Nestled between Tokyo and Kyoto is Kawasaki, a relatively undiscovered gem in the collection of Japanese cities. Kawasaki is home to beautiful natural trails, revered Buddhist temples, and interesting cultural festivals. Visit in the spring and summer and you'll catch mesmerizing fireworks and outdoor celebrations.
Foodies and shopaholics will not want to miss Lazona Kawasaki Plaza, a shopping center with over 300 local and international brands and a range of dining choices.
If the natural world is what you crave, don't miss visiting Kawasaki's own little edens, Ikuta Ryokuchi Park and Higashitakane Forestry Park.
For a piece of tranquility coupled with history, make sure to visit the famed Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple and Ozenji Temple.
Unleash your inner adrenaline junkie with a ride on the Bandit and the Loop Coaster Momonga at this amusement park.
Luckily, Kawasaki weather makes visiting traditional Japanese buildings and old eastern architecture easy to do.
Scream your head off on the sheer drops, deadly twists and heartstopping turns of the legendary Bandit rollercoaster, which travels at a top speed of 70 miles per hour. Through a forest. Yes, it's just you and 50 other screaming riders. If you haven't had enough, check out the bungee jump station and leap 7 stories - that's 72 feet! - to your certain adrenaline rush. The Yomiuri adventure park also features tons of other great opportunities, including a stunning gondola ride to view the magical cherry blossoms below, an interactive laser obstacle/escape room, a massive Ferris wheel with generous views of the distant, looming Mt. Fuji and a splash park called "Pool WAI" that's open in the summer.
Shingon Buddhism is a last surviving but major sect of the practice of Buddhism of Vajrayana lineages, which was spread by traveling monks from India and China. The Kawasaki Daishi Temple is its main "headquarters", if you will, and was founded for the Chizan sect in 1128. If it seems rather sturdy for its age, take note: the original temple was destroyed in the Second World War but was rebuilt in 1958 and restored to its Heian Period style of architecture. Besides the stunning main gate, take in the Hakkaku Gojunoto, a five-storey pagoda, and the small Sutra Hall, containing 1,700 volumes of hand-printed Buddhist sutras and Chinese-style paintings on its ceilings, like its Roman Catholic cathedral counterparts.
The stunning roof and semi-circular platform design is not the only thing that makes Lazona Kawasaki Plaza a must-see. Whether you're a shopaholic or simply an architecture buff, this shopping center is home to more than just sales. It's surrounded by beautiful glass buildings and its open-air center is the perfect place for musicals, concerts and more.
Wandering the lanes of the perfectly preserved Japanese village of Nihon Minka-en, you'll think you've been whisked back in time to a simpler age. A collection of 20 traditional farm houses, or "minka", as they're known locally, these thatched roof houses, with their simple bamboo, paper and wood interiors and sliding doors, will put you in mind of all the Japanese samurai movies you've ever viewed. Besides the watermill and boat house, there is also a traditional kabuki theater. Close your eyes and be transported.
Though Nihon Minka-en is itself located in the Ikuta Ryokuchi Park, there is another reason to visit this tranquil green space. The park is home to a viewing platform or observatory deck atop Mt. Masugata. Here is the Kawasaki Municipal Science Museum, which has its own planetarium, multiple interactive exhibits and telescopes. All those who visit in the evening can enjoy a view of the stars from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Kawasaki enjoys a mild and temperate climate year round. Because of this, the city experiences quite a bit of rainfall, even in the driest months.
The closest airport that services Kawasaki is Narita Airport (NRT). To get to the city center, take the Narita Express to Tokyo and transfer to the Tokaido line. Tickets cost ¥3,280.
There are multiple lines that run in to Kawasaki. Hop on the Tokaido line, the Keihin-Tohoku line or the Nambu line if you`re coming in from Tokyo. Fares cost ¥290-620.
Route 15, known as Daiichi Keihin, and Route 1, called Daini-Keihin, feed into Kawasaki via the Metropolitan Expressway.
Willer Express overnight buses come in from various other cities like Nagano and Tokyo for fares starting at ¥1000.
For those staying on a budget, the popular Toyoko Inn is a reliable franchise of hotels. For more comfort, check in to Hotel Noanoa. Or else, the Kawasaki Nikko Hotel is sure to satisfy you in luxury.
Noborito - enjoy the Taro Museum of Art and the Nihon Minka-en folk village in this neighborhoood.
Yurigaoka - this is a mostly residential neighborhood in Kawasaki, though visitors frequently stay here and commute to the city center.
Saiwai-ku - this ward is home to attractions like the Toshiba Science Museum and Yumemigasaki Zoological Park. Don`t miss the cherry blossoms at the beginning of spring.
To get around the city you can walk or take the Keikyū Daishi Line for ¥230.
Taxis in Kawasaki are easy to find and hail. Fares start at ¥765 and it costs ¥465 per mile after that.
Nippon Rent-A-Car is Kawasaki's car rental facility of choice and you can find offices located between Kawasaki Station and Route 15 that will rent cars starting at ¥8,424
The Kawasaki-Daishi station is connected to a large shopping arcade. There is also the Lazona Kawasaki Plaza in the Saiwai-ku ward that will keep you plenty busy.
A quart of milk costs ¥196 and a dozen eggs will run you around ¥260, which is comparable to Tokyo prices.
Whether you're passing through or staying a while, there are plenty of great places to eat. Stop by the Toritei, east of Kawasaki Station, for juicy yakitori skewers starting at ¥3,000 for two.