I love Tokyo as much as the next man – but sometimes you just need a break from all the hustle and bustle. Since arriving in Japan I’ve been trying to figure out where some of the coolest day/weekend trips from Tokyo are and I think I’ve finally done it. So if, like me, you fancy taking a break from Tokyo and breathing some nice, fresh wholesome air – then look no further.
Kamakura makes the perfect day trip especially as it is only 1 hour south of Tokyo. Kamakura is full of really old and impressive temples and its main draw is the fact that it is home to Japan’s Giant Buddha! Kamakura is not only known for its temples… Kamakura is also known for it’s amazing restaurants, which is what makes it such a good day trip! And finally for those of you who are more adventurous you can also go for a quick dip in the ocean
I’ve only got one word for Nikko and that’s… wow! I remember coming here in 2011 and being blown away by its natural beauty. You can easily spend the entire day exploring temples and walking through the National Park. One of the main things on my Japan ‘to do list’ is going to Nikko for the changing of the seasons – when the leaves change color from green to red to amber to brown. It’s meant to be simply breath-taking!
Nikko is 2 hours north of Tokyo, so you can easily do it as a day trip, but if I were you I would definitely recommend you taking at least two days to see everything. With two day you will not only be able to see the famous Nikko Toshogu Shrine (the mausoleum of one of Japan’s most influential personalities) and the National Park but you’ll also have time to find the Izo statues by the river (the first image of this article). Finally, if you do end up spending the night in Nikko I would recommend you stay at Nikkorisou Hostel which is run by an amazing young couple who are super fun and super friendly!
If you travel 2 hours west of Tokyo you’ll arrive into Hakone – which is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Hakone is an amazing place to spend the day, especially if you are lucky enough to have blue skies. Hakone not only offers some outstanding natural beauty, a load of hotsprings and a few historic sites there are also some killer views and photo opportunities of Mount Fuji! Again, this can be a day trip or an overnighter. It is totally dependant on how much time you have. If you have the time and decide to stay the night you may want to pull out the stops and stay in a traditional Japanese guest house (‘Ryokan‘) which usually has an onsen (hotspring) attached. Go on… treat yourself – you deserve it!
If you can believe it Yokohama is the second most populated city after Tokyo. I’ve been to Japan 4 times and I’ve only just found out that nugget of information. After some research I’ve discovered that Yokohama is actually a worthwhile place to spend the day. And seeing as it is only 30mins south of Tokyo – it’s a no brainer, especially for a day trip!
Last and by no means least we come to Kawagoe. For all those people who love temples and shrines but don’t have the time or money to go to Kyoto… well… Kawagoe is the closest you’re going to get! And trust me – you won’t be disappointed. Kawagoe is easy to get to from Tokyo as it is only 30mins from Ikebukuro, or about an hour away from central Tokyo. Kawagoe is often referred to as, “Little Edo” and it is simply beautiful. It is full of old buildings and temples that are often the location for Japanese movies set in the Samurai era.