Tokyo is close to the middle of Japan. It’s easy to schedule a day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Yokohama, Hiroshima, or Sapporo.
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Tokyo day trips are easy because of the Shinkansen. The Shinkansen connects all of Japan’s major cities in a few train lines and it makes it easy to get to Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Yokohama, Hiroshima, or Sapporo in a short period of time. There are a few different Shinkansen train categories — Nozomi, Hikari, Kodama. They differ in speed like how men differ in infidelity.
- Nozomi – Fastest (e.g., 2.5 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka)
- Hikari – Second fastest (e.g., 3 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka)
- Kodama – Slowest (e.g., 4 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka)
The train tickets can be purchased ahead of time or at the train station. In addition, the Hikari and Kodama train are included in the JR Pass; the JR Pass can be purchased online. It’s definitely the option to go if you’re planning day trips from Tokyo to other Japanese cities. It’s cheaper than buying the tickets at the train station. I took two day trips while in Tokyo — Osaka and Kyoto. It saved me a few hundred bucks, which means more alcohol budget. Here are my suggested day trips to take from Tokyo:
- Kyoto – Kyoto is the culture capital of Japan. It’s one of the few cities where the old customs are still in tact. It’s the city where Kaiseki originated; kaiseki is often synonymous with Kyoto cuisine. It’s home to the Fushi Inari, the Golden Temple, and the Bamboo forest to name a few things. The bamboo forest is the PERFECT place for the back picture, so all you basic need to visit Kyoto.
- Osaka – Osaka is a completely different culture than from Kyoto and Tokyo. Osaka locals are a lot more upfront about things and the city is one of Japan’s food capital. The city is known for its okonomiyaki and it’s synonymous with Osaka. There are a bunch of landmarks to check like the Osaka Castle and the Sumiyoshi taisha shrine. In addition, it’s the perfect place to get trash and do a yoga pose in front of the Glico man sign on Dōtonbori.
Finally, my suggestion would be to catch the first train to Kyoto or Osaka then catch the latest train back to Tokyo. If I remember correctly, the last train was at 7 or 8 PM to Tokyo. I got back to Tokyo around 10:30 PM on the Hikari, which was the perfect time to grab some late night ramen and drink in Golden Cai. I felt accomplish like getting more than 11 likes on Instagram. Lastly, the train departs from Tokyo Main Station.
More info on the Shinkansen here.
Purchase the JR Pass here.
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