Both those who visit Japan for the first time, and those who return, Tokyo is an inevitable stop, where things to do and see never end and the choice of day trips from Tokyo is pretty huge.
Tokyo is well connected to several cities in Japan, and for tourists, with the Japan Rail Pass it is also convenient to use the Shinkansen for more distant excursions from Tokyo, like a super-speed day trip to Kyoto.
So let’s discover the best day trips from Tokyo that not require you to overnight or in any case allow you to see almost everything in one day.
Day Trips from Tokyo – cities
Just one hour from Tokyo, Kamakura is one of the most frequently mentioned day trips from Tokyo and is also one of my favorite destinations. Rich in temples and history, overlooking the sea and with a very relaxed atmosphere, that make it a perfect destination to take a break from the chaos and frenzy of Tokyo. Famous above all for its Big Buddha, is a town full of Zen temples that becomes even more magical during the hydrangea period. I have been there several times, but I always come back with pleasure because there are really many things to do, including several trekking routes among hills.
Tips for the itinerary can be found in the post: Visit Kamakura.
Distance from Tokyo: about an hour from Shinjuku or Shinbashi
Often mention as day trip from Tokyo together with Kamakura, Enoshima is a small island connected to the mainland by a bridge 600 meters long. Although easily reachable from Tokyo, I have not yet been able to visit it and my plans to go are always jumping… I want to fix it as soon as possible! Although Enoshima only has a circumference of 4 km, it offers enough attractions to fill a day’s excursion from Tokyo. Temples, caves, beaches and an interesting garden with observatory and onsen with attached spa. On fine days you can also see Mount Fuji in the distance and in summer its beaches are much appreciated and quieter than the nearby Kamakura. There is also an interesting legend about Enoshima.
Distance from Tokyo: just over an hour from Shinjuku
Yokohama is a lively cosmopolitan city, well connected to Tokyo to be considered almost an extension of it. Being a port city, the influence of other cultures and nationalities is felt, both for the architecture of the buildings and for its large Chinatown, the largest in Japan. In addition to this colorful corner of China, Yokohama is also appreciated for the port area, Mirato Mirai, where in addition to shopping centers and promenades there is also an amusement park with a huge Ferris wheel. In Yokohama there are also several special events during the year, such as the very popular Pikachu Outbreak in August. Thanks to its many facets and the variety of activities, Yokohama is the ideal day trip from Tokyo for everyone: couples looking for romantic views, families with children, groups of friends who want to have fun in the company….I have been there several times if only for the sake of taking a walkand I promise to write a full post with all the things to see in Yokohama asap!
Distance from Tokyo: 40 minutes from Shibuya
Located between Tokyo and Yokohama, Kawasaki is a city famous above all for the Kawasaki Daishi Temple. Here, at the beginning of March, the Kanamara Matsuri is also held, one of the most particular festivals in Japan, where the mikoshi, the portable altars, are shaped like… penis. Well yes, this is not a vulgar thing, but it is a festival dedicated to fertility, where the folkloristic side of phallic-shaped souvenirs is combined with the spiritual aspect of praying for strong and healthy children.
On the outskirts of the city, near the Noborito station, there are also the Fujiko Fujio Museum, dedicated to the famous cat-robot Doraemon and its designer, and also the Nihon Minkaen, an open-air museum where there are 25 original buildings from the Edo period, relocated here from all over Japan. In short, Kawasaki is the ideal tour to combine ancient and modern Japanese culture!
Distance from Tokyo: about 30 minutes from Tokyo (Shinjuku-Noborito 15 minutes and Tokyo-Kawasaki 20 minutes. Noborito-Kawasaki are 20 minutes by train from each other)
When I was in Kawagoe for the first time in 2015, I had hardly met tourists, but recently this small town also called the “Little Edo” is becoming a popular excursion from Tokyo. I must admit that Kawagoe deserves this fame, thanks not only to its pretty center full of well-preserved wooden buildings but also for its richness of graceful and extremely photogenic temples and corners. Kawagoe can be visited easily even in half a day, which makes it attractive even for those who have only a short time in Tokyo but want to visit something more traditional than the modern capital of Japan. Kawagoe is also a beautiful destination in the cherry season, I especially recommend the area along the Shingashi river.
Distance from Tokyo: less than an hour from Ikebukuro
These three town in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo known for Narita International Airport, can be visited in one day from Tokyo or while on the way between Tokyo and the airport. Actually I recommend visiting at most two towns on the same day because there is hardly anything open before 10 / 10.30 and at 17.00 everything is closed. So in order not to hurry and dedicate the right time to the visit, it is better to exclude one. All three are also excellent options for filling a half-day of “empty space” before or after your flight. For each city you will find a dedicated post on the blog (the one on Sawara I will post shortly), so you can choose the city that inspires you the most!
Narita is most famous for its large temple where you can also attend the fire ceremony for free, which takes place in the main hall of the temple several times a day.
Sakura is instead recommended for lovers of Japanese history: there is an ancient samurai district where there are still original houses that can be visited, a bamboo forest and one of the most important history museums in Japan.
While Sawara is a little further away and a bit difficult to reach. There are very few trains to Sawara, and it is therefore better to do it in the morning, taking the bus from Tokyo and then returning by train then stopping later in one of the other two cities. It is considered the city of merchants because of the numerous well-preserved commercial buildings along a canal.
Distance from Tokyo: one to two hours from Tokyo or Nippori
Day Trips From Tokyo – nature
7. Mount Takao
The Tokyo area extends far beyond the boundaries of the metropolitan center and also includes a mountainous area where there are numerous hiking trails, walks and activities in nature, camping and even onsen. Among these, one of the most popular excursions from Tokyo is Mount Takao. The main paths that go up to the summit are 6, but thanks to the funicular and the cable car, everyone can enjoy the beauty of this “mountain” (considering that the peak is around 600 meters …). Mount Takao not only offers beautiful landscape during momiji and sakura, but often also offers a beautiful view of Mount Fuji and for this reason, it is one of the favorite destinations to perfect Hastuhinode, to see the first sunrise of the new year. Do not miss the Yakouin Temple with the tengu and the onsen near the station, where you can relax after the walk. Other interesting areas for those who want to take a break in nature are Mount Mitake, with the steepest funicular railway in Japan and a temple protecting dogs, and Okutama with its large lake and numerous walks in the most remote corner of Tokyo.
8. Sarushima Island
This uninhabited island in Tokyo bay in July and August is full of life, like barbecue on the beach and DJ sets at sunset. But during the rest of the year it is a quiet and mysterious place, where do they find the ruins of a fortress that seems to have inspired Miyazaki for his “Laputa, the castle in the sky”. Sarushima literally means Monkey Island, but I’m sorry to disappoint you, you won’t find any primate waiting for you..only nature and silence. You can only get to the island using the official ferry from Yokosuka and it is absolutely forbidden to stop and stay there! I was there in the summer and I took the opportunity to take a dip, the details in the post Sarushima, an uninhabited island in Tokyo bay.
Distance from Tokyo: about an hour from Shinagawa
9. Miura Peninsula
Another excursion from Tokyo where you can enjoy some sea is the Miura peninsula, where there is also one of the most beautiful beaches in Japan from where you can see Mount Fuji. However, the sea is certainly not the reason why you come to Japan, so don’t worry, I’m not recommending this destination to go to the sea! The Miura Peninsula is one of the places to admire early cherry trees in February, so it is the perfect solution for those who want to visit Japan with cherry trees in bloom, but are not at all attracted to the idea of being stuck in the crowds typical of the hanami period.
Moreover, the Miura peninsula is famous for tuna: you can also attend the tuna auction until 9 in the morning at the port of Misaki-Miura and eat it fresh on the opposite island of Jogashima.
I have been there both in summer and in February with the cherry trees and I can not help but recommend it, shortly a post with lots of useful info.
Distance from Tokyo: just over an hour from Shinagawa
10. Chichibu (and Totoro’s House)
The prefecture of Saitama and especially the area of Chichibu / Natagoro is characterized by a splendid and powerful nature and for this reason, there are many temples and shrines, which have also become a sort of pilgrimage. Chichibu Shrine is one of the most famous, but Hododan Jinja is also worth a visit. In addition to visiting temples, in the Nagatoro area is also possible to participate in various activities in contact with nature, such as a boat trip along the river or rafting for the more adventurous (I did it and it was a lot of fun!).
In the area there is also the Hitsujiyama flower park, another place where like at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival, you can admire the wonderful bloom of pink moss.
You can also decide to stop along the way and get off at the ∫ stop from where to take a bus that will take you to the Totoro House! Yes, the Totoro of the Miyazaki fil !!
Distance from Tokyo: two hours of Ikebukuro (one and a half hours by express train)
Do you know the Avatar’s tree of life? Here, at Ashikaga Flower Park there is the wisteria tree from which inspiration was taken! This park is amazing in May, with cascades of fantastic wisteria, so much to be considered the most beautiful place in the world to admire these flowers. The park is obviously open all year thanks to the various blooms, which in the winter are “replaced” by floral lighting, even those considered spectacular. Do not limit your day trip from Kyoto to Ahikaga Flower Park only, but also visit the nearby town of Ashigaka, where some interesting temples and one of Japan’s first traditional-style universities, now used as a museum, await you.
Distance from Tokyo: about a couple of hours from Shinjuku, Ikebukuro or Ueno
A panoramic terrace on a cliff, the tallest Buddha in Japan, numerous statues and lots of nature are what awaits you at Mount Nokogiriyama. The panoramic ropeway brings you close to the viewpoint, but you will still have to hike and face many steps to visit the various attractions of Nokogiriyama, be prepared.
You can visit Mount Nokogiri on a day trip from Tokyo or join a tour of the Boso Peninsula, more information in the post dedicated to the daytrip to Nokogiriyama.
Distance from Tokyo: a couple of hours from Tokyo
Other excursions from Tokyo
Then there are some excursions that although they can be done in one day from Tokyo, but I recommend to do in a couple of days, overnight there, and enjoy more things and experience.
13. Mount Fuji and 5 Lakes
There are many more activities and things to see in the area, such as the Yamanashi Prefectural Fujisan Center, the Fuji Sengen Shrine, the Fugaku Wind Cave or the Shiraito waterfalls. Not to mention that if you intend to climb Mount Fuji during the summer of opening the trails, you must necessarily consider a two-day trip.
A very popular onsen area, easily accessible from Tokyo, Hakone can be easily visited in one day from Tokyo, but if you want to try the experience of a Ryokan with onsen, staying in Hakone could be the ideal choice, thanks to the numerous excellent Ryokan that are located in the area (the Ryokan Gora Kadan is one of the most renowned ….. but also one of the most expensive tho!). In addition to having a nice traditional dinner and breakfast, in the ryokans you can relax in the warm waters of the onsen in the area, if you have tattoos, opt for a ryokan that offers private onsen so you can try this fabulous experience without problems.
But Hakone is not only onsen and a classic tour includes the Owakudani Valley where geysers and sulfurous vapors come out of the ground. To get there you take a local train, a funicular and a cable car, all through beautiful natural views. And then from there, mini-cruise on Lake Ashi aboard a pirate ship! And again, the suggestive Hakone Shrine, the Tokaido checkpoint and the Open Air Museum, just to mention the most famous attractions.