The Best Day Trips from Tokyo: See Another Side of Japan

Japan

May 07

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 History and bubbling volcanic springs.

So, once you've checked out your five day Tokyo itinerary for inner city incense, pachinko, shrines and sushi, it's time to head beyond.

Buckle up and enjoy these 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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Mount Fuji Scenic view

Mount Fuji - The Scenic view

Climb Mount Fuji (Or at least visit the slopes)

With enough energy and stretching the concept of a day trip to the limit, you can make it out and up to Fuji and back again if you want.

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.)

Find a guide to climbing Mount Fuji here. 

How to Get to Mount Fuji

The easiest way is by train.

By train:

  • 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:

There are several toll roads that you will need to take to reach Mount Fuji. 

  • Take 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

This route is 138 km and will take an estimated 2 hours and 6 minutes to reach Mount Fuji.

Hakone park day trip from Tokyo steam rising from volcano

Eat Black Eggs on a Volcano in Hakone

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 the proverbial clear day, Hakone National park provides dazzling views of Mt Fuji, though that doesn't happen often.

Instead, the main highlight are the fizzing volcano pools.

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

Steam shoots out of the earth with the sound of furious bubbling and the fierce, smoking whirlpool is…well, unexpected.

Related: the highlights of Japan

These hissing pits reach deep into the mountainside and leap high into the air. 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.

If both appetite and wallet remain undaunted, you’ll find plenty of savvy locals selling black eggs by the bagful.

Perhaps to my relief, given all the noxious fumes floating around, black eggs taste exactly the same as the dull-coloured variety. Still, a smoking sulphur jet does overshadow a saucepan on the stove...and the beautiful Lake Ashi makes for the perfect backdrop.

How to Get to Hakone Park

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

There are a few toll roads that you will go through on this route.

  • 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 1 hour 26 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.

This route will take an estimated 2 hours and cost  ¥1,800.

Related: What to do in Tokyo for Five Days

Odwara castle as a day trip from Tokyo

Odawara Castle

Izu World Heritage Park

Now, technically speaking, it's the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park but since most people split off the Fuji and Hakone excursions, it made sense to talk about it this way.

The other two main regions are Odawara with its white castle, Mishima & Numazufor gourmet dining and Atami for, well, some of the best views of Fuji itself. 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 

There are 2 ways to get there, by car or train. 

  • 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 Big Buddha

Kamakura

Kamakara adds sandy beaches to its repertoire of shrines and is on almost all the day trips from Tokyo lists you can find. 

That said, my local friend described the Big Buddha as the "big disappointment" so it's the one spot other than Disney world that I haven't made it to myself (yet.)

How to Get to Kamakura

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 and costs 920 Yen per person one way. 

By Car: 

  • Get on 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. It costs roughly $7 - $10
  • Haneda Airport Terminal 1 - 1h 20m by Bus, hourly. It costs roughly $7 - $13
  • Kamakura Station

The total duration is roughly 3 hours 30 minutes. 

Monkey & Child the snow monkeys in Japan

Even monkeys need their spa time

Jigokudani Yaenkoen: Where the Snow Monkeys Take Hot Baths

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...

 

For others, frightened about diving into the deep end, they look (if you’ll forgive me) a little wet around the ears…

There are those who clearly command authority…

Those who hide from the spotlight…

And those who just want to have fun…

 

How to Get to Jingokudani Monkey Park

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:

  • Tokyo Station to Nagano Station
  • Nagano Station 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 Marunouchi Line
  • Get off at Ikebukuro Station
  • Take the Yanagihara line to the Gondo Bus stop
  • Take the Nagano Dentetsu-Nagano Line to Yudanaka Station

This route takes roughly 5 hours 10 minutes and costs about ¥1,460

Clifftop temple in Kyoto

Bullet Train to Kyoto

Kyoto, the former capital and home to stunning shrines from the Edo period and quiet, geisha-trodden paths, can be reached by bullet train from Tokyo. If at all possible, stay the night there. But if not, you can take the full day and just about squeeze in a trip to Kyoto and back with Japan Rail.

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.

Nikko UNESCO World Heritage Site

Nikko: UNESCO World Heritage Site within reach of Tokyo

Shrines and Temples of Nikkō UNESCO World Heritage Site

As a counterbalance to the striking scarlet gates, Nikko features sturdy stone shrines whose appearance impress the weight of time itself. 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.

How to Get to Nikkō UNESCO World Heritage Site

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.

Mickey Mouse in Tokyo Disneyland

Mickey. He gets everywhere...

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 year round so worth looking in to when some of the weather-dependent spots like the national parks and beaches aren't looking like such a bright idea.

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 China town

Yokohama: Chinatown in Japan

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.

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.

Getting Around

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.

  • The Jetpacker says:

    Please tell me you can swim the monkeys!?

  • jackie says:

    Love the shots!
    : )

  • Abi says:

    Thanks Jackie ;)
    As for Jetpacker, no, you’re not allowed to swim with the monkeys. They got there first!

  • ciki says:

    awww.. too cute! so, that makes cumi & ciki the traveling monkeys. if we ever get stressed.. ONSEN! LOL

  • Steve says:

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to go to an onsen and find all these monkeys beat you to it. Great photos.

  • Abi says:

    Thanks Steve! Frankly, I would have preferred to get in myself but the monkeys made a pretty interesting sight!

    @agentcikay – I thought of you as I wrote this post ;)

  • Pokin says:

    How cute is that first monkey!! Awesome! Great pics. :)

    I was watching a documentary about those monkeys, and apparently if you’re not of the right monkey family line, you’re not allowed in the hotspring. Crazy monkey hierarchies :)

    • Abi says:

      Good job humans aren’t like that, eh?! ;)

  • Henry Williams says:

    some nice pics its great that you were able to get those kinda shots

  • Some great pictures and looks like a cool place to visit in Japan. I love the onsens in Gifu/Nagano which are fantastic and so relaxing.

    • Abi says:

      I’m pretty much a fan of onsens anywhere…

  • mJ Admin says:

    These monkeys are sooo cute! :)

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