Bus tours take the stress out of travel and sometimes mean you can see far more in a day than if you trekked by train and local bus.
While they may strike up the image of pensioners on historic tours, the bus tour scene of Japan is different. Well, kind of. There are still plenty of the older generation, but younger people love them too as they offer a convenient way to see locations which are often tricky to reach by public transport, especially all in one day. As plenty of people don’t have a car in Tokyo, this is a popular option for seasonal events—and in summer that means flowers, fruit, fireworks and Fuji. Whether you want a family day out, a chance to see sunflowers and views of Fuji (if you want to conquer it yourself), there’s a summer bus tour from Tokyo for everyone this summer!
1. Mt Fuji panorama and Hakone flower tour
Yamanashi | ¥10,500 | June 4th – June 22nd | Lunch incl.
A fantastic chance to view Fuji as well as swathes of stunning flowers, this is an ideal summer day out from Tokyo. The tour begins with an opportunity to view Mount Fuji from the Daikanyama Observatory before heading off to the Hakone Ropeway. From a vantage point 700m above sea level you can admire Mt. Fuji, Lake Ashi and Sagami Bay. The final stop before lunch is the Owakudani volcanic valley which was created 3,000 years ago and from which plumes of white smoke still rise. You can dine from a buffet featuring over 30 Western, Japanese and Chinese dishes.
In the afternoon you’ll head to the Hakone Venetian Glass Museum which is home to 4,500 hydrangeas and over 70 varieties. There’s also a chance to go shopping for souvenirs before the finals top at Odawara Castle, which although impressive in its own right, is even more stunning when surrounded by the hydrangeas and irises which bloom in its grounds.
2. Fuji flowers, fruit picking and Thomas Land tour
Yamanashi | ¥10,900 | June 25th – Sept 28th
Offering the best family day out with all the seasonal perks of Yamanashi, this tour varies a little depending on the month you go, but the options are all equally exciting. The overall schedule features a famous Mt. Fuji viewing spot, a ride on the Thomas Land train, lunch at a nice hotel and then an afternoon of lower viewing and fruit picking.
The morning is the same throughout the summer, with Oishi Park on the shores of Kawaguchiko offering impressive views of the famous mountain. There are seasonable flowers along the shoreline and it’s a popular spot for photographers, so be sure to bring your camera. The Thomas Train is next, which you’ll ride from Kawaguchiko Station to Shimoyoshida Station. Lunch is an impressive 80-dish buffet featuring Japanese and Western dishes and served at a restaurant with panoramic views of Fuji.
The afternoon schedule is where things change a little, but only by seasonal flower, so if you’re looking for a specific bloom be sure to check the dates. The flower viewing at either Lake Kawaguchi or Lake Yamanaka will be lavender (June to mid-July), zinnia and cosmos (late July – Sept) and sunflowers (September). This will be followed by fruit-picking which also varies, so you can try peaches (June to early August), Kyoho grape picking (early August to mid-Sept) and grape picking in late September.
3. Lavender and sunflower fields tour with peach picking
Gunma | ¥9,900 | July 18th – August 10th
Featuring delicious summer peaches and incredible flowers, this tour saves you the trouble of traveling all the way Hokkaido’s lavender fields. A simple three-stop tour which includes a lunch voucher for the lavender park, you can relax as you’re ferried between locations and only need to remember your camera. The tour begins at a local peach orchard where you can choose two peaches, one to enjoy there and one to take home. While two peaches might not seem much, Japanese peaches are pretty special and certainly pricier than what you might be used to at home, so you’re not getting shafted, trust us.
Next is the famous Tambara lavender park, which has 50,000 lavender flowers in over 15 varieties spreading out in colorful vistas. You can use your lunch voucher at any of the restaurants and enjoy wandering through the flowers at a cool 20°C since the altitude shaves a nice 10°C off Tokyo’s temperatures. The final stop of the day is Nyu Lake sunflower field which has over 11,000 sunflowers to admire before you head back to Tokyo.
4. Fuji sunrise climbing tour with onsen
Yamanashi | ¥38,400 | July 15th – Sept 8th
A chance to conquer Fuji without worrying about the planning, this tour has a trained mountain guide accompanied by both an English-speaking and a Japanese tour guide. With three members of staff to make sure everything goes to plan, you can focus on reaching the summit and enjoying the sunrise when you get there. The tour takes you from Shinjuku Station to Mt. Fuji Kawaguchiko 5th Station where you’ll prepare and have lunch before starting the Yoshida Trail. Later that evening you’ll arrive at the mountain hut where dinner will be served before a few hours of rest.
A snack will be provided before you begin climbing again in time to reach the summit for sunrise, with a guided tour of the crater. After descending back to the 5th Station, your tired legs will be whisked away to Lake Yamanaka Onsen where you can soak while enjoying a view of Fuji. While some meals are covered we suggest you bring plenty of snacks to keep you going. The company will provide rental information for gear which can be handed over at Shinjuku and returned at Kawaguchiko 5th station.
For more preperation tips, read our guide on climbing Mt. Fuji.
5. Two-day Nagaoka fireworks tour in Niigata
Niigata | ¥37,934 | August 2nd – 3rd
An opportunity to see the fantastic fireworks of Nagaoka, this tour includes a hotel stay as well as spectator seats for the widest firework display in the world. Held annually on the banks of the Shimano River, the display was originally intended to scare away demons and is now one of the biggest summer events in Japan. Arriving in time for the display and a chance to enjoy some of the popular food stalls, you can take your reserved seat for an excellent view—a privilege as the seats are tricky to get.
After a stay at a local hotel, you’ll head back to Tokyo with a stop off in Yuzawa Kogen to ride the longest ropeway in Japan. There are summer alpine flowers to enjoy and great views of the mountains—a real chance from the skylines of the city. Remember to bring food as well as a raincoat, as umbrellas are not allowed at the fireworks events.
For more adventure, read our guide on 25 easy day trips from Tokyo.
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