Top 25 Easy Day Trips from Tokyo

Lily Crossley-Baxter

Tokyo is great, there’s no doubt about that, but sometimes you just want to escape and see another side to Japan. And we’re here to help you do just that with these easy day trips from Tokyo.

easy day trips from tokyo
Photo by Hans-Johnson used under CC

The skyscrapers can be suffocating in the summer heat and isolating in winter, but don’t limit your trip to this great metropolis. Even if you don’t have much time in Japan, it’s great to explore some of the quieter areas and experience the great variety Japan has to offer. From river-boat journeys to vineyards, mountain ranges to island hikes—a day trip can be a whole mini-holiday in itself. If you’re keen to see what else is out there, then here, in no particular order, are our top 25 easy day trips from Tokyo to make your feet itch!

1. Kamakura

 50 minutes from Tokyo Station | 1 Transfer | ¥920 (one way)

kamakura buddha
Photo by Trevor Dobson

Another of the more popular spots, Kamakura is well known for its Kyoto style, with temples and shrines galore. The area has great light hiking options as well as plenty of delicious local street foods to try. You can easily cover the area in a day, with hikes taking you to see the famed giant Buddha as well as some of the beautiful shrines with bamboo forests, tea houses and more! For a full run-down of what’s on offer, check our mega-guide!

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2. Odawara City

75 minutes from Tokyo Station | Direct | ¥1,490 (one way)

Odawara Castle
Photo by Tagosaku used under CC

To see the closest castle keep to Tokyo, Odawara is a great day trip with a beautiful castle carefully restored using Edo-period drawings. You can also enjoy the fishing port for a slap-up lunch of freshly caught fish in a donburi (rice bowl dish) at the Odawara Fish Market Den. Stroll in the relaxing Tsujimura Botanical Gardens to round off your afternoon before heading back to the big city! For more castles near Tokyo, check out this article!

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3. Ibaraki’s Ushiku Daibutsu

90 minutes from Tokyo Station | Train + bus | ¥1,500  approx. (one way)

Ushiku Daibutsu
Photo by Toyohara used under CC

An unusual day trip to say the least, this is a trip to see the second largest Buddha in the world—and to explore his rather surreal insides. In basically the middle of nowhere in nearby prefecture Ibaraki, the statue is perfect for a day in the country and a picnic. You can venture inside the Buddha to practice calligraphy, see the 3000 golden Buddhas, have your shrine book signed and enjoy stunning views from the observation deck. The surrounding gardens have a petting zoo, koi pond and flower displays which change with the season. Have a look at the full article if you fancy scaling the beast!


4. Enoshima

70 minutes from Tokyo Station | 1 transfer | ¥1,190 (one way)

Enoshima
Photo by vr4msbfr used under CC

The most popular beach resort of Tokyo, Enoshima offers sands to lie on and a stunning island to explore—depending on your preference. The island is easily walked to from the station, and you can do an easy loop of the island, either arriving or returning by boat (it’s a lot of walking otherwise). You may prefer to walk first, then you can visit the shrines, walk to the lighthouse and gardens and then cool off in the caves before enjoying the sea views and catching a boat back to the shore! Take your pick from the options here!




5. Kawagoe

1 hour from Tokyo Station | 1 transfer | ¥590¥670 (one way)

Kawagoe
Photo by Ikusuki used under CC

Nicknamed Little Edo, Kawagoe is a charming town which has preserved the Edo feel with traditional buildings and plenty of great food. A 15-30 minutes’ walk from Kawagoe Station, Kurazukuri Street is lined with preserved warehouse buildings characterized by clay walls and tiles. There are over 200 in the surrounding area and many have been turned into cafes and restaurants. There are plenty of great traditional (and reasonable) lunch sets with the specialty eel [Ed. Note: Eel (unagi) is endangered, so you may want to think twice before ordering it]. Plus a whole street dedicated to sweets! If you go on the 18th of each month, you’ll see plenty of kimono-wearers (and can wear one yourself if you like) as discounts are given to those sporting the traditional outfits. See if Kawagoe is the day trip for you with our guide.


6. Kawasaki

17 minutes from Tokyo Station | Direct | ¥310 (one way)

Smaller and not as well known as Kanagawa prefecture’s largest city (Yokohama) Kawasaki is still a lovely city with plenty to explore. While it might be more well known for the Penis Festival, Kawasaki has other attractions, including the rather massive Daishi Temple, the Japan Open-air Folk House Museum to stroll around, and a dystopian warehouse amusement arcade just to mix things up a little. At the latter, you can wander through the traditional buildings carefully moved and preserved at Nihon Minkaen before shooting zombies, playing air-hockey and pool at the arcade!




7. Takasaki

113 minutes from Tokyo Station | Direct | ¥1,940 (one way)

Takasaki Daruma
Photo by Tanaka Juuyoh used under CC

Takasaki is a laid back city in Gunma with that off-the-beaten-track feel as it is a rarely visited gem. The city is the home of Daruma—the red angry-faced figures you will no doubt have seen on your travels who bring good luck in accomplishing goals. A large majority of them are made here and you can find plenty for sale as souvenirs, there’s also the Takasaki Daruma Ichi—a market full of Daruma held on January 6th and 7th. You can visit the Jiganin Temple complex to see Darumas of every shape and size, which also happens to be near one of the biggest Kannon statues in Japan. The White-Robed Kannon stands at 40m tall and you can enjoy views from the top for ¥300. Combine that with a walk along the traditional Ishiharamachi shopping street and you’ll have a grand day out!


8. Nikko

2.5 hours from Tokyo Station | 3 transfers | 2-day pass available: ¥2,670 (round trip)

Nikko Kegon Falls
Photo by Reginald Pentinio used under CC

Easily extended into a weekend but great for a busy day too, Nikko is famed for its stunning scenery and numerous temples and shrines. You can explore the cultural spots or escape into nature, or combine the two, as the town is pretty small. Make sure to visit the incredibly elegant Toshogu Shrine, dedicated to the founding rule of the Tokugawa Shoganate, Tokugawa Ieyasu. If you’re keen take a look at our weekend guide.


9. Atami

106 minutes from Tokyo Station | Direct | ¥1,940 (one way)

Atami
Photo by Fto Mizno used under CC

An onsen resort declining in popularity, Atami is a brilliant day trip as it has plenty of unusual attractions to keep you entertained. As well as soaking in salt-water onsen and enjoying the views, you can visit the fake castle which actually houses displays about real castles (seems harsh), enjoy the trick art museum and even get the gondola up to the sex museum aka, Treasure House (that actually makes it weirder?). There is also an excellent art museum with a mixture of Eastern and Western pieces including work by Monet, Rembrandt and Ogata Korin.


10. Kawaguchiko

130+ minutes from Shinjuku Station | 2+ transfers | ¥2,460+  (one way)

Photo by Guilhem Vellut used under CC

Fuji is probably pretty high on your list, and unless you’re climbing it, a view of the world-famous volcano is hard to beat. Enter Kawaguchiko. Here you can choose from views across field of moss phlox, clear lakes or lavender, in fact there aren’t many place to visit that won’t have Fuji somewhere in the background. With annual flower festivals, plenty of museums and nature spots, onsen and more, Kawaguchiko is a brilliant day trip with lots to choose from! Take a look at our full guide for all the info, especially on how to get there, as highway buses may be a better option that trains!


11. Nokogiriyama

120 minutes from Tokyo Station | 1-2 transfers | ¥1,940 (one way)

For a real escape into nature, Nokogiriyama aka Sawtooth Mountain is an amazing hike filled with quarry drops, stunning views and plenty of Buddhas. The Nihonji Temple complex is stretched out across the mountain top and has plenty explore. From the largest cliff-carved Buddha to a 30-meter Goddess of Mercy with 1500 (mostly decapitated) Arhat in between, you’ll be kept busy with the stairs carved into the mountain. The famous View to Hell is really incredible, both to look at and enjoy yourself and is right by the Goddess of Mercy, which might allay some vertigo fears. Check out our guide to getting to hell and back here!


12. Kusatsu Onsen Town

2 hours | Highway bus | ¥2,300 (one way)  

Kusatsu Yubatake
Photo by Valentin used under CC

Up high in the mountains of Gunma prefecture, Kusatsu is one of the three top onsen resort towns in Japan, with some amazing unique onsen experiences. Drawing their water from Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, the onsen have to employ unusual ways to cool it down as it is too hot to bath in. In the town center you will see the Yubatake—a large cooling field and you can even watch the traditional Yumomi method of cooling in a nearby onsen. The water has very high levels of sulphur though, so be prepared for a rather strong smell of boiled eggs. You can also visit Mount Shirane to see the crater lake—since the no-entry zone has now been reduced to 500m, the rest house and trails are open again. JR buses are probably the simplest route, with trains taking 4 hours (unless you go express or shinkansen) and costing upwards of ¥3,000.


13. Mt. Takao

 1 hour from Shinjuku Station | Direct | ¥360 (one way)

Takao
Photo by Prelude

Easy to get to, fun to hike and home to a monkey park, Takao is a brilliant day trip for hikers and is only an hour from Tokyo! There is the lovely Yakuoin Temple around half-way up the mountain with the creepy bird-faced Tengu standing guard. Once you reach the top there are amazing panoramic views of Tokyo and Mt. Fuji to enjoy as well as a wild plant garden and the monkey park. Check out more hiking routes including Takao here!


14. Okutama

100 minutes from Shinjuku Station | 1 or 2 transfers| ¥1,080 (one way)

Okutama
Photo by Jetalone used under CC

A beautiful natural haven filled with mountains, rivers, waterfalls and plenty more—Okutama is enough for a long weekend or a quick escape. There are full day hiking courses like this one, which takes you across three mountains, or you can try some of the more relaxed wanderings in the valleys. The river is a brilliant place to relax away from the sweltering city heat in summer and also offers a wide range of water sports. You can visit Nippara Cave—the longest in the Kanto region and a steady 11 degrees which can be a lifesaver in the summer heat.


15. Hakone

100 minutes from Tokyo Station | 1 transfer | ¥1,190 (one way)

Photo by Iris Liu used under CC

Home to hot springs galore, onsen eggs, mountains and teahouses, Hakone is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo. Perfect for a more nature-based escape, it has these three great hiking trails as well as gondolas to volcanic valleys and pirate ships to traverse the beautiful lake. There are over a dozen museums in the area so you can take your pick from wandering around the Hakone Open Air Museum to impressionism collections at the Pola Museum.  Read more about the things you can get up to in Hakone here!


16. Misaki Town and Jogashima Island

70 minutes from Shinagawa Station | Direct | ¥930 (one way) | Covered by Maguro Pass

Jogashima Island
Photo by Shod Williams used under CC

If you really want to escape, there’s nowhere better than an island to really feel like you’ve put some distance between you and Tokyo. On the Miura coast of Kanagawa, the small fishing town of Misaki has its own fish market early in the morning and plenty of fresh fish to fill up on too. The market finishes at 9am so if you arrive early you can see it in action. Jogashima Island is pretty rocky with some swimming spots and a hiking trail that takes you all the way round— a distance of about 3-4km. If you use the special One-Day Misaki Maguro pass, you get transport from Shinagawa, an unlimited bus pass for the area, a free tuna lunch dish from any of the 25 participating restaurants and a ticket to one of the attractions—including hot springs, bike rental and a marine park. This article has more details!


17. Yokohama

25 minutes from Tokyo Station | Direct | ¥470 (one way)

Yokohama Minatomirai
Photo by Aotaro used under CC

The second biggest city in Japan with over 3 million people, Yokohama has plenty to keep you entertained if you’re after a city-break from your city-break. With stunning night-views across minato-mirai, not one but two ramen museums (The Cup Noodle Museum and the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum) an amazing art scenetree-house cafes the beautiful Sankei-en Gardens and a massive China-town, you can have a brilliantly busy day out in a more relaxed city!


18. Chichibu

160 minutes from Tokyo Station | 3 transfers | ¥1,150 (one way)

chichibu
Photo by scyllarides used under CC

Known mainly for its shiba-zakura festival in spring, Chichibu is a small-ish city in Western Saitama with plenty to enjoy. Originally an industrial town, they are moving toward tourism, and with incredible mountains surrounding them it shouldn’t be a difficult transition. There are plenty of shrines and temples to visit as well as a pilgrimage route featuring 34 Buddhist temples. The city has long had a strong reputation for meisen, a special silk produced only in the city and highly-respected in Edo times. You can still visit the Meisenkan to see original looms and purchase some locally made silk.


19. Mito

130 minutes from Tokyo Station  | Direct | ¥2,270 (one way)

Kairaku-en Garden
Photo by Kentaro Ohno used under CC

The capital city of nearby Ibaraki prefecture, Mito was once the stronghold of the Mito clan in the Edo period. It now most famous for the stunning Kairaku-en Gardens which are one of the top three in the country. The gardens were  designed by Tokugawa Nariaki, the 9th feudal lord of the clan as one of the first public gardens (even though it was only for samurai level and above). There are regular buses running from the station to the gardens and you can also enjoy the incredibly modern Art Tower and the Mito City Museum. For a more nature-based day out, you could visit Lake Senba and cycle around as there are bike rental places nearby.


20. Disneyland & DisneySea

25 minutes from Tokyo Station | 1 transfer | ¥480 (one way)

Photo by Viator

One of the most unique Disney sites in the world, Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea are markedly different from the others dotted across the world. Aside from just enjoying all the usual rides and Disney stuff, you can visit the only DisneySea in the world, try the variety of popcorn flavors and enjoy all the matching costumes (and this time we mean the gusts not the characters!). These two parks are the only ones in the world not wholly owned by Disney, (although they do have creative control) so it is a great chance to see the Japanese twist on classics—although don’t worry, nothing key has been altered! If you’re keen to head to the fun straight from the airport check out this article, and for general tips on saving money read up here!


21. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Multiple routes via Nagano, Toyama or Shinano-Omachi | Routes largely covered by the JR Pass

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Photo by Dancing Nomad used under CC

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is an incredible display of the Northern Japanese Alps, with each season offering a different experience. The route stretches between Toyama City in Toyama prefecture and Omachi Town in Nagano prefecture. There are stunning views of alpine flowers and autumn leaves along the route which can be traversed by  a combination of bus, cable car, ropeway and foot depending on your preference. One of the highlights includes the views from Murodo, which has numerous hiking trails and and the 186-meter-tall Kurobe Dam. The route is most famous for the snow corridor; visitors can walk among snow walls of up to 20-m high between mid-April to mid-June. The Tateyama Kurobe Option ticket offers a discounted price for foreign travelers including the bus from Nagano Station to Ogizawa and a one-way trip along the route. P.S This one might be for the Japan Rail Pass holders among us—it is a pricy trip otherwise.


22. Nagatoro and the Arakawa River

126 minutes from Tokyo Station | 1 transfer | ¥1,900 (one way)

Nagatoro Boat
Photo by Guilhem Vellut used under CC

If you really want to get back to nature, Nagatoro offers some of the most stunning, unspoiled nature in all of Japan, as well as the chance to get involved. You can enjoy a river boat tour through some surprisingly rapid waters, with over 200,000 visitors trying it every year. If you like a little danger, you can try white water rafting or paragliding, and if you don’t, there’s a river-side hiking trail too. The small town is home to Hodosan Mountain Shrine, and Iwadatami shopping street which is filled with local produce. Remember to try the local specialty of walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes as well as locally made soba and udon.


23. Chiba City

40 minutes from Tokyo Station | Direct | ¥640 (one way)

Photo by Kabacchi used under CC

One of the closest day trips, Chiba City is packed with all things traditional as well as some amazing modern creations too. The castle is a folk museum with plenty to learn and Chiba Shrine is an impressive spot not to be missed. You can enjoy some great art at the Hoki Museum, which focuses on realism and has a great variety of works. There is also the Chiba Museum of Art and the Science Museum, so no one is left wanting on the museum front. To get around the city you can enjoy the world’s longest suspended monorail which feels wrong, but is definitely safe. One of the most visited spots is the Chiba Port Tower, which was built to commemorate the population reaching 5 million in the 1980s, and offers a 360-degree view of the city and its surroundings. There are numerous parks and even a zoo complete with panda—so you cam balance your day perfectly!


24. Katsunuma

140 minutes from Tokyo Station | 1 transfer | ¥1,940 (one way)

Katsunuma
Photo by Takashi M used under CC

Fans of wine, look no further.  One of the top three wine producers in the country, and is only a stone’s throw away in nearby Yamanashi prefecture. Despite the humidity, wine has been successfully produced in Japan since the Meiji Period (with Emperor Meiji being a great fan himself). It does require a slightly different procedure compared to grapes grown in dryer countries, but is no less delicious! With plenty of wineries near by, you can enjoy unlimited tastings like the ¥1,100 option at Budo no Ok, or just enjoy the hospitality of the different wineries on your route—although purchasing is recommended eventually. Along with the grapes the area produces plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and you can easily pick up some delicious treats for dinner before heading home.


25. Matsumoto

275 minutes from Tokyo Station | 1-3 transfers | ¥4,000 (one way) |Highway bus: ¥3,500

Matsumoto
Photo by Bryan Ledgard used under CC

A little far for a day trip maybe, but Matsumoto is definitely worth it. A classy town filled with a famous castle, a nearby onsen town, mountain ranges and ideal for cycling around, it can’t be beaten. Ideal in spring, Matsumoto is a thriving town with weekend markets and plenty of museums, including the Timepiece Museum. One of the highlights is the Yoyoi Kusama permanent exhibition at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art. The wealth of artworks of the world-famous, Matsumoto-born artist as well as the multiple interactive elements make this an exceptional display that cannot be missed. Crow Castle is one of the premier historic castles in Japan and had been fitted with an authentic recreation internally. The city has plenty of temples and shrines to cycle between as well as Nawate Street: a river-side shopping street filled with curios and treats. If you’re tempted, read this to be convinced!

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