Summer in Tokyo is a trial, even for the most sun-loving of us. With humidity, city heat, and long days, it’s no wonder people plan escapes well ahead of time.
But where do you go? With options from beaches to hikes and city escapes, you’re spoilt for choice. Here are our recommendations for Tokyo summer day trips that prove you don’t need to go too far to forget about the sticky city streets. And while we say they’re day trips, they can easily be extended into a weekend getaway.
And if none of these tickle your fancy, check out our year-round Tokyo day trips guide for even more ideas.
1. Enoshima: An island escapeOdakyu Line from Shinjuku Station, transfer to Enoshima Electric Railway at Fujisawa Station.
Approximately 1 hour
If you like beaches and walks, then Enoshima Island is the place to be. With stunning stretches of beach on the mainland and plenty to explore on the island, you won’t be short of things to do.
For example, at Enospa, you can enjoy mixed pools, separated baths, and even views of Mt. Fuji on a good day.
Enoshima Shrine consists of three shrines. In the main complex there is a statue of Benten. Note that some parts of the shrine complex require entry fees.
For a relaxing walk, you can explore the botanical gardens of the Samuel Cocking Garden, along with a small lighthouse known as the Sea Candle. Entry to the garden is free during the day, but it will cost you ¥500 to enter the Sea Candle.
The island is also home to two easily accessible caves. Very close to the caves is the Love Bell, which couples can ring for good luck and put padlocks on the fence.
2. Okutama: Back to natureChūō Line from Shinjuku Station, transfer to the Ōme Line at Tachikawa or Ōme Station.
Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes
You can access Okutama by rail, and there is a special ‘Holiday Express’ train if you go on weekends or holidays. Once there, you can choose from the many hiking trails (we recommend Mt. Kumotori), the hot springs, as well as river activities and lighter strolls. You can camp and have a BBQ by the river, enjoy some fishing with rental gear available at Hikawa Kokusai Masu Tsuriba, and even take to the water yourself. Why not try some white water rafting?
Nippara Limestone Cave is also in Okutama. It’s the longest cave in the Kantō region and a refreshing 11 degrees all year round. The cave is naturally formed and has some impressive rock formations with tactical lighting, giving it quite a mystical feel.
3. Matsumoto: Slow city breakHighway bus from Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto Station.
Approximately 3 hours
Definitely more of a weekend away than a day trip, Matsumoto is a quiet city break perfect for those wanting some culture. Nestled in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is a beautiful city filled with art galleries, spectacular castles, and plenty of cute little cafés.
Handily, it is the perfect city for exploring with minimal effort (perfect for summer heat) as you can rent bicycles and cycle around the flat city to your heart’s content. While there are plenty of shrines and temples to explore, there is also Crow Castle.
Visual artist Yayoi Kusama was born here. Head to the Matsumoto City Museum of Art for a brilliant permanent exhibition of her paintings and installations which is really enjoyable, even if you don’t consider yourself an art kind of person.
The city has numerous quaint museums including an old school house and a timepiece museum, as well as a lovely traditional shopping street with sweet treats and antique stalls. The surrounding area is beautiful, with onsen (hot springs) and country walks as well as wasabi farms if you are looking to spice things up a bit. Read more about planning your Matsumoto getaway.
4. Nokogiriyama: Mountain with a view to hellSōbu Line from Tokyo Station to Hama-Kanaya Station. May need to transfer to the Uchibo Line at Chiba Station.
Just over 2 hours (or under 2 hours via the Sazanami Line for ¥3,460)
A 330m-tall mountain on the Bōsō Peninsula, Nokogiriyama has stunning views of Tokyo Bay, a beautiful temple complex, and a chance to look into hell. Well, you know sort of. There are several trails going up Nokogiriyama and the fastest takes about an hour. Maps are available and you can finish the rest of the walk to the observation point up the many, many concrete stairs. If you’re not in the mood to hike, there’s also a ropeway.
Along any walk on this mountain, you will find yourself surrounded by stone statues big and small, carved into and out of rock. The largest is the 30m-high relief statue of Hyaku Shaku Kannon, who was carved into the walls of the mountain between 1780 and 1783. The statue is actually housed within the sprawling temple complex of Nihonji Temple, which takes about an hour to explore in full.
Finally, the most famous part of the mountain is the Jigoku Nozoki, also known as the ‘view of hell’. It has a precipice so extended it can give the bravest of souls vertigo. After a little adrenaline, you can make your way back down the mountain, enjoying the myriad expressions of the carved Buddhist worshipers on the ‘1500 Arhat Approach’, although only around 500 are left standing today.
Check our Nokogiriyama hiking guide for more details.
5. Ushiku Daibutsu: An unusual adventureUeno-Tokyo Line from Tokyo Station to Ushiku Station. Then catch a local bus to the statue (infrequent).
Approximately 1.5 hours
¥1,690 (incl. bus) (one-way)
Now, if you want something more unusual for your Tokyo day trip, then we have just the thing. Towering high at 120m and weighing in at 4000 tons, the Ushiku Daibutsu is a sight to behold. Located pretty much in the middle of nowhere in Ibaraki Prefecture, this day trip is a bit of an adventure, but well worth the journey.
Unlike most Buddha statues, you can venture inside this guy, to see rooms filled with statues, eerie music, and amazing views. With spaces including the ‘World of Infinite Light and Life’ and the ‘World of the Lotus Sanctuary’, you can practice your calligraphy skills and admire hundreds of golden statues, as well as having your trusty shrine book signed.
The gargantuan Buddha is located in a small park, with a (sad) petting zoo, flower fields, and a koi pond — with lots of great spots for a picnic. The local scenery is really beautiful, and this is ideal if you want an easy day out, no hiking, no trekking, more of a nice-day-in-the-park kind of vibe — with a touch of the unusual, of course.
While we do our best to ensure accuracy, details may vary. Post first published in 2017. Last updated in June 2023 by Maria Danuco.