9 Best Day Trips from Tokyo: Easy City Excursions

I am a participant in affiliate programs, so basically I earn a small commission if you use any of the affiliate links on this post - at no extra cost to you! Dope right?

For most travelers, Tokyo will be their first introduction into Japan because it’s often the most affordable (and accessible) airport to fly into. Of course, that depends on your airport and where you’re flying from and what airline yadda yadda, but just because you fly into Tokyo doesn’t mean you have to STAY in Tokyo. Being the largest and capital city of Japan, there are tons of incredible day trips from Tokyo allowing you to easily see more of the country even if you only have a few days.

To date, I’ve now visited Japan three times and for me, Tokyo has always been the best flight price, so that’s where I usually start my trips. You could spend a MONTH in Tokyo and not see it all, but if you’re spending at least 4 days in Tokyo, I’d recommend at least a short day trip out to mix it up a bit.

The best part about taking day trips from Tokyo is that you don’t need a car; Japan is well connected via trains and buses so you can leave the driving to technology while you sit back and relax (maybe listening to some audio-books by Japanese authors?)

But, like I said before, even between an almost combined three weeks in Tokyo, I still haven’t seen all of what this massive city has to offer, let alone Tokyo’s surrounding areas. Thankfully Samantha from Sam Sees World has graciously volunteered to help me come up with some of the best day trips from Tokyo that travelers can easily visit.

How to Get Around Japan

Alright now then, before we can talk about all the fantastic day trips from Tokyo…we first gotta get you INTO Tokyo. How does transportation work? How do you get around Tokyo in general, let alone how to leave the city?

If you’re coming from a destination with abysmal public transport, then chances are you’ll be AMAZED by Japan’s transportation system. It’s clean, efficient, and fairly easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. It isn’t cheap though and your transportation budget can add up if you’re visiting for a while, especially once you start taking bullet trains during your day trips from Tokyo.

I’ll eventually publish a full guide on using transportation in Japan, but for now just know that Google Maps works EXTREMELY well in Japan, and directions show the station, train times, platform numbers, and will even show you the ticket fare for your journey. It’s amazing. You don’t even have to have a physical train card or ticket – if you have a smartphone, you can add a digital Japan transportation card (Suica) to your phone’s wallet and refill the card from your phone. Then you just tap to get on all of Japan’s buses and trains.

On that note, there’s another transportation card that I have to mention….

What is the JR Pass?

The JR Pass stands for the “Japan Rail” pass, and is a transportation bundle offered by a specific train company (Japan Rail). Since transportation fare does add up, the JR pass offers “unlimited” transportation on JR lines (including bullet trains) for one price. The pass can be used only by foreign tourists, which are the majority of people zip zagging up and down the country.

The JR pass gives you access to:

  • All Shinkansen (bullet) trains: These are the infamous bullet trains in Japan and with this, you can reach Kyoto in just 2 hours!
  • Local JR train lines: The main trains in Tokyo. Most of which will be part of your daily commute to the different neighborhoods in Tokyo. Not ALL lines in Tokyo are JR lines, but you can still get around just on JR lines.
  • Day trips from Tokyo: Mt Fuji, Nara, etc. Many are connected via JR transportation.
  • Main airport transfers: Self-explanatory haha.

Seems fantastic, right? Well….except for the fact that the JR pass isn’t cheap either. As of January 2024, the prices for JR Passes are as follows:

DurationRegularGreen Car (premium)
7 consecutive days50,000 yen70,000 yen
14 consecutive days80,000 yen110,000 yen
21 consecutive days100,000 yen140,000 yen

At the current exchange rate, that’ means ‘s about $320 USD for 7 days of travel…depending on how many day trips from Tokyo you do, you definitely want to check if getting the JR pass makes sense for your itinerary. I always use a JR Pass calculator to see if the cost my planned excursions would be cheaper buying individually, or if it’s worth it to invest in the JR pass.

For example, on my last trip to Japan, I did quite a few day trips from Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto over two weeks, but the ticket fares were cheaper individually than buying the JR pass.

However, if you are planning a Japan itinerary that takes you farther than just day trips from Tokyo, where train tickets get more expensive, then it could definitely be worth it even if you visit less places. If you’ve used the JR Pass in the past, the prices have definitely increased so be mindful about your itinerary planning!

Best Day Trips from Tokyo

Okay, now with the logistical part out of the way, let’s get into all the fun day trips from Tokyo you can take! You can reach these destinations by a combination of local trains, buses, and bullet trains. Although the destinations range in terms of attractions, they’re all great day trips from Tokyo depending on what you’re looking for!

Now in order of least travel time/closest to Tokyo, let’s kick this list off!

Kawagoe

Distance (in time): 30m by local train

Kawagoe, also known as “Little Edo,” is a charming town located about 30 minutes from central Tokyo. Trains from Shinjuku provide easy access, and there’s an authentic bus tour available from the station. Consider the full-day unlimited ride ticket for 500Y to explore all the attractions.

Famous for its well-preserved Edo period architecture, it offers visitors a glimpse into Japan’s past. Stroll down Kurazukuri Street to see traditional warehouse-style buildings, visit the iconic Toki no Kane (Bell of Time), and explore the quaint shops and cafes. Don’t miss the delicious sweet potato snacks, a local specialty.

You can also opt for a professionally guided tour of Kawagoe if you’re someone who likes a more in-depth experience on the historical and cultural significance of a place.

Yokohama

Distance (in time): 1hr by local train

If I’m being completely honest, Yokohama is one my favorite day trips from Tokyo because of its convenience and range of activities. Many people think of Yokohama as a “suburb” of Tokyo because of its proximity, but Yokohama is actually the second largest city in Japan.

IT HAS A LOT TO OFFER.

Explore Minato Mirai 21, a  modern neighborhood renowned for its shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Don’t miss the iconic Big Wharf (Osanbashi Pier), known for its distinctive design and offering spectacular waterfront views. On that note, you should also checkout the Red Brick Warehouse, an old cargo holding area now converted to house local shops and artisans; it often hosts festivals and events on the weekend as well!

That said, there’s also some incredible museums in Yokohama, including the Cup of Noodle Museum and the Ramen Museum – both of which include delicious treats. For more food, you can check out Yokohama’s Chinatown and eat to your heart’s content.

Mt Takao

Distance (in time): 1hr by local train

Just an hour away from Tokyo, Mount Takao is one of the best day trips from Tokyo.

The best way to enjoy Mount Takao is by taking a cable car up – which is the steepest cable car in Japan. A highlight here is the Yakuo-in Temple that you can walk to from the drop off point of the cable car scenic passing through lush forests, monuments, statues, shops, and attractions along the way.

Here you can explore various trails, opting for some of the more adventurous ones on the descent. Note that the cable car only accepts cash – however, even walking down is a beautiful experience.

It’s amazing to find such wonderful hiking trails so close to Tokyo. Despite the number of hikers, the trails are well-marked, and wooden stairs have been built in some areas to protect the paths due to the steep terrain.

Kamakura

Distance (in time): 1h45m by local train

If you’re looking for day trips from Tokyo that offers a glimpse into Japan’s cultural heritage and coastal beauty – then Kamakura is your destination. Kamakura is a historic village dating back to Yoritomo’s shogunate government in 1192. It’s full of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, showcasing Japan’s rich cultural heritage. 

Be sure to take advantage of free guided tours led by local university students departing from Kamakura station. Or, for a most robust experience, you can also join a Kamakura food and walking tour (not free though).

While exploring, make sure to visit the iconic Great Buddha statue, an impressive symbol of Kamakura’s religious significance and historical importance.

Mt Fuji

Distance (in time): 2h30m by bus

Arguably one of the most recognizable mountains, Mt Fuji is Japan’s most iconic and majestic mountain. Just a few hours away from the capital, this day trip promises stunning views, natural beauty, and a chance to experience the cultural significance of this UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Unlike the other day trips from Tokyo, it’s actually much faster (and cheaper!!) to visit Mt Fuji by bus. The buses are temperature controlled, spacious, and even have a bathroom onboard. Mt Fuji is surrounded by the “Fiji Five Lakes,” so depending on which area you decide to visit for your trip there will be different attractions. My recommendation is to visit Fujiyoshida, but you can’t go wrong because there’s so many amazing things to do in Mt Fuji.

During the summer months, you can even join the few who choose to climb to the summit of Mt Fuji. Or…you can relax at an onsen and eat soba noodles, yanno, either/or.

Nikko

Distance (in time): 3hrs by bullet train

Head on one of the most magical day trips from Tokyo to Nikko, a picturesque town located in the mountains. Known for its UNESCO World Heritage sites and natural beauty, Nikko offers a perfect blend of history, spirituality, and breathtaking landscapes.

The Toshogu Shrine, dating back to the 17th century, is particularly noteworthy as it serves as a monument to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of a shogunate that ruled Japan for 250 years. 

While most day trips from Tokyo to Nikko focus on the sacred sites, those with extra time can explore the area’s beautiful waterfalls and lakes, adding an extra layer of natural beauty to their visit.

Nearby is the Nikko Edo Wonderland, an interactive theatrical experience that transports visitors to Japan’s edo period of ninjas and samurai – and guests are encouraged to rent costumes too! The park offers a variety of shows and performances, as well as unique food options. It’s possible to spend the entire day there, but about 4 hours is also sufficient. Plus, there is free transportation from the park to Nikko’s center.

Kyoto

Distance (in time): 3hrs by bullet train

Kyoto is Japan’s ancient capital, and such an incredible destination for tourists to visit. Personally, if you have room in your itinerary, I’d recommend spending at least 3 days in Kyoto, but in a pitch it is also one of the great day trips from Tokyo. That said, with Kyoto offering the perfect blend of serene temples and picturesque gardens, it is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo.

So…expect crowds.

But it’s 1000% worth it!!

While here, be sure to explore the iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine with its thousands of torii gates and admire the beauty of the Kinkaku-ji Temple. Don’t miss the traditional streets of Gion, where geisha culture still thrives, and indulge in authentic Japanese cuisine. If you’re inclined, renting a kimono in Kyoto is a charming experience.

With its timeless charm and preserved heritage, Kyoto offers a glimpse into Japan’s history and is a destination not to be missed. Take a journey through time on one of the best day trips from Tokyo.

Nara

Distance (in time): 4hrs by bullet train

Nara is an amazing city rich in history and natural beauty. Located just a short train ride away, Nara is famous for its stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites and its friendly deer wandering around the city! Nara is usually visited as a day trip from Osaka, buuuut hey, you can make it work as one of your day trips from Tokyo too.

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Nara as you explore its ancient temples, serene gardens, and peaceful atmosphere. Begin your adventure by visiting the iconic Todai-ji Temple, home to the Great Buddha. Then walk through Nara Park, where hundreds of friendly deer roam freely, and you can even feed them. 

Honestly, the deer roaming around are so friendly and such a welcome sight. They are so cute and are literally everywhere! But…they will/do bite and headbutt because…they are wild animals. So just be wary and pay attention to their energies.

Universal Studios Japan

Distance (in time): 4hrs by bullet train

As one of the farthest day trips from Tokyo, you’ll want to mentally and physically prepare yourself for a LONG day, both in transportation and just the stamina needed for an amusement park in general. Universal Studios Japan is in Osaka, but if you’re a theme park fan, it’s definitely one of the worthy day trips from Tokyo.

There are a view unique aspects to Universal Studios Japan, compared to parks in the USA and around the world, but most notably is Japan’s Nintendo World which features Yoshi’s Adventure ride (not yet built at the Orlando park). To make the most of your visit, I highly recommend reserving express tickets for Nintendo World in advance, as it can get sold out quickly.

Also be sure to arrive at least 1-2 hours before opening to avoid the crowds, especially during peak tourist seasons. So…yeah, get on the earliest train you can. Nonetheless, Universal Studios Japan is amazing! BONUS: Don’t miss its cute desserts and character-themed popcorn buckets and drink cups.

Conclusion: Day Trips from Tokyo

Like I said before, you could spend a LOT of time in Tokyo and still not see everything on your wishlist, but don’t let that stop you from venturing out of the city and taking a few day trips from Tokyo. If you’re limited on time and can only pick a few, then my top 3 day trips from Tokyo are Yokohama (loved the Cup of Noodle Museum and Ramen Museum), Mt Fuji, and Kawagoe…but maybe I’m a sucker for the shorter day trips from Tokyo hahah.

I want to give Samantha from Sam Sees World another shoutout for helping me with a few suggestions, especially Nikko and Kamakura since I haven’t been there yet! Go give her a follow for more great content.

Thanks for reading everyone – did I miss any of your favorite day trips from Tokyo? Let me know in the comments below!

Pin These Day Trips from Tokyo

9 day trips from Tokyo Japan

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts

4 Comments

  1. I’ve been to Nikko and Kamakura which were both super busy but really rewarding. Kamakura is a lovely town and probably even warrants a night or two stay. Kyoto – I would spend some nights there as it can be a trek from the JR Station where the Shinkansen stops to the major sights which are very spread out and it easily takes you an hour to go from one to the other. Also… I found accommodation prices in Kyoto surprisingly reasonable when compared with Tokyo.

    1. Yes considering how busy Kyoto is, it was much more affordable for me on my trip than Tokyo hahah. I’ll definitely have to visit Nikko for my next trip!

  2. Love it! I wouldn’t really count Kyoto, Nara and Osaka (USJ) BUT I love them all, so I’m glad you included them so folks spend time in kansai too.

    Takao-san, Nikko, Kawagoe and Kamakura are all fab options for seeing a bit of older Japan (they are also all amaaaazing in autumn if you go back!) And I am always a fan of the chilled Yokohama vibes. It’s fun to see Japan through your eyes. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.