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Short Trips Outside Tokyo's insider take:

As any resident will tell you, Tokyo is nothing like the rest of Japan, and since you're on the island, you really should take a train journey into the verdant hills and mountains just outside the metropolis. The beauty of the city's location is that within an hour on a train, you could be climbing 1,500-foot mountains, wending your way through the foliage in search of hidden Buddhist shrines, or eating noodles by the lush, ferny riverside on a breezy day. The two-hour trip to either Kyoto or Nikko is worth it. If not, there are closer destinations, such as the resort town of Hakone and the temple-clustered Kamakura each about an hour away. For those looking for Okinawa-like beaches without the long haul, the chain of Izu Islands running south of Tokyo offers up a tropical paradise reachable from the capital city in just 30 minutes.—Rebecca Willa Davis

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