Are you heading to Tokyo and want to get out of the city? Pounding the pavement can get tiring, so here are some great day trips from Tokyo that will let you breathe some fresh air and see a different part of Japan!
I love Tokyo! There’s so much to do, see, and eat. I just can’t get enough of it. Well, I can. One thing you can say about Tokyo is you do a lot of walking, a lot of pounding the pavement, and meantime there’s lots of people around…all…the…time!
So, to combat what I like to call Tokyo Fatigue, I like to get out of the city and find some beaches, some parks, some mountains, some smaller cities, just something…well, different.
Over the two years I lived on the Kanto Plain, I got out and explored quite a bit, and I’ve come up with the best places to go on a day trip from this massive metropolis.
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We’ve also done a podcast talking about five of these day trips. Check it out here:
Day Trips from Tokyo Map
What is a day trip?
It sounds like an easy question, right? What constitutes a day trip? Merriam-Webster merely states, “It’s a journey in which a person goes to visit a place and then returns home on the same day.” Well, duh!
It’s just not that easy. First of all, how long do you want your day to be? How far is too far for one day? For me, I don’t want to be on a day trip that has a travel time of more than two hours, so that’s what I tried to do for this article. Of course, in Japan it will highly depend on your mode of transportation as well.
Getting Around Japan
There are three main ways to get around Japan. You can take a tour, rent a car and drive, or take public transportation, which usually means a combination of trains and buses. Again, sounds easy, but in Japan transportation can be pricey.
Taking the train
Train tickets will probably run you at least around the equivalent of $20 – $40 round trip for one person, and you have to get from the train station to the sights adding on some time and money. The train is about as fast as driving, except that the train doesn’t leave whenever you like. You are stuck to a timetable.
Once you have arrived at the train station, you must then find and take a bus to the sight or sights you want to see. Make sure you ask at the information concierge to find out which bus to take. Pay attention when getting on the bus. Many times you will enter by the back door, grab a ticket, and then pay as you exit. Bus drivers are very accommodating, so sitting up front and letting them know where you are going lets them help you.
If you enjoy unique things you can only do in Japan, check out this podcast!
Renting a car and Driving
First, to rent a car in Japan, you must have an international driving license. These are easy to get at any local AAA, but you must do so before you leave your home country. There’s no way to get one once you are in Japan.
Second, rental cars cost around $80-$100 per day, and if you are just renting it for the day, you might not be able to pick it up until 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning, and then you must return it in the evening. This greatly reduces the hours that you will have the car. It’s probably a good idea to lump a few days or a week together and do all your day trips at the same time.
Driving around Japan is rather easy. GPS is up to date, but one cost you may not have thought about is tolls. You can be pretty sure that whatever it would have cost you to take public transportation, you will be paying at least that much in tolls. Of course, you don’t have to take toll roads, but if you don’t the going will be much, much slower.
Taking Day Tours
Day tours will range in cost, but they will not be cheaper than the other options. However, the big pro to taking a tour is you don’t have to worry about anything. From departure to return, everything is taken care of for you. Sometimes you can even be picked up right at your hotel.
Day Trips from Tokyo
Well, you’ve decided your best way to get out of the city, but where do you go? Japan is full of amazing places, but getting to them takes some time. I’ve seen people suggest day trips to places that are definitely not within day trip time, so be careful. Make sure you are not taking a day trip where you should be spending more time, more like a weekend trip from Tokyo.
Here are our favorite places to go to on a Tokyo day trip:
Mount Fuji – Fujisama
Probably the most iconic thing you hear about Japan is the ever-present Mount Fuji. Raise your hand if it’s on your Japan bucket list! Of course it is. Now, you can see Mt. Fuji from different parts of Tokyo. It surprises you sometimes, but then other times you expect it and it’s not there, like when you’re looking out of the Tokyo Tower. However, visiting the mountain is a whole different thing.
To visit the mountain, you go to the 5th station. There you’ll find a museum, some souvenir shops, some eateries, and a beautiful Shinto shrine. If you are there to climb the mountain, you will see tons of people to follow, but if you aren’t there for that, you can still take a small hike in the area.
Combine this with a trip to Chureito Pagoda that has fantastic views of the mountain.
Read our full article: Visiting the Iconic Mt. Fuji
How long will it take to get there? There is a newish train, the Limited Express Fuji Excursion Train that will take you to Kawaguchiko, the town at the base of the mountain. It takes right under two hours. From the Kawaguchiko station, you take the Fujikyuko bus for 2300 yen round trip to the 5th station.
Best restaurant for lunch: You can eat right up at the 5th station, and we have done so, but I think it’s better for snacks and coffee and desserts. For a great tempura lunch, we love going to the Tempura Restaurant Ninja.
This is my absolute favorite city in all of Japan. Jim and I lived here for two years. Kamakura is the old capital of Japan and therefore tries very hard to maintain an old-country charm instead of letting it have the look of a more modern city.
The downtown area, right outside the train station, is quaint, with traditional storefronts, great little restaurants, and a really fun walking alley with lots of street food. A little further down is a fantastic beach.
The walking street takes you to the top of the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, so you can come down the steps and see the shrine, the lake, the bridges. Stunning (especially in spring).
How long will it take to get there? Getting to Kamakura is best by train. It takes about an hour on the JR Yokosuka line and costs about 940 yen each way. If you don’t mind paying a little more, you can take the green car and have a much more comfortable seat. This is especially nice for the return trip at the end of the day when those feet are crying.
Best restaurant for lunch: We have so many restaurants we love in Kamakura, but for a really nice traditional tonkatsu lunch, we recommend Kamakura Katsutei Aratama Sohonten for some of the best breaded pork cutlet around.
- Private History and Heritage Tour by Rickshaw
- Kamakura Temples Private Guided Tour
- Daibutsu Hiking Trail Tour with Local Guide
Enoshima, while not well-known to foreign tourists, is a hot spot for Japanese tourists. The reason? It’s cute. It’s quirky. It’s just a great little day out from Tokyo or other spots on the Kanto Plain.
This is a small island, and getting to Enoshima is half the fun, especially if you are coming from Kamakura. The historic Enoden electric train is a famous draw all by itself. Camera-clicking tourists line up to get photos of it as it passes, because of its classic look.
Once you stop, you walk across a causeway to reach the island where you can meander through bright and colorful gardens leading to the Sea Candle. The Sea Candle is a modern tower that lights up at night. Photos of the sunset and Sea Candle are highly sought after as well.
One of the best parts of visiting Enoshima is wandering through the cute town and fun souvenir shops along the way. Be sure to try one of the crazy octopus crackers!
How long will it take to get there? It takes about two hours by train and overhead monorail. Take the JR East JK, JT, or JO line from Tokyo Station to Ofuna Station then transfer to the Shonan Monorail and ride to Shonan-Enoshima station. Alternatively, take the Enoden electric train from Kamakura as described above.
Best restaurant for lunch: Kimura is a cozy little restaurant serving fresh seafood. Try the oysters!
Mount Takao – Takaosan
Takaosan, or Mount Takao, is someplace that took me a while to get to. I’d heard how wonderful it was, but somehow it wasn’t high on my list of things to do. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Takaosan is a great place to get out, do some hiking, eat some great street food, see stunning views of the city, and just enjoy the Japanese culture.
To get to the top of the mountain, you can hike, ride a chairlift, or take the funicular. Whichever route you choose, there is still some more hiking to do around the mountain. One popular route is to hike to the top and then ride the cablecar or chairlift down. Whichever options you choose, the journey up the mountain is gorgeous. We went in the fall, and the trees were splashed with fall colors. Near the top of the mountain, there’s a great Buddhist temple and even a monkey park along the way.
How long will it take to get there? About 1.5 hours from Shinjuku station on the Keio line to Takaosanguchi station. From the station, walk to the well signed cablecar station for tickets or for the hiking trailhead.
Best restaurant for lunch: Beer Mount is an all you can eat and drink beer garden (2-hour limit) with great views, and the best thing is you can barbecue right at your table. Always fun.
Visiting Hakone is all about the water. This is one of the largest, and closest hot springs area near the Tokyo metropolitan area and well worth a visit for anyone wanting to experience Japanese Onsen in a mountain setting. There’s a huge lake where you can ride on a pirate boat or take another normal cruise, but more importantly, there are so many amazing onsens to check out.
The entire area around Hakone is a geothermal hotspot with gorgeous scenery and surprising things to do. For example, there are a number of art museums, great restaurants, and of course excellent shopping. Out favorite art museum in the area is the Okada Museum of Art with it’s picturesque foot onsen.
How long will it take to get there? Getting to Hakone on public transportation is fairly straightforward. Just take the JR East JT line from Tokyo station to Odawara station then transfer to the Odawara-Hakone bus to get up into the mountains. Total travel time is less than two hours.
Best restaurant for lunch: The Ten-yu Onsen, which is also a great place to bathe, has a wonderful soba restaurant. We loved it.
An underrated city for sure, Odawara is a quiet gem. It’s got one of the closest samurai castles to Tokyo, and that alone makes it worth the trip.
The castle is surrounded by a moat, and the reflections are gorgeous. Small enough to walk through in an hour or so. You can spend some time in the Ninja museum on-site as well.
However, if you are there in March, you will want to visit the plum festival, which has bright fuchsia flowers popping throughout the valley, and there are tons of street food booths to try all kinds of things as well.
How long will take to get there? Take the JR East JT line from Tokyo station to Odwara station. Travel time is about one hour.
Best restaurant for lunch: For a good lunch and a laugh, Fusion Dining F, supposedly has “western” food, although there’s nothing western about it. The food is tasty, though.
Probably our closest day trip to Tokyo, Yokohama promises a real taste of Asia. Its biggest draw is its Chinatown, which has the best dumplings in Japan. This is also the perfect place to celebrate lunar new year with colorful lanterns and decorations adroning the narrow streets and shop fronts.
However, there’s plenty more to do in Yokohama. You can visit the Cup Noodle museum and make your own ramen, visit a tall sailing ship, the Maru, take a bay cruise, or visit the Kirin Brewery for a free tour.
No matter what, you will have a fantastic time.
How long will it take to get there? Less than an hour on the Jr East JKline from Tokyo station to the Ishikawacho station in downtown Yokohama near Chinatown.
Best restaurant for lunch: We highly suggest you go to Chinatown and get some amazing dumplings. Every place we stopped, we were happy, but we never really sat down. If you are looking for a good sit-down then try Manchinro.
- Private Tour With a Local Expert
- Private Welcome Tour with a Local
- Eat Like a Local Private & Personalized Tour
For a good hike and some beautiful Buddha statues, Nokogiriyama is the place to go. It is one of the more challenging places to get to, but if you can, it’s well worth it.
The best part of getting there is taking the ferry from Kurihama to Kanaya. While you are on it, the sea eagles are vying for chips and treats and as the people feed them, you can be awed by their huge claws.
Once there, you walk or drive to the ropeway that takes you most of the way up the mountain, but of course, it is just the start of your hike. Being out in the fresh mountain air makes for a great day out of the city.
How long will take to get there? It will take about two hours total travel time from Tokyo to Kurihama, across the bay on the ferry, and then walking to the gondola station.
Best restaurant for lunch: There’s not much for restaurants in this area. There are two ramen shops and two fish restaurants. After a great day of hiking, we liked the ramen.
A surprise for the tourist, Kawagoe, is one of those places that not a lot of foreigners make it to. It’s very popular for Japanese tourists, and they often will bring their kimonos to walk around the old streets for some fantastic photos.
We went on a rainy day, and even with that, we had a great time. There is a nice temple to visit, but the real draw is the street with lots of old warehouses along it. It’s turned into a shopping mecca, and it was just a lot of fun.
Of course, with the rain, we felt obliged to spend a little time in the state-of-the-art Starbucks while we were there as well.
How long will it take to get there? Take the Shinjuku line from Seibu-Shinjuku station to Honkawagoe station and then walk to the little Edo Warehouse District. The journey takes about ninety minutes.
Best restaurant for lunch: We recommend Family Restaurant, especially if you have kids. The menu is diverse, and that makes everyone happy.
A huge naval port, both for Japan and the U.S., Yokosuka has a lot to offer on a day trip. The area down by the huge Japanese naval ships is a park where you can take a boat ride out into the bay and marvel at the massive navy ships.
You can also visit the historic Japanese battleship, the Mikasa, take a boat ride to Monkey Island, and of course, visit a beautiful temple. One of the best parts of visiting Yokosuka, though, is just being able to walk around this small city and eat at the many excellent restaurants.
How long will take to get there? The Keikyu Kurihama main line from Shibuya station to Yokosuka Chuo station, about one hour.
Best restaurant for lunch: There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Yokosuka, and we’ve eaten at most of them. Yokosuka is known for its curry, though, so I would try to eat at Cafe Terrace Wood Island if you can. You will want to get there pretty early, though, because there’s always a line.
Tokyo is a huge metropolis with tons of things to do and see, and it’s well worth spending quite a bit of time there. However, pounding the pavement can take a lot out of you, so we highly suggest you take a day tour from Tokyo, so that you can refresh yourself and see something completely different.
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.