Are you interested in taking day trips in Japan during your stay? Tokyo has many things to see, but it’s also a transportation hub so it’s a great place to place your base of operations. There are many places you can visit as day trips from Tokyo. Of the many places you can go from Tokyo, below are 5 of the best places to take a day trip. You should look at all the options and find the place that suits your schedule and your interests the most.
Your destinations would be anywhere between 1 to 3 hours away by train. The closer locations like Yokohama would be a place you could visit as a half day trip. Other places like Nikko take a long time to get to so it would definitely have to be a full day trip with an early start and a late return. You can even experience riding on a Shinkansen (bullet train) if you’d like to on one of these day trips. And if you’re uneasy about going to the countryside by yourself, you can take a tour with a guide from Tokyo.
Here are some popular day trips from Tokyo
Going to Hakone is probably one of the most popular day trips in Japan. Hakone is about 1.5 hours from Tokyo and is a famous area where they have hot springs. It’s in a beautiful mountainous area in the southern part of Kanagawa Prefecture. You can take a boat ride on Lake Ashi and even see Mount Fuji from there if the weather is clear.
There are many other sightseeing spots in Hakone and you’ll find many sightseers there from abroad and from all over Japan. Some people would rather stay there overnight instead of taking a day trip since it involves a lot of walking. But if you don’t have the time to do this, a day trip to see the highlights will suffice. You should also be aware that there will be crowds of people during the popular season of the autumn colors. You’ll need to line up for everything so I recommend going during another season.
Check the best Hakone day tours by Local Guides.
Kamakura is famous for its Great Buddha Statue located at Kotokuin Temple. It’s also a popular place to go see the hydrangeas in early summer, and the autumn colors from late November. The area is surrounded on one side by the sea and on the other by mountains. So you can eat some delicious meals there. The fresh vegetables grown in Kamakura are also famous. As for sightseeing spots, you’ll find that there are numerous shrines and temples all over the area. Hokokuji Temple is well known for its beautiful bamboo forest garden. You can take some amazing pictures there in the serene atmosphere surrounded by the bamboo. And Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine is a beautiful shrine that represents the area. The street leading to the shrine from the station is lined with shops selling souvenirs and snacks. You’ll probably have fun just walking down the street.
And if you ride the little train running through the area, you can also go to Enoshima Island. It’s an island that is connected to the mainland by a bridge and it’s also a popular sightseeing spot. Kamakura is also an area that is crowded all year long especially on weekends. So if you’re planning on going to Kamakura, you should plan to do the day trip on a weekday.
Check the best Kamakura day tours by Local Guides.
Yokohama is one of the closer day trip destinations to Tokyo. You can get there in less than 1 hour from Tokyo, so if you’re thinking of taking a half day trip, this is the place to go. Yokohama is another modern city by the bay. There are many shopping malls to do your shopping, as well as a Chinatown.
Yokohama is where foreign culture entered Japan centuries ago, so you’ll find that this port city has been greatly influenced by it. One of the sightseeing spots, Red Brick Warehouse, is one of the places you can see how foreign culture affected the architecture. There are also former mansions of foreign residents from centuries ago up on the hill, along with a cemetery made just for the foreigners of long ago. An example of a modern day sightseeing spot would be the Cup Noodle Museum. You can even make your very own Cup Noodle, so if you have children with you, this is a place they’ll enjoy.
Check the best Yokohama day tours by Local Guides.
Nikko is famous for its World Heritage Site, Nikko Toshogu Shrine. It’s a famous shrine known for the beauty of its gate. Other than the World Heritage Site, Nikko is also an area where you can enjoy hot springs. You can experience a foot bath right outside the station. This area is in a mountainous area of high altitude where you can see the beautiful natural scenery. Kegon Waterfalls is one of the 3 great waterfalls of Japan. There is an observation deck close to the waterfall where you can hear the roaring water and feel the spray on your face. And Lake Chuzenji, the lake from which the water flows to Kegon Falls, is a lake inside Nikko National Park. It lies at the foot of Mount Nantai. You can take a cruise on this lake too.
If you want to see what the era of the samurai looked like, you should visit Edo Wonderland. It’s a theme park with an interior that makes it look like you’ve taken a trip back in time to the Edo Era. You can see samurai shows, take pictures with them, or even dress up as a samurai or a town girl in a kimono and immerse yourself in the traditional Japanese culture. Nikko is about 3 hours from Tokyo, so you should be ready to start very early if you want to take a day trip there.
Check the best Nikko day tours by Local Guides.
5. Saitama (Kawagoe)
Saitama Prefecture lies to the north of Tokyo. There is a famous area called Kawagoe, also known as “Little Edo”. Edo was the former name of Tokyo. The reason why Kawagoe is called “Little Edo” is because it has a street where there are many traditional Japanese buildings surviving since the Edo era. The buildings are ancient but inside them are souvenir shops and cafes, and has become a popular sightseeing spot. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time when you walk down this street.
If you’re interested in “bonsai” or the art of cultivating a miniature tree that still retains the shape of a full size tree, you should visit the Bonsai Village in Omiya. This is an area in Saitama Prefecture where there are many “bonsai” nurseries. You can also visit the “bonsai” museum there. Visiting Saitama Prefecture by yourself may prove a bit challenging as you’ll need to transfer trains a few times, and the sightseeing areas tend to be far from the train stations. I recommend having a guide take you there so you don’t end up becoming lost.
Check the best Saitama day tours by Local Guides.
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