10 Other Cities Worth Visiting Near Tokyo, Japan

A trip to Japan can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life! The entire country is packed with cities celebrating traditional festivals, showcasing both old and new, and creating the tastiest cuisine!

Even in just Tokyo alone, you’ll be super impressed (and probably encounter some sort of culture shock…but in the best way possible).

But Japan is SO much more than just Tokyo! And the best part is, you don’t necessarily need to travel to the other side of the country to places like Kyoto and Osaka to experience it.

There are actually a bunch of really cool cities near Tokyo, many of which will deeply enrich your Japan trip — without the need for an expensive Shinkansen train ticket.

These cities all have local festivals, local specialty cuisine, historic architecture, and fun attractions to keep you busy for days.

From the modern port city of Yokohama to the mountains and waterfalls that make Nikko so unique, you will find a heavy dose of magic all across the Kanto region.

Regardless of where you decide to visit next from Tokyo, there are plenty of cities to choose from. Let’s dive into 10 cities near Tokyo and get to know the unique things that put them on the map!

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1. Yokohama

From Tokyo: 40 minutes by car | 1 hour by train

Yokohama - Other Cities To Visit Near Tokyo

Yokohama (横浜) is the capital city in Kanagawa Prefecture, boasting a population of 3.8 million in 2020, making it the second-most populated city in Japan.

It has the largest high-tech industrial hub and port city in the Greater Tokyo Area. Naturally, with this title, you’ll find prominent companies like Nissan, Koei Tecmo, JVCKenwood, and Bank of Yokohama in the city.

Yokohama has had a rich past in business, creativity, and international relations. It was a pioneer in introducing many of Japan’s major industries:

  • 1859 – Japan’s first international trading port & Chinatown
  • 1860 – Venues for European sports
  • 1861 – Production of all-English newspapers
  • 1865 – confectionery and beer manufacturing
  • 1870 – Gas-powered road lamps and daily newspaper
  • 1872 – The first railway station
  • 1882 – The first power plant

Yet despite its high-tech history, Yokohama has plenty of non-tech landmarks that add to the magic of the city:

  • Motomachi Shopping Street: An energetic avenue blending modern boutiques with historical charm, offering a fusion of shopping and cultural experiences.
  • Yamashita Park: A scenic waterfront park where visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls along the bay, surrounded by lush greenery and iconic views of Yokohama’s skyline.
  • Yokohama Chinatown: Japan’s largest and most lively Chinatown, teeming with colorful markets, authentic eateries, and seasonal festivities.
  • Ōsanbashi Pier: A stylish and contemporary pier offering stunning views of Yokohama’s waterfront, and a popular spot for leisurely walks.
  • Minato Mirai 21: A futuristic urban development featuring modern skyscrapers, shopping malls, and entertainment complexes.
  • Nippon Maru Memorial Park: Home to the iconic sailing ship Nippon Maru, this park is a maritime sanctuary offering a glimpse into Japan’s rich naval history.
  • Yokohama Marine Tower: A historic landmark standing tall along the waterfront, the Yokohama Marine Tower provides panoramic views of the cityscape and Tokyo Bay.

When you visit, you have to do at least these two things: go to the ship museum Nippon Maru and spend the day in Yokohama’s massive Chinatown.

This Chinatown is roughly 160 years old and is larger than that of Kobe or Nagasaki, boasting approximately 250 Chinese businesses, restaurants, and shops.

Where To Stay: Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu or Hotel New Grand

2. Kamakura

From Tokyo: 1 hour 15 minutes by car | 1.5 hours by train

Kamakura - Other Cities To Visit Near Tokyo

Kamakura (Kamakura-shi, 鎌倉市) is in Kanagawa Prefecture about a 1.5-hour train ride away from Tokyo. If old temples and shrines intrigue you, this is the city for you.

Historically, the Kamakura shogunate, Minamoto no Yoritomo, inhabited the city and turned it into the de facto capital of Japan between 1185 and 1333.

Modern Kamakura is a beloved destination for tourists and locals, sporting pleasant coastal weather, plenty of seasonal festivals, and numerous Shinto and Buddhist shrines and temples for you to explore.

Kōtoku-in Shrine, in particular, has an impressive outdoor bronze statue in the image of Amida Buddha – also called The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu, 鎌倉大仏). The statue is 37 ft. (11.3 m) tall and weighs 242,000 lbs. (109,769 kg or 121 tons). This is something you’ll definitely want to add to your itinerary if you choose to visit Kamakura!

Kamakura also hosts the Five Great Zen Temples (the Kamakura Gozan).

The architectural heritage of Kamakura is almost unmatched, and the city has proposed some of its historic sites for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list. Some of the most beloved temples and shrines include:

  • Kenchō-ji – Japan’s oldest Zen training monastery and the pride of Yokohama alongside Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū shrine.
  • Engaku-ji – the Shariden (reliquary hall) and the Great Bell (Ogane, 大鐘) are national treasures, while Engaku-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  • Jufuku-ji – dedicated to worshiping Shaka Nyorai, a Buddhist teacher. The temple’s graveyard has yagura (artificial cave), and buried inside are all the chief priests of the temple.
  • Jōchi-ji –  a Buddhist Zen temple with a statue of the god of happiness and good fortune, Hotei. Worshipers would touch his left earlobe, index finger, and belly to improve their luck.
  • Jōmyō-ji temple – former funeral temple of the Hōjō clan. Kamatari Inari Shrine (Kamatari Inari Jinja, 鎌足稲荷神社) is a small shrine behind the temple, dating back to the seventh century.

Where To Stay: Kiyaza Kamakura Resort or Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kamakura-Ofuna Higashiguchi

Where To Eat: Bills Shichirigahama

3. Nikko

From Tokyo: 2 hours by car | 3.5 hours by train

Nikko - Other Cities To Visit In Japan Near Tokyo

Nikkō (Nikkō-shi, 日光市) appeals to nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike, as it boasts gorgeous natural landscapes, including waterfalls and serene lakes, along with UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Nikko is in Tochigi Prefecture about 3 hours away from Tokyo by train. The land it occupies makes it the third-largest city in Japan, behind Hamamatsu and Takayama.

It’s a tourist hotspot and local favorite destination, with plenty of exciting attractions to enjoy! Some of Nikkō’s famous spots include:

  • the mausoleum of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (Nikkō Tōshō-gū) and that of his grandson, Iemitsu (Iemitsu-byō Taiyū-in)
  • the ancient Futarasan Shrine, which dates to the year 767 AD
  • and many famous onsen (hot spring, 温泉) scattered around the city

Because the majestic Kinugawa and Watarase Rivers run through the city, and the fact that there’s the Nikkō Botanical Garden there, Nikkō has a lot of natural beauty.

In fact, the mountains and waterfalls encompassing the city provide the locals with a steady source of hydroelectric power.  

Such is the natural splendor of Nikkō that Japan created a saying: “Never say ‘kekkō’ until you’ve seen Nikkō”. The word kekkō translates into magnificent, beautiful, or I am satisfied.

Where To Stay: Nikko Kanaya Hotel or Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko

Where To Eat: Komekichi Kozushi

4. Kawagoe

From Tokyo: 55 minutes by car | 1 hour 50 min by train

Kawagoe - Other Cities To Visit Near Tokyo

If you like exploring well-preserved Edo-period architecture, sampling traditional Japanese sweets, and immersing yourself in a nostalgic atmosphere, then you’ll love Kawagoe, a charming town often referred to as “Little Edo.”

Kawagoe (Kawagoe-shi, 川越市) is in Saitama Prefecture and is best known for its historic architecture that lines its streets. Its quaint streets and historic structures offer a delightful journey back in time for history enthusiasts and those seeking a taste of old-world Japan.

Kawagoe has many ancient and historical attractions for you to explore, such as:

  • Bell of Time (Toki no kane, 時の鐘) a three-story bell tower 52 ft. (16 m) tall, 350 years old, and a symbol of the city. Sakai Tadakatsu (酒井 忠勝)  had it built between 1624 and 1644. 
  • Confectionery Row (Kashiya Yokochō, 菓子屋横丁) – a small backstreet alley where you can buy plenty of old-fashioned snacks & candies for less than 50 yen. You can also get ice cream, potato chips, sweet potato coffee & beer brewed locally at Coedo Brewery.
  • Kurazukuri Street (Kurazukuri no machinami, 蔵造りの町並み) – warehouses from the Edo period constructed using a style called kurazukuri (蔵造り).  
  • The Kawagoe Kurazukuri Museum – in a warehouse constructed in 1893. You can walk inside and experience the daily life of an Edo-period merchant. The artisan knife & sword shop, Machikan, is still in operation after countless generations.  
  • Kawagoe Hikawa Festival (Kawagoe Hikawa Matsuri, 川越氷川祭) – a 360-year-old music festival held annually on the third Saturday and Sunday of October. It received a spot on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2016.

Accommodation and great food is a big part of your experience, so follow our recommendations below if you choose to visit!

Where To Stay: Kawagoe Tobu Hotel or Matsumuraya Ryokan

Where To Eat: Ogakiku

5. Mount Fuji

From Tokyo: 1 hour 30 minutes by car | 2 hours 45 minutes by train

Mount-Fuji-Hakone-Japan
Mount Fuji

Ever thought of climbing an epic mountain in Japan? It doesn’t get more epic than Mount Fuji!

Mount Fuji (Fujisan, 富士山) sits on the island of Honshū, and with an impressive elevation of 12,389 ft. (3,776 m), it takes first place as the highest mountain in Japan and seventh highest in the world!

It’s a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, and in June 2013, UNESCO added it to its World Heritage List as a Cultural Site. Its mountainous magnificence inspires countless poets, artists, and pilgrimages, so the title is well-deserved.

Snow rests upon its peak for five months of the year, and many sight seekers, mountain climbers, hikers, and photographers take advantage of the opportunity to capture a part of its beauty.

Japanese locals worshiped Mount Fuji in ancient times, and as a remnant of that time, you’ll find the Asama Shinto shrine at the base of the mountain to ward off volcanic activity.  

At the mountain’s base is a forest called Aokigahara. Folktales tell of several hauntings throughout the forest, including demons, Yōkai, Yūrei, and ghosts. 

If you wish to brave the hiking trails of Fuji-san, July to August are the best times because the facilities and huts are operational, and the temperature is at its warmest. The buses that take you to the trails only run from July 1.

Many Japanese opt to climb at night to gaze upon the vast sunset from the summit. They call the morning light the “arrival of light” (goraikō, 御来光).

Where To Stay: Hoshinoya Fuji (glamping) or Onsenji Yumedono Ryokan

Where To Eat: Michi-no-Eki Fuji Yoshida Keishoku Corner

6. Hakone

From Tokyo: 1 hour 15 minutes by car | 2 hours by train

Hakone - Best Onsen Towns In Japan

Hakone (Hakone-machi, 箱根町)  is in Kanagawa Prefecture, best known for its fantastic onsen (hot springs)! It’s close to greater Tokyo area and provides spectacular views of Mount Fuji, making it a convenient choice for a side trip from Tokyo.

While you’re here, don’t miss the Hakone Gongen, a famous Shinto shrine spoken of in classical Heian period literature. The shrine also hosts a small museum with several rare treasures that are part of the national Important Cultural Property.

There are several exciting things to do within Hakone, such as:

  • Ōwakudani geysers (volcanically active)
  • Hakone Shrine near the lake shore
  • Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands
  • Seeing the sakura (cherry blossoms) in April
  • Seeing the susuki (Chinese Silver Grass) in autumn
  • Pola Museum of Art and Hakone Open-Air Museum

Fans of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime will also appreciate its relation to the city of Hakone! It’s the primary location in the anime and manga, so Hakone also earned the name Tokyo-3. You can find plenty of attractions throughout the city that celebrate the anime.

In fact, the Anime Tourism Association declared it one of the 88 anime pilgrimage sites in 2017. Since 2020, many Neon Genesis Evangelion decorations have spruced up the city for the final film of the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy.

Where To Stay: Hakone Kowakien TEN-YU or Fujiya Hotel

Where To Eat: Itoh Dining by NOBU

7. Izu Peninsula

From Tokyo: 2 hours 30 minutes by car | 3 hours by train

Izu - Other Cities To Visit Near Tokyo Japan

If you like coastal landscapes, relaxing hot springs, and exploring charming seaside towns, then you’ll love the Izu Peninsula.

The Izu Peninsula (Izu-hantō, 伊豆半島) is an expansive mountainous peninsula surrounded by beautiful coastlines, sitting southwest of Tokyo, atop the coast of Honshu Island.

Thousands of tourists frequent its shores annually, many of whom like to enjoy the onsen resorts in Shuzenji, Itō, and Atami. It’s also a favorite for many looking to go surfing, motorcycle touring, sea bathing, and golfing.

While tourism contributes to a substantial part of the Izu Peninsula’s economy, fishing and agriculture are equally important. In fact, Izu Peninsula is among the biggest manufacturers of wasabi in Japan, meaning you can expect a lot of exciting wasabi-flavored dishes, ice cream, snacks, and candies, too!

Hiking is a popular activity for both tourists and locals alike! If you enjoy hiking, two not-to-be-missed trails include the

  • Odoriko Trail: Joren Falls – Taro Sugi (踊子歩道: 浄蓮の滝 – 太郎杉) – moderate 5.8 mile (9.3 km) trail in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park.
  • Mount Amagi – Amagi Kogen Loop (天城山 – 天城高原) – another moderate trail in Fuji Hakone Izu National Park stretching 6.90 miles (11.1 km).

Beachgoers will also find some of the best beaches Japan has to offer, including Ito Orange Beach, Sotoura Beach, and Noribama Beach.

Where To Stay: Laforet Shuzenji Sanshisuimei or Tatsuta Ryokan

Where To Eat: Yamabiko

8. Chichibu

From Tokyo: 2 hours by car | 2 hours by train

Chichibu (Chichibu-shi, 秩父市) is in Saitama Prefecture, far on the west side of Saitama. Located just two hours away from Tokyo by train, Chichibu’s economy prospers thanks to its focus on forestry, tourism, and agriculture. 

Most of the Chichibu population resides in river terraces beside the Arakawa River, and a sizeable section of the city forms part of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park

With that said, Chichibu has an abundance of beautiful forests, majestic mountains, and eye-catching waterfalls that will satisfy your need to escape from a bustling city.

Chichibu is also home to several traditional festivals that have locals and tourists buzzing with excitement, with the most prominent being Chichibu Yomatsuri and Kawase Matsuri.

  • Chichibu Yomatsuri (Night Festival, 秩父夜祭) – a 300-year-old festival held annually on December 2 and 3. You can expect to see decorated tapestries, lanterns, and wood carvings, plus you’ll hear some of the most beautiful traditional flute & drum music. The festival occurs at night, with hundreds of beautiful fireworks illuminating the sky. The exciting fireworks show lasts a whopping two and a half hours, making it one of the festival’s highlights!
  • Kawase matsuri – a summer shrine festival that takes place from July 19 to July 20. A total of eight groups carry floats and march through the streets to the beat of traditional music. Each group carries a sacred, portable shrine called a Mikoshi to every neighborhood and glorifies them.

There are numerous other places to satisfy your curiosity for wonder and exploration, namely Lake Chichibu, Nakatsugawa Gorge, Mitsumine Shrine, the Okuchichibu Mountains, and Hitsujiyama Park. Chichibu also brews its own exclusive brand of delicious beers!

Where To Stay: NIPPONIA Chichibu Monzenmachi

Where To Eat: Nosaka

9. Utsunomiya

From Tokyo: 2 hours by car | 2 hours and 15 minutes by train

Utsunomiya (Utsunomiya-shi, 宇都宮市) is the capital city in Tochigi Prefecture, and in the northern Kantō region about 2 hours away from Tokyo.

Utsunomiya is particularly well-known for its tasty gyoza (pan-fried dumplings). It’s a staple in Utsunomiya and a large part of daily life in Japan, so much so that you’ll find more than 200 hundred gyoza restaurants scattered across the city! Needless to say, it’s a must-try when you’re in town.

You’ll also discover a 5 ft. (1.5m) gyoza statue outside the Utsunomiya JR Railway Station.

Utsunomiya’s love for gyoza doesn’t stop there; they also host an annual Gyoza Dumplings Festival at the Castle Ruins Park. You’ll get to savor some of the tastiest dumplings in the world and enjoy live performances from Japan’s best musical bands and comedians!

Gyozas aside, Utsunomiya has other exciting local attractions for the adventurous at heart, such as:

  • Utsunomiya Castle (Utsunomiya-jō, 宇都宮城) – home to the Toda clan nearing the end of the Edo period. They were daimyo,  powerful feudal lords who ruled most of Japan through land holdings from the 10th to 19th century. 
  • Tobiyama Castle (Tobiyama jō, 飛山城) – it became a National Historic Site in 1977. It was the stronghold for the Haga Clan, who served as retainers for the Ustunomiya clan during the 13th century.  
  • Ōya-ji / Ōya-dera (大谷寺) – a Buddhist temple and museum holding artifacts dating back to the Jōmon Period (hunter-gather-agriculturist Japan).

Where To Stay: Candeo Hotel Utsunomiya

Where To Eat: Yakiniku Great

10. Kusatsu

From Tokyo: 2 hours 40 minutes by car | 3 hours and 45 minutes by train

Kusatsu Onsen - Best Onsen Towns In Japan

You may have come across the town of Kusatsu when reading up about popular onsen towns to visit across Japan.

Kusatsu (Kusatsu-machi, 草津町) is small town in Gunma Prefecture located a few hours away from Tokyo. Tourism is a major industry in Kusatsu, with a whopping 90 percent of the residents working in the tourism sector.

Tourists adore Kusatsu as an onsen (hot springs) destination; you’ll find over 100 onsen all over the city, equating to around 34,000 liters of acidic and sulfurous water flowing from the earth every minute!

The properties of onsen are supposedly healing, and the ones in Kusatsu are no exception! Their waters are said to help cure ailments like sprains, burns, chronic gynecological disorders, chronic indigestion, etc.

Whether you believe it or not, one thing is for sure… you will feel relaxed when soaking in an onsen. Among the onsen of Kusatsu are five prominent hot spring venues, namely:

  • The Yubatake (hot water field) –  one of the biggest onsen and one of the town’s main attractions. The onsen has 100 nameplates of famous people who visited Kusatsu.
  • Netsu no yu (hot water, 熱の湯) – adjacent to the Yubatake and burns at 129°F (54°C). It’s too hot to use, which gave way to a tradition called Yumomi (湯もみ) which means to bash or knead the water. This involves using a wooden board to knead, bash, and stir the water to cool it. Caretakers avoid pouring cold water to avoid diluting the healing waters. Participants dance and sing during the process.
  • Ōtaki no yu (Great waterfall hot spring, 大滝の湯)the onsen waters form a waterfall. They constructed the building from wood, installing a single basin inside and outside.  
  • Sai no kawara (Western riverbed, 西の河原) – located in a beautiful valley, this is an outdoor basin measuring roughly 5,382 sq ft. (500 m2) with the ability of fitting over 100 bathers simultaneously! Men and women have separate baths divided by a wooden fence.
  • The Bälz Onsen Center – an onsen center atop a plateau near the  Mount Tengu ski area. You can expect breathtaking views and enjoy time at the Après-ski recreational area.

Where To Stay: Tokinoniwa or Kusatsu Onsen Ryokan Yoshinoya

Where To Eat: Restaurant Liberty

As you can see, the area surrounding Tokyo is in no short supply of unique opportunities to experience the country’s cultural aspects.

You can participate in festivals like the Kawagoe Hikawa Festival in Kawagoe, hike to Mount Fuji’s peak, sample the famous gyoza pan-fried dumplings from Utsunomiya, or soak in one of Kusatsu’s many onsen. If you can, try to do it ALL during the course of your lifetime!


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AUTHOR

Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

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