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Tokyo, the Japanese capital, is one of the largest cities in the world, home to millions of people and packed full of exciting historic and cultural attractions. Like any big metropolis though, no matter how modern or how livable it might be, Tokyo can quickly become overwhelming.
The capital is easy to escape though, with fast trains zipping out to all the nearby cities and great tours that can transport you into the heart of the beautiful scenery that surrounds Tokyo.
After exploring the busy streets of the capital, enjoying the fantastic food and soaking up life in the modern city, head out to climb the iconic slopes of Mount Fuji, or to gaze over its conical form from across the lake.
If you are travelling as a couple, then there are some great romantic day trips, from the colourful fields of Chichibu to the hot springs of the Monkey Park, while for the kids, Japan’s best theme parks, from Tokyo Disneyland to Hello Kitty World are all just a short day trip away.
To get you inspired for a trip to Japan, here are the best day trips to make from Tokyo!
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Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most iconic natural sights, a symbol of the nation and a beautiful place to visit, and it’s just a train ride away from Tokyo!
Mount Fuji is a dormant volcano – the last eruption was hundreds of years ago – and in a land as volcanically charged as this, it’s a potent image of the geothermal forces at work below your feet. This is more than just a piece of scenery though, as Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and one of the highest in Asia.
The snow-capped peak has long captured the imagination of the Japanese people and of visitors from across the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the country’s three, prominent sacred mountains, and it’s a place of spiritual importance to the nation.
Mount Fuji can be climbed, but at 3700 metres in height, it’s not an easy hike to make! Most hikers begin at the Subaru Fifth Station, the gateway to Mount Fuji, and the simplest route will take around 6 hours to the summit via the Yoshida trail. It’s another 4 hours back down though, making this only practical for those who are very fit to accomplish in a day – but it’s far from impossible, of course!
More casual tourists not looking to reach the summit, can explore the base of the volcano, visit the nearby lakes and shrines and simply enjoy the marvellous beauty of Mount Fuji, which is possibly the best day trip that anyone can make from Tokyo!
Yokohama is just an hour away from the capital by train, and it makes for a wonderful day trip from Tokyo. This is a huge city too – Japan’s second largest! – but it’s very, very different from Tokyo. Yokohama is a bustling port, and it’s been that way for centuries. It’s also one of the most diverse places in the country, as Yokohama was one of the first cities in Japan to be opened up to foreign trade in the mid 19th century.
Yokohama has a colourful Chinatown, that’s one of the highlights of a day trip here, and a break from Japanese culture for a few hours too! You can taste some of the best Chinese food in the country as you stroll through the busy streets.
The city is somewhat of a foodie destination in general, and you can take a half hour train ride back to Tokyo after gorging on all the local fare – not just Chinese food! With a solid reputation for its cuisine, Yokohama is also home to two unique food-related museums.
Here you can find the Cup Noodles Museum and the Ramen Museum. Both are dedicated to two of the country’s most famous and popular items of food, and they are must-visit sights when you are in Yokohama.
Another great city to visit on a day trip from Tokyo is Kawagoe, which by train is just a half hour’s journey away. Its proximity makes it an excellent choice for escaping the capital, and you’ll find there are plenty of sights to see during the day!
Kawagoe is home to over 300,000 people, but compared to Tokyo, that’s tiny, and you’ll almost feel as if you’re in small-town Japan in comparison! While much of Tokyo’s heritage has long been lost to modernisation, Kawagoe has retained many of its historic houses and buildings, making this a trip back into the past. Locals even call their city Little Edo, in reference to the fact that Tokyo – which was formerly called Edo – used to look very much like Kawagoe many years ago.
In Kawagoe, you can explore the old merchant’s district, where traders have flocked for centuries. You can visit charming shrines that have changed little over time and you can try some wonderful Japanese food, and enjoy the local tea houses too, on a brilliant day trip from Tokyo by train!
A train ride south of Tokyo along the bay will bring you to the coastal city of Kamakura, an ancient place that’s been important through Japanese history. Kamakura was for over a hundred years the capital of the country, from the 12th to the 14th century, and much of this heritage can still be seen in the city to this day.
Kamakura is home to one of the most iconic Buddha statues in Japan, and you’ll want to visit this giant statue when you first step off the train from Tokyo. Known as the Great Buddha of Kotokuin, this bronze effigy is hundreds of years old!
From the Great Buddha, you can explore many shrines and temples in Kamakura, but one of the real highlights of visiting the city is to walk through the beautiful bamboo forest, called the Hokokuji Bamboo Garden. It’s one of the most picturesque – and most photographed! – tourist spots in the wider Tokyo region and a must visit attraction.
Another must visit attraction in Kamakura is Enoshima, a small island that can be reached via a small causeway from the city. There are some great beaches on the coastline before you reach the island itself, which make for a welcome change from the urban, while Enoshima itself is a charming and pleasant place to explore.
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If you’re looking to indulge in a bit of historical sightseeing on a day trip from Tokyo, then head south, past Kamakura, and along the coast, and you can visit two spectacular Japanese castles using the local trains!
First, call in at Odawara Castle, one of the most recognisable landmarks in the wider Tokyo area. Found in the city of the same name, Odawara Castle is a wonderful piece of history. It’s not a castle in the European sense of course, but rather, it’s a marvellous work of design and architecture that’s more elegant than it is defensive.
It’s a fortified house built first in the 15th century and reconstructed through the centuries that followed. It’s incredibly photogenic, and a great place to visit!
Jump back on the same train line and head further south from Odawara, until you arrive at the seaside city of Atami. This is a beautiful coastal destination that’s home to some popular beaches – particularly in summer when all of Tokyo seems to flock here!
Away from the busy beaches, you can find an intriguing piece of local heritage by visiting Atami Castle. This prominent fortress is another elegant work of architecture and offers visitors one of the best views along the coastline if you climb to the top levels. After visiting the castle, call in for some delicious seafood by the beach and then jump back on the train to travel north to Tokyo.
Just one and a half hours away from Tokyo can be found one of the most romantically colourful destinations in Japan. Chichibu is a wonderful destination for couples, as not only is it a quiet escape from the big city life, but it’s home to beautiful parks and surrounded by mountains.
The main attraction is Hitsujiyama Park, which is found just outside the city centre, and is famous for the vibrant, purple and pink moss that’s becoming famous across Instagram!
The park is located across several hilltops, meaning that this gorgeous natural sight stands out across the whole city when it’s in bloom. Several different species of moss were planted – and thousands of each! – to produce a whole spectacle of colours. There are few other places like it in the world!
Chichibu also makes for a great walking destination, as the hills that surround the city are great for hiking. There are many trails from the city that lead to marvellous scenery and peaceful, quiet shrines that are far from the crowded streets of Tokyo.
One of the most romantic ways to get out of the capital is to join a dinner cruise that takes you through Tokyo Bay. Set sail from the harbour on a traditional ship and see the city across the shimmering waters as the sun begins to set over Tokyo.
You’ll have the best view of the skyline, as you sit back and relax onboard and wait for dinner and entertainment, while Tokyo and its vibrant neon lights and skyscrapers are lit up all around you.
Dinner is served buffet style, meaning you can eat as much as you care to indulge in, but you can rest assured that – this is Japan after all! – the food served will be both traditional and high quality, with a heavy dose of sushi being inevitable!
Enjoy some drinks, as the entertainment begins, and spend the evening immersed in Japanese culture as you’re treated to traditional dances from professional performers.
A monkey park might not seem like the best place to take your date, but this is a little bit different. It’s a bit of a journey from the capital, but it’s worth to visit the iconic snow monkeys, who spend their time relaxing in hot springs.
This is no zoo, or animal encounter, as the monkeys found here are wild, but have been visiting the hot springs – including the man-made pools! – for as long as the locals can remember. These Japanese Macaques are particularly famous because in winter they are seen covered in frost, surrounded by snow, and bathing in the steaming hot water to escape the cold!
You can visit any time of the year, not just in the colder months, and while you won’t be bathing with the monkeys themselves, this area of geothermal activity has plenty more spas to enjoy too.
Couples don’t even, technically, need to leave Tokyo itself to escape the busy city streets and to enjoy a romantic day out! If you’d rather not bathe with Macaques and you’d rather stay closer to your hotel, then spend the day relaxing at the Oedo Onsen Monogatari Hot Springs.
These hot springs are found right in the centre of Tokyo, but despite being right in the middle of the Japanese capital, they couldn’t transport you further away from the hustle and bustle of the hectic capital.
This is a traditional Japanese Onsen, a bathing area that’s fed by hot geothermal water being pumped up from below ground. This Onsen though is just about as traditional as it gets, and you’ll be happy to spend hours together relaxing and bathing at Oedo Onsen Monogatari.
You’ll be visiting an Edo era hot spring, which has been in use here for centuries, and as well as soaking up the hot water you’ll be able to soak up the resplendent Japanese culture and heritage too.
Here you’ll find spas, massage parlours and bathing areas, and you’ll be shown how things are down the traditional way too, so there’s no need to be nervous!
As well as spa facilities, there’s quite literally enough here to keep you entertained for the entire day, as you can enjoy the culinary delights of the restaurants, and indulge in some delectable Japanese cuisine after your treatments and relaxation.
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What better place to take the kids than Tokyo Disneyland? This is one of the best day trips to make with the family, and everyone will be entertained by the vast number of rides and attractions on offer at this world-class theme park.
This sprawling resort and amusement park is home to hundreds of rides, restaurants and show that will keep you enthralled time after time. This is classic Disney, with a Japanese twist, and you’ll find several different areas within the park that are based on the iconic Disney characters and films.
This was the first Disneyland to be built outside of America, and since it’s opening it’s attracted millions of fans, and grown into one of the largest theme parks in the world. You can rest assured that there’s a lot to be done here, from riding roller coasters to exploring the iconic Cinderella Castle!
But Disneyland isn’t Tokyo’s only theme park, and you can also spend the day visiting a quirky Asian speciality when you are staying in the city. Hello Kitty is the famous – or perhaps infamous! – cartoon kitten that you’ll find on school kids’ backpacks and adorning shops and even planes all across the continent.
The character, created in the 1970s in Japan, has spawned an enormous sub-culture across the world, and when you are staying in Tokyo, you can take the kids to the popular Hello Kitty World to see more!
This is a theme park dedicated in its entirety to everything Hello Kitty. The youngsters – and adults too if they want! – will be able to get pictures with the characters, while there are parades and shows to entertain everyone.
Spend the day riding the attractions, enjoying the delights of the Hello Kitty World, and immersing yourself in this charming and colourful part of Japanese culture.
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Just outside of Tokyo, you can find one of the country’s most popular theme parks, which is packed full of adrenaline-inducing rides and roller coasters!
Fuji-Q Highland is more of a traditional theme park – certainly compared to Hello Kitty World! – and here you can find all manner of attractions that will give you and the family a thrill.
The theme park is found in the highlands, and actually sits in the shadow of the iconic Mount Fuji, meaning that while you’re being scared to death you can at least have a wonderful view too!
Fuji-Q Highland is home to some of Japan’s tallest, longest and scariest roller coasters, and it’s one of the most popular amusement parks of its kind in the country, and one of the oldest too – it was here long before Disneyland!
The most infamous ride here though isn’t a rollercoaster, but the Haunted Hospital, a terrifying haunted house that’s guaranteed to freak all of the family out.
Tokyo is one of Asia’s top tourist destinations for a reason, but as well as enjoying all the culture, history and indeed, the modernity of the Japanese capital, it’s a great base from which to explore more of Honshu, the country’s largest island.
The fast bullet trains and the efficient local transport system make travelling outside of the city easy, even if you’ve got kids in tow and it’s your first time in Japan. There are many great cities which are just a short train ride away, from the culinary delights of Yokohama to the romantic and colourful parks of Chichibu. You can visit historic castles, relax at the beach or even take a trip to see the famous Japanese Macaques bathing in natural hot springs!
Of course, you can’t forget to visit the iconic Mount Fuji during your stay in Tokyo, and even if you aren’t planning on hiking the long trail to the snow-clad summit, then this sacred, volcanic peak will always be the best day trip in Japan.
Tokyo is a great city to visit, and an even better city to make day trips from!
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Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.