If you are heading to Tokyo for a few days and would like to take a glimpse of Japanese life beyond the big city, then I highly recommend a trip to Kashima City in Ibaraki Prefecture. As far as day trips from Tokyo go, it’s an easy journey with direct buses daily from Tokyo Station. Check out this one-day itinerary for a fun-filled day of craft beer and homemade pizza, one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, and the best of professional Japanese soccer!
Kashima City Itinerary
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Day Trips From Tokyo: Kashima City One Day Itinerary
11:00 AM Depart Tokyo for Kashima City
Depart Tokyo Station by JR Bus for Kashima City. Buses depart from Tōkyō Station Yaesu South Exit. You can use your Pasmo card to pay the fare (around 1,800 yen each way) or pay cash (around 2,000 yen).
1:00 PM Alight Bus at Kashima Shrine
1:15 PM Lunch & Beer Tasting at Paradise Beer Factory
After arriving in Kashima, stop for some lunch before exploring Kashima Shrine and its grounds. My favorite lunch spot in Kashima is the Paradise Beer Factory, an independent craft beer brewery and restaurant serving up delicious home-made pizzas.
Paradise Beer was set up in 2008 by Karasawa-san when he first moved to the area. He uses 100% natural farming methods to create his sustainable, delicious beer – a rare find in this part of Japan where it is generally more profitable to grow rice rather than barley. Even the water that is added to the beer comes from the holy spring at nearby Kashima Shrine. The high mineral content within the spring water helps to create a more flavorful tasting beer.
Throughout the year Karasawa-san organizes around 30 events where members of the public can come to the fields where the barley is grown to try their hand at planting seeds. I had a go myself and found it really interesting to see how the beer is produced, from the planting stage to sampling the final product! To check the dates of upcoming events check out their Facebook page here.
Of course, for me, the best part of the beer planting experience came at the end when we were able to enjoy the pizza made by Kurasawa-san’s wife and wash it down with some beer sampling! Along with the beer, all of the dishes in the restaurants are made using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.
The restaurant is generally open from Thursday through to Sunday for lunch and dinner although it’s best to double-check the website before you go.
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2:30 PM Explore Kashima Shrine
After pizza and beer take a short stroll back up to Kashima Shrine to explore the area. Kashima Jingu is one of the most visited shrines in all of Japan during the New Year period when some 600,000 people flock there. Japan is home to around 85,000 shrines in total however Kashima Jingu is the oldest shrine in Eastern Japan and was first founded around 600 BC.
The Shinto shrine is dedicated to one of the gods of martial arts so it’s often visited by Japanese teams praying for a big win in an upcoming tournament. The shrine grounds are home to three ‘power spots’, a Japanese concept that refers to places believed to provide visitors with healing or refreshing energy.
The power spots at Kashima include the forest area, the old shrine and a sacred stone called ‘Kaname Ishi,’ or ‘pinning rock’ in English. The sacred stone is said to keep in place a giant catfish who lived underground that was once believed to be the cause of earthquakes in the area.
Kashima Jingu is also home to an interesting festival during the winter where brave locals undress and jump into the pond filled with holy water as part of a Shinto purification ceremony.
5:00 PM Catch a Soccer Game with the Kashima Antlers
One of the best times to visit Kashima is on a home matchday so you can catch an Antlers game during your visit. Kashima Antlers are one of Japan’s top soccer teams playing in the J1 League. Kashima has won the J League title a record eight times, and their stadium will also be home to the soccer matches during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. You can check out their website here for more information and match fixtures.
6:30 – 9:00 PM Yakitori and Cocktails
If you are staying in Kashima for the evening then my top recommendations would be Akachochin ( 赤ちょうちん ), a yakitori restaurant that has been in business for 45 years and is popular with the locals. After a chicken feast, head over to the friendly Gozzo bar for a cocktail or two and chat with the locals before heading home for the day.
9:20 PM Return to Tokyo or Overnight in Kashima
The last bus from Kashima to Tokyo leaves at 9:20 pm or if you want to stay out late for cocktails and head back the next day then there are a few different accommodation options available. I stayed at the Marble Inn B&B which was very modern and well-equipped. The prices start from only 5,500 yen per person per night so it’s also great value for money. If you prefer a more traditional hotel you could try the Hotel Route Inn that has hot spring baths on site.
Have you been to Kashima city before? What did you think about it? What’s your favorite day trip from Tokyo? Let me know in the comments below!
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