Tokyo is an amazing city, and worth spending time. From exploring its varied neighborhoods, eating its incredible food, to even learning to be a samurai, the experiences you can have there are diverse. However, Tokyo also makes a perfect home base for seeing other places in the region, and the marvelous Japan Rail system (more to come on that in a future post), allows for some truly wonderful day trips. I’ve teamed up with a couple of my favorite bloggers to bring you four of the best. (The ones without an additional author noted are from me.)
Nikko – Lena of Social Travel Experiment
Nikko, a town famous for its beautiful temples, Onsen (hot springs) and nature is located 150 km north of Tokyo. You can reach it by train, but I recommend going by car. Just rent a car for one day. It will be worth it.
Your first stop should be Toshogu Shrine and the surrounding shrines and temples. Then you could make your way to Lake Chuzenchi-ko and also have a look at the famous Kegon Waterfall.
A trip wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a dip in an Onsen.
By the way, I highly recommend visiting in the beginning of October when the leaves turn color making your day trip even more magical.
One of my favorite trips from Tokyo is the temples of Kamakura. There are two stops located conveniently down the street from each other that are must-sees in this beach town.
First, walk up the hill from the Hase train station (a private line only a few short stops from the Japan Rail Kamakura station) to the Kotoku-in Temple, home of Kamakura’s famous Giant Buddha. (Tip: for 20 yen – about 18 cents – you can even go inside it!)
Then walk back toward the station and beach, maybe grab some noodles on the way, and visit the Hase-dera Temple, in my opinion the highlight of the area. The temple is beautiful and the view from the top (the cover photo of this article) is stunning!
Jigokudoni Snow Monkey Park – Matilda from The Travel Sisters
A visit to Jigokudani Yaen Koen (aka Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park) to visit the famous Japanese snow monkeys makes for a fun (but long) day trip from Tokyo. The park is home a group of Japanese macaques referred to as snow monkeys which hang out, play, relax and soak in hot springs just inches away from visitors. You can visit the park year round but winter is definitely the best time to see and photograph these cute monkeys as everything is covered in snow making them true “snow monkeys”.
The fastest and easiest way to the park is to take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano and then transfer to either a local train or bus. It takes about 3 hours travel time each way to reach the park. Here is a guide for more information on how to visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.
The resort town of Hakone is located just an hour south of Tokyo, and is easily accessible by a short local train from the Odawara Shinkansen station. Nestled in the foothills of Mt. Fuji, it is home to some outstanding hiking, but is best known for its hot springs.
There are more than a dozen Onsen to visit in Hakone, but I chose Hakone Yuryo on the recommendation of my hotel concierge. Arriving there, I was amazed at the natural beauty of the place, and upon settling into my first tub outside under the trees, I was hooked.
(Please note that these are not spas like we think of in the US with amenities. These are hot springs and tubs, and that is pretty much it. Men and women are separated, as bathing suits are not permitted. At Yuryo, people with tattoos are not allowed either, and I have heard it is the same with many of the Onsen, so check before you arrive.)
A day spent relaxing in the hot springs of Hakone makes for a perfect getaway from the bustle of Tokyo!
Have you been to Tokyo? What are some of your favorite day trips?