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If you’re looking to take a weekend trip from Tokyo you’re spoiled for choice with so many great destinations within easy reach of the capital.
If you’re after a fun-filled city break, an overnight stay at an onsen, or some time amongst nature there are all kind of destinations that make a great weekend away from Tokyo.
To help you pick the perfect couple of days away, we’ve chosen 15 places that make perfect weekend trips from Tokyo.
To get the most out of your two-day break from Tokyo, we’ll also tell you how to get to each destination, add a few carefully hand-picked suggestions for places to stay. We’ve also thrown in a few money saving tips too.
Without any further ado, here are 15 of the best weekend trips from Tokyo.
Kamakura is a former capital of Japan close to the coast to the south of Tokyo.
As the former capital of Japan, Kamakura is home to dozens of ancient and beautiful temples and shrines. Just a short train ride away is the picturesque island of Enoshima.
Kamakura’s most famous attraction is the Great Buddha statue at Kotoku-in Temple. The giant bronze Buddha dates from the 13th century and has become the iconic symbol of Kamakura.
Nearby, Hasedera Temple is famous for its colourful flowers and wonderful sea views. Hokokuji Temple draws visitors to its gorgeous bamboo grove, while washing your money at Zeniarai Benten Shrine is said to double your fortune.
Near Kita-Kamakura Station, north of the main town, is the huge 13th century Engaku-ji, known for the ceilings decorated with painted dragons.
A short walk away is Meigetsu-in, famous for the circular window that looks out onto the gardens from the main hall as well as the hydrangeas that bloom here each June.
On sunny days there are wonderful views of Mount Fuji from Cape Inamuragasaki just to the south of Kamakura. From here, it’s just a short train ride and a walk across Enoshima Benten Bridge to Enoshima Island.
Enoshima is a great place to spend a few hours, particularly in the late afternoon before sunset. At the peak of the island is Enoshima Shrine. The narrow main road that leads to the shrine is lined with countless souvenir stalls, cafes and restaurants.
Just next to the shrine is Enoshima Sea Candle, a viewing platform which has spectacular sea views, and Enoshima Samuel Cocking Garden, a colourful botanic garden. Along the rocky cliffs of Enoshima’s southern coastline are the Iwaya Caves, reached via walkways lit with lanterns and colourful lights.
• How to get to Kamakura:
There are direct trains from Tokyo Station to Kamakura Station on the Yokosuka Line taking 54 minutes.
There are also direct trains between Kamakura Station and Shinjuku Station on the Shonan Shinjuku Line, which takes just under an hour.
• Where to stay in Kamakura:
• You can also search for more accommodation in Kamakura here.
Kawagoe is an easy day trip from Tokyo, though it’s a better place to explore at a slower pace over a couple of days.
To protect their stock from the threat of fire, many of Kawagoe’s merchants built large and ornate stone storehouses called kurazukuri to safely store their wares. Many of these still survive, giving Kawagoe a unique character.
Standing over the warehouse district is Toki no Kane, Kawagoe’s bell tower, which was rebuilt at the end of the 19th century following the Great Kawagoe Fire of 1893.
A short walk from the centre of town is Kashiya Yokocho, also known as Candy Alley. Along this street are several old stores that specialise in traditional Japanese sweets and snacks.
On Taisho Roman Yume-dori you’ll find several charming buildings that date from the early 20th century.
You can also explore the last surviving building of Kawagoe Castle at Honmaru Goten. And don’t forget to pick up some local sakes and regional specialty foods from Koedo Kurari.
• How to get to Kawagoe:
There are direct trains to Kawagoe Station from Ikebukuro Station on the Tobu-Tojo Line, the journey time is 32 minutes.
There are also direct trains to Kawagoe Station on the Fukotoshin Line from Shinjuku-sanchome Station, taking 54 minutes.
• Where to stay in Kawagoe:
• You can search for more accommodation in Kawagoe here.
Though Nikko is also a popular day trip, there’s plenty to see here to fill a two day break from Tokyo.
Nikko’s star attractions sit at the northern end of the town. The vermillion-red Shinkyo Bridge that crosses the Daiya River is the symbol of Nikko and marks the entrance to the collection of the town’s world famous religious sites.
Amongst the Toshogu Shrine’s grounds are the famous carvings of three monkeys, the breathtaking Yomeimon Gate, and the shrine’s dazzling main hall.
Alongside Toshogu Shrine are two other sacred sites, Rinnoji Temple and Futarasan Shrine. Both were founded in the 8th century by the Buddhist monk Shodo Shonin.
Also in Nikko is the Tamozawa Imperial Villa, a beautiful former summer retreat for members of Japan’s Imperial Family that blends traditional Japanese and Western-inspired architecture and interior design.
Also in Nikko is the Tamozawa Imperial Villa, a beautiful former summer retreat for members of Japan’s Imperial Family that blends traditional Japanese and Western-inspired architecture and interior design.
On the edge of Nikko is Lake Chuzenji, a picturesque lake that sits at the foot of Mount Nantai. From the eastern edge of the lake there are sightseeing cruises, as well as hot springs and several small restaurants.
Also on the east side of Lake Chuzenji is Kegon Falls, a magnificent 100 foot waterfall that can be seen from a dedicated viewing platform. The stylish former villas of the British and Italian Embassies on the lake’s eastern shoreline are both open to the public.
• How to get to Nikko:
There are direct trains to Nikko Tobu Station on the Tobu Limited Express Spacia Kegon from Asakusa Station. The total journey time is 1 hour 50 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take the Shinkansen from either Tokyo Station or Ueno Station to Utsunomiya Station and change on to the Nikko Line to Nikko JR Station. This journey takes just over 1 hour 50 minutes, depending on the wait at Utsonomiya Station.
• Where to stay in Nikko:
• You can search for more accommodation in Nikko here.
• Save money in Nikko with the World Heritage Area Nikko Pass
The two day World Heritage Area Nikko Pass includes the cost of return travel on the Tobu Limited Express, as well as unlimited rides on local trains and buses within Nikko.
Hakone is another place that many people visit on a day trip. However, as most of its attractions are quite spread out, and due to the rather convoluted way of getting here, we think Hakone is one of the best weekend trips from Tokyo.
Hakone is a beautiful mountain town filled with stunning natural scenery, popular hot spring resorts and an eclectic range of art galleries and museums.
Much of Hakone is also blessed with wonderful views of Mount Fuji, which can be admired from the Hakone Ropeway.
The Hakone Ropeway connects the area of Gora with Lake Ashi, gliding above the sulphuric hot springs of the Owakudani Valley on the way. At Owakudani you can tuck into black steamed eggs that have been cooked in the valley’s hot springs.
One of the most popular activities in Hakone is to take a cruise on a scenic pirate ship on Lake Ashi. At the southern end of Lake Ashi, the giant torii gate of Hakone Shrine is one of the most popular photo spots in Japan.
Throughout Hakone are a number of unique museums and interesting art galleries. The Hakone Open Air Museum features a number of striking sculptures as well as a collection of Picasso’s artworks.
The sleek POLA Museum of Art also includes a huge collection of Japanese and Western art, including works by masters such as Van Gogh and Monet.
Hakone is also a great option if you’re looking to stay at an onsen near Tokyo. Hakone has been a popular onsen town for hundreds of years and there’s a excellent selection of hot spring resorts and ryokans to choose from, some of which we recommend below.
• How to get to Hakone:
There are limited express Romancecar trains from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station operated by Odakyu. The Hakonetozan Line then runs from Hakone-Yumoto Station to Gora Station in the heart of the Hakone region. This total journey takes around 2 hours 40 minutes.
You can also travel via JR trains, including the Shinkansen, to Odawara Station, and take the Hakonetozan Line from there to Gora Station. The journey from Tokyo Station using the Shinkansen is around 2 hours in total.
• Where to stay in Hakone:
• You can find more accommodation in Hakone here.
• Save money in with the Hakone Free Pass
The Hakone Free Pass is a two or three day pass that offers a host of benefits and money saving opportunities.
Included in the Hakone Free Pass is unlimited travel for two days on the Hakone Ropeway, the Hakone Tozan Cable Car, the sightseeing pirate cruise ships on Lake Ashi, and all local trains and buses in Hakone.
The Hakone Free Pass also gives discounts on entry to a number of local attractions, including the Hakone Open Air Museum, POLA Museum of Art and many more.
The second largest city in Japan is just a stone’s throw from Tokyo, but there is a huge amount of things to see and do in Yokohama to warrant spending a weekend here.
A historic port city, many of Yokohama’s main attractions can be found near the harbour. The port’s iconic Red Brick Warehouses have been beautifully repurposed and are now filled with a huge range of shops and restaurants.
Stroll through Yamashita Park to reach another of Yokohama’s most famous landmarks, the giant walking statue of Gundam.
Yokohama was one of the first cities to open to foreign trade after Japan ended its policy of isolationism in the late 19th century. Today, Yokohama is one of the most diverse cities in Japan.
Yokohama is home to the largest Chinatown in Japan, an area of colourful streets filled with the aroma of delicious freshly cooked food.
Yamate-cho, also known as the Bluff, is a pretty area lined with grand Western-style houses dating from the early 20th century.
Meanwhile, an easy bus ride from the centre of the city is Sankeien Gardens, a beautiful green space with picturesque lakes, a pagoda and plum blossom trees in spring.
• How to get to Yokohama:
There are several train lines that connect Tokyo and Yokohama. From Tokyo Station the Ueno Tokyo Line reaches Yokohama Station in around 25 minutes, while on the Yokosuka Line the journey takes 30 minutes.
• Where to stay in Yokohama:
• Search for more accommodation in Yokohama here.
Kawaguchiko is one of the best weekend trips from Tokyo, blessed with dreamy views of Mount Fuji, Japan’s most iconic landmark and one of the world’s most famous volcanoes.
Kawaguchiko is the easiest of the Fuji Five Lakes to reach and (when the weather plays ball) boasts jaw-dropping views of Mount Fuji.
Kawaguchiko is especially beautiful during spring and autumn. In spring the lake is framed by cherry blossom trees, whilst from November the Momiji Tunnel on the north side of the lake is awash with glorious autumn colours.
Within easy reach of Kawaguchiko is Fuji Q Highland, a giant amusement park famous for its thrilling rollercoasters. Also nearby is Shimoyoshida and the famous view of Mount Fuji combined with Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine’s five-storey pagoda.
• How to get to Kawaguchiko:
Trains to Kawaguchiko Station leave from Shinjuku Station. There are a handful of direct trains on the Chuo Line that take just under 2 hours.
There is also a limited express service between Shinjuku Station and Otsuki Station. From Otsuki change onto the Fujikyuko Line for the final leg of the trip to Kawaguchiko Station. This journey takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes.
• Where to stay in Kawaguchiko:
• You can find more accommodation in Kawaguchiko here.
The Jogasaki Coast south of Atami
Sat on the coast at the tip of the Izu Peninsula, Atami has long been a popular weekend break from Tokyo. A hot spring resort, Atami is also the gateway to the Jogasaki Coast that runs along the east coast of the Izu Peninsula.
Atami is a sloping city, built into steep mountainsides that reach down to the sea. In the centre of Atami is Sun Beach, a 200 metre stretch of sand lined with palm trees which is illuminated at night.
Next to Atami Station are Atami Nakamise-dori and Atami Ekimae Shotengai, two atmospheric covered shopping streets crammed with food stalls and souvenir shops that specialise in local foods and goods.
One of Atami’s most famous landmarks is Kiunkaku, a former villa-turned-ryokan that features a beautiful mix of traditional Japanese and Western styles.
High above the city is the MOA Museum of Art, a modern museum that features a diverse and impressive collection of artworks from all over Asia. The museum’s grounds also enjoy incredible views of the peninsula and out across Sagami Bay, which is famous for the fabulous fireworks displays that take place here several times a year.
Atami is also a great base for exploring the Jogasaki Coast, which is easily reached by train from Atami. There are numerous walking paths and hiking trails around the coast which enjoy of spectacular sea views.
You can also go scuba diving at various points around the Jogasaki Coast. Here you can take a dip to see the colourful marine life and coral reefs that lie beneath the water.
Matsumoto is a lovely city to explore over a couple of days.
Matsumoto is most famous for its stunning black castle. One of the few surviving original castles in Japan, Matsumoto Castle is rightly considered to be a masterpiece of feudal era architecture.
Nicknamed the Crow Castle thanks to its striking black exterior, the castle’s interior is largely unchanged from when it took its current shape in the late 16th century.
Within walking distance of Matsumoto Castle is the historic area of Nakamachi. Nakamachi is a grand former merchant district that mostly dates from the Edo period. The majority of the old buildings lie along Nakamachi-dori which features a collection of pretty historic shops and warehouses similar to those in Kawagoe.
Just across the Metoba River is Nawate Shopping Street, a narrow street that leads to Yohashira Shrine. Also known as Frog Street, Nawate Shopping Street features a number of interesting stalls specialising in souvenirs and traditional Japanese snacks and sweets.
• How to get to Matsumoto:
There are direct limited express Chuo Line trains from Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto Station. The journey takes just under 2 hours 40 minutes.
• Where to stay in Matsumoto:
• Search for more accommodation in Matsumoto here.
Most people whizz past Shizuoka on their way between Tokyo and Kyoto on a bullet train. Yet there is plenty to see in Shizuoka to warrant a weekend getaway from Tokyo.
Shizuoka is a city steeped in history. The former site of Shizuoka Castle, once the home of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, is now Sumpu Castle Park, located in the heart of the city.
Sumpu Castle Park is surrounded by the castle’s original moat. A recreation of the castle’s East Gate has been constructed which contains displays about the original castle.
To the west of the bustling city centre is Shizuoka Sengen Shrine. There are actually three shrines based inside the sprawling grounds. The shrines consist of a number of beautifully decorated and ornate buildings, 26 of which have been designated as national important cultural properties.
In the east of the city are two of Shizuoka’s best views of Mount Fuji. The seven kilometre stretch of coastline at Miho no Matsubara features a pine-tree lined beach and beautiful views of Fuji on sunny clear days.
Meanwhile Kunozan Toshogu is another spectacular shrine dedicated to the former shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Behind the shrine is the Nihondaira Ropeway, which carries passengers to the Nihondaira observation deck which also has magical views of Mount Fuji.
Shizuoka Prefecture is famous as a producer of two of Japan’s most traditional specialities, green tea and wasabi. You can visit some of Shizuoka’s green tea farms and wasabi fields that sit on the edge of the city and enjoy a taste of the region’s finest local produce.
Further east into Shizuoka Prefecture is Hamamatsu, another city that makes an easy weekend trip from Tokyo.
Like Shizuoka, Hamamatsu also played an important role in Japanese history. The reconstructed Hamamatsu Castle was also one of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s former homes. Today the hilltop castle has wonderful views out across the city.
Hamamatsu is also famous as a city of music. Many major musical instrument manufacturers were founded in Hamamatsu, and several still have their headquarters in the city, including Yamaha, Roland and Kawai.
The Act Tower, the tallest building in the city, has even been designed to resemble a harmonica. There are views as far as Mount Fuji from the tower’s observation deck on the 45th floor.
Music fans will love the Hamamatsu City Museum of Musical Instruments. The museum is home to a huge and fascinating collection of historic and modern musical instruments from all over the world.
On the outskirts of the city is Hamamatsu Flower Park, a huge and beautifully arranged garden that is famous for its wide range of colourful flowers, including roses, tulips and hanging wisteria.
A little further east is Lake Hamana, which has an onsen resort as well as restaurants that specialise in eel.
To the north of Hamamatsu is Ryotanji, a serene Zen temple with gorgeous interiors and grounds that dates from the 8th century.
To the south of the city centre is the fascinating landscape of the Nakatajima sand dunes. Taking up a four kilometre stretch of the coastline, Nakatajima’s sand dunes are one of the three largest in Japan.
• How to get to Hamamatsu:
There are direct trains from Tokyo Station to Hamamatsu Station on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen, taking just under 1 hour 30 minutes.
• Where to stay in Hamamatsu:
• Search for more accommodation in Hamamatsu here.
Niigata is a bustling port city situated along the coast of the Sea of Japan.
Niigata Prefecture is famous throughout Japan for the incredibly high quality of its rice. The combination of great rice and fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan makes Niigata a great place to visit for foodies.
Niigata’s rice is also used to create sake, and the region produces some of the finest quality sakes in Japan.
Many of these sakes can be sampled at Ponshukan inside Niigata JR Station which has over 100 sake vending machines. ¥1,000 gets you five tokens and a sake cup. Pop a token into the sake vending machine you’d like to try and sip away.
You can learn all about the history of Niigata at the Niigata City History Museum, a beautiful early 20th century building that was once the city hall.
To the west of the city centre, Hakusan Park is home to a beautiful collection of flowers as well as cherry blossom trees plus the grand and ornate Hakusan Shrine.
• How to get to Niigata:
There are direct trains on the Jōetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Niigata Station. The journey takes just over 2 hours.
• Where to stay in Niigata:
• Find more accommodation in Niigata here.
In the summer many people head north into the mountains to escape hot and humid Tokyo. One popular summertime destination is Ikaho Onsen in Gunma.
Ikaho is a historic onsen resort, famous for the revitalising iron-rich spring water that has drawn visitors to the town for centuries.
Today there are dozens of hot spring resorts and ryokans throughout Ikaho, many of which offer overnight packages that include traditional Japanese breakfasts and extravagant evening meals.
Many of the town’s resorts are congregated around Ikaho’s stone steps. 365 stone steps lead through the centre of Ikaho, eventually reaching Ikaho Shrine.
Numerous souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants line both sides of the steep steps, making the trek to the shrine a little easier to bear. Beyond Ikaho Shrine is the picturesque Kajika Bridge which looks particularly pretty during the red foliage of autumn.
At the top of the town is the Ikaho Ropeway, which leads directly to the Uenoyama Park. The park has wonderful views of the region and of the surrounding mountains of Gunma.
At the southern end of Ikaho is the Yumeji Takehisa Ikaho Memorial Museum. The museum features an impressive collection of artworks by Yumeji Takehisa, one of Japan’s best loved artists set inside a beautiful Taisho Roman building.
• How to get to Ikaho Onsen:
You’ll need take a train and bus to get to Ikaho Onsen. From Tokyo Station take the Hokuriku-Shinkansen direct to Takasaki Station. Then change on to the JR Joetsu Line to Shibukawa Station. From there its a 20 minute bus ride to Ikaho Onsen. The whole journey takes around 2 hours 30 minutes.
• Where to stay in Ikaho Onsen:
• Search for more accommodation in Ikaho Onsen here.
Karuizawa is another popular summer destination for those looking to beat the heat.
Located in the mountains of Nagano, Karuizawa is known for its mild summers that make it a popular weekend getaway from Tokyo. In the winter Karuizawa sees a huge amount of snowfall and is a popular skiing resort.
Karuizawa’s pretty streets are lined with numerous cafes, bakeries, restaurants and shops. On the south side of Karuizawa Station is Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza, a modern shopping mall with plenty of fashion stores and very good restaurants.
There are more stylish shops and cafes in Harunire Terrace, part of the Hoshino Resort in nearby Naka-Karuizawa.
There’s plenty here for those looking for a spot of culture too. The Karuizawa New Art Museum features a great range of modern art while the the Museum of Contemporary Art displays a selection of works by the likes of Yayoi Kusama and Yoshimoto Nara. The Museum of History and Folklore also offers a fascinating insight into the area’s history.
There are a number of natural sites to explore in close proximity to Karuizawa. The beautiful Shiraito waterfall has a very unique appearance, standing just three metres tall and 70 metres wide.
An easy bus ride across the prefectural border in neighbouring Gunma leads to Onioshidashi Park, an area made up entirely of rugged volcanic rock. Formed by the eruption of Mount Asama in the late 18th century, the rocks are straddled by a picturesque shrine that looks out across the region’s unique landscape.
• How to get to Karuizawa:
Karuizawa Station is just over an hour from Tokyo Station on the Hokuriku-Shinkansen. The journey takes about an hour.
• Where to stay in Karuizawa:
• Find more accommodation in Karuizawa here.
Like Ikaho, Kusatsu is a popular historic onsen town in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture.
Kusatsu Onsen has been voted as the best hot spring resort in Japan for the past 18 years. An excellent weekend trip from Tokyo, over three million people visit Kusatsu Onsen every year.
The quality and abundance of Kusatsu’s hot spring waters can be seen in Yubatake, the huge hot spring reservoir that sits in the middle of the town. Yubatake is the source of Kusatsu’s hot springs, which bubbles and steams throughout the day.
Next to Yubatake is Netsu no Yu, a traditional bathhouse where you can watch a special performance called yumomi. Yumomi is the age-old method of cooling the spring waters with large wooden paddles. The performances are carried out by local women who sing traditional songs as they cool the water.
There are several hot spring foot baths that are free to use dotted around the town, including in Sainokawara Park a short walk from the centre of town.
At the far end of the park is Sainokawara Rotenburo, a large public open air onsen surrounded by trees.
A popular destination all year round, Kusatsu Onsen is particularly beautiful when covered in snow in the winter. The town also makes a great winter base for those looking to hit the powder fresh snow of the nearby ski slopes.
• How to get to Kusatsu Onsen:
Kusatsu Onsen is also reached by a combination of train and bus.
From Tokyo Station take the Hokuriku-Shinkansen to Takasaki Station, followed by a bus from the Takasaki Eki Higashiguchi bus stop (directly outside the station) to Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal. The whole journey takes just over 3 hours.
• Where to stay in Kusatsu Onsen:
• Search for more accommodation in Kusatsu Onsen here.
You can easily spend several days in Kanazawa, but thanks to the bullet trains, the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture can also be a great weekend trip from Tokyo.
Kanazawa was one of the wealthiest cities in Japan during the Edo period where the culture and the arts flourished. Such prestige has left a lasting impact on the city, where you can still find historic geisha districts brimming with atmosphere.
Kenrokuen Garden is considered to be one of the three best traditional gardens in Japan. The magnificently manicured gardens feature a number of lakes, ponds and teahouses as well as a wide variety of colourful flowers and trees, including cherry blossoms.
Kenrokuen was once part of the grounds of Kanazawa Castle. A recreation of Kanazawa Castle stands on the site of the original building, which was destroyed by fire in 1881. In front of the castle is Gyokusen-inmaru Park, another beautiful traditional Japanese garden.
Other highlights in Kanazawa include the fascinating Myoryuji Temple, more commonly known as the Ninja Temple. This unique temple was built with the added purpose of defending the castle and features a range of secret staircases, hidden rooms and trapdoors.
Elsewhere Kanazawa’s 21st Century Museum is a popular contemporary art gallery that features a wide range of thought-provoking and often interactive artworks.
For lunch, be sure to head to the Omicho Market. Operating since the Edo Period, Omicho Market is a great place to feast on some of the freshest seafood in Japan.
• How to get to Kanazawa:
There are direct trains between Tokyo Station and Kanazawa Station on the Hokuriku-Shinkansen. The journey is around 2 hours 40 minutes.
• Where to stay in Kanazawa:
• You can find more accommodation in Kanazawa here.
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