One of my favorite feat about Japan is how easy it is to travel domestically within the country. Yup, no passports are needed! Most tourist destinations are connected via a very comfortable and easy train ride from Tokyo.
If you’re visiting Tokyo and want to mix up metropolitan city life with nature, temple visits, and countryside living, there are plenty of options that can be reached in just under 3 hours from Tokyo. These options are perfect for a short weekend trip, or even day trips for some of them.
Here are some of my recommendations:
- Lake Kawaguchi
- Yuzawa and Iwappara Ski Resort
- Kusatsu Onsen Town
- Tokyo Disney Resort
- More Short Weekend Getaways from Tokyo
Hakone is the most popular choice for short weekend trips because it is easy to get to Tokyo. Not only that – once you reach Hakone, it is also very convenient to explore. You could simply follow the Hakone Loop, which will allow you to see nearly everything Hakone has to offer in an efficient manner.
It generally takes about 2 days to explore Hakone, but if you time your visits right (arrive early in the morning and leave at night), you could even do this as a day trip.
➡️ Interested in visiting Hakone? Read my in-depth post on Hakone, which will include everything you need to know about visiting Hakone.
🛌 Where to stay in Hakone: Hakone Yutowa
🚅 How to get to Hakone from Tokyo: Take the direct train from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto Station (read more about it here)
⏰ Travel time to Hakone from Tokyo: 1.5 – 2 hours
✨ Hakone is best for: Everything! Temple visit, museum, lake cruise, forest walk, etc
Nikko is well-known for its natural beauty (waterfalls, hikes, and onsen) as well as its UNESCO heritage sites. Located only 125km north of Tokyo, you can enjoy the Nikko region as a day trip or as a short 2 days trip. Some visitors even opt to spend as much as 4 days and explore the outer Nikko region.
➡️ Visiting Nikko? Check out my Nikko Travel Guide, which will include everything you want to know about visiting Nikko.
🛌 Where to stay in Nikko: Nikko Tokinoyuu
🚅 How to get to Nikko from Tokyo: Take Tobu Railway from Asakusa station (read more about it here)
⏰ Travel time to Nikko from Tokyo: ~2 hours
✨ Nikko is best for: Temple visits, nature walks, and onsen
Karuizawa is a popular resort town, located just a few hours off Tokyo. To people from Tokyo, Karuizawa is known as an idyllic mountain town known for skiing during winter and an escape from the heat during summer. You can expect to see nature, visit onsens and do some shopping while in Karuizawa.
➡️ Interested in visiting Karuizawa? Read my Karuizawa travel guide, which will include everything you want to know about visiting Karuizawa.
🛌 Where to stay in Karuizawa: La Maison Karuizawa
🚅 How to get to Karuizawa from Tokyo: Take JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Ueno station to Karuizawa (read more about it here)
⏰ Travel time to Karuizawa from Tokyo: ~2 hours
🌞 Best time to visit Karuizawa: All year round
✨ Karuizawa is best for: Nature walk, shopping
4. Lake Kawaguchi in Fuji Five Lakes
Fuji Five Lakes is the closest area to Mount Fuji. It is located in the Yamanashi prefecture of Japan, and it’s where locals and tourists like to go for a quick getaway from Tokyo. The area receives just as much domestic tourism as international tourism. In Fuji Five Lakes area, you can expect to live the slow mountain life – go for some trekking, onsen and easy walks around the lake.
➡️ Interested in visiting Fuji Five Lakes? You might want to read my Fuji Five Lakes itinerary, which will include everything you want to know about visiting Fuji Five Lakes and what you can do there.
🛌 Where to stay in Fuji Five Lakes: Lake Villa Kawaguchiko
🚅 How to get to Fuji Five Lakes from Tokyo: Take the direct express train from Shinjuku (read more about it here)
⏰ Travel time to Fuji Five Lakes from Tokyo: ~2 hours
✨ Fuji Five Lakes is best for: Mountain living, temple visits, nature hikes
Kamikochi is a little further away from Tokyo, but for those of us who crave nature and trekking, it is a worthwhile visit. I included it on this list because it’s still relatively easy to reach from Tokyo. There are overnight direct buses that run between Kamikochi and Tokyo, making it a very viable option for a short trip.
Kamikochi is a popular starting point for those who are looking to tackle the Japanese Alps, as well as day-trippers who just want to see Kamikochi without proceeding further. Kamikochi is part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park, also known as the Northern Japanese Alps. It has also been referred to as the “Japanese Yosemite Valley”, due to the similarity of the terrains that can be found there.
➡️ Interested in visiting Kamikochi? Be sure to read about my experience trekking in Kamikochi, which will tell you about how I did the trek up to Karasawa Hyutte and stayed overnight in Kamikochi.
🛌 Where to stay in Kamikochi: Kamikochi Nishi-itoya
🚌 How to get to Kamikochi from Tokyo: Take an overnight direct express bus from Shinjuku, Shibuya, or Tokyo station (read more about it here)
⏰ Travel time to Kamikochi from Tokyo: ~6-7 hours
🌞 Best time to visit Kamikochi: Kamikochi is only open from April 15 – November 15. The best time to visit is in mid-October for early Momijigari
✨ Kamikochi is best for: Hiking and nature walk
6. Yuzawa and Iwappara Ski Resort
If you’re visiting Tokyo in the winter months from January through March, you might want to check out the ski resorts in Yuzawa for some powders! Iwappara Ski Resort is located in Yuzawa, and is an easy train ride away from Tokyo. The slopes at Iwappara are very beginner friendly, but there are slopes for the more advanced skier as well. It’s perfect for everyone.
➡️ Interested to visit Iwappara for skiing? Check out my experience skiing as a beginner at Iwappara Ski Resort
🛌 Where to stay in Iwappara: Angel Resort Yuzawa
🚅 How to get to Iwappara from Tokyo: Take JR train from Ueno to Echigo-Yuzawa station (read more about it here)
⏰ Travel time to Iwappara from Tokyo: ~1.5 hours
🌞 Best time to visit Iwappara: Wintertime (Late Dec-March)
✨ Iwappara is best for: Snow activities – Skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, onsen, you name it!
7. Kusatsu Onsen Town
Kusatsu is a charming little town. The entire vibe of the city reminded me of Spirited Away, and it’s made extra whimsical on cold nights – the natural hot spring would occasionally stir up steam into the air.
The hot spring water in Kusatsu is famous as it is high in acidity and bacterial power, which is believed to be beneficial for the skin. Naturally, the main activity in Kusatsu is bathing in an onsen. Many visitors would dress up in a Yukata (Japanese summer wear) and Geta (wooden slipper) while going to an onsen.
➡️ Visiting Kusatsu? Check out my Kusatsu travel guide
🛌 Where to stay in Kusatsu: Ryokan Tamura
🚅 How to get to Kusatsu from Tokyo: Take JR train from Ueno to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station. Then take a direct bus to Kusatsu
⏰ Travel time to Kusatsu from Tokyo: ~3.5 hours
🌞 Best time to visit Kusatsu: All year round, but best to visit in Autumn or Wintertime (October – March) when the weather is cold
✨ Kusatsu is best for: Onsen and nature walks
8. Tokyo Disney Resort
Disneyland in California was fun, but Disneyland in Tokyo? 1000x better! They have super cute food and merchandise that are available exclusively in Tokyo. Since it’s such a magical place, it’s a popular choice for locals and tourists alike.
➡️ Interested to visit Tokyo Disneyland? Check out my Tokyo Disneyland Guide for tips on how to maximize your visit!
🛌 Where to stay in Tokyo Disneyland: Disney Hotels
🚄 How to get to Tokyo Disneyland: Take the train to Maihama Station
⏰ Travel time to Tokyo Disneyland: ~30 mins – 1 hour, depending on where you are staying
🌞 Best time to visit Tokyo Disneyland: Avoid local Japanese holidays – Tokyo Disneyland is very popular with domestic tourists, so you definitely do not want to come here when all the locals are planning to visit as well
More Short Weekend Trips from Tokyo
Here are a few more short-trip destinations ideas that I have yet to visit, but are very close to Tokyo:
- Izu & Atami – Famous for seaside and nature getaways from Tokyo
- Hitachi Seaside Park – Great to visit for seasonal flowers, bike trails, and nature walks
- Yokohama – Yokohama is a city just 30 minutes south of Tokyo. There is a large Chinatown in Yokohama. The city is basically an extension of Tokyo – many Japanese live in Yokohama and commute to Tokyo via train.
- Kamakura & Enoshima – If you like visiting temples and shrines, this is the city for you. Kamakura is a seaside city just south of Tokyo. Once the political center of medieval Japan, nowadays Kamakura is a resort town with dozens of Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto shrines. Enoshima is a small island just off Kamakura, so you definitely need to visit if you’re already coming to Kamakura.
- Kawagoe – Located in Saitama prefecture, Kawagoe is really close to Tokyo. It is an Edo-period castle town, with traditional shops and historical streets to explore.
And that’s all I have on short weekend trips that can be easily reached from Tokyo! Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or even if you just want to say hi.
Until next time! 😉
Are you visiting Tokyo? If you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time, be sure to check out my Tokyo travel guide for first timers, where I’ve written down all I know about Tokyo.