Where is the best place for a day trip from Tokyo? That was the question from my readers recently. Many have been to Japan for more than once. Thanks to the depreciating yen and JR pass ticket going around Japan has become more and more affordable this past five years. When you have been to Japan for several times, big city like Tokyo becomes too familiar and getting more crowded than your last visit. But you do not want to strike through Tokyo from Japan’s travel itinerary. Will you skip the capital of Japan? It’s unlikely you would.
So, where are the best places for a day trip from Tokyo? We travelled to more than enough Tokyo’s suburban areas to come up with these 16 best places. I chose these places because of their stunning landscape and popularity. Each of these places has unique points differ from one to another, depending on the season.
Here are 16 best day trips from Tokyo:
Arakurayama Sengen Park and Lake Kawaguchi
Arakurayama Sengen Park (Arakura-yama Sengen Koen) is located at Fuji Yoshida city, neighbouring to Lake Kawaguchi. I can’t describe how popular this place is but the picture speaks a lot of volume why it is a must visit place while in Tokyo. When Japan’s iconic flower sakura is blooming, Mount Fuji is in sight accompanying the five stories pagoda, there will be no other place can represent Japan better than the Arakurayama Sengen Park.
Best time to visit Arakurayama Sengen Park: mid of April when sakura cherry blossoms season at Arakurayama Sengen Koen. Cherry blossoms season at Arakurayama Sengen Koen usually comes later than Tokyo. Spare some more days in Tokyo if you are planning to visit this place.
How to get to Arakurayama Sengen Park:
Take Chuo Line Limited Express from Shinjuku station to Otsuki, change to Fujikyuko Line and get off at Shimoyoshida Station (2 hrs from Shinjuku to Shimoyoshida). It’s 20 minutes walk from Shimoyoshida Station to the park.
Check our post on Arakurayama Sengen Park One Day Trip
I placed Arakurayama Sengen Park together with Lake Kawaguchi because they are adjacent to each other. It’s recommended to also visit Lake Kawaguchi after visiting the Park. Try to leave Tokyo by 6 am to make use of time more efficient.
How to get to Lake Kawaguchi:
If you have a JR Pass, take Chuo Line Limited Express from Shinjuku to Otsuki, change to Fujikyuko Line and get off at Kawaguchiko Station (2 hrs 20 minutes from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko). Otherwise, direct bus service is available between Tokyo/Shinjuku Station and Kawaguchiko Station (2 hrs from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko). From Shimoyoshida Station, Kawaguchiko Station is 15 minutes ride.
Swing by Lake Kawaguchi, Tokyo Getaway for pictures and story.
Nikko is one of the best places for a day trip from Tokyo for obviously strong reason. It is a home to UNESCO World’s Heritage Sites and stunning nature surroundings. Visiting Nikko can be done in any season. However, because of its natural surroundings, many travellers prefer visiting Nikko in autumn when the greens turn colour. Autumn is a peak season in Nikko and more crowded compare to any other season.
How to get to Nikko:
For JR Pass holders, take Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Utsunomiya, change to JR Nikko Line and get off at Nikko Station (1 hr 50 minutes from Tokyo to Nikko). For a regular traveller, take Tobu Limited Express from Asakusa to Tobu Nikko Station (2 hrs from Asakusa to Tobu Nikko).
Haven’t been to Nikko yet? Here is Nikko Travel Guide for A First Time Visitor
Hitachi Seaside Park (Hitachi Kaihin Koen)
If you have been following this blog, you can easily guess why Hitachi Seaside Park is one of the best places for a day trip from Tokyo. If you haven’t already, do check out When is the Best Time to Visit Hitachi Seaside Park?
How to get to Hitachi Seaside Park:
Take JR Joban Line Limited Express from Ueno to Katsuta, and change to bus to Hitachi Kaihin Koen. Some Joban Line Limited Express depart from Shinagawa and Tokyo Stations (1 hr 30 minutes from Tokyo to Katsuta).
Best time to visit Kamakura: June, when Hydrangea comes into full bloom.
How to get to Kamakura: by JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo and get off at Kamakura Station (55 minutes from Tokyo to Kamakura).
Check out a Weekend Sightseeing: Kamakura, House of Hydrangea.
Chichibu for Shibazakura or Poppies in the Sky
Time to visit Hitsujiyama: Shibazakura festival is held from mid of April to early May
How to get to Hitsujiyama, Chichibu:
Take Seibu Limited Express from Ikebukuro Station to Yokoze Station (1 hr 15 minutes from Ikebukuro to Yokoze). It’s a 20 minutes walk from Yokoze Station to the Hitsujiyama Shibazakura spot.
Time to visit Poppies in the sky: Poppies in the sky is held from mid of May to early June.
How to get to Poppies in the Sky, Chichibu:
Take Seibu Limited Express from Ikebukuro Station to Seibu Chichibu Station (1 hr 20 minutes from Ikebukuro to Seibu Chichibu), change to a bus heading to Minano Station, get off at Misawa Yubinkyoku bus stop and walk 40 minutes. Shuttle bus to the venue may be provided from Minano Station or Higashichichibu Washi-no-sato.
Fuji Sibazakura Matsuri
Time to visit Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri: From mid of April to end of May. It’s better to come at the earlier date of the Matsuri when most of the flowers are still fresh at their best colour.
How to get to Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri:
A direct bus operates regularly from Shinjuku Station to Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri during the season. It takes 2 hr 25 minutes from Shinjuku station to Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri. Reservation is a must. Alternatively, take Chuo Line Limited Express from Shinjuku station to Otsuki, change to Fujikyuko Line to Kawaguchiko Station, and get on a bus named Shibazakura Liner to the spot.
Check out pictures of pink moss here Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri.
Ashikaga Flower Park
Ashikaga Flower Park is a must visit place for all nature lovers in spring. It’s the best place to pamper your sense with fresh fragrance of millions wisteria and let yourself lose track of time in a land of flowers.
Best time to visit Ashikaga Flower Park: From mid of April to mid of May.
How to get to Ashikaga Flower Park:
For JR pass holders: take Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Oyama, change to JR Ryomo Line and get off at Ashikaga Flower Park Station (1 hr 50 minutes from Tokyo to Ashikaga Flower Park station). Ashikaga Flower Park is in front of the Ashikaga Flower Park Station. Alternatively, take Tobu Limited Express from Asakusa to Tochigi, change to JR Ryomo Line and get off at Ashikaga Flower Park Station (2 hrs from Asakusa to Ashikaga Flower Park station)
Here is the Wisteria Festival in Ashikaga Flower Park in spring.
Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen)
Best time to visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park: winter. Troop of snow monkeys start coming down from the hills in December although January and February when snow fall gets heavier are better to visit this place.
How to get to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park:
Take Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano (1 hr 30 minutes from Tokyo to Nagano), take a bus heading to Shiga Kogen, get off at Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop and walk 35 minutes.
Read story on Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
Gala Yuzawa is a snow wonderland located 90 minutes shinkansen (bullet train) ride from Tokyo. When visiting Tokyo in winter, a trip to Yuzawa machi (town) is something to look foward to. There are many ski resorts within Yuzawa machi, while Gala Yuzawa is the most popular for avid skiers and snowboarders because it is connected to Shinkansen station. The price however is more expensive compared to other snow resorts within the area.
Best time to visit: early January to February when the snow is thicker and more dense.
How to get there:
Take Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo to Gala Yuzawa (1 hr 30 minutes).
Mt Takao (Takao-san)
Visiting Mount Takao can be done all year long but autumn is the best time. Mount Takao is one of famous places for autumn foliage sighting near Tokyo.
How to get to Mt Takao:
JR pass holders: by JR Chuo Line from Tokyo station to Takao, change to Keio Line and get off at Takaosanguchi Station (75 minutes from Tokyo to Takaosanguchi). Alternatively, take Keio Line from Shinjuku to Takaosanguchi Station (55 minutes). There’s sign board outside Takosanguchi station for a direction to the cable car or lift station (7 minutes walk from Takaosanguchi Station).
Are you a foodie? An autumnal colour hunter? A traditional architectures enthusiast? Narita is the recommended place for a day trip from Tokyo.
How to get to Narita
By JR Sobu rapid Line from Tokyo to Narita (1 hr 20 minutes from Tokyo to Narita). Or take Keisei Line from Keisei Ueno/Nippori to Keisei Narita Station (1 hr 15 minutes from Keisei Ueno to Keisei Narita).
Gotemba Premium Outlets is loved by many Asian tourists, not only for shopping but also its close location to Hakone. Although going to Hakone on a day trip from Tokyo is challenging in terms of time, visiting Gotemba Premium Outlets alone from Tokyo can be done in just one day.
How to get to Gotemba Premium Outlets:
Take a direct bus from Tokyo/Shinjuku Station to Gotemba Premium Outlets (1 hr 35 minutes from Shinjuku to Gotemba). Booking in advance is highly recommended especially in holiday season.
Mt Nokogiri (Nokogiri-yama) and Nihonji Temple
Nokogiri-yama has yet entered tourists’ radar and hit popularity but for Tokyoites Nokogiri-yama is a place to visit. The breathtaking landscape now becomes new love for photography enthusiasts. Better yet, it’s still a quiet place.
How to get to Nokogiri-yama:
By JR Sobu Rapid Line from Tokyo to Chiba, change to JR Uchibo Line and get off at Hamakanaya Station (2 hrs 10 minutes). A cable car station is 10 minutes walk from Hamakanaya Station.
Minatomirai, Yokohama for Pikachu Festival
Best time to visit Minatomirai: in summer during Pikachu Festival by early August. In 2016, Pikachu Festival was on 7-14 August.
How to get to Minatomirai:
Take Tokaido Line/Yokosuka Line from Tokyo to Yokohama, change to Minatomirai Line and get off at Minatomirai Station (45 minutes from Tokyo to Minatomirai).
Here is a peek on Pikachu Summer Festival in Minatomirai, Yokohama Japan
A Day Trip is Possible but A One-Night Stay is Recommended
I was a bit skeptical to place Hakone in the list at first but Hakone’s popularity is not something to overlook when visiting Tokyo. Many of travellers visiting Tokyo are willing to spend a day trip to visit Hakone. Although I fully admire their determination and strength to see as many places as possible, it is recommended to spend a night stay in Hakone. Going to Hakone takes only 2 to 3 hours train ride but the places of interest are scattered around which make it difficult to cover all area in a day trip. Hakone is popular for hot spring (onsen). It’s one of many reasons to spend a night in this place. If your main purpose to visit Hakone is only to see Lake Ashi, by all means take that one day trip.
Check out the Hakone Summer Travel Tips
Mt Fuji (Fuji-san)
Compare to summer, winter is a better time to see Mount Fuji when the sky is clear at most of the time. For regular hikers, July to August is the only time to hike to Mount Fuji’s peak. There are some trails to follow but Yoshida route is the most used and famous amongst seasonal hikers. Pay toilets are available at every stop station at the mountain. Most of hikers prefer to spend a night at 7th or 8th station then continue the hike before 3 am to reach Fuji san peak for sunrise watching. Not everyone is lucky, if it’s rain heavily, no hikers are allowed to continue the hike to the peak.
How to get to Mount Fuji:
Bus operates on regular basis from Shinjuku station to Mount Fuji’s fifth station of Yoshida route. It’s mandatory to book a roundtrip bus ticket in advance. If you plan to hike Fuji san joining a tour is better as everything (from bus, food to hostel) will be arranged by the tour agent.
Which place you would like to visit the most for a day trip from Tokyo? I’d love to hear from you.