Tokyo is perfectly located for an easy weekend getaway to a variety of the nation’s sightseeing treasures. While the youngest of children won’t enjoy many of these weekend excursions, older children will likely be interested in seeing a very different side of Japan and learning about the nation’s history (particularly in the Kyoto-area).
Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, is just 2.5 hours from central Tokyo via shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo or Shinagawa stations. From Kinkakuji’s Golden Pavilion in northern Kyoto to Kiyomizu Temple and Gion (home of the geisha) in the east, there’s simply so much to see that Kyoto cannot be fully experienced even within the confines of an entire weekend. Make sure to also drop by Nijo Castle, and for dinner head to the Pontocho district for a luxurious riverside meal. More travel information on Kyoto can be found here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2158.html.
Hakone is located just 1.5 hours away from central Tokyo via the Odakyu line to Odawara from Shinjuku station, then the Hakone Tozan Line to Hakhone, and has a beautiful national park, cable cars for sightseeing, museums, and other cultural activities. Hakone can be done as a day trip, but many prefer to visit a local hotel or traditional inn (ryokan) for a more comfortable experience. Make sure to visit one of the many hot spring baths (onsen) for which the area is famous. More travel information on Hakone can be found here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5200.html.
Nikko, located just 2 hours away from Shinjuku station, introduces visitors to Lake Chuzenji (including several water falls), a national park, and the mausoleums of the Tokugawa Shogun (which is a World Heritage site). Hippari Dako is a popular location for Japanese ramen noodles and yakitori (grilled skewers), along with antiques, used kimonos, and a variety of souvenirs. More travel information on Nikko can be found here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3800.html.
Kamakura is just about one hour from central Tokyo (take the Yokosuka line from Tokyo station) and is best known for having one of the largest statues of Buddha on display amongst its ancient shrines. Kamakura can be easily done in a day, but visitors might do well to visit neighboring Enoshima seaside where inexpensive stalls that overlook the bay sell some of the freshest fish available. More travel information on Kamakura can be found here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2166.html.
Some say the wise man climbs the 3,776 meters of Mount Fuji once, the fool climbs it more than once, but regardless, Fuji is naturally one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country. Getting to Fuji from Tokyo generally takes around 2.5 hours on the Keio Express bus from Shinjuku station. Climbing season begins at the start of July and finishes at the end of August. Starting at the mountain’s fifth station, an ascent generally takes between 5 to 7 hours, with descent requiring about 3 to 4 hours. Most start their climb’s in mid-evening to ensure enough time to summit the mountain ahead of sunrise, while others choose to ascend during the day and sleep at small inns at the 7th and 8th stations before arriving at the summit shortly before sunrise.