You can easily spend more than five days in Tokyo and have plenty to discover. (In fact, I made a list of 100 cool things to do in Tokyo.) However, Japan has so many wonderful destinations to offer, even in just the vicinity of Tokyo.
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Tokyo Travel Trips
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Tokyo has many amazing areas to stay in for your daily explorations, such as Harajuku, Asakusa or Shibuya. However, if you want to be strategically placed for day trips as well, you ideally would stay close to Tokyo station.
This way, you don’t have to travel on Tokyo’s metro and bus lines and change multiple times before boarding your train to your outward destination.
There are various Tokyo Station hotels in the area, ranging from budget to luxury. I wrote up an overview of the best hotels near Tokyo Station.
If you need some quick tips, the best budget accommodation at Tokyo Station is FIRST CABIN Kyobashi. Prices start at ¥ 7,700 (tax included). It’s essentially a capsule hotel albeit a bit larger and has space for your luggage as well.
Just don’t expect too much, it’s meant for sleeping only. You can’t stay during the day as there are cleaning hours. Check availability here to avoid it being booked out during your stay. (Especially holidays, cherry blossom or red maple season are crazy popular.)
Top 5 Things to Pack for Tokyo
- Portable Wifi – Even though Tokyo has gotten so much better with public wifi hotspots in main locations as well as in convenience stores and coffee shops, you are much more independent with your own wifi hotspot. You can’t buy a local sim card in Japan.
And if you want to get straight to Tokyo instead of queuing at the airport for a tourist sim card or hotspot, sort it out in advance. You can easily order your unlimited pocket wifi online here. After all, you can quickly get a little lost on your Tokyo day trips.
- Travel insurance – Yes, Japan is a safe country with a good health system. (Except maybe when it comes to dental care.) But it’s best to be prepared than regret having to spend a ridiculous amount of money because you had an accident, a sudden visit to the doctor or your luggage got lost on your flight. Travel insurance like WorldNomads covers it all in one.
- Travel guides – Japan has so much to offer and an expert travel guide such as from Lonely Planet goes a long way to finding true gems. Even if you roughly know which attractions you want to see (such as Robot Restaurant), it will tell you where you definitely need to book in advance or queue for hours in the early mornings. (Like Robot Restaurant or Skytree.)
- External Battery – Wandering around with your wifi hotspot, checking your maps, schedules, booking tickets, taking photos, etc will drain your phone battery fast. That is why, wherever I go, I always have my light and powerful external battery and short charging cable with me.
- Lens cleaner – Are you wearing glasses or have a camera with you? Chances are they will need some cleaning at one point. When I’m out and about and just want a quick clean I sometimes resort to using soap and water and gently clean with a soft cloth. However, the soap in Japan’s public toilets leaves terrible smears. Pack your lens cleaning fluid and lens wiping cloth!
Read this too: The Full Packing List for Japan
Tokyo to Chiba Prefecture
With Chiba bordering on the West of Tokyo and many a traveller to Japan actually arriving at Narita airport, you can already tick off some day trips from Tokyo to Chiba Prefecture on the way to Japan’s capital.
If you want a super easy day trip, you could just take the traditional boat from Shibamata across the river and you’re already in Chiba! It is the last remaining traditional boat crossing in Tokyo and known as no Watashi river crossing.
Chiba is the capital of the prefecture of Chiba. It might be a big city but you nonetheless can enjoy a nature getaway at Tone River in Chiba. Rent a boat, try your hand at fishing or just go on a hike.
Are you a sports lover? Then you should get your tickets for the local baseball at Chiba Marine Stadium. The Japanese are obsessed with baseball and the stadium vibe of up to 30,000 fans is just contagious!
Narita is known for its airport but really, it really is quite special in its own right. You gotta book day tours from Tokyo for it! Just walk towards Narita-san temple and you will be quickly immersed in the old Japan flair.
Omotesando Street is exceptionally charming with its dark wooden houses and local vendors selling handcrafted items and foods, such as intricate chopsticks and the delicacy unagi (eel).
But back to the temple. It is massive! Narita-san (成田山) spans quite a large area with a five story pagoda, waterfall and lake. The temple is dedicated to the Japanese deity Ācala, who stands for fire.
That is because the temple was built in response to a victory over samurai who rebelled against the government.
Sawara is a prehistoric settlement with charming canals past its preserved and restored traditional residences in the centre. Being a port city as well, it became an important trading hub. Nowadays though, it mostly feels like a big outdoor museum and is known as “Little Edo”.
To really get a better feel, rather than just walking across the many bridges or doing a boat tour, you should step into Tadataka Museum. If you’re looking for good timing, visit for the Sawara Matsuri. This is a local festival in which giant mythological dolls are paraded through the streets.
Hiking lovers on a one day trip from Tokyo will need to put Nokogiriyama on their wishlist. It’s also referred to as “Saw Mountain” and features the biggest Buddha in Japan. If the mysterious name doesn’t sound enough like a challenge, then maybe its protruding overhang called “Peek into Hell” (Jigoku-Nozoki) is.
From the Yokohama harbour, you can take the cable car to the top for amazing lookouts over Tokyo Bay and sometimes all the way up to Mt Fuji. The path towards Nihon-ji temple and its Arhat statues, Buddha and tea house isn’t far either.
For coastal getaways, Tateyama is ideal with its Tateyama Bay and Tokyo Bay. It features its own castle with the surrounding Shiroyama Park. In case you’re into WWII history, put on safety helmet and duck your way through tunnels at the Red Mount underground Goato.
A popular one for tourists doing Tokyo day trips is the small Buddhist temple Daifuku-ji. It belongs to the Chizen Sect of Shingon Buddhism and was founded when Nara was still the capital of Japan. Buddhism is split into various branches in Japan.
Read this too: A Day Trip to Nara from Osaka
Is the coast now enough to get away from the business on a Tokyo day trip? Get a ferry ticket and take yourself out to Jogashima Island off of Misaki. Pack swimwear and hike around the rugged coastline. You can do that easily in an afternoon as it’s not very big.
Before you do that, however, get some fresh fish in the small fishing town Misaki. It has its own fish market in the mornings until 9AM.
Tokyo to Saitama Prefecture
For the best day trips from Tokyo to Saitama Prefecture, you have quite a few destinations to choose from.
Did you know that Kawagoe had its own snack street? Well, you gotta try it on your day trip from Tokyo! What Kawagoe is also worth making the day trip from Tokyo for is the Hikawa Shrine with its many tori gates. (A little like Fushimi Inari in Kyoto.)
Japan’s cities are best explored by foot as you can soak up the atmosphere and slow down your pace this way. Especially a place steeped in history and with amazing religious sites like Kawagoe needs that. So book a local guide, hear about the history and get shown around to all the insider places!
Read this too: The Top 15 Epic Spots for Seeing Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto
Chichibu has its very own mosss phlox carpets during late spring in Hitsujiyama Park. An absolute must see! For more nature, make a hike up mount Kumotori your goal.
The peak is 2017 metres high and lies right on the border of three prefectures. (If you reach it, you can say you’ve been to Tokyo, Saitama und Yamanashi at the same time!)
A renowned local shrine is the shinto Chichibu Shrine. It is said to date back to the tenth year of Emperor Sujin. It is a great place to experience Japanese traditional festivals, such as the annual night festival of Chichibu during December 1-6.
Tokyo to Ibaraki Prefecture
Hitachi Seaside Park
This park is an absolute stunner. It’s so pretty during spring and summer particularly. Each week, there are new Japanese flowers blooming (check the flower calendar for the park – or Japan flowers in general). The most popular one, however, is the baby blue nemophilathat lays like a blanket on the meadows.
Are you travelling in autumn? No problem, the fierce red leaves of the metasequoia are a true sight to behold then! Hitachi Seaside Park isn’t just for flowers. Enter the park at the central entrance during autumn to still catch pink roses and daisougen flowers, too. For winter visits, you can check out the glass house and roubai plants.
Adrenaline junkies, listen up! Ryujin-ootsurihashi Bridge is pretty much made for bungee jumping and that’s exactly what you’ll want to do here. Create unforgettable memories over stunning Japanese landscapes far and wide and experience the highest bungee jump in Japan.
The best season for a visit is autumn with its vibrant colours. You can book your adventure in advance to secure your spot and even include a second time. I’ve found one that also covers the insurance fee for the jump (not all regular travel insurance does that) and provides transport for a Tokyo day trip. Check availability here.
Tokyo to Tochigi Prefecture
One day trip from Tokyo that is a must is Nikko (日光市, Nikkō-shi). It is one of the historically most significant towns in Japan. It’s no wonder you find UNESCO World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples in this town.
After all, Nikko developed and grew around these remarkable religious sites. You can freely walk around many of them, including the beautifully decorated Toshogu shrine (Tōshō-gū), the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Futarasan Shrine and Rinnō.
Read this too: How to Make the Most of Visiting Nikko
Besides its Shinto and Buddhist heritage, Nikko boasts absolutely stunning landscapes. It sits right at the edge of Nikko National Park, which includes boating around Lake Chuzenji, hikes up to Senjogahara field and various waterfalls, such as Kegon Falls, Ryuzu Waterfal, Kirifuri Waterfall and Yudaki Falls.
Mix both religion and nature at Kammangafuchi Gorge with the roughly 70 stone statues of Jizo, who protects the dead as well as newborn children. Cover all the main sights in one day with the help of a guide. Check availability here.
Ashikaga Flower Park
No matter the season, Ashikaga Flower Park is always stunning. Throughout most of the year, this super popular park hosts a wide range of flowers. These shine in all colours throughout the day and get illuminated beautifully at night. During winter, you can admire the wonderful light displays and installations.
Ashikaga Flower Park is particularly attractive during spring thanks to the wonderful wisteria tunnels in late April and early May. It’s open until late evening and if you come in the afternoon, you can see the transition from day to sunset and night. Just be aware that it’s always crowded. So avoid holidays (especially Golden Week) and weekends.
Read this too: Where to Best Admire the Japanese Wisteria Gardens
Tokyo to Gunma Prefecture
Tambara Ski Park
If you are as much into snow as I am, plan a day trip from Tokyo to Tambara Ski Park. It is locatd in Numata City and you can unleash your inner child through skiing, snow tubing and sledging.
If you book a guided day trip, you can even feast on Japanese crab and shrimp! Plus, not far away are strawberry fields. And strawberries are everything in Japan! Pick your very own ones. Check tour times for a full day of food and fun here.
It’s not Mount Fuji but Mount Haruna is likewise a beautiful destination. Rent a swan boat to paddle around Hauna lake and get super picturesque views over the mountain and landscape. At the western edge of town, you can also take advantage of the Hanadaka Flower-Viewing Hill. For the rape blossoms, come between mid April to early May and for cosmos flowers between mid September and mid October.
In case you want to pay a visit at Haruna Shrine, you can take the bus from Haruna train station to the train. The ride takes between 20-60 minutes. Get yourself a timetable before you board so you know when returns leave as English isn’t widely spoken. If you can, visit for Soba Festival at the end of November.
Onsen are one of my favourite must dos when in Japan. You can do it in the capital or on one day trip from Tokyo. An ideal destination for this is Kusatsu Onsen. It is one of the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan. As the resort sits high up on 1200 meters above sea level, you can combine your visit with excellent skiing at Kubatsu Ski Resort in winter.
One of the local symbols is the hot water field right in the middle of town, known as Yabatake. Another great hot spring viewing opportunity is up on Mount Shirane, a still active volcano, as well as in Sainokawara Park. To see the traditional way of cooling down hot water, witness a Yumomi performance.
Want to confuse your friends and family with a photo of a European castle in Japan? Head to Lockheart Castle. Inside you can find exhibitions dedicated to Christmas, international wedding dresses and jewellery. Plus, there is a library with over 1,000 castle related books!
Not just that, but the entire premises have been made to look like a medieval European town, complete with stone church, shops and restaurants. If you are bringing your love along, visit in spring and climb up the tower to ring the Spring Bell and bless your relationship.
Tokyo to Yamanashi Prefecture
There are various places from where you can explore Mount Fuji but Kawaguchiko has easily won my heart. You can catch a direct bus from here up to Fifth Station in case you want to actually stand on the mountain and see it up close. A full hike up to the top is only possible during the warmest weeks, usually in late August.
If you can make it so you visit during late April, you gotta see the famous Shibazakura Festival in Kawaguchiko! It is one of the best spots to see the colourful carpets of the purple and pink moss phlox. Other attractions in Kawaguchiko include Ice and Wind Caves, ancient Iyashinosato village and Fuji-Q Highland.
To avoid the trouble of long journey times as well as transfers between trains and buses, book a comfortable day trip to Mount Fuji including Japanese lunch and enty to the Oshino Ninja Village.
This is a hikers’ dream! Scenic mountains, pretty waterfalls and raging rivers make Okutama a breathtaking day trip from Tokyo. In the Nippara Cave, you can cool down on hot Japanese summer days. Depending on your adventure seeking levels, you can opt for laid back hikes.
Do you want to rough it? Go on a canyon adventure in Okutama and learn from a professional guide. It’s quite the adventure to make your way down steep canyons and water slides. The best is a relaxing swim in the crystal clear pools on a warm day! Check out the tour here.
Tokyo to Shizuoka Prefecture
To get to Izu Peninsula, you will enter Atami City (熱海市), which is a hot spring resort. This means, a stop at a local onsen is kinda obligatory. Good thing they are absolutely fantastic. Have a picnic by Atami Castle before heading over to Izu Peninsula.
Here too you can spend quality time at a resort or get your tan on at the sandy beaches of Minami-Izu. A really outstanding view can be had from the Kadowaki suspension bridge, which stretches between the Kadokake and Kadowaki Cliffs. They are made from lava!
The town of Shimizu is another, more low key destination for Mt Fuji day trips from Tokyo. If you like off the beaten path destinations and wonderful river sights, Shimizu might be just what you need. The area has a maritime climate, which means winters are just cool. Perfect if you don’t like the cold too much!
As Shimizu is a port town and therefore seafood should be experienced at Kashi-no-Ichi Market if that’s something you’re into. Afterwards, relax in the Kakita River park with its spring water pools or the small Mishima Rakujuen Park. Don’t forget Sumpu Castle!
Tokyo to Kanagawa Prefecture
Hakone (箱根) is another hotspot for Mt Fuji viewing. If you want to boat around the beautiful Arashi lake, stroll the resort town and ride the Komagatake Ropeway for panoramic views of Mt Fuji, a tour is recommended. You can book a small group tour here or book a private guide with a van.
Hakone isn’t just known for its natural beauty, it is aslo a resort town and has natural hot springs for weary wanderers. Would you rather see the volcanic action up close?
Get a cable car to Owakudani and watch the steam rise during your day trip from Tokyo. The most iconic feature of Hakone is the red gate at the entrance of Hakone Shrine by Lake Ashino.
Kamakura is where you will find a giant Buddha statue which used to stand inside a temple. That one, sadly, was destroyed by a tsunami in the 15th century. The statue still stands – maybe because it is hollow. You can actually peek inside!
To enjoy local Japanese food in Kamakura as well, take to Komachi Street. In case you are only here for a short trip to Japan and want to maximise your time, why not look into a day tour?
You can book a bus tour that combines Kamakura’s Kōtoku-in and Hasedera Temples as well as Tokyo bay. It’s a popular tour, so check available times in advance.
Not far from Kamakura, Enoshima (江の島) is a small island and can be accessed by the Enoshima Bridge. It is for people who love shorts walks (the island is only 2km long) and cats.
The island of Enoshima is said to have been created by goddess Benten, who stands for fortune, wealth, music and knowledge. Several of the island’s old shrines are dedicated to her and are collectively called Enoshima Shrine.
It takes about an hour to get to the nearby train station from Tokyo and after that you follow a shopping streets, walk through an underpass and then reach the bridge.
Odawara is pretty close to Hakone and shares the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park with its neighbour as well. It’s pretty much worth a visit as well as it has its own castle, fish market and botanical garden.
It is possible to visit both Odawara Castle and cruise Lake Ashi in Hakone on a combined day trip. If you don’t have a car, it is tricky to squeeze that into your train hopping AND have to time to fully enjoy it. Therefore, it’s best to check availability for a tour.
Yokohama is a famous harbour town bordering Tokyo and a lot of cruise ships anchor here. The town itself isn’t all that exciting, to be honest, even though it is the second most populated town in Japan.
You can stroll along the harbour and gaze out at the sea and then dine to your heart’s content in Yokohama’s Chinatown. If you love shopping, step into the old warehouses turned mall, also known as Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse.
The best views over the port can be had from the Observation Deck of the Yokohama Landmark Tower. Get a local guide for the best insights on where to shop and eat. Check availability here.
Kawasaki (川崎市 Kawasaki-shi) belongs to the Greater Tokyo Area. Tit’s not very big but there are a few things to see. One is the all white Shingon Buddhist Kawasaki Daishi. If you’re visiting during New Year’s, you should plan your celebrations here. For theme park fun, get a ticket to Yomiuriland.
A quirky attraction in Kawasaki is Anata no Warehouse. It’s a former warehouse that was transformed into a multi storey arcade that looks like a giant movie scene. Here, the now demolished Kowloon Walled City of Hong Kong have been was recreated and the entrance looks like out of a futuristic video game.
Tokyo to Nagano Prefecture
The Zenkō-ji Temple is a must see when in Nagano. You can easily find it on a walk from the train station. Just follow the restaurants and eateries, dig into miso ice cream (it’s one of the rare not so great Japanese foods), devour freshly baked melonpan and then step through Niōmon Gate. (The food in Nagano is excellent, by the way!)
The temple has a few special features. For one, its creation story involves a god disguised as a cow, which led to the start of Buddhism in Japan. Then, it has an underground tunnel from where you can touch the gate to heaven.
Furthermore, at its entrance, right of the Daikanjin, you can look at the six Rokujizō. They are said to be able to get in touch with the six realms: hell, starvation, beasts, carnage, human beings and divine beings. Book a local guide to hear about all the tales and historical details here.
Ever heard of the snow monkeys in Jigokudani Park? These Japanese macaques here are wild but are magnetically drawn to the natural hot springs in the park. In turn, they are a true tourist magnet in winter and one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo!
If you are in need of a hot bath after your visit, the region actually is full of them! Do some onsen (hot bath) hopping. If you visit all places, it’s a good luck is promised from what I’ve been told. Invest in a day pass from Nagano, which includes transport and park entrance and is good value. For this, you need to make your way to Nagano and then change trains or take the bus.
If that’s too much of a hssle for a day trip from Tokyo, look into tours. I have found one that combines both a visit to Nagano’s Zenkoji and the monkey park. Better book in advance to make sure it’s available when you have time.
Matsumoto Castle (松本城, Matsumoto-jō) is one of the most prominent castles in Japan and remains largely original. You can walk around its outer grounds for free and can pay a small fee to step inside and wander its halls.
These have been turned into a museum with a few exhibits. But nothing big as the “Crow Castle” was meant for defence and not residential purposes.
Another attraction in Matsumoto I really liked is the Matsumoto frog festival. Here you can buy souvenirs and delicious food, such as the unique taiyaki with hot dog and Japanese mayonnaise. A very unique museum in Matsumoto is Ukiyoe Museum, which exhibits woodblock prints (ukiyoe).
Read this too: These Famous Japanese Castles You Mustn’t Miss
Tokyo to Niigata Prefecture
Another active volcano in Japan, Mount Myōkō is one of 100 Famous Japanese Mountains.B ut you don’t need to get too close to it to enjoy a thrill. The entire mountain area is perfect for winter sports.
Book a stay at Myoko Ski Lodge and then hit the slopes. You can find more indepth information on this independent ski resort here.
The slopes receive a great area of snow and thankfully the area has still retained a more traditional vibe as opposed to many westernised ski resorts in Japan, according to Powderhounds. Despite that, you can still take advantage of child care and group ski and snowboard lessons in English.
Sado is a town on the island of the same name, which is one of the largest islands of Japan. In the past, the island served as an exile for political and religious figures. Nowadays, it lures crowds to it with the annual music festival Earth Celebration.
Bid lovers will appreciate the local reintroduction of the endangered Japanese Ibis (toki). While no longer roaming the wild, you can see the birds at Toki Forest Park. Another nature must see in Sado is the scenic mountain road that leads to the Osado skyline view.
Tokyo to Fukushima Prefecture
Fukushima might is known for the nuclear disaster from March 2011. If you do want to see it still, it is possible to visit the Exclusion Zone with a guide. There are custom made, English-speaking tours available. This way you can see the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant as safely as possible.
Getting to Iwaki in Fukushima from Tokyo takes roughly three hours and you can use your Railpass for the journey. Iwaki is the largest city in the prefecture and even though it took quite the hit during both the power plant disaster and tsunami, it has recuperated quite well.
Having formerly been a coal mining town, you can learn more about mining and fossils at the local Iwaki Coal and Fossil Museum. If you are more into theme parks and tropical fun, try the Spa Resort Hawaiians. (Yes you can see hula dances.) You can read a blog post about an Iwaki day trip here.
Is Travelling Outside of Tokyo Worth It?
If you only have a few days in Tokyo to spend, there is absplutely enough to discover within Tokyo itself. I mean, just spend the morning in Asakusa district and the afternoon in Shibamata, for instance.
However, if you want to get a better impression of different sides to Japan, nature trips, historically significant Japanese destinations and seaside towns, then yes, you should totally seize the chance and get on one of the best day trips from Tokyo. There are so many options!
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