Travel

19 Awesome Day Trips From Tokyo

I know that Tokyo is a very exciting place, especially for first-time visitors, but I cannot emphasize it often enough: It’s important to get out and see other parts of Japan as well. If you cannot afford going all the way to Kyoto, Hiroshima or Fukuoka, then at least plan a few day trips from Tokyo. I’m sure you won’t regret it. In fact, there are million of options, so it might be hard to choose. Here are my recommendations for day trips from Tokyo.

 

Day Trips from Tokyo to Kanagawa Prefecture:

Kanagawa Prefecture is right next to Tokyo, so it’s easy, cheap and fast to visit. As there are a lot of things to see, Kanagawa is certainly one of the best options for a day trip or even a weekend trip. I want to introduce a few places that are especially worth visiting.

 

1. Hakone:

Hakone (箱根) is part of the volcanically active Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park centered around Lake Ashino. It’s an internationally famous holiday resort offering hot springs, natural beauty and great views of Mt. Fuji. As it’s less than 100 km from Tokyo, it makes a great day trip.

Day Trips From Tokyo

A big red gate stands at the entrance of Hakone Shrine which is located right next to Lake Ashino.

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You can take a cable car to explore Owakudani, a volcanic hot spot full of sulphurous springs.
There you can enjoy black eggs (黒玉子, kuro tamago) which are unique to Hakone. The shell turns black due to a chemical reaction with the sulphurous water. Despite their look, they actually taste delicious and are said to prolong your life, so definitely try them!

Day Trips From Tokyo

You should take a pirate ship tour on Lake Ashino. On a clear day you can even see Mt. Fuji.

If you’re interested in visiting Hakone, check out this website with lots of useful information in English.

 

2. Kamakura:

Kamakura (鎌倉) is less than an hour away from Tokyo. It’s also known as the Kyoto of Eastern Japan, offering numerous temples, shrines and other historical structures such as Hasedera Temple, Engakuji Temple and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Day Trips From Tokyo

The most famous attraction of Kamakura is the Great Buddha of Kotokuin.

If you’re planning a day trip to Kamakura, check out this website.

 

3. Enoshima:

Just like Kamakura, Enoshima (江の島) is located in the Shonan area.
It’s a small island, connected to the mainland by the 600-m-long Enoshima Bridge.

Day Trips From Tokyo

In summer you can go swimming or surfing at the beach. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mt. Fuji.

Day Trips From Tokyo

There are several interesting sights such as temples, shrines, a cave and even an aquarium.
Most popular is probably the Enoshima Shrine complex dedicated to Benzaiten, goddess of good fortune, wealth, music and poetry. She’s said to be the creator of Enoshima.

If you’ve decided to go there, make sure to have a look at the “Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass” and the “Enoshima 1-Day Passport“. You might be able to save some money.

 

4. Odawara:

Odawara City (小田原市) is the entrance to the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. You could stop by for a short 1h-visit on your way to Hakone.

Day Trips From Tokyo

If you’re into Japanese castles, then you’ll love Odawara Castle. Its size is quite impressive and the museum on several floors inside the castle tower offers a lot of interesting artefacts.

 

5. Yokohama:

Yokohama (横浜) is probably one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo. There are so many things to do and see there, it won’t get boring.

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Minato Mirai (left photo) and China Town (right photo) are well-known attractions.
Apart from that you can also check out the Cup Noodle Museum, Ramen Museum, Kirin Beer Museum as well as a former residential area of foreign merchants.

Day Trips From Tokyo

If you like Japanese gardens, enjoy a few hours at the beautiful Sankeien Garden, especially worth checking out in autumn and spring.

For more information, read the Yokohama Visitors’ Guide.

 

6. Kawasaki:

If it’s not your first trip to Japan, you might have already seen the most popular tourist spots close to Tokyo. Then, I suggest going to Kawasaki which is only a short train ride away from central Tokyo.

Day Trips From Tokyo

The Kawasaki Daishi Temple is quite impressive. The shopping street leading to the temple offers so many delicious snacks and you can get all the souvenirs you’ve ever dreamed of. Especially for Maneki Neko and Daruma lovers it’s a tiny paradise.

There’s also a lovely Chinese garden nearby.

Day Trips From Tokyo Day Trips From Tokyo

If you happen to be there in early April, you might want to experience one of the craziest Japanese festivals. The Kanamara Matsuri also known as “Phallus Festival” is held in Kawasaki every year.

 

Day Trips from Tokyo to Tochigi Prefecture:

Tochigi Prefecture is located in the Kanto region just like Tokyo. It’s contiguous with Ibaraki, Gunma, Saitama, and Fukushima Prefectures. Not a very well-known prefecture for travelling, apart from one spot:

 

7. Nikko:

Nikko (日光) is a small town that marks the entrance to Nikko National Park.

Day Trips From Tokyo

Nikko is mostly famous for Toshogu Shrine, the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Day Trips From Tokyo Day Trips From Tokyo

The shrine buildings are extremely fascinating and the various carvings with all their details could keep you busy all day long. The three monkeys are one of the most popular carvings there.

When you are in Nikko, make sure to also visit the beautiful Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖, right photo) – which offers a lovely scenery, especially in autumn (mid to late October).

Day Trips From Tokyo

And don’t miss the Kegon Fall (華厳の滝, kegon no taki) which is not only very close to the other two sights, but is also one of Japan’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls.

There’s so much more to see in the Nikko National Park, so if you want to visit, check out this website for more information.

 

Day Trips from Tokyo to Saitama Prefecture:

Saitama Prefecture is bordered by Tokyo and parts of it can actually be seen as a suburb of Tokyo. In short, it’s really close and thus ideal for a day trip.

 

8. Kawagoe:

Kawagoe (川越) is probably the most famous sightseeing spot in Saitama.
It’s a former castle town and you can still visit one last remaining building of Kawagoe Castle, called “Honmaru Goten“.

Day Trips From Tokyo

A very well-known attraction is the Warehouse District with its clay-walled buildings that create an Edo period (1603-1867) atmosphere.

Day Trips From Tokyo Day Trips From Tokyo

Well worth checking out is also “Kitain Temple” (喜多院). You’ll find the only remaining buildings of the original Edo Castle there. Make sure to visit the “Gohyaku Rakan” statues as well. These are more than 500 stone statues of the disciples of Buddha and each of them has its own facial expression. Find the one that looks like you. Very amusing!

For more information about sightseeing in Kawagoe click here.

 

9. Chichibu:

Another major attraction of Saitama Prefecture is Chichibu City (秩父市).

Day Trips From Tokyo

In spring (late April – late May) you can enjoy beautiful shibazakura (pink moss) in Hitsujiyama Park.

Day Trips From Tokyo

Chichibu Shrine is also well worth checking out. In early December a lot of people attend the yearly night festival at the shrine.

While those two attractions are certainly a highlight when visiting Chichibu, there’s a lot more to explore.

 

Day Trips from Tokyo to Shizuoka Prefecture:

Shizuoka Prefecture is probably quite well-known – even among foreign visitors to Japan – because of its beautiful sights of Mt. Fuji.

 

10. Izu Peninsula – Atami:

Atami City (熱海市), a coastal hot spring resort, is located at the entrance to the Izu Peninsula. Even if you’re short on time you can at least visit Atami. It even has a Shinkansen station, so if you have the Japan Rail Pass, it’s a cheap 40-mins trip.

Day Trips From Tokyo

You can just soak in one of the many onsen, enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean, visit one of the several museums or …

Day Trips From Tokyo

… check out Atami Castle. From up there you’ll also get a breathtaking view.

If you want to do more than just a day trip, I highly recommend exploring the rest of the Izu Peninsula as well.

 

11. Mt. Fuji:

Who doesn’t love Mt. Fuji? I surely do. And Shizuoka is one of the best places to get some great views of this beautiful volcano. Now that since it has become a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s even more popular.

Day Trips From Tokyo Day Trips From Tokyo

There are tons of places within Shizuoka Prefecture from where you can see Mt. Fuji. I recommend Fuji City and Shimizu, especially Miho no Matsubara beach (right photo). In summer (July – August) you can also climb Mt. Fuji – although you’d need more than a day trip to accomplish it.

For more interesting sights in Shizuoka, check out my previous blog posts.

 

Day Trips from Tokyo to Chiba Prefecture:

Chiba Prefecture is right next to Tokyo and many people forget that some sights are actually in Chiba and not in Tokyo (such as Tokyo Disneyland).

 

12. Chiba Castle:

If you’re short on time, but interested in Japanese castles, then visiting Chiba Castle is a good option. It takes less than an hour to get there.

Day Trips From Tokyo

And it’s a famous hanami spot in spring, so that’s probably the best time to visit.

 

13. Boso Peninsula – Tateyama:

My personal highlight in Chiba is the Boso Peninsula which offers various extraordinary sights.

Day Trips From Tokyo

Worth visiting is Tateyama City (館山市) which has a nice castle and several interesting shrines and temples, always with the beautiful ocean in the background.

Day Trips From Tokyo

Apparently it’s also great for windsurfing because I saw a lot of people doing it when I went there.

 

14. Boso Peninsula – Nokogiriyama:

Don’t miss Mt. Nokogiriyama (鋸山) when you come to the Boso Peninsula.

Day Trips From Tokyo

Nicknamed “Sawtooth Mountain” because of its current shape it offers not only a great view, but also is home to Nihonji Temple with one of the biggest Buddha Statues in Japan.

Day Trips From Tokyo

I highly recommend this as a day trip from Tokyo.

There’s a lot more to see, so make sure to check it out.

 

Day Trips from Tokyo to Yamanashi Prefecture:

Yamanashi Prefecture is actually the other prefecture besides Shizuoka that Mt. Fuji can call home. Yes, that mountain is so big it’s located in two Japanese prefectures.

 

15. Kawaguchiko:

If you want to get some breathtaking landscape photos with Mt. Fuji in the background, then the Fujigoko (5 Fuji Lakes) are your best bet.
The one that’s easily accessible by public transportation (there’s even a direct highway bus from Shinjuku) is Lake Kawaguchi.

Day Trips From Tokyo

Lake Kawaguchi offers quite a few fun things to do, so you could easily spend a few days there, but the main focus is Mt. Fuji, of course.

The famous red Chureito Pagoda can be found in nearby Fujiyoshida City (just 10 mins by train from Kawaguchiko).

Day Trips From Tokyo

If you happen to be in Japan in spring (late April to late May), then visiting the “Shibazakura Festival” is a MUST! With Mt. Fuji in the background this is by far the most beautiful pink moss field I’ve ever seen in Japan.

For more lovely places to check out, go and read the Yamanashi Sightseeing Spots website.

 

Day Trips from Tokyo to Gunma Prefecture:

Gunma Prefecture is a bit farther away from Tokyo, but a day trip is still possible. For holders of the Japan Rail Pass it’s totally worth it as the Shinkansen takes less than an hour.

 

16. Kusatsu Onsen:

Kusatsu is one of Japan’s best hot spring resorts and one of my personal favorites. Going there on a day trip would actually be a shame as you would want to spend more time there. If you take a direct bus from Tokyo, it’ll take about 4 h one-way, so you wouldn’t have that much time. Using a rental car would be more beneficial.

Day Trips From Tokyo

At Kusatsu Onsen (草津温泉) you can watch a so-called Yumomi (湯もみ) performance. It’s a traditional method of cooling down the hot water so that people can comfortably take a bath afterwards. Women are stirring the water with a large wooden paddle while singing local folk songs.

Day Trips From Tokyo Day Trips From Tokyo

The region is a paradise for hot spring lovers all year round. There are so many things to discover, so I recommend taking your time while you’re there.

Day Trips From Tokyo

Another highlight when visiting Kusatsu is the nearby crater lake of Mt. Shirane.

 

17. Takasaki:

Takasaki City (高崎市) is only a 50-mins bullet train ride from Tokyo. It’s famous for daruma as it’s the leading producer of the “lucky charm” dolls in Japan.

Day Trips From Tokyo Day Trips From Tokyo

The Byakue Dai-Kannon statue and the Shorinzan Daruma Temple are the major tourist attractions in Takasaki.

 

18. Lockheart Castle:

Ok, I admit that this is not a typical day trip destination from Tokyo. And I swear I’m not adding it because it’s a castle. *g*
Lockheart Castle was originally built by the Lockhart Family in 1829 in Carluke, Scotland. Then, Japanese actor Masahiko Tsugawa bought it. The castle was taken apart and shipped to Japan where it was put together again.
Now you can find a lot of galleries and museums there (even a Santa Museum). It’s also a popular place for weddings.

Day Trips From Tokyo

This is just a little extra I thought I’d throw in for all the fans of Japanese dramas and movies, because some of you might have seen it there. It has been used as shooting location for dramas such as “Atashinchi no Danshi” or “Kaibutsu-kun“.
Lockheart Castle is about a 2h drive from Tokyo, but you can also access it by public transportation. Take a train to JR Numata Station and from there a bus (~ 20 mins) or taxi.

The Tourist Guide of Gunma Prefecture shows you even more places you could explore.

 

19. Your Favorite Day Trips from Tokyo?

There certainly are other places to check out, but let’s face it, for Fukushima, Sendai, Nagano or Nagoya you’d want more time than just a mere day trip. And you’d probably want the Japan Rail Pass to save money.

I could recommend a lot more such as Mt. Takao, for example. But I think it’s a lot more fun to hear what you’d recommend.

What are your suggestions? What makes a great day trip from Tokyo?

Please tell us in the comment box below. emoticon

 

Read next: 50 Day Trips from Kyoto

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71 Comments

  • Was wondering if staying in Tokyo for 7 nights as a base and day tripping is too much. Or should we break it up and stay overnight in one of these places? Like the idea of having a home base for the week.

    Can any of these day trips be combined or do each of them require a full day?

    Going skiing for a week as well so will see snow monkeys and lots of scenery then.

    Thank you

    • You could use Tokyo as your base and then just do day trips spontaneously, but for some places it would be better if you had the Japan Railpass (e.g. to visit Kusatsu).

      I once did Kamakura and Enoshima in one day, for example. If you have a car, you could probably also squeeze Odawara Castle in there, but it would be a very rushed day.
      Though I haven’t tried it myself, but you could possibly do Tateyama and Nokogiriyama in a day as well.

      It’s no problem to do a day trip to Kawaguchiko, but it’s also a lovely place to stay overnight (maybe in an onsen ryokan with a view of Mt. Fuji?).

      Hope that helped a bit. :D

  • Thanks for the extensive list!! I wouldn’t have found out about Chichibu, Nikko, and Shibazakura if it weren’t for you! Looking forward to seeing more of your adventures. Take care!

  • This post is just amazing and compelling!! I am planning my first trip to Japan. Next year for 3 weeks at the beginning of July. I’m soooo glad I found you. I have 2 questions for this trip days It will be better to buy a JR Pass? Do you have any recommendations in terms of traveling with a 2 year old girl?

    Thank you so much!!!

    • Hello! :)

      It depends. Only if you have two long-distance trips involving the Shinkansen the JR pass is worth it (usually). E.g. if you travel from Tokyo to Kyoto and back to Tokyo.
      You can easily use sites like Hpyerdia.com to check and calculate. That’s the best way to see if the pass is worth it in your case and for your itinerary. ^^

      Hm. I have never travelled with little kids nor do I have any friends who did.
      I probably would refrain from mountain hiking and stick to the cities. There are various cute amusement parks, though I’m not sure if such a young child is already interested in it? ;)

  • On a nice spring/summer day, I like to go to Shimoda: in addition to the historical elements, there is a lovely hour long seaside walk past the aquarium to Tokyu Hotel. There are the occasional direct trains which means no transfer at Atami.

    • I still want to go all the way down to Shimoda as well.
      I really wish I had a rental car back then.
      But I’ll go back there again for sure.
      Atami alone was already nice, but there’s so much more to explore. ^__^

  • Hello; planning on going to Japan for two weeks in May. We are going with my mom who is 88 so she can visit with family. Are these day trips easily to do if you don’t speak any japanese and have no tour guide? Since my mother is 88 she most likely will not want to do alot of walking so just my family of 4 will be going on adventures. All the places you listed sound wonderful. excited for our trip.

    • Hi Florence,
      Yes, I would think that all of these can be reached easily without knowing Japanese and without a tour guide.
      Some of these day trips are very, very popular among foreign tourists, so there’s plenty of English information available once you arrive in / near Tokyo. :)

      Enjoy your trip! ^_^

  • Thanks for the article but you should really inform people that 99% of the onsen hot spring bath houses are not available to those who have tattoos. Could prevent some of us from wasting money on a trip to do it.

    • Actually that’s not true. It’s not 99%. And recently I’ve seen so many news reporting about onsen that finally allow foreigners with tattoos.
      Also, when I wrote that article I still lived in Japan. Once I moved back to Europe I was SHOCKED to see how MANY people here have tattoos nowadays. I guess this became a trend while I was away, so I wasn’t aware that it would actually concern so many people. ^^;

  • Thanks to this article I ended up going to Takasaki on my first trip to Japan and ended up loving it immensely! I do think it is a bit far from Tokyo though, since I didn’t have a JR Pass and the shinkansen was more expensive I ended up taking a local train and took two hours to get there. There weren’t many visitors and everyone helped me out a lot, a bus even stopped and waited as a man got off to help me find my way!
    Also want to note that there are some caves with plenty of kannon statues and a Japanese garden just a fifteen minutes walk downhill from the Byakue Dai-Kannon Statue.

    • Hi Jane,
      I’m glad to hear that.
      Yes, it’s a bit expensive and I usually try to avoid the Shinkansen if local trains make sense and are cheaper by quite a bit (which is not always the case, so comparing is always worth it).

      Oh yes, I remember these.
      Geez, it’s been so long since I’ve last been in Gunma and I just noticed I haven’t even posted about my trips from back then in detail yet. ^^;;

  • Thank you sooo much for your article!!! I am spending 2 weeks in Japan and was really nervous about what I will be doing and didn’t want to run out of activities !! This list is perfect for me and I think I will try to do it all :))

  • hi looking for inspiration please im visiting japan on a tour and end in Tokyo i have booked my 2nd and 3rd nights accomodation before heading back to uk but i want my first night to be away from the city can you recommend anywere?

  • Thank you so much your suggestions. it is easy to read, beautiful photos, and most of all website links are 2 thumbs up. My wife and I will have to stay in Tokyo a big longer to do most of these day trips. Thanks!

  • Hi ZoomingJapan,

    I’m looking for some help. We want to do all the 3 areas — Mt. Fuji, Fuji Five Lakes & Hakone, preferably by guided tours. There is an option for 2-day trip from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji & Hakone but that covers Lake Ashi, Mt Komagatake, Hakone National Park & Mt. Fuji. It does not cover the Five Lakes area. So does that mean that we have to go back to Tokyo after this 2-day trip & then do a separate day trip to the Fuji Five Lakes? Because I’m unable to find a guided tour that includes the Five Lakes with Mt. Fuji.

    Or is it a better idea to base ourselves in either Hakone or Odawara or Fujiyoshida for 3 days and do guided trips from there to the 3 areas I’ve mentioned above?

    If yes, then can you suggest how to arrange guided day trips from either of the 3 cities — Hakone or Odawara or Fujiyoshida? I’ve been searching online but have been unable to find such trips.

    • Dear Rajiv,
      Unfortunately I have no experience with guided tours.
      I’m personally not interested in these as I prefer to do such trips completely on my own.

      Especially for Hakone, I really don’t think a guided tour is necessary and for the Five Lakes, it’s a lot more relaxed if you just rent a car and explore them at your own pace.

      Staying at Lake Kawaguchiko for a few days and taking day trips from there is also a great idea.
      Odawara and Hakone can be easily done as day trips from Tokyo, so you can have your base there (or alternatively in Yokohama, seeing that you’re travelling a lot within Kanagawa Prefecture).

      I hope this was at least a bit helpful.
      Enjoy your trip! ^__^

    • Hi!
      Thanks a lot for the suggestion.
      I’ve never been there yet – and it only makes sense to visit from December to May.
      But for people who like skiing this might be nice. Just a bit far out.

  • Hi, my partner and i are heading to Tokyo for a week in Jan 2018. Where would be a great stopover between Tokyo and Kyoto that offers great sightseeing, scenic pics and fantastic food?

    • There are simply too many! :)
      I’ve covered quite a few of them in my “Day Trips from Kyoto” article.
      It depends what you’re interested in the most.
      Getting some nice views of Mt. Fuji somewhere in Yamanashi or Shizuoka Prefectures would be a nice idea. In winter the sky is often clear and offers nicer views of the volcano. :)

      Nagoya is also a very popular stop between Tokyo and Kyoto and it’s right on the Shinkanen line, so very convenient. ^^

  • Hi there, your piece is pretty comprehensive. Thanks for sharing. my family and i r planning our tokyo trip for feb 2018. We plan to stay in Tokyo for 2 nights then rent a car and drive to nearby cities for 3 nights. What would u recommend? i m interested in going to Kusatsa onsen. Where else can we drive to besides this? Is it safe to drive along the romantic road in winter?

    • Outside of Hokkaido most roads in Japan are no problem in Japan at all.
      Just make sure that you get winter tires, just in case. Tell the rental car company in advance or otherwise you might have to wait until they change the tires for you.
      They might assume you’ll only stay in and nearby Tokyo where you’d never need winter gear for your car. ;)

      Kusatsu Onsen is a great choice. Please note that there are other nice onsen nearby as well.
      You might also consider Karuizawa. There’s quite a bit to see, especially when you have a car. :)

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