Discover lesser-known gems with these day trips from Tokyo (that aren’t Osaka and Kyoto).

When I asked one of my friends who’d just returned from Japan how his experience was, his reply humoured me: “Crowded.”

While popular destinations like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka draw countless (or rather too many) visitors every year, Japan’s true gems often lie off the beaten path. Think: rich heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality — without having to deal with the crowds. And with its efficient transportation system, some of these places are just a few stations away!

Sensoji Temple Tokyo - Places in Japan

So here are five underrated day trips from Tokyo that offer a glimpse into the authentic heart of Japan.

The best part? Free first-class, round-trip tickets to Japan are up for grabs, so read on to discover how you can jet set off in style! ✈️🎌

1) Omiya: 30 Minutes From Tokyo

Omiya city - Things to do in Omiya

Photo credit: Saitama Tourism and International Relations Bureau

If you’ve ever wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Omiya is the place to go. Just 30 minutes north of Tokyo by train, this often-overlooked city offers a delightful blend of modern attractions and traditional Japanese culture.

How to get there: From Shinjuku Station, take the Saikyo Line or Shonan-Shinjuku Lines to Omiya Station (Google Maps).

Learn about trains at Saitama Railway Museum

The Railway Museum - Things to do in Omiya

Ever thought of driving a Shinkansen on an actual train track? Omiya is home to the Saitama Railway Museum, a must-visit for train enthusiasts and curious travellers alike.

This interactive museum showcases the history and evolution of Japan’s iconic railway system, featuring more than 30 life-sized trains of beautifully restored locomotives to modern-day shinkansens. Plus, you’ll also get to try hands-on exhibits like driving a miniature train and a mini-shinkansen!

Entrance fee: ¥1,600/pax
Opening hours: 10AM – 5PM (Wed – Mon), closed on Tue and 29 Dec – 2 Jan
How to get there: Take the New Shuttle from Omiya Station and get off at Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station. The museum is connected right next to this station (Google Maps)

*Pro-tip: The New Shuttle train ride is covered by the JR Tokyo Wide Pass!

Soak in hot springs at Ofuro Cafe Utatane

Ofuro bath cafe - Day Trips from Tokyo

For a more relaxing experience, head to Ofuro Cafe Utatane, a unique cafe that is part cafe and part onsen (hot spring). There are both outdoor and indoor baths, as well as other options like jacuzzi, cold water bath, and sauna to choose from. Ladies can even opt for a mud pack for that flawless skin ✨

Or soak your feet in a warm foot bath while savouring delicious Japanese snacks and beverages — the perfect way to unwind after a day of exploring Omiya’s hidden gems. There’s also the option to stay overnight if you wish to!

Entrance fee: ¥1,260 per entry, free access to all facilities (additional ¥860 for a dorm room)
Opening hours: 10AM – 2AM (main areas), 11AM – 12AM (cafe), 24hrs (hotel front desk)
How to get there: 8min walk from The Saitama Railway Museum or Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station (Google Maps)

2) Kawagoe: 1 Hour From Tokyo

Kawagoe old street - Day Trips from Tokyo

Kawagoe is a historic city just an hour’s ride from Tokyo, transporting you back to Japan’s past. The town blends modern amenities with the preserved architecture and atmosphere of the Edo period, making for a comfortable yet historically enriching escape.

How to get there: From Shinjuku Station, take the Shonan-Shinjuku Line to Ikebukuro Station. Switch to the Tobu-Tojo Line and stop at Kawagoe Station (Google Maps)

Peek into Japan’s feudal era at Kitain temple

Kitain Temple - Things to do in Kawagoe

Photo credit:

Kitain (喜姚院), the head temple of the Tendai Sect in the Kanto Region, allows a rare glimpse into Japan’s feudal era. It houses the only surviving palace structures of the former Edo Castle within its halls. So if you want to learn about Japan’s history or even experience a more zen part of Japan, Kitain is a culturally rich stop you should add to your Kawagoe itinerary!


Entrance fee: ¥400/pax
Opening hours: 9AM – 4PM, closed on 29 Dec – 15 Jan, 2 Feb – 3 Feb, 2 Apr – 4 Apr
How to get there: From Kawagoe Station, walk 3mins to Kawagoe Station bus stop. Then take a 4min bus, Tobu Bus [Kawagoe 02] to Nakaharacho (Saitama). Walk 11mins (Google Maps)

Feast on local snacks at Kurazukuri Street

Rice cakes - Things to eat in Kawagoe

Explore Kurazukuri Street, also known as a Koedo area (Little Edo) thanks to its architecture dating back to that period. Dress up in a kimono or yukata and walk along the streets while feasting on local delicacies! Some of our favourites are Naka Ichi Hon-ten “Neko Manma Yaki Onigiri” (triangular rice balls roasted over a charcoal grill) and Shoyu Ice Cream (soy sauce ice cream with a creamy and buttery taste).

How to get there: From Kitain Temple, walk 14mins to Kurazukuri Street (Google Maps)

3) Karuizawa: 1 Hour From Tokyo

Kumobe Pond - Day Trips from Tokyo

Karuizawa is a good in-between for both adventurous travellers and laid-back vacationers alike. This scenic town has a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities that will excite anyone with its novelty. I’d say it’s definitely not your typical list of tourist hotspots, but more of a series of hidden gems waiting for you to uncover.

How to get there: From Shinjuku Station, take the Shonan-Shinjuku Line to Omiya Station. Then, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Karuizawa Station (Google Maps)

Pick up curling at Karuizawa Ice Park

Karuizawa Ice Park Curling Class - Things to do in Karuizawa

Since Karuizawa is the only town in the world to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics in 1998, it makes sense that it is well-known for its extensive sports complex — Karuizawa Ice Park.

Pick up a new sport and try curling, where you’d have to slide stones on a sheet of ice towards the target! It may sound easy but it’s pretty hard to determine how much force to use when sliding the stone. Too much and it’ll glide right across the target, too little and it won’t even hit it. Nevertheless, it’s still great for making new friends along the way.

If curling’s not your thing though, outdoor facilities are also available for ice skating in winter or roller skating and futsal in the spring and summer.

Cost: ¥2,420/pax (1hr session), ¥3,410/pax (1.5hr session), ¥4,540/pax (2hr session) — book on the website or email [email protected]
Opening hours: 9AM – 10PM
How to get there: From Karuizawa Station, take Bus Kazekoshi Koen to Kazekoshi Koen and walk 3mins (Google Maps)

Sticky Yam Mikuriya - Things to eat in Karuizawa

For lunch, consider visiting Mikuriya – a traditional Japanese restaurant that’s popular with locals! Apparently, it has one of Japan’s best Tororo (sticky grated yam with grilled salmon) because they combine it with miso paste, which adds another dimension to its flavour. Now imagine pairing the Tororo (served cold) with hot rice — refreshing.

Cost: From ~¥1,380/bento set
Opening hours: 7:15AM – 2:15PM from May – Oct (closed on Wed)
How to get there: From Karuizawa Station, take Bus Naka Karuizawa Keiyu New Town Homen to Shimo Hotchi. Walk 5mins (Google Maps)

Admire volcanic landscapes at Onioshidashi Park

Onioshidashi Park Girl Sitting By The Volcanic Rocks - Day Trips from Tokyo

The volcanic landscape of Onioshidashi Park is a unique attraction near Karuizawa, just a 35-minute bus ride away from the city 🌋

It features dramatic black rock formations created by Mount Asama’s eruption in 1783 — a stark contrast to the vibrant burst of red, orange, and gold leaves on the surrounding trees! The result? A visually stunning background for your next Instagram update or even just for your eyes to revel in.

Entrance fee: ¥700/pax
Opening hours: 8AM – 5PM
How to get there: Take a Seibu bus from Karuizawa Station (¥1,230, operates hourly) — check with the bus captain that it goes all the way to Onioshidashi Park (Seibu Bus timings)

4) Okutama: 1.5 Hours from Tokyo

Day Trips From Tokyo - Okutama Landscape

Photo credit:

Okutama is a perfect destination for nature lovers. Located in west Tokyo just a 1.5-hour train ride from Shinjuku, this town is surrounded by scenic mountains — offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling city vibes of Tokyo.

How to get there: From Shinjuku Station, take the JR Chuo Line to Ome Station. Then transfer to the Ome Line and get off at Okutama Station (Google Maps)

Hike along a scenic trail to Lake Okutama

Lake Okutuma with Bridge - Day Trips from Tokyo

Photo credit: Japan National Tourism Organization

Lake Okutama is surrounded by walking tracks, fishing streams and high mountains. There’s even a floating pedestrian bridge which stretches across a portion of the lake!

For a unique experience, hike for 2 hours (one-way) along the Mukashi Michi Trail which begins at Okutama Station and ends at Lake Okutama. An old road that dates back to the Edo period, this trail passes through lush forests and traditional Japanese houses, peeking into Japan’s rich history on the way! Killing two attractions with one stone hike am I right?

How to get there: From Okutama Station bus stop, take Bus 西東京バス [奥11] to Kuratoguchi and walk 2mins. Or from Okutama Station, hike for ~2hrs along the Mukashi Michi Trail to Lake Okutama (Google Maps)

Go fishing at Tama River

Day Trips From Tokyo - Okutama Fishing Center

Photo credit: Guidoor Japan

If you have more time, go fishing in the crystal-clear waters of the Tama River. Head to Okutama Fishing Center — you won’t have to worry about skill level as it has different fishing sections for everyone! Some include family fishing, group fishing, general fishing, and fly and lure fishing.

Depending on the season, you’ll get to see fishes like nijimasu (rainbow trout), iwana (Japanese char) and yamame (masu trout). After a hard day’s work, enjoy your catch of the day cooked fresh on the spot!

Cost: ¥3,300/pax (standard bait), ¥3,700/pax (lure fishing for 1 day), ¥3,300/pax (family fishing spot) and ¥300 (rental fishing rod)
Opening hours: 7AM – 4PM (Mar – Nov), 7:30PM – 4PM (Dec – Feb), closed on Thu
How to get there: From Shinjuku Station, take the JR Chuo Line to Ome Station. Then transfer to the Ome Line and get off at Mitake Station. Walk for about 21mins to Okutama Fishing Center (Google Maps)

5) Ito: 2 Hours From Tokyo

Ito landscape_Day Trips to Tokyo

Photo credit: Japan National Tourism Organization

The coastal city of Ito is a hidden gem that’s only 2 hours away from Tokyo. It has everything you need for a day of rejuvenation — natural beauty, hot springs, and unique wildlife encounters.

How to get there: From Shinjuku Station, take the Shonan-Shinjuku Line to Ofuna Station, then transfer to the Tokaido Line. Get off at Atami Station and switch to the Ito Line to reach Ito Station (Google Maps)

See adorable capybaras at Izu Saboten Zoo

Day Trips From Tokyo - Capybarra in Spring bath at Izu Shaboten Zoo

Photo credit: Japan National Tourism Organization

One of Ito’s most popular attractions is the Izu Saboten Zoo. It birthed the original ‘Capybara Outdoor Bath’, which has become famous nationwide!

Here’s how it all started: Back in 1982, a zookeeper was cleaning the capybara exhibit with hot water and noticed that these animals were relaxing their feet and butts in it — coincidentally discovering their love for the hot springs. So now, visitors can observe these adorable creatures up close during their baths 😍

Entrance fee: ¥2,700/pax (weekdays), ¥2,800/pax (weekends and peak periods/holidays)
Opening hours: 9:30AM – 5PM
How to get there: From Ito Station bus stop, take Bus Tokai Jidousya [I 67] Ito Sta.-Komuro Yama-Shaboten Park to Shaboten Park. Walk 3mins (Google Maps)

Experience a traditional ryokan at K’s House Ito Onsen

K's House Ito Onsen_Day Trips to Tokyo

Photo credit: Japan National Tourism Organization

Speaking of hot springs, Ito is also renowned for its high-quality onsens. The city has numerous public baths and traditional ryokans where you can unwind and rejuvenate!

K’s House Ito Onsen is one such example, located just 10 minutes from Ito Station. Fun fact: It’s housed in a 100-year-old ryokan and has since been converted into a budget hostel with hot spring bath facilities. Reviews have raved over its private and public baths, which are super clean with a zen atmosphere.

Cost: From ~S$58/night (2 pax)
How to get there: Walk 10mins from Ito Station (Google Maps)

And here’s how to score that free trip (plus other deals!)

Jetstar Flight - Taipei Itinerary

Now, for the most exciting part of this article — how exactly can we win that free round-trip, first-class ticket to Japan?!

Everyone's a winnner with SC Credit Cards

Good news, Standard Chartered Bank Singapore is running a Spend and Win Promotion from 24 May to 19 July 2024!

Here’s how it works:
Step 1:
Register for the Spend and Win promotion via the SC Mobile app
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Step 3: Stand a chance to win these prizes 👇

– Miles equivalent to a first class round-trip ticket* to Japan!!
– Cashback, SC 360° Rewards Points
– Vouchers from iShopChangi, FairPrice, and ShopBack
– Get 100% cashback* on the one-time processing fee for your first SC EasyPay when you convert local retail purchases (e.g. flight tickets, pre-trip winter jackets) into 3 to 12-month instalments. 

*T&Cs apply.

How to maximise your SC Journey Credit Card

SC Spend and Win Day trips from tokyo

If you’re not an SC cardholder yet:
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*T&Cs apply. Find out more details on the official website.

Planning your next trip to Japan

Mount Fuji Itinerary Tokyo - Kimono at Sensoji

So if you’re looking to travel beyond the bright lights of Tokyo, you not only have five underrated day trip ideas but also a chance to stand to win free first class round-trip tickets to Japan!

Remember to save this article so that you can travel to and from Japan in style. From the railway wonders and relaxing foot baths of Omiya to the great outdoors and cute capybaras of Ito you’ve been seeing on your Instagram’s Discover Page, there’s truly something for everyone.

Here are some other tips for navigating Japan:
JR Pass Budget Alternatives — Is the JR Pass, Single Shinkansen Tickets or Regional Passes More Worth It?
5 Japan Itineraries With Budget JR Pass Alternatives
Ultimate JR Pass Singapore Guide — Step-by-Step Guide and New Updates (2024)

Which of these day trips from Tokyo will you be adding to your Japan itinerary/bucket list? Share in the comments below!

This post was brought to you by Standard Chartered Singapore.

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