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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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.)
The easiest way is by train.
Buses leave once an hour in the off-season, and slightly more frequently during the climbing season.
There are several toll roads that you will need to take to reach Mount Fuji.
This route is 138 km and will take an estimated 2 hours and 6 minutes to reach Mount Fuji.
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.
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
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
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.
There are 2 ways to get there, by car or train.
This route should take around 4 hours and cost ¥2,490.
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.)
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.
This route is 61km and takes roughly 1 hour 5 minutes. It's worth noting there are toll roads.
The total duration is roughly 3 hours 30 minutes.
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...
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.
This route takes roughly 5 hours 10 minutes and costs about ¥1,460
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.
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.
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.
This route takes 1 hour and 52 minutes and costs roughly ¥2,700.
This route will take roughly 2 hours 59 minutes and costs about ¥5,740.
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.
This journey should take about 37 minutes.
This route should take about 27 minutes.
It's really not worth driving!
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.
This journey should take around 52 minutes.
This journey should take around 37 minutes.
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.
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.
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