Journey to West Tokyo
Want to travel like a local in Tokyo? Head to these spots in the western region to experience the city like never before.
1hr from Shinjuku Station
Tama is home to Sanrio Puroland, a theme park dedicated to Hello Kitty, My Melody and many more beloved characters. Before heading there, buy the Keio Amusement Passport from the ticket machine at the station for 3,500 yen. On top of admission to Sanrio Puroland (which costs 3,300 yen on its own), the Passport gets you unlimited train rides on the Keio Line and Inokashira Line on the same day.
The Sanrio experience starts right after you get off the train at Keio-TamaCenter Station, where you’ll be greeted by Pompompurin adorning the signage at the station platform. As you head to ground level, you’ll see Hello Kitty’s iconic ribbon painted on stained glass on the elevator panels. Step out of the gantry and be awed by a huge mural of Sanrio characters moonlighting as station masters.
Sanrio Puroland is just five minutes away from the station on foot. If you love Disneyland’s It’s A Small World ride, you’ll enjoy the Sanrio Character Boat Ride featuring Sanrio mascots. Visit everyone’s favourite cat at the Lady Kitty House to snap a photo with her! (In usual theme park style, you’ll have to pay to bring home a printout, though.)
To Hello Kitty-fy your trip, stay for a night at one of the four Hello Kittythemed rooms at Keio Plaza Hotel.
TIP: If you want to meet Mickey Mouse and friends, Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku offers a free shuttle bus service to Tokyo Disneyland.
1hr from Shinjuku Station
During our trip to Japan, the Deputy Director of Marketing and PR from Keio Plaza Hotel told us that one of the top reasons Singaporeans go to Japan is to enjoy nature. If you count yourself among them, you shouldn’t miss Mount Takao at Takaosanguchi Station.
Take a cable car—which looks more like a tram—up, or if you’re feeling sporty or adventurous, go on one of the hiking trails. Sitting atop the mountain is Yakuo-in Temple. Join the goma, or fire ritual, which happens daily at regular intervals. Visitors can write their “defilements”—or whatever bad vibes they want to get rid of—on wooden prayer tablets, which are then collected and thrown into the fire as part of the ritual. We suggest making a reservation for the shojin-ryori, the vegetarian lunch dishes usually eaten by trainee priests, to have a taste of Japanese temple cuisine.
To complete your experience, take a lift down, which works in the same way as a ski lift, through the forest of Mount Takao. There are no safety harnesses or belts, so don’t do anything risky when taking selfies or you can bid your phone goodbye.
TIP : Before heading to the mountains, visit the Takao 599 Museum (a threeminute walk from the station) to find out more about Mount Takao’s flora and fauna.
20min from Shinjuku Station
We like to think of Chofu as the Jurong East Station of Japan, as not only is it a train interchange, but it also has lots of shopping centres in the vicinity and is near places of interest. The city centre may not be as extravagant as Ginza Six, but there’s still your usual clothing stores, Tokyu Hands, a supermarket, and malls all within walking distance of one another.
Feeling cultural? Take a bus or cab to Jindaiji Temple, where you can see one of the national treasures of Japan, the Hakuho Buddha. The temple is known for hosting the Daruma Festival, which happens over two days in March every year. The daruma is an auspicious doll, and to make a wish, you draw in the left pupil, while the right pupil should only be filled in after your wish has come true. While it’s usually made of wood, you can find one that’s made of glass at one of the glassware shops down the street.
TIP : Take a walk through the streets around the temple to get major shitamachi (old town) vibes.