flora and fauna on the islands are incredibly unique. Famed for being the “Galapagos of the East,” these islands have been registered as a World Natural Heritage Site.
Although the Ogasawara Islands are home to a lot of natural attractions, what draws hordes of visitors each year is whale watching, targeting large mammals such as humpback whales and dolphins that come to the area to breed. Your chance of actually seeing the whales and dolphins will significantly rise if you have a skilled captain on your ship. While their dynamic movements may end in an instant, you'll surely be entranced by the sight of them emerging from the water regardless.
If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.