Tokyo has plenty to offer to tourist and its’ residents, but you can have a lot more unique experiences in the surrounding areas. Many people that are living in the city, usually go sightseeing outside of the concrete jungle. Even in the vicinity of Tokyo, there are many places to go with rich nature, stunning sceneries, traditional architectures, historically important statues, and nostalgic townscapes. In this article we present a list of our recommendations for day trips from Tokyo and some of the highlights there that you should not miss out on.
- Nikko // 2 – 3 hrs.
- Kamakura // 1 hr.
- Hakone // 1 – 1.5 hrs.
- Mt. Fuji // 2 – 3 hrs.
- Kawagoe // 30 – 60 min.
- Travelling to these day trip destinations
- Mt. Fuji
Travelling to these day trip destinations
For all the destinations we will talk more about how to get there in detail per item. All of them however can be reached using JR trains or the Shinkansen. On most of these trains the Japan Rail Pass of JR Pass is valid. This is a transportation pass for international tourists, that can save you a lot of money spend on public transportation. Read more about the Japan Rail pass on our blog.
About two hours from Tokyo by train, you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nikko. Nikko is known for rich nature including beautiful waterfalls and historical shrines and temples. You can also enjoy hiking in mountains in Nikko National Park. More than 12 million people visit this small city each year.
If you want to make most out of your visit in Nikko, check out our private tours. You will make more efficient use of your time and learn more about each place you visit with a knowledgeable local guide. You can start your private walking tour from Nikko station, or meet your tour guide at Asakusa station and head to Nikko together.
How to travel to Nikko from Tokyo
Tobu railway offers a Nikko All Area Pass for international tourists. This pass includes a roundtrip from Asakusa station and unlimited bus and train rides in the designated area surrounding Nikko. The pass sets you back at ¥4,600 in summer or ¥4,230 in winter and is valid for four consecutive days. It is not the fastest way to get to Nikko but definitely the cheapest. Read more about the Nikko All Area Pass.
Travelling around Nikko
When purchasing the Nikko All Area Pass, your travel in Nikko is also covered. Otherwise Tobu Bus offers several bus passes for unlimited use of buses around Nikko. There are several options that all can be purchased at Tobu Nikko Station and JR Nikko Station.
Must visit-places in Nikko
Toshogu shrine is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu who was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugwa shogunate which ruled Japan from 17th century until 19th century. Toshogu complex consists of 55 buildings including Yomeimon Gate (designated a Natonal Treasure). All of them were completed in only a year and 5 months, and the total costs were 40 billion yen in today’s money according to the shrine’s financial records. Don’t miss the famous sculptures of the Sleeping Cat and the Three Wise Monkeys representing “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
9am – 5pm
There are many waterfalls in Nikko but Kegon Waterfall is the most famous of all for it is beautiful and dynamic at the same time. This waterfall is ranked as one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. The main fall is about 97 meters in height and there are 12 smaller waterfalls behind and to the sides of the main fall. If you descend 100 meters with an elevator (¥550 both ways), you can watch the this natural wonder from up-close.
This old Shogunate capital of Japan has many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Each shrine and temple has its own character that attracts a lot of visitors all year around. The accessibility from Tokyo is another reason why a day trip to this city is so popular. Put your comfortable walking shoes on because you walk a lot in Kamakura.
If you are interested in visiting Kamakura, check out these private tours. You will be able to use your time efficiently and learn more about each place you visit with a knowledgeable local guide. You can start your tour from Kamakura station or any other place of your choice. Read more about the Kamakura tours.
Access to Kamakura station from Tokyo
From Tokyo you have several options, both JR Yokosuka Line and the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line have a direction connection with Kamakura station. A one way trip takes about an hour and costs approximately ¥950, but if you have a JR rail pass, the transportation fee is free!
Getting around in Kamakura
Kamakura is a relatively small sized town and you can easily explore the centre on foot or – if you feel a little more adventurous – by (rental) bike. There are also buses and taxis in Kamakura to take you to more isolated sights.
When time and weather circumstances permit we recommend you to explore the area by foot. There are three hiking trails that connect most of the area and the main sights. For the complete route and the details please visit Kamakura Forrest Hiking Trails.
Must visit-places in Kamakura
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine
Take East exit of Kamakura station, walk for 10 – 15 minutes and you arrive at the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura. This shrine was founded in 1063, and enlarged and moved to its current location in 1180. On the shrine ground, there is a wide long approach leading up to the main hall which stands on a terrace at the top of a wide stairway. Two ponds can be found on either side of the approach. One pond with three islands represents the Minamoto Clan, who founded the shrine and the Kamakura Shogunate, and the other pond with four islands represents the Taira Clan, Minamoto’s bitter rivals. Every year more than 2 million people visit here for the first shrine visit of the New Year, known as hatsumode.
The spectacular bamboo garden makes this temple a popular place. After a walk through the bamboo garden, you will find a resting place located in the temple where you can have some green tea and a sweet Japanese snack. From Kamakura station, it takes 40 minutes on foot, 7 minutes by taxi or 10 minutes by bus. If you want to take a bus, take bus number 鎌23, 鎌24, or 鎌36, and get off at Jomyoji bus stop.
9am – 4pm
Admission ¥300 / Green tea ¥600
One of the biggest Kannon statues in Japan can be found in this temple. The garden is full of beautiful flowers and plants all year around but is especially famous for hydrangea in early summer and stunning red leaves in autumn.
9am – 5pm
This temple is famous for the Great Buddha, or Daibutsu in Japanese. This bronze statue was constructed in 1252 and is 11.31 meters (13.35 meters including the base) in height and weights about 121 in tons. You can also go inside the Great Buddha for only ¥20 in addition to the admission fee to Kotokuin Temple. To get to Kotokuin Temple, take a local train Enoshima Electric Railway (“Enoden”) from Kamakura station, get off at Hase station and walk 10 minutes.
8am – 5pm
At Kamakura station take the East exit and you will find yourself in Komachi Dori. When visiting Kamakura, you cannot miss this shopping street. Komachi Dori is always full of people for shopping and eating. This is also a way to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.
Read more about the highlights of Kamakura on our blog day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo
There are so many things to do in Hakone that preferably you want to spend a few days there to fully experience this city’s offerings. It has various art museums, a lake where you can spot Mt. Fuji on a boat, historic sites from Edo period, volcanic valley where you can observe volcanic activity from above in a ropeway, and vast fields of pampas grass which turn gold in autumn. Hakone is especially famous for hot springs, or onsen.
If you have limited time and you want to make most out of your visit to Hakone, check out our private tours. A guide will meet you at your hotel in Tokyo, and depart from either Tokyo station to go by a bullet train (recommended for JR pass holders) or Shinjuku station to go by “Odakyu Romance Car” train.
Access to Hakone Yumoto station from Tokyo
Depending on where you start your trip to Hakone, there are two main ways to travel from Tokyo area. Read about the two different options and their pro’s and con’s on our blog Hakone Day Trip – Perfect Access and Area Guide.
Must visit-places in Hakone
This is the entrance of the city of Hakone. There are many shops, restaurants and cafes near Hakone Yumoto station. You can also find many ryokan, Japanese traditional hotels with hot springs. There are drop-in hot spring places (“Higaeri onsen”) if you want to relieve the fatigue of the trip before heading back to Tokyo.
This ropeway offers magnificent view of Hakone and volcanic valley with the elevation of more than 1,000 meters. You can see the steam rising from the bare surface of the mountains. On clear days, you can enjoy a view of Mt. Fuji from the ropeway. It takes you to Owakudani (Owakudani staion) and Lake Ashinoko (Chogendai station).
9am – 5pm
Depending on the route one-way tickets cost between ¥680 – ¥1,260.
A 1-day-combi-ticket with the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise is also available.
Owakudani was created during the eruption of Mt. Hakone about 3,000 years ago. It is still an active volcanic area with sulfurous fumes and hot springs rising from the bear surface of the mountains. You can walk along a trail which leads you from the ropeway station into the volcanic zone with numerous steam vents and bubbling pools. The famous food in Owakudani is Onsen Tamago, eggs that are cooked in natural hot water and with blackened surfaces because of the sulfur. It is said that one Onsen Tamago prolongs a person’s life by seven years.
Enjoy sightseeing cruise on the lake with a view of nearby mountains and Mt. Fuji. You can also see a Torii gate of Hakone shrine standing in the edge of the lake. You can get off the boat at Hakonemachi-ko or Motohakone-ko. Near Haonemachi-ko, there is a Hakone Checkpoint Museum where you can experience atmosphere of Edo period when this checkpoint was actually being used for travelers. If you are interested in visiting Hakone Shrine, disembark at Motohakone-ko.
Hakone Sightseeing Cruise
9am – 5pm
Depending on the route tickets cost between ¥190 – ¥1,050.
A 1-day-combi-ticket with the Ropeway is also available.
This grand shrine was constructed in 757 during Nara period. The approach to the shrine is lined with big old cedar trees, purifying the air and creating holy atmosphere. There is a Torii gate in the Lake Ashinoko and the view of the Torii gate with the lake is so special that there can be a long line up just to take a photo of it. The Hakone Shrine is known for a place with spiritual energy and there are many visitors all year around.
Did you know you can make a day trip to Mt. Fuji from Tokyo? Besides climbing to the summit, there are many ways to enjoy Mt. Fuji. For example, you can go for a hike at the lower part of Mt. Fuji, enjoy the magnificent view of the mountain from the nearby lakes, and get your adrenaline pumping with “the world’s best” roller coasters in the amusement park. If you are a Japanese tea lover, join our “Let’s make your own tea” tour, where you can pick tea leaves from a tea field and make your own tea at the foot of Mt. Fuji.
Getting to Mount Fuji area
Mount Fuji or Fujisan, is located in the vicinity of Lake Kawaguchi. There are several options to get to this area from Tokyo. Read all about them on our blog How To Travel To Kawaguchiko, Mt. Fuji area.
Hiking at the lower part of Mt. Fuji
Many people who want to climb to the top of Mt. Fuji starts their hiking from the 5th station of the mountain. However, you can enjoy great nature and interesting history from the 1st to the 5th station of Mr. Fuji. It has a longer hiking season than the higher part of the mountain. For the best experience, we recommend you to go on a hike with a guide. The experienced tour guide will tell you all about history of the area and the mountain, and traditions regarding Mt. Fuji. The guide will also make sure you take the best route so that your experience is the best possible.
There are several lakes near Mt. Fuji, maybe you have heard from of the Fuji Five Lakes? Have fun experiences near or on the lakes along with stunning views of the Fujisan.
In the Kawaguchi area you can have magnificent views of Mount Fuji. Especially across the Kawaguchiko lake, one of the five lakes in the surroundings of Mount Fuji area, the mountain is beautifully portrayed on a clear day. Close to the lake there are many things to do such as:
- The observatory at Kawaguchiko Tenjozan Park. There is a cable car that goes up to the observatory offering magnificent view of the lake and Mt. Fuji.
- Sightseeing boat “Ensoleillé”. Enjoy boat ride and view of the mountain at the same time.
“Let’s make your own tea” tour
If you are a green tea lover, join a tour for picking and roasting your own tea at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Shizuoka prefecture, where Mt. Fuji is partly located, is the most famous place for green tea in Japan. There are several tea farms offering tea picking experiences in Shizuoka, but when you join our tour you do not have to worry about the transportation nor the language barrier. It is a fun outdoor experience and you will learn a lot about tea!
This city is called “little Edo” for its nostalgic atmosphere from Edo period. When you are in Kawagoe, you feel as if you went back to the past. You may see some people walking down the streets with Japanese traditional outfits. This city is well known for its annual Kawagoe Festival that takes place in autumn and is designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
How to get to Kawagoe from Tokyo
Kawagoe is located in Saitama prefecture, about 30 – 60 minutes from Tokyo. Several stations have good connections to Kawagoe station. We recommend the international tourists to purchase the Kawagoe Discount Pass. With this pass the round trip between Ikebukuro and Kawagoe only costs ¥700. The pass is valid on one calendar day and can be purchased at Ikebukuro Station.
The centre of Kawagoe is easily accessible by foot, but you can also rent a bicycle, or use the hop-on-hop-off Koedo loop bus for ¥500 (day pass)
Must visit-places in Kawagoe
Toki no Kane (The Bell of Time)
This clock tower is the symbol of Kawagoe which is located in Kurazukuri Street (warehouse district). It was built originally between 1627 and 1634. The one you can see today was rebuilt in 1893 after the great fire in Kawagoe. Its height is approximately 16 meters. Still now it tells time 4 times a day; 6 in the morning, noon, three in the afternoon, and 6 in the evening.
Kurazukuri Street (Warehouse District)
Kurazukuri Street, which stretches a few hundred meters long, is lined with historical buildings which were once used as warehouses in Edo period. Today most of these buildings are shops and restaurants. Walk around this district and enjoy nostalgic scenes.
Kashiya Yokocho (Candy Alley)
Within a few minutes walk from Toki no Kane, you will reach the Kashiya Yokocho. There used to be about 70 candy shops in this area but nowadays there are about 20 left. This is a great place to try some Japanese traditional sweets and snacks. Many shops are closed on Mondays.
Kawagoe Matsuri Kaikan (Kawago Festival Museum)
Kawagoe Festival in autumn is very famous and attracts many people every year. Even if you cannot visit this vibrant festival, you can have a glimpse of the experience in the Kawagoe Festival Museum.
9.30am – 5pm
In this article, we introduced 5 places you can visit in a day from Tokyo. As you have seen, each place offers unique experiences. Visit these places on your own or join a guided tour to enjoy a worry-free day and learn more about the places you are visiting. Which one will you visit on your next trip?