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    Best day trips from Tokyo: A local's comprehensive guide

    By Tomomi Saito

    October 20, 2023

    Day trips Tokyo

    Six years in Tokyo and a couple of them hosting Tokyo tours as a City Unscripted guide and I've uncovered some absolute gems just a stone's throw away! Tokyo is an exhilarating whirlwind, but sometimes even I need a brief escape. So, alongside my visitors, I've been hopping on trains, buses, and even boats to explore what's around.

    Some of these day trips have completely wowed both me and the travelers I've had the pleasure to guide. Imagine soaking in hot springs with Mount Fuji as your backdrop or strolling through parks that burst into color every season. And the best part? All of these adventures are just day trips out of our bustling capital city.

    I thought you'd love to know about these spots, especially if you're planning a visit. Dive into this guide; it's my handpicked list of the best day trips out of Tokyo. Trust me, as someone who loves taking visitors on these journeys, you won't be disappointed!

    • What exactly do I mean by day trip?
    • Why do a day trip from Tokyo?
    • How to choose a day trip from Tokyo
    • Frequently asked questions
    • Day trips from Tokyo provided by City Unscripted
    • Additional suggested day trips from Tokyo
    • Tips for planning a day trip from Tokyo
    • Final thoughts on Tokyo day trips

    What exactly do I mean by day trip?

    A day trip is like a mini-journey you embark on, departing from the bustling heart of Tokyo in the morning and returning to the city by evening. It's a delightful escape that allows you to experience new atmospheres, while ensuring you're back in time for a good night's sleep in your familiar Tokyo surroundings. Starting your journey from key hubs like Shinjuku Station or Tokyo Station makes the transition seamless.

    Here's where City Unscripted elevates the experience: you can embark on a tailored trip to a multitude of enchanting destinations nearby. There's no rush; you can explore at your own pace, soak in new sights and sounds, and at the end of it all, be dropped off back in Tokyo without a hitch. So, even if you're just dropping by to visit Tokyo, day trips provide a window to the broader wonders surrounding the city - all wrapped up in the convenience of a round trip!

    Why do a day trip from Tokyo?

    Guided tours seeing many attractions

    There's something incredibly refreshing about stepping out of Tokyo's vibrant buzz for a day. While the city captivates at every turn, surrounding areas offer a unique charm of their own. Now, you might wonder, "Why venture out of the city when there's so much to see right here?" Well, in less than an hour on a zippy bullet train, you can be transported to landscapes and experiences that feel worlds away.

    But here's the icing on the cake - with City Unscripted, day trips from Tokyo become an absolute breeze. Remember those travel jitters about getting lost or that mini-panic of which platform to board the train from? Kiss them goodbye! Your knowledgeable guide will handle the nitty-gritty, letting you dive deep into the experience. And the best part? You get to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, seeing and learning things you might have missed on your own. It's like having a local friend showing you around their favorite spots!

    How to choose a day trip from Tokyo

    Choosing a day trip from Tokyo can feel a bit like picking a treat from an assorted box of chocolates; each destination promises its unique flavor and experience. Perhaps you're yearning for amazing panoramic views from a mountaintop or the nostalgic charm of a small town. Maybe the allure of a historic castle town beckons, or the sight of traditional buildings set against a backdrop of cherry blossoms or autumn foliage.

    But how to narrow down your options, especially when every corner seems to call out for an adventure? Consider the time you have; some places can be deeply explored in just a few hours, while others might entice you to linger a bit longer. Think about what resonates with you – culture, nature, history, or perhaps all three.

    And here's a tip: Dive deeper than what your guidebook says. With City Unscripted, you get to immerse yourself in hidden treasures and experiences that often aren't on the typical tourist path. Our tailored trips help you truly feel the essence of a place, revealing layers and stories beyond the usual. So, whether it's witnessing the first bloom of cherry blossoms or wandering through alleyways dotted with autumn foliage, you're set for an experience that's genuinely enriching.

    Frequently asked questions


    Can I do a day trip from Tokyo to Mount Fuji?

    Mt. Fuji with amazing panoramic views

    Yes, you absolutely can! However, there's a distinction worth noting. Many Tokyo day trips offer views of Mt. Fuji, especially on clear days. Places like Hakone provide stunning vistas of the mountain, allowing you to appreciate its grandeur from a distance. Now, if you wish to visit the mountain itself, know that while you can get close, you might not have the classic "postcard view" from certain vantage points due to the mountain's enormity. In essence, you can either see Mt. Fuji from other locations or visit its vicinity directly; both offer different yet memorable experiences.


    How many days in Tokyo is enough?

    Tokyo is a vast and vibrant city with a myriad of attractions. Ideally, if you're spending more than four days in the city centre, it's worth considering allocating a day or two for day trips. This way, you get the best of both worlds: immersing in Tokyo's bustling life and experiencing the contrasting tranquillity or different cultures of nearby destinations.

    Is Osaka or Kyoto better for a day trip from Tokyo?

    Day trips to Osaka and Kyoto

    While both Osaka and Kyoto are marvelous destinations with rich histories and cultures, they're a considerable distance from Tokyo. This means you'll spend a significant chunk of your day travelling. However, if you're keen on just getting a taste, it's possible. Both cities are accessible via the bullet train, but remember, a few hours might not do justice to the depth and beauty they offer. If time allows, consider making it a weekend trip instead, allowing you more time to delve into their unique atmospheres.

    Planning your day trip

    Is it easy to do day trips on my own?

    Certainly! Japan's public transport system, especially from major hubs like Tokyo, is efficient and reliable. However, if you're looking for tailored experience, diving deeper than the surface, City Unscripted can guide you.

    Our aim is not just to show you places but to immerse you in experiences beyond the usual tourist routes. We ensure you make the most of your day trips, providing insights and stories that enrich your journey.

    Day trips from Tokyo provided by City Unscripted

    Hot spring town

    Hakone: Hot springs, lake views, and Mount Fuji

    When it comes to day trips from Tokyo, Hakone stands out as a must-visit destination. It's a favorite hot spring town of mine, not too far from the heart of the capital. If you hop on a train from Shinjuku Station in the early morning, you'll soon find yourself amidst the serene beauty of Hakone.

    What's truly captivating about this place is the diversity of experiences it offers. You can indulge in a soothing soak at one of its renowned onsen baths, or if you're like me and have an adventurous side, why not embark on a pirate ship cruise across Lake Ashi? The sight of Mount Fuji from the lake is genuinely memorable. And, for those seeking spiritual serenity, the Hakone Shrine provides a tranquil setting amidst nature. For those panoramic views from above, the Hakone Ropeway cable car won't disappoint. 

    And the best part? With City Unscripted, there's no need for you to fret over planning. There are so many attractions and so much to do in Hakone, and the experience is tailored to you, ensuring that you delve deep into what captivates you the most. All you need to do is focus on discovering and enjoying!


    Nikko a few hours out of Tokyo

    Nikko: World Heritage temples and shrines

    Whenever friends ask me about what 1-day trips from Tokyo they should consider taking, this place pops up in our chat like an eager child with a story to tell. Just a train ride away, when you step out at Nikko Station, it's as if the big city noise just... fades. What welcomes you instead is an age-old embrace of temples and shrines, each with tales whispering through the winds. 

    Did you know there's a local specialty here that's an absolute must-try? It's called "Yuba" or tofu skin and although it may sound weird, it's one of those delightful discoveries I made on one of my visits, and I promise, it’s a treat for the taste buds.

    But back to the temples – while you can wander around and soak in their beauty, having a guided tour is like reading a book with annotations. Those little nuggets of insights and stories bring everything to life!

    If you're thinking of heading to Nikko, let me give you a little nudge – with City Unscripted, you get the inside scoop, tailored just for you. No two tales are the same, and yours is waiting to be written.

    Great Buddha and amazing views

    Kamakura: Great Buddha, temples, and beaches

    Kamakura is a delightful escape from the pace of central Tokyo, offering a blend of cultural treasures and natural beauty. Easily accessible from Tokyo Station, it's home to the famed Great Buddha, an emblem of serenity that every visitor feels drawn to. Beyond the main attractions, though, Kamakura hides many interesting things in its corners. And that's where a City Unscripted guide can truly elevate your experience.

    Want to delve deeper into Kamakura's secrets? Perhaps a visit to the lesser-known Sasuke Inari Shrine or a rejuvenating hike through its verdant trails? Whatever your heart desires, with a knowledgeable guide by your side, you can customize your journey, ensuring you breathe in both the fresh air and the essence of this captivating town.

    Unlimited rides at the amusement parks

    Yokohama: Chinatown, amusement park, and city skyline

    Yokohama, a mere stone's throw from Tokyo Station, is easily accessible via Yokohama Station and the city offers an entirely different vibe. It is one of my favorite day trips from Tokyo. With its spacious streets and varied attractions, it's easy to understand why this place is high on the list for day-trippers. In Chinatown, the food stalls tempt you at every corner, especially the ramen museums that dive deep into the culinary history of this beloved dish. 

    The amusement park is an exciting spot for both the young and the young-at-heart. But it's the city's evolving skyline that often captures visitors' attention, showcasing Yokohama's dynamic blend of old and new.

    Every time I guide guests through Yokohama with City Unscripted, I discover something new. Every visitor has a distinct expectation: some come for the food, others for the views, and some simply to wander. The versatility of Yokohama ensures it remains one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo. And I must admit, each unique experience shared with guests makes me appreciate the city even more.

    Mt Fuji views and lake kawaguchiko

    Kawaguchiko: Mount Fuji views, hiking trails, and hot springs

    Kawaguchiko provides direct access to some of the most clear-cut views of Mt. Fuji. The proximity of Lake Kawaguchiko adds to the visual delight, where the serene waters offer a straightforward reflection of the mountain. Reaching there is quite convenient; a train ride from Tokyo Station will get you to Kawaguchiko Station from where the entire region is at your disposal. Beyond the views, there are hiking trails for those keen on some activity, and "onsen" springs for those seeking relaxation.

    Beyond the views, there are hiking trails for those keen on some activity, and "onsen" springs for those seeking relaxation. One of the reasons I eagerly anticipate day trips to Kawaguchiko with City Unscripted is the sheer variety the place offers. Every visit is unique, every view of Mt. Fuji a bit different depending on the time and season. Given the diverse interests of visitors, there's always something new to explore, and I take great pride in guiding them to what they're most passionate about. In terms of accessibility and variety, Kawaguchiko truly stands out as a great day trip from Tokyo.

    Take a step into little edo

    Kawagoe: Traditional Edo-era architecture and atmosphere

    Kawagoe, also known as "Little Edo", offers a close-up experience of Japan's Edo-era without venturing too far from the heart of Tokyo. It is one of the day trips from Tokyo that I recommend you consider if you love history. Kawagoe station is directly accessible from Shinjuku station; this historic town showcases traditional Japanese inns and old merchant houses predominantly along Kurazukuri Street. 

    While here, a visit to Kita-in Temple is essential, especially if you find yourself in Kawagoe in late April, as the temple environment takes on a particular significance during this period. I always recommend visitors to take some time to explore and experience the authentic atmosphere of Kawagoe. With City Unscripted, I've had the privilege to guide so many through the streets of "Little Edo", highlighting spots like Kurazukuri Street and Kita-in Temple. Each journey feels fresh as I help visitors focus on aspects of Kawagoe they're most drawn to.

    Additional suggested day trips from Tokyo

    Fuji q highland and coastal scenery

    Hitachi Seaside Park: Seasonal flowers and coastal scenery

    Just a direct train ride from Tokyo Station, you'll find the delightful Hitachi Seaside Park. It's honestly one of those places that's even better in person than in photos. The rolling expanses of seasonal flowers are incredible. Can you imagine fields of blue nemophila in spring and the contrasting, eye-catching kochia bushes in autumn?

    Beyond the flowers, the coastal ambiance of the park adds that refreshing touch, which I always find invigorating. Whenever friends ask for a not-so-typical day trips suggestions, Hitachi Seaside Park is always on my list. If you've been thinking about places to visit, I'd say this is a must! Don't forget your camera; this place is truly Instagram-worthy.


    Nikko hot spring town

    Nikko National Park: Hiking trails, waterfalls, and hot springs

    While earlier I touched upon the wonders of Nikko's temples and World Heritage sites, there's another side of Nikko that's equally captivating: the Nikko National Park. Nestled in the mountainous region of eastern Japan, this park offers a rejuvenating escape from city life. Hiking enthusiasts, like me, will be thrilled with the myriad of trails, each revealing a different facet of the park's beauty.



    Picture this: serene pathways leading to cascading waterfalls, and quiet moments next to natural onsen baths, allowing for reflection and relaxation.

    If you enjoyed the cultural richness of Nikko's temples, the national park presents a natural counterpart that you shouldn't miss on your next trip. Combining both gives you a comprehensive experience of what Nikko truly offers. So, if you're considering a balanced fusion of history and nature, I'd highly recommend adding this National Park to your itinerary.


    Fuji san

    Fuji Five Lakes: Mount Fuji views, lakes, and villages

    Fuji Five Lakes, with their pristine waters and serene surroundings, provide some of the most iconic views of the legendary Fuji-san. Each lake – be it Lake Kawaguchiko, Yamanaka, Saiko, Shoji, or Motosu – has its own unique appeal, surrounded by picturesque villages that offer a delightful blend of local culture and natural beauty. While Lake Kawaguchi is often the go-to for many, venturing to the other lakes can offer equally rewarding experiences. Heading there during the off season can be a smart move, offering fewer crowds, untouched landscapes, and more good value for your journey. 

    The Fuji Five Lakes are more than just scenic spots from where to see Mt Fuji. Each lake is framed by charming villages that showcase the daily life, traditions, and genuine hospitality of the region. Visiting these villages, you'll witness firsthand how locals have harmoniously integrated their lives with the spectacular landscape around them. With every trip, there's always something new to learn or a fresh perspective to gain, making every visit distinct and memorable.


    Nearby Hakone

    Odawara: Odawara Castle, fresh seafood, and nearby Hakone

    When I think of a nearby escape from Tokyo's bustle, Odawara often comes to mind. The city's heart is the robust Odawara Castle. Standing there, it's easy to imagine the samurai who once walked its grounds. Just a stroll away, the Odawara Fishing Port is a must-visit. The seafood there? Simply unmatched in freshness. 

    I often find myself wandering through the city's streets, where traditional shops offer handcrafted goods and mouth-watering local treats. And oh, if you chance upon an Odawara festival, the enthusiasm of the residents is palpable! With its easy access, just about an hour from Tokyo, Odawara is a genuine gem blending history, local culture, and delightful eats. It's a city I always love introducing to friends and visitors.

    Autumn foilage & cherry blossoms are an attraction

    Saitama: Rail Museum, Bonsai village, and Chichibu nature

    Whenever I fancy a blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication not too far from Tokyo, Saitama is my top choice. The city has this vibrant energy, seamlessly mixing modernity with pockets of lush greenery. Rail Museum is a favorite among many, providing an insight into Japan's exceptional train history. For a peaceful retreat, Omiya Park offers serene landscapes, especially during cherry blossom season. 

    I can't help but be mesmerized by the Bonsai Village, where time seems to pause, and every tree tells a tale of patience and artistry. Not to mention, the local food stalls, where flavors burst in every bite. Being just a short train ride from Tokyo, Saitama is that perfect blend of city-life and nature's charm. Every visit feels like both an adventure and a homecoming.

    Flowers always on full display

    Ashikaga Flower Park: Wisteria tunnel and other seasonal flowers

    Ashikaga Flower Park is one of my top recommendations when friends ask me about places to visit near Tokyo. Just a short train journey away, this park offers more than just its iconic wisteria tunnel. I'm always amazed at how it transforms through the seasons. Beyond the blooms, there are events and workshops where you can dive deep into the local culture. 

    It's not every day you find a spot that combines the vibrancy of seasonal flowers with hands-on experiences. And while the wisteria might draw the crowds, I always encourage visitors to spend a full day exploring. From Tokyo, it's an easy trip, and a day here feels like a refreshing break. Every time I visit, I find a new corner or flower species that I hadn't noticed before.


    Comparatively, while Fuji-Q Highland is more about thrilling roller coasters and breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Disneyland captures a different essence, with its heartwarming parades and themed sections. For a truly immersive experience, I always suggest going for the unlimited rides option. Trust me, after your first ride, you’ll want to hop on again and again.


    Magical moments in Tokyo

    Tokyo Disneyland: Magical moments, classic attractions, and themed adventures

    Now, if you're seeking a dash of magic sprinkled with unforgettable memories, this is the place. Positioned not too far from the city's hustle and bustle, Tokyo Disneyland is an amusement park featuring some of the most iconic characters and rides. From the classic attractions that have enchanted generations to the innovative rides introduced over the years, there's something for every age group.

    Tips for planning a day trip from Tokyo

    Planning a unique trip

    Choose a destination that interests you

    From my personal experience, Tokyo's neighboring regions offer a myriad of diverse attractions. If you’re a history enthusiast, places like Nikko or Kamakura would be perfect. For nature lovers, consider spots like Hakone or Fuji Five Lakes. Always ensure your chosen location aligns with your passion—it makes the journey so much more fulfilling.

    Consider how much time you have available

    Tokyo day trips vary in distance. For example, Yokohama is roughly 30 minutes away, while Nikko might take around two hours. If you've got just half a day, stay closer to Tokyo. If you're carving out a full day, you have the flexibility to venture further out.

    Research the best way to get to and from your destination

    Tokyo's transportation network is like a sprawling web, with Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station acting as vital hubs for many day-trip adventures. If you're venturing outside Tokyo, know that these stations often offer express trains or direct lines to many popular destinations. To optimize your journey, familiarize yourself with navigation apps such as Google Maps and HyperDia. They'll guide you with real-time train schedules, transfers, and platform details, ensuring a smooth travel experience. Trust me, they're game-changers!


    Pack appropriately for the weather and activities you plan to do

    Tokyo's neighboring regions can have varied climates. Heading to the mountains? It's generally cooler, so pack a light jacket. Beach day at Kamakura? Sunscreen and a hat will be your best friends. And always, always wear comfortable shoes—I can't stress this enough!

    Purchase any necessary tickets or passes in advance

    Navigating the entrance of popular attractions can sometimes be a test of patience, especially during peak seasons. Sites like theme parks or certain heritage landmarks often require ticketed entry. To sidestep those long, winding queues, I recommend securing your tickets online beforehand. Not only does this save you precious time, but there's also a chance you could snag some online-exclusive deals or discounts. Trust me, a bit of pre-trip prep can make your entire day run a lot smoother!

    Allow extra time for unexpected delays

    Even with Tokyo's famed punctuality, unforeseen circumstances can arise. It could be a brief train delay or a surprise local event you might want to explore. From my countless trips, I’ve found that keeping an extra hour or two in hand always proves useful. It’s all part of the adventure!


    Final thoughts on Tokyo day trips

    Many attractions to choose from at good value

    Tokyo stands tall as a dynamic city, yet the regions surrounding it hold unique tales and experiences that shouldn't be overlooked. Venturing just a short distance from the city center, you'll encounter places rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. To ensure a comprehensive and insightful experience, consider booking a City Unscripted tour. It’s a decision that can elevate your day trips from Tokyo, providing you with insights and stories that aren’t always accessible otherwise. As you plan, remember to extend your Tokyo horizons and delve into the diverse experiences nearby. Here's to all your upcoming adventures, and I hope our paths cross soon!

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