Best Day Trips from Tokyo – Budget Travel in Japan
There are many ideal places for a day trip from Tokyo. Here are the best day trips you can add to your Japan travel plan. Enjoy Japan with a great day trip!
The question of a day trip from Tokyo has appeared more often recently. Undoubtedly, Tokyo is a huge hub of fun and sadly we can never explore every nook and cranny, especially there’s always new thing popping up. But to complete the picture of this city, adding a day trip not too far from Tokyo to see the different is a smart choice as so many travelers have been doing. In this post, I will point out 5 bests spots for a day trip from Tokyo among a pool of choices that others have recommended.
Kamakura – Enoshima
Kamakura is a small town in Kanagawa Prefecture, down to the South West of Tokyo. It’s well-known by the Big Buddha and its nickname: Little Kyoto. Coming to this spiritual land laying by the coast, you can find not only the very touristic atmosphere from the main street leading to Hachimangu Shrine or shopping street but also traditional routines of Japanese people when visiting Zeniarai Benten or getting away from the clamorous street by entering the Bamboo Garden for a few minutes. And at the end of the day you can surely breath some sea-breeze and enjoy the sunset at one of the beaches in either Kamakura and Enoshima. Enoshima is the most famous for their beaches which have become Tokyo residents’ most favorable relaxing spot in summer.
How to access:
There are local trains from the Central of Tokyo (Shibuya, Shinjuku) to Kamakura or Enoshima which will take about 1-2 hours to reach Kamakura Station and cost 890-1000yen. The best way to start this trip is going to Kamakura directly in the morning and after walking around this town, you can take Enoden to Enoshima for 24 minutes, 260yen.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan. Originally the statue was built inside a large temple hall but the buildings were damaged by natural disasters so they decided to let The Great Buddha standing outdoor.
- Hours: 8:00-17:30
- Fee: 200yen
Hasedera Temple is well-known for the eleven-headed statue of Kannon and a beautiful garden to welcome visitors right when we cross the entrance.
- Hours: 8:00-17:30
- Fee: 300yen
Hachimangu Shrine (or Tsurugaoka Hachimangu) is the most important and biggest shrine in Kamakura which occupied the central Kamakura, at the end of the central road leading to the city’s waterfront.
- Hours: 5:00-21:00
- Free Entrance
Hokokuji (報国寺) and the Bamboo Garden is located in the East side of Kamakura. Besides the main temple, visitors enjoy the beautiful garden and bamboo grove standing in the back of the hall where you can’t help gaping your mouth at this tranquil beauty.
- Hour: 9:00 -16:00
- Free: 200yen (500yen includes Tea Service)
Zeniarai Benten Shrine is famous for “coin washing”. There’s a belief that the money you washed here will become lucky money which help you to earn more money later on.
- Hours: 8:00 – 16:30
- Free Entrance
Enoshima is connected to Kamakura by Enoden which takes only 25 minutes to commute between the 2 cities. Taking Enoden is interesting because of the track going along the coast and brings you a great view. People love the beaches and surfing is their most favorite activity. It might be very crowded in summer but you can always have good relaxing time here.
Food and Souvenir Recommendation
As a coast town, seafood must be one of the most cuisine as well. And I’m talking about Shirasu – famous specialty of Kamakura. Even when we can find Shirasu in Tokyo as well, but there’s nothing better than coming to the fishing place to try the freshest Shirasu. Soba can also be a good choice for your meals since they have many fresh homemade soba restaurants. You can also find other traditional Japanese food like sushi or udon. Walking along Shopping Street, you will find a lot of sweet and souvenir shop where you can try Senbei (Grill Rice Cracker), Specialty Flavored Peanuts and Soft Ice Creams.
Don’t be surprised when you see people walking around with some yeallow packages with white doves on, because that’s the most popular souvenir you can buy from Kamakura besides so many other sweets at Toshimayas (Biggest sweet shops in Kamakura), which called Hato Sable. There’s actually no special taste in the dove-shaped sable but it has become unique because of the shape, and the package is really eye-catching.
Nikko made a totally different experience from Kamakura by being located in mountainous area, and also beautified with breath-taking views of falls following by the strong wind which specifies the mountainous weather. Visiting Nikko in different time of the years will give you “different shapes of Nikko Beauty”. At the beginning, Nikko Village was built by … in … period and gradually becomes a famous attractions for both Japanese and non-Japanese.
How to access:
Locating in Tochigi Prefecture, North of Tokyo, the fastest way to reach Nikko is taking Express Train with Tobu Nikko Line which cost 2000-3000 yen and commuting time is 2-3 hours/one way.
There are buses to take you from Nikko Town to Okunikko (Uptown) and total cost for bus can go up to 2000yen.
You can choose going straight up to Okunikko then down to Nikko or vise versa. The better option for a day trip is up then down. But if you plan to spend 1 night there, you can go up later and stay at a ryokan, try Yukawa and enjoy Onsen.
Akechidaira Ropeway leads up to the observation deck which is one of the best spot to see Autumn Leaves in Nikko. From here we can also witness the magnificent view of the plateau surrounding by imposing mountains.
- Hours: 9:00-16:00 (will be longer in Autumn)
- Fee: 400yen/one way, 730 yen/round trip
Kegon Waterfall is listed in 8 Must-see Landmarks in Asia by The UK Female First Magazine. Coming to this 100m high falls, we can fully feel the wonderful nature in only one scene. It’s located just few minutes walk from the bus stop in Okunikko.
- Hours: 8:00 – 17:00 (March to November) | 9:00 – 16:30 (December to February)
- Fee: 550 yen
Lake Chuzenji reminds me about my first drawing in my life which I drew a lake, mountains from afar, a blue sky with scattered clouds and of course the sun . Not because it’s ugly, it’s a breath-taking picture which is simple as the kid can imagine but in perfection. Need to note that the wind here is really strong and because it’s up high so the temperature is lower than Tokyo. Walking around the lake will be a great chill.
Always open and free.
Yumoto Onsen Town is located in the back of Okunikko which is composed of Ryokan and hot spring baths. Spending a night here would be perfect for an ideal night getting away from bustling Tokyo. Japaneseguesthouses.com can provide you really good deal when book a room in ryokans.
Nikko Town occupied the Northern foot of Nikko Mountain which originally called Nikko Village and many famous shrines, temples were built around here.
Toshogu Shrine (東照宮) was built up to a compound seen today from a simple mausoleum during the first half of 1600s by Iemitsu, in order to transform the final resting place for his grandfather Tokugawa Ieyasu, who ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868. Japanese people worshiped Ieyasu as deity Tosho Daigongen (Great Deity of the East Shining Light).
- Hours: 8:00 – 17:00 (until 16:00 in November-March)
- Fee: 1300 yen
Taiyuinbyo (大猷院廟) is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Iemitsu – the third Tokugawa Shogun.
Rinnoji Temple (輪王寺) is one of the most important temple in Nikko which represent Buddhism. Shodo Shonin – a Buddhist monk who first introduce Buddhism to Nikko is the founder of the temple. You might be confused between shrines and temples in Japan. But it’s very simple to distinguish them. Japanese people worship Gods of Shintoism at shrines (神宮、神社) and temples (寺) are for Buddism.
- Hours: 8:00 – 17:00 (November – March, it will open until 16:00)
- Fee: 400yen (Sanbutsudo), 300yen (Treasure House and Shoyoen Garden)
Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社) was built right next to Toshogu Shrine. It’s dedicated to Gods of three most sacred mountain of Nikko – Mt Nantai, Mt Nyobo and Mt Taro.
Hours: 8:00 – 17:00 (November – March, it will open until 16:00)
Shinkyo Bridge (神橋) or Sacred Bridge is believed to be the connection between the village and sacred area with shrines and temples. It’s also one of the finest bridges in Japan. The other two is Iwakuni’s Kintaikyo and Saruhashi in Yamahashi Prefecture. You will see right on the way to Futarasan Shrine.
Honestly it’s costly when we visit Nikko and pay for every single attractions’ fees which are 200 – 1300yen. Then you should purchase the 1000yen combination ticket which allow you to enter all of listed spots with only 1000yen.
Food and Souvenir Recommendation
It’s lunch time and you don’t know what to eat? Don’t worry just crash any soba/udon restaurant and order a hot bowl of any kind of noodle with Yuba. Most recommended dish is Yuba Soba. We can define Yuba as Tofu rolls and it’s the most popular specialty in Nikko. Shaved ice is not something special but Shaved ice made from Nikko’s natural water definitely is.
Other than soft cakes, sweets,… as so many other places in Japan, you can also buy traditional craft products as souvenirs from Nikko.
Takao Mountain is located in Kichioji city, in the South-West of Tokyo. It’s the most popular for a picnic-hiking trip on the weekends for Japanese people as they don’t have much time to go far from Tokyo. If you have a tight budget and limited time but get bored of super busy Tokyo and want to enjoy nature with the great view of Mount Fuji, I believe Mount Takao is the most ideal destination.
How to access:
The easiest way to access to Mt Takao from the Central is Chuo Line, get off at Takao Sation, change to Keio Line and stop at Takaosanguchi Station. Total commuting time will be around 1 hour and cost lest 1000yen/one way.
There are 6 hiking trails and most people choose Trail 1 which is built most nicely and have more to see along the way rather than just… trees. And if you just want the great view of Mount Fuji, and Tokyo from afar on the top of the mountain, you can choose Cable Car or Chairlift to get right to the middle of the mountain.
- Cable Car: 8:00-17:45 | 480yen/one way | 930yen/round trip (to the Observation Deck)
- Chairlift: 9:00-16:30 |480yen/one way | 930yen/round trip (to Yamagami Eki)
Monkey Park will be fun when you want to play around with some cute monkeys but be careful because you don’t want to get hurt by them or cause any troubles.
- Hours: 9:30-16:30 (might change due to seasons)
- Fee: 420yen
Takao Onsen located near Takaosanguchi Station and open until late. After hiking, is there anything better than dipping your body and relax in hot spring?
- Hours: 8:00-23:00, last entry is at 22:00
- Fee: 1000-1200yen
It will be perfect if you can prepare your picnic meals with sandwiches or onigiris with some fruits and enjoy it at the break during your hike or when you reach the top of the mountain. Grill Dango is a popular snack in Japan when you go to any mountains.
If you have heard about Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, you would notice right away that Hakone is a part of it. But if you have not, I just told you. Like Nikko, Hakone is more ideal as a 2-day or 3-day trip but a day trip is totally possible. Hakone is most famous for Hot Spring and there are a lot of resorts, camping grounds and there is also an outlet for some shopping needs.
How to access:
It will take 1.5-2.5 hour to get to Hakone either by Romance Car, Shinkansen, Local Train or bus. Undoubtedly, the local train costs least but Romance Car or Shinkansen will give you a more comfortable ride.
- Romance Car: 2080yen/way from Shinjuku Station
- Shinkansen: 4280yen/way from Shinagawa Station (If you have JR Pass, this is the best choice)
- Local Train: 1190yen/way from Shinjuku Station
- Bus: 2000/way from Shinjuku/Yokohama
Here I am not mentioning free passes to Hakone because it’s only worth it if you can spend 2 or 3 days in Hakone.
To go around Hakone, there are buses, cable car, ropeways and sight-seeing boat at Ashi Lake which are operated from Hakone-Yumoto station to Gora, Gotemba, Togendai and Hakone-machi to creat a round tour in Hakone. You can pick up a guide map at Hakone Yumoto Station.
There are a lot to see in Hakone, but time is gold so you would better pick up main attractions to visit and make your time here most memorable.
Open Air Museum is an outdoor museum of contemporary art where you can contemplate many art works indicating great ideas of artists around the world in an open atmosphere while taking a slow walk and sniff the fresh air. But don’t be deluded by that joy and spend all your time there. You have more to see.
- Hours: 9:00-17:00
- Fee: 1300-1600yen
Hakone Hot Springs are easy to find. There are some recommendations with good deals for you to spend 1 or 2 hours and maybe have some beer. You can find hot springs on Japan Guide.
Gotemba Outlet Mall is the most popular out mall in Japan which features 200 stores with a lot of restaurants, a foodcourt and a ferris wheel (50m high).
- Hours: 10:00 – 20:00 (During December-February, it will close at 19:00)
- There are buses from Hakone-Yumoto station, Lake Ashinoko or directly from Tokyo to Gotemba which arrange the costs: 750-2800yen)
Owakudani (Mouth of Volcano) may rise up your temptation and it would definitely be a great experience but unfortunately, due to the volcano gases, we are not allowed to access there.
Lake Ashinoko and sight-seeing boat will give you the nicest views of the picture of the lake itself, mountains covering around and prominently, Mt Fuji. The sight-seeing boat takes 30 minutes and costs 1000yen.
Hakone Shrine is not so much different from other shrine but its Torii gate facing Ashi lake made it more special. The location they chose to put the gate was based on a belief of the best way to welcome the Gods.
Food and Souvenir Recommendation
Japanese Food, in general, is awesome everywhere we go. Here in Hakone, there is no exception. You can find so many kind of restaurant here with not only Japanese cuisine but also Western. Besides, manju sweet buns in cute packages, excellent quality and interesting flavor, there is “black egg” – a very famous Hakone product.
Hopefully you can decide and plan your own a perfect day trip to add into your travel in Japan. You may find so many more suggestions for a day trip from Tokyo on Google, but don’t waste your time on thinking too much and end up deciding nothing.
Have fun traveling and don’t forget to tell us your experiences!