Please suggest some fun, affordable places to go and things for my boyfriend and me to do on the weekends! Location-specific ideas would be especially appreciated. We live in Ibaraki prefecture in Japan, about an hour by train from Tokyo. Slightly long list of preferences and details inside.
My boyfriend and I live in different cities, not too far away but far enough away that we mostly only see each other on weekends. I feel like we have fallen into a bit of a rut in terms of the things we do together, though (watch TV, laze around, go to the mall, etc). Perhaps this is a side effect of living in the prefecture recently ranked the most boring in all of Japan, but I'm sure there are tons of fun things we are just not doing! I'm not terribly upset about not being on the go doing new things all the time, but I think it would be fun to have some new experiences.
I'm looking for interesting, fun, and unique places we can go, either by train or by car, that would not be too expensive or take an excessively long time to get to, though the time thing goes more for train than car travel. If you know of some nice (non-toll road) drives, those would be welcome too. Overnight trip suggestions would also be good.
Here's a brief list of stuff we have done before and enjoyed:
-Deciding to go to the beach with the idea that we could just drive east and eventually find it
-Going to an outlet mall and discovering the Ushiku Daibutsu
-Taking a few hours on a walk from Harajuku to Shibuya
-Visiting a garden and art museum in Mito
And some more general stuff we like:
I take a lot of trips into Tokyo with my girl friends to go shopping and stuff, so something like going to Harajuku and people-watching isn't quite exciting and new. Something along the lines of "go to [neighborhood] and check out [place]" would be good, though. We are more likely to get off our asses and go somewhere if we have at least one specific destination, even if it's a small thing.
Stuff outside of Tokyo would be particularly nice, but off-the-beaten-track Tokyo suggestions are good too!
Additionally, suggestions of ways to find out about interesting things/places/whatever nearby would also be appreciated.
I feel sort of silly even asking this question, like I should know already or something, but every time we try to think of something to do I come up short, so I thought suggestions from the hivemind might at least help jumpstart things. :)
Oh, and I don't know if it matters, but in case it does, we speak okay Japanese. Not fluent, but we're not totally lost either.