The best day trips from Tokyo (including off the beaten track destinations)

Along the Nakasendo Way, Japan. The walk between Magome and Tsumago can be done as a day trip from Tokyo

Tokyo is a truly incredible city and has so much to do, that you could easily spend your entire trip to Japan in the capital alone.  However its excellent transport links mean that there are a huge number of day trips from Tokyo, and you should definitely try to add one or two to your itinerary.

In this post I’ll go over some of the best Tokyo day trips – I’ve tried to include the most popular as well as some more off the beaten track destinations that you might not have heard of.  The only problem is going to be deciding which day trips to take!

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The best day trips from Tokyo

By taking day trips from Tokyo you can escape the crowds and see a completely different side to Japan.  You can visit some of Japan’s most beautiful cultural sights at Nikko and Kamakura; explore a medieval samurai castle at Matsumoto; try out onsen in spa towns like Hakone and Takaragawa Onsen; or get a sugar rush in Disney Land.

This post covers all the above destinations and many more.  I’ve tried to cover a variety of sights so that you can have a totally different experience if you want to see two or more.  All of these places are easily reachable from Tokyo by train, which is the way that most tourists travel in Japan.

I’ve been to many of these destinations myself, but I’ve also asked some other travel bloggers to share their favourite destinations for day trips from Tokyo to give you more choice.  I know there are several on this list that I’m definitely visiting on my next trip to Japan!

So take a look at the best day trips from Tokyo, recommended by travel bloggers.

How to get around Japan by public transport

The easiest way to get around Japan is by using a JR Pass.  These passes are for tourists only and they must be ordered before you leave for Japan.  You then get the pass in Japan by exchanging your JR Pass voucher at any JR station helpdesk.  Be careful when using the shinkansen as the pass isn’t valid on the fastest services – Nozomi and Mizuhou trains are excluded.  Click here to buy your JR Pass.

I’d also advise using Hyperdia to get train times.  Hyperdia has an app which is free for 30 days so download it just before you go to Japan, and use the website to plan your journeys in advance.  The app is great as it even tells you which platform to go to; you can’t go wrong.

Find out how to spend five days in Tokyo here.

Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort

Gala Yuzawa is the easiest ski resort to reach from Tokyo Japan

With thanks to Rachel Rodda from Adventure and Sunshine

If you are visiting Tokyo in winter, a unique idea for day trip from Tokyo is to visit the snowfields at Gala Yuzawa, a well-known ski resort near Tokyo, about 200 kms northwest of the city.  Located in Niigata Prefecture, the area is home to some of the most popular ski resorts in Japan.

What makes Gala Yuzawa unique (and such a great Tokyo day trip) is that it is the only ski resort in Japan with its own shinkansen station. Just 90 minutes by bullet train, it is an easy day trip with kids and the hardest decision will be how to spend your day.

For avid skiers, you can rent ski gear when you hop off the train and spend the day on the slopes. Ski rental stores and the gondola to reach the slopes are in the shinkansen building. The ski area is great for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders and the ski school has English speaking instructors.

Playing in the snow at Gala Yuzawa ski resort Japan

For non-skiers there are plenty of other options include snow play at the Snow Park, sledding, snow tubing, snow shoe tours and soaking in one of the gorgeous onsens in the area.

If the kids have never seen snow and you are in Tokyo in winter, Gala Yuzawa is a memorable way to spend a day in Japan.  The region typically has a long snow season from November to March but due to its proximity to Tokyo, it is best to visit during the week to avoid the crowds.

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, Tokyo

Anyone who’s fallen in love with the films of Studio Ghibli and its master animators Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata will have this museum on their day trips from Tokyo list!

The Ghibli Museum is in the Tokyo district of Mitaka, about an hour out of central Tokyo.  It’s set in Inokashira Park which you should also take time to look around.

The Ghibli Museum was designed by Miyazaki and includes a cinema where you can watch a short animation (this changes fairly often).  No photos are allowed inside, and I won’t go into too much detail about the museum in case I spoil your visit.

My kids really loved playing on the huge plush Cat Bus (once they allowed adults on it but, sadly, no more) and meeting a robot guardian from Castle in the Sky on the rooftop.

Ghibli Museum's robot guardian, Mitaka, Tokyo

The inside of the Ghibli Museum reminded me of the clubhouse in From Up On Poppy Hill, and there are several rooms where you can learn about the process of animation, see concept drawings and more.  As you’d expect there’s lots of little details to discover; as well as the busiest gift shop in Tokyo.

You can’t just rock up to the Ghibli Museum without booking tickets in advance and they are wildly popular.  You need to be really organised and arrange tickets 1 – 3 months before you travel to Japan.  Find out how to book those elusive tickets here.

To get to Mitaka from Tokyo Station take the JR Chuo line towards Takao.  You can also alight at Kichijoji and walk through Inokashira Park on the way.

Hakone

Pirate ship on a lake by Mt Fuji at Hakone

Hakone is a hot spring resort close to Mt Fuji, and it’s a popular tourist destination.  As well as having a pretty town with plenty of onsen, parks and museums, Hakone has a sightseeing circuit called the Hakone Round Course or the Hakone Loop.

It’s possible to travel the whole Hakone Loop in a day trip from Tokyo.  To do this it’s worth picking up a Hakone Free Pass which is valid for two days – even if you just use it for one day it should still save you money.  You can get the Hakone Free Pass here.

From Tokyo take the shinkansen to Odawara.  At Odawara you can transfer onto the Hakone Scenic Railway towards Gora (this is not included in the JR Pass but is included in the Hakone Free Pass).  From Gora you can take a funicular train and then a cable car over the mountainside.

Cable car over Owakudani, Hakone, Japan

This trip takes you over the volcanic area of Owakudani – at the time of writing Owakudani is closed to visitors due to volcanic activity.  If it opens when you visit then you can walk through the steaming volcanic pools and watch eggs being cooked in them.  The minerals in the pools turn the eggshells black and eating one is meant to add seven years to your life!  Even if you can’t visit Owakudani, you can still buy the black eggs.

You then carry on down the mountainside towards Lake Ashi.  If the weather’s on your side then you might be able to see Mount Fuji looming over the lake.  Take a pirate ship over Lake Ashi to the viewpoint at the far end.  There’s a lovely cedar walk and a museum here; and you’ll probably want to find the famous torii viewpoint too – just like the torii gate at Miyajima, this one seems to float on the water.

When you’re done you can take the bus back to Gora and look around the museums (the Hakone Open Air Museum is a great choice) before you head back to Tokyo.

This two week Japan itinerary covers an overnight visit to Hakone.

Hitachi Seaside Park

Hitachi seaside park in autumn, an easy day trip from Tokyo

With thanks to Ivan from Mind The Travel

Located in the Ibaraki prefecture of Japan, Hitachi Seaside Park is a wonderful place to visit as a day trip from Tokyo. While Hitachi Seaside Park is actually blooming year-round, it’s particularly beautiful during spring and summer. Come early January to mid-March, you’ll encounter a plethora of grape seed flowers that have exquisite beauty.

If you visit around late March to mid-April, you can enjoy narcissus blooms at Suisen Garden. And by mid to late April, myriads of tulips are in bloom in Hitachi Seaside Park. However, if you’re lucky enough to visit around late April to mid-May, you’ll see the blue Nemophilias cover the Miharashi Hill. The Park turns indigo by mid-July, as lavender bloom here.

Of course, Hitachi Seaside Park isn’t only about flowers. If the weather permits, the park is a perfect place for a picnic. You can bring your own food or buy it from food trucks and stalls scattered around the area. There are many benches and huge grassland area in the park. Alternatively, bring your own foldable table or blanket to enjoy a meal on the grass.

Hitachi seaside park, near Tokyo, Japan

If you like cycling, you’ll be happy to know that you can cycle around the sprawling park. If you don’t want to bring your own bike, you can rent one here. Tandem bikes are also available! Bike rentals are very affordable – a three-hour rental costs ¥400 for a standard bike and ¥600 for an electric one.

There is also an amusement park! A great place for kids and adults alike featuring roller coaster and game booths. But the highlight of the area is the giant ferris wheel. You can ride to the top to get an unforgettable view of the vibrant landscape.

If you travel from Tokyo/Ueno station, travel by train to Katsuta Station (¥2,270, travel time is about 1 hour and 20 minutes). Then, take the Ibaraki Kotsu Bus to Hitachi Seaside Park (¥390 one way, around 20 minutes). Otherwise, you can hop on the express bus at the terminal at Yaesu South Entrance of Tokyo Station. It takes around two hours to get to the Hitachi Seaside Park entrance stop. Admission is ¥450. Free for children under 6.

Kamakura

Statues at Kamakura, Japan

Kamakura is a seaside town to the south west of Tokyo.  It’s really easy to reach on the train and is the perfect antidote to Tokyo’s frenetic pace.  The town and surrounding hills are peppered with shrines, both big and small, and there are enough hiking trails to keep you busy for a full day.

Tsuruoka Hachimangu should be your first stop of the day.  This is one of Japan’s most important shrines – and you won’t get lost trying to find it.  Several large torii gates line the main road up to the shrine.  Once you reach Tsuruoka Hachimangu there’s plenty to see.  Don’t miss the amazing gardens!

Other temples that are must-sees include the Kotoku-in temple which is where Japan’s second largest Buddha lives (the largest is in Nara).  The walking trails along the way to Kotoku-in give you great views over the town and coastline. Hasedera temple is further along the walking trails from Kotoku-in – you should try to find the cave complex carved into the hills.

Daibutsu (great Buddha) at Kamakura, Japan

Take some time to look around the shops on your visit to Kamakura – the town is famous for its ceramics.  There are also plenty of places to grab a bite to eat here.  Komachi Street is right next to the station and is probably the best shopping street in Kamakura.

While you’re in Kamakura you might also want to stop by the nearby island Enoshima, and its beaches.  A great way to get here is to take the super cute electric railway along the coast – you can hop on and off as you like.  You might be lucky to get some views of Mt Fuji from here, too.  At the far end of the electric railway you can connect to trains back to Tokyo.

To get to Kamakura from Tokyo Station take the JR Yokosuka line towards Kurihama.

Kawagoe

Kawagoe is a traditional town which is an easy day trip from Tokyo, Japan

With thanks to Nicole LaBarge from Travel Gal Nicole

Kawagoe is an easy day trip from Tokyo as it is only 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro Station.  Kawagoe is known as Little Edo as its streets are lined with clay walled buildings which are from the Edo Period.

One of the most important temples in the Greater Tokyo region is found in Kawagoe.  In 1638 a fire destroyed most of Kitain Temple.  This area contains the only remaining buildings of the Edo Castle which was destroyed in the Great Earthquake of 1923.  Needless to say this area is historic and there is a lot of cultural significance.

Gohyaku Rakan statues in Kawagoe, Japan

My favorite thing to visit in Kitain and kids will love it too is the Gohyaku Rakan or 540 Buddha statues on the grounds.  Each statue has its own facial expression and makes for a great photo opportunity there.

Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine is one of the best things in Kyoto for kids

Kyoto deserves as much time as you can possibly spare, but if you’re short on time then you can see some of the best things in Japan here in just one day from Tokyo.

With only one day in Kyoto you’re going to be quite (well, extremely) rushed, but it is possible to see some of Kyoto’s best sights in just one very long day if you’re happy to be quick at each stop, and to take the odd taxi.

From Kyoto Station, head to Fushimi Inari Shrine first.  The famous red tori gates cover the paths up Mt Inari, but you won’t have time to reach the summit.  Instead, look around the temple at the foot of the mountain and then take a short walk through the gates on the lower part of the hills.

After you’ve looked around Fushimi Inari, take a train back to Kyoto Station.  From Kyoto Station you can head out west and visit Arashiyama’s legendary bamboo grove.  Tenryu-ji temple is right next to the bamboo and is worth a look.  From Arashiyama take a taxi to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple (there’s no good route on public transport).

Kinkakuji temple is one of the best things to do in Kyoto

Once you’re done in the west of Kyoto, head to Kiyomizu-dera in the east.  Frankly the quickest way is to take another taxi as the buses will take an hour or more and there’s not a direct one.  By now it will be late afternoon.  You should just have time to look around Kiyomizu-dera and the surrounding streets before it’s time to go back to Kyoto station and take the shinkansen back to Tokyo.

Take a direct shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto as early as possible.  The Hikari shinkansen takes just under three hours; the faster two hour journey is by Nozomi which you can’t travel on with a JR Pass. Leave at 6am and you can be in Kyoto by nine.  As the Japanese say, ganbatte (good luck)!  You’ll need it.

Read more about visiting Kyoto here.

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Snow Monkeys grooming each other at Jigokudani Monkey Park Japan

If you’re visiting Japan in winter, then seeing the Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park is a fantastic day trip from Tokyo.

The monkey park was set up in the 1960s by a local man who was concerned about the monkeys’ welfare.  They were dwindling in numbers due to deforestation and encroaching on the locals.  When the monkeys were seen copying humans using onsen baths at a ryokan in the woods, the idea for the monkey park was born.  The monkeys got their own onsen and began to earn their keep by attracting visitors.

Nowadays there’s a large troupe of Japanese macaques who use the baths.  These cute critters are pretty used to people, so you can get fairly close to them to observe their behaviour.  Of course, their behaviour isn’t entirely natural as the onsen is man made and the monkeys are attracted to the area by regular feedings.

Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park Japan

However you can’t deny that the monkeys are totally adorable and kids and adults are bound to be enchanted by them.  As you may have suspected, it’s best to visit the monkeys in winter as they are more likely to be using the hot springs.

After you’ve seen the monkeys, you can take the bus back to Yudanaka to look around this pretty onsen town before going back to Tokyo.

To get to Jigokudani Monkey Park from Tokyo, take a shinkansen to Nagano.  From here you can take the Snow Monkey Express to Yudanaka, and a bus (or taxi) up the mountain to the monkey park.  Alternatively you can take a bus direct from Nagano station (probably the faster option).  Note that your JR Pass is not valid on the Snow Monkey Express, but you can buy tickets for the train and the monkey park at the platform.

Read more about a visit to the snow monkeys here.

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle Japan in winter

Matsumoto Castle is an incredible example of Japanese architecture, and one of the best castles in Japan.  Matsumoto itself is a really cute town and well worth a day trip from Tokyo.

Once you arrive at Matsumoto you can walk through the town to the castle; it’ll take you about half an hour but it’s a nice walk.  Matsumoto Castle is surrounded by lovely gardens; make sure you find the viewpoint of the red bridge.  If you have a clear day, the setting of the black and white castle against the snowy Japanese Alps is pretty spectacular.

Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s National Treasures.  Parts of the castle date from the late 1500s, and while it’s been heavily restored, the castle has been left as it would have been used by the shoguns.  This makes it very different to Osaka Castle which is a modern museum inside.

Inside, you can look around displays showcasing the castle’s history and items that would have been used by the inhabitants.  Many of the displays are in Japanese only, but you can take a pretty good guess at what it’s all about.  You can climb right to the top, up flights of very steep stairs, for views of the city.

Matsumoto Castle is one of the best day trips from Tokyo, Japan

After looking around Matsumoto Castle you can spend some time in the city itself.  The kids loved the shopping street Nawate Street, which was full of shops selling crafts and trinkets, many with Matsumoto’s frog mascot on them.  There’s a pretty little shrine by Nawate Street too.

Getting to Matsumoto from Tokyo is easy.  You can take a direct train from Shinjuku to Matsumoto.  Alternatively take a shinkansen to Nagano and change there for Matsumoto.

Matsuzaki

Coastal scenery at Matsuzaki, on the Izu Peninsula, Japan

With thanks to Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan

Matsuzaki is a small port town on the western side of the Izu peninsula and has been listed as one of The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan. While Shimoda and other towns along the eastern side of Izu are popular with holidaymakers, Matsuzaki is much less developed and sees far fewer tourists.

The most distinctive feature of the town itself is the local type architecture called namako kabe, which features a white and black lattice design made with plasterwork. This design was created by local artist Chohachi Irie, whose artwork is displayed at the Chohachi Art Museum

A hotbed of volcanic activity, the town is surrounded by natural hot springs and forested hills, and it boasts a warm climate with mild winters. It’s worth exploring beyond the town to enjoy this unique scenery, such as the Ishibu rice field terraces and the Senganmon Rocks and other rock formations. Great hiking opportunities abound, like the Sanpo Trail, a relatively easy path that passes through the three inlets of Iwachi, Ishibu and Kumomi and takes about two hours to complete, passing several viewpoints along the way.

The swimming beaches along this route are quite sheltered and thus suitable for families. In the summer, one of them even features an old fishing boat that’s been converted into an outdoor hot tub! Kids and adults alike will want to try sakura mochi, a local sweet treat. This type of mochi is filled with red bean paste and wrapped in salted cherry tree leaves, resulting in a unique flavor that’s salty and sweet at the same time. It’s one of few Japanese specialties that are naturally vegan and gluten-free.

There’s no train station in Matsuzaki, which makes it a little more difficult to reach than the more popular towns along Izu’s east coast. The easiest and quickest way is to rent a car; you can drive from Tokyo to Matsuzaki in under two and a half hours. By public transport, first take a train to Shuzenji station, and from there buses run to Matsuzaki every 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Nakasendo Way: Magome and Tsumago

Along the Nakasendo Way, Japan. The walk between Magome and Tsumago can be done as a day trip from Tokyo

With thanks to Martina Grossi from The Global Curious

Although visiting Magome and Tsumago from Tokyo requires quite a bit of traveling for a day trip, travelers short on time looking for a day packed with nature, history, and culture, should definitely consider heading there!

Magome and Tsumago are two small post towns that belong to the Nakasendo Trail, a 534-km route that used to connect Kyoto and Tokyo during the Edo Period. Both villages are just 8-km apart and the path connecting them is an easy hiking trail suited for hikers of all levels.

This section of the Nakasendo Trail is a bit off the beaten path as it’s not really close to any of the major spots tourists would typically visit. It takes between 3 to 4 hours to get there from Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka or even Nagano, but it’s absolutely worth the trip!

The historical relevance of the trail connects visitors with the stories of samurais, merchants, and messengers that used to travel for weeks to reach Kyoto or Tokyo. Originally there were 69 post towns ready to host the travelers but Magome and Tsumago are the ones that truly maintain the old times’ charm -you wouldn’t even see the electrical wiring.

The nature surrounding and connecting both villages is lush and beautiful as they are nestled in the Kiso Valley, surrounded by hills, river streams, and rice paddies!

Walk the Nakasendo Way between Magome and Tsumago, Japan

The walk between Magome and Tsumago is an easy 2 hs hike. I’d also recommend spending about 1 hour exploring each of the towns. Have some tea, snacks, relax in a tatami tea house, and enjoy an immersive Japanese-style experience!

This is a day trip for holders of the Japan Rail Pass or those willing to pay extra to get on a fast train. The first main stop would be Nagoya -you’d catch the JR Tōkaidō Shinkansen from Tokyo. From there, you’d reach Nakatsugawa on the Chuo Line. Once in Nakatsugawa, you should catch the bus to Magome.

At first glance, it may seem complicated, but Japan’s transport network is amongst the most efficient in the world! Also, at each station, you’ll find English-speaking staff willing to help you.

Nagoya

The city of Nagoya makes a great day trip from Tokyo

With thanks to Lena Scheidler from Nagoya Foodie 

Nagoya is the fourth largest city in Japan situated between Tokyo and Osaka. It is often overlooked by travelers, but it really has a lot to offer. It is perfect to spend a day in Nagoya because you can enjoy the biggest sights in roughly one day.

The top things to do in Nagoya with kids are visits to the different Toyota museums. There are 3 of them, but I recommend a visit to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology where children and adults alike can learn about the history of Toyota, first as a textile manufacturer and later as Japan’s first car maker.

If you have small children they will surely want to visit Legoland Japan. Next to Legoland you can find the SCMaglev Railway Park – a museum teaching about different Japanese trains.

Other highlights of Nagoya include the Nagoya Castle and the Osu Shopping Arcades.

If you like Japanese food you will love Nagoya. They have special local food called Nagoya Meshi, which is very flavorful and delicious. I recommend you try Hitsumabushi (grilled eel on rice) and Miso Katsu (deep-fried pork cutlets with a Miso sauce).

From Tokyo Station, you take the Shinkansen bullet train to Nagoya Station. The ride takes about 100 minutes and costs 10,360 yen one-way. If you have a JR Pass this trip will be included, but since you cannot ride the fastest train the trip will take 10 minutes longer.

Nikko

Garden in Nikko, Japan, in November

Nikko is a fantastic historic destination, and it’s especially lovely in the autumn.  The town is a couple of hours north of Tokyo.  Nikko is really worth a couple of days, but if you don’t have time in your Japan itinerary, then I’d recommend visiting as a day trip from Tokyo.

The main reason to visit Nikko is to see the World Heritage listed Toshogu Shrine.  It’s the burial place of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu who founded the Tokugawa shogunate; he’s a bit of a Japanese icon and so his shrine is one of the most ornate and lavishly decorated in all of Japan.  The famous Yomeimon Gate and the other buildings have all recently been restored – although you should note that some restoration is ongoing until 2024.

Toshogu Shrine is surrounded by more temples and gardens which are worth visiting, although many of them need a separate entrance ticket.  Taiyuin Mausoleum and Ronnoji Temple are two of the best, and Shoyoen Garden (pictured) is unmissable in the autumn.

Other things well worth seeing in Nikko are the Shinkyo Bridge, Tamozawa Imperial Villa, and the area around nearby Lake Chuzenji, especially in the autumn when the maples leaves turn into a riot of reds, oranges and yellows.

There are also several walking trails in Nikko that take you through the surrounding forest.  Keep an eye out for the row of Jizo statues which guard the spirits of unborn children.  It’s said that nobody knows exactly how many there are, as you can never count the same number twice.

Jizo statues in Nikko, Japan; an interesting day trip from Tokyo

Nikko is also home to Edo Wonderland, a sort of theme park based on Edo-Era life.  Here you can wander traditional streets and learn about the lives of samurai, geisha, and everyday Edo life.  There are performances, processions and traditional food on offer too.  Click here to buy a ticket.

To get to Nikko from Tokyo, you’ll need to take the shinkansen Yamabiko from Tokyo Station to Utsonomiya.  Here you can change for the JR Line to Nikko.  If you leave Tokyo Station at 7.30am you can be in Nikko before 9.30, leaving you plenty of time for sightseeing.

Of course, if you don’t want to go it alone then there are plenty of day tours from Tokyo to Nikko, like this one.

TIP: When you arrive in Nikko take a bus or a taxi up to the Toshogu Shrine to save time, as the shrine is a fair hike from the station.

Takaragawa Onsen

Enjoying winter at Takaragawa Onsen, an easy day trip from Tokyo

With thanks to Allan Wilson from Live Less Ordinary

Located in Gunma, Japan, Takaragawa Onsen is just a short Shinkensen ride from central Tokyo (just over one hour) but it certainly feels worlds apart in the mountains of Minikami in Gunma Prefecture.

And while the region is no doubt fascinating year-round, with the fire blaze colours of autumn or the pretty sakuras of spring, in winter it is just surreal as the region is best known in Japan for skiing, hot springs and of course Takaragawa Onsen in winter.

So the onsen and ryokan retreat is found just a short shuttle bus journey from the Jomo-Goken station, through roadways piled with deep snow in winter, to a winter wonderland set around the onsen spring baths of the passing Takaragawa River.

Takaragawa Onsen in the winter, Japan

In total there are five different onsen baths dotted neatly through the surrounding mountain forests, and passing sounds of the river. The onsens do change where some are accessible only to either women or men however there are also mixed onsens which are used more by families and kids to enjoy. And each bath would be no more than a couple of minutes apart.

If planning on visiting Takaragawa Onsen on a day trip it opens to visitors daily from 09:00 to 17:00 where prices per adult is 1,500 yen. Although I would forever recommend an overnight stay at the connecting ryokan, with traditional tatami rooms, inclusive kaiseki dinners, various kimono dress to choose from, and it’s just the perfect bundle of Japanese experiences rolled into one.

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disney Land is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo

With thanks to Leona Bowman of Wandermust Family

If you are looking for a perfect day trip from Tokyo with kids then consider heading to Tokyo Disneyland!

While this park isn’t as unique as its counterpart Disneysea, I personally feel that Disneyland is more family friendly especially for those travelling with younger kids. There are lots of rides that are great even for toddlers. If you are travelling with young children then be sure to head to Fantasyland first where most of the family friendly rides are located and you definitely need to grab fast passes for some of the more popular rides.

As well as the rides, the parades are unmissable, particularly the evening parade. Some of the parade was conducted in Japanese but this didn’t affect our understanding or appreciation!

We were really lucky with our visits to Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea as we really didn’t experience any long queues but I have heard that these parks can get exceptionally busy especially if you are travelling in holidays or weekends. If you have any flexibility I would advise a mid week visit and also checking the crowd calendar before you visit.  You should buy entry tickets in advance.

To get to the parks you can either stay at an on site Disney hotel or commute in from central Tokyo. If you decide to do the latter then you will need to take the Keiyo Line / Musashino Line to Maihama Station via JR (Japan Rail). From Tokyo Station the train only takes about 15 minutes. From there you will transfer onto the Disney Monorail.

Tokyo Disney Sea

Tokyo Disneysea is a perfect day trip for the whole family

There is more than just one Disney park in Tokyo.  Tokyo is also home to the only Disney Sea park in the world, and so if you’re after a theme park with a difference, you could choose to visit Disney Sea.  However, if you’re travelling with small children be aware that the rides at Tokyo Disney Sea are a little more adult-oriented than at Disney Land.

Tokyo Disney Sea has brilliant theming, all around water of course.  You can expect to find characters like Ariel, Nemo, Indiana Jones and Aladdin here, although (somewhat surprisingly) no Pirates of the Caribbean.  There are seven ports for you to explore, all set around the central Mysterious Island.  You can also visit an Arabian Coast, a Mediterranean Harbour, and a Mermaid Lagoon, among others.

Top rides at Disney Sea include the Tower of Terror (not for little ones!), Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, and its newest attraction, Soaring: Fantastic Flight.

Tokyo Disney Sea is a fantastic park for older kids and adults

Small kids will love riding the gondolas in the Mediterranean Harbour (which is pretty much a replica of Venice) and the child-friendly rides at Mermaid Lagoon.  They’ll love Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage which is a gentle ride (and the closest you’ll get to Pirates of the Caribbean).  Sinbad’s ride is suitable for everyone.  Kids of all ages can also experience Toy Story Mania, one of the most popular attractions.

The attractions here can get super busy so it’s advised to buy entry tickets in advance, arrive for opening time and buying Fastpasses for the busy rides – these can sell out so ride the popular rides first.

To get to Tokyo Disney Sea from Tokyo Station take the Musashino/Keiyo line and alight at Maihama for the Disney Monorail.  The two Disney Parks are right next to each other.

Yokohama

Mt Fuji and the port of Yokohama, Japan

With thanks to Tanja Warwick from Ryokou Girl

Yokohama may be less than 30 minutes from Tokyo however the city has a totally different feel and is well worth a day-trip, particularly for families. Yokohama is actually Japan’s second-largest city and was one of the first to open up to international trade via its ports. Because of this, the city has quite an international feel, with lots of Western-style historical buildings that you can visit. Yokohama is also home to Japan’s largest Chinatown which is a fun place to walk around and try some Chinese cuisine.

The Minato-Mirai area of Yokohama is home to many of the city’s places of interest such as the Red Brick Warehouses which have been converted into boutique shops and restaurants. One of the more ‘fun’ places to eat at in the Red Brick Warehouse is the Chano-Ma restaurant which has beds for diners to climb into instead of tables and chairs. Other fun attractions in the area include the Cosmo World amusement park, which houses a giant Ferris wheel, rollercoasters, and rides for smaller children.

Yokohama has a thriving nightlife scene

For families, one of the top attractions in Yokohama has to be the CupNoodles Museum. This fun and interactive museum traces the history of instant ramen, with hands-on exhibits such as the virtual noodle factory. The highlight for everyone though has to be the My CupNoodles Factory, where for just 300 yen per cup you can create your own original flavor of noodles!

To get to Yokohama, you can take a train directly from Tokyo or Shinagawa station using the JR Tokaido line, Yokosuka line or Keihin-Tohoku line. If you have a JR Rail Pass you can use this otherwise the fare is around 500 yen per adult one-way.


Which of these day trips from Tokyo would you choose?  My vote’s going to the Nakasendo Way when I next visit Japan!  Are there any others that you’d recommend?  Let us know in the comments!

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You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to day trips from Tokyo. Choose from some of the best in this post: visit ancient sights at Nikko and Kamakura, walk the old road between Tokyo and Kyoto, visit the vibrant cities of Nagoya or Yokohama, monkey about at Jigokudani Monkey Park, or get a dose of Americana at Disney’s parks. All these and more, including off the beaten path destinations. #travel #japan #tokyo

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