5 day trips from Tōkyō

Are you looking for sightseeing spots outside of the capital of Japan? In case you get tired of seeing one skyscraper after the other, we have a handful of ideas for trips outside of Tōkyō just 1-2 hours away by bus or train. There are so many nice places to go for a day trip in the Kantō area, the eastern part of the main island, Honshū. You can also chose to spend a few days with a stay over in one of these places with historical spots, gorgeous nature and self-pampering. Here is our list of top 5 places to visit on your next day trip away from Tōkyō. Enjoy!

tokyo, japan, city life


1. Kamakura and Enoshima

The small costal town Kamakura, which used to be a grand political town (yes, one of many), is less than an hour away from Tōkyō. It is truly a cultural gem similar to Kyōto with its Buddhist temples, Shintō shrines and historical monuments. Close to the coast of the town is the island Enoshima, which is also very much worth a visit. As for transport, I'd recommend purchasing a Odakyū Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass, so that you can drive around freely between the company Odakyū's stations in the area of Kamakura and Enoshima.

Hop onto the JR Yokosuka Line directly from Tōkyo Station to Kamakura Station, if you chose to start your trip in the town of Kamakura. There is a calm atmosphere in this town despite the many tourists. From the station towards the great shrine Hachimangu, there is a nice shopping street with restaurants. This shrine is considered one of Kamakura's most important shrines and is a must see. If you go further to the east of the town, you'll find the Hokokuji temple, which is known for its bamboo groove. In the eastern area there are also different walking trails for tourists full of energy. 

In the northern and western parts of town you'll find walking trails like the Daibutsu Hiking Trail. This trail is named after one of the most famous tourist magnets of the town, the great bronze statue Great Buddha of Kamakura, which is 11,4 metres tall. The Daibutsu statue is found close to Hase Station, and near this station lies the Hasedera temple with a belonging museum. If you wish to explore more temples and shrines here, there are many many more than the ones mentioned. When I visited the area myself, I was only there for one single day. If you wish to see all of the temples and shrine, I would say that at least a couple of days are necessary.

When you are in the area of Kamakura, you can't miss a trip to the island Enoshima. Take a train to Katase-Enoshima Station. From here you can walk to the island via a bridge. Go up the stairs to Enoshima Shrine, where you are guaranteed a stunning view (see my photos below). There are also attractions such as a view tower, caves and green park areas. 

Besides the beautiful monuments, Kamakura and Enoshima are known for their sandy beaches, which the Japanese flock to visit in summer or at the time of New Year's first sunrise. On the island you'll find stalls and shops with Enoshima specialties. One of these is the small and almost see-through fish with black eyes, shirasu, which you can try in brugers and ice cream. Give it a go. Just try not to look into the tiny black eyes ;-)

daibutsu, great buddha, buddhism, japan, kamakura

enoshima, japan, tokyo

(https://unsplash.com/photos/Y0XegGkYIrg + https://unsplash.com/photos/TDe3ht46OYc)

2. Mt. Takao

Are you looking for a quick get away and some exercise, you should consider a day trip to Mt. Takao, which is under an hour away from Tōkyō's Shinjuku. The train ticket there only costs 390¥ (3.5 USD), and the view of mountains and rice fields on your way to Mt. Takao is almost worth the trip in itself. The 599 m. tall sacred mountain with its different hiking trails is a favourite among the Japanese, and during spring and fall the nature is at its most beautiful. If you take the train from Shinjuku in the morning to hike the mountain, you can be back early at night, so it makes a nice day trip away from the exhausting city life.

When you arrive at Takaosanguchi Station by the foot of Takaosan, you can - besides buying snacks, drinks or gear for your hike - visit Takao 599 Museum, where you can learn more about the eco system of the mountain. There are also hot spring baths at Keio Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu, but perhaps you'd rather wait until after a long day of hiking, for when your body needs some pampering.

Takaosan has six different trails, that you can follow all the way to the top observation deck. If you wish to avoid walking all the way up, you can take the lift or cablecar to the first observation point halfway up the mountain. There is also a park here with wild monkeys and flowers.

Continuing up the mountain, you might discover the ancient, rustic temple/shrine Yakuoin, which has been used for more than 1,000 years to pray to the tengu deities (they are the ones with long noses) for good fortune. There is quite a lot to see on the way up the almost 600 m. tall mountain. Enjoy a cold ice cream and take and picture by the summit to remember your trip to Tōkyōs beautiful mountain. 

(https://unsplash.com/photos/H4hfkUue_KM + https://unsplash.com/photos/x-1B-nw1WFA)

3. Kawaguchiko

By the tallest mountain of Japan, Mt. Fuji (3,776 m.), are the five Fuji lakes, Fujigoko. The longest of the five lakes is Kawaguchiko, and here lies a cosy town with the same name. This place is - among other things - known for its onsen (hot springs) and ryokan (traditional inn), but the area is also a popular destination when it comes to fishing, hiking and camping.

I would heavily recommend a two day trip including a stay at a traditional ryokan, while you're here. Personally, I recommend the Ōike Hotel, where you can enjoy an onsen with a view to Fuji and Japanese sukiyaki and kaiseki meals with many courses. Don't miss the chance of staying a night at one of these inns in a tatami room on a futon bed, wearing cotton yukata. It's a truly amazing experience! At the one I stayed at, there was even a free hotel bus to pick us up at the station. I've written a guide to the city Kōbe including "how to onsen", which you can read right here.

The nature in this fruitful area is stunning, and besides the beautiful momiji leaves in autumn and the pink sakura petals in spring, you can enjoy lavender in full bloom at parks such as Oishi Park in the summer at the Kawaguchiko Herb Festival. There are - like in any other slightly touristy area in Japan - small stalls with snacks, soap and other goods. Still, there isn't an overly touristy vibe here.

Don't miss Iyashi no Sato, a small open-air museum focusing on local crafts. I recommend renting a car to get there, since it is closer to one of Fujis other lakes, Saiko. If you want to read more about transportation in Japan, you can find it in my guide to your first trip to Japan. It takes around 40 minutes by car to get here, but it only costs 350¥ (roughly 3 USD) to enter and learn more about traditional crafts like weaving and ceramics. On the way back around the lake, you can visit the beautiful shrine Asama Jinja, which isn't crowded at all due to its placement. 

If you are looking for something wilder than temples, flowers and onsen, why don't you try all of the crazy rides in the amusement park Fuji Q-Highland? It's placed close to Fujis five lakes, and many highway busses stop right by the park and by Kawaguchiko, so it not difficult to get there. Take the train or a direct bus from Shinjuku or Shibuya to Kawaguchiko Station. It costs around 2,000¥ (around 18 USD). A lovely area for a perfect wellness trip away from Tōkyō.

mt. fuji, mountain, japan, tokyo, momiji, autumn leaves, kanwaguchiko

kaiseki dinner, japanese food

(https://unsplash.com/photos/W23Z34MLu74 + https://unsplash.com/photos/EDGH8ypPDAw)

4. Hakone

Around a two hour drive from Tōkyō lies the beautiful town and national park Hakone in a mountainous area not far from Mt. Fuji. Because of thermal activity, like in Kawaguchiko, Hakone is rich on onsen like the famous Tenzan. There are onsen in different areas of the town such as Yumoto, and it might take a bit of research in order to find the perfect one for you. Yunessun for example offers its guests red wine baths. I guess there is first for everything, huh? ;-)

If you wish to see the hot springs in action, you can experience sulfur vapours and bubbling, steaming springs and flowing water in Owakudani. The area lies around the crater of Mt. Hakone in a volcanic zone, which luckily hasn't been active for tousands of years. In this area, you can buy an egg to boil in the natural hot water, which turns black. Perhaps you'll also get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji there.

Getting around the more rural areas of Japan can be a bit tricky, and alternatively you can go on a guided bus ride with English speaking guides fro the city centre of Tōkyō, Shinjuku. An easy and cheap alternative. If you're up for public transportation, you can take a train or a bus from the mentioned station in Tōkyō. When you travel around Hakone, you should consider getting a Hakone Freepass, which gives free access to Odakyū's public transport in a certain area. And there is in fact more to Hakane than onsen.

Are you interested in art? Visit the Hakone Open Air Museum with outdoor sculptures made by both Japanese and international artists. The museum has attempted to maintain a harmonic balance between nature and art with the surrounding mountains. If you haven't seen enough temples and shrines, you should consider visiting the shrine Hakone Jinja. It is one of Hakone's most famous shrines with a huge torii gate in the lake Ashi (also known as Ashinoko). 

Are you more into castles? How about a visit to Odawa Castle by the coast of the town Odawara not far from Hakone. If we stay in the historical corner, you can experience the Old Tokaido and Hakone Checkpoint, which used to be a checkpoint of traffic between Tōkyō and Kyōto in the 17th century. The checkpoint has been reconstructed, and you can walk some of the way of the old path around Hakone. There is both wellness and history in wonderful Hakone.

hakone, sulfur, hot springs, japan, travel

(https://unsplash.com/photos/5v7jux4wZWI + https://unsplash.com/photos/CmMm7wWb6J8)

5. Yokohama

The port city Yokohama has in recent years almost become a part of Tōkyō with its more than 3.5 million citizens in the city itself. About 30 minutes from Tōkyō you'll find a popular getaway with a European port area, which like the city Kōbe was one of the first ports to open for foreign traders in the last part of the 1800's. 

By the new city centre by the harbour, Minato Mirai, you'll find the Landmark Tower and the amusement park Cosmo World with its giant ferris wheel. It's free to walk around but costs money to try the rides. By the harbour, you can also see the pensioned ship Nippon Maru or go to the Yokohama Port Museum to learn more about the maritime world. There is a few malls in the area here as well, and if you walk all the way out to the big harbour island, you'll reach the old red brick warehouses that were previously used for storing goods. Now, the warehouses are used by independent shop owners will small stalls inside.

On the same harbour island you'll find a fun attraction for the whole family - the Cup Noodles Museum. Learn about the history of the cup noodle, try different types of noodles from other Asian countries at the Noodles Bazar Food Court or design your very own cup noodle. A very fun museum! If you haven't had enough noodles for the day, I recommend visiting Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, which is an indoor retro museum constructed like a town. You'll feel like you've stepped out of a time machine into the 1950's Japan, where you can buy traditional Japanese sweets and try different types of ramen. A nostalgic, fun paradise for any ramen lover!

You can see Yokohama from above at the Sky Garden Observatory for 1000¥ (around 9 USD). There is quite a lot of museums and Sankeien Garden, a traditional Japanese garden with lakes and flowing water. Yokohama also has the biggest of Japan's three Chinatowns with the colourful temple Kanteibyo in the middle of the district. There's lots to see and do in the modern Japanese city.

yokohama, sunrise, japan, tokyo

cup noodles museum, japan, yokohama

(https://unsplash.com/photos/imS05SRZblI + https://unsplash.com/photos/7Z_vOw_z4ZY)

There you go! A few ideas for what do do in other cities and towns not far away from Tōkyō. Do you have some really good sightseeing spots, that you think should be on the list too? Please let us know what in the comments below, so that we can share our travel experiences. See you, mata ne!

Related: The ultimate guide to Tōkyō.

Merete Vangsgaard

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