Last Updated: April 12, 2022

Best Day Trips From Tokyo: Exploring Japan

While visiting Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, it would be a shame not to visit all the other wonderful things that are accessible within an easy day trip from the big city limits.

There are tons of wonderful things to explore within about two hours from Tokyo and it’s always nice exploring something a little different and to get a break from the business of the biggest city in Japan.

But what are the most fun day trip options from Tokyo? That’s what we are here to find out. Join me as we run through all the best day trips from Tokyo so you can spend the day exploring what else Japan has to offer on your next trip.

Lake Kawaguchiko

Lake Kawaguchiko

Lake Kawaguchiko, aka Lake Kawaguchi, is one of the Fuji five lakes and one of the most easily accessible lakes to see on a day trip from Tokyo. The lake sits in eastern Japan just a 2-hour train ride from Tokyo and there are direct trains running regularly so getting the train is pretty easy.

The lake is crystal clear and it offers breathtaking views of the majestic Mount Fuji along with its reflection in the stunning waters. The iconic mountain sits in the distance and the lake is one of the best places to take photos of Mt Fuji.

While on a day trip you can hike around the lake, visit the beautiful Oishi Park which is home to very pretty seasonal flowers. Nearby, you’ll also find the Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum which is home to an incredible collection of old music boxes.

You can even find live musical performances at this museum which match the environment perfectly so it’s a must visit when day tripping to the lake.

You can also take the cable car up Mount Fuji while you’re here, and going up Mount Fuji should actually be a day trip in itself, so maybe spending a weekend here isn’t a bad idea.

Hakone

Visiting Hakone is one of the most popular day trips and best day trips from Tokyo as it takes you into the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park to the shore of beautiful Lake Ashi.

This region is just an hour or so train ride from Tokyo and it’s an area that is known for two things – being a hot spring town and being the gateway to Mount Fuji.

It is really worth going on a weekend trip to Hakone if you want a break from busy central Tokyo to bathe in the hot springs and fully relax. There are lots of hot spring hotels to stay at and apart from bathing in hot springs, there is lots more to do too.

You can go hiking around the shores of Lake Ashi and gaze across the lake and stare at the magnificent view of the mountains that surround you. You should also visit the Hakone shrine and the Hakone Open Air Museum while you’re there as it’s home to some very interesting sculptures.

This popular day trip is best done in the season of Autumn as this is when the leaves are changing, the hot springs feel warmer, and if you get a clear day, the mountain views are impeccable.

Atami

Another of the great Tokyo day trips is heading to the city of Atami which you will find on the sea just inside the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Atami is a very charming city with views across the sea in one direction and Mt Fuji in the other. You can easily spend a few days here exploring all the parks, seeing shrines and temples, shopping, trying street food, hitting hiking trails, hanging on the beach and seeing lots more attractions too.

A museum you have to explore is the MOA Museum of Art which is home to a huge collection of East Asian art that dates back hundreds of years. The most famous landmark of all the tourist attractions you have to see is the Atami castle which most travelers see as a highlight to the area.

The best time to be in Atami is during the spring season as this is when the Sakura cherry blossoms are in full bloom. This makes the already stunning scenery even more beautiful and it’s warm enough for some beach time.

Kawagoe

Sitting to the northwest of Tokyo lies the city of Kawagoe which is a great day trip from Tokyo if you’re looking for a deeper insight into Japanese culture. Getting there is simple on public transport, just get on a train from Tokyo station and Kawagoe station and you’ll be there in an hour.

The main attraction that brings travelers to Kawagoe is the architecture which is from the Edo Period. The number one piece of Edo Period architecture is the Kawagoe Castle Honmaru Residence.

You’ll also find old buildings of the Edo-era in the form of old homes and clay warehouses that belong to the Kurazukuri, the merchants of Japan.

Other attractions include Candy Alley, a whole street that is all about selling sweets and the Buddhist temple of Kita-in, Edo Castle, and the 500 or so statues of the Great Buddha.

Visitors to this old castle town will be drenched in culture and really get an insight into Japanese history, perhaps more so than other day trips.

Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

If you are traveling with kids or just like Disney, then the most popular day trip to Tokyo Disneyland might be right up your street. Tokyo Disneyland also consists of Tokyo DisneySea which is set on a pretty lake, so there are two parks to visit.

The parks aren’t actually in Tokyo, they are about an hour east of downtown Tokyo in the Chiba prefecture in Urayasu city.

You can spend the day meeting your favorite Disney Characters, going on loads of fun rides, exploring the full-size Cinderella Castle and lots more. You can go on a pirate ship cruise at Disney Sea and enjoy sea-themed things to do, as well as go on lots of water rides too.

Unlike other Disney resorts, this theme park is not solely owned by Disney so you will find a Japanese twist, so try all the weird and wacky popcorn flavors and more, etc.

Nikko National Park

Nikko National Park is a beautiful place packed full of natural beauty in the form of lakes, rivers, waterfalls, mountains and lots more including beautiful temples and shrines.

It’s best accessed via Nikko City which sits on the national park’s border. You can get there from Tokyo in less than an hour by riding the train north to Tokyo station to Utsunomiya Station where you can get a train to Tobu Nikko Station. Once at the train station it’s a bus ride to the national park.

Once you’re there you will find a ton of hiking available which will lead you to the stunning Lake Chuzenji and the famous Yudaki Falls. You can also see a ton of historic architectural landmarks in the form of Shinto shrines and the most famous of which are Nikkotoshogu Shrine, the Futarasanjinja Shrine and Rinnoji Temple.

If seeing the stunning nature of the country is on your list, this destination is one of the top nature spots to see that is accessible from Tokyo. It’s most popular in summer as the high elevation makes it cool but the fall is stunning as the leaves change color.

Yokohama

A round trip to Yokohama, the second largest city in Japan, is another of the great day trips from Tokyo worth doing if you want to see the cities of Japan. It’s a quick train ride from Tokyo station to Yokohama station in the city center from which you can start exploring.

Yokohama is a port city and was one of the first international ports in Japan and therefore is a melting pot of asian culture that has evolved with trade over more than one hundred years.

While in Yokohama you should visit the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum and take a stroll around the city to the Yokohama Marine Tower which features an observation deck with awesome views of Tokyo bay and the ocean.

If you love noodles, then go to the Cup Noodles Museum too and try some awesome food at the hundreds of Chinese restaurants in the city. This isn’t a visit for fresh air and outdoor adventures though, but it’s a nice comparison to Tokyo.

Kawasaki

Kawasaki is a small city that sits between the two cities of Tokyo and Yokohama. The city is less than 30 minutes by public transport from Tokyo and is one of the quickest day trips from Tokyo when it comes to transportation time.

You can explore this city on foot and some of the most famous attractions and fun things to do include seeing the Daishi Temple, the Doraemon Museum, and the Japan Open-Air Folk Museum.

For anyone traveling with family, head to Yomiuriland which is a park dedicated to giving you an adrenaline buzz. It is home to roller coasters, and intense rides and you can even go bungee jumping too.

Mt. Takao

Mt. Takao

If you want to get in touch with nature, then a great day trip from Tokyo is going to Mt. Takao. You can get there in less than an hour by train to Takao station and then it’s a day of hiking up to the summit of the mountain.

If you have good weather and go on weekdays to avoid crowds, you’ll be blessed with a lovely hike that takes about 1-2 hours to the summit. From the top, you can see great views back over Tokyo and it’s a great place to have a picnic lunch.

You don’t have to stop there though and continue hiking until you get into Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park. If you time it right with the seasons, spring or fall, then you will see nature at its best with the leaves changing color or the blossoms out in full force.

Odawara

Odawara is another small city that gives you awesome access and views to Mount Fuji and you’ll find it next to Hakone and the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

A must see when visiting Odawara is the Odawara Castle. The Odawara castle is an ancient Japanese style castle with multi storeys that was destroyed a long time ago by the Meiji government but was then restored.

Today the Odawara Castle is a protected landmark and inside the castle you will find some lovely exhibitions and old artifacts too.

If you happen to visit the area between February and March you can enjoy the Odawara Plum Festival and all the folk dancing, horseback riding, and archery that goes with it.

Getting to Odawara station is pretty easy, just hop on a direct train from Tokyo and if you’re in the bullet train, you’ll get there very quickly. Plus riding the bullet train is a day trip in itself.

Chiba City

One of the easiest day trips you can do from Tokyo, especially if you want a mixture of new aged modern sights as well as some traditional culture to keep you entertained for the day, is to Chiba City.

The city is home to the Chiba Museum of Art and the Science Museum as well as the awesome Hoki Museum where you can see a mixture of works that showcase realism. The Chiba shrine is also somewhere worth seeing as it is very impressive.

You should also ride the monorail, as it’s the world’s longest suspended monorail, so despite being a very efficient way to get around the city, it’s a cool experience in itself.

Chiba Port Tower is another great spot to spend some time at. It offers a great 360 degree panorama of the city and was built in the 1980s when the city’s population reached 5 million. To top it all off, you can spend time in parks, a traditional Japanese garden and even go to a zoo and see pandas.

Kamakura

Just an hour away from Tokyo by train is the stunning beach town of Kamakura with lovely walking trails along the coast. It’s a great place to connect with nature but it’s famous in Japan for having the Great Buddha of Kamakura.

This is the second largest Buddha in Japan and you will find it at the Kotokuin Temple. It was built as far back as 1252 and is huge being 13 meters tall.

As well as seeing the Buddha from the outside, it’s actually hollow so you can take a look inside it to see how it was constructed and the building techniques of the 1200s used to make it.

You should also take a look at Engakuji Temple, Hasedera Temple, and the most important Shinto Shrine of Kamakura, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.

Chichibu

Chichibu

If you want to see Japanese nature at its best then a day trip to Chichibu is a must. The city is known for being pink thanks to its incredible blossoms and by the end of your trip there, pink might just become your favorite color.

Chichibu is the starting and endpoint of the Chichibu Kannon Pilgrimage and you will find it a few hours east of Tokyo set amongst mountain scenery. It’s an amazing place to be during the spring or fall to witness the blossoms and the leaves changing color in the forest.

In the mountains, you will also find more than 30 temples and one you have to see is the Kinshoji Temple in Chichibu city. You’ll find hundreds of Buddha statues at the temple, each one unique.

Enoshima

Another fantastic day trip from Tokyo and quite a unique one at that is a trip to the small island of Enoshima which is connected to the mainland by a huge 600 meter long bridge.

The island is home to a stunning aquarium where you can see some sea life but the main attractions are cultural ones.

You should see the Enoshima Shrine complex, a huge shrine dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten, the goddess of music, poetry, wealth, and good fortune. There are lots more temples to see too as well as caves.

The Iwaya Caves are great to see and there are lovely tide pools surrounding it too.

Kusatsu Onsen

If you want to bathe in the crystal blue waters of steaming hot springs in a traditional Japanese town, then the day trip for you is going to Kusatsu Onsen.

Kusatsu Onsen is extremely popular with both Japanese locals and tourists alike and while spending the day there is nice if you want to fully immerse yourself in relaxation, spend a night. The hotels are not cheap though but it will be an experience you won’t forget.

Sitting over 2-3 hours from Tokyo, it’s a bit of a trek to spend the day in but it’s worth it. Seeing the steam rise into the Japanese countryside while sitting in azure blue hot springs isn’t something you can do everywhere.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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