Your senses will be on overload when you spend any amount of time in Tokyo. While it is fun and exciting to explore this vibrant, hectic city, you will probably want to schedule a day trip from Tokyo to get in touch with the serenity of Japanese culture. Hop on a bullet train at Tokyo's Ikebukuro Station and start exploring.
If you are planning on traveling to reach some of these destinations outside of Tokyo, check into the JR Tokyo Wide Pass for discounted train tickets. Some of the best day trips from Tokyo are only a short train ride away. Before you head out of the city you will want to spend some time visiting the best museums and attractions. Then you can drop your bags at a Tokyo luggage locker before venturing out of the city to marvelous places beyond.
Tour breathtaking castles, dine on fresh seafood, hike through a national forest, meditate inside a gilded Buddhist temple, or lounge on the beach and soak up some sun. Visit Tokyo Bay, and the Fuji Five Lakes, or explore the Yokohama Marine Tower. Keep reading to learn more about the best day trips from Tokyo.
How to get out of Tokyo
It can be intimidating trying to get around a new city, especially one as big as Tokyo. Learn how to get around Tokyo so you are prepared and equipped to pick the best mode of transportation to get you to your destination.
Driving yourself or using a taxi service is usually the quickest way to get from point A to point B, but taxis can be pretty expensive. Taking the train or bus is the most economical choice but can take a bit longer. A good thing about the bus is you get to see more of the countryside and see the beauty of Japan.
Whether you are traveling solo or with a friend or two, signing up for a guided tour really is the way to go. Day trips from Tokyo using a tour company can take the guesswork out of the trip and gives you the chance to sit back and enjoy the experience.
From Tokyo to Odawara City
A fabulous day trip from Tokyo is to Odawara, where you'll find the closest castle to Tokyo. The castle has been fully restored to its Edo-period glory and exploring this massive and breathtaking castle keep is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. Odawara is just over an hour outside of Tokyo.
Stop by the Odawara Fish Market Den in the fishing port for a delicious bowl of donburi or rice bowl with freshly caught fish. The busyness of the port is a wonderful place to watch locals go about their daily lives. After lunch, take a leisurely stroll through the Tsujimura Botanical Gardens before you make your way back to the big city.
How to get to Odawara City
Taking the train from Tokyo only takes about a half hour unless you decide to see a bit more of the countryside before getting to Odawara. You can choose to pass through Yoyogi-Uehara on your way to Odawara, that trip takes just over two hours. You can also choose to go through Shin-Yokohama to Odawara, that train ride is only about 50 minutes long.
And of course, you have the option to drive yourself if you are comfortable driving in a different country and have the proper documents. Taxis are not usually a choice due to the expense.
From Tokyo to Kamakura
Hop on a train at Tokyo Station and head to Kamakura, which is less than an hour from Tokyo. Best known for the shrines and temples with their traditional Kyoto style. Come meditate and feel at peace as you make your way through Kamakura.
Wear sturdy shoes, there are several wonderful hiking trails throughout that you can explore. A few of the hiking trails will lead you to the Daibutsu-den, or giant Buddha statue, and luxurious shrines, teahouses, and so much more. Take a stroll through the nearby bamboo forests.
When you get hungry, check out the amazing local street food vendors offering delicious local dishes from the southern coast of Kanagawa Prefecture. Even with so much to see, you can easily cover the area during one of your day trips.
If you are looking for half-day trips, Kamakura is a great option. You can enjoy the beach, stroll through manicured gardens, and visit sprawling and elaborate temples. Kamakura is also becoming popular with surfers because of the smooth-rolling waves coming into the coast.
Take a ride on the Enoshima Electric Railway, an adorable green electric train that is one of the biggest attractions and the best mode of transportation to get between Kamakura and Fujisawa. The train still looks much like it did when it first opened in 1922. It is more than just a cable car, it is a historic attraction.
How to get to Kamakura
Unlike traveling to Odawara, taking a taxi to Kamakura is possible and it is about a 50-minute drive from Tokyo. Aside from driving, the cheapest way to get to Kamakura is by train. The train ride will only take just under an hour. The bus is also an option but will take you two and a half hours to arrive in Kamakura.
From Tokyo to Enoshima
On sweltering days, staying in Tokyo may not be your preferred option with all its skyscrapers and concrete. Taking a day trip to Enoshima, one of the most popular beach resorts near Tokyo, is just what you need on a hot day. Hop on the train at Tokyo Station and head to Enoshima. There is an island that can be easily reached from the train station, a beautiful beach to stretch out on, and crystal water to dip your toes.
As you walk along either to or from the train station, you will be able to visit gardens, shrines, and even the Sea Candle lighthouse. There are interesting caves to explore and help you cool off. You can also sign up for a guided tour that will take you through Enoshima to visit several of the attractions including the Shinto shrine and the observation deck where you can even see Mount Fuji on a clear day.
How to get to Enoshima
The recommended way to get to Enoshima from Tokyo is by train, this is usually the cheapest way to travel and will take about an hour to get there. If you want to get to Enoshima quicker, you can hire a taxi but this will cost quite a bit. You can also drive yourself if you are able. The bus is another inexpensive option and will take almost three hours to arrive from Tokyo.
From Tokyo to Ashikaga City
Located in the Tochigi Prefecture, Ashikaga City is one of the best places in Japan to visit during the spring. The Great Wisteria Festival is held every year at the Ashikaga Flower Park. There are over 350 wisteria trees on display during the festival along with several other beautiful seasonal flowers.
The Ashikaga Flower Park is also the host of an annual illumination event in the winter. With over five million LED lights covering the theme park, it creates one of the most colorful and best illumination spots in the country.
Even if you are visiting Tokyo when Ashikaga City is not hosting some fantastic event, this city should still be on the list for the best Tokyo day trips. Being the birthplace of the Ashikaga clan, the history of the city will make you want to learn more about these people who ruled Japan from 1333 to 1573.
Be sure to visit the Ashikaga School and several of the historic monuments and temples when you are here. It is an important part of Japanese history and is a must-see when you are in the area.
How to get to Ashikaga City
Hop on the train at Tokyo Station and take the direct route which will take you almost two hours to get to Ashikaga City. If you are on a tight budget, take the train that transfers at the Kuki Station, it will save you a little money and also takes almost two hours to reach Ashikaga City.
From Tokyo to Nikko
While Nikko itself is filled with ancient wooden temples that have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the surrounding region is filled with fascinating forests, onsen, and waterfalls. One of the best Tokyo day trips has to be a day at Lake Chuzenji and a stroll through Nikko. Start at the Nikko Station and start exploring.
When you are exploring Nikko, do not forget to visit the Nikko Tosho-gu, a Shinto shrine that is best known for the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkey carvings that have become world-famous. While the shrine is always crowded, there is a tranquil feel about the site that makes you take a deep breath and relax.
The gorgeous craftsmanship of the shrine, including the monkey carvings, is something you have to see to believe. With the huge ancient trees growing around the shrine, you feel separated from the rest of the world when here.
Hike some of the trails at the Nikko National Park and get in touch with nature. Instead of a day trip, make it into a weekend trip and spend a few days exploring all the park has to offer. When you visit Tokyo, make sure you make time to visit Nikko.
How to get to Nikko
Getting to Nikko requires a long train or bus but it is well worth the extra time traveling when you finally reach your destination. Traveling by train is the most budget-friendly option and will take you just over two and a half hours. Bus fare is reasonable, but usually not as cheap as the train, and it will take about three hours to reach Nikko.
From Tokyo to Takasaki
Located in Gunma, Takasaki is just under two hours from Tokyo and is a definite hidden gem. While not many people think of Takasaki as a touristy city, it is home to the daruma doll, a rather popular angry-faced figure that represents Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma is a legendary monk that was credited for bringing Buddhism to China.
The daruma can be traced back to the end of the 17th century when a priest named Shinetsu started giving out simple paintings to local farmers to protect them from evil and misfortune. The paintings were of the same figure. The 9th head priest of the temple then carved the first daruma doll from a piece of driftwood.
The priest then taught the farmers how to carve the figures as a way to make extra money during times of famine. Over 80% of daruma dolls are still made in Takasaki today. When you visit, you can see some of the craftsmen at work creating these iconic figures. Plan your visit at the beginning of January for the Takasaki Daruma Ichi, a market specifically for daruma dolls and souvenirs.
If you are truly interested in darumas, visit the - where you will see them in every shape and size. The Jigen-in Temple is near the White-Robed Kannon which is one of the largest Kannon statues in Japan standing at 131 feet tall.
How to get to Takasaki
Takasaki is 62 miles from Tokyo and while driving is an option, if you are unfamiliar with the area, it may be best to use public transportation. A 50-minute train ride will take you from Tokyo to Takasaki whereas you will be on the bus for a little over two hours.
Discover Terrific Tokyo Day Trips
Whether you are planning a pilgrimage route, taking a ride on the Shinkansen bullet train, or taking relaxing on a pirate ship cruise, you will find so much to keep you busy in Tokyo and within an hour or two of the city. When you visit Japan, you will want to see the great Buddha and Mt. Fuji.
Secure your good fortune and bring home a daruma. There is a whole street dedicated to shopping and learning about Japanese culture. Outdoor adventures await you in a national park, the Hitachi Seaside park, or Tokyo Disneyland. Plan to visit when the cherry blossoms are blooming for a spectacular sight.
If you have time, check out some of the train stations outside the city center including the Shinagawa Station, Shinjuku Station, and Yokohama Station. Do a little museum hopping and check out the many Ramen museums in the area; there is also an interesting folk museum you will want to visit.
Trips from Tokyo can include visiting a hot spring town or a castle town, learning about the local specialty dishes, taking a round trip bus tour, or spending time at Lake Ashi. Both fun and excitement are waiting for you when you visit Tokyo.