There is no better time to head out to Japan’s great outdoors than autumn. Mountainsides turn from green to gold and red, and the days get shorter and cooler. We put together a list of five great AirBnB Experiences in and around Tokyo to inspire exploration and fun. Whether adventurous or curious, looking to slow down or fly along, there should be something here to fit the bill.
Canyoning in Okutama
On the far western edge of Tokyo stands the Okutama Range. Home to countless temples and peaks strung together with hiking trails as old as the mountains themselves, Okutama is one of the best places to truly step outside the city. For those hoping to do something adventurous, Mike Harris offers canyoning. A mix of climbing, jumping, swimming and sliding, it’s a great way to get up close and personal with the mountains, waterways, and valleys of the range.
Canyoning, Harris says, is a perfect way to get out and enjoy the outdoors. “Spring is awesome for river rafting, but in summer the water drops, so the thrills are not quite enough for people wanting a real adventure,” he says. “Canyoning is the perfect solution for summer.”
Harris is also a firm believer in the power of nature to rejuvenate and sees it in the faces of his customers. “I love seeing their beaming smiles after finishing a tour,” he says.
Tokyo Waterway Night Paddling
Takashi Fukuda thinks the advantages of exploring by water are some of the best and perhaps least appreciated. “People are not very interested in the river, but by changing their point of view, everyday scenery looks very different,” says Fukuda, an experienced paddler and guide. “The riverside is an ordinary cityscape, but in the evening, the color of the sky is reflected on the water, and a symmetrical townscape appears.”
Woven throughout the city, Tokyo’s waterways were once a main form of transportation and trade. Inspired by his own travels to places such as Taiwan, Costa Rica, Croatia, and Egypt, Fukuda offers his experiences in hopes of sharing this unique vantage point of his home. “Waterways are very peaceful, and it’s easy for beginners and kids,” says Fukuda, “so I hope that many people will experience it with me.”
Learn the Art of Wasabi Cultivation
Those seeking a quieter and tasty escape from the city will find a visit to David Hulme’s wasabi farm an excellent choice. An avid hiker in the Okutama area where his farm is located, Hulme gradually found himself part of the community and helping out with the local wasabi grower association. He moved here five years ago with his wife and started growing it not long after.
“The first use of wasabi was for pharmacology,” Hulme explains. “It’s antiseptic and bacterial qualities made it ideal for keeping food safe, which is one reason it’s paired with sushi.” This is just one of the many tidbits visitors to Hulme’s wasabida (wasabi farm) learn before harvesting this odd member of the brassica family to enjoy for themselves. At a makeshift table under the branches of Japanese cypress and cedar, Hulme demonstrates how to clean and grind the fresh wasabi before eating it with paper-thin slices of beef.
“Once you’ve tasted this,” Hulme says, gesturing to the wasabi on his plate, “there’s no going back.”
Meditate at a Temple, Hike, Do Yoga
In the foothills of the Tanzawa Range just south of Tokyo, Linda Gould offers guests an intimate look at a rural mountain area. A resident for more than 20 years, Gould adores her little town and is eager to share it.
She is also excited to share the joys of outdoor yoga. Gould, a yoga teacher for a little over a decade, brings both of these passions to life in this walk along the Mizunashigawa (No Water River) that takes in an archeological site and ancient burial tombs. “It’s such a quiet and sacred place,” says Gould before settling the group on their mats.
From there, Gould guides guests to a second park and finally to Taigakuin, a magnificent Buddhist temple designed by Tadao Ando. A perfect blend of modernity and tradition, guests get an overview of the temple grounds and history before meditating in the temple’s main hall. “No one expects this kind of thing in a small town,” says Gould, “but that’s why I love showing people around.”
Enoshima SUP (Stand Up Paddling)
An hour’s ride south of Tokyo is the beginning of Japan’s beach community. One of the best ways to take it in, at least according to Steve Marriott and Dylan Patrick, is by paddleboard. All ages and abilities are welcome as the two believe SUP has something for everyone. “People are sometimes really nervous, but then they realize how easy it is,” says Steve with a smile. “It’s like a stroll on the water.”
Formerly a professional racer, Steve has been surfing and paddling for more than ten years in the area. Participants get an overview of the day’s plan from Patrick and Marriott along with some land lessons if this is their first time. Then, with life vests, board and paddle in tow, they hit the water.
Once out, the views from the sea are stunning. Starting in September, things start getting especially spectacular as the air and water begin to clear. Winter, though, they say is the best. “The views of Mount Fuji are incredible,” says Patrick.