Tokyo is a terrific home base for taking day trips, which let you take a breather from the busy capital and see different sides of Japan. From the capital city, travelers can hop on trains or buses and arrive at natural hot springs, theme parks, and oceanfront towns in three hours or less.
Rather than renting a car, make the most of Japan’s inexpensive public transportation system that runs like clockwork. From Tokyo, you can ride the subway directly to popular destinations such as Yokohama and Kawagoe. Day-trippers can also experience a variety of nature adventures near the city, from hiking Mount Fuji to skiing in Yuzuwa. Whether you love food, museums, or beaches, here are a range of ideas for exploring areas close to Tokyo for a day.
Fukushima City: 90 minutes by train
Travel to Fukushima City for a taste of Tohoku, the northern region known for its cooler climate, mountain ranges, and outstanding food culture that specializes in sake, seafood, and rice. Try sake (rice liquor) from breweries founded over 100 years ago by samurai, and juicy grapes and peaches from local producers. Sample two styles of local ramen, named after the nearby cities where they originated: Kitikata is known for its noodles in clear broth, while Koriyama specializes in a “black ramen” with a dark, mellow soy sauce base. Walk off the meal in the expansive Hanamiyama Park, a popular picnic spot in the spring when the trees turn pink with sakura blossoms. End the relaxing day with a soak in Iizaka Onsen, which has been recognized for its therapeutic healing waters since Japan’s feudal days.
How to get from Tokyo to Fukushima: The fastest way to travel to Fukushima from Tokyo is by booking the Tohoku shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Fukushima Station. The scenic bullet train journey takes about an hour and a half.
Enoshima: 90 minutes by train or bus
With its gentle beaches and views of Mount Fuji, it’s no surprise that Enoshima—a small island located south of Tokyo—is a beloved summer destination for locals. Spend time sunning on the long stretches of sand, and then cool off with a walk through the Iwaya Caves by the ocean. Visit the island’s shrines and temples including the main Enoshima Shrine, which is dedicated to the bodhisattva Benten. Other popular attractions include Enoshima Aquarium, Samuel Cocking Garden, and the Sea Candle, a lighthouse with panoramic views. Savor a seafood dinner at Enoshima-tei that overlooks the bay at sunset, and soak in the hot springs at Enoshima Island Spa before heading home.
How to get from Tokyo to Enoshima: From Shinjuku Station or Tokyo Station, it takes about an hour and a half to reach Enoshima by bus or train. If you’re starting in Shinjuku, simply ride the direct Romancecar express train on the Odakyu Line to Katase-Enoshima Station.
Hakone and Lake Ashi: 2 hours by bus or train
The mountainous Hakone is famous for its onsen, or open-air hot springs, and spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Take a walk along the shores of Lake Ashi, or book a boat tour to admire the scenery from the water. Then, hit up Hakone’s top attractions including the outdoor sculptures at the Open-Air Museum. Go up to the top of Mount Komagatake by the Hakone Ropeway, a cable car with views of Lake Ashi and Fuji-san. Hike Owakudani valley to see volcanic activity up close, followed by a soak in its hot springs. Finally, see Japan’s spiritual culture at Hakone Shrine, a Shinto complex with bright red architecture and large torii gates.
How to get from Tokyo to Hakone and Lake Ashi: From Shinjuku Station, you can board the Odakyu Romancecar express train for Hakone-Yumoto Station. Alternatively, from Tokyo Station, take the Tokaido bullet train to Odawara Station, followed by a short bus or local train to Hakone.
Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji: 3 hours by train or bus
Take a day trip to see Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest and most recognizable mountain. Start at Lake Kawaguchi, which is located at the base of the mountain and has many lovely viewing points. Take a boat out on the water, or ascend the Kachi Kachi Ropeway to photograph Fuji-san from an observation deck. Then visit two local theme parks: Kawaguchiko Musical Forest, a music-themed European garden, and Fuji-Q Highland, an amusement park with thrilling roller-coasters. Hikers can go up the slopes of Mount Fuji or trek the nearby Aokigahara Forest, also known as the Sea of Trees.
How to get from Tokyo to Mount Fuiki: From Tokyo Station, take the Chuo Line to Otsuki Station, and then transfer to the Fujikyu Railway Line for Kawaguchiko Station. From there, the main attractions are a quick bus or taxi ride away.
Hitachi Seaside Park: 2 hours by train or bus
Hitachi Seaside Park is a spectacular outdoor experience in Ibaraki Prefecture that lets you see hundreds of species of flowers spread over 470 acres. Hitachi Seaside Park has a small entrance fee of about $4.50 US, which gives you access to its many gardens and facilities. It is best known for its five million Nemophila flowers that turn the hills into a sea of pastel blue and white in the springtime. Go up Miharashi Hill, which is covered in red kochia bushes in the fall. Ride the Ferris wheel for views of the Pacific Ocean, and stroll through the colorful tulip, sunflower, and rose gardens.
How to get from Tokyo to Hitachi Seaside Park: Take the JR Joban Line from Ueno Station to Katsuta Station. Then, hire a taxi or ride the Ibaraki Kotsu bus 30 minutes to the park. Or, board the limited express Joban train from Tokyo Station to Mito Station, and transfer to the Hitachi Seaside Park Liner Bus.
Odawara Castle City: 60-90 minutes by bus or train
Get a glimpse of Japan’s past in Odawara, a stately castle city located southwest from Tokyo with a population of nearly 200,000. Begin the day at the ruins of Odawara Castle, which was originally built in the 15th century and features a bronze gate and wide moat. Learn about the feudal era of daimyo rulers and samurai warriors, and see views of the surrounding mountains from the top of the castle. Then, meander on Nakasendo Road, which connected Edo (Tokyo’s former name) and Kyoto, and is lined with period architecture and temples. Lunch on fresh-caught seafood at the Odawara fish market, and spend a tranquil afternoon admiring rare plant species in the Tsujimura Botanical Gardens.
How to get from Tokyo to Odawara: To reach Odawara in about an hour, take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station, and then board the Hakone Tozan Bus for Odawara Castle. You can also ride the Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus from Shinjuku Station West Exit to Odawara Castle, which takes about an hour and 40 minutes.
Kamakura: 1 hour by train
Pay a visit to the famed bronze Buddha at the seaside city of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture. Bow to the Great Buddha at Kotoku-in Temple, which is 44 feet tall and depicts the Enlightened One meditating in a lotus position. Also known as the Daibutsu, the statue dates back to 1252 and is a National Treasure of Japan. After, visit the 8th century Hasedera Temple famed for its 82 feet high wood statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. End the day at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, a historic Shinto site known for its peony gardens. Visitors can also climb the stairs to the top of the shrine for 360 degree vistas of the ocean.
How to get from Tokyo to Kamakura: Day-trippers can reach Kamakura in approximately an hour from Tokyo Station by taking the Yokosuka line to Kamakura Station, or the Shonan-Shinjuku line from Shinjuku Station to Kamakura Station.
Yokohama: 20-30 minutes by train
Japan’s second most populated city, Yokohama, has a variety of attractions to please families and pop culture lovers. Ramen aficionados can slurp up samples at the Cup Noodle Museum, which chronicles the invention of instant noodles. Children will squeal over the gigantic displays at the Anpanman Museum, dedicated to the cute red bean bread character and his friends. Jpop and “kawaii” fans can also visit Dick Bruna Table to get immersed in the world of Miffy, and shop the Pokemon Center and Snoopy Town for character goods. Don’t miss out on Sankeien Garden with its artful lotus ponds, tea houses, and wood bridges. Visitors can also eat street food at Yokohama’s Chinatown, which is the largest in Japan, and go up the 70 story high Yokohama Landmark Tower for views of the city.
How to get from Tokyo to Yokohama: The fastest way to get to Yokohama from Tokyo is by taking the Tokaido shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Shin-Yokohama Station, which takes 18 minutes. For a less costly route that takes 30 minutes, board the Ueno-Tokyo subway line from Tokyo Station to Yokohama Station. Alternatively, take the Shonan-Shinjuku or Toyoko line from Shibuya Station, and you’ll arrive at Yokohama Station in thirty minutes.
Puroland: 45 minutes by train
Enter the cute and colorful world of Hello Kitty at Puroland, her theme park in the outskirts of Tokyo. Visitors arrive at a sparkling rainbow gate, which leads them into the Japanese cat mascot’s royal castle. At Puroland, you can snap photos with your favorite Sanrio characters such as Pompompurin and My Melody, and take an amusement park “boat ride” through the palace. Order a selection of themed food, such as curry and parfaits decorated to look like the adorable characters. Also catch the live theater performance, a glitzy affair with dancing characters and parade floats.
How to get from Tokyo to Puroland: To reach Hello Kitty’s theme park directly from Shinjuku Station, take the Odakyu line to Tama Center Station. Then, hop on the free shuttle bus to Sanrio Puroland. The total travel time is around 45 minutes, and entry to Puroland is about $25 US.
Naritasan: 60-90 minutes by train
See an impressive Shingon Buddhist temple near Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Naritasan Shinshoji is an enormous complex that was founded around 940 ACE, and designed in a mix of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles. Wander through the carved wooden gate to the courtyard, and into meditation halls and pagodas topped with red upturned eaves. On the narrow Omotesando street that leads to Naritasan, you can sample local snacks from food vendors and shop for artisanal crafts. Also spend time in the adjoining Naritasan park, which has a large pond and strolling paths framed by cherry blossom trees.
How to get from Tokyo to Naritasan: To get to Naritasan from Tokyo, ride the Narita Express train from Tokyo Station, Shibuya Station, or Shinjuku Station. Exit at Narita Station and walk about 15 minutes to the temple. The entire journey takes about 60 to 90 minutes.
Kawagoe: 30-45 minutes by train
Nicknamed “Little Edo,” Kawagoe is a town that feels as if it was frozen in time several centuries ago. Be awed by the traditional architecture of Kurazukuri Street, a stretch of warehouses with dark, clay-tiled peaked roofs built in the Edo era (1603-1867). Sit down for an unagi rice bowl at one of the many eel restaurants; since eating meat was forbidden in Japan from 675 ACE to the mid-19th century, merchants in Kawagoe specialized in selling eel from nearby rivers. If you arrive on the 8th, 18th, or 28th of the month, you can participate in the “Kimono Day” festivities by renting a yukata or kimono. Join others wearing traditional garments at Kita-in Temple, which has a three-story pagoda and bell tower. At Kawagoe Hikawa, a Shinto shrine dedicated to love and relationships, couples can engage in rituals such as walking through a tunnel of wooden plaques.
How to get from Tokyo to Kawagoe: If you’re traveling from Tokyo, ride the Seibu Shinjuku line thirty minutes from Ikebukuro Station to Kawagoe Station. Day trippers can also take the Tobu Tojo line from Ikebukuro Station to Kawagoe Station, arriving in 45 minutes.
Mount Takao: 1 hour by train
Take a hike at Mount Takao, an accessible outdoor destination with tall waterfalls and views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji. Takao has a variety of trails at all levels of difficulty, including the popular Omotesando path that takes you to the top in about 90 minutes (it’s mostly paved and not too steep, making it a good choice for beginners). Visitors can also ride the cable car up to the halfway point to admire the scenery. Pay homage to the bird-like mountain goblin Tengu at Takaosan Yakuoin Temple, which hosts a fire-walking ceremony every year in March. Also swing by Mt Takao Monkey Park to feed and learn about the local red-faced Japanese macaques. After a long day of hiking, reward yourself with a soak in the natural hot springs of Keio Takaosan.
How to get from Tokyo to Mount Takao: From Tokyo, ride the Keio Line from Shinjuku Station to Takaosanguchi Station, and then walk to the trailhead. The trip to Mount Takao takes about an hour.
Best day trips from Tokyo by train
Travelers can access a diversity of experiences within a few hours journey from Tokyo. The best day trips have fast and direct routes, and a range of activities that fit your specific interests. Nature-lovers can consider the beaches of Enoshima, or go hiking at Mount Fuji or Mount Takao. Hitachi Seaside Park is a great choice for those who adore flowers and foliage, especially in the spring and fall when the colors are at full intensity. Culture and history buffs will love getting immersed in the past at Kawagoe and Odawara, while spiritual seekers may visit Kamakura and Naritasan temples, and foodies can eat their way through Fukushima City.
Best day trips from Tokyo in winter
Mount Fuji is lovely in the winter when its peak is topped with snow and Lake Kawaguchi is dotted with ice. A steaming hot spring bath in Hakone is also especially satisfying in the coldest months. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, take a day trip to Yuzuwa in the winter to hit the slopes. At the popular resorts Kandatsu Kogen and Gala Yuzawa, visitors can rent equipment and take lessons, or simply enjoy the snow-coated surroundings and onsen baths. From Tokyo Station, board the Joetsu shinkansen to Gala Yuzawa Station or Echigo Yuzawa Station; the trip to Yuzuwa takes under 90 minutes.
Best day trips from Tokyo for families
Children can enjoy “kawaii” cute culture at the Hello Kitty theme park Puroland, and Jpop attractions in Yokohama such as the Anpanman Museum and Pokemon Center. Another family favorite is the Ghibli Museum, which celebrates Hayao Miyazaki’s anime films including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. Admire Miyazaki’s sketches, pose with smiling character statues, and purchase limited edition memorabilia such as a Catbus stuffed toy. Families can also make memories at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, which is themed around sea exploration. The popular amusement parks have classic rides like Space Mountain, and food decorated to look like Mickey Mouse and friends.
Admission to the Ghibli Museum is about $7.50 US. Take the Chuo Line from Tokyo Station to Mitaka Station followed by a short walk, to arrive in 30 minutes. To get to Tokyo Disney Resort from Tokyo, ride the Keiyo Line from Tokyo Station to Maihama Station, and you’ll be at the gates in 20 minutes. There are also shuttle buses to Disneyland available from various locations, such as Shinjuku Station. A single-day ticket to Disneyland or DisneySea is around $61 US.