Planning to take a day trip away from Tokyo? Whether you are living in Tokyo or travelling here on a short holiday, you might get tired of the busy city life. The centralized location of Tokyo allows quick access to historical sights and breathtaking nature locations.
So, get your car or train tickets ready for the top 5 best day trips from Tokyo you can do on your own!
1. Yokohama for Foodie and Shopping lovers
Yokohama is the capital of Kanagawa which is the prefecture located beside Tokyo. If you were to take a bullet train over it will only take you 20-minutes – that’s how close it is! Yokohama is famous for its beautiful harbour and mixture of International and Japanese Culture. If you are planning to head over during the Christmas season you can check out our article featuring the area too!
Try all kinds of ramen at the Shin Yokohama Ramen Hakubutsukan
If you are a Ramen fan (who isn’t?!), the Shin Yokohama Ramen Hakubutsukan (Hakubutsukan translates to “museum”) offers you the opportunity to try them all! In the museum, you can try ramens from different regions in Japan such as Hokkaido and Okinawa and some stores outside Japan. In the museum, there are 8 famous ramen stores which offer ramens that are made with special noodles and soup base.
We would recommend going here with an empty stomach, so you can try them all! The museum offers an option to order ramens in a smaller portion which might help those with a small appetite. Half a day here, and you are guaranteed to become a Ramen expert!
Access – 5 minutes walk from Shinyokohama Station
Official Website – http://www.raumen.co.jp/english/
Get the best of the Chinese culture at Yokohama’s China Town
Still, feeling hungry after a great feast in the Shin Yokohama Ramen Hakubutsukan? If, so you can head down to Yokohama’s China Town located near Motomachi-Chukagai Station! Yokohama has the largest Chinatown in Japan with more than 600 restaurants/shops packed into 2 main streets and narrow allies. This area is one of the oldest China Town in Japan, establishing itself at the end of the Edo period approximately 160 years ago!
Apart from some of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in Japan, you can also find handcraft stores and fortune-telling establishment. So, you will never get bored!
Access – A 5 minutes walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station
Official Website – https://www.chinatown.or.jp/
Find peace of mind at the Sankeien Garden
If you are looking for a calm place to get away from it all with some greenery, you can take a short stroll in the Sankeien Garden. This Japanese-style garden has been opened to the public since 1906 and it was designated as an Important Cultural Property often being compared to other historical establishments in Nara and Kyoto.
The garden is huge with many prominent architectures, so you might need an expert to take you around! But, don’t worry as the garden offers a Free English tour which can help you get familiar with the place.
Access – A few minutes walk from the nearest bus stop Sankeien-iriguchi
Official Website – https://www.sankeien.or.jp/index.html
2. Climb up Japan’s tallest Mountain – Mount Fuji
How can we not have this on our list? If you are a nature lover or just want to experience the best Japan has to offer, take a trip to Japan’s highest and most celebrated mountain!
Located in the Shizuoka Prefecture, you can easily get to Mt. Fuji with almost any mode of transportation! I would recommend using a car as it takes the least amount of time, considering all the waiting you might need to do with the others. Driving also allows quick access up the mountain as you are allowed to drive up to the 5th station of the mountain (approximately 2,300 meters)!
But if you are looking for a challenge, you might want to consider hiking from the base station (Umagaeshi, 1,450m) to the 5th Station which takes approximately 4 hours. This route is rather easy and it can be recommended to just about anyone! For those considering to go further, you might need to take an extra day to get to the summit (3,300 meters) and conquer the tallest point in Japan.
The area around it also offers a great view of Mt. Fuji with attractions such as hot springs and Fuji-Q highland (A thrilling theme park)!
3. Expose yourself to the samurai culture in Odawara!
Explore an impregnable castle that dates back to the Samurai Period in Kanagawa
When you think of Japan, one thing that will cross your mind is its strong ties with the Samurai Culture. Truth be told, you might not be able to find any significant spots in Tokyo, but a quick 30 minutes bullet train ride to Kanagawa will!
Back in the Samurai Era, the Odawara Castle (in Odawara, Kanagawa) was considered to be one of the most impenetrable castles of its time. It dates back to the mid 15th century but the original was unfortunately destroyed by a huge earthquake in 1703. However, the authenticity of the castle is guaranteed as the newly built one was based on models and blueprints from the Edo Period (1603-1868).
After the reconstruction, the interior of the castle was converted into a museum which provides useful information about the castle and samurai culture. The rooftop is also accessible, giving you a birds-eye view of the beautiful city which makes the entrance fee of 510 yen seem cheap!
If you explore the surroundings of the castle you might find a sweet spot for a great wide shot of the castle. The best period to visit the Odawara castle is probably during the Cherry Blossom season (End of March to early April) as an annual festival called the “Odawara Cherry Blossom Festival” is held around the castle.
Become a Ninja for a day at the Ninja mansion!
Now one for the Ninja fans! Near the Odawara Castle, a new facility called Ninja-kan opened its doors in 2019. In comparison to the castle’s museum, the Ninja-kan is more of a hands-on experience allowing you to learn and try out Ninja activities. The main highlight will be the throwing of a ninja star (Known as a Shuriken)! Just make sure to aim well.
Access – 5 minutes walk from Odawara Station
Official Website – https://odawaracastle.com/
Fill your stomach with fresh seafood at a fishing village!
You’re probably hungry after an exciting day immersing yourself in the Samurai Culture and role-playing as a Ninja so now it’s time to fill your stomach with fresh seafood at Hayakawa!
Hayakawa is a fishing town located only 1 stop away from Odawara station. Near the harbour, there are plenty of fish markets and seafood restaurants making it a great place for lunch!
Access – 7 minutes walk from Hayakawa Station
Official Website – http://www.odawara-kankou.com/
4. Take a relaxing bath in an Onsen at Hakone
Our 4th recommendation on our list is Hakone! Hakone is one of the best Onsen (Hot Spring) towns in Japan and it’s a must-do if you are into wellness and relaxation.
As it is only a 1-hour train journey away from Tokyo with most hotels and Ryokan offering half-day plans you can easily plan a day trip on your own.
As there are tons of Onsens in the area it might make it difficult for you to decide on a specific one! So if you are travelling with your family or loved ones you might want to consider narrowing down your search to private onsens!
To help you further we have handpicked some of the best ones you can access from the main station.
Shoot the best of Japan in one frame at Lake Ashi
Another must-do in Hakone is a visit to lake Ashi (Ashiko) which is known for the bright red tori gate and a majestic Mt. Fuji in the backdrop. If you want a great shot like the photo above, I would recommend taking the sightseeing cruise that will provide you with some of the best angels to get a great shot! Did I mention that the cruise is designed after a pirate ship?
Access – 1-minute walk from Prince Hakone Lake Ahinoko Bus Stop
Official Website – Hakone Sightseeing Cruise
5. Time travel back to the old capital of Japan, Kamakura!
Our last destination on the list is one that is popular amongst locals living in Tokyo; Kamakura! Kamakura is situated in the Kanagawa prefecture and its a 1-hour train journey away from Tokyo.
The easy access from Tokyo makes it a prime destination where you can admire dozens of Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto Shrines.
Here is our must-see list that you can do in a day!
Get lucky with the Tsuruoka Hachimangu
One of the icons of Kamakura, this impressive shrine dates back to 1063. Many believe that this establishment attracts good fortune – bringing success and promotions when you visit it. As the shrine is a popular wedding spot you might get a chance to stumble upon a traditional wedding too.
Access – 10 minutes walk from Kamakura Station
Official Website – http://www.tsurugaoka-hachimangu.jp/
If you are already in the area, remember to check out the Kamakura Komachi Dori (The road that leads up to Tsuruoka Hachimangu) as they have many souvenirs shops and great restaurants. If you are considering buying a gift back, I would recommend getting the Hato Sabure cookies (Dove shaped cookies) which are the go-to gift in Kamakura!
These cookies have a strong connection to the Tsuruoka Hachimangu as if you look closely to the shrines logo, you can spot that the Japanese Kanji that represents the number 8 is shaped to look like two doves. Doves are considered to be the spirit animal of the Tsuruoka Hachimangu and they were thought to be the messengers of God.
Access – 10 minutes walk from Kamakura Station
Official Website – http://www.tsurugaoka-hachimangu.jp/
Take a stroll in a Bamboo Forest at the Houkokuji Temple
Another historical piece of architecture, the Houkokuji Temple was established in 1334 and is known for its beautiful zen garden and bamboo forest. Here you can surround yourself in over 2000 bamboos, which is not an experience you can do every day. At the end of the trail, complete your Japanese experience with a hot cup of green tea!
Access – 2 minutes from Jomyoji Bus stop/ 20 minutes walk from Tsuruoka Hachimangu
Official Website – https://houkokuji.or.jp/
Visit the second-largest bronze statue the Great Buddha of Kamakura!
The Great Buddha (aka. Kamakura Daibutsu) is the second-largest bronze statue in Japan built-in 1252. This 11.31m tall Buddha sits in the Kotoku-in temple and has been designated as one of Japan’s National Treasures!
You also get to try a once in a lifetime experience of entering the interior of the Buddha statue with a small fee of 20 yen. But kindly note that you will have to enter the temple by 4:30 pm to be able to do this!
Access – 1 min walk from Daibutsu Mae Bus Stop / 25 minutes walk from Kamakura Station
More information https://www.kotoku-in.jp/en/
Apart from this itinerary, we provided there are many more spots you can explore in Kamakura and we would recommend spending a full day in this historical city!
So, which of these places would you like to go for your next holiday? Share with us what you think and follow us at Expat Japan Life for more articles about living and travelling in Japan. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for blog updates and information about living in Tokyo!