There are many sightseeing day trips to destinations in and around the Tokyo area, but many require massive travel times of 3-4 hrs. Not really the best use of your limited time. So here are our favorite day trips from Tokyo, that are less than 2 hours away.
Yokohama, being a large and diverse city like Tokyo, it is best to allocate at least 2 days for exploration. It’s a city that’s not quite as bustling as Tokyo. Think of it like Tokyo’s more laid-back little brother.
Here are the recommended Yokohama’s destination: Chinatown, Yamashita Park, Cup Noodle Museum, Queens Square and Landmark Tower, and Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.
Many people refer to Kamakura as “The Little Kyoto” and after visiting Kyoto, I can see why. They’re both historic cities that boast numerous temples, shrines, and monuments, with the main difference being that Kamakura is much smaller, and far more rural.
If you are not into temple hopping, then you can spend your day at one of Kamakura’s three beaches, Zaimokuza, Yuigahama, and Koshigoe, which charms a lot of locals. Here are the recommended destinations in Kamakura: Komachi Street, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Great Buddha at Kotokuin Temple, Hase Temple.
Enoshima is an island connected to the mainland by a single bridge. Being on the coast, it has various attractions, most of which are ocean or beach related. The best train pass to get when exploring Enoshima is the Enopass, as you get to enjoy the entire island of Enoshima and it allows you to enter many of Enoshima’s top attractions for free, saving you money on entrance fees.
Some of the things covered by the Enopass include the Lighthouse Observatory Tower (Sea Candle), Iwaya Caves, and free use of escalators (Enoshima has lots of stairs!). For water activities, tourists can go swim or surf at the beaches on either side of the island. If beaches aren’t really your thing, the nearby Enoshima Aquarium is a great time for families.
Jogashima is three times bigger than Enoshima and is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Unlike Enoshima, Jogashima is flat, so there’s no need to climb a bunch of stairs. You can practically explore the entire island by walking for 1-2 hours from west to east. Just be sure to wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
Some destination highlights are Misaki Port, Jogashima Lighthouse, and Awazaki Lighthouse. The recommended train pass to explore Jogashima is the KEIO 1-Day Ticket Unlimited for 900 yen. Bus from Misakiguchi to Jogashima island is not covered however.
The Odawara Castle Park is the most visited attraction in Odawara. It is famous for plum blossoms in early spring. If you are into role-playing, you can even rent some samurai clothes or kimono at the Honmaru Hiroba square next to the castle. There aren’t many places to see in Odawara except for the castle itself, which is most beautiful during autumn and spring. This is why the trip here is usually combined with Hakone.
Only an hour and a half from Tokyo, Hakone can be accessed through the Hakone-Yumoto station via the Odakyu Line. It boasts Lake Ashi, which has a great view of Mt. Fuji, making this a popular stop for both locals and tourists.
Hakone is best explored for at least 2 days as there are many attractions here. However, since you are only visiting for a day trip, here are my recommended places that you must visit: Hakone Open Air Museum, Owakudani Valley and its black eggs, Lake Ashi, and Hakone Shrine.
7. Mt. Fuji
Kawaguchiko or Lake Kawaguchi is the best area to see Mt. Fuji. It is my personal favorite day trip out of those mentioned in this list. I recommend that you stay here at least 2 days. But if you’re only visiting for a day trip, I recommend joining a 1-day Mt. Fuji tour package from Tokyo.
Kawagoe is probably the easiest day trip to visit from Tokyo. Only 30 minutes from Central Tokyo (Ikebukuro Station), this gem of a place is lined with quaint little storehouses called from the past Meiji era. Take a walk in the stone-paved streets with stunning glasses, which will make you feel as if you are transported back to the 1800s.
Kawagoe is actually a tiny place and there’s really no set itinerary. Explore it at your own pace. But before heading out to the train station, make sure to grab a map to point exactly which attractions to explore around Kawagoe. Must see are Old storehouse zone and the Toki-no-kane or Time Bell Tower.
Kawasaki is known for its Kanamara Festival — also known as the Fertility or Penis Festival. This festival takes place at Kawasaki Daishi every year on the first Sunday of April. If visiting outside of the very limited timeframe of the festival, don’t worry, as there is a lot more to see in Kawasaki other than giant wooden phalluses!
The World’s Shortest Escalator, according to Guinness Book of World Records, is also in Kawasaki City, inside the More (pronounced as mo-re) Department Store. For Doraemon fans like myself, you can visit the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum. Fujiko Fujio is the pen name of the two manga artists who created Doraemon, a popular Japanese manga and anime series for children.
Hachijojima is the most accessible of the Tokyo Islands, a string of volcanic islands stretching out to the south and east from the capital. With direct flights from Haneda Airport to Hachijojima Airport, it is the quickest and easiest subtropical retreat from the city, and you can fly out in the morning and back in the evening — although there’s certainly enough to do on the island to make an overnight trip worthwhile as well!
11. Izu Peninsula
The Izu Peninsula is famous for its Kawazu Cherry Festival where you can see the earliest cherry blossoms in bloom from early February to early March. It is also a great day trip for people who are fond of coastlines, nature, hiking spots, and onsens.
Heads up about the train costs, it’s 5,100 yen one-way, or 4,900 yen one-way using the local train. Consider getting the JR Tokyo Wide Pass for 10,000 yen unlimited ride that is valid for three days. Driving is the best option here though.
Many only visit Nikko during the autumn season, but Nikko is magical all year round. You can see the gradual change in season starting from the higher areas of the Yumoto Onsen in early October, and in the central town of Nikko in mid-November.
Apart from the famous shrines of the Nikko’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, day visitors can also enjoy the naturally beautiful environment with rocky landscapes, waterfalls, lakes, and hot springs.
13. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
Although technically located in Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo Disney Resorts make a great day trip from Tokyo. I prefer DisneySea though as it is more visually appealing and offers a lot of fun rides for adults and kids.
Ever since it opened, it’s attracted many tourists from around the world, so expect the park to be jam-packed, especially during weekends and holidays. Having said that, buying tickets in advance is highly recommended, as the amusement park ticketing booth at the entrance gates is always packed with long lines.
14. Mt. Oyama
One of the most popular hiking spots in Kanagawa, Mt. Oyama offers a great day trip adventure with wonderful views. For hiking newbies, it is recommended that they take the Onna-zaka (women’s slope), which is easier and gives you interesting glimpses on the Seven Wonders of Onna-zaka and Oyama-dera Temple.
If you are in for a challenge, take Otoko-zaka (men’s slope), which is much harder because it has very steep stone steps. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but during autumn, you should take definitely take the women’s slope.
Mount Nokogiriyama offers three sightseeing attractions in its high altitude range. Highlights attractions are the Stone Quarry Ruins, Jigoku Nozoki Viewpoint also known as “view of hell”, and the big stone Buddha or Ishidaibutsu. For those visiting on a day trip, it is more convenient to use the ropeway which is a 10-minute walk from Hama-kanaya station.