best day trips from tokyo

The Best Day Trips from Tokyo

Tokyo is known for its futuristic scene and seems to provide infinite possibilities for its ever-growing population and visitors. Japan’s capital city is constantly changing and developing and Tokyo is both a major cultural center of Japan and a place for discoveries that can make anyone want to explore it. However, while Tokyo seems like the place to be, Japan has WAY more places to offer outside of Tokyo, and the capital city is the perfect base spot for day trips. We’ve pulled together a list of fabulous day trips from Tokyo so you can dive into the different aspects of Japan.

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Don’t worry about traveling to any of the places we reference here in Japan! A cost-effective way to travel in Japan is to pick up a Japan Rail Pass (aka  JR Pass), and you can use it for free travel on many trains and some buses. With a JR Pass, traveling throughout Japan will be a breeze. There’s more later about the JR Pass.

Tokyo, too, has a fantastic urban public transit system.  The tangled, intersecting lines of the subway boast an easy-to-navigate system that only looks intimidating, but it’s awesomely easy once you understand it!  And this transit system can bring you to places throughout Japan that allow you to experience the exquisite Japanese culture fully.

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The Best Day Trips from Tokyo

I don’t know about you, but there’s something about being able to retreat to the familiar.  And I find that basing myself in one place and then exploring from there is a great way to expend all my energy on the day at hand.  So Tokyo makes for a great base to explore some of the rest of Japan.

You don’t have to look too far outside Tokyo to find hidden gems.  It’s true, Tokyo offers many attractions, shopping experiences, entertainment, gastronomy, and culture. But outside Tokyo resides different destinations that will surely satisfy whatever your taste is for when traveling. Experience hiking through the breathtaking nature of Japan, the exhilarating views of its cities and towns, and the thrilling rides of its famous theme parks.

And they’re all available as easily accessible Tokyo day trips.

Bask in the Nature in a Nikko day trip from Tokyo

A two-hour trip from Tokyo to Nikko will let you witness the rich nature that this region has to offer.  We wrote a complete guide to Nikko, which you can read here – but here are some of the highlights for a Tokyo Day Trip to Nikko The area is really popular for hiking and trekking, you can explore the area of the Kegon Falls towering at 97 meters. The landmark gives you a magnificent view of the waterfalls and hears the deafening sound as it hits its basin below. This waterfall was classified as National Scenic Beauty in 1931!

day trips from Tokyo nikko

Another attraction of Nikko that you can’t miss is the Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine; its history dates back to 1616. The Tosho-gu Shrine of Nikko houses 55 buildings, including eight national treasures and 34 important cultural properties, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site as the Temples and Shrines of Nikko in 1919.

Want to explore Nikko as a day trip from Tokyo?  This is a fabulous way to visit multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites on this Nikko Scenic Spots bus tour!

Witness the iconic peak of Mt. Fuji on a day trip from Tokyo

I’d argue if you come to Japan and don’t see Mount Fuji, then have you even been at all? 

Experiencing its last eruption in 1707, Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji boasts a 100,000-year history of explosions and stands proudly at 3,776 meters. Mt. Fuji earned its title of being the tallest mountain in Japan and it now serves as a spiritual, recreational, and cultural icon.

You can view the mountain and the stunning Lake Kawaguchi at Oishi Park, where you can relax and have some lunch. This is a great spot to explore the green landscape and the beautiful colors of seasonal flowers.

The cheapest way to get to take a Tokyo to Mt. Fuji day trip is by bus directly from Tokyo or Shinjuku Station.  You’ll want to get off at Kawaguchino Station, Fuji-san Station, or Lake Yamanakako. This bus ride takes about two hours each way.

day trips from tokyo mount fuji

Let someone else take the strain, and tell you all about the area with this fabulous guided tour to Mt. Fuji from Tokyo. It includes hotel pick up, lunch, an English-speaking guide, and return to your hotel  Views, of Mt Fuji, are expected, but be sure to note, however, that the visibility of the mountain is dependent on weather conditions!

See the cute and fascinating Snow Monkeys on a Nagano day trip from Tokyo

Just approximately a 3-hour trip from Tokyo, you can get to Nagano City, which houses the most famous temple in Japan. Nagano is an evolved temple town that hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1998. The city attracts tourists because of the shrines and because you can also find the legendary home of the Togakure Ninja School here. Plus, there’s the Togakushi Ninpo Museum and the Kids Ninja Village, which showcases the history of ninjas.

There are lots of things to do on a Tokyo day trip to Nagano.

A quick walkthrough Jigokudani or “Hell Valley,” and you will be able to find the Macaque or Japanese Snow Monkeys soaking in the hot springs. They’re definitely the highlight of the trip.  And there doesn’t have to be snow on the ground to see them either!

day trips from tokyo nagano

In Nagano, you can also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go, where you can go skiing – although that might be pushing it a bit on a day trip!

With a JR Pass, this day trip will be a breeze! Honestly, 3 hours on a train in Japan is really different from anywhere else.  From Tokyo Station, you can take the Shinkansen ASAMA or the Kagayaki service to get to Nagano City. You can also take the express bus, which is exclusively for foreign tourists (details here), or you can check out this tour to maximize your visit to Nagano City!

For a different city experience take a day trip from Tokyo to Yokohama

Although it is shadowed by Osaka and Kyoto, Yokohama is the second-largest city in Japan. This city is richly in quirky activities and fun attractions like the Cup Noodles Museum and the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum.

There’s more on visiting Cup Noodle Museums in our guide here

day trips from tokyo yokohama

Yokohama is also where you’ll find the largest of three Chinatowns in Japan, where you can see the intersection of both Japanese and Chinese culture. Be sure to visit Noge Street to have All-You-Can-Drink Sake!

Similar to Tokyo, Yokohama also has an active cultural life. You can visit the Kanazawa Library, founded in 1275, which is famous for its varied collection of historical books and documents. You can also find there are a number of museums that exclusively house art, literature, history, and Japanese newspapers and broadcast media.

Even though it is known for being a busy, active city, Yokohama is still rich in green landscapes. Sankeien Garden is a traditional Japanese-style landscape garden that was built and opened to the public in 1904 by Hara Sankei.

Make sure to put on comfortable clothes and your walking shoes because to truly explore Yokohama you can walk around the city for –up to 6 hours.

If you are looking for the cheapest transport to Yokohama from Tokyo, the best way would be the Tokyu Tokoyo line which goes from Shibuya Station to Yokohama Station in less than 30 minutes. To get the best out of your time in Yokohama you can meet a local guide when you arrive, and this option comes with highly recommended English-speaking guides.

Take a seaside day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo

Once known as the political capital of Japan, Kamakura is just less than an hour away from Tokyo. The Great Buddha here is one of the famous attractions that you should definitely not miss. It is an 11-meter tall 13th-century bronze statue of Amida Buddha in the Kotoku-in Temple.

day trips from tokyo kamakura

While in Kamakura, don’t miss the chance to visit the Museum of Modern Art Kamakura and Hayama. This is the first modern art museum in Japan that is actually split into two locations. One is close by Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, where the permanent collection and Kamakura building are, and the other one is in the south of the city and can be reached via a short bus ride.

If you are visiting in April, you will get to experience a week-long celebration of the Kamakura Festival and witness the dancing and traditional performances. Or, if you are visiting in September, you can see a celebration of the samurai art of horseback archery known as the Hachimangu Reitaisai Festival.

Want to shop? Komachi-Dori Street is where it’s at. This shopping district is where you will find trendy cafes, restaurants that serve traditional Japanese cuisine, souvenir shops, and everything fashionable.

Lastly, do not forget the saltwater experience! Enoshima Lighthouse can get you a 360-degree panoramic view which includes Mt. Fuji. The island houses several shrines that are dedicated to Hadaka-Bente, the Naked Goddess, believed to be worshipped by entertainers hoping for success. You can also visit the black sand beaches of Kamakura, Yuigahama, Zaimokuza, and Koshigoe, which are usually compared to the southern California beaches because of the surfing lifestyle of the community.

To explore the Kamakura coast and its refreshing ambiance, check out this day trip from Tokyo!

Take a day trip to the Kiyosato Highlands from Tokyo

If you are into the great outdoors – to hills, mountains, and everything scenic and fresh, then the Kiyosato Highlands area is perfect for you! You will be able to breathe fresher, cleaner air just a two-hour trip away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis of Tokyo.

While taking in the peaceful scene, a stop at the Dangozaka Service Area is perfect. It is a famous spot that offers both Japanese and Western-style food.

Have a relaxing experience of fruit-picking at Yamanashi Fruits Farm. Depending on the season there will be different kinds of fruits that you will be able to pick, and they are usually grapes, strawberries, or peaches. And when lunchtime rolls around, be sure not to skip the all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu.

day trips from tokyo kiyosato highlands

Spend some time exploring and admiring the flower and herb fields at the Herb Garden Travel Diary. There are different things to enjoy each season: spring = cherry blossoms (there’s more on our cherry blossom guide to Japan here) and azaleas; early summer = lavender; colored leaves = autumn; herbs and flower in large greenhouses = winter. If you are interested in buying some, there is a shop at the park that sells about 200 kinds of herbs, and some of them are only found there!

If you are visiting between December to March, it is also a great time to experience the largest kids park in the Nagano Prefecture, the Fujimi Kougen Snow Resort, and during the weekends, you can also spot alpacas! Check out this day trip from Tokyo to get the experience of Kiyosato Highland during different seasons!

Visit Japan’s famous theme parks around Tokyo

Already with a few dozen theme parks and amusement parks, Japan also has two of the most well-known theme parks and amusement parks—Disneyland and Universal Studios. Japan also has parks unique only to this country, like the Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura, an Edo-era-themed park.

Experience magic in the happiest place on Earth at Tokyo Disneyland

Opened in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland is the first Disney theme park outside of the United States. Made up of seven themed lands, Tokyo Disneyland featured seasonal parades and decorations and was modeled after the California Disneyland and Florida’s Magic Kingdom.

This nostalgia-inducing place offers an abundant amount of activities to fulfill your desire to experience the magic. If you are up for the challenge, do visit and enjoy the seven themed lands, namely: World Bazaar, Tomorrowland, Toontown, Fantasyland, Critter Country, Westernland, and Adventureland.

You can get to Tokyo Disneyland from Tokyo via various routes that will only take you about 20-25 minutes to reach by car and around 30 minutes by bus. Get a one-day passport to Tokyo Disneyland and experience a full day of magic!

Explore myths and meet mystical creatures at Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea is a theme park inspired by the myths and legends of the sea. It is composed of seven themed ports: Mediterranean Harbor, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery, and American Waterfront.

While it’s generally suitable for all audiences, Tokyo DisneySea was designed specifically for more adult audiences. A wider range of food and beverages are offered, which includes alcoholic ones which are not found at Tokyo Disneyland. So if you are included in this demographic and also a Disney fanatic, you will surely be charmed all the way through!

Make sure to experience one of the top attractions of Tokyo DisneySea, the Toy Story Mania. You’ll find yourself shrunk in size while playing carnival games. Another attraction is the Journey to the Center of the Earth, which offers one of the best thrilling rides equipped with intricate designs and themes. Be sure not to skip Tokyo DisneySea’s food, Big City Vehicles, DisneySea Electric Railway when you want to take a breather from walking around the park. This transportation offers scenic views and unique experiences.

If you want convenience, you can purchase your tickets online via the Tokyo Disney Resort official website or affiliate agents or organizers. You can, however, buy them at the park’s ticket booth. If you check-in into the Tokyo Disney Resort hotels, you are given priority, especially during peak hours.

Like any other theme park, expect queues that are quite long and bring your strong standing-in-line game! But don’t worry, DisneySea has a FastPass system that lets you jump to an express queue (but it’s only for selected attractions!). You can claim your FastPass by scanning your entrance ticket and then selecting the attraction and the time slot allotted for it. Read more about the DisneySea here so you can maximize your experience when you visit!

Go back in time to Japan’s Edo Period at Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura

If you are a history buff, Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura is a perfect attraction for you. Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura is a cultural and historical theme park that depicts the Edo Period (1603-1868) of Japan. The park boasts an Edo-styled architecture, and the staff are dressed in period costumes.  To make your Edo-era day trip from Tokyo completely you can also rent these costumes as well!

Nikko Edomura day trip from Tokyo

Explore the park’s historically-based shops and museums, such as the Kodenmacho Jail House and Kira-Kozukenosuke Residence (these two are wax museums that showcase prison life, torture, and battle during the era) and also participate in games and watch live shows at their theaters, one of which is the Grand Ninja Theater, the park’s most popular.

Getting to Edo Wonderland is around two to three hours by car or by bus. You can also check out this ticket that allows you to enjoy the different fun activities offered by the park; you can watch live performances, attend short classes, and learn through the exhibits!

Travel Tips for Exploring Japan

Final Words on the Best Day Trips from Tokyo

The attractions and destinations outside Tokyo are definitely one you cannot miss, but it is also hard to let go of the vibrant city life of Tokyo. These day trips can give you the best of both worlds! Going on an adventure, a relaxing stroll, and having a thrilling experience outside of Tokyo without letting go of the capital city yet is the best way to experience the diverse life of Japan.

With thanks to the author of this article, Alyssa Manuel

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