Lake Sagami

Lake Sagami makes for an ideal escape from the noise and concrete of Tokyo. Surrounded by lush forest, the clear-blue, manmade lake is a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts.

It became a household name in Japan when it was used as the venue for canoeing at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Whether you’re into camping and barbecues or activities out on the water like boat cruises or fishing, Lake Sagami has you covered. Its fireworks festival is a big draw every year.

Kanagawa Prefectural Sagamiko Park

Situated right by the lake is Kanagawa Prefectural Kanagawa Prefectural Sagamiko Park. A generous 2.7 hectares in size, the park gets all kinds of visitors, from those looking to go out on a paddle-boat ride or people just enjoying the view of the lake.

You can wander the west side for a range of eateries, shops, and souvenirs or head to the open grassy field for a picnic or play some fetch if you’ve brought your pup with you.

Shoukaku-ji Temple

Everything explained and listed is in Japanese, so we recommend bringing someone who understands the language or using a translator app.

Shoukaku-ji Temple is a Zen Japanese Buddhist temple with roots going back over 1,100 years.

Renowned as the “haiku temple” due to the many haiku-related dignitaries and activities associated with it (including a haiku competition held every May), look out for the many monuments to haiku and its masters dotting the area. The famous wandering poet, monk, and former samurai Saigyo Hoshi (1118–1190), for example, stopped there to recover from his travels.

As the immense beauty of nature—flowers and sakura in particular—was one of Saigyo’s recurring poetic themes, the temple’s gorgeous scenery reminiscent of Arashiyama in Kyoto no doubt enticed him to visit and stay after meeting the first Kamakura shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo.

The temple is also known for its stunning azaleas, which blossom there in late April to early May. Some 1,000 of the flowers are arranged to flow down a hill to the ground like a waterfall of azaleas. The flowers here are in bloom year-round and are extensive in variety, from hydrangeas, summer narcissus, and sakura to camellias, bush clovers, and chrysanthemums.

So if you’re a flower expert or a haiku enthusiast and would like to enjoy them with the backdrop of an ancient Zen temple, Shoukaku-ji Temple may be worth a visit.