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February 2, 2021

The Best Day Trips from Tokyo

When it comes to finding the best day trips from Tokyo, you are in luck. Mountains, lakes and wild walking paths mingle with temples and iconic views just an hour or so from the city centre. Here's our pick of the best day trips from Tokyo.

The Best Day Trips from Tokyo

With day trips from Tokyo, you can explore many of Japan's highlights, from her snowy landscapes to UNESCO World Heritage Sitesand bubbling volcanic springs.

So, once you've checked out your five day Tokyo itinerary for inner city exploration, it's time to head beyond.

Buckle up and enjoy the best day trips from Tokyo!

I've included the information you need to travel independently as well as some tours in case you'd rather someone else do the work. Despite the language barrier, Japan's rail network makes it easy to get around. It's clean, efficient and people are astonishingly helpful.

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Visit Mt Fuji

With enough energy and an early start, you can climb Mt Fuji in a day. This exhilarating but tough hike remains one of my favourite memories of Japan. Not only is Mt Fuji the highest volcano in Japan but she's an iconic landmark in her own right. On a clear day, from a skyscraper, you can see her outline from Tokyo.

You don't need to be a "mountain climber" but you do need to be fit, have sensible shoes and be travelling at the right time of year. Most people make this an overnight climb but you can make a day trip of it (when the route will be much quieter and you can take in the views.)

Want to climb?

One of the best day trips from Tokyo involves climbing to the peak of Mt Fuji. However, there are some things you need to know. Read more about climbing Mt Fuji here.


HOW TO GET THERE

As with so many places, it's easiest to get there by train.

By train: This is the easiest option.

  • Take the (new) Fuji Excursion Limited Express train from Shinjuku Station direct to Kawaguchiko Station. This takes 1 hour 52 minutes and costs US$37.28 one way.
  • Take a JR Limited Express train (Azusa or Kaiji) from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki, then transfer to the Fujikyu Railway for Kawaguchiko. The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours, and costs between US$30.21 and US$37.28 one way, depending on whether a transfer in Takao/Tachikawa is required or not, and whether you’re traveling on a weekday or weekend.
  • Take the JR Chuo Special Rapid Service instead, following the same route. It takes 10-20 minutes longer, but only costs US$22.59 each way.

By Bus: Tokyo Station to Kawaguchiko Station or Fuji-Q Highland will set you back about US$18.36 (one way), and the journey takes two hours on average. From Kawaguchiko Station, you can hop onto a local bus and get up to the Fuji Subaru 5th Station, as long as the roads aren’t snowed under. Buses leave once an hour in the off-season, and slightly more frequently during the climbing season.

Driving: I'd really advise against this but if you have a car, it's around two hours from Tokyo via one of two routes:

  • Take the Tomei Expressway to Gotemba Bypass / National Route No. 138 in Gotemba Higashiyama. Take exit 7-Gotenba IC from Tomei Expressway
  • Drive to Fuji Skyline / Prefectural Road No. 152 in Fujinomiya City Kamakura

Hakone National Park

Hakone Park first sprung up as series of volcanic eruptions around 3000 years ago. Today, it consists of triangular hills and deep blue lakes, wrapped in scarves of clouds.

On a clear day, Hakone National park provides dazzling views of Mt Fuji, though that doesn't happen often. No, what makes this one of the best day trips from Tokyo involves the fizzing, volcanic pools. 

Steam shoots out of the earth, these hissing pits reaching deep into the mountainside. Their sulphuric properties turn eggshells black - and fill the air with a putrid stench.

But in a weird, way that's part of the charm. Savvy locals sell black eggs by the bagful, cooked in the smoking sulphur jets. 

The eggs taste just the same as normal, but Lake Ashi does make for a beautiful backdrop. 

Where to find the black eggs

Take a cable car from Sōunzan and plunge into a grey vat of cloud before reaching the half-way point at Ōwakudani.


HOW TO GET To Hakone Park

There are two options to get to Hakone Park, you can drive or take the train.

Driving: Take Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway No. 3 Shibuya Line / Route 3, Tomei Expressway and Odawara Atsugi Road / National Route No. 271 to National Route No. 1 in Odawara City Irioda. Exit from National Route No. 1. Continue on National Route 1 to your destination in Hakone-cho Gora. This route is 96.9 km and will take an estimated 90 minutes.

By train: Take the Keihintohoku Line from Tokyo Station to Shinagawa Station. Take the Tokaido Line from Shinagawa Station to Odawara Station. Take the Hakonetozan Line from Odawara Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station.Walk 5 minutes to Hakone Park.

Izu World Heritage Park

Here's a fun fact: the first two suggestions for the best day trips from Tokyo all belong as part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. However, it's a big place and since most people split off the day trips into the Fuji, Hakone and Izu options, it make sense to talk about them this way. 

Odawara has a resplendent white castle, Mishima & Numazufor are famous for gourmet dining and Atami offers some of the best views of Fuji itself. 

Which part of the park?

Depending on where you go, the train journey will take between 30-60 minutes by shinkansen from Tokyo.


HOW TO GET To Izu World Heritage Park

Once again, your best bet is by train.

Driving: Take Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway No. 3 Shibuya Line / Route 3, Tomei Expressway and Odawara Atsugi Road / National Route No. 271 to National Route No. 1 in Odawara City Irioda. Exit from National Route No. 1. Continue on National Route 1 to your destination in Hakone-cho Gora

By train: Take the Tokaido Line at Tokyo Station to the Odawara Station. From Odawara Station, you will hop on the Odawara-Hakone Garden Line bus and get off at Hakone-A. Take the Hakonekomagatake Ropeway from Hakone-en Station to Komagatake Chojo Station. Walk from Komagatake Chojo Station to Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

This route should take around 4 hours and cost ¥2,490.

Kamakura

One of the most popular day trips from Tokyo involves the excursion to see the Big Buddha. It helps that there's a sandy beach nearby, but friends described the statue as the "big disappointment" so only give this one a try if you have time to spare!

Which part of the park?

Depending on where you go, the train journey will take between 30-60 minutes by shinkansen from Tokyo.xx


HOW TO GET To The Big Buddha

By train: The JR Yokosuka Line for Zushi is your easiest connection from Tokyo Stations to Kamakura. This train also stops at Kita-Kamakura Station and usually leaves from track number 1 or 2 in Tokyo station. You can also take the JR Yokosuka Line for Kurihama (which also stops at Kamakura) or get in at Shinagawa (if that is easier for you). The JR Yokosuka Line for Zushi departs roughly every 30 minutes. This route takes 55 minutes to get to Kamakura station. 

By Car: Get onto the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Central Ring Line / C1 in 1 from Yaesu Dori / Miyako No. 408 and Miyako No. 316. Take Haneda Line / Metropolitan Expressway No. 1. Take Route 1, Metropolitan Expressway Kanagawa No. 1 Yokoha Line to K1 and Yokohama Yokosuka Road. Take National Route No. 16 to Ring 4 / Prefectural Road No. 23 in Yokohama City Asahinacho. Take exit 5-Aahina IC from Yokohama Yokosuka Road / National Highway 16. Take prefecture road No. 204 to your destination in Kamakura.

This route is 61km and takes roughly 1 hour 5 minutes. It's worth noting there are toll roads. 

By Bus: Tokyo Station Yaesu North Exit - 40m by Bus, hourly.  Haneda Airport Terminal 1 - 1h 20m by Bus, hourly. The total duration is roughly 3 hours 30 minutes. 

The Snow Monkeys

Japan has no shortage of onsen, natural hot springs where people dip in and out of skin-scalding pools in order to soak, scrub and just relax and say ahhhhh. It's a tradition that has become a widespread ritual, with both five star hotels and backpacker hostels offering indoor versions of a stingingly hot bath.

Yet in Jigokudani Yaenkoen, macaque monkeys got there first.

In a steep, leafy corner of the Joshin-Etsu Kogen National Park, around 200 monkeys prance, preen and groom before dipping into the steaming onsen themselves.

Some are sage and relaxed, clearly used to the process...Others, forgive me,, look a little wet around the ears...

Snow monkeys just wanna have fun...

Snow monkeys in Japan

HOW TO GET To Jigokudani

By Car:  Follow the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway No. 5 Ikebukuro Line. Take Route 5, Kanetsu Expressway and Kamishinetsu Expressway to Shikanakono toll road in Nakano city Kuribayashi. Take exit 15-Shinshu-Nakano IC from Kamishinetsu Expressway. Continue on Shikanakano Toll Road. Merge onto National highway No. 292/National highway No. 403. Take exit Sano-Kakuma IC toward Yudanaka Shibuonsenkyo Spa. Turn left onto Prefectural road 342. Turn right at Hoshikawa Bridge. Continue straight through Shinobu · Yasuyo 

By Train: Travel from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station and from there to Yudanaka Station. You will need to take a taxi from here to the park. The train costs roughly ¥9,460 and will take about 2 hours 16 minutes. 

By Bus: From Tokyo Station take the Marunouchi Line and get off at Ikebukuro Station. Take the Yanagihara line to the Gondo Bus stop and then take the Nagano Dentetsu-Nagano Line to Yudanaka Station. This route takes roughly 5 hours 10 minutes and costs about ¥1,460

Kyoto

A visit to Kyoto is one of the highlights of Japan. 

As the former capital, Kyoto overflows with stunning shrines from the Edo period and quiet, geisha-trodden paths. Yet it's still a busy, bustling, modern city. If at all possible, stay the night in Kyoto instead of visiting as a day trip from Tokyo.

But you can just about squeeze in a trip to Kyoto and back by travelling on the bullet train with Japan Rail. 

Kyoto Plans

There's a lot to see and do in Kyoto, so check out our Kyoto itinerary to make the most of your time there.


HOW TO GET To Kyoto

By Train: From Shinagawa Station, you can take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen directly to Kyoto. This route will take 2 hours 10 minutes and should roughly cost ¥13,910.

NIKKŌ UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

For a different kind of architecture, head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nikko.

As a counterbalance to the striking scarlet gates you'll find on Mt Fuji, Nikko features sturdy stone shrines whose appearance impress the weight of time.

 Nikkō Tōshō-gū is a Shinto shrine and lavish mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu, the man who founded the 250 year strong Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled until 1868.

What's a shogun?

A Shogun was a military dictator appointed by the Emperor to rule over a region of Japan.


HOW TO GET To Nikko

By train: Take the Nikko-Kinugawa line from Asakusa station directly to Tōbu-nikkō Station in Nikkō. This route takes 1 hour and 52 minutes and costs roughly ¥2,700.

By Car: Get on Mukaijima Line to the Metropolitan Expressway No. 6. Take Route 6 in Sumida Ward 5-chome from Sumizome Street. Turn left at Sumida ward office (intersection) onto Ink jetty street/Pillow bridge/Metropolitan Route No. 461. Continue to follow ink jet street / No. 461. Use the left lane to take the ramp onto Mukojima Line/Capital Expressway No. 6/Route 6. At the interchange Horikiri JCT, Use the left 2 lanes to follow signs for Tohoku Expy/Omiya/Metropolitan Expressway Route No.6/Joban Expressway. At the interchange Kosuge JCT, Use the left 2 lanes to follow signs for Metropolitan Expressway Central Circular Route toward Tohoku Expressway/Higashi-Ikebukuro/Metropolitan Expressway Kawaguchi Route/Metropolitan Expressway Route No. 5 Ikebukuro Line/Omiya/Angyo. At the interchange Kohhoku JCT, Use the right 3 lanes to follow signs for Metropolitan Expressway Kawaguchi Route toward Tohoku Expressway/Angyo. Take exit 10-Utsunomiya IC toward Nikko. Continue onto Nikko Utsunomiya Road. Take exit 4-Nikko IC toward Nikko

By Bus: From Oku station take the Takasaki Line to Ōmiya Station. From Ōmiya Station take the Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen line to Utsunomiya Station. From Utsunomiya Station take Nikko Toshogu to JR Nikkoeki. This route will take roughly 2 hours 59 minutes and costs about ¥5,740.

Tokyo Disneyland

If Mickey and Minnie set your heart alight, check out Tokyo Disneyland. 

I've not been but there's plenty of material available about it ;-)

It's also open all year round, so it's worth looking into when some of the national parks and beaches are out.

Did you know?

When it opened in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland was the biggest project of its kind.


HOW TO GET To Tokyo Disneyland

By Bus: Tokyo Sta. Yaesuguchi to Akihabara, Tokyo-TDR, Shinurayasu TDL Bus Terminal East Line to Ndobasutaminaruisuto. This journey should take about 37 minutes.

By train: Tokyo Station to Keiyo Line Local Soga. This route should take about 27 minutes.

It's really not worth driving!

Yokohama City

As one of the first Japanese cities opened to foreign trade at the end of the isolation period, Yokohama has a substantial Chinatown and a different feel to other parts of Japan. A day tour may leave you a little pushed but it's doable.

Did you know?

Yokohama has been the second largest city in Japan since the 1980s.


HOW TO GET To Yokohama City

By train: From Tokyo Station take the Keihintohoku Line and continue on the Negishi Line to Kannai Station.This journey should take around 52 minutes.

By Car: Head east on Yaesu Street/Metropolitan road 408 toward Yaesu Street/Metropolitan road. Turn right onto Metropolitan Route 316. Turn left at Shinkyobashi (intersection) toward Exits 12-Kyobashi IC. Turn right onto the ramp to Metropolitan Expressway Inner Circular Route. Merge onto Metropolitan Expressway City Center Ring Line/C1. At the interchange, Hamazakibashi JCT, Use the left 2 lanes to follow signs for Metropolitan Expressway No. 1 toward Metropolitan Expressway Bayshore Route/Metropolitan Expressway Route No. 11/Yokohama/Haneda Airport/Tokyo Wan Aqua-Line/Rainbow Bridge. Continue onto Haneda Line/Capital Expressway No. 1/Route 1. Keep right at the fork to stay on Haneda Line/Capital Expressway No. 1/Route 1, follow signs for Metropolitan Expressway Kanagawa Route No. 1/Yokohama/Metropolitan Expressway Route No.1. Haneda Line/Capital Expressway No. 1/Route 1 turns slightly left and becomes Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Kanagawa No. 1 Yokoba Line/K1. Use the right lane to take exit 167-Yokohama Koen IC. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Osanbashi Pier/China Town/Pref. Office/City Hall. This journey should take around 37 minutes.

Is the Japan Rail Pass WOrth It?

The Japan Rail pass is a great idea for visitors as it simplifies the sometimes overwhelming rail network. Trains here are clean, fast and reliable (and sometimes a beauty to behold.) People tend to be incredibly friendly and so, despite any language barrier, you can usually reach all of these sites independently with no trouble at all.


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About the author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.

  • These monkeys are sooo cute! :)

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    About the author

    Abi King

    Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Find out more.

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