The 15 Best Day Trips from Tokyo

Mountain covering by snow during autumn in Japan
N. Umnajwannaphan / Getty Images

While Tokyo is probably the most exciting city on earth, after a few days of nonstop shopping, eating, and sightseeing, there’s a small to medium chance you might be yearning for a change of scenery. If Kyoto and Osaka aren’t next on your list—and if you don’t feel like booking a night in an expensive ryokan or hotel outside of the city—there are dozens of great places just outside Tokyo that are suitable for an easy day trip, or a more ambitious one if you're up for it. We’ve put together an expansive list of these short excursions, with insider tips on how to get there and what to do. 

01 of 15

Nagano: Olympic Playground

White mountains snow landscape at ski resort in Japan

NomadicImagery / Getty Images

Address
Nagano, Japan

Nagano first took the world stage during the 1998 Olympics and is surprisingly easy to visit from Tokyo in a day thanks to the speedy bullet train. Between December and March, Nagano is one of the best places to ski in Japan, but there's a lot more going on in the winter than just snow sports. You can also see the snow walls of the Tateyama Snow Corridor, which hug the sides of Japan's highest road, or visit the favorite hot springs of the wild snow monkey population.

In warmer weather, there are many hiking trails in this mountainous area, such as the one to Hakuba Happo Pond or you can take the two-hour hike up to Togakushi Shrine, a sacred area with major significance in Japanese mythology. If you prefer to stay in town you can also visit the Zenko-ji Temple is home to the statue of Buddha ever to be brought to Japan.

Getting There: Nagano can be reached from Tokyo with a 90-minute ride on the Shinkansen bullet train

Travel Tip: Be sure to pick up a few oyaki dumplings while you're in town. These savory and portable stuffed dumplings are a stable of Nagano and make great snacks for the road.

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02 of 15

Matsumoto: The Crow Castle

matsumoto castle
Address
4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0873, Japan
Phone +81 263-32-2902

Matsumoto is a bit far and hard to reach from Tokyo, but if you're going to Nagano, which is an hour away by car. it's worth it to make it out to Matsumoto. Best known for its impressive 16th-century castle, Matsumoto is a charming town with interesting attractions like the Timepiece Museum, but Matsumoto Castle—also known as the Crow Castle—is what everyone comes to see. One of Japan's most famous structures, its black exterior makes it a striking sight to behold and its history as the seat of the shogun is just as interesting. The keep of the castle is the most prominent structure, but a wander through the grounds also offers a chance to see the surrounding towers and the inner and outer gates.

Getting There: The fastest way to get to Matsumoto is to take the bullet train to Nagano and then transfer, but you can also take a longer but more direct route on the Azusa Express Train. This takes about 3 hours, which is 30 minutes longer than transferring from Nagano.

Travel Tip: It's worth checking for ongoing events in Matsumoto because the castle town holds many fun and cultural festivals throughout the year, like the Taiko drum festival in July and the ice sculpture festival in January.

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03 of 15

Takasaki: Origin of Daruma

Full Frame Shot Of Red Daruma Dolls For Sale At Market
Pu Ying Zhi / EyeEm / Getty Images
Address
209-1 Kinugawaonsen Ōhara, Nikko, Tochigi 321-2522, Japan
Phone +81 288-77-1055

Not many visitors make it out to Takasaki, but those that do will find that the town is rich in daruma, the good-luck charms with sometimes angry faces. If you've become fond of these brightly-colored charms on your travels in Japan, then a visit to the Jigenin Temple is a must-do. Here, you'll find daruma of all shapes and sizes, as well as different patterns and colors. You can also visit famous shops like Daimonya, which sells a wide variety of dolls with different colors and purposes, and take a short workshop to learn how to paint your own dolls.

Getting There: You can take the bullet train to Takasaki in about 50 minutes, or take the JR-East Takasaki Line, which will take about 2 hours.

Travel Tip: It's very popular to buy a new daruma doll after the new year, so during the first week of January, there is an annual market where you'll find a huge amount of dolls for sale.

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04 of 15

Chichibu: Pink Fields

Japanese flower carpet park


Matthew Stewart Bennett / Getty Images

Address
Chichibu, Saitama, Japan

Japan is known for the pink blossoms of its cherry trees, but in spring you can get your fill of even more pink flowers at Hitsujiyama Park in Chichibu of Yamanashi Prefecture. Every year, sometime between April and May, the park blossoms with pink moss, rolling out a carpet of vibrant flowers with shades from deep fuchsia to blush pink and violet. The park owes its springtime colors to the Shibazakura flower, also known as moss phlox. The flowers typically bloom at the end of the cherry blossom season, so it's a great chance to tick some pink flowers off your list if you miss the blossoms in Tokyo. Every year the flowers are planted in a way that will create fun and beautiful patterns for the next spring.

The best time to visit Chichibu is during the flower bloom, but all year round you can enjoy the town's surrounding natural attractions or go shopping on the Nakamise Shopping Street. Must-try dishes in Chichibu include a rice bowl with a big piece of pork (Waraji Katsudon) and Pork Miso Don. The town has an interesting history as a pilgrimage town so there are plenty of shrines and temples to see.

Getting There: From Ikebukuro Station take the Seibu Limited Express Chichibu train, which goes direct to Seibu-Chichibu Station in about 80 minutes. Once you arrive, the park is a 20-minute walk from the station.

Travel Tip: Crowds should be expected during the festival, so don't just stay in one spot taking pictures. The park also has hiking trails, a pond, a sheep ranch, and tennis courts.

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05 of 15

Misaki Town: Tuna Markets

An image of Kamui-misaki landscape in Japan

Segawa7 / Getty Images

Address
Misaki, Miura, Kanagawa 238-0243, Japan

Seafood lovers can prove their dedication by arriving in Misaki early enough to check out the seafood market, where fishermen come directly to bring that morning's catch. The main market closes early, but there are still plenty of places around the town where you can buy fresh fish, or experience it by going into one of the local restaurants to taste some of the freshest sushi Japan has to offer. It is also a great place to take a cooking class if you want to learn how to prepare your own rolls. Misaki's must-try dish is the maguro donburi, which is a tuna sashimi rice bowl. Misaki is one of Japan's largest tuna ports the quality of tuna is believed to be much better than what you'd find in Tokyo's Tsukiji Market.

Getting There: The easiest way to get to Misaki is by purchasing a day trip ticket from any Keikyu Line Station, except Sengakuji and Misakiguchi Stations. The ticket includes both a train and bus ticket and can be redeemed for discounts on meals and souvenirs.

Travel Tip: While visiting Misaki, you also have the option to cross the bridge to Jogashima Island, which has well-marked hiking trails and a historic working lighthouse.

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06 of 15

Mount Fuji: Japan's Tallest Peak

Mount Fuji on a cloudless day
Kriangkrai Thitimakorn / Getty Images
Address
Mount Fuji, Kitayama, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka 418-0112, Japan

Japan’s most iconic mountain is actually a volcano (don’t worry too much, it last erupted in 1708), and worth a day trip. Mount Fuji is only about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo, making it an easy nature getaway. Although you can see a light mirage of Mount Fuji from Tokyo on a clear day, it lacks the impact of seeing this mountain up close. With an elevation of 12,388 feet, it is the highest mountain in Japan and also one of the most climbed mountains in the world. The season to climb Mount Fuji is between July and August and it typically takes between eight and 12 hours to reach the summit.

Getting There: There are many options, one of which is to take a bus from Tokyo Station to Kawaguchiko Station or Fuji-Q Highland. Alternatively, take the Fuji Excursion Limited Express train from Shinjuku Station directly to Kawaguchiko Station (about 2 hours one way). 

Travel Tip: If you don’t feel like navigating the train or bus, there are lots of options for guided tours of Mount Fuji

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07 of 15

Nikko: Home of an Elaborate Shinto Shrine

The Karamon at Tosho-gu Shrine Mausoleum surrounded by cedar forest in rainy morning.
miralex / Getty Images
Address
Nikko, Tochigi, Japan

The town of Nikko is home to Tosho-gu, a Shinto shrine that dates back to the 17th century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the shrine also functions as a grand mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun in Japan. Ieyasu is now actually considered a god (the “Great Deity of the East Shining Light”), and his final resting place is one of the most stunning shrines in the whole country. Considerably more rococo than other Shinto shrines (which tend to be simple structures of wood or stone) Tosho-gu is a lavish shrine complex, with no lack of gorgeous wood carvings and decorative gold leaf. The must-see spots are the Five-Story Pagoda, the Three Wise Monkeys carving, and the Kagura-den Dance Hall. Be sure to also visit Nikko National Park for a quick hike. Nikko is a forested town—so it’s guaranteed to be a breath of fresh air from the dizzying thicket of activity that is Tokyo. 

Getting There: From Asakusa station, take the Nikko-Kinugawa Toll Limited Express train towards Kinugawa Onsen, and disembark at Shimo-Imaichi station. From there, take a bus to the Tosho-gu shrine. The journey takes about 2.5 to 3 hours.

Travel Tip: Nikko and the area around Lake Chuzenji are at their most beautiful in the autumn months when the red leaves (momoji) are in full color. Also, check out Yumoto Onsen for some cozy hot springs, located in Nikko National Park. 

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08 of 15

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea: Cuteness Amplified

Entrance to tokyo disnetland with a group of people walking towards it

Guilhem Vellut / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Address
1-1 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba 279-0031, Japan
Phone +81 45-330-5211

Tokyo Disneyland was the first-ever Disney theme park built outside of the United States. It’s a very different experience from what you’ll find in the states—Japan’s special gift for amplifying and commodifying cuteness has made this park perhaps more enjoyable than the originals. Some recognizable Disney names and places are Cinderella’s castle in Fantasyland, Space Mountain in Tomorrowland, and Splash Mountain in Critter Country. Nearby is Tokyo DisneySea, a theme park that was created specifically for Tokyo Disneyland. It’s worth the visit, especially if you have kids in tow and want to experience what it’s like to visit a theme park in Japan. 

Getting There: There are shuttle buses from Tokyo station, but you can also take the JR (Japan Railways) Keiyo and Musashino Lines to Maihama Station. The ride takes about half an hour.

Travel Tip: Avoid visiting the park or on national holidays, such as Golden Week, which is one of the busiest times of year in Japan because people are given five days off from work.

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09 of 15

Hakone: Natural Hot Springs

Hot spring vents at Owakudani valley at Hakone, Japan
Shubhashish5 / Getty Images
Address
Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa, Japan

If you’re looking for a supreme onsen experience with views of Mount Fuji, then the vacation town of Hakone should be at the very top of your list. Hakone is easily accessible as a day trip from Tokyo and boasts some of the most stunning views of Japan’s most illustrious snow-capped mountain. Many onsens conveniently offer daytime passes, which grant you all-day access to the baths, showers, and facilities. A few hot spring spots cater directly to day-trippers, with towels available for purchase. (Hakone Yuryo is one such spot). There’s also the option to take a cable car to see Owakudani, a volcanic hot spring area with many sulfurous springs.

Getting There: Take the Shinkansen to Odawara station, and transfer to a local bus. The whole journey should only take about an hour with the train and bus ride each lasting 30 minutes.

Travel Tip: If you want great views of Mount Fuji head to Hotel Green Plaza Hakone and relax in the hot spring. If you visit Owakudani, make sure to try the black eggs, or kuro tamago, which are cooked in the sulfurous water. 

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10 of 15

Yokohama: Japan's Second Largest City

The skyline of Yokohama with the Landmark Tower, Queen's Square and the ferries wheel with the Aka-Rengo Soko warehouse
Juergen Sack / Getty Images
Address
Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

Yokohama is less known to tourists in the West, but it’s an admirable city all its own. Even though it lives in the shadow of Japan’s capital, Yokohama is Japan's second-largest city, with a population of over 3 million people. Less than a half-hour from Tokyo by train, Yokohama makes for the easiest day trip on this list. There’s more than meets the eye in this city—Yokohama is home to Japan’s largest Chinatown, where you can find some of the best Chinese food in Japan. It also offers the unique chance to see a Chinese temple in Japan. Built in 1873, Kanteibyo Temple is dedicated to the Chinese god of good business and prosperity.

If you’d rather see something more traditionally “Japanese,” check out Sankeikan Garden, a quaint landscape garden that offers respite from the surrounding cityscape. Finally, there’s the most famous area of Yokohama, Minato Mirai 21, the city’s main center of entertainment. There’s an iconic Ferris wheel, a high-rise observation deck, and a waterside promenade with lots of places to eat and drink.  If you’re an instant ramen lover, it’s worth checking out the Cup Noodles Museum.

Getting There: From Tokyo station, take either the Yokosuka Line or the Keihin-Tohoku Line to Yokohama station. There is also a ferry that takes about 90 minutes and leaves from Tokai Kisen.

Travel Tip: Hotels in Yokohama tend to be less expensive and since the train ride is only 30 minutes long to Shibuya Station, it may be worth considering as an alternative to accommodation in Tokyo.

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11 of 15

Kamakura: Medieval Surf Town

main gate entrance of Take-dera Temple or Hokoku-ji, one of Buddhist Zen temples in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, famous for a vast bamboo forest.
bennymarty / Getty Images
Address
Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan

Just south of Tokyo lies the idyllic seaside town of Kamakura. Once the political center of medieval Japan, Kamakura is now a bit of a surfing town, with several beachside hotels. Its most famous landmark is the Kotoku-in Temple’s Great Buddha, a 43-foot-tall bronze statue that is the perfect picture of meditative equanimity. Aside from the Great Buddha, there are many other stunning Buddhist temples here. Visit Hokokuji Temple to experience its peaceful bamboo grove.

If you’re visiting in June, head straight to Meigetsuin Temple, which is famous for being surrounded by flowering hydrangeas. Surfers should also make sure to make a trip to Yuigahama Beach, which is only a 20-minute ride from the train station

Getting There: For a no-transfer ride from Tokyo station to Kamakura station, take the Yokosuka Line Local bound for Zushi. The trip should take only about an hour. 

Travel Tip: If you want to try learning how to surf, there are surf schools on the beach that can give you a lesson in English.

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12 of 15

Enoshima: Mysterious Island Caves

Old fisher houses in Enoshima, Japan
Sergey Alimov / Getty Images
Address
Enoshima, Fujisawa, Kanagawa 251-0036, Japan

A stone’s throw from Kamakura, the island of Enoshima is another haven for surfers and beach-lovers. On clear days, you can also see Mount Fuji. There is a lot to do here, but probably one of the most compelling touristic options is a visit to the mysterious Iwaya Caves. If you feel like nurturing your inner adventurer, then this is the place for you. To get to the caves, you need to go up a series of stairs to a high point on the island, and then descend 220 steps back down to sea level. Then, holding a candle lantern, you’ll enter the first cave via a long, narrow tunnel. At the very end, there are statues of Buddha and other deities. The second cave is smaller and contains a statue of a once ferocious dragon, who’s now a tame local guardian.

Getting There: From Shinjuku station in Tokyo, board an Odakyu Line train towards Fujisawa and get off at Enoshima station (about an hour and 40 minutes). From Kamakura, take the Enoshima Dentetsu Line (Local), which should take about 50 minutes. 

Travel Trip: If you’d like to try a fish dish that’s not sushi, try the Shirasudon (Shirasu Donburi), one of Enoshima’s local delicacies. 

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13 of 15

Mount Takao: Wild Monkey Park

vibrant and colorful autumnal landscape of Mount Takao in Tokyo, Japan
Selina Yau / Getty Images
Address
Mount Takao, Takaomachi, Hachioji, Tokyo 193-0844, Japan

Mount Takao is less famous than Fuji for international travelers, but it’s much-loved by Tokyoites, due to its lush scenery and easily accessible hiking areas. It’s not only easy to get to Mount Takao, but it’s also easy to explore. Even if you’re not the hiking type, Trail 1 is paved, making it easy to stroll through. This trail will also take you to most of the major sightseeing spots on Mount Takao, including a monkey park, where Japanese macaques roam and play to their hearts’ content. Admission to the monkey park grants you free entry to a wildflower garden that boasts over 500 different types of plants. Toward the summit of Mount Takao is Yakuoin. First built in the year 744, this Buddhist temple is part of a lineage of shugendo, a kind of mountain asceticism practiced by some Buddhist monks. 

Getting There: Take the Keio Line Limited Express towards Takaosanguchi from Shinjuku station and get off at the last stop. It should take about an hour to get to Takao. Once you're in Takao, you can head to Kiyotaki Station and take a cable car up to the top of the mountain.

Travel Tip: Take advantage of the day passes at Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu, which has a variety of hot springs, including a carbonated bath. 

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14 of 15

Sanrio Puroland: Hello Kitty and Friends

Colorful entry gate to Sanrio Puroland in japan

 Kakidai / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Address
Japan, 〒206-8588 Tokyo, Tama, Ochiai, 1-chōme−1−31
Phone +81 42-339-1111

If you can’t get enough Hello Kitty merchandise, then Sanrio Puroland is the place for you. Puroland’s overwhelming cuteness is not for the faint of heart, meaning it’s definitely not for people who couldn’t care less about Sanrio characters. Yet even if you’re lukewarm about Gudetama, My Melody, and the rest, this indoor theme park might be what drives you into full-on fandom. There are many chances to meet the characters, as well as frequent performances that are more engaging for kids than adults. Don’t miss out on the boat ride and sample the pink My Melody curry or blue Cinnamon-Sky curry at the Sanriotown Character Food Court. 

Getting There: From Shibuya station, it’s an easy 45-minute train ride to Sanrio Puroland. Take the Keio-Inokashira Line Express towards Kichijoji and get off at Shimo-Kitazawa station. From there, board the Odakyu Line Express towards Karakida and disembark at Odakyu-Tama Center. Sanrio Puroland is about an eight-minute walk from the train station.

Travel Tip: The park isn't open every day, so you'll need to check the online calendar before you make your plans.

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15 of 15

Kawagoe: Edo-Era History

People visiting the bell tower in the Kurazukuri district of Kawagoe
Joshua Hawley / Getty Images
Address
Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan

Kawagoe is where you can go to get a taste of “old” Japan if you’re not going to Kyoto. On Kurazukuri Street you’ll find traditional warehouse buildings, many of which are now quaint cafes, restaurants, and shops. There’s also an entire street of sweet shops, nicknamed Candy Alley. After a morning of shopping and sightseeing, refuel with a lunch of eel and rice, one of Kawagoe’s specialty foods. Once known as "Little Edo," Kawagoe was a trade city with an important relationship with Tokyo. The two cities shared a similar culture and architecture style, but where Tokyo exploded into a modern metropolis, Kagowe has held onto more of its old-world charm. This makes it a great place to visit if you want to imagine what Tokyo was like hundreds of years ago.

Getting There: From Shinjuku Station, take the Kagawoe line train and get off at Kawagoe-shi, one of the last stops. It should take about an hour.

Travel Tip: The Toki no Kane Bell Tower only rings four times per day, so try to time your visit at either 6 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., or 6 p.m. to hear the impressive sound.

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15 Best Day Trips From Tokyo