There are so many lovely day trips possible from Tokyo including Mt Fuji or Yokohama. I travelled north to mountainous Nikko, known for its heritage listed temples, and south to Hakone to visit an interesting outdoor gallery.
Nikko is two hours on the train north of Tokyo and the trip is a great chance to see some of the Japanese countryside. Tokyo is so large that the city still surrounds you even after an hour on the train. It is only about the last half hour of the trip where you start to see open grassland and farms, which suddenly give way to spectacular mountain scenery.
I jumped on the World Heritage Bus, a free bus which stops at the temples around Nikko. There are a number of temples and shrines in the Nikko area which are the main sight. However, the landscape in Nikko almost rivals the temples with its beauty. The temples were dotted around in what seemed to be a forrest. All the temples are located on a long tree lined street which was beautiful.
My trip to Nikko ended with lunch in a small Japanese restaurant/shop. Considering it was zero degrees outside, I settled for a steaming bowl of yuba ramen soup. Yuba is a local Nikko product. Similar to tofu, it is made with soymilk and was traditionally eaten by the monks in the area because it is protein rich.
Hakone is two hours south of Tokyo, but due to the train connections the journey really takes about three hours. The attractions around Hakone are spread out so it is important to know which train station is your stop, and where you need to change trains.
There are so many things to do in Hakone; stroll along caldera lake with views of Mt Fuji, relax in the numerous onsen or visit Odawara Castle. I chose to indulge in my creative side with a trip to Hakone Open Air Museum.
Sightseeing: Hakone Open Air Museum
It is essentially an outdoor gallery, made up of sculptures which are cleverly integrated with the natural surroundings. Many of the exhibits have interactive elements, and there are a few indoor galleries to explore.
The grounds are quite large and you could easily spend half a day there. Highly recommend!