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12 of the best day trips from Tokyo

A great way to discover more of Japan’s history, culture, landmarks and natural highlights is by taking off on some of these top day trips from Tokyo. The city is a great base for exploring being a transportation hub and with so many fun destinations nearby.

Best day trips from Tokyo

Why Tokyo is an ideal base for your side trips

Tokyo is a city full of energy, vibrancy and contrasts.  It can also be exhausting for many visitors if they aren’t used to living in a big city.  We manage the sensory overload by jumping on a train every few days in search of the best day trips from Tokyo.  

In just a couple of hours, you can experience something completely different.  Not only do these easy day trips from Tokyo allow us to experience an exciting new place but we return to the city refreshed and re-energized ready to deal with the crowds and intensity again.

Japan enjoys a fabulous public transport system and as a tourist in the country, you have access to using it at a price that represents even better value than the locals enjoy through the Japan Rail Pass scheme.  If you’re just starting out planning your trip you may find these articles not only make things a bit clearer but can help ensure you get the best value for your travel dollars.

So let’s take a look at some of the options to add to a Tokyo itinerary.  These are our current top 12 but watch out for new additions, each time we head back to Japan we visit new places and revisit old favourites meaning our recommendations evolved over the years.  For each one, we’ll look at why it might add something special to your Japan experience, how to get there, how much travelling is involved and why it’s one of our top choices.

If you have any questions or your suggestions, please let us know in the comment section at the end we love to hear about your travel plans too.

1. Hakone

Hakone Ropeway | 2 Aussie Travellers

Hakone in Kanagawa prefecture is a fun day trip from Tokyo and very easy to do.  It’s an onsen town, perfect if you want to soak in its healing hot springs, you’ll have unbeatable views of Mt Fiji from the lake and many other areas and Owakudani, the geothermal is something quite different to see.  It’s also a great place to visit seasonally for cherry blossom, autumn foliage or a pristine snowy white backdrop in winter.

The starting point in the Hakone area is Odawara station, here you can pick up the Hakone Freepass that we discuss in this article or you can do the same circuit on individual tickets if you prefer.

Read more in our article on a Tokyo side trip to Hakone or find out more about how to enjoy a Hakone Onsen without necessarily staying overnight in the area.

If you’re looking for a tour option that visits some of the best spots in both Mt Fuji and Hakone this is a popular choice.

2. Kamakura

Kamakura big Buddha

Also in Kanagawa prefecture is the historic beach town of Kamakura known for the giant Buddha, a historic shrine,  famous zen temples and gardens. If you are looking for something a little more energetic with some time off the main tourist train there is the Daibutsu (Buddha) walking trail running from northern Kamakura to the temple of the Great Buddha in the south through temples, parks and quiet walking paths.

Kamakura is home to Hasedera temple, one that we both enjoy for many reasons but especially the historic Benten-Kutsu cave.  You can see down to the beach from the upper parts of the temple grounds and it’s an easy walking distance from the Great Buddha.

Kamakura is an easy trip from Tokyo by train, it takes just under an hour on a standard local train and costs Y920, there are limited express options available but they will only save around 10 minutes and double the cost.

Kamakura day trip guide and itinerary

3. Enoshima

Enoshima Island torii

Enoshima is a small island only about 4 km in circumference off the Shōnan Coast not far from Kamakura and the two can be combined into a single day trip if you’re a fast-paced traveller, we’re not and easily spend a full day on and around the island.

You can take the train from Tokyo down to Kamakura then a short trip on the Enoden line across to Enoshima but our preference is to take the JR line to Ofuna and then switch across to the hanging monorail through to Enoshima, for me, it’s one of the best parts of this trip, something very different than we’ve experienced anywhere else.  Either option will take just over an hour from Tokyo.

The island is joined to the mainland by the Enoshima Benten Bridge so you won’t need to wait for a ferry across.  There are regular events on the island, when we were there in February there was an evening light-up, a popular date-night experience in Japan and a very early spring tulip display. 

Things to do on the island include riding the escalators up the hill, the shrines and gardens, the cliffs and rock platforms on the seaward side and the Iwaya caves.    There is also a small shopping street that leads up to the big torii as you enter the island and to the right is the spa where you can soak in an onsen with distant views of Mt Fuji on a clear day.

Read more:  Planning a day trip to Enoshima Island

4. Nagano

Snow monkeys in the onsen in Nagano

A longer side trip from Tokyo is to head to Nagano, there is a range of things to do here but in winter the chance to see the monkeys soaking in their onsen in the snowy landscape is something I can’t pass up.

The macaque, a wild Japanese monkey referred to around here as the snow monkey is regularly seen in and around their purpose-built onsen.  These are wild monkeys, free to come and go in the surrounding forest. 

Decades ago the monkeys used to sit in small rock crevices where the hot springs bubbled through but when they found the human onsen so much more comfortable and started arriving uninvited for their own ‘pool parties’ the locals built them their own within the park.  It’s been a favoured spot for them ever since.

The trip will take around 3 hours from Tokyo to the Snow Monkeys bus stop but there are different ways of getting there which we cover in detail in the article linked below.  If you prefer there are also snow monkey day tours available.

How to plan your day trip to the snow monkeys from Tokyo

5. Yokohama

Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city and is very easy to visit from your base in Tokyo.  It’s located in the adjacent Kanagawa Prefecture on Tokyo Bay to the south of Tokyo itself.  It’s a major commercial centre, has some great attractions and a different vibe to Tokyo city that make it worth visiting.  You can reach Yokohama by local train in 30 minutes.

Popular attractions in Yokohama to visit are Chinatown, it’s one of the top 3 in Japan, and the port area called Minato Mirai which is an interesting mix of entertainment, shopping and cultural attractions.  For a birds-eye view head on up to the 69th floor of the Landmark Building for a 360-degree perspective on the city and for a serene contrast the Sankaien Garden is a huge and beautiful classical garden founded in 1906 by a silk trader.

Other popular attractions include Seaside Park, Osanbashi Pier, and the Ramen Museum which is more an interactive noodle experience that recreates a piece of Yokohama from the 1950s, take a stroll in Motomachi to feel like you’ve landed in Europe or make your way to the Kirin Beer factory tour complete with tastings.

6. Nikko

Shrine in Nikko

A Tokyo to Nikko day trip is an easy and fun trip.  It can include some fascinating history and culture, beautiful nature and seasonal highlights, especially for autumn colour and snow in winter.  The region is popular for hiking and its scenery all year round but its most popular tourist highlight is the UNESCO World Heritage area which includes the stunning Tosho-gu shrine dating back to 1617.

In addition to the shrine don’t miss the Shinkyo bridge dating back to 1636 and the Kanmangafuchi Abyss formed by an explosion from nearby Mount Nantai with its many Jizo statues located opposite the botanic garden.

You can get to Nikko using the JR Pass if you have one but the most efficient way is using the local Tobu Railway that runs from Asakusa in Tokyo and takes just under 2 hours.  Once in Nikko, you can explore the central area on foot or take local buses between destinations.

If you are thinking of heading to Tochigi prefecture for a day (or longer) we have a detailed guide to Nikko on the site that includes everything you need to help you plan your trip.

7. Mt Nokogiri

Mount Nokogiri, also known as Sawtooth Mountain is in Chiba prefecture can be reached in around 2 hours by train from Tokyo.  You can hike the mountain or take the ropeway up to the top station.  Even if you do use the ropeway both ways you’ll find you have done plenty of walking up and down the mountain by the end of the day.

There are 2 giant Buddhas here, Kannon the Boddhisatva of compassion was carved in 1966 but the Ishidaibutsu was carved in 1783 and is twice the size of the giant Buddha in Kamakura.  There are 1500 much smaller Arhat statues too, Arhat represent the Buddha’s disciples or people who have gained enlightenment.  You might notice a number of beheaded statues, this isn’t vandalism, at least not modern damage anyway, it was done as part of an anti-Buddhist demonstration after the Meiji Restoration in the mid to late 1800s and has been retained as part of the history of the area rather than repairing them.

There are plenty of lookouts and a glass-walled restaurant so try to pick a clear day to make the most of the views gained climbing all the steps.

Read more: How to plan your day trip to Mt Nokogiri

8. Todoroki Valley

Todoroki Gorge Japan

Todoroki Gorge doesn’t involve leaving Tokyo, it’s only a 15-minute train trip from Shibuya but you’ll feel like you’re a world away from the city.  This is the only gorge that remains in Tokyo and provides a cool walk in nature in the shade of tall trees and palms alongside the river.  Along the way you’ll pass temples, shrines and ancient burial tombs, you’ll pass a traditional tearoom and find an enchanting Japanese garden built into the hillside that is open to wander through.

While it can get busy on the weekends, we visited mid-week and other than a few locals taking a leisurely stroll, purposefully going about their daily commute or filling water bottles from the traditional style bore pump, it was peaceful emphasising the sounds of birdsong and rustling autumn leaves.

Read more:  All you need to know to plan your visit to Todoroki Gorge.

9. Mt Takao

Mount Takao Tokyo

Mount Takao is a fabulous day trip from Tokyo without even leaving the prefecture.  We’ve written about our fabulous day here during the autumn colours and highly recommend it whether you are looking for an active day of hiking or a more leisurely approach using the cable car and chair lifts and relaxing in the natural thermal onsen at the end of the day.

There are multiple spots to enjoy the views of nature back out to Tokyo city, a sprawling historical temple, restaurant, shrine and more.  There are 8 trails to walk so you could spend several days out here if you wanted to but it really is beautiful and if you are lucky there are still wild monkeys to be seen in the forest.

10. Kyoto

Golden Pavillion in winter

Kyoto as a side trip from Tokyo isn’t one I’d recommend for everyone but if you have a strong interest in Japan’s history and culture and not enough time in your itinerary to add a longer stay in Kyoto then it can be an option.  The bullet train reaches Kyoto in around 2.5 hours, if you are prepared to head off early and come back after dinner you can fit in a full day exploring the city and some of the city’s unique cuisine but be aware that it will be a very full day.

I’d suggest you spend some time identifying what it is you want to experience while you are there and build your day around your top priorities.  Those may depend on the season and your interests, some attractions open early in the day or into the evening, and some may even be quieter at those times helping you fit a bit more into the hours available.

Kyoto is a city of 1600 temples and even more Shinto shrines, they are such an integral part of the city and its culture that a visit isn’t complete without experiencing at least a couple.  Then there’s the Imperial history associated with Nijo Castle and the Imperial Palace, the food and history experience of Nishiki market, the elusive culture of the geisha districts, the impressive gardens and parks, and the traditional art culture.

To get an idea of some of the options on offer in Kyoto to get your planning underway you may want to take a look at some of our Kyoto posts, we’ll have a full guide up shortly and to stretch the budget we do cover the top free things to do in the city.

11.  Kawagoe

Hikawa Shrine Kawagoe

Kawagoe was established as a merchant town during the Edo Period when the capital of Japan moved from Kyoto to Tokyo.  The history of Kawagoe has been well preserved making it a great place to visit to experience that heritage and culture only 30 minutes out of Tokyo.

The easiest way to get here is with Tobu Railways ‘Kawagoe discount pass’ which includes the return train trip from Ikebukuro, buses in the town and other discounts with local vendors.

We have a detailed guide to Kawagoe on the site but a few of the things not to miss are the Edo style merchant warehouses, the bell tower in the centre of town, the traditional artisans in penny candy land and Hikawa Shrine.

12. Kinugawa Onsen

Kinugawa river boats

Kinugawa Onsen is in Tochigi prefecture just over 2 hours by train from Tokyo or around 30 minutes from the heritage temples and shrines of Nikko.  A visit here is a very different experience though, the focus is on nature, relaxation and adventure.

Taking this traditional boat down the Kinugawa Valley had some great scenery and the cascades added some fun and splashes although we didn’t get wet.  The area is surrounded by beautiful nature with some good walk around but the main reason tourists come to the area is the onsens, there are two hot spring sources, one on either side of the river and several places that day visitors can experience the relaxation of Japanese onsen here.

We’ve included some options for day use onsen, trip planning tips and more information on things to do in Kinugawa Onsen in the linked article.

We hope some of our top day trip from Tokyo suggestions have helped you with planning your next visit or inspired you with some of the variety and options available.  We take several side trips on our travels as we prefer to choose a few accommodation bases rather than moving more often with our luggage. 

To ensure we see as much as possible we put together our own tour plans, get started early and don’t mind travelling back to our base after dinner to maximise the experience.  That’s just our travel style and what works well for us, we find we lose valuable time exploring when we’re checking in and out and orientating ourselves to a new base too often.  Of course, all of these options are suited to a multi-day stay if you prefer to travel that way and have more time available.

If you have any questions please ask in the comments section below and follow the links in the article to more detailed articles on each destination site.  Have you already taken a day trip from Tokyo?  We’d love to hear your experience and recommendations too.

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Tuesday 18th of July 2023

Hi, this will be first trip to Japan. Have about 12 days. Was thinking of end of March/April but I believe that is cherry blossom season and extremely busy. Would you suggest staying in two cities eg Tokyo and Osaka and doing day trips from those places. Are the gardens more in bloom April/May. Would like to go to Kyoto and Hiroshima and maybe Miyajima. Have found your site very helpful. Kind regards

Toni Broome

Sunday 8th of October 2023

Hi Rebecca. It does depend on the year, the last couple have been warmer, but typically if it is the cherry blossoms you are after the mass bloom effect and that is over the second week in April. There are some late blooming trees, we've even found some autumn blooming trees in a Tokyo park but that intense display is very short and I usually plan around last week in March and first week in April. However after the blossom in April and May come the azaleas and wisteria which are also really stunning but more specific where you want to go to see them. We are headed over for the month of May, with the exception of that first week which is Golden Week the attractions are a lot quieter than cherry blossom especially in Kyoto.

With 12 days and first visit I would find a base from Tokyo and Osaka enough but our preference is slower and deeper travel knowing we can't get to everything anyway but your travel style and preferences will guide you. Also the JR Pass is no longer a cost effective option even with the Miyajima and Hiroshima addition so you'll want to weigh up if that extra cost is worth while to you. We do really enjoy those locations and with 12 days you could definitely do a night or two in Hiroshima, I'd suggest staying near the station so it is easy to get an early train out to Miyajima in case the full tide is early in the day and it makes dropping luggage at the hotel and collecting it before moving on nice and easy. It is easy to get the tram into town and to the Peace Park etc from there (it's only around 3 km).


Thursday 1st of June 2023

Hi Thanks for the all the information.

We are planning on spending a week in Tokyo in July and have allowed an extra 3 nights outside Tokyo (travel by train ).

We have previously visited Kyoto and Osaka on a previous trip.

Could you suggest which 2 or 3 of these destinations would be practical to combine as a mini itinerary (going from one to the other ) from Tokyo and back please ?

Thank you Tom

Toni Broome

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

With July often being hot and humid I would look a bit inland but it will depend on what you most like to see and do. The wider Nikko area might be a good option, you have the heritage temples and shrines that are often done as a day trip from Tokyo but if you use the 3 day pass to go out to surrounding area you have impressive waterfalls, lakes and national park, staying out by the lake perhaps, that covers the bus out there and I think the scenic ferry trip across the lake was part of it too. You can then headed on by train to Kinugawa Onsen, also in the Nikko area where there are many onsen, nature walks and a boat trip on the river through the gorge etc.

Hakone and the Fuji 5 lakes area is also nice and could easily be combined into a 3 night trip but again while you can get to Hakone and back from Kawaguchiko by train, the trip between the 2 areas is by bus.

Keeping travel by train only without basing out of Tokyo is a bit more limited, maybe Hakone then down to Kamakura/Enoshima and back to Tokyo. There is plenty to do in each of these areas and if you are travelling with lighter luggage through this section I would take the hanging monorail from Enoshima to Ofuna or the other way. It is only about 15 minutes so you could also just do the return trip and walk up to the giant Kannon statue on the hill that you see as you arrive into the station. Kamakura has a good food scene, there are beaches with ocean breeze that can provide some relief from summer breeze but they probably won't be your focus. There are a lot of temples and shrines here but it is also a bit different, you can follow a mostly off road hike from northern Kamakura station down to the Great Buddha near the coast through parks and small temples, shrines and a lovely little hillside garden cafe.

I hope that might be some help, enjoy.


Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

Thank you heaps for the information, I came across this when looking for day trips into nature out of Tokyo. Now I just wish I had more time.

Toni Broome

Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

Enjoy, there is so much beautiful nature, parks and gardens in easy reach of Tokyo, what season are you travelling or are you there now?

Andrew Cayzer

Sunday 30th of October 2022

Thanks guys we are staying in Tokyo for 12 days in may 2023 and now I have something to do every day this is a fantastic site Thanks Andrew

Wayne Dyer

Tuesday 1st of October 2019

Hi There,

This is a great site, thanks for the information. We are travelling as a group of 11 (2 extended families ranging from 15 - 70 years old) in late January 2020. Most of us have been once or twice before and typically we spend a week in Tokyo and a week skiing in Hakuba. This time round we are staying three weeks as we are adding a week in Osaka/Kyoto at the beginning of the trip. We have a free day in Tokyo and would like to do a day trip. Needs to take into account it will be winter. We would have seen lots of snow in Hakuba the week before so doesnt need to be in the snow as such. Plus we would have already been to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, Osaka and Tokyo so would have had plenty of exposure to historic sites and big cities. Six of the group are teenage boys. Any ideas what would be a perfect day trip for this time of year and for our group? Somewhere with interesting natural wonders mixed with quirky things to keep the kids interested maybe?

Toni Broome

Thursday 3rd of October 2019

I wish I could help, teenage boys are away outside my area of expertise! If they're over the culture and the city life I could really only suggest getting some time outdoors. Mt Takao isn't it's best in winter but the chairlift is fun and some light hiking, views are better in winter because the cool air is clearer. A bit more off the usual path is Mt Nokogiri, we took the ropeway up and down but there is still plenty of climbing up and down the mountain to the giant Buddha's carved in the mountain, again great views on a clear day. Enoshima possibly combined with Yokohama is another option, get off at Ofuna and take the hanging monorail the rest of the way. Walk across the causeway to the island and climb to the top or take the escalators, there is still a surprising amount of walking, you can see Mt Fuji if it's clear and there are caves on the seaward side. If you wanted to stay in the city the Robot restaurant is popular with teenagers, Odaiba is something a bit different and can be combined with the futuristic boat up the Sumida river from here to Asakusa. Sorry I can't be more help, do they have any particular interests like baseball or anime?

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