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16 of the best day trips from Kyoto

Shinkansen | Bullet Train in Tokyo Station Japan

A super fast and efficient public transport system, being geographically compact and with so much diversity makes Japan an ideal country to explore. You don’t need to be constantly moving from one base to another to see new parts of Japan, so much is accessible within a reasonable commute from a central city. We’ve taken these day trips from Kyoto but they’re equally suitable if you are based in Osaka, Kobe or Nara. Have fun!

Over almost 10 years travelling regularly to Japan we’ve taken dozens of day trips from Kyoto.  As much as I enjoy wandering the streets of Kyoto and immersing myself in the unique ambience and flow of the city, it’s also a very convenient base to use for exploring the middle of Japans main island, Honshu.  Kyoto has less of that big city feel that characterizes Tokyo and Osaka but it’s still very populated and attracts a lot of tourists so sometimes it’s nice to break that up with a trip to a smaller city or even into the countryside.

Why day trips from Kyoto are such a great option

Here are some of our favourite side trips from Kyoto that can be feasibly enjoyed as day trips.  That’s not to say an overnight stay wouldn’t be enjoyable if time allowed but that’s not always practical and it’s no reason to miss out.  If like us you tend to travel with a moderate amount of luggage and like the convenience of limiting the number of accommodation moves required, then slightly longer day trips are an excellent option. Something to keep in mind with all of these trips is that they can be used from any of the bases in this central part of the country so if you prefer to stay in Osaka or Kobe, for example, these options are all still open to you.

If you’re staying in Tokyo here are another 10 top day trips out of Tokyo.

 The speed of the Japanese rail system combined with the relative economy of a JR Pass makes day tripping over a significant distance viable.  The same trips can be done with the purchase of individual tickets but depending on which ones you plan to do there are sometimes good cost savings to be made. We have a detailed article that works through whether the JR Pass is right for you and how to use it.  We’ve purchased it many times now and currently, this Klook offer for the JR Pass seems to consistently be the best deal we can find. 

We have a bit of a routine when we head out on a long-distance day trip. We usually starting early and pick up a coffee from Starbucks and something from the bakery just before we board the train to eat en route for our breakfast. Then on the way back to our base we either catch a train that returns after dinner, pick up a bento to eat on the train or eat at one of the (literally) 100’s of restaurants in the Kyoto Station precinct before returning to our hotel at night.

Some of these trips might be a bit long particularly if you’ are travelling with young children but they work well for us.  Doing it this way we can generally have 8-10 hours to explore our day’s destination.  If we want to we can always snooze on the train but we do set the alarm on our phone.  Japanese trains run to such a precise timetable it’s very reliable to do it this way and we normally give ourselves a 5-minute buffer to pack stuff back in our bags and be ready to go because the station stops are very short.

Where to stay in Kyoto:  We find the Hotel Granvia ideal when we’re planning on taking a few long day trips out of Kyoto.  Its location is super convenient for early departures and late arrivals being located right at the station.  There’s an excellent selection of restaurants and shops nearby and you can easily access all areas of the city using the buses and subway that both originate from the station precinct.

These are 16 of the best trips from Kyoto

1. Kanazawa

Using a limited express train it’s 2 1/4 hours to Kanazawa.  If you want to wander the Chaya districts at dusk in the hope of spotting a geisha or enjoy a leisurely evening meal of beautifully fresh local seafood it’s easily done as the trains back to Kyoto run well into the night.

You’ll find more information on day-tripping to Kanazawa from Kyoto in this post.

Highlights in Kanazawa are Kenroku-en garden which is noted as one of the top 3 gardens in the country and the adjacent castle.  The geisha districts here are the next largest and most active after Kyoto’s but some of the old tea houses have been converted to living museums and tea shops which I really enjoyed experiencing.  The samurai district also has historical interest with old homes now open as museums.  We enjoyed the Oyama Shrine and Omicho market too, they weren’t part of our plan but we found both of them as we wandered around the city streets.  The ninja temple is another popular attraction but although it has many fun ninja-style hidden passages and trap doors it doesn’t appear to have its own ninja history.

2. Uji

Uji is a picturesque city in Kyoto prefecture famous for its 10th-century temple, green tea and attractive riverfront.

You can get to Uji on the either the JR or Keihan line from Kyoto in around 30-35 minutes. They arrive into different stations but both are convenient for visiting the attractions in the city.

We have an article that sets out a full guide and walking map for exploring Uji. There is a lot to see and quite a bit of walking, the day trip itinerary will help find the places you are most interested in visiting in the most efficient way.

When in Uji don’t miss the fabulous meals, drinks and snacks that highlight the matcha tea the city is famous for. Whether you prefer the traditional tea ceremony, souvenir sweets to take home, a refreshing matcha soft cream cone or a meal of noodles infused with the powdered tea you will find it here.

Things to do in Uji Kyoto

3. Kurashiki Bikan historical quarter

This heritage district of Okayama prefecture is situated on an attractive canal surrounded by heritage wooden warehouse buildings dating back over 300 years to the Edo period. It is one of the most attractive and well-preserved heritage merchant districts in Japan.

Our guide and walking map for exploring the town of Kurashiki

The simplest way to get here is to take the shinkansen from Kyoto to Okayama and then transfer to a local train out to Kurashiki. All up including transfers it will take around 90 minutes.

The area surrounding the canal is home to many talented artisans and features interesting shopping streets, galleries, museums and welcoming cafes.

If you don’t have a full day to spare you could easily combine a half-day at Kurashiki Bikan with other activities in Okayama such as the castle and gardens or cycling alongside the rice paddies on the path through the Kibi Plains. You could also hop off the shinkansen at Himeji or Kobe which are directly between Kyoto and Okayama.

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

4. Nagahama

Less than 40 minutes after leaving Kyoto station you will arrive in Nagahama, which has a casual and friendly small town feel.  Across the road from the station, you’ll find Nagahama castle, the park which is a popular sakura spot in springtime, and the shores of Lake Biwa.  The lake is a popular recreation spot in summer.

The town area retains the heritage of the area and you’ll find some interesting buildings around Kurokabe square housing glass ornaments and bowls which are a specialty of the town.  There are also some great restaurants and a museum with the towns intricately decorated festival floats on display.

Two events in town that we’ve been to and enjoyed on different visits are the Nagahama Bonbai festival featuring bonsai of cherry and plum blossom and the Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri a festival of kabuki theatre expertly performed by children.

Nagahama glass window

5. Himeji

The bullet train to Himeji will take around 55 minutes each way.  The big attraction in Himeji is the castle, arguably the most impressive of the few original castles still standing from the feudal era.  Going through the open areas of the castle and the impressive gardens will require a few hours.  Allow extra in the busy period like when the cherry blossom is in bloom or during Golden Week when the queues will be quite long.

You’ll pass the information centre just before you reach the castle, they speak English and will be able to help with planning out the rest of your day but my pick would be Mt Shosha (Shoshazan Engyo-ji).  This heavily forested mountain is home to a historic and sprawling temple complex.  You can hike all the way, take the ropeway then a light hike, or take a bus from the ropeway to suit your fitness and available time.  The temple was used for filming a scene from the movie The Last Samurai but Tom Cruise’s acting ability shouldn’t be used as a reason not to explore this beautiful setting.

Himeji Castle | 2 Aussie Travellers

6. Enryukuji

This one’s a shorter commute, it’s only a 30-minute train trip to Sakamoto station in neighbouring Shiga Prefecture.  The cable car is fun, the views out over Lake Biwa are amazing and the hike between temples on Mount Hiei feels a world away from the bustle of the city.

There’s plenty to see up here for those wanting to spend the day in the hills with temples and nature.  While there is a restaurant we recommend picking up a bento or a cold lunch from the 7-eleven or a bakery on your way and having a picnic.  There’s a convenience store between the station and the cable car if you want to pick up drinks or snacks.

You can read all the information for planning a day trip to Enrukuji from Kyoto in this post.

Enryukuji Temples

7. Hiroshima

This is a long stretch for a day trip at 2 1/2 hours on the bullet train in each direction but given that you sit back and relax in relative comfort on the train it can be done.  I’ve met a number of people who’ve done the day trip all the way from Tokyo although I don’t recommend that.

Hiroshima city is flat and quite compact so it’s easy to explore on foot and there is a lot to see. We have our Hiroshima City self-guided walking tour that takes in most of the sites and if you want to speed it up a little you can take the tram one way or head directly to the Peace Park skipping the gardens and castle.  The tram leaves from outside the train station and stops conveniently opposite the A-dome.

In the city, the Peace Park, museum and the A dome would be on most peoples list to visit.  In addition based on personal interests the castle and its park, baseball stadium, Shukkeien garden and shopping area may be included.  Hiroshima like most of Japan has great food options but if you’re a fan of Okonomiyaki trying the unique Hiroshima layered noodle version should be on your list too.

A Dome in Hiroshima

8. Miyajima

For Miyajima Island on a day trip, the quickest and easiest option is to take the shinkansen to Hiroshima and then catch the train to Miyajimaguchi (30 minutes). Walk down the short street directly outside the station and you’ll be at the ferry.  Don’t forget your JR pass also covers that train and the ferry across to the island making for quite an inexpensive day.  

There are many things to do on Miyajima so we like to spend a full day on the island making sure we catch the torii and shrine ‘floating’ on the full tide, get to the top of the mountain and have the possibility of catching a sunset. You could reduce your time on the island to a few hours though and that would be enough time to see the famous torii gate, the deer, the main shrine, shopping street and possible one or two temples in the lower area.  With a little longer we’d recommend the cable car and /or walk up Mt Misen for the views and visiting some of the other temples a little further out.  

There are lots of lunch options in the shopping street with local oysters featuring prominently.  You’ll see the oyster beds in the Seto Inland Sea from the ferry on the way across. While being a bit concerned on the first visit we’ve ordered then in various forms on 3 different visits now with no ill effects although they are usually cooked.

A local tour guide is one way to get a deeper understanding of the culture and traditions associated with the island. Magical Trip runs a one-day hiking tour getting off the beaten path to experience more of the island’s attractions. You explore the famous shrine then follow a hiking path to the summit where you stop for lunch and appreciate the incredible view from up there before taking the ropeway back down.

Deer on Miyajima island during sakura

9. Osaka

It’s only 30 minutes through to Osaka and we picked up the Osaka Amazing Pass (previously called the Osaka Free Pass) from the information centre outside the main station.  For Y2300 it covers all your train (or bus) transport with free access to 28 attractions with discounts at some others.

We first took a look at the city from the river on the 60-minute Suijyo Aqualiner cruise.  Next we headed for Osaka castle, went inside to see the museum and also the Nishinomaru Garden, as we were there in ume (plum blossom) season we spent a while looking at the groves of blossom with a free guide who was able to tell us quite a bit about both the flowers and castle in English.  The Osaka Museum of history is very near to the castle with some life-sized townscape reconstructions if you are interested in that.  Osaka prides itself on its delicious food and it is well justified to spend a portion of your day deciding what to eat and enjoying it.  Late in the afternoon, we went up the Umeda Sky Building observatory, it’s a great spot to enjoy the views as it transitions from daylight through to dusk and the city lights come on.  Dinner with the neon lights of Namba is also highly recommended.

If you are headed to Osaka for the day or a stay you will find our comprehensive guide to things to do in Osaka handy.  It’s packed full of tips on where to eat, stay and play in Osaka.

Dotonbori canal in Osaka Japan

10. Kobe

Another day trip that’s under an hour from Kyoto is the city of Kobe.  In 1995 the city was devastated by the Great Hanshin earthquake but other than the museums and memorials you wouldn’t know.   Kobe rallied immediately beginning the rebuild and re-opening it’s major port facility and infrastructure in record time which ensuring its continuity as a significant source of employment and income in the area.

There is of course much more to Kobe. It’s a thriving port, has a robust China Town and is one of the best places in Japan to celebrate Chinese New Year which determined the timing of our first visit to the city.  It also has a robust historic sake district which is open for tasting and many people would travel just to eat the renowned Kobe beef in the home city.

Find more things to do in this post on our top 8 things to do in Kobe.

What to see, do and where to eat in Kobe, Japan

11. Hikone

An hours travel from Kyoto could have you in the historic castle town of Hikone.  This town is home to one of 4 original castles in Japan listed as National Treasures.  The town sits on the shores of Lake Biwa and on a clear day there are great views from the top floor of the castle out over the town and lake beyond.

Hikone was a popular alternative for visitors during Himeji castles recent renovation period and has recently been undergoing some refurbishment of its own.  Walk around the edge of the moat and you’ll find a recreated castle street that offers good restaurant alternatives including one of our best meals of local beef in Japan.  The castle museum here has a good collection and is housed separately to the castle keep itself which stops it getting as congested.

If you’re a fast-paced traveller consider joining Hikone and Nagahama into a single day trip as the train passes directly by Nagahama station on the way to Hikone.

Hikone castle

12. Nara

The JR train through to Nara takes about 45 minutes.  This is one of my favourite relaxing days, it’s very easy and once you are there you can walk around between most of the attractions, it’s flat, green and relatively compact.  We’ve found the locals here very friendly, as an ancient capital of Japan the architecture and history are amazing and dare I mention again, so many great food options.

The deer that mill around in the park, outside the temples and even around the shops are adorable.  Despite the signs advising that they can be prone to bad behaviour I haven’t seen anyone have any problems unless they fed them and even then it was being followed and pestered for more attention, nothing more intimidating.

You can see more of the 10 reasons why I love visiting Nara in this post and about Gango-ji, a special temple we visited for Setsubun.

If you are looking for a guide, Magical Trip has a half-day walking tour of Nara that is ideal to understand the culture and history of the ancient capital. The timing works well if you’re travelling in from Kyoto or Osaka for the day. You’ll explore the most famous of the world heritage temples and shrines, walk through Nara Park, meet the friendly deer and discover a hidden 8th-century pyramid.

Todai-ji in Nara

13. Okayama’s famous gardens and castle

An hour and 20 minutes headed west from Kyoto will have you at Okayama station.  This city is home to another of the top three gardens in Japan known as Koraku-en,.  It’s a huge garden and absolutely stunning during sakura when it’s a very popular spot for sedate family hanami parties but it’s equally beautiful at other times of the year.  The nearby Okayama castle forms part of the ‘borrowed scenery’ a common component of Japanese garden design and well-integrated into this one.

After exploring the castle and gardens an interesting option while in this part of the country would be to head to the rural Kibi Plains and hire a bicycle to explore the paths between the rice paddies, temples, shrines and historic burial mounds along the way.  Catch the train (30 minutes) to either Soja or Bizen Ichinomiya to hire a cycle, it’s mostly on dedicated cycle paths and the cycle can be returned at the opposite station.

Japanese castles - Okayama castle

14. Universal Studios

If you are looking for a change of pace, are travelling with children or just enjoy thrill rides and movies like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Minions then a day at Universal Studios Japan can be a lot of fun.

On our visit to Japan this year we set aside a day to spend at Universal Studios in Osaka. I’m a long time fan of Harry Potter and expected that anything done by Warner Bros and with Japans attention to detail was going to be great but it was even better than I had anticipated.

If you’re going you’ll need to set aside a full day, plan to be there at opening time and stay until the night parade is over and the park is closing. Our article on USJ gives you a sneak peek inside and tips on how to get the most into your day.

Universal Studios Japan - Harry Potter Wizarding World

15. Minoo Park and Waterfalls

If you want to spend some time in nature then heading out into the hills north of Osaka for a visit to Minoo Park and waterfalls is a good option. It’s one of Japans oldest parks and especially beautiful in autumn foliage but a good choice at any time of the year.

You follow an easy walking path that is paved most of the way. Stop in at local shrines and temples, there are a few restaurants along the way in the lower section and places to get a drink and snacks like freshly roasted chestnuts and tempura maple leaves.

Our Minoo Park article has full details on how to get there and what to explore in the area. There is an onsen resort at the base of the park but if you just want a short stop to revive tired feet, warm-up or relax, there is also a free foot onsen on the way back to the station, something quite unique to Japan.

16. Mt Rokko

Access to the hiking path and the ropeway up Mt Rokko is directly behind the Shin-Kobe station, that makes the bullet train the most efficient way to get here and it will take under 30 minutes. If you don’t have the JR Pass and don’t want the cost of the bullet train, you can take a local train and then the subway which will make the trip just over an hour.

Exit the station at the front, turn right and at the end enter the building in front of you and take the escalators down. Turn right again and follow the signs to the ropeway, it will take you up Mt Rokko to the views and herb gardens at the top.

If you exit the park at the lower end you will be on the hiking trail and can walk back down to Shin-Osaka station past the dam and waterfalls. Alternatively, you can walk, or take the ropeway in both directions.

There’s a restaurant at the top, beautifully maintained gardens with space for relaxing, huge glasshouses, views back as far as Osaka on a clear day and a cafe/bar.

Mt Rokko

>For all the essential tips to help plan your visit to Japan see our comprehensive and FREE Japan Guide
>Looking for a great place to stay in Kyoto?  We use and trust for their great selection and value in Kyoto.
>We regularly purchase the Japan Rail Pass.  Here’s everything you need to know to decide if it’s worth buying for your trip.  We also use an IC card such as the SUICA card daily on subways, buses and private railways.
>Free WIFI isn’t widely available in Japan.  For translation, directions, timetables and other information on the go personal WIFI is one of our essentials. We look at the various options in our cheat sheet to staying connected in Japan.

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The best day trips from Kyoto Japan
The best day trips from Kyoto Japan

This is not an exhaustive list of day trips from Kyoto but it’s a few of the ones we’ve done and they are all destinations we’ve really enjoyed for a variety of reasons plus they’re easy to get to using Japans efficient public transport system.  If you have your own favourites we’d love to hear those too in the comments below.


  • Hello 2 Aussie Travellers,

    excellent blog. Thank you for all your tips. I am planning on going to Japan in October this year. I am super excited.

    I plan on staying in Tokyo for 5 days and Kyoto for 4 days (will do a day trip or 2 from both cities). However I can’t decide whether to stay longer in Kyoto and do 2 day trips to Osaka or stay in Osaka for 2 or 3 days (with a day trip).

    Would you recommend doing to 2 day trips from Kyoto to Osaka? I would stay in Osaka for 3 days but i have been reading that there isn;t much to do.

    What would you advise? Many thanks

    • Hi Neema, it depends a bit on what it is that you enjoy doing, we like to spend more time in Kyoto but there is plenty we enjoy in Osaka too. We do like staying in the Namba area to wander the Dotonbori area in the evening, it’s a great option for dinner but with it being a relatively short distance between the 2 cities with only a couple of nights I would probably stay in Kyoto and use the train. We’ve caught it between cities at night after dinner several times and felt very comfortable doing it, you lose a bit of time moving luggage and checking in and out of hotels that I would probably avoid for 1-2 nights.

  • Hi, my family and I (my husband and our 2 children) are travelling to Japan in April next year and I am becoming slightly over whelmed with all of the choices as there is so much to see and do.

    At this stage our itinerary is arriving in Osaka on 30 March 2020 and staying in Osaka until 8th April and then going to Tokyo and staying there until 16th April before returning home to Australia.

    When we are in Osaka we are planning on doing day trips to Kyoto and Nara (and haven’t decided where else yet). We also want to go to Himeji and Hiroshima so we thought we’d get the JR rail pass. I’m wondering if it’s possible to go from Osaka to Himeji, stay there for a couple of hours and then travel onto Hiroshima, stay over night and then go Hiroshima back to Osaka? Would we be able to use the JR rail for that and are there connecting trains to go between Himeji and Hiroshima?

    Thank you for your help – your website is full of so much helpful information

    • Hi Marika. There are so many options that it can get overwhelming, it’s just not possible to do everything in the time but your dates are great, you will see so much in 18 days and should hit some great cherry blossom in that time too.

      The shinkansen (bullet train) line between Osaka and Hiroshima has a stop at Himeji so you will find it very easy and convenient to do your plan of getting off there to see the castle and town then continuing on to Hiroshima. If you are taking luggage with you there are coin lockers at the station where you can lock it up. Are you planning to go to Miyajima while in Hiroshima? Younger children seem to love the novelty of the deer wandering through town and on our spring visits we’ve often seen them with fawns.

      Have a wonderful trip and enjoy the planning stage

      • Thanks for the information Toni. Yes we do plan on going to Miyajiama island, so hoping we can see Himeji castle, Hiroshima and Miyajiama in the two days.
        Thanks again

  • Hi can you advise where is the best place to travel between kyoto and Himeji. I have to start in Kyoto and end in Himeji during the month of Feb. As I need to complete both marathons in these 2 cities. I have 6 days in between to travel from one location to the other. I don’t mind moving on to the next location to stay a nite instead of wasting time doing day trips.

    • Hi Grace. The 2 main cities directly between Kyoto and Himeji are Osaka and Kobe, there is also a lot to do around Kyoto but outside the city centre if you haven’t had time to look around already, places like Arashiyama, Uji and Fushimi Inari. While not directly in the route of travel Nara is inexpensive to get to by train and a great place to explore on foot for a day.

  • Hi There,

    I have really loved reading your blog and got some really handy tips for my upcoming trip to Japan. I will be going there for the first time for my honeymoon in Januaray next year! Just wanted to see if my below itinerary was suitable and if you recommended any changes ect? Happy for any advice or recommendations you have.

    4-7 Jan (3 nights)
    Seoul, South Korea

    7-9 Jan (2 nights)
    Osaka, Japan

    -Hiroshima day trip when changing hotels/cities

    9-12 Jan (3 nights)

    -Day trip to Kanazawa on the way to Nagano/Hakuba

    12-19 Jan (7 nights)
    Hakuba to ski

    19-24 Jan (5 nights)

    -Day trip to Hakone

  • Hi, really grateful for a blog like yours 🙂

    May I ask for your opinion for my 14 day trip in Japan? As I’m overwhelmed by the choices available but cant really make up my mind other than wanting to go on the Alpine route and Sapporo to see the blossoms.

    I’ll be spending the 14 days as such:

    Day 1:Tokyo Ashikaga Flower Park-Ashikaga 1 day trip.
    Day2-4: Sapporo-via 1 way flight from Narita.
    Day 5: Take a long train ride from Sapporo to Matsumoto in preparation for Alpine route- tho I don’t really have an idea to spend the free night time in Matsumoto other than sleeping way earlier than needed XD.
    Day 6 Alpine route before travelling to Kyoto in the evening. Require suggestions to spend the night time as I didn’t find much night stuff on Kyoto.
    Kyoto Day7-8 : Cant decide between these few day trips, Arashimaya/Higashiyama/Enryukuji or Hikone.
    Day 9 : Nara day Trip , evening in Osaka.
    Day 10-11: Osaka , mainly using Amazing Osaka pass 2-day but not much idea in mind other than Osaka castle and the Umeda Building.
    Taking the Sunrise Izumo back to Tokyo assuming there are slots available. If not probably JR pass back to Tokyo in the next morning.
    Day 12-14: Tokyo.

    All this is based on the fact is my 1st time travelling rather far overseas in general and as a solo traveller.But really want to see the blossoms (hence a detour to Sapporo) and snow(alpine route).
    Will be travelling in 2nd and 3rd week of May after golden week. 🙂 Hope you don’t mind helping in providing some advice.

    • There are so many options but you have put together a great trip.

      In Matsumoto the main attraction is the castle and the Nakamachi shopping street, the castle is lit at night so you could still take a look if you arrived late from your day of travel. It’s a beautiful castle and one of the few originals still standing.

      In Kyoto at night we like to wander through the Gion and Shirakawa area, maybe you will spot a Geisha, or not, but it’s very pretty, the little canals are lit up and there are options for eating and drinking at all price points along Shijo-dori and the alleys and small streets that run off it.

      I would suggest for a first-time visit to Kyoto allocating a day for the city itself, Higashiyama is full of temples, gardens, small places to eat and narrow streets with traditional homes. If time is limited perhaps combine this with Arashiyama although that too can be a day in its own right.

      We love the Namba district but we are foodies and the choices are fabulous, we enjoy Kuromon Market and the canal lit at night with all the neon and small eateries are fun. With the amazing pass I’d suggest the included the aqualiner river cruise that has a stop just across from the castle and can be useful for linking things together.

      I’ve not ridden the Izumo but that sounds fun, not sure how comfortable the stretch out seats would be but definitely an experience I will give a try if we ever have the opportunity, it gives a full day and evening exploring in Osaka before you go.

      Have a fabulous time, it sounds like you have it well structured and will get to see a lot with the time.

      • Thanks for the quick reply 🙂
        Your suggestions sounds great, I think I’ll be using them for my itinerary.
        About the sunrise izumo, I saw a video on it, wanted to ride it for the experience and some say I can check a nice view of Mt fuji ard 6am. But 1 of the main reason is probably it saves both money (using JR pass) and time as it’s a overnight train, so that I’ll hv more money for trying out diff food in Japan XD.

  • Thank you so much for sharing so many options and opportunities. My partener and I are travelling in Japan for the first time in Mid April until 30 April. We fly in and out of Tokyo and have a rough plan of 4 days in Tokyo, 4 days in Kyoto, a day in Hiroshima, 1 day in Naroshima. This leave 4 days free. My partner would love to experience rural life and we are thinking 1-2 days in Ohara, Nara, Kibune area might be in order, or perhaps Tomo-no-ura or Tango Peninsula …
    We’d appreciate y0ur comments and other ideas.
    We are aiming for a mix of experiences: rural, city and culture. Thank you!

    • So many good choices as you have already identified. Another option would be Okayama between Osaka and Hiroshima as it’s on your way. One of Japans top gardens are there not far from the Shinkansen station, then you can head out to the Kibi Plain and cycle alongside the rice paddies between two smaller stations stopping at the shrines and points of interest along the way. Kurashiki Bikan would add a cultural and scenic addition with the historic merchant houses along the canal.

  • Thank you so much for a beautiful blog and such a helpful resource in planning our trip to Japan! We will be traveling there for the first two weeks of April to celebrate our twin sons’ 18th birthday, and your advice and tips are helping to create a trip we are sure to remember for the rest of our lives! We arrive in Tokyo (2 days) then travel to the Mt Fuji area (Kawaguchiko Lake) for an overnight, then on to Kyoto (6) then back to Tokyo for the remainder (4). The Mt Fuji to Kyoto travel seems like the trickiest part, but do-able with trains and buses.
    You really have provided such valuable information and suggestions – I just wanted to send some thanks and good wishes your way!
    With gratitude -Sonya

  • we love your blog!!!!
    we are going to Japan in August 2019 for 13 days
    Tokyo – 4
    Nikko – 2
    Hakone – 2
    Takayama – 3
    Tokyo – 2 (including day trip to Kamakura)
    trying to work out whether to get a 7 or 14 day JR pass taking into consideration the need for a Nikko All Pass and Hakone Free pass
    at this point we are leaning towards the 14 day
    will we be OK in Tokyo since this doesn’t cover the subways?
    or buy a Suica, the Nikko All Pass, Hakone Free pass and Narita to Tokyo on arrival then activate the 7 day when leaving Hakone to cover the last part.
    your thoughts would be highly appreciated

    • Hi Justine,

      If you only plan to activate the JR Pass for the 7 days from the day you leave Nikko (Tokyo to Odawara section) until returning to Tokyo, that’s around Y30,630 of tickets and the 7-day pass is Y29,110, so not a significant saving over the individual tickets. You can use JR to and from Nikko, using a single ticket on the way up, a SUICA on the buses and the JR pass on the way back but given the convenience of the Tobu option and the discount with the pass, especially if headed on to the lakes / onsen regions by bus it probably wouldn’t save you anything doing it that way.

  • Hi Toni,
    What are the day trips that can be done using the JR pass on this itinerary: Kyoto (4 days), Nagoya (5), Tokyo (8)?
    We plan on Shirakawa-go/Ainokura . What would be the difficulties here in terms of transport/weather as this is a December 22- January 6 trip.
    So in addition to the JR pass we need to purchase a Pasmo or Suica Pass (these neeed to be bought individually for each city?)
    Wish I’d found your blog earlier as I also like to base myself in a place to get the feeel of it.

    • Hi Angela, There are so many day trips that you can do when you have the pass from any of the 3 cities, it depends on your interests, how many days you have available for tripping outside of the city and do you have any particular interests. I have suggestions in this article for Kyoto (which are also suitable for Nagoya) and another article for Tokyo day trips. As you are visiting over the New Year holiday there may be some restaurants,shops and tours shut but mainstream transport operates pretty much as normal and depending on where you are the New Year celebrations themselves are something fun and different to experience.

      Whether I would buy a JR Pass would depend on the day trips you are planning to do and your main travel route, are you flying in and out of one city? The PASMO or SUICA aren’t essential but we do find them worthwhile for the convenience and time saving but you only need one and can use it across Japan, they used to be different in each region but not anymore, they’ll work for local trains, subways and many buses.

      You aren’t likely to see snow in the 3 cities at that time, it’s pretty rare that they get more than a light dusting right through winter. As you go north the chance increases, in Shirakawago on average the snow starts in late December so the amount for that timing will be hard to predict but it builds up to that fairytale scene quickly once it starts, it is a popular tourist destination and transport/tours operate daily right through the heaviest winter weather.

      Something we have found with Japans fast rail system is that it gets a lot colder quickly once you hop on a train and start travelling north, it might seem quite mild in Kyoto or Nagaya but you get on a train and can start seeing snow in the fields before you reach Nagahama. We learned the hard way the first time to tuck an extra layer or two in the bag just in case.

  • Hi There!

    I’d like to thank you for this very helpful Suggestions for Kyoto Day Trips – especially the ones illuminating the non-tourist-popular destinations 😉

    Since i had an unplanned Knee Surgery in August and wont be all that mobile as i used to be during our past 3 japantrips, your detailed Informations about the surroundings and traveling possibilities, aswell as the mention of lots of steps ect. , really helped me to replan our Vacations and through your reports i found some very new lovely Places I’d love to to with my female Fiancé 🙂

    Please keep up the great work and blogging!

    I’ll definitally follow your Blogs and i got to read lot’s of already existing Adventures 😉

    I love to share our own Discoveries to friends so i’m always very happy to see more and more people reporting on new and hidden Places around Japan :3

    Greetings Sonja

    (ps: Please excuse my sloppy english – i’m actual native german ;))

    • Hi Sonja, sorry to hear about your knee surgery, that’s got to make things more difficult but I hope you and your fiancé have a fabulous time back in Japan. Congratulations to you both!

  • Hi there,
    This is super helpful. My son and I are traveling to Japan in three weeks. (He’s obsessed and this is our second trip in the last 7 months.)

    I’ve been trying to figure out our itinerary and would love some advice. So far, we arrive in Tokyo on the evening of the 10th, spend one night, leave for Kyoto on the 11th, and are scheduled to leave on the 14th, heading wherever we want until we head back to Tokyo for departure on the evening of the 17th.

    Some have suggested that we head to Nikko, but it seems like a lot

    I have been to Nara and Osaka so want to try something different.

    Would you recommend that we extend our stay in Kyoto and just do day trips, or would you say one of these other spots would be worth a few nights?

    Also, do you recommend getting our train tickets before we go?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Sydne, I don’t know yours and your sons interests in Japan but there are plenty of day trip options around Kyoto that are interesting and fun. If you are getting the 7 day JR pass you could maximise that with day trips or even continuing on to Hiroshima for a night to see the city and Miyajima Island than back to Tokyo or perhaps Hakone on the way back through. We really enjoy the circuit in Hakone if you haven’t done it already and the onsen are wonderful although that may depend on your sons age. I always buy our rail passes in advance and have them delivered to home, although currently they are trialing sale within Japan it is more expensive to buy them there and there are limited places to buy them, with so much to see I prefer to have the voucher and just change it at my departure station, I often book the major trip tickets at that time too. Have a fabulous trip!

  • Hello, wonderful website. Which of these day trips would be good in winter – I’m going next week! I guess wouldn’t want to go to any of the gardens now, as you mentioned, would be a bit bare. Also, could any of these be linked up in a loop – a day each but heading back to Kyoto only after 2-3 days? Thanks.

    • Hi Olivia, yes they are also ideal to do that way. I guess you would separate them into going north (Hikone, Nagahama, Kanazawa or potentially with the extra time you could do Kanazawa, Takayama and Shirakawa-go as great winter options if you don’t mind a bit of snow or going west (Himeji, Kobe, Hiroshima and Miyajima). Will you have already been to Tokyo? If you are planning a couple of nights Hakone and Tokyo would be another option. I depends a bit on what you enjoy most about Japan too. If you do Kanazawa I would still do the gardens as they are quite fascinating with the trees wrapped to protect them from the snow and they usually do a winter lightup event around this time of year. Have a fabulous time!

      • Hi, thanks for the advice. Yes we have been to Tokyo, so really want to spend time on this side of island if possible. Will check out the rail passes to see what is the the most practical option.

  • Thank goodness I found your blog. After weeks of frustrating research it has helped us to plan our first trip to Kyoto in early May. Your day trips have inspired us to spend 8 days in Kyoto, with day trips to Himeji, Kanazawa, Hikone, Okayama. We will be arriving vis Osaka. A couple of questions if you could please help with: 1) would it be more cost effective to have a JRWest train pass for 5 days or a Kansai One Pass. We would start the pass on day 1 of our day trips and use the final day to get us back to Osaka. It is confusing to find out the differences between them. 2) would you recommend the fast train or bus from Osaka Airport? The train goes to the main train station but the bus gets us closer to our hotel which is near the historical centre. Many thanks.

    • Hi Lesley, thanks for your comments. The additional tickets are great for offering more choice but do make it more confusing and in some cases there still isn’t a perfect fit. The JR West pass (also called the Kansai WIDE area pass) doesn’t cover Kanazawa although it does offer good value at Y9000 for the other destinations as the Kyoto-Okayama return trip alone on single tickets would be Y14,000. I don’t recommend the Kansai One Pass for most people, it’s an IC card, you pay normal single ticket prices and while it offers some extra tourist info and a few discounts it doesn’t seem to offer a real benefit over buying a normal IC card such as Pasmo, Suica or Icoca that can be used all around the country, you couldn’t use the Kansai one pass for Kanazawa or Okayama. Unfortunately that leaves you without an ideal solution, your itinerary doesn’t make the full JR pass cost effective but to include Kanazawa the best option looks like the JR West WIDE pass and single tickets to Kanazawa which would make its addition a costly day trip. Sorry I don’t have another alternative to suggest.

      • Thanks so much for clarifying. We will decide which JRWest pass to buy, and we think the bus option from the airport might be better for us, as it’s our first trip to Japan.

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