If your stay in Tokyo is 3 days or more, consider an excursion in the vicinity. Kamakura and Nikko, ranked as two of the most important historical sites in Japan, each represent a completely different but equally exciting period of Japanese history. Yokohama, with its thriving port, waterfront development, museums, and great garden, also makes an interesting day trip. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park serves as a huge recreational playground for the residents of Tokyo. For overnight stays, I heartily recommend Hakone, both for its atmosphere and its Japanese-style inns (ryokan), where you'll be able to experience a bit of old Japan. Izu Peninsula also boasts ryokan and hot-spring resorts, in both seaside and mountain settings. Active travelers may want to hike to the top of Mount Fuji in summer, while shoppers may head for the pottery village of Mashiko, which can be toured on its own or in combination with an overnight trip to Nikko. Because these are popular tourist destinations, try to avoid traveling on weekends and holidays.

Before departing Tokyo, stop by the Tourist Information Center (TIC) for pamphlets about Kamakura, Nikko, Hakone, and the Mount Fuji area, some of which provide maps, train schedules, and other useful information.

Although all the recommended excursions above can be toured easily on your own, several tour companies offer guided trips for those who wish to leave the particulars of travel to someone else. JTB's Sunrise Tours (tel. 03/5796-5454; www.jtb-sunrisetours.jp) offers the most extensive choices, with trips to Hakone, Nikko, Kamakura, and beyond, including Kyoto, ski resorts, and annual festivals.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.