Take advantage of some of the best day trips from Tokyo.
Aptly nicknamed the Electric Town, Tokyo is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities on the planet. If you’re lucky enough to spend more than a few days here, there are some amazing excursions to take a little off the grid too. In this article, we’ll be exploring some of the best day trips from Tokyo that you can take.
Spanning a massive 845 square miles (even larger than London) and with a population of well over 9 million people, you could spend a lifetime exploring Tokyo. But since we’ve already filled you in on the coolest places to visit in the city, we’re exploring a little outside it this time. As irresistible as Japan’s capital is, there are so many stunning locations that are often overlooked. To help you narrow down your list of adventures, we crafted one of our own. Here are some of our the best day trips from Tokyo; there is something on this list to entertain every type of traveler.
Here Are Our Picks for the Best Day Trips from Tokyo
1. Mt. Fuji
One of the most iconic landscapes in Japan and the highest mountain (volcano) in the country, Mount Fuji is a splendor you’ll have to see to believe. Commonly called Fuji-san among the locals, it’s been a pilgrimage site for centuries. As one of Japan’s sacred mountains, summit hikes remain a popular activity. You’ve also probably noticed that its iconic summit is seen is several famous works of art, particularly in Edo period prints by Hiroshige and Hokusai. This is one of the best day trips from Tokyo.
Tucked away in the mountains in north Tokyo, you’ll find Nikko in the prefecture of Tochigi. With a rich history, it’s most famous for being the site of Toshogu, the site of the Shinto shrine established back in 1617. This shrine was dedicated as a lavish memorial to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founding ruler of the Tokugawa Shogunate (Edo Period).
Besides its historical background, Nikko is frequented for its stunning natural beauty and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photographers, bring your cameras and head to Kegon Falls. Cascading down an impressive 97 meters, this lush wonderland is certainly a sight to see. As legend has it, the falls were named after one of the Kegon-Kyo (Buddhist scriptures). It’s one of the Three Great Waterfalls of Nikko, making the area a major tourist attraction. Take the elevator down to the waterfall viewing spot and try to arrive before the crowds pour in. This is a wonder you won’t soon forget. It's time to visit Japan.
3. Lake Chuzenji
After traveling around the small town of Nikko, head over to Nikko National Park Lake Chuzenji is the place to witness the breathtaking change of the seasons. This natural wonder is the result of a volcanic eruption some 20,000 years ago. It’s also the lake with the highest elevation in all of Japan.
Since the area used to be a popular summer resort, there are plenty of fun restaurants and cafes within close proximity to the lake. After you grab breakfast, adventure out to find some of the hot springs and public baths surrounding the lake. There’s nothing quite like sitting back in jacuzzi-warm waters with nature as your backdrop. Come whenever you’d like. The view of Lake Chuzenji changes every season from blooming azaleas in the summer to a vibrant kaleidoscope of color in the autumn.
This is one of Japan’s most treasured hot springs resorts. You’ll find Hakone tucked away in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, the gateway to Mount Fuji. Give yourself plenty of time to explore here. There are so many beautiful places to see and things to do. Before you strip down for the hot tubs, make sure to visit the Hakone Shrine and its accompanying museum located next to Lake Ashi.
A city of art and culture, Yokohama is one of the best day trips from Tokyo. A mere thirty minutes away by train, it’s convenient to get to and included in the JR rail pass. While it was once a small fishing village, it opened up after a period of isolation and became a hub for international trade. From humble beginnings, it quickly became popular with foreigners who settled down in the Kannai area. In recent years, the population has soared to well over 3 million residents, making it Japan’s second-largest city.
Since there are so many places to explore in Yokohama, we’ve decided to make it a little easier on you. The Sankeien Garden, shopping in Motomachi, Chinatown, Landmark Tower, and the Ramen Museum are a few of the musts. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to take in the sights. You don’t want to rush and then realize you missed out on some amazing things.
Do you love the color pink? Then you’ll find yourself in heaven in Chichibu. This Instagrammable paradise is cover in flowers for as far as the eyes can see. When you’re tired of the concrete jungle of the bigger cities, this is one of the best day trips from Tokyo to take. You’ll find this idyllic destination northwest of the capital in the Saitama prefecture.
So how do you get there? Hop on one of the Red Arrow limited express trains. You’ll depart from Ikebukuro station and ride the train all the way up to Chichibu for about 70 minutes. It’s important to note that the Red Arrow trains are available with reserved seating only. This train will take you all the way up to the Seibu Chichibu Station. From there, you will need to make the rest of the trip on foot.
7. Kusatsu Onsen
Have you ever heard of Kusatsu Onsen? This is one of the most popular hot spring resorts in the Gunma Prefecture and it’s easy to see why. It’s certainly one of the best day trips from Tokyo. You’ll only wish you had more time to stay and unwind. If you can afford to spend a few nights here, you certainly won’t regret it.
Located some 1,200 miles above sea level, this mountain gem goes unnoticed by many who travel to Japan. But for the locals, it’s one of the most popular hot springs. Its location has kept it one of the top secret travel destinations in the country. But that just means you’ll have more space to enjoy yourself. If you’re looking to experience a traditional Japanese town, you won’t find a better choice than Kusatsu.
Every minute, more than 32,000 liters of heated spring water come gushing in from the source of Mt. Shirane, an active volcano. That’s about 230,000 barrels of hot water! The sheer volume of its springs allows for the facilities to be among the most plentiful in Japan. Unlike other areas, these mineral waters are never diluted or adjusted. Nature has created just the perfect remedy. Wind down after a long day of travel or start your morning off just right.
Due to its location, Kusatsu is a bit trickier to get to. But the rustic vibes of the area coupled with the serenity you’ll experience more than makes up for the journey. So how do you get there? Note that there are no trains that get to the town directly. Instead, you will take a bus from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station if you’re coming via public transit. Those who’ve rented a car (and have an international driver’s license) will find it a bit easier.
Book Your Trip and Venture Out to the Best Day Trips from Tokyo
We hope you enjoyed reading our article on the best day trips to take from Tokyo. As you can see, there are so many amazing day trips you can take all within close proximity to the city. That's just one of the reasons why Tokyo is such a desirable place to live – besides having the best bars, restaurants, and an all-around amazing vibe, there are so many adventures to take in the surrounding area too.
Now that we’ve given you a head start, it’s time to start planning your epic trip to see the best day trips from Tokyo. There is simply no way to travel this country without being in constant awe by the diversity of culture, history, natural beauty, and culinary scenes. This unimaginable wealth of attractions offers so much. For the adventurous traveler, Japan offers so much to explore. Brush up on your Japanese phrases and get ready to travel. We've got information on the best time to visit for every type of trip.
From coastal beach cities to artsy urban escapes and ski resorts, there is no shortage of places to choose from. We would love to know – which of the best day trips from Tokyo on our list stood out to you the most? Let us know in the comment section below.
Related Article: 9 Coolest Places to Visit in Tokyo