Tokyo is definitely a city you could spend weeks or even months exploring and still barely scratch the surface. I lived there for years and I often wish I had explored more. There is simply so much to see and do in the mysterious and enchanting city of Tokyo.
However, while it may be enticing to spend all of your time in Tokyo, it is so important to remember that there other amazing places to visit in Japan and quite a lot of them can be taken as day trips from Tokyo.
This post outlines the absolute best day trips from Tokyo which will teach you so much more about the history, the culture, the food and etiquette of Japan.
Travel bloggers from around the world have shared their favourite day trips from Tokyo. Keep reading for the best guide on day trips from Tokyo including how to get there, what to see, places to eat and some cool hidden gems.
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Hakone – Hot Springs, Cable Cars and Black Eggs
Hakone is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo that you can take and with so much to see and do plus its close proximity to Tokyo, it is easy to see why.
Hakone is centred around the onsen filled town of Gora and the beautiful Lake Ashi. Getting there and around the area is half the fun as it involves a train, bus, funicular, ropeway and a ferry!
First, to get to Hakone, take the Odakyu Line train from Shinjuku Station to Odawara or Hakone Yumoto which takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes on the Limited Express ‘Romance Car’.
From there you take the Tozan Line train to Gora where you can soak in the soothing hot waters of one of the many onsens in the area. Then, hop on the funicular railway up to the ropeway/ cable car (open 9am-5pm). This starts at Sounzan station in Gora and goes via Owakudani to Togendai.
Make a stop in Owakudani to see the sulphur steam from the active volcano and hot rivers. This is where you can try the famous black eggs that the area is known for – they are said to add 7 years on to your life so be careful with how many you eat!
At the end of the line in Togendai, you can take a sightseeing cruise in a pirate ship across Lake Ashi to Hakone-Machi and Moto-Hakone. If the weather is clear, you just might be able to see Mt. Fuji in the distance.
In Moto-Hakone, it’s a short walk to Hakone shrine, where you can get a classic photo of Mt Fuji with a beautiful red tori gate and the lake in the foreground. Hakone is mesmerising and well worth a visit but it is also a long day with loads to do, so make sure you get an early start.
Get Tickets Here: Hakone Fuji Day Tour: Cruise, Cable Car and Volcano
Yokohama – Chinatown, Cup Noodles and Rollercoasters
During a visit to Japan a few years back, my friends and I took one of the best day trips you can take from Tokyo to Yokohama. You can easily visit Yokohama on the Tokyu Tōyoko Line from Shinjuku Station which takes about 45-50 minutes.
Yokohama is a small city just south of Tokyo, located right on the Tokyo Bay. In fact, many of the major cruise lines make a port stop at Yokohama. On our visit to Yokohama, we went with two stops in mind – the Kirin Brewery and Chinatown!
The Kirin Brewery is a must for beer and brewery tour lovers. We got a VERY thorough tour and learned a ton about how to make beer. After our beer samples, we walked over to Chinatown in search of some delicious Chinese food.
Chinatown, Yokohama is Japan’s largest Chinatown and the beautiful Chinese arches, decorations as well as the delicious food, did not disappoint. You can walk into any restaurant here and you will be given the best quality food and plenty of it!
There are plenty of other places to check out in Yokohama too such as Zoorasia, Yokohama’s Zoo and the Sankeien Gardens. There is also the Cup Noodle museum which is a really popular attraction in Yokohama – who doesn’t want to see how noodles are made and processed?!
Another beautiful spot is the Minato Mirai district. This is a beautiful urban waterfront destination complete with shopping, hot springs, hotels, a convention centre, a park, museums and Cosmo World, amusement park!
Kawaguchiko – Lakes, Hikes and A Music Museum
By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe | Instagram
The village of Kawaguchiko and the area around Lake Kawaguchi are a perfect destination for a Tokyo day trip. While not off the beaten path in Japan, it’s such a beautiful place you won’t mind the crowds (which don’t have to be huge, depending on when you visit). Lake Kawaguchi is by far one of the best places in Japan to admire the mighty Mount Fuji.
From Shinjuku Station, a direct bus to Kawaguchiko takes a mere two hours and will transport you from the busy streets of Tokyo to the scenic area of Fuji Five Lakes.
Once you have arrived, rent a bike (there are several bike rental shops) to cycle to the famous Chureito Pagoda. Alternatively, you can take the Mount Fuji World Heritage Loop Bus which takes approximately 15 minutes.
From the Chureito Pagoda, you will have a stunning view of Mt. Fuji, that is if the sky is clear. This spot can get extremely crowded during cherry blossom season and during the autumn months when the leaves are a beautiful golden colour. However, we visited early October and there were only a few other people there.
Other fun things to do at Lake Kawaguchi are riding the Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway, visit the Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum and riding the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus which will bring you to many beautiful spots, where you can disembark and spend time where you choose.
Get Tickets Here: Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi Full-Day Tour
Nagano – Temples, Mountains and Snow Monkeys
By Chelsea from The Portable Wife | Instagram
Nagano is the perfect Tokyo day trip for nature lovers. Nestled in the mountains of central Honshu, the city is known as a gateway to the Japanese Alps.
One of the most popular things to do in Nagano is to visit Zenko-Ji, Japan’s most important Buddhist temple. Zenko-Ji houses the first Buddhist statue ever brought to Japan, and every six years, they put a replica statue on display for visitors.
If you take your day trip in 2021, you’ll have a chance to see the temple! Inside, visitors can enter the “corridor of enlightenment” – a dark passageway with a key hanging on the wall. Finding the key amidst the darkness is a metaphor for discovering the path to paradise.
Outside the temple, there’s a bustling street of shops and stalls that sell everything from artisan crafts to fancy tea. Nagano is also known for its onsen resorts, where you can relax in a rejuvenating hot spring. While many of them require spending the night in the hotel, there are a few public options, like Shibu who welcome tourists on day trips from Tokyo.
Finally, the prefecture of Nagano is filled with beautiful areas to explore. If you take an early Shinkansen to Nagano city, you’ll have time to visit famous places like the Togakushi shrine path or The Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park before returning to Tokyo.
Get Tickets Here: Snow Monkeys, Zenkoji Temple & Sake Day Trip From Tokyo
Nikko – Shrines And The Food Delicacy Of Yuba
By Sarah from A Social Nomad | Pinterest
A day trip from Tokyo to Nikko is a long but definitely worthwhile trip. Nikko is a must-see destination in Japan and it is famous for its incredible nature, mountainous scenery and historic shrines.
The Toshogu Shrine is most famous of all the shrines in Nikko and despite dating back to the 1600’s, it is still in pristine condition today. It is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the powerful shogun who unified all of Japan.
At this UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll see intricate wood carvings, colourful interiors and three wise monkeys who embody the phrase “See no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil”.
You also can’t miss out on visiting the Shinkyo Bridge – this temple is an art form in bridge design. It stands on the river at the entrance to Nikko’s shrine and temple area and it is one of the most photographed places in Nikko. If you love waterfalls, you also need to check out Kegon No Taki which is a spectacular waterfall and one of the most well known in all of Japan.
When you’re in Nikko you must try Yuba – a local delicacy made from the skin of soy milk – you’ll find yuba ice-cream, smoked yuba and crispy dried yuba, everything yuba!
Nikko can be visited year-round but it is most beautiful during the autumn months when the leaves radiate hues of red, yellow and gold; a simply spectacular sight.
Get Tickets Here: Bestselling Nikko Toshogu Shrine and Kegon Waterfall Tour From Tokyo
Kyoto – Temples, Bamboo Groves and Geisha’s
By Mike from Robe Trotting | Facebook
When I had to visit Japan for work, I squeezed in a few extra days to explore the sights and sounds of Tokyo. There is so much to see and do in Tokyo but I also wanted to make sure that I took a day trip from Tokyo to the fascinating, historical city of Kyoto.
Kyoto is easily accessed from Tokyo via the Shinkansen (2 hours) but as there is so much to see and do, make sure that you are well prepared in advance. I highly recommend planning out what temples, shrines and places in Kyoto you want to see to make the most of your visit.
Kyoto is known as the cultural capital of Japan and you’ll quickly realize why as soon as you begin to explore the city. There are over 1600 temples and even more Shinto Shrines, there’s the Geisha district, and of course the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
However, one of the most photographed places in Kyoto is the Fushimi Inari Shrine with over 10,000 gates and a 233-meter hike to Mount Inari, I highly recommend arriving as early as you can due to the popularity of the area.
When in Kyoto, you should also definitely check out Nishiki Market when looking for food. It’s been a street food destination since the 14th century so you know it must be good.
A day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto will always be very full on so I highly recommend staying longer if you can. This 3-day Kyoto itinerary is perfect for anyone who plans on exploring more of this stunning city in Japan.
Disney Sea – Flavoured Popcorn And Venice Canals
A short train ride from Tokyo lies one of the Happiest Places on Earth – Tokyo DisneySea. While Tokyo Disneyland boasts many of the same attractions as other Disney Parks, Tokyo DisneySea is especially unique in its design.
In a single day, you can cruise the canals of Venice, explore the streets of Agrabah, and take a stroll down the American waterfront. Where other Disney Parks have a Princess Castle in the middle, Tokyo DisneySea boasts a giant smoking volcano at the centre of Mysterious Island.
There are many activities to enjoy at Tokyo DisneySea including well-themed rides, shows, parades, and delicious food. The popcorn is legendary with unique flavours like Curry and Chinese Chili. Broadway-themed stage shows, like the Big Band Beat, are sure to delight too.
One of the unique experiences is the roaming characters. Don’t be surprised if Jack Sparrow sneaks up and asks if you know where his rum is while you are strolling down the road.
Tokyo Disney Sea also boasts the only upside-down roller coaster at any Tokyo Disney Parks. You can’t help but smile while experiencing the magic and quality of this amazing theme park, making it a must-do day trip from Tokyo.
Get Tickets Here: Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea Entry Ticket plus Transfer
Kamakura – Bamboo Forests and The Great Buddha
If you’re staying in Tokyo and have a day to spare, then Kamakura is one of the easiest and most worthwhile day trips from Tokyo that you can take.
Often referred to by locals as ‘Little Kyoto’, the city has many traditional temples you can visit, a spectacular bamboo forest and plenty of opportunities for souvenir shopping. Despite being close to Tokyo, you will notice a huge contrast to the skyscrapers of built-up Tokyo, and yet Kamakura is only around one hour away by train.
Situated in the coastal area of the Kanto region south of Tokyo, there are direct trains from both Tokyo and Shinjuku stations. If you only have one day there for sightseeing; highlights include seeing the Great Buddha statue at Kotokuin Temple, the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan.
If you’re not able to make it to the bamboo forest in Kyoto, then Kamakura is the next best thing. Plus it is far less crowded and only costs 300 yen to enter. Hokokuji Temple also has a lovely café situated in the grounds where you can enjoy traditional matcha tea whilst doing a spot of forest bathing.
Finally, if you don’t mind a bit of walking off the beaten path, one of my favourite spots in Kamakura is the Itsuki Garden café, situated deep in the forest high up on a hill. It’s only open on sunny days so be sure to check the weather before you go but the 20-minute walk from Kamakura Station is definitely worth the effort!
Get Tickets Here: Kamakura: Great Buddha, Hase Temple, & Komachi Street Tour
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Over To You….
Have you visited any of these places in Japan? What did you like/not like? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!