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Best Time to Visit

The Best Time to Visit Tokyo

tokyo travel time

Tokyo is Japan’s capital and its largest city. Although there is plenty to do here year-round, it’s important to take fluctuating temperatures, national holidays, and the rainy season into account before putting together your itinerary.

The rules that govern the best time to visit Japan as a whole — early spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming, before late April — apply to Tokyo as well. Golden Week  — a weeklong holiday at the end of April — is an immensely busy travel time, especially for tourists from East Asia. If your trip falls around this time, expect to grapple with inflated hotel and transport prices, and prepare to wait in long lines at Tokyo’s more popular attractions.

The Weather in Tokyo

The effects of climate change notwithstanding, the weather in Tokyo tends to be relatively mild most of the year. The summer, however, can bring drastic humidity and high temperatures, sometimes making outdoor sightseeing unpleasant. Although it usually doesn’t get extremely cold, winter temperatures in Tokyo can dip below 37 F (3 C). Snow is relatively infrequent, but definitely a possibility if you’re visiting in December or January.

Expect a wet climate during the rainy season in June, and in August-October, when typhoons tend to hit the coasts. The ideal time to visit Tokyo is definitely spring or fall, when temperatures are the most comfortable. During sakura season ’s peak bloom, locals camp out for hours in Ueno Park (even sleeping there overnight), in order to reserve the best spots for cherry blossom viewing.

Red Leaves and Cherry Trees

The few weeks of sakura (cherry blossoms) and momiji (autumn maple leaves) add up to two of the most iconic seasons in Japan. Luckily Japanese meteorologists pay obsessively close attention to the expected arrival times of these climatic changes — it’s common to see the cherry blossom forecasts on the front pages of newspapers and broadcasted on television.

If you’re in Tokyo for sakura season, there are a number of great places to see the blooms, including but not limited to Sumida Park , Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden , Ueno Park , and Yoyogi Park . Highly recommended is the view of Chidori-gafuchi moat that surrounds Tokyo Imperial Palace.

To see some stunning fall foliage, visit the beautiful Japanese-style landscape gardens Rikugien and Koishikawa Korakuen in northeastern Tokyo. But without a doubt one of the most breathtaking autumn scenes is Icho Namiki, the golden gingko tree-lined pathway at Meiji Jingu Gaien Park .

During Spring, days are sunnier and temperatures start to rise a bit. One of Japan's busiest travel seasons happens in late April so be sure to book accomodation, train tickets and tickets to attractions well in advance. There are a ton of events during this season but some of the most popular, and most iconic, are the cherry blossom festivals . From mid-March to April expect a lot of excitement about the blossoms and celebrations of  hanami  (flower-viewing).

Events to check out:

  • The first Sunday in March is the  Tokyo Marathon .
  • Japan's annual  Anime Festival  happens around the end of March.
  • The Kanamara festival (also known as the penis festival) happens the first Sunday in April and all proceeds benefit HIV research.
  • Golden Week  starts the end of April and ends early May. It's the biggest travel season, so getting around Japan during this week is especially difficult.
  • Sanja Matsuri  happens during the third weekend in May at  Senso-ji temple . Geisha, Buddhist priests, and a variety of other important cultural figures are usually in attendance.
  • There is the Kanda Matsuri  in mid-May on odd-numbered years.

Expect a fair amount of rain when visiting in June, and typhoon season begins in July/August. When traveling to Japan in the summer, expect humid, hot days with the potential for rain. Be sure to bring waterproof shoes and an umbrella with you.

  • The week-long  Sanno Matsuri  happens in June on even-numbered years.
  • At the end of July is the  Kagurazaka Matsuri , an event abundant with food stalls and traditional dancing.
  • Every August Japanese people honor the spirits of their ancestors during the  Obon festival . Visit the  Toro Nagashi  in Asakusa to see a river filled with glowing paper lanterns.

Typhoon season extends through October so make sure to check forecasts and pack waterproof shoes and an umbrella. Temperatures dip only slightly but humidity levels drop, making for more comfortable weather. During late autumn, the trees change into brilliant colors and there are a host of autumn festivals celebrating the fall foliage.

  • Japan’s largest electronics trade show is held annually in October.
  • Visit Shibuya for Halloween  to see thousands of people in elaborate costumes.
  • There are several autumn festivals in during November, but the  Jingugaien Itcho Festival  is centered around a gorgeous alleys of ginkgo trees.

Winter in Tokyo is generally mild with temperatures averaging around 50 F (10 C). Snow doesn't happen often, but it's still a possibility, so be sure to check the forecasts before your trip. The new year, or Shogatsu, is a huge deal in Japan and many businesses are closed from January 1st to 3rd. 

  • There are incredible winter illuminations during December including the elaborate “Midtown Christmas” display at the Tokyo Midtown complex.
  • On New Year’s Eve temple bells ring 108 times to welcome the next year.  
  • February 3 is  Setsubun , the day that once marked the beginning of spring on the traditional lunar calendar. Families drive away evil spirits by scattering roasted soybeans in a ritual called  mamemaki . There's a massive festival in Tokyo’s  Asakusa  by Senso-ji temple.
  • You can see the plum ( ume ) blossoms from late February through early March. Yushima Tenmangu shrine hosts a month-long  plum blossom festival .

The best time to visit Tokyo coincides with the spring cherry blossoms or the fall maple leaves. Plan your trip for March, April, October, or November to experience great weather and shoulder season prices.

Golden Week starts at the end of April and continues into the first week of May. This is a hugely popular vacation time for locals and prices skyrocket for flights, trains, and accommodations throughout Japan.

June is the rainiest month in Tokyo. Summer showers are common, as are storms from nearby typhoons in July and August.

Weather Spark. "Average Weather in Tokyo, Japan Year Round." Retrived March 19, 2021

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The best times to visit Tokyo across the seasons

David McElhinney

Mar 25, 2024 • 6 min read

tokyo travel time

Read on for the best time to visit Tokyo to escape the holiday crowds © SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Always dynamic, Tokyo shows a new side to its character with each passing season. There's really no bad time to visit.

Spring and fall bring great weather for sightseeing and seasonal changes in foliage – hanami (flower viewing) in spring and momijigari (leaf-viewing) in autumn – that are followed by locals with giddy enthusiasm.

In summer people gather to watch giant firework displays light up the night sky, and in winter, there are fewer crowds, festive illuminations, and snow-clad Mt Fuji is at its most beautiful. 

Whether you’re hoping to catch Japan ’s capital at its most lively or simply avoid the tourist crowds, here’s our guide to the best times to visit Tokyo.

There are several high seasons in Tokyo 

As Japan’s travel appeal has grown in popularity (it witnessed record-breaking annual tourism figures every year from 2012 to 2019, peaking at 32 million visitors) the high seasons have expanded outwards with it; nowhere has this been more apparent than in the major cities, particularly Tokyo and Kyoto.

While the capital is sprawling enough to accommodate such an influx, Tokyo’s premier attractions are noticeably more thronged for significant stretches of the year as a result. But usually, it’s with good reason.

People walk on a path under a flowering cherry blossom in the Tachikawa district on Tokyo

March to April is cherry blossom season and in May it's Golden Week

March to May is peak season in Tokyo, with great weather and riots of color in city parks thanks to the famous cherry blossom bloom . Locals and visitors gather for open-air picnics and parties, called hanami , to take in the natural splendor. 

March sees the annual Tokyo Marathon and St Patrick's Day parade roll into town, as well as the celebration of Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Day), where public spaces and homes are decorated with o-hina-sama (princess) dolls in traditional royal dress. 

Warmer weather and spring blooms – from floating sakura to tumbling wisteria – make April quite simply a fantastic month to be in Tokyo.

Celebrating the arrival of spring-proper, spirited parties accompany the ritual of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in parks like Ueno-kōen , Yoyogi-kōen , and Inokashira-kōen – get down early to guarantee a spot on the parks’ extensive lawns.

The month of May is also marked by Ōgon Shūkan (Golden Week), which sees a number of significant holidays take place, giving the city an added buzz. Expect plenty of crowds, jam-packed trains and a spike in accommodation costs.

Weather-wise, May is blissfully warm and sunny, so go for a stroll through Tokyo's streets and green spaces, or rent a bicycle and explore quieter neighborhoods in between the well-trodden tourist hubs.

Visitors at Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station with Mount Fuji beyond.

Mt Fuji hiking opens in late-July and summer festivals begin

Despite the chance of late-summer rains, energy-sapping humidity in August, and roaring typhoons in fall, a second tourism peak comes in late July and continues more or less unabated until December. 

Mt Fuji ’s hiking routes are open during July and August, attracting pilgrims and summiters in their stick-wielding droves, while firework-fuelled summer festivals keep people entertained in the city. 

When the rainy season passes in mid-July, suddenly it’s summer – the season for lively street fairs and hanabi taikai (fireworks shows).

The grandest of the lot takes place on the last Saturday in July, with an incredible 20,000 pyrotechnic wonders exploding over Asakusa district (beware, crowds can reach one million). 

August is the height of Japan's sticky, hot summer (which locals love to bemoan with the phrase atsui desu ne – "hot, isn't it?"). The O-Bon national holidays mean attractions popular with students and families will be crowded, while accommodation will likely be pricey. 

Asagaya's Tanabata festival sees Tokyo’s signature shōtengai (shopping arcade), Pearl Centre , decked out with colorful lanterns and papier-mâché decorations (some with cheeky pop culture references).

The twice-annual Comiket (Comic Market) also rolls into town in August, a highlight of the year for major manga fans. It focuses on doujinshi , self-published and fanfic comics.

Small white lights are wrapped around every tree lining a pathway. A blurred figure walks down the path

September to November is best for fall foliage and moon viewing

Clear skies around the autumn equinox in September call for tsukimi (moon-viewing gatherings), another quintessentially Japanese pastime.

Plenty of big events also take place at this time, including the Tokyo Film Festival and extravagant Halloween celebrations in October.

Pleasantly warm days and cool evenings make this an excellent time to be in Tokyo. There are a number of big events too, including Tokyo International Film Festival, screening works from international and Japanese directors, and Halloween, which sees thousands of costumed merry-makers now converge on Shibuya Crossing for one big, chaotic street party.

True to form, late-October also welcomes the Ikebukuro Halloween Street Party, one of the largest cosplay events in Japan.

The temperature cools to agreeable levels as Tokyo moves through the fall, paving the way for the koyo (autumn foliage) phenomenon. O-tori shrines such as Hanazono-jinja hold fairs called Tori-no-ichi where vendors sell kumade – stylized rakes that literally symbolize "raking in the wealth".

Meanwhile people gather to watch the city’s trees undergo magnificent seasonal transformations during kōyō (autumn foliage season). Rikugi-en, Koishikawa Kōrakuen , and Hama-rikyū Onshi-teien are three favorite local viewing spots.

In November, the city’s parks, gardens, and high streets are painted in fiery hues as deciduous trees – ginkgo, momiji, maple, zelkova, and more – bid their leaves adieu. Some gardens, like Rikugi-en in the north, illuminate the falling leaves after dark.

Cool Asian woman has a wheelchair enjoy the night life in Shibuya, Tokyo

December to February (plus June and July) are best for avoiding crowds

Tokyo is quiet during the winter period, with the exception of the latter half of December when locals head out to end-of-year work parties and get-togethers.

This is, however, a good time to see the city decked out in dazzling winter lights, and observe religious ceremonies in full swing at temples and shrines during Shōgatsu (the Japanese New Year) at the beginning of January.

Accommodation prices are generally low during this period and crowds are thin. However, it’s worth noting many businesses close over the New Year period.

It’s also quite cold, though frequent clear blue skies mean snow-decked Mt Fuji is particularly beautiful at this time of year.

The height of the rainy season, usually arriving in mid-June to mid-July, is another low season for tourism in Tokyo, but the damp conditions are not great for sightseeing.

Early June is lovely, though by the end of the month tsuyu (the rainy season) sets in. The trade-off is that accommodation prices will drop after the April–May spike.

Should the rain arrive early, visitors can head to the BeerFes Tokyo during the first weekend of June, where over 100 different craft beers from around Japan and the world are on offer at the iconic Yebisu Garden Place.

Other celebrations in June include Sannō Matsuri (held on even-numbered years), a centuries-old festival that involves traditional music performances and takes place over 11 days in mid-June at Hie-jinja .

Keep planning your trip to Tokyo:

Wondering where to stay in Tokyo? We give you a rundown on the best neighborhoods .  Travelling on a budget? Save your yen with  tips for visiting Tokyo for less . Find out the  key things to know before you go . And why not plan a day trip: here are the best 5 day trips to add to your itinerary.

This article was first published February 2021 and updated March 2024

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Best Time to Visit Tokyo: When to Go & When to Avoid

Home » Blog » Japan » Best Time to Visit Tokyo: When to Go & When to Avoid

Tokyo is a dynamic and fascinating city with an endless list of exciting things to do year-round. This guide breaks down the draws and drawbacks of each season to determine the best time to visit Tokyo and how to avoid the major crowds.

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

I’m not gonna lie – big cities are not our fave, and on most of our travels, we tend to prioritize nature and hiking over neon and asphalt.

But Tokyo just hits different .

Japan’s capital is the largest city in the world by population, with nearly 14 million people calling Tokyo home (close to 40 million if you include the whole Tokyo Metropolitan Area!). It’s truly mind boggling.

With history and culture, unique and quirky attractions, incredible food , and unmatched public transportation, there’s a lot to love about Tokyo. In fact, it’s one of Ben’s favorite big cities!

There’s so much to do within the city limits that there isn’t necessarily a bad time to visit. Actually, there may be one bad time… more on that later.

But after our third trip to Japan, we think we’ve finally cracked the code on the absolute best time to visit Tokyo, and we’re ready to let you in on the secret!

Traveling more in Japan? This article is Tokyo-specific, but if you’re visiting as part of a bigger adventure throughout the country, you’ll definitely want to read our guide to the best time to visit Japan .

When is the best time to visit Tokyo?

The best time to visit Tokyo is early spring (March) or late fall (November). You’ll find comfortable temperatures and avoid most of the major crowds (it’ll still be crowded – it is Tokyo, after all).

Hamarikyu Garden Tokyo Japan

However, there are pros and cons to visiting Tokyo in every season, from soaking in winter onsens to summer festivals, magical cherry blossoms to vibrant fall foliage. It really depends on what YOU want to do.

Answer these questions to get started:

  • Are you easily bothered by crowds?
  • Are you negatively affected by high humidity?
  • Do you mind chilly or rainy weather?
  • Is seeing cherry blossoms, fall foliage, or Mt. Fuji on your agenda?

Thinking about your answers to these questions is going to help you start to determine when to visit Tokyo.

Psst! Once you’ve decided when to visit, be sure to read up on where to stay in Tokyo and the coolest, most exciting things to do in Tokyo for the next steps in planning your trip!

Article contents

  • Our experience in Tokyo

Weather in Tokyo

Summer in tokyo, fall in tokyo, winter in tokyo, spring in tokyo.

  • What to pack for Tokyo

Overall BEST time to visit Tokyo

Want a quick recommendation? Jump down to see our personal advice for the best time to visit Tokyo. Plus, we’ll share what times of year we’d avoid visiting!

  • Our Recommendation…

Other resources for planning your trip to Tokyo:

  • Best Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan + City Guide
  • Tokyo at Night: Wild Things to Do After Dark
  • Where to Stay in Tokyo: Neighborhood Guide + Best Hotels
  • Best Day Trips from Tokyo
  • Mount Fuji Day Trip from Tokyo

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Our experience traveling in Tokyo

Ryokan stay in Japan

We’ve visited Tokyo in February, August, and November , so I guess you can say we’ve sampled many times of the year.

Both February and November were surprisingly mild. While other parts of Japan were quite cold at those times of the year, Tokyo was much warmer. In fact, while visiting in late November, we wore t-shirts most days and brought a jacket along to put on when temperatures dropped a bit at night.

August in Tokyo was, in my opinion, pretty miserable. It was so hot and humid that simply stepping outside was sure to have us damp with sweat. I personally wouldn’t choose to visit Japan in August again unless there was a good reason to do so.

I would love to return to Tokyo in the late fall, winter, and spring, as they all tend to have mild, comfortable temperatures.

Where to stay in Tokyo | Asakusa Tokyo Japan

Before we get to weather, let’s start with geography. Tokyo is located on the east coast of Japan’s largest island, Honshu. The Chibu Peninsula juts out into the Pacific Ocean, wrapping around to form the sheltered crook of Tokyo Bay. 

Meanwhile, mountains to the west of Tokyo guard against air currents, giving the city a fairly mild climate . Even in winter, temperatures in Tokyo rarely dip below 0°C (32°F), and snow falls for an average of only 4 days per year.

Summer weather is more extreme, with sweltering heat, heavy humidity, rain, and typhoons . On average, Tokyo receives about 1,600 millimeters (63 inches) of rain per year, making it one of the rainiest big cities in the world. 


Now, let’s talk about those typhoons, shall we?

A typhoon is a tropical cyclone, formed the same way a hurricane forms. The only real difference is the location where they occur . When we traveled to Japan in August 2019 (at the peak of typhoon season), one made landfall during our visit.

This was our experience: 

The day leading up to the typhoon was sunny with blue skies. We both had this feeling that it wouldn’t be that bad, but everyone was talking about it and how strong it would supposedly be. There was talk about trains shutting down, and we had a food tour cancel because restaurants were closing up shop.

But it was beautiful outside, so we put on rain jackets, grabbed our one umbrella, and headed into town just as it started sprinkling.

Soon, the winds increased and the rain started really coming down. But the trains still ran, and we decided to go catch a movie. By the time we got out of the show, the streets were mostly empty and the rain was really pounding, so despite our umbrella and rain jackets, we got completely soaked.

The next morning, blue skies started peeking out from behind clouds, and by the afternoon you would never know what had happened the previous night.

The takeaway here is that Japanese people take typhoons very seriously, and if you’re traveling in the summer you may need to be flexible in case of delayed and/or canceled trains and tours.

Stats on Tokyo weather & seasons

  • Warmest month(s) in Tokyo: August (average 80°F/27°C)
  • Coldest month(s) in Tokyo: January (43°F/6°C)
  • Rainiest month(s) in Tokyo: September
  • Driest month(s) in Tokyo: January
  • Most crowded month in Tokyo: late March to May
  • Least crowded month in Tokyo: January & February

June – August

Shibuya Crossing Tokyo Japan

Tokyo in summer is kinda like NYC – hot, humid, and sticky . Daytime temperatures climb from 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit (20-30°C) in June to a whopping 95°F (35°C)+ in August. Luckily, Tokyo is a modern city, so there are plenty of accommodations with air conditioning to keep you comfortable at night, as well as malls, museums, and cafes to shelter in during the day.

Summer is also rainy season , but it’s not as bad as it sounds – Tokyo sees about a 45% chance of rain per day, so you’ll still have some dry days . Plus, locals are used to the rain and carry on with business as usual, so you likely won’t have any interruptions to your travel plans. Just grab an umbrella and you’re good to go!

Despite the at-times-oppressive heat, summers in Tokyo are buzzing with festivals and events . In late July, the Sumida River Fireworks Festival captivates locals and tourists alike with dazzling displays across the night sky. August follows with traditional folk dances welcoming ancestral spirits at Bon Odori festivals throughout the city. Meanwhile, nature lovers can enjoy the Katsushika Shobu Matsuri (Iris Festival) or the Bunkyo Ajisai Matsuri (Hydrangea Festival).

Best places to visit during summer in Tokyo

Bamboo forest in Japan

  • Asakusa for Sanno Matsuri, one of Tokyo’s 3 most famous festivals, held in June
  • Fussa for the Hotaru (Firefly) Festival in June
  • Ryogoku for the Sumida River Fireworks Festival in July and sumo wrestling in September
  • Day trip to Kamakura , a coastal town with sandy beaches and historic temples

Best things to do during summer in Tokyo


  • Enjoy the slightly cooler nighttime temperatures and go izakaya-hopping in Shinjuku .
  • Cool off at Yomiuriland’s Water Amusement Island , where a variety of swimming pools and waterslides offer fun for the whole family.
  • Get your tan on at Odaiba Seaside Park , an urban beach on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. (Note: swimming is prohibited).
  • Escape the sun and try purikura , aka Japanese photo booths. Not only is it fun, but the photos also make perfect souvenirs !
  • Beat the heat with seasonal eats, such as zaru soba/udon (cold noodles), kakigori (shaved ice), or sesame ice cream . Save me some leftovers!

September – November

Autumn in Japan momiji

Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for fall, and autumn in Japan is no exception. With nice weather, comfy temperatures, and spectacular foliage, we think fall is one of the best times to visit Tokyo .

September sees daytime temps around 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit (25-30°C), which cools to 50-68°F (10-20°C) in November.

Tokyo’s foliage peaks in November , when parks and gardens explode with flaming shades of red and gold. All over the city, people take part in momijigari , the tradition of enjoying the autumn foliage or “leaf viewing”.

Best places to visit during fall in Tokyo

Akigawa Valley, Akiruno, Tokyo, Japan

  • Akiruno , an area just outside of the city with a scenic valley and a cute pig-themed cafe
  • Mount Takao for the Autumn Leaves Festival
  • Koshu Road in Hachioji for the Ginkgo Festival
  • Rikugien Gardens for magical autumn illuminations

Best things to do during fall in Tokyo

Persimmons, autumn in Japan

  • Taste seasonal foods and flavors, such as persimmons, ginkgo nuts, and sweet potato .
  • Spend an evening in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden for Mori no Takigi Noh , a special display of traditional Japanese arts performed by firelight .
  • Head to the observation deck at Yoyogi Park for a view of the park’s forested area dressed in autumn’s best.
  • Take advantage of the dwindling crowds and go sightseeing at some of Tokyo’s most popular attractions , such as Sensoji Temple and the Meiji Shrine.
  • Hit the hiking trails around Mount Mitake .

December – February

teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum Tokyo Japan

This may be an unpopular opinion, but… I LOVE winter, and I think it’s an underrated season for travel. In fact, winter in Japan is downright magical.

Winter is the perfect time to soak in traditional Japanese onsens, sip hot tea or sake, and fill up on comfort foods , like ramen and udon. With generally clearer skies, winter is also statistically the best time to spot the notoriously shy peak of Mount Fuji.

That said, Tokyo doesn’t get a lot of snow . So if you were hoping to experience the legendary JAPOW on the slopes or catch snowflakes while relaxing in an outdoor onsen, you’ll need to venture out of the city, away from the ocean and up into the mountains (we have a list of ideas for day trips from Tokyo !).

January is the coldest month in Tokyo, with daytime temperatures reaching as low as 36°F (2°C). If you’re from a warmer climate, you might find it cold, but we didn’t think it was that bad. We’re from Minnesota, after all!

By February, temps are already starting to warm up. When we visited Tokyo in early February (2015), we even saw some plum blossoms starting to bloom!

Best places to visit during winter in Tokyo

Winter in Japan snow monkeys

  • Roppongi for dazzling winter/holiday illuminations at Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown
  • Setagaya or Bunkyo for ume (plum blossom) festivals in February
  • Day trip to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
  • Day trip to Mt. Fuji
  • Day trip to Yamanashi or Nagano for skiing/snowboarding

Best things to do during winter in Tokyo

Japan onsen

  • Soak in a relaxing and therapeutic onsen (Japanese hot spring) .
  • Try to spot Mt. Fuji from the observation floors of Tokyo Skytree .
  • Feel the festive atmosphere of Christmas markets in December.
  • Go ice skating at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s temporary rink.
  • Ring in the New Year the Japanese way with a visit to a temple or shrine, a traditional practice called hatsumode .

March – May

Team Lab Planet Tokyo Japan

Spring is the most popular time to visit Tokyo , and for good reason. The spring months see comfortable temperatures with less rain and low humidity, creating ideal conditions for exploring the city.

But the crown jewel of springtime in Japan is hanami , or flower-viewing, when people from all over the world flock to see the famous Japanese cherry blossoms in bloom. 

Known as “sakura”, the delicate flowers paint the city in pastel hues of pink and white, creating ethereal canopies from which petals drift softly like snow to carpet the ground. It’s breathtaking, surreal, and undeniably magical.

But it is also crowded. Very crowded.

In Tokyo’s popular hanami spots such as Ueno Park, tourists and locals jockey for position and selfie sticks wave in front of the trees.

Cherry blossoms

April 29 to May 5 in particular is the busiest time in Japan. Known as “Golden Week”, the country celebrates 4 national holidays within a 7-day period. Tourism surges, prices soar, and accommodations, popular attractions, and train tickets sell out.

Personally, we would avoid traveling to Tokyo during Golden Week because we’re not a fan of huge crowds. But if you do decide to visit on these dates, be sure to book everything—and I mean everything —well in advance.

Alternatively, if you still want to see cherry blossoms (like I said, it is magical!), you could plan your trip for late March to early April, when sakura are said to be at their peak in Tokyo. It’ll still be crowded, but not as crowded.

Best places to visit during spring in Tokyo

Harajuku Tokyo Japan

  • Ueno Park or Sumida Park for cherry blossoms
  • Mt. Takao for the Fire-Walking Festival (second Sunday in March)
  • Asakusa for Yabusame, the traditional Japanese sport of horseback archery
  • Nezu-Jinja Shrine for the Bunkyo Azalea Festival
  • Harajuku to scope out the latest emerging fashion trends

Best things to do during spring in Tokyo

Sakura Starbucks

  • Enjoy hanami as the Japanese do with a picnic or drinks in the park.
  • Try special seasonal treats, such as hanami dango, sakura mochi , or cherry blossom tea.
  • See the breathtaking cherry blossoms from a unique perspective on a Sumida River cruise .
  • Stop and smell the roses at Jindai Botanical Garden .
  • Root for the home team at a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome or Jingu Stadium.

Best time to visit Tokyo in our opinion…

Things to do in Tokyo | Two Wandering Soles

Overall, we think the best time to visit Tokyo is either March or November , and if I’m being honest, we would lean heavily toward the latter.

November just hits the sweet spot, with less rain than October and milder temperatures than December. And while March is also pretty comfortable weather-wise, you’ll see more crowds as tourists begin flooding in to see the cherry blossoms.

With all that said, it still depends on what you plan to do during your trip.

If you want to experience the magical sakura season, late March-early April is best.

Sumo tournaments are held in Tokyo in January, May, and September.

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, your best chance is between the months of November and February. But if I were you, I wouldn’t base my whole trip on that, because Fooj is never a guarantee. Case in point, we didn’t see her until our third trip to Japan!

We would avoid traveling to Tokyo during Golden Week , when prices are higher and crowds are unfathomable, as well as in August when the summer heat and humidity are at their peak.

What to pack for your trip to Japan

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We know it can be overwhelming packing for a trip to a new destination. That’s why we spent hours creating these super helpful guides full of  packing hacks and tips for traveling in Japan  that you won’t find anywhere else:

  • Our  Japan packing guide  lists all the essentials (many of which you might not think about), as well as what you should NOT pack for a trip to Japan.
  • This article on  what to wear in Japan  will help you create a perfect capsule wardrobe for every season and let you in on some cultural taboos so you can be sure to dress appropriately.
  • With this  FREE Japan packing list PDF download , we’ll send checklists straight to your inbox for everything from clothing and toiletries (for both women and men!) to what shoes to pack and extra stuff you may want to have on-hand just in case. Click the image below to get your free copy!

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Other resources for planning your Japan trip

We have TONS of resources on travel in Japan and destinations throughout the country. Check out our  Ultimate Japan Travel Guide  for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.

  • Ultimate Japan Travel Guide for First-Timers
  • Japan Rail Pass: Where to Buy a JRail Pass & Is it Worthwhile?
  • Foods to Eat in Japan: Guide to Japanese Cuisine
  • Japan Pocket Wifi vs. Japanese SIM card: Review & Comparison
  • Best Japan Travel Apps
  • Trip to Japan Cost + Tips for Budget Travel
  • Expert Tips for Visiting Japan (Dos & Don’ts!)
  • Helpful Japanese Words & Phrases to Know for Traveling in Japan 

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Tokyo   Travel Guide

tokyo travel time

Best Times To Visit Tokyo

The best time to visit Tokyo is between March and April and September and November. Autumn ushers in colorful foliage and comfortable temperatures. Spring brings in much of the same, but instead of vibrant fall hues, the foliage you'll see here are cherry blossom trees in full bloom, making it peak tourist season. Summer, on the other hand, is oppressively hot, but less crowded than the spring. What's more, parts of June and July can usher in lots of rainy days. On the opposite extreme, winter weather is chilly (with highs in the 50s and 60s and lows in the mid-30s), but still manageable; however, you will not be able to experience the full potential of Tokyo's parks at this time of year.

Weather in Tokyo

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

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Best (and Worst) Times to Visit Tokyo: Weather, Experiences, and Travel Tips

Tokyo is the capital city and it perfectly combines modernity and history. You shouldn't miss it when you travel to Japan. Tokyo has a climate with four distinct seasons. Spring is mild to warm, summer is hot and humid, autumn is warm and wet, and winter is cool and drier, sometimes with snow.

The best times to visit Tokyo are in spring (March to May) to enjoy the best scenery of cherry blossoms and in autumn (September to November) to appreciate the charming colorful foliage.

August is the hottest month in Tokyo with an average daily high of about 31°C (88°F). The coldest month is January, with an average daily high of 10°C (50°F).

The "plum rainy season" extends from June to mid-July and brings persistent light rain. Typhoons hit in September and October, when there is the most rainfall but in concentrated storms between drier periods.

  • Spring in Tokyo
  • Summer in Tokyo
  • Autumn in Tokyo
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  • Travel Guide by Month

Weather in Tokyo Every Month

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Spring in Tokyo (March to May): Comfortable Weather and Japan's Best Scenery — Cherry Blossom

March to May, especially March and April, is the most popular travel season in Tokyo — and even in the whole of Japan — as you would experience comfortable weather with cherry blossoms blooming nearly everywhere. Temperatures range from 10–19°C (50–67°F) on average in April and there's an average rainfall of about 130 mm (5 in).

Visiting Japan during the Easter vacation could be a good option for your family. It takes about 7–10 days to enjoy the main highlights in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka as well as to take in some unique experiences. These could include enjoying a boat ride to immerse yourself in the beauty of the pink cherry blossoms along the riverside while avoiding the crowds in the park, and taking a family photo while wearing kimonos under the cherry trees.

Wearing a sweater and a light coat is adequate to cope with the weather, but also pack shirts to wear in the daytime when it gets warmer.

Insider tips: Prices during the cherry blossom season are about two or three times higher than usual. Many traditional ryokans and excellent guides are also fully booked in advance, so we highly recommend that you book hotels and flights at least 3-6 months in advance.

Check more details about Plan Your First Trip to Tokyo >>>

Summer in Tokyo (June to August): Hot, Humid, and Big Fireworks Celebrations

Summer (June to August) is the hottest and most humid time in Tokyo. Temperatures range from 26–30°C (79–86°F) on the average summer day, and the average rainfall is about 160 mm (6 in) per month.

When traveling in Tokyo in summer, the heat is not a big problem to worry about. You could enjoy plenty of indoor activities inside air-conditioned buildings and travel to the attractions in a private air-conditioned car, which is also helpful to minimize the inconvenience of any rainfall.

It does not rain every day (12 days a month on average) and you can travel around easily. Although it is the rainy season, many family groups still visit Japan to celebrate their kids' graduations, anniversaries, birthdays, or just for an annual vacation.

Big fireworks celebrations are popular and lively activities in Tokyo during the summer. Imagine wearing a yukata (summer kimono) and enjoying the colorful fireworks in the cool summer breeze. It is not only a visual feast but also provides you with an opportunity to soak up the traditional cultural atmosphere.

July to early September is the only time you would be allowed climb Mount Fuji. You could enjoy cooler temperatures, fresh air, and sea of clouds there.

It's suitable to wear summer clothes, such as shirts, shorts, sunglasses, and hats. You are recommended to take an umbrella in case of sudden rain.

Insider tips: June is an ideal time for a summer vacation in Japan as a family with teenagers. You could enjoy slightly cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and cheaper costs.

Autumn in Tokyo (September to November): Cool Temperatures and Colorful Fall Foliage to Appreciate

The cool weather and colorful fall foliage make autumn (September to November) another popular time to visit Tokyo and other areas of Japan. Temperatures during this period have a pleasantly mild average range of 15–22°C (59–72°F).

September and October (the typhoon season) are characterized by a high average rainfall of about 230 mm (9 in) per month, while November tends to be much drier with a moderate average rainfall of 96 mm (4 in).

You could appreciate the fall foliage almost everywhere in November , take a leisurely stroll or enjoy a cup of steaming tea in a tranquil Japanese courtyard teahouse to admire the colorful foliage and enrich your experience in Japan.

The weather changes frequently in Tokyo in fall, but making sure that you have a shirt, a mid-layer, and a rain coat should be enough to cope with it. If you travel during the typhoon season, don't forget to take an umbrella.

Winter in Tokyo (December to February): Cold but Good for an Onsen Experience

Winter (December to February) is the coldest time in Tokyo but it's not too cold for traveling , with an average high temperature of about 11°C (52°F). It's the driest time of the year, with an average rain/snowfall of about 56 mm (2 in).

Hakone , located about 2 hours away via Japan Railways (JR) from Tokyo, is the best place to relax in a traditional Japanese-style ryokan with an onsen (hot spring bath) , where you could enjoy the stunning snowy trees and mountains surrounding you.

To enjoy some winter fun, you could take a JR train to Nagano, which would take about 1½ hours. There, you could witness the unique sight of snow monkeys soaking in warm hot springs to keep themselves warm.

Celebrating Christmas and New Year in Tokyo would allow you to see the dazzling Christmas lights, pray for good luck in the coming year at a shrine, and watch the big fireworks to welcome the New Year. It one of the busiest times to travel, so we recommend that you book flights and hotels at least 3-6 months in advance.

You'd better wear thick clothes to keep warm in Tokyo in winter. We recommend that you take a down jacket, gloves, and waterproof boots.

Contact us if you are thinking about a trip to Japan. Our professional travel advisors are ready to create a wonderful trip based on your needs and interests, whatever the weather.

Tokyo Travel Guide by Month

Click the sign of each month to check the travel guide information.

Tokyo Weather in January

  • Average high: 10°C (50°F)
  • Average low: 2°C (36°F)

January is the coldest month and it's a dry time for Tokyo, with light and infrequent snow or rain. The cold weather also brings the benefits of the lowest prices and the fewest crowds after the New Year holiday.

Tokyo festivals and events in January: New Year is a popular time to travel to Tokyo and you could pray for good luck in the coming year at a shrine.

Suggested reading: How to Plan a Japan Winter Trip >>>

Tokyo Weather in February

  • Average high: 11°C (52°F)

Tokyo in February remains cold and relatively dry, but it's not too cold to travel. This makes it a good choice for those who want to avoid high prices and large crowds.

Tokyo Weather in March

  • Average high: 14°C (57°F)
  • Average low: 4°C (39°F)

The weather starts to get warmer in March in Tokyo, but it still gets cold in the early mornings and evenings.

March sees the start of the cherry blossom season, although most of March in Tokyo is uncrowded. When the cherry blossom comes into full bloom in late March, it tends to get very crowded.

Tokyo Weather in April

  • Average high: 19°C (66°F)
  • Average low: 9°C (48°F)

April is a pleasant time to travel to Tokyo, with mild temperatures. The average rainfall increases to about 134 mm (5 in), but it wouldn't significantly affect your trip plans as there is only moderate rainfall.

Tokyo festivals and events in April: The cherry blossoms usually reach full bloom in early April, during time which prices can double and crowds tend to be large.

Tokyo Weather in May

  • Average high: 23°C (73°F)
  • Average low: 14°C (57°F)

May sees the end of spring blossom season and the rain situation is similar to April's, but there is warmer weather. You could explore the highlights and do some outdoor activities in comfortable weather.

Tokyo Weather in June

  • Average high: 26°C (79°F)
  • Average low: 18°C (64°F)

June is the beginning of summer and the "plum rain season". It does not rain every day. Sometimes there may be steady light rain, but it would not affect your journey.

June is an ideal time to travel to Tokyo for many families with teenagers as the weather is significantly cooler than the following summer vacation months (July and August), there are fewer crowds, and the cost is cheaper.

Suggested reading: How to Plan a Japan Summer Trip >>>

Tokyo Weather in July

  • Average high: 30°C (86°F)
  • Average low: 22°C (72°F)

The plum rainy season continues in July and the weather is hot and humid. But there is no need to worry as Tokyo offers plenty of authentic cultural activities that you could enjoy indoors.

Tokyo festivals and events in July: In July, Tokyo hosts many big fireworks celebrations, when you could immerse yourself in the local cultural atmosphere by wearing traditional Japanese clothing.

Tokyo Weather in August

  • Average high: 32°C (90°F)
  • Average low: 24°C (75°F)

The heat is not a big problem in August, because you could enjoy plenty of indoor activities inside air-conditioned buildings and travel to the attractions in a private air-conditioned car.

Tokyo festivals and events in August: The Obon Festival is the most important festival in summer in Japan, aimed at worshipping ancestors. A grand celebration takes place in Tokyo during this time and you could observe or participate to experience the cultural atmosphere.

Tokyo Weather in September

  • Average high: 28°C (82°F)
  • Average low: 20°C (68°F)

Typhoons hit Tokyo in September and you might experience heavy rainfall for a period of a day or two. If you are travelling in September, keep your itinerary flexible in case of flight delays or cancellations.

Tokyo Weather in October

  • Average low: 15°C (59°F)

The weather becomes cooler and more pleasant in Tokyo in October. In late October, the leaves turn yellow or red, creating Japan's attractive autumn scenery.

Tokyo Weather in November

  • Average high: 17°C (63°F)

November is the best time to travel to Tokyo to enjoy the comfortable weather and appreciate the beautiful scenery of colorful fall foliage.

It's one of the peak seasons in Japan so we recommend that you make reservations at least 3-6 months in advance if you want to have your choice of hotel and the best guides.

Tokyo Weather in December

  • Average high: 12°C (54°F)

December is cold and much drier in Tokyo . You could experience classically-Japanese and seasonally-unique activities during this time. Stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan with an onsen to enjoy snow scenery in Hakone and watch snow monkeys soak in the hot springs to keep warm in Nagano.

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Jessie was amazing ! Everything from her level of English to her understanding of what we valued .

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Our guide lele is a wealth of information, Lele is very professional and very attentive to our needs. Lele is amazing. Lele got everything spot on. It probably helps that Guilin is a brilliant place to visit so Lele has great material to work with but that doesn't take anything away from how much Lele helped make it a great trip.

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A beginner’s guide to visiting Tokyo: Everything you need to eat, see and do

Samantha Rosen

There's a reason everyone and their mother is going to visit Tokyo these days. It's one of the most incredible destinations on Earth, and I fell head over heels in love with this city on a recent trip.

When you go, you'll understand why.

Now, when I tell you I spent as much time planning my itinerary as I did putting together the TPG beginner's guide , it's not an exaggeration. I spent hours researching, calling, emailing — pretty much everything except sending a carrier pigeon to the other side of the world — to make sure I had the most incredible experience ever. And it paid off. Fortunately, I created this guide so you don't have to do the same before your first trip to Tokyo. Just do me a solid and enjoy every second of the trip, OK?

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter .

Where to eat in Tokyo

If you know anything about me, you know that my life revolves around where I'm eating. Considering that Tokyo is one of the culinary capitals of the world, you can imagine how excited — and overwhelmed — I was before the trip. I reviewed everything from Instagram to Tabelog (Japan's version of Yelp), and then crosschecked online reviews to make sure these restaurants deserved to make the final cut.

Keep in mind that it can be difficult to make online restaurant reservations in Tokyo. There's no Resy or OpenTable to speak of. So, your best bet is using some type of concierge service from either your hotel or credit card (think: the Amex Platinum Concierge ).

Also, I think there's a misconception that you have to spend a lot of money to visit Tokyo. Yes, you can absolutely splurge on omakase and Wagyu (I'll get to that in a minute), but you can also find inexpensive street food or pop into a no-frills sushi, ramen or udon restaurant that'll make your wallet and stomach very happy. You can do Japan on a budget, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Related: 3 ways to do Tokyo on points

Where to get sushi in Tokyo

First thing's first: I knew I needed to stuff my face with as much sushi as possible, and there was one restaurant I kept seeing pop up again and again: Sushi-Ya.

Sushi-Ya is an eight-seat omakase restaurant in the the Ginza district of Tokyo (right near the Conrad !) and was the most incredible sushi experience I've ever had. I mean, just look at this tuna:

Photo courtesy of author

Chef Ishiyama was warm and welcoming, and explained every piece I was going to eat during the two-hour ordeal. This was a real treat, since many sushi chefs don't speak English; it can be intimidating if you don't speak the language. It was far and away the most expensive meal I had in Japan, but worth every single penny yen.

That wasn't my only sushi journey, though. I was also able to get a reservation at Isana Sushi Bar, a slightly more casual sushi spot I kept seeing pop up during my research. Chef Junichi Onuki was another near-fluent English-speaking chef, and the fish here was high-quality without being too pricey. I ended up chatting with a family from California who was also visiting, and we got into a long conversation about — you guessed it — sushi. Chef Onuki chimed in, as well, and it made for a really memorable start to my trip.

Where to get noodles in Tokyo

Let's talk about ramen for a second. Of course, Tokyo is full to the brim with ramen shops, similar to (but better than) Ippudo locations all over the U.S. But the real treat here is tsukemen . It's a Japanese specialty where the cold noodles are served in a bowl separate from the warm broth. You dip the cold noodles in the broth and then you reach ramen Nirvana. It's all part of the experience. The best tsukemen I had was at Fuunji, followed closely by Rokurinsha on Ramen Street in Tokyo Station. You'll inevitably end up waiting in line for each for about an hour or so, but since it's Japan, everything is efficient and moves quickly.

Oh, and did I mention that you'll order using a vending machine?

I also knew I needed to dive into a bowl of udon, and Shin Udon seemed like the place to go (coincidentally, it was right around the corner from Fuunji). It was a few minutes away from the Park Hyatt in an unassuming little room. They even line people up on another street as to not block the tiny little entrance. If you're staying anywhere in Shinjuku — and even if you're not — add this to your list.

Related: Inside Tokyo's bizarre robot restaurant

The best restaurants in Tokyo

Now, you'll think I've lost my mind for what I'm about to tell you, but believe me when I say I ate the best pizza I've had in my life in Tokyo ; I'm a native New Yorker and have traveled multiple times to various cities around Italy, but the pizza at Seirinkan blew all the other slices out of the water. It was as close to perfect as you can get. I found this place through chef David Chang's "Ugly Delicious" show on Netflix , and he said the same thing: You'll think he's crazy, but it really is the best pizza in the world. If you don't believe me, go see for yourself. If you do believe me, well, bring your stretchy pants. I'd definitely recommend making a reservation, too. I got mine through the concierge at the Conrad hotel , and you can probably use a similar strategy, or call the Amex Platinum concierge.

Photo courtesy of author

If you thought my culinary extravaganza was over, you'd be wrong.

I kept seeing these delicious-looking wagyu beef sandwiches pop up on social media and knew I needed to taste one for myself. I ultimately landed on a shop called Wagyumafia and it did not disappoint. Granted, it was also probably the most expensive sandwich I have ever and will ever order (it cost about $30), but how can you say no to a fried wagyu sandwich? You can't.

You know you're in a good spot when everyone in the restaurant is Japanese. Enter: Tempura Kondo. This restaurant, tucked away on the fifth floor of a building in Ginza, turns out some of the best fried food I've ever had. Just follow the people getting in the elevator and you'll know you're in the right place. Those two Michelin stars aren't for nothing.

Fluffy pancakes are also a must in Japan, and trust me, I had more than my fair share. In Tokyo, I went to Bills Ginza and A Happy Pancake; I inhaled my pancakes in minutes. Of the two, I would choose Bills — the quality of the food was better, and the overall vibe of the restaurant was more relaxed and fun. Safe to say I stayed pretty carbohydrated during my trip.

And if you don't stock up on snacks (hello, matcha Kit Kats!) and a daily chicken katsu sandwich at 7/11 , Lawson or FamilyMart, you're doing it wrong.

Like I said: Tokyo is an eating extravaganza.

Related: 10 things no one tells you about Tokyo

What to see and do in Tokyo

You could spend your entire life in Tokyo and still never run out of things to see and do. It's just that massive. Assuming you're just visiting for a few days, however, and not relocating there, these are the things you should prioritize.

Yes, you keep seeing it on Instagram , but there's a reason: It's called teamLab Borderless, and it's cooler in real life than it is on your phone. I was skeptical about it at first, thinking it was just another "Instagram pop-up," but this interactive light museum and installation can take hours to properly explore. The most popular exhibit (see below) had a pretty long line — about 20 minutes or so — when I was there, but it was absolutely incredible.

Photo courtesy of @ElleFlorio/Unsplash

You should definitely make it a point to visit the famed Tsukiji Market when in Tokyo. While the inner market — the place where the tuna auction took place — moved to Toyosu Market, you can still visit the outer market at Tsukiji to eat all the fish your heart desires without shelling out the big bucks. I had an oyster the size of my face for about $2; a giant octopus skewer; and a tuna, salmon and sea urchin situation that was unlike anything else I've ever eaten. All of this cost me less than $20.

Another favorite locale was Ameyoko Ueno market. Visiting markets while you're traveling is a great way to get a feel for the people and the culture, and at Ameyoko, you'll find cheap shopping, authentic cuisine and approachable residents who can introduce you to Tokyo.

No trip to Tokyo is complete without a quick trip to Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection in the world. The surrounding area has great shopping (Tower Records), so you definitely want to take a few minutes to cross the street and feel the heartbeat of the city. I've also heard the Starbucks at the corner has the best aerial views, but I didn't have time to make the trip there.

tokyo travel time

You'll also want to visit the Harajuku area, the center of Japanese youth culture and fashion. Take a walk down colorful Takeshita Street — just be prepared for a sensory overload in the best way possible. If you're a cotton candy fan, stop at Totti Candy Factory.

Steps away from Harajuku, you'll find Meiji Jingu, a beautiful Shinto shrine. It's dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. I'm not a religious person at all, but it was a deeply spiritual experience. I really liked writing down my wishes in an envelope and putting them away in a box. It all felt very "Eat, Pray, Love." The shrine is located in Yoyogi Park, which is a gorgeous, sprawling green park in the middle of Shibuya. I went early before the crowds, and it was the definition of Japanese Zen.

In Asakusa, you'll find Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple and the oldest in Tokyo. Everything I'd ever dreamt about Japan came to life here. Be sure to bathe in some of the smoke from the incense, since it's said to have healing powers.

My favorite shopping was in Shinjuku. I kept seeing the name Komehyo pop up during my research, and decided to make a trip to the store's flagship in this neighborhood . I ended up getting a bag I've had my eye on for years, and it cost me less than half of what it would have cost at home. And thrift stores are a thing in Japan. They resemble actual department stores, and have enough luxury goods to make your head spin — and since it's Japan, everything is in pristine condition.

If you're even remotely a fan of the Grateful Dead, you need to visit Chi Chi's. It's a little off the beaten path in the Setagaya City neighborhood, but is a well-known destination for Deadheads. Chi Chi and Merry, the owners, were so warm and welcoming, and we ended up talking for an hour about music, travel, Japan and food. The best things in life, if you ask me. All the shirts are handmade, and you could easily spend an entire day there browsing and chatting with Chi Chi and Merry. Merry even let me take a picture with her signed copy of John Mayer's "The Search for Everything" album that she got back when Dead & Company went to visit the shop in April.

View this post on Instagram   A post shared by CHI-CHI'S (@chichis_1985) on Jun 21, 2019 at 12:46am PDT

Where to stay in Tokyo

With so many hotels in Tokyo, it can be hard to narrow it all down. Trust me, I know the feeling.

I ended up staying in two hotels during my trip: Both the Conrad and Park Hyatt . While I'm more or less obsessed with the Conrad and can't recommend it highly enough, the Park Hyatt definitely fell below my expectations.

(Photo by Samantha Rosen / The Points Guy)

These are two of the city's most high-end points properties, but I promise there's something for everyone and every budget here.

Take, for example, the wealth of Marriott hotels in the city. There are two Courtyard properties — one in Ginza , the other near Tokyo station — both available from 35,000 points per night. There's also a Westin (rates start at 50,000 points per night) and, one step up from there, a Ritz-Carlton (rates start at 85,000 points per night).

And there are even more properties on the horizon as the capital prepares for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Marriott loyalists can look forward to a forthcoming Edition property; a spring grand opening is expected for the Kimpton Shinjuku for travelers with IHG points; and if you're more interested in earning than redeeming points, Japan's third Four Seasons will appear in time for the games at Tokyo at Otemachi.

You'll want to check out our guide to the best points hotels in Tokyo to find the one that works best for you.

Related: 3 of the best value points hotels in Tokyo

How to get to Tokyo

Naturally, there are a ton of ways to get to Tokyo — it's one of the biggest cities in the world, after all. There are two airports that serve the city: Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT). Haneda is much closer to the city , but I ended up flying in and out of Narita because of how my flights worked out.

On the way there, I flew in Japan Airlines first class . I'll probably never be over the fact that I can say that and yes, it really was that amazing. I found award availability on Alaska Airlines for 70,000 miles and $18 in taxes and fees.

Coming home, I flew in Air Canada business class with a short layover in Montreal (YUL) — I transferred 75,000 Amex points to Aeroplan , paid about $175 in taxes and fees and voilá! That's how you do it, people.

The details

Getting around.

I'm a big fan of walking, especially in a city I haven't been to before so I can explore every corner.

That said, Tokyo is a massive 845 square miles. You'll inevitably have to take the subway, which is extremely efficient and clean — people wait on lines to get in and out of it. (Take notes, New York City.) I'd definitely recommend getting either a Pasmo or Suica card ahead of time and loading it with money so you don't have to buy individual tickets. Also, you'll need to swipe it (or your individual ticket) as you leave the station, so be sure to keep it accessible.

I loved putting on my headphones and listening to music while Google Maps was on in the background; it told me exactly when I needed to turn, and if I was taking the subway, when the train was leaving and what platform I needed to be at. Efficiency at its finest.

While I felt safe walking around at night, I opted to take a cab home from restaurants that weren't walking distance to my hotel — when traveling alone, I always err on the side of caution. That said, you'll be more than fine taking the subway with a companion, or even by yourself. I just always play it safe.

Uber is available here, although the fleet is fairly small and prices are typically more expensive than taxis. Taking a taxi in Tokyo is an experience — the drivers all wear white gloves, not to mention they open and close the door for you. Beats an Uber any day of the week.

To get to Kyoto, I took the scenic Shinkasen directly from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station. I'd recommend getting to Tokyo Station early and going to Rokurinsha for ramen; you'll thank me later. The trip took less than three hours, and yes, the bullet train is as fast as you've heard. Added bonus: The ticket cost about $120 each way, and counted toward my Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit .

Related: Second cities: Destinations to add onto a trip to Tokyo

Japanese currency and tipping

In Japan, $1 gets you about 108.55 Japanese yen, so don't panic when you see astronomical numbers while scoping out prices. You'll also want to carry a decent amount of cash on you, since many places don't accept credit cards. Of course, when you do pay with card, you'll want to use one that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees . Just think of what you could be putting that money towards instead (read: food).

The service in Japan was absolutely incredible — I'd even venture to say it's pretty much the ideal location for a solo woman traveler . People (everyone, not just those working in hospitality) go out of their way to help you and make sure you're comfortable. Excellent service and hospitality is so ingrained in the culture that tipping is actually considered rude . Instead, just smile and say thank you.

Bottom line

In case you couldn't tell, I had the absolute best time in Tokyo , and am already itching to go back. There is so much to see and do here that it's difficult to even scratch the surface. But with these tips in mind, you'll begin to understand what the hype is all about — and if my past trip here is any indication, you're going to fall in love with this beautiful city, too.

  • Travel Tips

Tokyo Travel Guide: Things to Do, Transportation, Weather, Events, and More (2024 Edition)

tokyo travel time

  • Chisa Nishimura

This complete Tokyo travel guide covers everything you need for those initial stages of planning your Tokyo itinerary. We’ll cover things to do in Tokyo, annual events and festivals, recommended accommodations, transportation, and more. Tokyo is an enormous city with many different faces, from glamorous shopping districts to retro downtown neighborhoods and even lush parks and gardens, making it vital to properly plan. Read on to get to know the basics of Japan’s capital city and start down the path to planning the perfect Tokyo trip!

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through them, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Got a problem? Visit the Tokyo Tourism Information Desk!

A Basic Introduction to Tokyo

With a population of around 14 million in the city proper and 38 million in the metropolitan area, Tokyo (official name: Tokyo Metropolis) has established itself as Japan's capital and largest city, acting as the nation's political, cultural, and financial center. It is the world's most populous metropolitan area, with hundreds of companies and millions of people calling it their home.  

Over the years, Tokyo has gained worldwide acclaim for its multiple achievements, such as being one of the safest cities in the world. It has also played host to international events such as the 1964 Summer Olympics, and will be the stage of the 2020 Summer Olympics and Summer Paralympics.

Furthermore, as one of the world's top tourist destinations, it is made up of a number of highly attractive areas, such as Asakusa , an area where vestiges of old Japan still remain; Shibuya, where new trends are created; Shinjuku, one of the world's busiest transport hubs; Ginza, home to a multitude of high-end brands; Ueno , a culture-rich part of Tokyo with several art museums; and Ikebukuro, an otaku paradise.  

Though all the areas mentioned above refer to the urban side of Tokyo, they do not completely define this metropolis. If you look to Tokyo's west, you can find areas like Okutama and Mt. Takao, filled with so much nature that you wouldn't even think you were in Tokyo! They have proven Tokyo to be a place where one can enjoy both the busy city life and a wealth of greenery.

The History of Tokyo

Before a merger in 1943, the present-day Tokyo was separated into two entities: Tokyo City, a small fishing village that grew into what is now known as the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo, and Tokyo Prefecture, which now refers to the 26 municipalities in the western part of the prefecture, as well as the Izu and Ogasawara Islands to its south-southeast.  

Furthermore, Tokyo wasn't always known by its present name. Before it became the capital of Japan, it was known as "Edo". It only became known as Tokyo when the Emperor of the time made a permanent move from the then-capital Kyoto to Edo in 1869.

Tokyo's Location

Tokyo is situated in the southern region of the Kanto Plain, right in the center of the Japanese archipelago. Though considered a part of the metropolis, the Izu and Ogasawara Islands are geographically distanced from it, lying approximately 1,000km south-southeast.  

Chiba Prefecture lies to its east, with Yamanashi Prefecture to its west, Kanagawa Prefecture to its south, and Saitama Prefecture bordering its north. It also opens up to the Pacific Ocean via Tokyo Bay.

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

Tokyo's Climate

Though Tokyo's summers are known for bringing about torrential rain and being especially hot and humid, tourists also need to be wary of its winters. Since Tokyo is largely covered by asphalt, when it snows in the winter, the ground gets very slippery, making it dangerous to walk about in the city. It can also occasionally snow very heavily in certain parts of Tokyo.

For these reasons, it is highly recommended to check the weather forecast before you travel to Tokyo. This is especially important if you plan to come during Japan's rainy season, which is from July to September. For a monthly guide to Tokyo's weather, check out this article:  Must-See! A Monthly Guide to Tokyo Weather

Getting to Tokyo from Outside Japan

One of the most common ways to enter Tokyo is by airplane. The two closest airports to Tokyo are Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) and Narita International Airport.

It is recommended to arrive at Haneda Airport if possible, as it is close to the city's central areas like Shinagawa. The U.S. claimed ownership over Tokyo's airspace shortly after World War II, and as a result, Japan was forced to build Narita Airport outside of Tokyo in the neighboring Chiba Prefecture, so it is quite distanced from the city. However, if you do end up arriving at Narita Airport, you can easily get to the city center by train. If you know Tokyo like the back of your hand, you can consider taking the highway bus instead, too.

Traveling Within Tokyo

Tokyo has a daytime population of 15.92 million people*, so as you can imagine, the trains can get quite crowded. Rush hour is from 7:00 am - 8:30 am on weekday mornings and 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm on weekday evenings. It is best to avoid taking the train during these times, but if you do, make sure to give yourself some extra time to get from place to place. *Accurate as of Japan's October 1st, 2015 census

Our Top Tips

JR Pass for Whole Japan

Explore Japan in the most convenient and economical way with a Japan Rail Pass! It is valid for the majority of railways and local buses operated by JR. 

Most tourists will end up exploring Tokyo by train, as it's one of the best methods of travel for getting to all the main tourist spots. However, navigating through incredibly large stations like Shinjuku Station can be difficult, and the train map is also confusing. That said, if you can figure out how to transfer between train lines, you can get to your destination quickly and cheaply.

One way to solve this issue is by making use of train and bus navigation apps, which are increasingly becoming available in several languages. Alternatively, view some of the train maps in your language on the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation's website.

▼Official Website for the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation Japanese: English:

Many buses regularly depart from train stations. If used wisely, they can be more convenient than trains. However, it is strongly recommended for beginners to Japan to avoid using them. This is because many of the buses have their route maps, destinations, and in-bus announcements available only in Japanese.

If you will be traveling with a group of people, depending on the distance, traveling by taxi can be cheaper than train or bus . Many taxis now support credit card payments, so payments can often be settled smoothly. This also helps ensure that you won't get charged a ridiculous price.

Not many taxi drivers are multilingual, but as long as you can tell them your destination, you will be able to get to where you want to go. You can get a taxi from the taxi stand by most train stations or by waving down an empty taxi if you spot one on the road.

If you have the money, consider riding a sightseeing taxi. Not only can you choose your preferred sightseeing course, but there's also no need to carry any heavy luggage, making it an easy way to explore Tokyo! It is highly recommended for Tokyo beginners, people with disabilities, those traveling in large groups, and the elderly.

Many Japanese people don't like driving in metropolitan areas, as the roads are narrow and the traffic regulations are confusing. For this reason, it goes without question that beginners to Tokyo shouldn't attempt to do this!

However, rental cars can be extremely useful for getting to prefectures near Tokyo. Furthermore, if you go with a group of people, you can split the bill and save on transport. Just try to avoid consecutive holidays like Golden Week (late April to early May), Obon (mid-August), and New Year's, as the road can get incredibly congested.

If you won't be traveling far, consider getting a rental bicycle. You can see the sights while traveling to your destination, which is great during pleasant seasons like spring and autumn. It's also easy to stop at any spot that catches your fancy, so you can experience Japan like a local. For a list of bicycle rental services in Tokyo, check out this article:  9 Rental Bike Services in the Tokyo Area You Should Try

Other Methods

Another popular way to get to places like Asakusa, Hamarikyu Gardens, Odaiba, and Tokyo Big Sight is by water bus. They're a great way to experience something special, as many of them offer night cruises that let you gaze at Tokyo's nightscape, and several others run during seasonal events like the sakura (cherry blossom) blooming season and fireworks shows. For more information on Tokyo's water buses, including the departure schedules and costs, visit the Tokyo Cruise website .

Tokyo's Main Sightseeing Spots

Although Tokyo has an almost countless number of sightseeing spots, the following is a small selection of classics that everyone should spare the time to visit.

TOKYO SKYTREE: Enjoy a Sweeping View of Tokyo

TOKYO SKYTREE is a digital communications tower that stands at a whopping 634m above the ground! It was recognized in 2011 as the world's tallest tower by the Guiness World Records.

From the observatory situated 450m in the air, one can get a sweeping view of the whole city. Observe this sight in the daytime or visit at night to see the lovely twinkling night sky. Those looking for a thrill can walk through the tower's glass corridor - no doubt, it'll make you feel as if you're walking in air! There's even a restaurant on the observation deck where you can dine while gazing at the beautiful Tokyo cityscape. Finally, don't forget to bring your camera, as there are plenty of photo spots in the tower.

Asakusa: Get a Taste of Old Japan

Asakusa is an area of Tokyo that is extremely popular for its retro Japanese townscape. Its symbol is the famous Kaminari-mon (Thunder Gate), from which hangs a giant red lantern. It is located at the entrance to Senso-ji Temple (official name: Asakusa Kannon Temple). This temple has 1,400 years of history and was visited by great warriors like Tokugawa Ieyasu so that they could pray for victory in battle.

The street that leads up to Senso-ji Temple from Kaminari-mon is known as Nakamise Street and is home to roughly 90 shops that sell wares and foodstuffs. Why not look around while nibbling on Asakusa delicacies such as kibi dango (soft sticky rice cakes), menchi katsu (deep-fried minced meat cutlets), and jumbo melon bread?

Shinjuku: The Best Place in Tokyo for Night Entertainment

You can find Kabuki-cho, one of Tokyo's main entertainment districts, in an area known for its neon lights flickering late into the night. Located northeast of Shinjuku Station, it is home to a plethora of eateries, a department store, a movie theater, and other entertainment facilities.

Shinjuku Golden-gai is another interesting spot in this area where you'll find many small eateries shoved into long wooden buildings. It spans just 6612 sq.m. and is a great spot for those wishing to enjoy Tokyo's nightlife. However, keep your guard up - there's a lot of unsavory people around the area as well!

For even more things to do and places to explore within the Shinjuku area:  50 Things to Do in Shinjuku

Dining in Tokyo

The one thing that sets Tokyo apart from other Japanese cities is variety in both fare and prices.

While you can definitely find high-class restaurants listed in the Michelin guide, there are also plenty of cheap and delicious restaurants that'll have people drooling, as well as many stores open late at night, found in places like Ueno's Ameyoko, Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho, and under the elevated railway tracks of Yurakucho. Furthermore, you can now find more eateries catering to various needs, with vegetarian and even halal menus.  

Despite all of these great points, one of the downsides to dining in Tokyo is that you'll almost definitely need to line up for popular restaurants. To avoid this, try booking in advance through the restaurant's official website or your hotel concierge. Alternatively, you can make a booking through Savor Japan, a restaurant listing and booking website. You can search for restaurants supported by Savor Japan through this search page .

Finally, for a quick list of cheap yet amazingly delicious restaurants in Tokyo to try out, check out this article:  30 Cheap but Delicious Restaurants and Shops in Tokyo

Staying Overnight in Tokyo

According to a survey undertaken in 2017 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, the estimated number of tourists to Tokyo for the year was 537 million. Of that sum, the number of tourists from abroad was 13 million. With this number increasing annually, popular accommodations are quickly being booked out, so it's imperative to book your accommodation as soon as possible.

For a quick list of options, consider looking at the various articles we have on accommodations in Tokyo !  

There are plenty of world-acclaimed hotels in Tokyo, with 33 hotels alone listed in the Michelin Guide Tokyo for 2019. If you have room in your budget for one of these hotels, you'll get the best that Tokyo has to offer. However, it's quite easy to find a hotel that matches your preferences and budget, so don't fret if you're looking for more affordable options. Alternatively, maybe even consider a luxury love hotel ...

Business Hotels

These hotels mainly serve as places to sleep for the night, with the bare minimum in terms of furniture, appliances, and amenities. This is what allows them to offer more competitive rates, which attracts tourists from all over. Many of them are clean, comfortable, and located in super convenient areas, so popular business hotels tend to get booked out quite early.

Here are some business hotels close to Tokyo Station that come highly recommended by the tsunagu Japan editing team:  Comfortable and budget-friendly! 10 Recommended Business Hotels Around Tokyo Station  

Those who want to experience as much Japanese culture as they can are recommended to stay at ryokan (traditional Japanese inns). Tourists can stay inside a retro Japanese building and enjoy dressing in yukata (traditional Japanese robes), bathing in an onsen (hot spring baths), and viewing Japanese-style gardens. On top of all that, they will get to savor delicious traditional Japanese cuisine!

Here are a couple of ryokan in Tokyo that will guarantee a wonderful trip to Japan:  10 Recommended Japanese-style Ryokan Overflowing With the Essence of Tokyo

Guest Houses

Guest houses are popular with backpackers, as they're cheaper than regular accommodation options and allow travelers to exchange travel info with fellow wanderers and even locals in the common spaces. Nowadays, many are made extremely convenient with cafes or bars annexed to them, while others are visually appealing as they are beautifully decorated or constructed within old retro buildings.

This type of accommodation is best suited for those looking to stay somewhere unique or meet new people. If that interests you, here's a great article to start off with:  19 Budget-Friendly Hotels in Tokyo That Won't Disappoint!  

Capsule Hotels

These hotels originated in Japan and are worth experiencing at least once. Each capsule is furnished simply and designed to be just large enough to fit one person, but in exchange for the lack of room, it costs just a few thousand Japanese yen per night.

Capsule hotels used to be mainly frequented by salarymen who missed the last train, but recently, several of them have undergone a complete makeover, with refined designs, comfortable mattresses, a plethora of amenities, and improved common spaces that have attracted new kinds of customers to their doors.

For affordable capsule hotel options:  [2018 Edition] 50 Affordable & Convenient Capsule Hotels in Tokyo

Shopping in Tokyo

Tokyo is a great shopping destination, with plenty of stores to meet whatever needs someone may have. For example, there's Ginza, the place for high-end luxury brands; Harajuku, where young people go for trendy goods; Shimokitazawa, perfect if you're looking for secondhand or vintage finds; and Akihabara, the "electric town" full of electronic stores.

Looking for souvenirs? Tokyo has you covered there as well! There are classics like Tokyo Banana and Ningyo-yaki, but if you're looking for more options, check out this beginner's guide to souvenir shopping in Tokyo:  20 Souvenirs You Should Buy in Tokyo . Alternatively, browse all the other Tokyo shopping articles that we have!

Events in Tokyo

Spring (march - may).

Spring is when Tokyo starts warming up from the cold winter and more people start to spend time outdoors. Other than the falling sakura painting the streets a beautiful pink, don't miss out on seeing the beautiful purple wisterias in bloom! You'll find Japanese people enjoying the beautiful view and warm weather at hanami spots like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park, and Chidorigafuchi.  

Summer (June - August)

Festivals, fireworks, outdoor music festivals, beer gardens... Japan's summers are so full of things to do that even locals have trouble deciding what to fit into their schedules.

Every mid-August, the Fukugawa Hachiman Festival takes place at Tomioka Hachiman Shrine (Tomioka Hachiman-gu). During this impressive festival, participants carry 120 mikoshi (portable shrines) of varying sizes around town, and spectators will throw holy water over them while yelling "Wasshoi, wasshoi!" It is a grand spectacle that can't be missed!  

Autumn (September - November)

Autumn is when many food-related events occur. If you'll be in Tokyo at the time, give the Meguro Sanma Festival a try. You'll get to eat freshly cooked sanma (Pacific saury) for free! There are also plenty of events out there for art or culture enthusiasts, such as Kanda's Secondhand Book Fair and Asia's largest film festival, Tokyo International Film Festival.

If you'd rather see beautiful autumn scenery, head over to the Jingu Gaien Gingko Festival that takes place from mid-November to early December at Meiji-jingumae. Rows of trees with gorgeous gold and orange leaves await you!

Winter (December - February)

In Japan, there is a practice called "hatsumode" where people will visit shrines or temples at the beginning of a new year in order to pray for a safe year and express thanks to the year that's passed. There are plenty of places within Tokyo for you to experience your own hatsumode, such as Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu), known for having the most worshippers in all of Japan; Senso-ji Temple, situated within a retro townscape; and Kanda Shrine, which is always visited by businesspeople hoping for a successful year. Check them out if you'll be in Tokyo at this time!

Tourist Information Counters in Tokyo

If you're lost or don't know how to get to your destination, visit a tourist information counter! It is strongly recommended to visit counters with a JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) certification.

This guide will introduce you to three different info counters. They all provide their services in English, as well as in other languages. Furthermore, since they're all located in areas popular with tourists, they're extremely easy to find!

Use them wisely to make your trip one to remember!  

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center (Asakusa)

This tourist information counter is housed inside a stunning building constructed out of wood and glass that was designed by world-famous architect Kengo Kuma. It is located in front of Asakusa's Kaminari-mon. Inside the building, you will also find a currency exchange counter, smoking rooms, and observation deck where you can get a panoramic view of the Asakusa townscape for free.


Shinjuku Tourist Information Center (Shinjuku)

This information counter is a short walk away from the East Gate of Shinjuku Station, one of Japan's busiest transport hubs. Other than offering Tokyo travel information in several languages, it has ATMs, a currency exchange service, and coin lockers.


TIC TOKYO (Nihombashi)

TIC TOKYO is only a short walk away from the Nihombashi Exit of Tokyo Station. The staff there can give you directions in several languages, as well as book accommodations for you! There's also a cafe right next to the counter, so you can take a breather here if you're tired from sightseeing.

Japanese: English:

Japan Shinkansen, Narita Express (N'EX) & Express Train Tickets

Plan ahead by booking your shinkansen, airport train, and express train tickets online in English. Have the tickets sent to you by mail or collect them at the station once you're in Japan.

What to Do If You Have an Emergency in Tokyo

Hospitals and clinics.

If you get sick or injured in Japan, visit the website below. It has information on roughly 900 hospitals and clinics in Japan that accept foreign travelers as patients. There's also a Guide for Using Medical Institutions (downloadable as a PDF) that will help you navigate through a visit to a Japanese medical institution. It also includes warnings for when you do and lists exactly how to tell doctors your symptoms. The website even has guides for what to do in case of natural disasters like earthquakes!

Japanese: English:  

If you lose something, become lost, or run into trouble, head to the nearest police box or station. The website below should also come in useful, as it has the contact details for police boxes or stations in Japan, as well as information on the basic rules and etiquette for things like traffic. Look through the website before coming to Japan, and your trip is sure to be safe and fun!

Japanese: English:

▼For residents of Tokyo English:

Muslim-friendly Facilities

Muslims looking for eateries and accommodations that cater to them should check out the TOKYO MUSLIM Travelers' Guide, a pamphlet published by the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau. It introduces roughly 124 different restaurants, worship facilities, accommodations, and stores that accommodate Muslims.


Getting to Other Cities from Tokyo

There are several ways to get to sightseeing locations like Hokkaido, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Okinawa from Tokyo, such as by shinkansen, airplane, or bus.  

●Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Sometimes traveling by shinkansen can take longer than airplanes, but if you consider that some airports are set quite far apart from certain destinations, it can often be faster to travel by shinkansen. If you use the Japan Rail Pass within its specified time period, you'll even get to save on your shinkansen travels! Also, traveling by shinkansen means that you can buy and eat bento while gazing at the scenery through the train windows.  

●Airplane This can be the fastest method of transportation when it comes to traveling long distances, though it depends on how far away the airport is from your destination. Nowadays you can find plenty of low-cost carriers, so you'll easily be able to travel to faraway cities for a cheap price.  

●Highway Bus If you don't want to spend lots of money traveling, take the highway bus! It takes significantly longer to get anywhere with one of these, but depending on the date and destination, it can cost only a few thousand yen! If you travel in the daytime, you can enjoy the scenery from the windows, and if you take the night bus instead, you'll reach your destination before you know it! What makes traveling by highway bus fun is that you'll get to sample a variety of local foods from the rest areas that the bus stops at.  

Search up the options that match your budget or preferences ahead of time so that you can enjoy your Tokyo trip to the fullest!  

Tokyo → Hokkaido (Hakodate)

Shinkansen: Approx. 4 hours and 30 minutes (Tokyo Station → Hokkaido Shinkansen → Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station → Hakodate Station)

Airplane: Approx. 3 hours and 30 minutes (Tokyo Station → Haneda Airport → Hakodate Airport → Hakodate Station)  

Tokyo → Osaka (Shin-Osaka)

Shinkansen: Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes (Tokyo Station → Shin-Osaka Station)

Airplane: Approx. 3 hours and 30 minutes (Tokyo Station → Haneda Airport → Itami Airport → Shin-Osaka Station)

Highway Bus: Approx. 8 hours (Bus terminal within Tokyo → Bus terminal within Osaka)  

Tokyo → Fukuoka (Hakata)

Shinkansen: Approx. 5 hours (Tokyo Station → Hakata Station)

Airplane: Approx. 3 hours and 50 minutes (Tokyo Station → Haneda Airport → Fukuoka Airport → Hakata Station)  

Tokyo → Okinawa (Naha)

Airplane: Approx. 4 hours (Tokyo Station → Haneda Airport → Naha Airport) *All of these times are the shortest estimated times. Actual times may differ depending on the date and/or traffic conditions.

Tokyo is a metropolis that many people flock to, and it is home to a wealth of sightseeing spots. Make sure to look up information on transport and tourist spots within the city before arriving, and your trip is sure to be a blast!

Interested in coming to Tokyo, but not sure what to do once you're actually there? Begin here:  50 Things to Do in Tokyo

If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our  Facebook ,  Twitter , or  Instagram !

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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6 Day Tokyo Itinerary: The Tokyo Guide For First Time Visitors

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Tokyo, one of the most vibrant, lively and exciting cities in the world. A city filled with contrast, from robot bars to peaceful Shinto shrines, Tokyo has it all. With tons of districts to choose from, planning your trip may be a little overwhelming. That’s why I’ve put together a 6 day Tokyo itinerary to guide you. Tokyo is one of my all-time favourite cities in the world and I hope that this travel guide helps you with your own trip.

When visiting Japan for the first time, six days may seem like a long time to spend in Tokyo. There is so much to see in Japan! But because Tokyo is such a special city, I do recommend spending enough time here. This 6 day Tokyo itinerary includes 5 days in Tokyo and one day trip. This way, you can see the best things Tokyo has to offer, but also enjoy some of the great places just outside of Japan’s capital city. Let’s not waste more time, and dive in…

Shopping in Shibuya

Try purikura, drinks & pachinko, grab lunch at coco curry ichibanya, dinner and karaoke in harajuku, predict the future with o-mikuji, dinner in akihabara, hello kitty store, metropolitan government building, tokyo tower, roppongi hills mori tower, omoide yokocho (memory lane), day trip to mount fuji, how to get to tokyo from narita airport, international currency card.

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shibuya crossing in Tokyo

6 Days in Tokyo Map

6 day tokyo itinerary map

Tokyo Day 1: Pink Tokyo Day 2: Yellow Tokyo Day 3: Teal Tokyo Day 4: Green Tokyo Day 5: Dark Blue Tokyo Day 6: Light Blue Click here to view the map in Google Maps.

Planning your trip to Japan? Make sure to also check out my other articles about this beautiful country. Including:

  • My Ideal Two Week Japan Itinerary For First Time Visitors
  • Planning to spend more time in Japan? Check out my Three Week Japan Itinerary.
  • How Expensive Is Japan? A 2 Week Budget Breakdown
  • Looking for more cool Japan activities? Check out my top 50 best things to do in Japan !

6 Day Tokyo Itinerary

Day 1: shibuya, harajuku and shinjuku.

We start our six days in Tokyo in the Shinjuku district. This is where I also recommend booking a hotel. Shinjuku is a lively part of Tokyo and is known not only for being the commercial and entertainment centre of the city, but also for housing the busiest railroad station in the world: Shinjuku station .

The reason I recommend staying in Shinjuku is that it’s quite local to most things that are included in this itinerary and it’s easy to navigate to other parts of Tokyo using the metro/trains from here. On top of that, Shinjuku is filled with exciting bars and restaurants that you can visit in the evening after a long day of exploring.

The hotel we stayed in is called Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku and is located right next to the Higashi-Shinjuku station . This station is a LOT smaller compared to Shinjuku station, making it much easier to use. You can also check out the best ryokans in Tokyo .

We start our first day in Tokyo in Shibuya. From Shinjuku, you can use the metro to get here. It only takes a few minutes. Shibuya is the perfect place to start your Tokyo adventure because you immediately dive into the busy city life. It feels like Tokyo straight away – exactly what you’d expect. Shibuya is mainly known to be Tokyo’s business centre . And of course, the world-famous Shibuya Crossing !

Shibuya Crossing Tokyo

Hachiko Statue

Right outside Shibuya Station, you can find stop number one : the Hachiko Statue . You might have seen the movie or heard tales about this famous dog. If not, here is the tale of Hachiko:

Hachiko the dog came to meet his master every day at Shibuya station. Even after his master died, Hachiko would show up every single day until his own death. The statue is to commemorate his loyalty. Many people take pictures with the statue.

shibuya hachiko statue

Shibuya Crossing

Then it’s time for the famous Shibuya Crossing! This crossing is one of the most famous and busiest crossings on the planet. Up to around 3000 people can cross here at the same time. As soon as the traffic lights allow pedestrians to cross, a sea of people washes over the streets. It’s quite remarkable – especially walking it yourself. One for the Tokyo bucket list for sure.

TOKYO T IP: Right across Shibuya Crossing, you can find a Starbucks Coffee. There is a seating area on the first floor, where you can find one of the best places to view the crossing from above. It’s the perfect place for some photos or a timelapse while getting your morning caffeine.

Combining the excitement of finally being in Tokyo and your Starbucks caffeine, we move over to some Shibuya Shopping. Shibuya is filled with some great shops. You can find some of the bigger main shops here, like Zara, H&M and Adidas, but there are also some unique Japanese gems here! Some shops to check out include:

  • Vanguard Village (Pop culture and souvenirs) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM – 11 PM
  • Shibuya 109 (Many smaller boutiques) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM – 9 PM
  • MODI (Fashion shops, restaurants, bookstores and karaoke bars) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11 AM – 9 PM
  • MARUI (Also known as OIOI -mainly fashion items) Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11 AM – 9 PM Sun 11 AM – 8:30 PM
  • MUJI (Wide variety of items) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM – 9 PM
  • Disney Store Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM – 9:30 PM
  • Tokyu Hands (Crafts and DIY items) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM – 9 PM

Modi shibuya tokyo

Our afternoon starts in Tokyo’s Harajuku district. Harajuku refers to the area in Tokyo near Harajuku station (right between Shinjuku and Shibuya) – and is mainly known for its vibrant fashion and pop culture. You can take the metro from Shibuya Station to Harajuku Station, but it’s only 10-15 minutes on foot. If you have enough time after your shopping spree, I’d recommend walking. It’s a great way to see more of the city and enjoy the sights rather than looking at the metro walls. It also gives you a chance to grab some lunch at a 7-Eleven or Family Mart.

TOKYO TIP: Make sure to sit down somewhere to eat your lunch though – it’s frowned upon in Japanese culture to eat and walk at the same time!

harajuku station tokyo

Shopping in Harajuku

Harajuku is filled with the cutest shops in Tokyo. Many Harajuku-styled outfits and accessories can be acquired here. It’s really fun to just have a wander around, checking out the shops on Takeshita Street and Omotesando Avenue . In these areas, there are tons of cute cafes and trendy restaurants to try too. Wander around, get lost here, you will find something worth taking home without a doubt.

TOKYO TIP: There is a small souvenir shop at the end of Takeshita Street that sells engraved chopsticks for a very affordable price. You can leave your name with the owner and he’ll engrave your name (+ your name in Japanese) on the chopsticks for you to take home.

Harajuku Takeshita Street

If time allows it, wander around Ura-Harajuku . You’d be surprised how many amazing hidden gems you can find in the backstreets of Harajuku. Takeshita and Omotesando are great fun and are the main streets everybody recommends, but there are some lovely shops to discover in the streets surrounding the two main ones.

Omotesando Avenue Tokyo Harajuku

Enjoy a Harajuku Crepe

One thing you should definitely try whilst in Harajuku is the Harajuku crepe. The crepes sold in Harajuku are quite well known, and with good reason. There come with countless fillings to choose from and they are very, very tasty. There are a few shops selling them on Takeshita Street.

Crepes in Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Another thing on the Harajuku-bucket-list is Purikura . Purikura is quite popular among Japanese teenagers, and a fun must-try while visiting this district. It’s kinda like a photo booth, but you can edit your photos afterwards. Edit them specifically to look more kawaii. Make your eyes bigger, add tons of sparkles and get a printed copy when you’re done.

We did this in a Purikura parlour on Takeshita Street named Purikura Nora . It had many different booths to choose from and seemed to be quite popular among the locals! It’s a nice little keepsake to take home with you for only 400-500 yen.

Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 9 AM – 11 PM

purikura harajuku tokyo

Shinjuku at night

After our afternoon strolling through Harajuku and picking up the necessary new outfit pieces and souvenirs, it’s time to slowly head back to Shinjuku. Because we really enjoy exploring the smaller, less touristy streets, we decided to walk back to Shinjuku rather than to take the metro. It only took 10-15 minutes. I would recommend you to do the same. This way, you’ll be able to find some of the best backstreets in Tokyo.

On your way back to Shinjuku, try to find a nice place for dinner. There are so many restaurants in Shinjuku, but I’d highly recommend finding a family-owned restaurant in one of the backstreets. We sat down somewhere and had some of the tastiest ramen I had all trip, for at little as ¥300. You can save so much money by avoiding the main streets where they know tourists will look for a quick bite to eat. Yay for yummy food and supporting local family-owned businesses!

End your evening by trying out one of the SEGA arcades or Japanese Pachinko! The arcades are filled with fun games to play and prizes to win. Do make sure to check out more than one floor though. We made the mistakes of only checking out the bottom floor for the first few days in Tokyo and got bored of all the crane machines. The fun games sit on the first floor and up – where you can play rhythm games and other fun arcade games.

Shinjuku is also home to many pachinko parlours. Pachinko is the Japanese form of gambling ( oops ), but instead of winning money, you win prices. I’m not suggesting you should go and gamble away your money, but it’s quite the experience to walk into a pachinko parlour and give it a go. Even just walking in and being overwhelmed by the sound of thousands of pachinko balls being won is an experience on its own.

crane machine tokyo arcade

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Day 2: Ikebukuro and Meiji Shrine

On day two of this six day Tokyo itinerary, we are going to explore Ikebukuro in the morning and head back towards Harajuku in the afternoon to visit Meiji Shrine. Ikebukuro is another one of Tokyo’s main city centres and is filled with shops and restaurants. It is also home to the Sunshine City Shopping centre, in which the Pokemon Mega Store is located. The Meiji Shrine, our afternoon plan, is located next to Harajuku. It is one of Japan’s most popular shrines to visit. Dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, the Meiji Shrine stands beautifully and peacefully in the busy heart of Tokyo.

As we planned to spend the morning in Ikebukuro, we took the metro there in the morning. You can find a Family Mart right outside of the hotel in Shinjuku, where you can find some cheap but tasty breakfast items. We picked up a couple of bits there every morning as breakfast. This is much cheaper than having breakfast in your hotel and supermarket food is surprisingly tasty in Japan! Supermarkets like 7Eleven , Lawsons and Family Mart are a great way to save money while in Tokyo and not compromise on taste.

ikebukuro Tokyo

Explore Ikebukuro

Once we got to Ikebukuro station, we started exploring! This upcoming part of Tokyo is also known as Sunshine City. Shopping and entertainment are at heart and it really gives you that Tokyo-vibe you experienced in Shibuya on day one. Some shops you should definitely check out when in Ikebukuro:

  • Bic Camera Ikebukur o (Electronics and tech) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM – 10 PM
  • Loft (Cool household items and stationary) Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10 AM – 9 PM, Sun 10 AM – 8 PM
  • Sun Drug (Japanese drugstore and cosmetics) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM – 10:45 PM
  • Sunshine City Shopping Centre (Shopping centre filled with cool shops and restaurants) Opening hours: Shops open Mon-Sun 10 AM – 8 PM, restaurants are open Mon-Sun 11 AM – 10 PM

Visit Japan’s biggest Pokemon Centre

One of the main reasons we are spending the morning in Ikebukuro is the Pokemon Mega Store. This is the biggest Pokemon Centre in Japan! Once we arrived at Sunshine City shopping mall, we made our way to the second floor. This is where the Pokemon Mega Store is located. An absolute must-see for every fan of the gaming franchise!

Another fun thing to try when at the Pokemon Centre is to play the arcade game Ga-Olé . This arcade game that can be found at every Pokemon Centre and in a few arcades across Japan. In the game, you battle and catch Pokemon. Just like the regular Pokemon games. But if you do catch one, you get a physical cartridge with that exact Pokemon printed on it. You can then use that same cartridge to battle other Pokemon in the game. We had a lot of fun playing it! Especially because we visited the Pokemon Centre in Kyoto and Osaka, we were able to use the Pokemon we caught in our battles there.

TOKYO TIP: Make sure to walk to the back of the Pokemon Centre to find a wall filled with all the Pokemon in the franchise. A lot of people miss it because it is hidden a the back of the shop, but it’s a great photo opportunity.

pokemon centre tokyo

You can find one of my favourite Japanese restaurant chains inside the Sunshine City shopping mall: CoCo Ichibanya . Obviously, Japanese cuisine has some of the most delicious dishes including sushi and ramen. But what most people don’t realise is that Japan does the best curries. CoCo Ichibanya is a great place to try them! (We totally didn’t end up eating at CoCo Curry four times during our first trip to Japan because we loved it so much…)

Ordering is super easy. You pick the amount of rice you’d like, the level of spice (personally, I’m very happy with a level 1) and add toppings. CoCo Curry only has one franchise store in Europe (London), and we went there just to relive the experience after returning from Japan. It’s just SO good!

CoCo Curry Ichibanya Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11 AM – 10 PM

coco ichibanya curry

Meiji Shrine

In the afternoon, we head back to Harajuku station. You might have seen the iconic torii gate entrance of the Meiji Shrine on day one when visiting Harajuku. But today, it’s time to actually visit the famous shrine. From Harajuku Station, walking to the entrance only takes a couple of minutes.

entrance meiji shrine tokyo

This iconic shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife. It was completed in 1920, eight years after his passing. After entering the temple grounds through the beautiful torii gate, you can enjoy a very serene walk through a beautiful forest which is made out of more than 100,000 trees. You almost forget you’re in one of the world’s busiest metropolitan cities! It’s so peaceful and quiet.

meiji shrine tokyo

The shrine is open to visitors from dawn till dusk – make sure to check what time they close when you want to visit. We had to rush our visit a little because we arrived a bit later than planned! Especially during the darker months (October-March), the shrine closes a bit earlier.

Meiji Shrine sake barrels

Arriving at the main building of the Meiji Shrine, you might see tons of wooden plaques hung close together. These are called Ema plaques and are part of a special Shinto activity. You can buy one for ¥500, write down a wish or prayer and hang it with the others. The profits are used to maintain the shrine and its gardens.

ema plaques meiji shrine tokyo

After the Meiji Shrine closes, you can head back to Harajuku and grab some dinner. There are some great sushi and ramen places in Harajuku that are worth checking out. If you wanna avoid the pricy, more touristy places, it’s better to have a look in some of the quieter backstreets.

If you still have enough energy, Karaoke is the perfect way to end day two of this Tokyo itinerary. In the Harajuku area, there are many karaoke bars to choose from and it’s a really, really fun experience! You book a room for you and your travel company, order some drinks and snacks and sing your heart out. We were very lucky to have met up with a few friends that speak fluent Japanese, which made booking a karaoke room much easier.

Day 3: Asakusa and Akihabara

Day three of this six day Tokyo itinerary starts with a more traditional side of Tokyo. The Asakusa district lays in the north-east side of central Tokyo and is home to the popular Sensoji Temple. In the afternoon, we amplified Tokyo’s great contrast of the old and the new by visiting Akihabara (also known as Electric Town ). As a polar opposite of Asakusa, Akihabara is filled with skyscrapers and shops selling the latest electronics and merch to anime fans.

In the morning, we made our way to Asakusa to visit Sensoji Temple. From Asakusa station, you can walk to Sensoji Temple within 10-15 minutes. There are some little shops and eateries on the way to the shrine. If you haven’t had your breakfast yet, this is a great place to quickly grab something to eat.

asakusa street in Tokyo

Visit Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple (also known as Asakusa Kannon ) is the oldest Buddhist temple in the whole of Tokyo. It dates back to the year 645. Legend says that the temple has been build for the goddess of mercy, Kannon.

More than 30 million people visit the temple every year, so you can expect it to be a little busy. The temple grounds are gorgeous, you can easily enjoy walking around here for hours. Smaller temples and places to pray are spread across the map. Because the temple is popular by both tourists and locals, it’s recommended to not go on a weekend day ( like we did… ). The earlier you go, the quieter it will be. You can also visit the temple in the evening, that’s another way to avoid the huge crowds.

Opening hours: The temple grounds are open 24/7, whereas the main hall is open from 6 AM till 5 PM (from 6:30 AM in October to March). The temple is open every day of the year. Entree fee: It’s free to visit Sensoji Temple

sensoji temple tokyo

One thing we tried was O-mikuji ( おみくじ). It’s a form of Japanese fortune telling. You can get any kind of fortune from “very fortunate” to “a great curse”. I bet you can guess how lucky I got….

Here is how it works. You pay ¥100 and shake the wooden box filled with sticks. After shaking, you remove one of the sticks. This stick has a number written on it. You then match the number with the drawers and receive your fortune. Even though I got the great curse, I’m still smiling 😉

O-mikuji japanese fortune telling

If you also receive a bad fortune, you can follow the tradition of tying the paper to one of the poles provided or a tree. The idea behind it is that the bad luck will stick to the poles or the tree instead of the person who drew it. Fingers crossed that actually worked. (Update: looking back now, I think the curse has followed me nonetheless!).

O-mikuji in sensoji temple tokyo japan

After visiting the temple, you can walk through Nakamise Street . This 200-meter long shopping street is located right outside Sensoji Temple. It’s the perfect place to find some souvenirs and snacks.

tokyo sensoji Nakamise Street

In the afternoon, it’s time to travel forward in time and visit Akihabara. Akihabara is also known as Electric Town . In this district, you can find everything electronic, anime and video game-related. It’s turned into a special kind of heaven for Japan’s diehard fans of manga, anime and other pop culture references – and man, it’s such a cool place to explore!

TIP: If possible, try to visit Akihabara on a Sunday. They close down the street for cars, which allows you to walk across the entire street and… you know… take some pictures for the gram 😉

akihabara electric town tokyo japan

Shopping and playing games in Akihabara

Akihabara turned into one of my favourite places in Tokyo. It’s basically video-game, electronics, and anime heaven. Even though I’m not big on anime, I love a good video game and the vibes reminded me of all the games I played and shows I watched as a kid. Akihabara has everything: game shops, electronic shops, anime figures and manga shops. Even if you’re not planning on spending any money, it’s fun to look at all the crazy stuff they sell. There are endless lists of things I could recommend in Akihabara, but here are a few things you should definitely check out:

  • Retro game shopping in Retro Game Camp (and other retro game shops – for a full list, check out my full retro game shopping guide )
  • Play in one of the many arcades
  • Visit a Maid Cafe
  • Shop in Yodobashi (basically a mall that sells EVERYTHING!)
  • Shop in Don Quijote . There are many of these shops all across Japan, but the one in Akihabara is LARGE! A perfect place to find some affordable and weird souvenirs for friends and family.

akihabara retro games

Akihabara lights up at night – so it’s worth staying around until the evening. Some of the main restaurants in this part of Tokyo can get quite expensive, so we ended up grabbing some cheap ramen near the train station. Akihabara also has a few crepe shops, and they’re just as tasty as the ones in Harajuku. If you missed out on trying one on the first day in Tokyo, I’d highly recommend giving it a go today. Also, make sure to try some of the arcades in Akihabara while you’re there in the evening. There are some great games to play!

Day 4: Ginza and Koto City

On the fourth day in Tokyo, we travelled down to Ginza and Koto City. It’s a little trip from Shinjuku, but because we’ve planned a full day on this side of the city, it’s more than worth it. On this day, we also plan on visiting the Teamlab Planets art exhibition and the Gundam Base.

Ginza is another famous shopping and entertainment hub in Tokyo. It’s on the expensive side, hosting upmarket brands and restaurants. Nevertheless, it’s a great place to wander around and ( window )shop. Ginza is quite upmarket and it’s not the cheapest place to shop. One square meter of land is worth over 10 million Japanese yen, making Ginza the most expensive part of Tokyo! Here are a few things to do and check out while in Ginza:

  • Visit the Alice in Labyrinth restaurant. Themed restaurants and cafes are very popular in Japan. Many can be found all across Tokyo. This one, in particular, is very popular because of its amazing interior and dishes that are inspired by Alice in Wonderland.
  • Shop until you drop in Chuo-dori, the most exclusive shopping paradise in Tokyo. (Or… window shop and save the oney for another trip to Japan).
  • Watch a play in Kabukiza . There are daily shows where you can enjoy the traditional Japanese theatre.
  • Escape the busy shopping street and relax in the Hamarikyu Gardens.

ginza tokyo

After having spent our morning in Ginza, we head over to Koto City. Its name translates to “ River East “. It may not be as popular as Shinjuku, Ginza or Shibuya, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a place on your itinerary! Let me show you why.

Visit Teamlab Planets/Borderless

Teamlab Planets or Teamlab Borderless is an art exhibition where you are part of the art – sounds pretty cool right? You move through water, climb a waterfall, get lost in an infinity room and bounce off massive bouncy balls.

teamlab planets

I was really glad that nobody rushes us through the exhibition. Because you are given a specific time to enter the building, I expected it to be a timed experience. But luckily, we were able to walk through everything at our own pace. In total, we spent about 2 hours here.

Visit the Gundam Base

Next up: The Gundam Base! Gundam is an anime series that I was pretty unfamiliar with. Richard loved it as a kid, which is why we made sure to stop by. Even though I had never seen the show before, seeing the life-sized Gundam made it more than worth it.

TIP: Every hour, on the hour, the life-sized Gundam outside the shopping centre moves!

gundam base

Inside the mall (hidden behind the massive robot), you can find the Gundam Base. Here you can pretty much any Gundam you want. Richard ended up buying four Gundams to put together after we arrived back home. It’s really cool to see how much creativity people put into these figures.

gundam base tokyo

After visiting the Gundam Base, you can have a wander through the rest of the mall. There are some great shops located there – like the Hello Kitty Store and tons of cute fashion shops.

hello kitty shop

Day 5: Shinjuku, Minato, and Roppongi

On our fifth day in Tokyo, we take some time to properly explore Shinjuku. Even though we’ve obviously stayed in this part of Tokyo, we’ve not taken the time to see some of the main highlights of this exciting part of the city. In the afternoon, we move over to Minato and Roppongi – two more lively parts of Tokyo (including Tokyo Tower).

Home to the busiest train stations in the world, Shinjuku never sleeps. More than 2 million passengers use Shinjuku train station every single day. This Tokyo ward is home to many shops, offices and bars. From the skyscraper district, where you can find the Government Building, to Kabukicho – a popular part of Shinjuku for nightlife, nightclubs, love hotels and more…

Gyoen National Park

Even though Shinjuku is one of the busiest and most exciting parts of Tokyo, it also has a little green oasis where you can enjoy some peace and quiet. In this park, you can find a variety of French, English and Japanese gardens. As well as some beautiful pagodas, ponds, teahouses and little cafes where you can buy fresh ice cream and mochi. This park is a must visit when you are in Japan during cherry blossom season. But even in the other seasons, it’s a lovely little break from the business that is Tokyo.

Gyoen National Park opening times: 9 AM – 4:30 PM (Closed on Mondays) Entrance fee: 500 yen

Gyoen National Park

You may have come across a few themes cafes/restaurants by now. Japan is FULL of them. Name a theme and there is probably some type of eatery out there that fits your wishes. Personally, I would recommend avoiding any animal cafes in Japan because there is a lot of evidence that shows these are very cruel to the animals that live there. Instead, why not try one of the other crazy themed restaurants. Need a recommendation? Check out the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku .

This overload to your senses is one of the most unique Japanese experiences in this itinerary. It’s crazy! But really fun! While enjoying your meal, you can enjoy humans take the stage with… robots. Have you ever heard anything more anime? Do make sure you have a reservation if you want to visit the Robot Restaurants, it’s a very popular one!

In the Skyscraper District of Shinjuku, you can find the Metropolitan Government Building. This 243 meter tall building with two large towers is a popular tourist attraction due to its observation decks. At 202 meters high, you can enjoy a stunning view of the city for FREE. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji from here!

View over Shinjuku

Visit Zojoji Temple

Because there’s no station near Tokyo Tower, I’d recommend heading to Hamamatsuchō Station and walk from there. The walk to Tokyo Tower from Hamamatsuchō station has some pretty sights. My favourite has to be the Zojoji Temple. It feels so serene and peaceful at the temple and we really enjoyed feeling the calm after such a busy week in Japan’s busiest city.

Zojoji Temple

Afterwards, head towards Tokyo Tower. This iconic piece of Tokyo stands 333 meters tall, making it the second tallest structure of Japan. The Tokyo Skytree takes the top spot on that list 😉 The Tokyo Tower was inspired by the Eifel Tower, but is 13 meters taller.

You can visit the main deck at 150 meters for a small fee. This can be reached with an elevator or the stairs – both are paid. You can go even higher to the top deck at 250 meters. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji from there! It is, quite expensive though (in my opinion). You can find up-do-date ticket prices here . Personally, I think you can get a better view of the Tokyo Skytree. (That way, you can also see the iconic Tokyo Tower in your view!).

If you want to avoid paying the fee, I’d still recommend going inside. You can explore the first few levels for free. There are shops and restaurants, including the One Piece Tower indoor amusement park and One Piece shop. Perfect for those who enjoy the anime!

tokyo tower

Roppongi is the most high-class district of Tokyo. With a vibrant nightlife scene and some of the best art museums of the city, it’s a pretty great spot to add to your itinerary. The name of this Tokyo ward literally translated to “six trees”.

Roppongi Art Triangle

As well as being a business hub, Roppongi is known for its art museums. Three of the best art museums in Tokyo are located within walking distance from each other in the Roppongi Art Triangle.

  • Mori Art Museum
  • The National Art Museum
  • Suntory Museum of Art

The luxury of Roppongi doesn’t end at its art scene. You can also find one of the most stunning views across Tokyo in Roppongi Hills. The open-air observation deck on the Mori Tower allows you to see Tokyo from above (with the iconic Tokyo Tower right in the middle).

Go all the way to the top of the Mori Tower to find the “Tokyo City View”. For an admission of 1800 yen, you can enjoy the view from even higher.

Roppongi Tokyo

Back to Shinjuku

And we end our 5th day in Tokyo back in Shinjuku. Only a few minutes from the train station, you can find Omoide Yokocho (also known as Memory Lane). Make sure to check this before going back to your hotel.

Omoide Yokocho is a narrow but extremely atmospheric alleyway in Shinjuku. Decorated with lanterns and seasonal decorations (cherry blossoms, autumn leaves…), it really shows the contrast between old and new in Tokyo. Especially with the big neon advertising boards luring in the background.

You can find many traditional eateries on this street too. Small yakitori stands where smoke is being blown into the street from their grills. Sit down, enjoy some freshly grilled chicken skewers and a cup of delicious sake. What a way to end this day!

Omoide Yokocho is open every day from 5PM till midnight.

Omoide Yokocho Memory Lane Tokyo

Day 6: Day Trip From Tokyo

Even though you could easily spend a month in Tokyo and still find new places, taking a day trip from Tokyo is something I’d highly recommend. It’s a way to see more of the country and experience Japanese culture in a new way. Here are four options for day trips when spending six days in Tokyo.

Disney Sea Or Disneyland Tokyo

Make sure to buy tickets for Disney Sea or Disneyland Tokyo before you leave, this way you’ll be able to save some money. It also avoids any waiting time in the queues when arriving at the parks. Just like any other Disney park, Disney Sea is filled with rides, shops and amazing decor. Our favourite rides were:

  • Journey to the centre of the Earth
  • Raging Spirits
  • Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Skull
  • Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage

disney sea tokyo

Unfortunately, the day we visited Disney Sea was a rainy day! Make sure to keep an eye on when the shows and parades happen the day you’re visiting. You can find this in the daily schedule you receive when entering the park. Japan knows how to do their shows and the Fantasmic! end show was absolutely amazing – totally made up for all the rain!

Day trip to Hakone

Hakone is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo, because of its beautiful scenery. It takes about 1 to 1,5 hours to get to Hakone from Tokyo. Calming onsens (Japanese hot springs), one of the most beautiful views of Mount Fuji and the Hakone shrine that looks out over Lake Ashi. Visiting Hakone for the day makes for a little escape from all the Tokyo chaos. Here are a few things you should definitely do/see when in Hakone:

  • Hakone Shrine: Possibly the most famous attraction in Hakone is Hakone Shrine (pictured below). This large torii gate stands on the banks of Lake Ashi. Especially after having spent a few days in the busy metropolitan city of Tokyo, taking some time to enjoy the serene atmosphere of this shrine is a perfect way to unwind.
  • Visit an onsen: Known for its many onsens, Hakone is the place to visit one yourself. These hot springs are very popular in Japan – by both tourists and locals alike – and make for a unique experience. In more traditional onsens, you have to be completely naked and genders are separated. If that’s not your thing, check out Yunessun Onsen. Here, you can keep on your bathing suit and they don’t separate men and women.
  • Owakudani (Boiling Valley) : If you want to see the remains of an erupted volcano, you can do that in Hakone. By taking up a gondola towards the mountain summit, you can walk around the volcanic zone. Even though it’s been over 3000 years since this volcano erupted, you can still see the smoke. You can also buy a black egg here, which has been boiled in naturally boiling water. Legend says it will prolong your life.

You can find more information about how to get to Hakone from Tokyo, how to get around the city and what other things you can do there in this article by Japan Rail.

tokyo travel time

Day trip to Nikko

Another great option for a day trip from Tokyo is visiting Nikko. It takes about 2 hours to get there, but the beautiful scenery is more than worth it. With the Nikko Pass , you can save some money on your day trip to Nikko. This city is mainly known for its forests, waterfalls and nature hikes. If you want to visit Nikko for one day , make sure to add these to your to-do list:

  • Rinnoji Temple:  This UNESCO world heritage site was originally founded by the Buddhist monk. This monk brought Buddhism to the city in the 8th century.
  • Toshogu Temple : This temple is most likely to be the most popular temple in Nikko. This resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu is beautifully decorated and unlike any other temple in Japan.
  • Shinkyo Bridge : A sacred bridge that acts as a gateway to the temples (pictures below). It’s an icon of Nikko.

Nikko bridge

Mount Fuji isn’t located too far from Tokyo, making this a great day trip when staying in Tokyo. Japan’s most famous and iconic volcano is often pictured when portraying Japan and turned into a must-see when you have enough time. This 3776 meter high volcano is also the tallest mountain in the whole of Japan. During the months of July- September, you can also choose to climb the mountain. But because this takes a good chunk of time, I would recommend booking a hotel in the vicinity.

If you’re not really the climbing kinda person (or you’re not visiting during the climbing season), you can still enjoy some of the great views of this stunning mountain. Because there are no direct trains to most of these viewing spots, I recommend booking a tour with a travel company . They will drive you there and make sure you get to see the best spots for photos and viewing. The advantage of booking a tour is that you don’t have to worry about finding the best spots yourself.

Mount Fuji Japan

Tokyo Travel Tips

Now we’ve covered what to do when spending 6 days in Tokyo, let’s cover some tips on how to make your trip to Tokyo without any hassle. Please find some extra information about Tokyo, where to stay, how to get there and some cultural differences to keep in mind.

Where to stay in Tokyo?

Picking a hotel in Tokyo can seem a little daunting. The city is enormous, so where is the best place to stay? I’ve written a full guide on where to stay in Tokyo with my favourite hotels and areas.

We stayed in Shinjuku, right next to one of the metro stations. Shinjuku is a very exciting part of Tokyo – tons to do and it has a great nightlife scene. Because the metro was literally right outside the door, we could easily go to other parts of Tokyo without any hassle. The hotel we stayed in is called Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku.

During our time in Japan, we also stayed in Central Tokyo for a few nights. We stayed in the Belken Hotel Tokyo . The location is perfect, only a short walk from Tokyo Central Station and the room was very affordable. The only downside was that the room was incredibly small. Most hotel rooms in Japan aren’t huge, but the hotel in Shinjuku was a lot bigger and more comfortable – which makes sense when looking at the price difference. If you want to travel on a budget, I’d recommend the Belken Hotel Tokyo . The beds were perfectly fine, and so was the bathroom (even though it was on the small side). Plus, you probably won’t spend a lot of time in the hotel anyway.

How to get to Tokyo?

If you are flying to Tokyo, you most likely will arrive at either Narita Airport or Haneda Airport . Either airports have relatively easy access to the city centre, even though Haneda is located much closer to the centre.

How to get to Tokyo from Haneda airport?

Haneda Airport is located only 15 kilometres from the city centre. To get to Tokyo, you can either take the train, bus or get a taxi. The cheapest and fastest way is by taking the train. Taxis might be a little faster but are a lot more expensive.

After arriving, I’d recommend buying a Suica Card at the airport’s train station. This card is an electronic travel pass which can be topped up at any station in Japan. After buying it and putting some money on it, you are good to go!

The best way to get to Tokyo from Haneda Airport is by taking the Keikyu Line to Shinagawa Station, then change to the Yamanote Line to Tokyo Central. This takes about 30 minutes in total. You can check out this article that explains how to get to Tokyo from Haneda Airport via different routes.

If your flight arrives at Narita Airport, it’ll take a little longer to get to the city. This airport is located 60 kilometres away from Tokyo. Here are the two easiest ways to get to Tokyo from the airport:

  • Use the JR Narita Express to get from the airport to Tokyo Station. This journey will cost 3000 yen and takes one hour. This journey is covered by the JR Pass , in case you are planning to use it for your time in Japan. Otherwise, I’d recommend getting a Suica Card at the train station or buying a single ticket. If you are unsure what the JR Pass entails, please check out my Japan Rail Pass Guide .
  • On a budget and not using the JR pass? You can use the JR Sobu Line to get to Tokyo too. This will cost 1340 yen and will take an hour and a half.

How to get around Tokyo?

Tokyo is a large city and because this 6 day itinerary covers more than one district, you are going to use the public transport system available. It’s impossible to explore the city entirely on foot! Luckily, Tokyo has an amazing metro system that is very easy to use – even if you don’t speak Japanese.

It’s a good idea to get a Suica card . This electronic travel pass allows you to scan in and out of any train station in Japan and automatically takes the correct fee. You can top them up at any train station. This way, you save a lot of time and hassle having to buy individual tickets. You also save money, as the card takes the exact fee from your card every time you tap out.

Shinkansen Tokyo to Kyoto

Culture tips for Tokyo

Japanese culture and customs may differ quite a bit from what you’re used to at home. In order to avoid looking like a fool (or accidentally offending anybody), here are a few tips to keep in mind when in Tokyo.

  • Don’t walk and eat at the same time: this is frowned upon in Japan. If you buy a snack, either stand still while eating or find a place to sit.
  • Don’t eat on public transport (unless you’re on the Shinkansen): Eating on the metro or on the bus is also something that’s not done in Japan. The only exception is when you are travelling by bullet train.
  • Don’t make phone calls on public transport: Another no-go is making phone calls while travelling on public transport. As many locals use this time to relax, think or sleep (especially on longer journeys), it’s very rude to be loud.
  • Don’t tip at restaurants: While tipping is seen as a nice gesture in most other countries, it’s not something you should do in Japan. It’s actually seen as an insult – “You must not make enough money, so here is some extra”.
  • Don’t play with your chopsticks: This is seen as bad table etiquette. Also, stay clear from putting your chopsticks up straight in your bowl of rice – in Japanese culture, this is only done at funerals.
  • Do carry a plastic bag for trash: Even though Japanese streets are among the cleanest I have ever seen, there are NO trashcans anywhere. Most Japanese people keep their trash with them and throw it away at home. Make sure to pop a little plastic bag in your backpack to store trash if needed.

food in japanese super markets

Tokyo Travel Essentials

Pocket wifi.

One of the best tips for Japan that I can give you is to get pocket wifi! This little device gives you access to the internet literally everywhere – it is an absolute lifesaver on a trip like this. We got ours from Japan Wireless  (for 16 full days, we only paid £60).

Make sure to book your Japan Pocket Wifi before your trip. You can pick it up from the airport after arriving, and you drop it off at the airport again once you leave the country.

Plug adaptor

For those travelling from the UK, mainland Europe or North America, you will need an adaptor plug to charge any of your electronic devices. Personally, I use the one from Iblockcube. You can use this adapter wherever you go and use any type of plug (even comes with 4 USB hubs). I’d highly recommend getting one of these. Especially when travelling to Tokyo and you want to charge your camera, phone and pocket WiFi, you will need all the hubs you can get!

Suica Travel Card

Getting around Tokyo on public transport is a lot easier than I expected. All you need to do is get a Suica Card and you’re good to go. This card can be bought and topped up at any train station. Once bought, you tap in and out of stations when using the metro, train or tram. It automatically takes the correct amount of yen off. Super easy and it saves you so much time and money. If you’re travelling to other cities like Kyoto and Osaka, you might want to consider getting a Japan Rail Pass in order to save some money.

You can buy a Suica Card at the train station at the airport after arriving in Japan. Buying one is super easy and can be done at one of the ticket machines. There is an “ English ” button to guide you through the process without any hassle.

Even though Japan is known to be a very cash-based society, having an international currency card is a must. Rather than a credit card, you can top up a currency card whenever you want to. If you lose it, you don’t have to worry about it being linked to your bank account. I would recommend getting a card with Monzo (if you are a UK resident) or Transferwise. They use the daily exchange rate when taking out yen or paying in shops – meaning you get the best currency rates wherever you are.

Conclusion: 6 Days in Tokyo Itinerary

That concludes my 6 day Tokyo itinerary. I cannot wait to return to the city and explore it some more – I have the feeling you could spend weeks there and still find new places!

6 days in tokyo itinerary

Nele (Nay-la) graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with an English and Creative Writing Degree and has lived in the UK for nearly 10 years. She has had an interest in Japan and its culture for as long as she can remember. Since her first trip in 2018 surpassed all expectations, she has continued to return to Japan to explore more of all it has got to offer. You can read her full story here .

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33 thoughts on “6 Day Tokyo Itinerary: The Tokyo Guide For First Time Visitors”

If I didn’t want to go to toyko before then I definitely do now! Everything looks amazing, and Im not going to lie the Pokémon mega store sounds like a dream in itself. Id literally end up buying everything x

Kayleigh zara 🥀

Thank you Kayleigh, such a sweet comment! So glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 Haha, I definitely had to keep an eye on my purse when going to the Pokemon store – so much cute plushies!!

What an amazing post! So detailed and your photos are incredible! I’d loooooove to visit Tokyo one day.

Thank you Olivia, so glad you enjoyed the post. Hope you get to visit it one day, it’s such an amazing city <3

Japan is one of those places that is on my bucket list. I am fascinated by all the contrasts you can find in there – Tokyo is a perfect example. I have to admit crossing that road seems frightening! I always wonder when I think about visiting there whether it’s an overwhelming place. I loved reading this post and your pictures are amazing.

Thank you Madi! <3 Such a sweet comment 🙂 I really loved seeing the contrast in the city, from such old temples to the latest high-tech. Haha, I can see why you think it might be a bit scary - it's definitely super busy but when you cross it yourself, it doesn't feel as bad! I thought it felt really cool, actually ^^

Wish i had spent more time in Tokyo and hope to go back!

I hope so too, Roo! Miss it so much!

Oh my gosh this post is amazing! I love how detailed you’ve been and I have wanted to go to Tokyo for so long, there are definitely some places I’ve added to my list for Tokyo!

Love, Amie ❤ The Curvaceous Vegan

Thank you Amie, super glad you liked the post! If you need any help planning a trip to Japan, feel free to ask me anything! <3

Never noticed how bright and rich in colour Tokyo is till I read your post and saw all your pics! Looks like you’ve had an adventure-filled week! Also the pic of you sitting on the street with all that life around you is dope!

Akihabara is definitely a town I wanna visit as gaming was such a big deal in my childhood and it’d be nice to literally go to a place that’s heavily inspired. Since some of the biggest gaming consoles and PCs I played on were manufactured in Japan.

Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

Thank you Johnny, what a lovely comment to read! I’m so happy I was able to bring that across through my photos 🙂

Akihabara is THE place for you then, my friend! Such a cool part of Tokyo, especially if you like video games 🙂

The crepe looks good!

It was delicious!

You packed so much into your time! Your photos are amazing, and it sounds like you had an incredible time. I gotta say, all of that food looks delicious and has made me hungry haha. Cora |

Hahaha, we tried to make the most of it! Thank you so much, it really was such a beautiful city to visit – I’d love to go back soon!

This is such a beautiful post, especially since Tokyo has been on my wishlist for the longest time and I am hoping to be there this Autumn. Your post will surely help me plan my days there. I love the pictures too

So glad you enjoyed the post! If you need any help with planning your Japan trip, feel free to message me 🙂

Love how detailed this itinerary is. Japan has to be my number one place I want to travel right now! Thanks for the well-rounded post!

Thank you for those kind words! Hope you get to visit Japan soon, it really is such an amazing country!

Loving this guide – Japan is next on my list. P.S that curry looks AMAZING. drooling.


Lovely detailed post Nele, we recently saw a lot of the same places on our trip, except Disney. We’ve just come back from our third Japan trip and miss it like crazy!

I am travelling with four kids….and have googled so many things about what to do in one week stay in Tokyo. Your detailed account is very helpful and very detailed. I am better prepared. Thanks again.

I really loved your detailed post about Tokyo. It was my daughter who provided me the link to it because I am really trying to convince my wife for a 7-day stay in that city. Since we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next year in April, it might be the perfect timing to do so. We will surely need some more time to do the things you did and described so well. I cannot wait till the moment that the flight tickets come on sale! I think I will feel a kind of lost in this Tokyo world but I am sure I will be loving it.

One thing though: what is the best way to get from the closest airport to the city?

Hey! Thank you so much for your comment, super glad to hear you enjoyed the post. I think Tokyo would be fabulous for a 7-day stay with your wife. There is so much to do and see, and it really makes you appreciate the culture in Japan.

As for your question, I’d recommend flying to Haneda airport because it’s located close to the city. From Haneda, it’s really easy to take public transport (like the train or tram) and it takes you to the centre of Tokyo in about 30-40 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a taxi from there (it’ll just be a bit more expensive) – Hope that helps! 🙂

Hi. Very useful post. I’m planning on taking my two teenage kids to Tokyo soon. I’m sorry to ask the obvious question, but how much did the week there cost you, a rough ball-park figure, of course. Thanks.

Thanks so much James, really glad you enjoyed the post! I have a full budget breakdown of our trip here: – hope that helps ^^

Wow that’s a great list ,comprehensive and so useful

Tokyo is one of my favourite places in the world! I just loved the contrast between the history and temples to the modern bustle and manga culture. Can’t believe I totally missed Ginza and Koto City, gives me a reason to go back I guess! My favourite area was Akihabara haha

Missing Japan so much after reading this article! I thoroughly enjoyed Tokyo during my trip a few years ago but didn’t manage to go to Nikko, which sounds really interesting. Also, the culture tips section is very useful, well done!

I have been twice to Tokyo and there are still a few things from your list I didn’t do! Thanks to you I know what to do next time I will go there!

I’m one of the few people in the world that has never really been interesting in traveling to Japan, but in recent years I’m getting more and more curious. I suppose Tokyo would be the first place I would visit once I go so this is super helpful!

Im so sad coz i was meant to be flying there in May! thanks for this article, im saving it for when i reschedule!

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Truly Tokyo

A Tokyo Travel Guide

First Time In Tokyo

So you want to see Tokyo? Here is where to start. I'll guide you step-by-step through all the big questions: When, where, why and how. And, of course, how much.

Tokyo Cityscape

Why Tokyo? What Is Special About Tokyo?

Tokyo is one of the world's great cities. It is a hi-tech showcase of modern Japan, and yet it still retains the soul of traditional Japan. It manages to be extremely comfortable, even luxurious, while remaining decidedly mysterious and exotic. First and foremost, Tokyo is a food-lover's paradise . Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any city on earth. So if you're after culinary adventure – look no further – Tokyo has food that will change your life! And the shopping is incredible – if you can't find it in Tokyo, it probably doesn't exist. So, beg, borrow or steal. Take those vacation days you have stored up. And get on a plane to Tokyo! I guarantee you – you will be damn glad you did.

How Much Time Should I Spend In Tokyo?

If you had the time and money, you could spend a month in Tokyo and not feel that you were wasting your time. But, for most mortals with jobs and limited budgets, I'd suggest spending three or four days in Tokyo. For example, if you have a week to spend in Japan, I'd recommend three days in Tokyo and four in Kyoto. If you need help deciding how much time to spend in Tokyo versus Kyoto, see my Tokyo or Kyoto page. For some specific Tokyo-Kyoto itineraries, see my Tokyo Itineraries page , which has itineraries that include both cities.

Check Hotel Availability

Destination, check-in date, check-out date.

What Should I See In Tokyo? What Are Tokyo's Must-See Attractions?

Unlike Kyoto, which has dozens of must-see attractions like temples and gardens, Tokyo is a city that you should experience in its entirety. You just have to walk through it or sit down for coffee and let it walk by you. Of course, you probably do want some structure for your time in the city. So, check out my Things to Do in Tokyo page . And, for specific itineraries based on number of days or specific interests, see my Tokyo Itineraries page.

Mandarin Oriental

Is Tokyo Expensive? What Is A Reasonable Tokyo Budget?

Believe it or not, Japan is the cheapest country in the developed world. Yes, I know you don't believe me, so please check out the actual numbers on my Japan: It's Cheaper Than You Think page . This is especially true now that the yen is the weakest its been in years. Still, Tokyo is the most expensive city in Japan.

Sample Daily Tokyo Budgets

(Per Person/Exchange Rates for Oct 2015)

Budget Tokyo Trip Pricing

  • Guesthouse accommodation (per person): Y3500
  • Two simple restaurant meals: Y2000
  • Public transport: Y1500
  • One average museum admission: Y800
  • Sundry purchases: Y1000
  • Total: Y8800 (about US$73, €65)

Mid-Range Tokyo Trip Pricing

  • Moderate hotel accommodation (per person/twin occupancy): Y11,000
  • Two moderate restaurant meals: Y4000
  • Public transport plus one taxi ride: Y2500
  • Two average museum admissions: Y1600
  • Sundry purchases: Y2000
  • Total: Y21,100 (about US$175, €156)

Asakusa Toukaisou

Where Should I Stay In Tokyo?

Unlike Kyoto, which has lots of ryokan (traditional Japanese inns), Tokyo is all about hotels. While there are hotels everywhere in the city, you should definitely try to stay in one of the city's main urban hubs on the JR Yamanote loop line. The best places to stay are: Shinjuku , the Tokyo Station Area , Ginza , Marunouchi or Roppongi . For details, see my Where to Stay in Tokyo page. For recommended hotels in these districts, see my Tokyo Hotels page. And if you're keen to stay in a ryokan in Tokyo, there are still several good options - see my Tokyo Ryokan page for my personal favorites.

When's The Best Time Of Year To Visit Tokyo?

You can visit Tokyo at any time of year – it's never too hot, too rainy or too cold to visit. The summers (from late June to early September) can be hot and humid, but not impossibly so. The winters (from early December to late March) can be cold, but not freezing. Spring and fall are obviously the ideal times to visit, with warm to cool temps and generally sunny skies.

The late March/early April cherry blossom season is very popular, for obvious reasons, but it can be hard to get hotel rooms (book well in advance!). The November fall foliage season is also great and it's generally easier to get rooms. For more details on the best seasons to visit, check out my Best Time to Go to Tokyo page .

Is It Easy To Get Around Tokyo?

Tokyo is a huge sprawling city. In fact, it's really best to think of Tokyo as several cities connected by an excellent public transport system. Because the subways and trains are so good in Tokyo, it's actually pretty easy to get around. For more details, see my Getting Around Tokyo page . And here's a priceless tip: Prepaid cards like Pasmo or Suica make getting around Tokyo by public transport a snap. See my Prepaid Cards – Pasmo and Suica page for details.

Hotel Ryumeikan

Is It Easy To Travel Around Tokyo With Kids?

I have two small children, so I know what it's like getting around Tokyo with children and keeping them entertained. Thus, I can say with authority that Tokyo is a GREAT place to travel with children. First, you don't have to worry about food safety or crime. More importantly, there are plenty of green spaces, family-friendly hotels and child-friendly attractions. For more tips on traveling in Tokyo with your kids, check out my Tokyo Itineraries With Children page .

Is It Easy To Get Money Out Of ATMs In Tokyo?

ATMs that work with international bank and credit cards are not as common in Japan as they are in many other countries. But, you can get money out of postal ATMs and ATMs at convenience stores like 7-11. For more on getting money in Japan, see my Getting Money in Kyoto page (yes, it's about Kyoto but most of the information holds true for Tokyo).

Should I Have A Tour Guide For Tokyo?

You don't need a guide to enjoy Tokyo, but having a guide will add a lot of depth to your understanding of the city. A guide will also free you from having to think about the logistics of getting around and making the most efficient use of your time. Finally, a guide can help you enjoy local restaurants without any communication difficulties.

Hiring a guide for a six-hour tour on your first day will give you the confidence to explore on following days on your own and a guide can give you some advice about what to see later in your trip. If you'd like to hire a guide, please visit my guided tours site

Hotel Mystays

Can I Meet A Geisha In Tokyo?

Kyoto is the heart of the geisha world. But, it is possible to arrange geisha entertainment in Tokyo. For details, please visit my guided tours site

Can I See Sumo Wrestling In Tokyo?

Tokyo is the best place in Japan to see sumo wrestling. There are tournaments in January, May and September. For more details on purchasing tickets, see my How To Buy Tickets For A Tokyo Sumo Match page.

Is Tokyo Safe For Travellers?

Japan is well known as a safe place. The crime rate is absurdly low. People are honest. And, there is no political instability. Of course, you should use normal common sense and female travelers should take the usual precautions (ie, don't hitchhike alone and don't walk alone at night in an area that seems dodgy).

OK, I Want To Visit! So How Do I Get To Tokyo?

Tokyo is served by two main airports: Tokyo is served by two airports: Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND). Both airports serve international flights. Haneda is closer to the city, so if you can get a flight into Haneda, it will be easier, faster and cheaper to get into the city. For full details on these two airports and airport transport see my Tokyo Airport Transport page .

You can compare Tokyo flight prices and times on a reputable comparison site .

If you're travelling to other cities besides Tokyo during your trip to Japan, you can save a lot of money by buying a Japan Rail Pass before you arrive in Japan. See my guide Japan Rail Pass: How To Get It for the full details of how the pass works and how to buy it.

Tokyo Vacation Checklist

  • For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
  • Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on and - often you can book with no upfront payment and free cancellation
  • Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
  • You can buy shinkansen (bullet train) tickets online from Klook - popular routes include Tokyo to Kyoto , Tokyo to Osaka and Tokyo to Hiroshima
  • You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
  • See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
  • Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals . Check my guides to arriving at Narita Airport and at Haneda Airport .
  • If you're visiting more than one city, you might save money with a Japan Rail Pass – see if it's worth it for you
  • A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
  • World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world

Tokyo District Map

tokyo travel time

  • Imperial Palace Area
  • Tokyo Station
  • Shimbashi Shiodome Hamamatsucho Shinagawa
  • Akihabara Kanda
  • Roppongi Akasaka
  • Harajuku Aoyama
  • Ebisu Daikanyama Meguro

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First Time in Tokyo? Know These 18 Things Before You Go

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Visiting Tokyo for the first time can be overwhelming, and planning a trip to this bustling city is a daunting task. What are the best places to see in Tokyo? How to get around? Where to stay? What to do in Tokyo in 5 days? A million questions start coming to mind. To help you prepare your trip to Tokyo, here are 18 important things you need to know. Keep these travel tips in mind and you will leave all your worries behind.

First Time in Tokyo Tower Night

Tokyo Travel Tips For First Time Visitors

1| fly into haneda airport (instead of narita airport) if you can..

Haneda or Narita? Which airport should you fly into? Before buying your ticket to Tokyo, this is an important question to consider.

If you’re flying into Tokyo from another country, chances are you will land at Narita International Airport, which handles the majority of international flights to Japan. However, Narita International Airport is actually located in Chiba prefecture, not in Tokyo. Transportation to downtown Tokyo, which is about 60km away, will take around 1.5 hr.

Haneda Airport, on the other hand, is only 15 km away from central Tokyo. A 30-min train ride will take you straight to the city center. In the past, Haneda handled mostly domestic flights. But it is becoming a hub for international travel, especially as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaches!

When purchasing flight tickets to Tokyo , definitely make sure to choose Haneda Airport if possible. It will save you time and hassle!

tokyo travel time

2| Buy a Pasmo or Suica card

Tokyo is covered by an extensive network of train and subway lines. Getting around Tokyo couldn’t have been easier.

If you’re planning to use trains and subways to travel around Tokyo, buy a Pasmo or Suica card as soon as you arrive in Japan! Those prepaid cards allow you to take all trains, subways, and buses in Tokyo . You can even use them to make small purchases in convenience stores and vending machines!

First Time in Tokyo

Suica and Pasmo can almost be used interchangeably. The only difference is that they are sold by different companies. Due to that reason, it impacts where you can purchase them: Pasmo cards  are sold at any ticket vending machine at Tokyo subway stations whereas Suica cards  are only available at JR EAST stations. Both machines have English instructions. But if you’re taking a train from the airport to Tokyo city center,  you can buy either card at Narita and Haneda airports .

One card costs as little as 1000 yen (500 yen for deposit, 500 yen credit). You can top up as you go.

3| Rent a pocket WiFi

It’s true – you can get free public WiFi at Tokyo Metro stations and coffee shops. But if you have multiple gadgets that need constant access to high-speed internet, then it’s better to rent a pocket WiFi.

First Time in Tokyo Japan Narita Airport

Wi-Ho Rental Location in Narita Airport

Many companies offer 4G Pocket WiFi service in Tokyo. We went with  Wi-Ho  on our last trip and had a great experience with them. They offer UNLIMITED data at a reasonable price and have pick-up and return locations at the airports. Very easy and convenient!

4| JR Pass is a money saver, but it’s not worth buying if you’re only exploring Tokyo

Japan Rail Pass (also called JR Pass) is an “all-inclusive” rail pass available to foreign visitors only . With this pass, travelers can take unlimited rides on almost all JR trains across Japan, including shinkansen (bullet trains).

There are 2 types: Green Car (first-class seat) or Ordinary Car pass, each of which allows you to travel for 7, 14, or 21 days. It can save you a lot of money if you’re planning to travel across Japan.

The catch is…JR Pass must be purchased outside of Japan before your departure. You can buy the pass online through an official distributor, such as Japan Rail Pass or JRPass . Or, from a local travel agency. After you place your order, you will receive an Exchange Order, which will allow you to exchange for the actual ticket in Japan.

However, there are 2 situations where buying a JR Pass is not worth it:

  • if you’re not venturing beyond Tokyo
  • if you’re planning to make day trips to nearby cities (in this case, you should consider one of the JR East Passes )

Pro tip: Still unsure if it makes sense to buy a JR Pass? Use the Japan Rail Pass Calculator to find out!

5| Use Google Maps and HyperDia to plan your trip

To navigate within Tokyo city, Google Maps is super useful. It displays the best route with price and travel time.

HyperDia is another great tool you can use, especially for train travel. It displays detailed timetable and compares routes and prices. Besides the web-based version, it also has an app for iOS and Android.

6| Order taxi via JapanTaxi app

If you don’t speak Japanese and encounter situations where you need to take a taxi, use JapanTaxi.

Similar to Uber, you can order a taxi directly via your smartphone, get an estimate of the taxi fare, and make payment through credit cards. It is more widely used in Tokyo and cheaper than ordering through Uber!

Note: You will get a discount code (~1000 yen) for your first ride after downloading the app. Sometimes you might get more codes after the first ride. On our last trip, almost all of our rides were discounted!!

[irp posts=”7989″ name=”Best Tokyo Luxury Hotel To Experience Tokyo Like A Local”]

7| Learn some basic Japanese

Should you learn Japanese before going to Tokyo? Absolutely!

first time in Tokyo Japan

English is common in big cities like Tokyo – you can find English signs in train stations and airports. Restaurants in tourist-heavy areas generally have English menu as well. However, most Japanese speak very little English or are uncomfortable conversing in English. For this reason, try to learn some essential Japanese words and phrases!

Below is a list of useful words and phrases for your survival in Japan:

  • Hello = [konnichiwa]
  • Yes = [hai]
  • Thank you = [arigato gozaimasu]
  • Excuse me = [sumimasen]
  • Do you have water? = [omiza arimasuka?]
  • Do you have WiFi? = [WiFi arimasuka?]
  • Do you have an English menu? = [eigo no menu wa arimasuka?]
  • The check, please = [okaikei onegaishimasu]
  • This one, please = [kore onegaishimasu]
  • Tea, please = [ocha kudasai]
  • Can you speak English? = [eigo ga hanasemasuka?]
  • What do you recommend? = [osusume wa nandesuka?]
  • How much does it cost? = [ikura desuka?]
  • one = [hitotsu]
  • two = [futatsu]
  • three = [mittsu]
  • four = [yottsu]
  • five = [itsutsu]
  • six = [muttsu]
  • seven = [nanatsu]
  • eight = [yatsu]
  • nine = [kokonotsu]
  • ten = [too]
  • one person = [hitori]
  • two people = [futari]
  • three people = [sannin]
  • four people = [yonin]
  • five people = [gonin]

Pro tip: Download Google Translate app – it is a handy tool to have when you need instant translation between Japanese and English. Or have the Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook with you to help you break the language barrier!

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8| Plan at least 7 days for your first trip to Tokyo

Andaz Tokyo Luxury Hotel Toranomon Hills

How many days in Tokyo is enough?  Some say 3 days, others suggest 5. In our opinion, give yourself  at least 7 days if it’s your first time in Tokyo.

Tokyo is such a huge city with a limitless variety of shopping, dining, and cultural sites to experience. There are so many fun things to do in Tokyo that you’ll probably need months or even years to fully explore the city. Having said that, 7 days is a good amount of time to get a brief taste of Tokyo. Add a few extra days if you’d like to make day trips to nearby cities, e.g., Osaka , Kyoto , or Mt. Fuji in Hakone

9| No tipping

One of the things you need to know about Japan is that tipping is not a common practice. Actually, leaving a tip can be seen as demeaning and disrespectful to the server.

10| Take advantage of Japan’s Tax Exemption Program

Tokyo is a shopping paradise for many. Foreign tourists, in particular, are exempted from the 8% consumption tax .

First Time in Tokyo Japan Shopping in Shinjuku

Here’s what you need to know about Japan’s Tax Exemption Program to make the most of your shopping experience:

  • bring your passport if you plan to shop at tax-free stores (you can find a list of shops here )
  • present your passport (not a copy) at the store counter upon checkout (in some cases, there’s a designated ‘tax-free’ counter)
  • you need to spend at least 5000 yen (excluding tax)  in the same store on the same day to qualify for tax exemption
  • consumer goods such as food, beverage, medicine, and cosmetics. These items will be put in a sealed plastic bag. DO NOT open the bag before departing Japan.
  • general items including bags, clothing, appliances. You can use them while in Japan.
  • the name on your passport and credit card must match. Of course, you can also pay in cash.
  • you can get the refund immediately, but  tax refund procedure must be done on the same day of purchase .
  • the cashier will attach a card entitled “Record of Purchase of Consumption Tax-Exempt for Export” to your passport. Return this piece of paper to the Japan customs at the airport before heading to immigration.

Note:  Most large department stores have dedicated tax refund counters on a certain floor. Bring all your receipts there along with your passport and credit card to get the cash refund.

[irp posts=”8912″ name=”10 Best Tokyo Shopping Districts To Up Your Style”]

11| Trying on clothes? Know these etiquettes

I experienced a culture shock on my recent shopping spree in Tokyo. Apparently, there are etiquettes you need to follow when entering a fitting room?!

Ladies, if you’re trying on tops, you will be given a face cover. Its purpose is to prevent your makeup from staining the new clothes. Simply put the face cover over your head with the longer, veil part covering your face.

Also, you are expected to take off your shoes . Usually, you can find a raised platform (or a carpet) inside the fitting room. It is customary to take your shoes off before entering.

12| Book restaurants via Pocket Concierge

It can be tricky for foreigners to make restaurant reservations.

Good news – with online booking services like Pocket Concierge , you can book a reservation without making a phone call!

We strongly recommend using Pocket Concierge for popular restaurants. This concierge service, available in Japanese and English, offers access to numerous Michelin-starred restaurants and top-gourmet restaurants in Tokyo. You can check real-time availability, book reservations, and make payments through their system.

TABLEALL is another invaluable tool for making reservations at top-rated, exclusive restaurants in Japan.

[bctt tweet=”Visiting Tokyo for the first time? Here are 18 important things you need to know before you go!” username=”fortwoplz”]

13| Visit these tourist attractions? Book tickets in advance

Want to visit popular tourist attractions in Tokyo? Take our advice and plan ahead of time. By ‘ahead of time,’ we mean at least 3 months prior to your trip .

First Time in Tokyo Japan Snoopy Museum

Snoopy Museum

Some attractions, such as  Ghibli Museum , Snoopy Museum, and  Imperial Palace , require booking tickets online in advance. The Grand Sumo Tournament is seasonal and extremely popular that reservation is strongly recommended. The Michelin 3-star restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro , goes without saying that reservations need to be made approximately half a year in advance!

[irp posts=”9038″ name=”Honeymoon in Tokyo: 5-Day Itinerary For Couples”]

On the contrary, for other Tokyo attractions such as Tokyo Tower and Tokyo SkyTree , we would recommend NOT purchasing the tickets beforehand – in case the weather does not turn out well.

14| Know how to order food from a ticket machine

At some restaurants like ramen shops, you are expected to buy food tickets at a vending machine and pay in advance. There’s no need to talk to anyone!

First Time in Tokyo Japan Afuri Ramen

Ticket Machine at Afuri Ramen

Here’s how it works: 1) put in money; 2) select what you want (the machines typically feature photos of each dish on offer); 3) collect your ticket and change; 4) take a seat and give the food ticket to the kitchen staff. Easy peasy!

Note: At some machines, you put in the bill AFTER you select your order. If you’re lucky, some machines even have Engish menu!

[irp posts=”8956″ name=”13 Best Tokyo Restaurants & Cafes You Can’t Miss”]

15| Enjoy the incredible wonder of Japanese electronic toilets

The very first thing you’ll notice when you arrive in Japan is the electronic toilets. These hi-tech toilets are EVERYWHERE and will amaze you with their remarkable functionality!

What exactly can they do? The sophisticated toilets come equipped with an array of smart functions, including a heated seat (super great for winter!), water sprays for front and posterior wash (with adjustable position and water strength), noise maker (for privacy), and air-drying.

Don’t be afraid. Give it a try! It is so comfortable that you might never want to leave the bathroom!!

[irp posts=”7967″ name=”Coolest Hotel in Tokyo: Stay Here, Or You Will Seriously Regret It”]

16| Stay on the left side

In Tokyo, people walk on the left-hand side, just like road traffic. On escalators, it is a common, unspoken rule to stand on the left and leave the right side for those who want to climb the steps.

Exceptions exist in some metro stations though. To avoid running into other pedestrians, always check the signs!

17| Smoking is still allowed indoors

Japan allows smoking in many places. In outdoor public areas, there are designated spaces for smokers. However, there’s no national law that prevents smoking indoors.

Many restaurants and bars allow smoking inside. Some have separate areas for smokers and non-smokers, but the set-up usually does very little help in limiting exposure to secondhand smoke. Keep that in mind when you visit izakayas in Tokyo.

18| Tap water is safe to drink

It’s perfectly safe to drink from the tap!

These are just a few tips and suggestions for those who are planning a trip to Tokyo. What surprised you the most?

If you have visited Tokyo before, what other things have you noticed on your last trip?

More Tokyo Trip Planning Resources

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Tokyo Travel Tips


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34 comments leave a comment ».

So nice to come across one of your posts again, Cat! I’ve never been in Tokyo, so I’ll make sure to bookmark your post. You share some very useful information here and I’m hoping to make it to Japan someday. I’ve heard a lot about the Japanese electronic toilets. If for nothing else, at least I should go experience those, hahaha!

These are all great tips! Being from Japan, these are all the tips I give my friends who are visiting Japan. The only thing I always forget to mention is the food ticket machines 🙂

This is an amazing guide; straight to the point and informative without exhausting the topic. Tokyo has been on my list for a while, and I will for sure look this up if I’m every lucky enough. The makeup protectors for changing clothes is an amazing idea I wish we had here!

Tokyo is fascinating. Olympics 2020 will catapult it to the global tourist map. Pasmo sounds very convenient. I always prefer to travel in public transports. Renting a pocket wi-fi is a great idea. Japanese seem complicated to me. Konnichiwa is the only Japanese term I know. But, I agree with you, it is wise to learn a few basic words and phrases. I didn’t know tipping is considered bad in Tokyo. Strange!

This is the perfect post for me, as I really want to visit Japan! I’ve read about getting pocket wi-fi when there, so thanks for the tip. Thank you also for the tips on trying on clothes, and the airport! It’s so funny that these simple tips and advice can really ensure your trip goes smoothly.

Pingback: 12 Cuckoo Things to Do in Shinjuku (Tokyo, Japan)

There is so much useful information in this article – you are going to save readers a lot of time and money planning their trip to Japan. It can be hard to know which airport is better when booking an international flight and I would never have guessed that Narita was so far away. Also awesome that the JR pass has a calculator so you can work out if it is worth it

Great tips for someone like me who know nothing about Japan. I will be fully prepared after reading this amazing article. All actionable tips to make your Japanese holiday easier

Thanks for your tips! These are very helpful for first timers in Tokyo. Have you visited the nearby shrines around Tokyo? How about Ameyoko, you can find lots of locally produced, fruit candies!

Japan has been a dream destination for me for a fairly long time now, and I would inevitably spend time in Tokyo when I visit. Your tips would be immeasurably useful. I’m bookmarking this post for future reference.

Love this, this is the perfect post for someone visiting Japan for the first time. I would never know those things like the face cover for trying on clothing or that tipping is considered disrespectful. Sometimes going to a new country you feel like you need a how-to manual, and this is just that.

Nice Article. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful information! I am Looking forward to get more Articles. I really appreciate the points present in the blog.

Thank you, Ashley George

Very useful article on travel tips for first timers. Taking exemption of Japan Tax policy and No tipping is very useful as very few people know about it. Keeping the veil cover while trying out clothes is the most unique feature and looks feasible too. You have shared all useful information with cultural etiquette of Tokyo. Saving your post!

Awesome tips! I have visted Tokyo but only once and a long time ago. I would love to visit again soon and will be sure to read this post again before I go!

Such useful tips! Especially the amount of time you could save by flying into the closer airport. And the hubby has always wanted to buy food from one of the vending machines. It’s on his bucket list! Awesome list. Saving it for when we visit Tokyo!

There were some quality suggestions on this list. I have for into Narita before and wondered how hard it would be to get to Tokyo. It didn’t look close from the air and apparently it isn’t very close on the ground. Good to know about booking 3 months in advance for attractions. WOW- that’s some lead time there.

These are such great tips! I’ve never been to Tokyo but I’ve heard it can be overwhelming at first and I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind when I do go. Japan has been on my list for quite some time now.

I love Japan and had been there few times but I still haven’t been to Tokyo! It’s next on my list to go when I return to Japan hopefully next year for the Cherry Blossoms! Love the great tips you got here.

These are great tips! Love the airport suggestion – that saves a lot of time and headaches! And I always like to use local taxi apps too in the destinations I travel too. Such a helpful list!

Such great tips, Cat! Such a lifesaver. I wish I’d had your post handy before I visited Tokyo in October 2017! 🙂 I agree with so many of these — esp. the Pocket Wifi, HyperDia app, and learning some Japanese beforehand. I will say that, though Haneda is closer, I actually didn’t mind arriving in Narita. We took the train from there to Shinjuku and I rather enjoyed it. But we returned out of Haneda, which was nice because we could squeeze every last possible second in Tokyo before flying out! 🙂

So many useful tips! I´d love to visit Japan soon – so happy I came across your blog post! Pinned

Have a wonderful weekend! Anna

Great Tips for first-timers to Japan, and Tokyo is for sure one of my favorite cities in the world, that’s why I visit there almost once a year~! 🙂 Yes, Haneda airport is much easier getting to the city and I would also remind everyone not to cross the road during red lights, and try to stay a hotel with on-sen

This is an incredibly detailed post, full of essential information that I would not have known or found too easily elsewhere. For example re: tipping and the tax exemption program. Will certainly be saving this, as we are hoping to visit Tokyo within the next year.

Absolutely love your tips! I totally love the tax free part about Japan. And the tax refund is actually immediate once you hit certain amount, it saves all the trouble of doing tax refund at the airport. And I’m heading to japan next week again!

What a great article. Everything I need to know before visiting Japan. None of these were there when I visited 40 years ago except for the smoking???

Thats an amazing list of tips. One Im sure even repeat visitors to tokyo would benefit from! WIll be bookmarking this for when we visit tokyo!

Fabulous guide. I only had 5 days in Tokyo on my first trip and I would agree that you need at least 7! There’s just so much to see and do. I relate to all these tips. Learning to order ramen from the machines took a few trial & error attempts but got there in the end. I loved how organised everything was and that in the chaos of such busy streets, intersections and escalators, people stand to the left and let the “movers” overtake on the right. Great guide. 

I’ve been planning a trip to Tokyo for almost 2 weeks and did not about the tax exemption! Will be taking full advantage of that. Great post!

Great tips! I LOVE Japan for all its beauty, quirkiness and etiquette requirements. That’s what makes the culture so fascinating. Smoking indoors however is the one thing I can’t handle. When the Izakayas are completely smoked out and all you see is a layer of smoke. Can’t even enjoy our meal!

Great guide with very good points for new visitors! I’ve been to Tokyo a few times and even so, I’ve learned very useful information from this article =D

Great help and recommendations Thank you for the information.

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I’m so glad I stumbled across this site. I am traveling to Tokyo in the spring, and your tips will be very helpful to me. Thank you so much!

Great tips. I am planning to visit Tokyo next month. Thanks for the most informative article. Great share.

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Tokyo Itinerary & DIY Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors: Trip Planning for 1 to 5 Days or More (Japan)

by Aileen Adalid Itineraries , Japan 7 comments

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Japan is one of my top favorite destinations, and if you’ve been following my journey , it’s an obvious fact because I’ve been doing multiple visits there every year — most of which are to the capital city of Tokyo. (Tokyo Itinerary)

Now of course, who hasn’t heard of this vibrant city full of ancient traditions that are wonderfully contrasted by its bustling modernity? It’s definitely on everyone’s travel bucket list; and I’m sure that much like everyone else, you also want to make the most of this trip minus the stress of planning out your trip.

Well, don’t fret, because with my past experiences, know-how, and ‘passion’, I’m here to help you out with this DIY Tokyo itinerary! After all, I know how daunting it can be to map Tokyo out — believe me, I’ve been there — and it IS, without a doubt, a dense and massive metropolitan city that can easily be a separate country of its own.

TRIVIA: With over 13.5+ million people across an area of 2,000+ km 2 , Tokyo (officially called the Tokyo Metropolis) is actually comprised of 23 special wards, 26 cities (Tama Area), 3 towns + 1 village (Nishi-Tama District), and several outlying islands. Now, not a lot of people know this… but the core or most populous part of Tokyo (which we travelers typically go off to) ONLY comprises a select few places within the 23 special wards.

Tokyo Map

As seen above, the PURPLE area in Tokyo is where the 23 special wards are found, and only some of the places in these wards are where tourists typically visit. (Image from Wikipedia)

Each of these special wards has its own major districts in which traveling from one district to another can take an hour — or even more! So YES, you will need some guidance; but as I said, I’m here to help you every step of the way with the help of this Tokyo itinerary guide. It is also t otally customizable to fit any number of days that you might be spending.

Where to Stay in Japan?

Come and check out my lists below that feature the top-recommended choices for cheap to luxurious accommodation choices in the country: Best Hotels in Tokyo Best Hotels in Kyoto Best Hotels in Osaka Best Hotels in Hiroshima

Table of Contents

Tokyo Travel Guide

» quick travel planning.

  • Top tours & experiences
  • Find flights to Tokyo
  • Visa requirements
  • Best places to stay
  • Travel insurance (5% discount)
  • Stay connected

– – –

» Frequently Asked Questions

There is NO tipping culture in Tokyo in general. If you end up giving someone a tip, they’ll mostly be confused why, and they will surely end up giving the money back to you. Sometimes, it’s even considered rude and insulting if you tip them.

Tokyo typically uses two plug types: type A  (two flat parallel pins)  and type B  (two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin at the bottom).  The country operates on a 100V voltage and a frequency of 50/60Hz.

It’s best to base yourself in the district that you’ll be exploring the most. If you ask me though, Shinjuku and Shibuya are the best areas to base yourself on due to the number of key places and shops that surround them. But of course, this isn’t to say that the other areas are not ideal, because they can be as dependent on your preference and budget. For instance, Roppongi is great for nightlife, Asakusa is ideal for souvenir shopping, Ginza is best for luxury boutiques, Odaiba is good if you want to be close to Disneyland or DisneySea, and so on. For a complete list, see this list of the best hotels in Tokyo .

You could flag down a taxi, or an  Uber , ride the bus, rent a bike or go on foot; but if you want to be efficient and fast, the trains are the way to go! Now, Tokyo’s train system is dense and extensive — so it can be  very  confusing. However, all throughout my stay in Tokyo, I’ve managed to make it less complicated by simply using  Google Maps   (mapping my point A and point B and then checking out the directions for the subway/train/bus. It even has real-time walking navigation and an offline option!) Google Maps does NOT work offline if you want routes or transportation schedules during your Tokyo itinerary, so I recommend that you get a  pocket WiFi  or a  SIM Card  to stay connected online (look into an eSIM as well as it is more hassle-free; I use them more and it’s super convenient). • Tokyo’s trains typically open around 5AM and close somewhere around 12AM or midnight. If you don’t have an  IC Card , purchasing local rail lines and subway tickets can only be done with cash or coins at the ticket machine. Credit cards are only applicable when buying long-distance bullet train tickets. • If you’re traveling by train during rush hour, be wary that it can get crazy crowded. If you’re a woman, you can ride the front carriages that are designated only for females (this is only during weekdays until 9AM) . • You will notice that in escalators, people stand on the left side so that those who are in a hurry can pass on the right. • When riding in taxis, the left rear door is operated automatically by the driver so don’t try to open or close it by yourself. – There are several train etiquettes that you should remember when in Japan, number one of which is to keep the noise down to a minimum. So when it comes to local train tickets in Tokyo, there are several types that you can choose from but what I would highly recommend is that if you’re  only  planning on traveling  INSIDE  Tokyo, buy the prepaid IC cards (like  Suica ) that can be used in any train or bus in the city. NOTE : There is also the option of buying the  Tokyo Subway Ticket  which will give you UNLIMITED access to all subway lines of Toei and Tokyo Metro (but NOT JR lines, which is fine since most key places in Tokyo are accessible via Toei and Tokyo Metro). There are options for this for 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours. Now, I only find this choice as economical IF, and only if, you are going to ride the train for MULTIPLE times in a day or a span of days. But if let’s say, you’re only going to one place or district in a day, then just use your IC card as normal. On the other hand, if you’re traveling  outside  of Tokyo, that’s a different matter since I would then recommend that you consider buying a  Japan Rail Pass  or  JR pass  for unlimited rides. To see if buying this train pass will be worth it for your Japan itinerary, go and read my explanation  here .

Please check their  latest travel advisories  page for more details.

Come and check out this list of the top things to do which features the best activities and tours to do in Tokyo’s Asakusa, Shibuya, and more!

Want a detailed Tokyo travel guide?

For more info about the best months to visit Tokyo, how to get around, etc. — come and read my Japan Itinerary guide!

Tokyo Itinerary Guide

IMPORTANT NOTES: – The following section is in a tabbed format; so, in order to see the next day’s contents, just click the headings below. – I will also cover other Japan destinations under the ‘ Extras ‘ tab below so that you can consider these places if you happen to have more days for your Tokyo itinerary trip, or if you simply want to see more.

REMINDER : Going from one place to another within Tokyo can often take 30 minutes to an hour — or even more! (Always check by Google Maps to verify your travel times). . Therefore, even if it is humanly possible to go to ALL of the attractions listed below per day for your Tokyo itinerary, it’s best that you DON’T because you will definitely be running around. This is why I suggest that you pick out the TOP spots that you really like and then save the rest for later, or for other days (in case you have more days in Tokyo).

Explore the West of Tokyo

Tokyo Itinerary : Shibuya Things to Do

This is said to be a major nightlife area but it’s also a major shopping and entertainment venue especially because of its strong youth presence towards fashion and culture.

Where to eat in Shibuya?

  • Yakiniku (grilled meat) : Yakiniku-Tei Rokkasen
  • Conveyor belt sushi: Genki Sushi
  • Ramen: Ichiran Ramen  (one of the best I’ve tried!)

Where to sleep in Shibuya?

  • Luxury: The Westin Tokyo
  • Mid-Range: Shibuya Granbell Hotel  or AirBnB
  • Budget: Almond Hostel & Cafe
  • ★ Shibuya Crossing: Found in front of the Hachiko Exit, this is arguably the most prominent landmark of the district and the most photographed spot in the area. If you want to get a good view of it, go to the QFRONT building where a big Starbucks cafe is found. It’s best to come during rush hour to see an impressive sight but be prepared for crowds inside the cafe. TIP: If you want a higher bird’s eye view, prepare your zoom-in lens and go to Shibuya Hikarie shopping mall’s Sky Lobby on the 11th Floor.
  • Hachiko Statue: Hachiko is the name of an admired Akita breed dog in Japanese culture back in the 30s who exemplified superb loyalty to his owner even after his owner’s death. Up to this day, Hachiko has been remembered for these amazing traits and that’s why this bronze statue of him in front of Shibuya Station remains to be a well-revered point in Japan. With that, don’t forget to stop by here for your Tokyo itinerary! ALTERNATIVE: For a lesser crowd, there’s a bigger statue of Hachiko along with his master, Professor Ueno, at the grounds of UTokyo or the University of Tokyo. .
  • TIP : Rainbow Karaoke in Modi is incredibly stylish yet cheap, Karaoke Kan is famed for being the location of the movie ( Lost in Translation )’s karaoke scene, or for the more standard chain, Big Echo is a good choice.
  • Love Hotel Hill: This is where you can find the biggest concentration of love hotels in Tokyo, and though it’s not a typical item on a ‘ things to do in Tokyo ‘ list, it can be an amusing thing in itself especially if you’re traveling with your loved one — largely because of how the rooms are delightfully themed. Just be warned though that some love hotels don’t accept same-sex couples or even two foreigners. Nevertheless, you can rest in a room for 1-4 hours at around 1,500 yen ($15~) per hour or stay in a room overnight for as low as 7,000 yen ($68~). .
  • For nightlife Two of the most brilliant clubs would first be the mammoth super club ageHA with over 4 dance floors, an outdoor pool, and an outdoor dance tent; and second, the laser-filled Womb club with its identifiable giant mirror ball. TIP: Better yet, get this Tokyo Nightclub Pass that grants you UNLIMITED entry to the top 7 nightclubs in Tokyo! .
  • ★ Don Quijote (for everything under the sun) , Loft (for stationery) , and/or Tokyu Hands: These shops are great to include in your Tokyo itinerary if you’re looking for cheap souvenirs, novelty items, stationaries, and more! The Shibuya branch of Don Quijote is the biggest in Japan so make sure to drop by there.
  • Center Gai, Koen Dori, Spain Slope, and/or Shibuya 109: The first 3 are distinct shopping streets in Shibuya, whereas Shibuya 109 is a complex that you don’t want to miss out if you want to do some serious shopping!
  • Shimokitazawa : This nearby district is a great ‘bohemian’ spot if you’re looking for vintage and second-hand items and clothes.

◘◘ Harajuku

Tokyo Itinerary: Harajuku Things to Do

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Known for its fashion scene, quirky culture, cosplay shops, and so much more!

Where to eat in Harajuku?

  • Fluffy pancakes: Cafe & Pancakes Gram
  • Crepes: Marion Crepes
  • Gyoza: Harajuku Gyoza Lou

Where to sleep in Harajuku?

  • TIP : If you want to witness a traditional Japanese Shinto wedding, head here around 10AM and try your luck!
  • Yoyogi Park: A typical meeting place for Japanese people from all ‘walks of life’. Since it’s just near the trendy Harajuku, you will normally find crowds of band members, lolitas , cosplayers, and fashionistas in interesting clothing (they’re sometimes concentrated around Jingubashi or the bridge near Meiji Shrine). Taking photos of these people in fancy clothing is perfectly fine, but it’s best if you ask for permission first since not all of them are there to please the crowd — they’re usually just there to hang out or do practices etc. .
  • TIP : Wanna do a guided tour? Take this Harajuku half-day tour that will take you through Takeshita as well as grant you access to some of the district’s top cafes!
  • Cat Street: If you want to stray away from Takeshita Dori’s crowd during your Tokyo itinerary, this is the next best place to be.
  • Omotesando: If Paris has Champs-Elysees, Japan has Omotesando. If Takeshita Dori is more for low to mid-level shoppers, Omotesando is more for older or wealthier shoppers. TIP: Drop by Espace Luis Vuitton Tokyo which is found on the top floor of its building to find an amazing art space — not to mention that the bathrooms are really fancy haha.
  • Daiso Harajuku: This is one of Japan’s famous 100-yen variety-store shops that offer affordable housewares, toys, stationery, decorations, bento supplies, gifts, and more!
  • Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku: This is a multi-story shopping center that recently became even more popular because of its kaleidoscope-like entrance that’s made of dozens of tilted mirrors. Don’t miss out as well on its rooftop terrace area on the 6th floor if you want views over Harajuku. .
  • Maison de Jullieta: Kawaii (cute) culture is a ‘thing’ among the Japanese and one of those kawaii fashion styles would be the sweet lolita look. In Maison de Jullieta in Harajuku, you can dress up as one — complete with costume, makeup, and hair arrangement at a price of around 10,000 yen ($97~)!
  • Kawaii Cafe: In line with Harajuku’s colorful splash of colors and eccentric atmosphere, there exists the Kawaii Monster-the med cafe! With over 5 separately themed areas, the cafe is like a rainbowholic’s paradise where every corner is filled with kawaii decoration and Instagram-worthy scenes.
  • ★ Purikura: Purikura runs like a photo booth — but different in a Japanese kind of way and it’s widely popular among females. Through these machines, you can take photos of yourself or your friends in a studio-esque booth; after which, you will be digitally enhanced. By that, I mean automatically Photoshopped in a kawaii manner: bigger eyes, whiter skin, and narrower face.
  • Mameshiba Cafe: If you want to snuggle adorable Shiba Inu dogs for 30 minutes, there is this small cafe in Harajuku that you could visit. Personally, I don’t find it worth it (nor do I support animal cafes in general) but I leave this up here so you can decide what to do.

◘◘ Shinjuku

Tokyo Itinerary: Shinjuku Things to Do

As a major city center, Shinjuku has the busiest train station in the world (Shinjuku Station), it houses the administration center for the Tokyo government, and holds a plethora of amazing things to do in Tokyo!

Where to eat in Shinjuku? Other than going to Golden Gai, Omoide Yokocho or Shin-Okubo Koreatown, go to…

  • Guenpin Fugu: 玄品ふぐ
  • Sushi: Yachiyo

Where to sleep in Shinjuku?

  • Luxury: Park Hyatt Tokyo
  • Mid-Range: Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku or AirBnB
  • Budget: Imano Tokyo Hostel
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Towering at 243m, this structure has two towers and each of these has an observatory that visitors can visit for FREE in order to get a bird’s eye view of Tokyo. TIP: I recommend the southern tower since it shows a better ‘side’ of Tokyo (closes at 5:30PM), whereas the northern tower is best for night shots since it closes later into the night (until 11PM).
  • Shinjuku Gyoen: Best visited during the sakura and fall season, this place is just a stone’s throw away from Shinjuku station and it is one of the city’s largest and most favored parks. Here, you will find three different gardens, a traditional Japanese landscape garden, a French garden, and an English landscape garden.
  • Samurai Museum: As a Japanophile , I have also been enchanted by the culture and history of the samurai (or bushi ) — Japan’s notable military warriors. Adults can enter for a fee of 1,800 yen ($18~) in order to see the impressive exhibits; but the highlight of this place is probably the experiences that you can try: photoshoot with basic samurai gear (500 yen $5), sword battle performance with an actor (free), samurai calligraphy lesson (500 yen or $5~) , and professional photo shoot with full samurai gear (starts at 32,000 yen or $320~). .
  • TIP : The shops predominantly only speak Japanese so it’s best that you book here for a guided tour so you don’t miss out on anything during your Tokyo itinerary!
  • TIP : Book here for a guided tour so you don’t have to fumble around.
  • Kabukicho: This is the entertainment and red-light district in Shinjuku which is sometimes called the “Sleepless Town”. Unlike Amsterdam which features prostitutes on windows of their buildings, Kabukicho has a more subdued collection as it only includes hostess clubs, love hotels, massage parlors, and more (prostitution is illegal in Japan). Unless you want to avail these kinds of services during your Tokyo itinerary, I just find this an interesting place to see in Tokyo as a regular tourist. Rest assured, I felt entirely safe walking around here since it didn’t feel seedy. In fact, you might not even notice that you’re already in Kabukicho! Also, one particular thing about Kabukicho that I best liked to see or observe was the pachinko parlors. (Pachinko is an insanely popular game in Japan that somehow resembles pinball.) .
  • ★ Robot Restaurant: Tokyo, the land of the weird (as some would say) lives up to its name because it offers several themed restaurants like The LockUp (prison-like), Zauo (fish for your own food), and Alice in Wonderland Restaurant (self-explanatory). But the most entertaining and bizarre themed restaurant I’ve visited? That would be Robot Restaurant in Kabukicho area. A structure of glitz, lasers, and robots, my ‘ordeal’ in this restaurant was… undescribable — in a good way!
  • Godzilla: Japan’s famous giant monster and pop culture icon, Godzilla , can be seen here atop Toho Cinemas. It’s a nice spectacle because he looks like he’s taking a peak from the building — seconds away from wreaking utter havoc .
  • Animal Cafes: Plenty of people would recommend that you go to Tokyo’s well-liked animal cafés such as the cat café, owl café, rabbit café, goat café, etc. (There are lots of them found around Shinjuku such as Cat Cafe Calico, etc.). I don’t like them though because I’m uncomfortable with the idea of keeping multiple animals in such a small space with strangers that they’re not that accustomed to — but, I leave it up to you to decide what you would do.

Explore the East of Tokyo

Tokyo Itinerary: Asakusa Things to Do

This is said to be the center of Tokyo’s shitamachi (“low city”) — which means that it’s an ‘olden’ district where you can get a feel of how Tokyo was in the past decades.

Where to eat in Asakusa?

  • Okonomiyaki:  Asakusa Okonomiyaki Sometaro
  • Kaiseki (Traditional Japanese cuisine): Kikko
  • Buffet: Sky Grill
  • Luxury: The Gate Hotel Asakusa
  • Mid-Range: Asakusa View Hotel or AirBnB
  • Budget: Backpackers Hostel K’s House Tokyo
  • ★ Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine:  Take note that a shrine is dedicated to the Shinto faith, whereas a temple is dedicated to Buddhism. These two places are the main highlight of Asakusa with Senso-ji being the oldest temple in Tokyo. There is also an impressive “Thunder Gate” called Kaminarimon (which is a symbol of Asakusa and Tokyo) in front of the temple.
  • Sumida River and Park:  For a leisurely stroll during your Tokyo itinerary, go over to Sumida River and lounge by Sumida Park which stretches on both sides of this body of water. Like what you’d expect, there are cherry blossoms here that come alive in spring, and then during July on its last Saturday, this becomes a great spot for viewing the Sumida River Firework. (If you see a golden building with an odd golden structure on top that looks like a teardrop, that’s the Asahi Beer Tower with its ‘Asahi Flame’.) .
  • READ : My kimono rental guide here to learn more about the process.
  • Samurai Armor rental: You can take a step further and rent to wear Japan’s famous traditional warrior’s (samurai’s) armor! If you book this activity online , you can even have a professional photographer take photos of you.
  • Rickshaw ride:  To complete your kimono look, I recommend that you  rent a traditional Japanese rickshaw  which will take you around key spots in Asakusa.
  • Tea ceremony:  Highly influenced by the principles of Zen Buddhism and a well-respected hobby, the Japanese Tea Ceremony (also known as the ‘Way of the Tea’) is a traditional cultural activity that is elaborate and refined, and in which  matcha or powdered green tea is prepared and drunk by a host. To be frank with you: this is a very long ceremony where you will sit motionless for hours as you follow a set of guidelines… but it is a striking example of Japan’s amazing culture that is exceptional for immersing one’s self. For a good place to try this in, go here .
  • Hanayashiki:  If you’re up for it, this is said to be Japan’s oldest amusement park (built in 1853) and it can be a quirky thing to do on your Tokyo itinerary. .
  • ★ Nakamise shopping street:  Stretching at about 250 meters from Kaminarimon to the main grounds of Sensoji Temple is this picturesque shopping street with over 50 shops that offer local specialties and the usual array of tourist souvenirs.
  • Shin-Nakamise:  Also called “New Nakamise”, this runs perpendicular to the Nakamise Shopping Street and is in line with various shops and restaurants.
  • Asakusa Kagetsudo:  This is a famous melon-pan store that has been running since 1945. Melon-pan is basically a sweet baked bread with an outer layer that looks like a melon — so it’s just named that because of its appearance and not because it tastes like a melon. When you buy from this store, it is best to eat it when warm.

◘◘ Akihabara

Akihabara Things to Do

Dubbed the otaku*  cultural center and tech shopping district of Japan, walking through Akihabara’s main street called Chuo-dori will already give you an idea of what this district is all about.

You see, Japan may have an amazing ancient culture, BUT it has also developed an equally amazing modern  culture over the recent years, and it is in Akihabara that you can get a glimpse of this somewhat wacky ‘evolution’. *Japanese term for people who have obsessive interests commonly towards anime and manga. A synonymous word in English would be ‘geeks’.

Where to eat in Akihabara?

  • Maid Cafe:  Maidreamin
  • Themed restaurant: Ninja Akasaka
  • Hotpot: Merino

Where to sleep in Akihabara?

  • Budget: Grids Tokyo Akihabara
  • Mid-Range: Hotel Niwa Tokyo or AirBnB
  • Luxury: Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten
  • Maid cafe: A lot of people in Tokyo love to cosplay — a form of roleplaying where people wear costumes to represent a character (often found in animes and mangas).  One of the good ol’ favorites of the Japanese when it comes to cosplaying or dressing up are waitresses dressed in frilly Victorian maid costumes. In line with their character, they will even act as if they’re servants and then treat others as their masters. Now apply that idea to a café, splash it with small games, cutesy demeanor, brief performances, and picture-taking with customers and that’s where you get the famed maid cafes of Japan. TIP: Another great place to try in Akihabara aside from Maidreamin would be @Home Cafe.
  • ★ Arcades:  I’ve been to so many arcades BUT, they’re not as insanely amazing, bright, exciting, and numerous as what Tokyo has! One of the most known gaming arcades in Tokyo would be Taito Station . (You could also do purikura inside these arcades).
  • ★ Go Kart: Come live on the edge and explore downtown Tokyo in a cool Go Kart while you’re dressed in popular cosplay costumes! With this fun driving tour on your Tokyo itinerary, you can opt to do a one-hour experience or a whole-day affair. .
  • Yodabashi:  If you have time to visit only 1 tech gadget store in the district, then this 9-story building is your best bet! After all, it is proven that their items are usually cheaper than in Europe.
  • Mandarake or Tokyo Anime Center: A gigantic 8-floor complex that is full of merchandise related to anime and manga; so it is the best go-to space if you’re a hardcore  otaku or at least a knowledgeable one at that. Whereas I believe that a visit to the Tokyo Anime Center is best done first by people who have no idea of the  otaku scene in order to gain a better understanding of it.

Sumo Wrestling

The most noteworthy attractions that you should visit in this ward would have to be the following:

  • Tokyo Skytree: At 634m, this is the tallest tower in the world. It is primarily a television and radio broadcast site for the Kanto Region; but for travelers, you can visit the large shopping complex, aquarium, and planetarium that are located at its base. And of course, for sky-high views of the city, Tokyo Skytree has two observation decks and you can purchase your tickets here .
  • TIP : To reserve your sumo tickets for Japan’s Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament, go to this link . For the months wherein tournaments are not held, you can get a close-up look at the sumo wrestlers’ morning fight practices via this tour .

Mt. Fuji Tour

◘◘ Mt. Fuji

Chureito Pagoda

Chureito Pagoda from

It’s time to check out Mt. Fuji or ‘Fuji-san’ (it’s how the locals commonly call it).

As the country’s tallest peak, it has been considered one of the most iconic sights in Japan so it would be a good idea to temporarily escape Tokyo’s bustle and dedicate this day to a bit of nature.

Now, there are several ways for seeing this active volcano in all its glory but below are the best locations for viewing it that you must include on your Tokyo itinerary.

– Some people do one of the places below as a day trip, while others as an overnight trip to also experience staying in a  ryokan  (traditional Japanese inn). It’s totally up to you, but naturally, if you’re short on time, making it as a day trip would be enough. – Clouds often block the view of Mount Fuji so you have to consider yourself as lucky if you get a clear view of it (it’s only visible for about 80 days a year). It is said that visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer. Otherwise, it’s great in the early morning or late evening hours compared to the middle of the day.
  • To save up on transportation costs, get a Hakone Free Pass to gain unlimited travel on eight transportation options including the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (Pirate Ship) , Hakone Tozan Train, Hakone Tozan Bus, Hakone Tozan Cable Car, and Hakone Ropeway.
  • For a hassle-free experience, you can take a Hakone day tour that already includes a stop at Mt. Fuji and some other interesting activities like a lake cruise and more. .
  • For a hassle-free experience, you can take a Mt Fuji day tour to this lake region with the inclusion of Kachi Kachi Ropeway, and more.
  • A different option is to rather go to  Chureito Pagoda  (pictured above) which is still part of Fuji Five Lakes but not found within Lake Kawaguchiko. This spot is a favorite among photographers, especially during spring or autumn and it’s easy to see why! (This tour includes this pagoda as a stop). .
  • For a hassle-free experience, you can do a  Kamakura + Enoshima day tour. .
  • Enoshima:  (1hr from Tokyo)  This is a touristic island that offers a variety of attractions (Enoshima Shrine) , beaches, parks, an observation tower, and caves (Iwaya Caves).  If I say so myself, doing a  Kamakura + Enoshima day tour would be ideal if you want to check out both of these towns. .
  • Fuji Shibazakura Festival:   (2hrs from Tokyo) This is a famous time-limited event that is usually held at Fuji Motosuko Resort from the middle of April to late May. If you have the time, I recommend doing a sakura tour of this festival as it features over 80,000 blooming shibazakura  (pink, red, and white mountain phlox flowers) over 6 acres of sloping hills. Pair this off with a great view of Mt. Fuji and it instantly becomes an Instagrammable spot!

Other Options Near Tokyo

◘◘ Other Day Trip Options from Tokyo

Tokyo Day Trips

Below are other interesting day trips that you can do for your Tokyo itinerary!

  • TIP : For a hassle-free experience, you can do a Nikko day tour from Tokyo that includes stopovers at Tochogu Shrine, Kegon Falls, Tsukiji Hitachiya & Futarasan Shrine. .
  • TIP: You can avail of a ‘ Yokohama and Kamakura Enjoy Pass ‘ to enjoy the major sightseeing attractions in these cities. .
  • Kusatsu: (3hrs from Tokyo) This is a sound trip to make if you want to visit one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts. In fact, Kusatsu Onsen is blessed with large volumes of high-quality spring water which makes it popular among locals and tourists alike. You will love the atmosphere here as you find almost everyone wearing yukata/kimono on the streets. Otherwise, when winter comes, the town becomes a great ski resort to visit. .
  • Chichibu: (2hrs from Tokyo) This city is a great place to escape to during your Tokyo itinerary if you want to get away from the city. After all, its forested mountains provide impressive nature views and hiking opportunities. One of the most sought-after events here, it’s the Chichibu Night Festival in December and its Hitsujiyama Park in Spring ( for its beautiful pink moss park).

Explore the Rest of Tokyo

Naturally, there’s more to Tokyo than the sights I’ve mentioned in days #1 and #2 above. So in order to fill up your Tokyo itinerary with other activities for your extra days in the capital, below are some considerations that you can make.

◘◘ Other Places West of Tokyo

Tokyo Itinerary: Roppongi Things to Do

Where to eat in Roppongi?

  • Toriyaki (skewered meat): Toriko
  • Michelin Kaiseki Restaurant: Kien
  • Seafood Izakaya: Isomaru Suisan

Where to sleep in Roppongi?

  • Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo
  • Mid-Range: Hotel Risveglio Akasaka or AirBnB
  • Budget: The Wardrobe Hostel Roppongi
  • ROPPONGI HILLS: Up to do partying for your Tokyo itinerary?! If your answer is a resounding YES, come dive into the best nightclub scene over at Roppongi! This district is famous among locals and expats alike — which is not surprising given how Roppongi Hills is one of Japan’s richest and largest property developments. .
  • To enjoy the picturesque rooftop views on Mori Tower’s 52nd floor, just book an Observation Deck ticket online .
  • Below Mori Tower, you will find a giant spider sculpture called Maman which means ‘mother’ in French. This is made by the artist Louise Bourgeois .
  • Tokyo Midtown is yet another building that you can go into if you’re up for more shopping and entertainment.
  • During Christmas, head to the area in Mori Tower that faces Keyakizaka Street in Roppongi Hills to see a great view of Tokyo Tower being illuminated by the street lights. Whereas if you go to Tokyo Midtown, you will find the Starlight Garden which has over 280,000 lights that are magically spread out on the grounds! .
  • ★ Tokyo Tower: At a height of 333 meters, this is like a replica of the famous Eiffel Tower. Made after Japan’s post-war rebirth, this used to be the country’s tallest tower — until Tokyo Skytree was made in 2012. Despite this fact, the tower’s prime location is still a splendid place to see a panoramic view of the city. There are 2 observatories here: the main one at 150m high and the special one at 250m high. The entrance is 900 yen ($9~) for the main observation deck and 1,600 ($16~) yen for both decks. To book your tickets, go here . .
  • Nightlife: Clubs and bars in Roppongi can be a dizzying encounter for a first-timer; so it’s actually preferable if you visit this with a local. Otherwise, just a bit of advice: avoid the men (generally African men) who would try to push you into going to their clubs! More often than not, those are seedy ones, and later on, they might even overcharge you. For the best clubs to go to, I suggest Jumanji55 , V2 Tokyo , or Club Brand Tokyo which all have a good mix of locals and foreigners. Better yet, get this Tokyo Nightclub Pass that grants you UNLIMITED entry to the top 7 nightclubs in Tokyo! .
  • Hie Shrine: For your Tokyo itinerary, you don’t need to travel all the way to Kyoto to witness a Shinto shrine with multiple iconic red torii (traditional Japanese gate) because you can find this right in the heart of the capital! Otherwise, there’s also a similar one called Nezu Shrine.

◘◘ Other Places East of Tokyo


  • Imperial Palace: This is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan and it’s actually a massive park surrounded by moats. It contains buildings including the palace, private residences of the Imperial Family, offices, museums, and more.
  • ★ Chidorigafuchi: Located just at the northwest section of the Imperial Palace is this moat section. This area is highly recommended during sakura season as it is one of the best spots for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). To add: they regularly light up the trees at night during that period and then you can even rent boats there!
  • Tokyo Central Railway Station: This is the busiest railway station in Japan in terms of the number of trains per day and it’s quite a sight to see! For starters, you’ll instantly find this building because of its red brick appearance — a look that survived from when it was first opened in 1914.

Odaiba Things to Do

Where to eat in Odaiba?

  • Curise Restaurant: Harumiya
  • Buffet: Ocean Club
  • Yakinuku: Yakiniku Toraji

Where to sleep in Odaiba?

  • Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel
  • Mid-Range: Park Hotel Tokyo or AirBnB
  • Budget: Kaisu Hostel
  • DiverCity Tokyo Plaza: This is a dining, entertainment, and shopping complex that also features attractions related to the famous Gundam anime series. Truth be told, it also has a life-size Gundam statue in front of its building.
  • Fuji TV Area : This is called such because of how the Fuji TV Building (one of Japan’s biggest TV stations) towers above everything else. As a visitor, you could definitely go into Fuji TV’s observatory deck that’s located in the circular portion of the establishment. Other things to see around here would be the shopping mall of Decks Tokyo Beach and the scenic Rainbow Bridge (which looks dashing at night, and where you can also find a replica of the Statue of Liberty.)
  • Palette Town: If you’re up for some serious entertainment and shopping spree activities, I suggest that you head on to Palette Town! Here, you can find the following venues: Venus Fort (a mall that looks like a European town), Toyota Mega Web (a car showroom where you can test drive cars), and Leisureland (a large gaming complex).
  • TeamLab : Yet another Instagrammable attraction, this interactive museum is well-known for digital and light art. It’s a great inclusion to your Tokyo itinerary and in order to book your tickets, just go here .
  • ★ Oedo Onsen Monogatari: If you can’t afford to go to a hot springs resort town, this is the next best thing for your Tokyo itinerary! This is basically a hot spring theme park that emulates the atmosphere of the Edo Period. You can enjoy various types of indoor and outdoor baths, restaurants, massage, games, and other entertainment while wearing a yukata (traditional Japanese wear). To reserve tickets for this, go here .
  • ★ Tsukiji Market: Fish is a big business in Japan and the Tsukiji Market is a marvelous point for observing this lively industry as well as tasting its fresh produce. To date, this market has been divided into two, one of which is still found near Tsukiji Shijo Station and the other near Odaiba. If you want a guided day tour here, book an experience here .


Photo from Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Where to eat in Ginza?

  • Wagyu: Ginza Enzo
  • Michelin Restaurant: Ibuki
  • Crab: Uoya Iccho

Where to sleep in Ginza?

  • Luxury: Imperial Hotel Tokyo
  • Mid-Range: Hotel Sunroute Ginza or AirBnB
  • Budget: Imano Tokyo Ginza Hostel
  • TIP : Make the most of this area’s local flavors and drinking spots during your Tokyo itinerary by doing a ‘ Tokyo After 5 ‘ tour!
  • If you want the best ‘festive’ experience of this street, I suggest walking through here on weekends from 12PM to 5PM (until 6PM during April to September) because it is customarily closed to automobile traffic — an event known as ‘Pedestrians’ Paradise’.
  • Depachika : This is a combination of the words depato (department store) and chika (basement). In Japan, most of the big department stores such as Mitsukoshi have their basement floor made into some sort of food market — but actually, if I have to describe it myself, I will call it a ‘food theme park’ because you can get to have a fun yet quick introduction into the VAST variety of Japanese food there — including square watermelons and insanely priced strawberries! Anyhow, the stalls are very generous with giving away samples too; so if you’re on a budget, you really don’t have to buy something (though it will be respectful to do so, naturally haha).

Extra Activities and Destinations

◘◘ Near Tokyo

Tokyo Disneyland

  • To book discounted tickets, reserve your spot here. .
  • To book discounted tickets, reserve your spot here.

◘◘ Outside and Far from Tokyo

Kyoto Itinerary

  • For a detailed guide on what to do in Kyoto, see this Japan itinerary .
  • Osaka & Nara: Osaka is known for its nightlife and street food, whilst Nara is for its deer parks. See this Japan itinerary guide for what you can do.
  • Hiroshima: Mainly well known for its aspirations of tranquility with its Peace Memorial Park, this page can help guide you on your top must-dos.
  • ★ Kinosaki: Located about 3 hours away from Kyoto, this is a pleasant onsen town that has a great atmosphere. I stayed here before for 2 nights and I loved strolling around the town in my yukata and geta (wooden clogs), feeling like a local! After all, everyone (locals and foreigners alike) who visit the town almost always wears the same attire when going about the place onward to the public baths — so it’s quite a sight to see. Truly a great addition to your Tokyo itinerary!
  • See here for a list of things to do in Okinawa .
  • Himeji: This place is most famous for its Himeji Castle which is typically considered to be Japan’s most beautiful surviving feudal castle. Because of this, it is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national treasure.
  • See here for a list of things to do in Kobe .

Niigata Itinerary: 4 Days or More in The Land of Sake, Rice, Gold, and Adventure! (Japan)

  • See here for a list of things to do in Hokkaido .
  • Niigata Prefecture: A New Japan Foodie Destination
  • Nagoya: Also found within the Chubu region is Nagoya which is known for its towering castle. Other notable sites are as follows: Korankei, City Science Museum, Atsuta Shrine, and Railway Museum. For food, check out Sekai no Yamachan , a famous izakaya (Japanese pub) in the city that serves flavorful “legendary chicken wings”.
  • Kanazawa: This is the capital of the Ishikawa prefecture and it boasts historical attractions as well as its ‘ Kenrokuen ‘ — said to be one of the 3 best landscape gardens in Japan.
  • Kiso Valley: Nestled within Nagano prefecture is this valley which holds an ancient 70km trade route called Kisoji which was later on combined with other routes forming the 500km long Nakasendo . Today, nearby post towns of Magome, Tsumago, and Narai are flocked by visitors not only to hike through the Nakasendo but to also revel in the traditional stone paths and wooden buildings of these quaint towns.
  • Things to do in Matsumoto
  • For more info, read here .
  • Things to do in Takayama
  • Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route: If you’re up for incredible and unique nature activities in Japan, it’s a MUST to visit the stunning mountain sightseeing route that’s commonly referred to as the “Roof of Japan”. A crowd favorite as of late is its grand ‘Snow Wall’ that’s open from mid-April to late June! For more info, read here .
  • You can do this as a tour on your itinerary with Klook .
  • Shibu Onsen: An old-fashioned hot spring town
  • Shiga Kogen Resort: The largest ski resort in Japan.

Booking Essentials

Book an AirBnB

TIP: It’s a good idea to crosscheck the prices with other popular travel insurance providers like World Nomads and HeyMondo (as my reader, you get 5% off)! . However, take note that a travel insurance’s affordability typically means lesser coverage; so please always ensure that you read the fine print in order to decipher which travel insurance company is the right fit for you and your trip!

The Best Tours in Tokyo?

Come and check out this list of the top things to do in Tokyo which features the best activities and tours in and out of the city!

DIY Trip: Tokyo Itinerary & Travel Guide

I hope this all helped make things clearer for you as you map out your Tokyo itinerary. Feel free to also tweak it and make full use of the extra activity suggestions in order to make your trip shorter or longer and better fitting for your travel style.

All in all, do let me know how your trip goes, and do enjoy!

Have you seen my latest vlog?

How I Afford to Travel the World (Vlog)

Hey there! I am Aileen Adalid. At 21, I quit my corporate job in the Philippines to pursue my dreams. Today, I am a successful  digital nomad  (online entrepreneur, travel writer, & vlogger) living a sustainable travel lifestyle.

My mission?  To show you how it is absolutely possible to  create a life of travel no matter the odds — and I will help you achieve that through my detailed travel hacks, guides, resources, tips, and MORE!

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tokyo travel time

Girl Eat World

A girl's adventure in food and travel around the world, tokyo itinerary: the complete travel guide for first-timers.

Traveling to Tokyo for the first time? I am so happy and jealous of you. The feeling of visiting Tokyo for the first time is one of my fondest memories of all of my travels, by far. As a repeat visitor to this beautiful city, I will impart some of my knowledge of Tokyo in this post.

Tokyo Tower from Skylobby at Azabudai Hill

  • Travel Tips for First-time Visitors
  • Getting Wi-fi or Data SIM card in Tokyo
  • Public Transport in Tokyo

What is a JR Pass and do I need it?

Where to stay in tokyo.

  • 5-days Tokyo Itinerary
  • Short Trips from Tokyo
  • Want more? Here are more activities you can do in Tokyo

Tokyo Travel Tips for First-time Visitors

1. Get the Tokyo Pass from Klook to save money – There are lots of attractions to visit and do in Tokyo, which means you’ll likely have to spend on those activities. Getting a travel pass could ease the pain. To make it easier for you to decide whether to get the pass or not, I’ll put a note on each attraction that I mention in the itinerary that could use the Tokyo pass.

What is Klook? Klook is the leading travel and experiences booking website in Asia. And yes, they are legit! I personally always book my activities through them whenever I am traveling. See my review of Klook here .

2. Fly to Haneda Airport (HND) instead of Narita (NRT) – Unless the flight is considerably cheaper, don’t even think about flying through Narita. It will save you both money and time because Haneda is so much closer to the city than Narita. In fact, Haneda is pretty much already in the city – it would take you about 30 minutes to Shibuya using the local train. Narita, on the other hand, takes about 40-90 minutes and you need to buy an express train ticket to Tokyo.

3. Airport Transfer from Haneda (HND) to Tokyo – If you are arriving in Haneda (HND), you’ll want to take the local train as it is cost-effective. But if you’re arriving in off hours (trains only operate from 6 AM to midnight) or traveling with a group, you will want to book a Private Transfer from and to HND to save the hassle.

4. However, if you have to fly to Narita (NRT) , you can still get into the city easily. Aside from the Narita Express, there is Tokyo Keisei Skyliner which takes you to Ueno station in 40 minutes. From Ueno, you can then transfer to the local trains to get to the station nearest to your hotel. If you are traveling as a big group or have a lot of luggage, I highly suggest getting a private car. On my most recent trip, I hired a private transfer car from Narita for the three of us since we had a lot of luggage and I had a great experience. The driver was already waiting for us as we exited and we were off within 5 minutes.

Tokyo Pass: Keisei Narita Skyliner is one of the attractions included in Tokyo Pass

5. Download the Google Translate Japanese Pack to your phone . It will make communication a lot easier. Google Translate can also somewhat translate writing to English, so it has been useful when I go to a restaurant where the entire menu is in Japanese and the staff does not speak English.

6. Download the Tokyo Google Maps to your phone  – by this, I don’t just mean download the Google Maps app. You can download the whole Tokyo map to your phone so you’ll use less mobile data when browsing the maps.  Here is how to download Maps to your phone .

7. Wear comfortable walking shoes  – Tokyo is a city with amazing public transport connectivity. Taxis are expensive. So chances are, you’ll be walking and exploring on foot a lot in Tokyo. Wear comfortable shoes that are actually made for walking.

8. Don’t worry about traveling solo to Tokyo. Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world. Two of my trips to Tokyo were done on my own and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Okay, I know there are incidents involving perverted peeping toms on the train, and I’m sure crimes do still happen, but I personally have never felt scared or threatened even when I was walking alone at night.

Random Alley in Tokyo

Fast track your arrival in Japan

You can make your arrival in Japan easier by completing your immigration and customs procedures before your arrival via Visit Japan Web. Read how to do that here

Staying connected with Wi-Fi while in Tokyo

If there is only one tip you take away from this blog. This would be it: Get a SIM card for your travel! Having an internet connection at all times makes traveling in Tokyo MUCH easier.

If you are traveling alone, you can look into getting a prepaid SIM card . You can pick up the SIM Card once you have reached Japan at the airport (check if your airport is listed).

However, if you’d like to still be contactable from your original mobile number, I strongly suggest considering a data eSIM option . It will still allow you to have unlimited data when you are in Tokyo, but you can also retain your regular SIM card!

If you are traveling in a group, or have multiple devices, another option is to rent a pocket Wi-Fi, which you can get here and pick up at the airport. This provides unlimited data and you can connect multiple devices to it, up to 10 devices. You’ll have to remember to charge the router every day and also remember to return the router at the end of your trip.

How many days should I spend in Tokyo?

I recommend setting aside a minimum of 5 days for Tokyo. Tokyo is MUCH bigger than you might have expected. On my first trip to Japan, I went for 7 days with aspirations of doing a few day trips outside of Tokyo. That plan was quickly trumped when I realized how big this city is.

In the end, I allocated 5 days in Tokyo and barely managed to squeeze in two days in Hakone , and it was still not enough to cover all that I wanted to do in Tokyo. I ended up coming back a few more times and on subsequent return visits, I’m still discovering new sides of the city.

And this is why I’ve written this post as a 5-day itinerary in Tokyo!

How to get around Tokyo using Public Transport

In Tokyo, you can pretty much get anywhere you want using the train. Here is how the system works:

Tokyo Pass: A 72-hour subway ticket (for Tokyo Metro and Toei line) can be bought as an add-on to Tokyo Pass , making it cheaper than paying for a single train fare each time.

1. Using Local Trains with IC cards (SUICA or PASMO)

Local trains in Japan run on IC (Integrated Circuit) Cards. In Tokyo, you can get either SUICA or PASMO IC card. They are the exact same thing, and there is no difference in which one you get so just pick one. Whichever one you choose, this IC card will be your lifeline during your stay.

IC Card Shortage: There is currently a shortage of physical IC Card. Suica and Pasmo will no longer be sold starting 2 August 2023 until further notice. Read here to find how to get around in Tokyo without physical IC Card .

This card allows you to tap in and out of each train station without having to buy a ticket every single time you take a train. And because everyone has an IC card Japan, you can even use your card balance to buy things from convenience stores and vending machines. Whenever the balance is running low, you can easily refill the card using cash or credit card at any train station.

2. Virtual IC Card – How to use your iPhone as an IC Card in Japan

Good news for iPhone users – the IC cards have gone virtual and you can use your phone as an IC card. This makes everything even more convenient, as you can refill the balance via your phone without going to the station.

Tip: Check out Apple’s help article on how to use IC cards on iPhones .

Note that you do not need to buy a physical IC card to do this , just start the process straight from your phone! However, if you DO have an existing IC card you can still transfer the balance to your phone. Your existing card will then stop working and you can only use your phone as an IC card from that point onwards.

Unfortunately for Android users, the phone needs to be bought in Japan to be able to do this. You could try using the Pasmo mobile , but it is only available in Japanese.

For users without a smartphone, you would still need to get a physical IC card .

3. Planning your route in Tokyo

In terms of train schedules and routes, I’m happy to report that Google Maps works well in Japan. You can use it as you normally would when looking up directions, but set it to public transport mode and it will give you the best way to get from point A to point B by train. And it even tells you how much the fare would be.

Tokyo Itinerary - Example Tokyo Train Route on Google Maps - Shinjuku to Asakusa

I’d say that’s good enough for tourists. Locals use a more comprehensive transit app called NaviTime which will tell you even more details such as which train car you should board to get to your transfer faster. But for me, Google Maps has always been enough.

4. Tokyo local trains will stop running at midnight

Trains in Tokyo are convenient and affordable, but they stop at midnight. Cabs are very expensive in Tokyo, so if you’re out late, you want to make sure you still catch the last train. Most stations have trains running until midnight but as a general rule of thumb, you should be at the station by 11:30 PM. Especially if your travel involves changing lines.

On one of our nights out, we missed our last connecting train in Shibuya and had to take a cab back to our accommodation. The short 20-minute ride cost us $50 😐

5. Be mindful of train peak hour

I try to stay away from using the train in the morning during rush hour, usually any time from 8-10 am on a weekday and 6-8 pm on weeknights. I’m sure you’ve heard about how people get pushed by sticks to encourage them to move more inside the train so that more people can get on, and you end up packed into the train like sardines.

The price of Unlimited JR Pass has increased by 70% since 1 Oct 2023 . Even though you’ll see many recommendations for buying a JR Pass to save some costs, it could be outdated. Since the price hike, it has become harder to justify the cost of the JR Pass, however regional passes like the JR West Kansai Pass might still be worth it. I am working on updating my blog post to reflect this change.

JR Pass is a form of rail pass that gives you unlimited access to  all JR trains  in Japan for 7, 14, or 21 days. I bolded the JR train part for emphasis since this gets confusing for some people – in Japan, there are many train companies and Japan Rail (JR) is only one of them, and this pass is only valid for JR trains.

Getting a JR Pass makes sense ONLY if you are planning to visit multiple cities in Japan . For example, if you are planning on going from Tokyo to Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, etc. The trains between cities aren’t cheap and you’ll be saving a lot more by getting a JR Pass. But if you are only planning to stay in Tokyo, an IC card will be enough.

If you have decided that you need a JR Pass, you must buy the JR Pass from outside of Japan before your trip . The JR pass is solely for tourists and it used to not be available for purchase within Japan. So, you should definitely buy it ahead of time.

You can buy Unlimited JR Pass here (cheaper than buying from the official website) and have it sent to your home before your trip. Make sure you get it way ahead of time so that it arrives before your trip. There are 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day options depending on the length of your stay in Japan and your planned train usage.

If you do get a JR Pass and it has been activated for use, then you can use the JR pass on certain local trains within Tokyo too. JR is one of the train companies in Japan and they do have some local JR lines running in Tokyo. So if you are taking a train somewhere and it is a JR line, use your JR Pass instead of your SUICA balance!

With Tokyo’s extensive train system, anywhere close to a train station is a great place to stay. For a first-timer, I’d try to stay close to Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Asakusa . Look for a place within 15-minute walking distance or close to a train line that can take you to these areas.

Here are a few places I would recommend in Tokyo, in different price ranges:

1. Affordable Accommodations

  • Reso Poshtel in Asakusa ($) – I stayed at a dorm in Asakusa and shared a room with 5 other women for a few nights. It was a great way to keep accommodation costs down if you are traveling alone and plan to be outside most of the time anyway. That hostel has since closed down, but Reso Poshtel looks similar.
  • Hotel 1899 Tokyo in Shimbashi ($$) – Very conveniently located near the Shimbashi station, which is a good base for exploring the city.

2. Mid-range Accommodation

  • MUJI Hotel in Ginza ($$$) – If you’re a fan of the minimalist Japanese home goods brand MUJI, you’ve got to stay at this hotel. The rooms are decorated with that classic Japanese feel, similar to how the MUJI stores look like. The hotel is next to the flagship MUJI store, located conveniently in Ginza, one of the major stations in Tokyo.
  • The Strings by Intercontinental in Shinagawa ($$$) – This one is a more expensive option as I stayed here during a business trip, but this hotel was convenient. It’s right on top of Shinagawa station, which is close to both Shibuya and Haneda Airport. There are several convenience stores and a shopping mall in the same complex as the hotel. Also, it’s one of the taller buildings in this area. On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji.

3. Luxury Accommodation

  • Hotel Gajoen Tokyo in Meguro ($$$$) – If you want a taste of old Japanese luxury while in Tokyo, then look no further than this hotel. This beautiful yet little-known hotel is located in Meguro. I did not know this hotel even existed until my very recent visit to Tokyo, where I wanted to visit an exhibit within the hotel. I was blown away by how beautiful the hotel is! Supposedly, it’s the hotel that inspired the popular anime Spirited Away .
  • The Ritz Carlton Tokyo in Roppongi ($$$$) – Conveniently located in Roppongi, The Ritz in Tokyo is a great option. The lobby is located on the 53rd floor, which means all their room will give you a great view of Tokyo from above!

The Tokyo 5-Day Itinerary

Tokyo is a massive metropolitan city. It’s worth planning your trip and grouping the days by areas so that you don’t waste time. This is the basis of how I’ve structured the itineraries below – I’ve put together some must-visits in sections based on their proximity to each other so that you can optimize your trip by choosing which sights you want to visit on the same day.

Please note that these itineraries are not meant to be done chronologically so you can mix and match your days. Also, don’t feel bad if you did not get to do everything… It’s just an excuse to come back to Tokyo 🙂

Here are quick shortcuts to the itinerary for each day:

  • Day 1 : Yoyogi Park, Harajuku, Omotesando, and Roppongi
  • Day 2 : Shibuya and its surrounding areas
  • Day 3 : Akihabara, Ueno Park, and Asakusa
  • Day 4 : Shinjuku
  • Day 5 : Toyosu Market, Tsukiji Market, Ginza
  • Day 6 Onward : Take day trips (or short trips) away from Tokyo
  • Want more? Here are other Activities you can do in Tokyo

To visualize this Tokyo itinerary better, I’ve created a Google Maps link that marks all the routes and landmarks I’ll mention in this blog.

Map of Tokyo Attractions

🗺 Save this map to your phone!  If you are a Google user, click on the image of the map above. The map will then be saved to your “Recent” maps viewed.  Click here for instructions on how to view the map later . It will work from your phone too.

And FINALLY here is a detailed list of what to do in Tokyo on your first visit:

Day 1: Yoyogi Park, Harajuku, Omotesando, and Roppongi

Tip: Choose a weekend (Saturday or Sunday) for this itinerary. The places I’m going to mention today are better to be visited on weekends!

1. Visit Yoyogi Park and Meiji Jingu

You can start your day by exploring  Yoyogi Park . It’s a huge park with a pleasant shaded walk and all of the walking routes will go through  Meiji Jingu , a beautiful Shinto shrine, where you can buy an amulet and other traditional souvenirs.

Don’t forget to do the water purification ritual at the temple entrance. Every temple in Japan will have a small fountain with some wooden ladles. Take some water using the ladle, then transfer some of that water to your hands and use it to wash your mouth. Do NOT use the ladle directly to wash your mouth!

If you’re visiting on a weekend, you might even see a Shinto wedding there as well. I was lucky enough to see one when I visited.

The Meiji Shrine

2. Explore Harajuku

Next, you can check out Harajuku , a walkable distance from Yoyogi Park (it’s actually right across from it), and walk along Takeshita Dori . Harajuku embodies everything you’ve heard about modern Japan – It’s a crazy area filled with people, trendy shops, and street food.

Harajuku became well-known as the hangout spot for the trendy youngsters who would wear their most outrageous, fashion-forward outfits. Sadly, this is a dying culture and they’re not seen as often as they used to, so to increase your chance of spotting these trendsetters you might want to visit on a weekend.

You can easily spend 2-3 hours in Harajuku just walking and looking at the various shops. I recommend dropping by Laforet , a shopping center at the end of Takeshita Dori. Harajuku is full of unusual fashion items on its own, but Laforet is probably the center of all the crazy fashion.

And you’ve got to try Japanese Crepes while you’re here! That’s what the Harajuku area is known for. There are also a bunch of other cute eats on the street, such as the animal-shaped gelato from Eiswelt Gelato.

Harajuku's Takeshita Dori

3. Omotesando, Aoyama & Roppongi

If you keep walking along Takeshita Dori towards the east, you’ll end up in Omotesando , Aoyama , and then  Roppongi .  In total, this is about a 3km walk from Harajuku station and very pedestrian friendly. The entire route is lined up with shops and food.

Here are some notable places you can stop by on your walk

  • Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku for a quick photo op too. This building has these geometric-shaped mirrors on the ceiling and it makes for an amazing picture.
  • MoMA Design Store Omotesando – MoMA is the Museum of Modern Arts in NYC , but they have a few stores in Tokyo selling some of the best-rated items.
  • Nezu Museum in Aoyama – East Asian art museum with a private collection

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku

4. Roppongi Hills

I recommend ending your day at the Tokyo City View And Sky Deck in Roppongi Hills where you can take the lift up to the rooftop and get an amazing view of the city, including the iconic red Tokyo tower, for just 1,800 yen. If you’re lucky and the day is clear, you might even see Mount Fuji! I recommend going close to sunset to get the best lighting for photos. Make sure you stay a little bit after sunset too for nighttime photography.

You can book the Tokyo City View Observation Deck Admission Ticket here , which I recommend since it’s cheaper than buying on the spot.

Tokyo Pass: The Tokyo City View is one of the attractions included in Tokyo Pass

Tokyo Itinerary - At the rooftop of Tokyo Skydeck in Roponggi

If you are a museum person, Mori Art Museum is also in the same building, and access to the permanent exhibition is included with the observation deck ticket. They might have an interesting exhibit to check out too, but you need to buy the ticket separately.

But if you are a fan of Japanese wood interior design, then head to Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi, the most aesthetic mall I’ve been to. It also has great stores to get souvenirs from.

Where to eat and drink in Harajuku, Omotesando, Aoyama, and Roppongi

  • Japanese Crepes at Harajuku . This can be found all throughout the famous Takeshita Dori in Harajuku, so just snap them up whenever you see a stall. It wouldn’t be a very big stall, usually just enough for one person to serve you the crepes through the stall window. You can customize your crepe with different fruit toppings and sweet syrup.
  • Zaku Zaku Ice Cream . “Zaku-zaku” is Japanese onomatopoeia for something crispy/crunchy (I swear, Japanese people have sounds for everything). As soon as you enter the shop, you can smell a delicious buttery sweet and savory aroma wafting in the air – similar to caramel popcorn but BETTER. This place is actually famous for its creampuff, filled with Hokkaido cream which is made fresh on the spot and coated with their crispy ‘croquant’ made from baked almonds. But the Harajuku store also has an ice cream version that is exclusive to this branch.
  • Eiswelt Gelato on Harajuku – This shop has the cutest animal-shaped gelato! Take note though, It’s only open on weekends.

Tokyo Itinerary - Maisen Tonkatsu at Omotesando

  • Maisen Tonkatsu in Omotesando ( maps ). While walking around Omotesando, be sure to stop by here for one of the best tonkatsu in town. Their specialty is Kurobuta aka the Japanese black pork. Their tonkatsu set can get pretty pricey, but there are cheaper alternatives such as the cutlet rice bowl.
  • Sincere Garden for a vegetarian option in Omotesando ( maps ). My friends will be surprised I’m recommending a vegetarian restaurant, yet here we are. Long story short, I made a friend at the hostel I was staying at in Asakusa and ended up tagging along for lunch with him and his Tokyo friends. We ended up at this vegetarian place that serves all organic food in Omotesando. For someone who loves meat as much as I do, this was actually a very decent meal! I feel that it fits perfectly with the trendy vibe of Omotesando. The entire cafe has this light wooden theme and made me feel good about eating healthy food.
  • Tempuraya Miyagawa in Aoyama ( maps ) – A small establishment offering tempura set at lunch and omakase multi-course tempura at dinner. I think it’s better to go during lunch, but dinner should be great too.
  • Tokyo Whisky Library ( maps ) – Great place to try whisky if you’re a fan, including the famous Japanese whisky.

Day 2: Shibuya and its surrounding areas (Ebisu, Nakameguro, Daikanyama, and Shimokitazawa)

For this day, we will be exploring Shibuya, one of the major areas of Tokyo. This itinerary can be done any day, on weekdays, or on weekends.

1. The Famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing

Check out Shibuya for the famous  Shibuya Scramble Crossing , where every few minutes the pedestrian light turns green and the entire crossing will be filled with a ton of people coming from all directions.

Tokyo Itinerary - The famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing

Located just outside the Shibuya station, this crossing has been featured in many movies, video games, and music videos. It’s an unusual scene and the true definition of organized chaos – everybody is going everywhere in all directions but amazingly, nobody is bumping into each other.

I recommend doing this during the day to see the craziness in all its glory. There is a famous Starbucks where people love to sit and watch the scramble crossing from, but I find it to be quite crowded so I prefer to just watch from ground zero (plus it’s free!).

Shibuya Scramble Crossing from the 46th Floor

2. Statue of Hachiko, the loyal dog

At one corner of the scramble crossing, you can check out the famous  Hachiko Statue . Hachiko is a legendary Japanese dog who is famous for being extremely loyal. He kept waiting for his owner’s return at the train station, years after he had passed away. His loyalty touched the heart of many Japanese and he has become immortalized in front of Shibuya station, waiting forever for his owner.

Shibuya is a major train station and it can get pretty confusing when you are trying to meet up with friends, so the Hachiko statue has become a famous meeting point.

Tokyo Itinerary - Hachiko, the loyal dog

3. Shibuya Sky Observation Deck

If you fancy seeing Tokyo from above, you can check out the Shibuya Sky observation deck . This is one of the newest observation decks in Tokyo, having opened to the public in early 2020, and in my opinion the best view of Tokyo from above that you can get at the moment.

It is currently the most popular observation deck in Tokyo, you’ll need to book tickets ahead of time . You can read my post about visiting Shibuya Sky for more information.

Yoyogi Park from Shibuya Sky

Tokyo Pass: The Shibuya Sky observation deck is one of the attractions included in Tokyo Pass

4. Shopping in Shibuya

You can take your time exploring more of Shibuya. It’s a huge shopping district and you can even say it’s the center of Tokyo, along with Shinjuku.

Check out Shibuya Loft for floors of random home goodies, each floor with its own theme. You can also check out Don Quijote (aka Donki) for even more random stuff, or Nitori for home goodies similar to IKEA. For general shopping, I recommend checking out Hikarie building, which features lots of Japanese brands and goodies you can buy for yourself or loved ones at home.

Tokyo Itinerary - Famous 109 Shibuya Building

5. Nightlife in Dogenzaka

If you are tired or shopping is not your thing, I recommend going to Dogenzaka area. Formerly a yakuza hangout, Dogenzaka is now filled with ramen shops, pubs, izakaya (small stalls selling skewered meats), and even… love hotels. It’s a good place to be if you are there for the nightlife.

Tokyo Itinerary - Dogenzaka at night

6. Neighborhoods near the Shibuya area

If you still have some energy after the madness that is Shibuya, you can take the train to Shimokitazawa, Daikanyama , Naka-Meguro, or Ebisu for some cafes and check out the nightlife. These are more laid-back residential areas.

Tip: You can check out my Daikanyama Guide for more information on what you can find and do in Daikanyama.

Tokyo Itinerary - Chilled-out streets of Shimokitazawa

Where to eat in Shibuya and its surroundings

  • Ichiran Ramen in Shibuya ( maps ) for the famous Tonkotsu Ramen from a vending machine. Basically, you go up to a vending machine outside the restaurant, punch in your order, receive a ticket based on your order, make payment, then wait to get seated in your own personal cubicle to slurp on your ramen. They have many other branches around the city, so you don’t have to eat this in Shibuya.
  • Katsukichi Bodaijyu in Shibuya ( maps ) – Tonkatsu is one of the most popular meals in Japan, so you have to try it at least once while you are here, and if you eat pork. As a bonus, I love the decor of this place.
  • Kushiyaki Bistro Fukumimi in Dogenzaka ( maps ) – If you want to experience an izakaya (bar) in Tokyo, this is the place to go.
  • Gyukatsu Motomura in Shibuya ( maps ) – This place seats only 8 people at a time and you eat at the counter. There are two branches in Shibuya that are within 10-minute walk of each other, but they are both popular. Even though I came here at 2 PM, the line was still very long. They are famous for Gyukatsu, which is deep-fried and breaded beef. You’ll also get a personal stone stove which you can use to further grill your beef slices to the desired doneness.
  • Shiro-Hige Cream Puff Factory in Shimokitazawa ( maps ) – Located a short walk away from Shimokitazawa station and tucked inside a very quiet residential area, this cafe is known for its Totoro-shaped Creampuff. The creampuff costs 420 yen each. I recommend having the creampuffs to go bc there is an extra fee for having it at the cafe (it becomes 465 yen). They come in four flavors (custard, chocolate, strawberry and green tea) but I personally think the regular custard one is the best.

Tokyo Itinerary - My Okonomiyaki at Hiroki in Shimokitazawa

  • Hiroki in Shimokitazawa  ( maps ) for Okonomiyaki in Shimokitazawa. There are only 8 seats in this hole-in-the-wall restaurant. For each Okonomiyaki, you get to pick soba or udon as the noodle base, then add on toppings as you want. There was no English menu (UPDATE: I have been told there is now an English menu!). Try to sit on the counter if you can, this is where you can watch the action as it happens. The chef will cook and mix your Okonomiyaki for you according to order and once done, he will push it to the hot plate area in front of you so the Okonomiyaki stays warm as you eat it off the counter’s hot plate.
  • I also highly suggest visiting Daikanyama for one of your meals. Daikanyama has been dubbed the Brooklyn of Tokyo and they have tons of cool restaurants and cafes – you can check out my Daikanyama guide here
  • Ebisu Yokocho in Ebisu ( maps ) – This was a random surprise find for me. I was just aimlessly walking around Ebisu when I decided to go into a random building that seemed very unassuming on the outside. Once inside, I was greeted with a lively atmosphere of people eating and drinking in rows upon rows of small restaurants. Sure enough, none of them had an English menu, but just put on your brave face and try something new. I randomly chose a modern sushi joint and was able to order with my very limited Japanese. I ended up with a plate of beef and mushroom sushi… which is interesting as that’s not what you’d normally expect.

Tokyo Itinerary - The lively Ebisu Yokocho

Day 3: Akihabara, Ueno Park, and Asakusa

Tips: Try to do this itinerary on a Sunday , since Akihabara streets are car-free on Sundays from 1-6 pm

1. Akihabara

As a first-time Tokyo visitor, you HAVE to check out Akihabara to experience firsthand all the unique and unusual things you’ve heard about Japan – the infamous Maid cafe, cat cafes, electronics, comic books, and floors and floors of arcade games, just to name a few.

If you go on a Sunday , they close up the street from cars and open it up for pedestrians so you can roam around freely.

Tokyo Itinerary - Akihabara on a Sunday car-free day

2. Asakusa and Ueno Park

Then once you’re done with Akihabara, you can walk to Ueno Park for an afternoon stroll. If that’s not your thing, then you can head straight to Asakusa . Asakusa is a backpacker district so there are lots of cheap food and shopping you can do here.

Check out Senso-ji , a famous Buddhist temple. There is a cool street in front of this temple, called Nakamise Shopping Street , which has lots of street food you can try and souvenir stalls (PS: This was where one of my earliest Girl Eat World shots was taken). If history is your thing, the Edo-Tokyo Museum is also near this area.

Tokyo Itinerary - Black Sesame Agemanju from Nakamise Street

3. Tokyo Skytree Observation Deck

Tokyo Skytree is currently the primary television and radio broadcast of the Kanto region. When Tokyo Skytree was built in 2010, it became the tallest structure in Japan. At its full height of 634m, it also became the tallest tower in the world.

Early Bird Ticket is cheaper!  There is a 300-400 yen discount if you  buy the ticket online ahead of time . Buying tickets on the same day is more expensive.

Tokyo Skytree is located only 20 minutes away from Asakusa, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for an observatory and haven’t been to one on this trip.

Tokyo Skytree Observatory

The area is also a great choice to spend a few hours in – aside from the observation decks, there are also the Sumida Aquarium, Tenku Planetarium, and shopping malls with great food options at the bottom of SkyTree Tower.

4. Tokyo Station

If you are STILL short of things to do, you can also head to Tokyo Station , which is very close to Ueno station, for food and shopping. I’ve actually included Tokyo Station in Day 5 itinerary , but if you find yourself there and have time, then feel free to scroll down to Day 5 on what you can do at Tokyo Station.

Where to eat

  • Rokurinsha ( maps ) – Tsukemen is a type of ramen that’s served cold and with a separate broth for the noodles to be dipped into. Rokurinsha is a Tsukemen shop located in the basement of Tokyo station, and it’s a classic beloved by tourists and locals. Expect a long queue unless you’re going at an off-hour and on weekdays. I went here on a Wednesday at 8 pm and waited 30 minutes in line. But really though, it was worth every minute. If you find the queue is too long, you can come back here again on the Day 5 itinerary (scroll down below) OR you can have it on your way out of Japan if you are flying through Haneda airport.
  • Beerbal ビアバル NAGAOKAYA ( maps ) – I actually came across their stall while I was at Fuji Rock Festival through an acquaintance’s recommendation. Their lamb chops were seriously the best I’ve had. I still dream about it, so I stalked them down and found out that they have a restaurant/beer garden in Ueno. Please give them a visit and let me know how you like it!

Day 4: Explore Shinjuku

Shinjuku is a major area in Tokyo. It has offices, pubs, restaurants, and izakayas. If you’ve seen that iconic photo of a street in Japan filled with neon lights (like the one below) it was probably taken in Shinjuku. Shinjuku deserves its own itinerary because this area is massive.

Tokyo Itinerary - A typical sight in Shinjuku

Here is what you can do in Shinjuku:

1. Visit Omoide Yokocho

First, visit Omoide Yokocho . “Omoide” means memory and “Yokocho” is a lane / small alley, so loosely translated as you are walking down memory lane… everything here feels nostalgic, traditional Japan. There are tons of little stalls (izakaya) and while most don’t have any English menu, some have pictures.

I suggest going with Google Translate if you plan to know everything you are eating. Otherwise, just point your fingers and be surprised. They mostly serve small skewered meats but be warned that they aren’t exactly cheap. You can drink beer or whiskey highball here too.

Tokyo Itinerary - Omoide Yokocho

2. [Temporarily Closed] Robot Restaurant

Tip: The restaurant was closed in 2020 due to COVID. But keep an eye on the website to see if they have reopened

At night, go to the famous Robot Restaurant  for dinner, drinks, and an incredible Japanese show. It’s this crazy 90-minute show with lasers, dances, and… well, robots. Basically, it’s the most modern Japanese experience you can get. You have to purchase the admission ticket ahead of time, and I suggest booking it here through Klook since they provide the cheapest price: Book Robot Restaurant . If you go for the first showing (4 PM), the ticket is slightly cheaper.

Even though it’s a “restaurant”, I wouldn’t bother getting the bento (boxed set meal) there since there are better options for a meal around Shinjuku.

Tokyo Itinerary - Us + Robots in Shinjuku

3. Golden Gai

After the show, you can head over to Golden Gai for some nightlife. This area was super cool! It was filled with tiny bars with different themes, so you can easily bar hop to your heart’s content – provided you are fine that each bar will have a cover charge of $5-10.

While Tokyo is generally safe, but Golden Gai might be an area where you want to be a bit more alert as the area could be tourist trappy and you might run into unsavory crowds. They also do not like photos taken within the area of Golden Gai. A couple iPhone shots are probably okay, but definitely do not go there and snap photos with a camera gear.

If you are staying out late, keep in mind the last train in Tokyo is just before midnight so you have to make sure you are on the train platform by then. Or else you will have to fork out some cash for the taxi ride back home.

4. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

However, if nightlife is not your thing and you’re visiting Shinjuku during the day, then you can stop by Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden for a peaceful stroll. The park is just a short walk from Shinjuku station.

Shinjuku Gyoen is especially popular during the Sakura season in spring and Momiji season in the fall. There is an entry fee of 500 yen for every adult, but kids 15 and under can enter for free. If you ask me, it’s worth every cent! You can use your IC card to enter the park or buy a ticket at the entrance.

The park has great amenities – clean restrooms, vending machines with hot and cold drinks, plenty of food options, snacks, and even Starbucks inside the park.

Tokyo Itinerary: Shinjuku Gyoen

Where to eat/go in Shinjuku

  • Tatsukichi  ( maps ). We went for dinner based on a local Tokyo friend’s recommendation. They were quite packed during dinner so be prepared to wait. It’s an omakase-style restaurant, meaning they will just keep serving you whatever they are cooking until you ask for the bill. Their specialty is Kushiage – deep-fried vegetable/meat skewers – and although it might seem daunting and unhealthy to eat fried food for a meal, I swear all of them were good, super crispy, and not overly oily. With each skewer, the chef will tell you which sauce to use. If I remember correctly, we each spent S$50 after 10-12 skewers and 2 whiskey highballs.
  • Tsukemen Gonokami ( maps )
  • Tatsunoya Tsukemen

Tokyo Itinerary - Kushiage at Tatsukichi in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Day 5: Toyosu Market, Tsukiji Market, Ginza and Tokyo Station

1. tsukiji and toyosu market.

If you are a foodie like me, visiting the fish markets in Tokyo is a must. It’s not that they have the best sushi in Tokyo, but you can’t beat the atmosphere at the fish market. Fishermen arrive at the crack of dawn with their daily catch, and most importantly – the Tuna auction, where sushi tycoons have been known to bid crazy amounts of money for the best fish.

Tokyo Itinerary - Tsukiji Market after the crazy morning bustle

The center of this fishermen’s activity used to be Tsukiji Market, but as of October 2018, the tuna viewing and the wholesale market have been moved to Toyosu Market. I have not been to Toyosu yet (I heard it’s massive, sterile-looking, and modern compared to the old Tsukiji), but I reckon it’s still worth visiting both since they are not far apart.

Take note that the market is closed on Sundays and Japanese public holiday s, so check before you go. I tried to go during one of their public holidays and had to come back the next day.

Tokyo Itinerary - 16-piece sushi for breakfast? Why not!

It can be an intimidating experience to visit these markets on your own. It’s a massive and very fast-paced market and the fishermen don’t like it when tourists come into the market in the morning when they’re busy with their job. If you want to see the Tuna auction, you’ll have to come very early at 5 AM. You can then watch the auction from a corridor above.

I recommend checking out the sushi stalls at the market in Toyosu or Tsukiji Outer Market. In terms of where to get your sushi, I know some blogs would recommend one sushi stall over another (Sushi Dai is a huge crowd’s favorite), but if you’re like me and don’t want to queue then just pick a random stall with the shortest queue. I did exactly this and it turned out just fine. You can either order a sushi set or do an omakase set, where the chef will serve you whatever sushi they can make with the day’s ingredients.

After your sushi breakfast, you can then go inside the market to see what’s on offer and perhaps eat even more.

2. Visit teamLab Exhibitions: teamLab Borderless and teamLab Planets

In the past decade, teamLab has established itself to be at the forefront of the digital interactive art scene. Their installations are always a delight to see and interact with. I’m lucky there is a permanent teamLab exhibition in Singapore , but I still made the time to check out their Tokyo exhibitions.

Tokyo Pass: The teamLab Planets is one of the attractions included in Tokyo Pass

teamlab Borderless - Forest of resonating lamps

There are two teamLab exhibitions in Tokyo, teamLab Borderless and teamLab Planets . teamLab Borderless was temporarily closed from 2022 to 2023, but has reopened by February 2024 in the new Azabudai Hills area. teamLab Planets is still open with plans to close it in 2027, after which it might close down to move to another location as well.

Buy tickets ahead: These exhibitions are very popular, so you will want to purchase tickets and book timeslots for visiting teamLab Planets and teamLab Borderless ahead of time via Klook. It’s a direct QR code entry so you don’t need to buy tickets when you get there.

In terms of which one to visit – both of them share similar themes (interactive digital arts) but very different experiences. teamLab Borderless is probably more famous since they’re more visually appealing, but teamLab Planets are more interactive.

Tokyo with Kids - teamLab PLANETS

Both exhibitions are time-based, meaning you need to book a time slot to visit. I suggest picking a time when it’s off hours if you want to avoid the crowd – try going early when they first open. Weekends or public holidays are definitely a no-go. I happened to be there during peak time and spent 40 minutes lining up outside.

Alternatively, teamLab Planets is one of the attractions included in the Tokyo Pass , so it is cheaper if you get the pass.

Once done with the teamLab exhibition or the fish market, you can walk back in the direction of the train station and walk around Ginza for high-end shopping. For the lovers of Japanese clothing brands MUJI and Uniqlo , you’ll be happy to know that both Uniqlo and MUJI have their global flagship store located in Ginza, along with the famous MUJI hotel.

But if you want something a bit more historical, visit the Imperial Castle which is also nearby. Or, you could climb the Stairway of Success at Atago Shrine . Supposedly, the 86 steps represent the journey to success, and to this day, many would come to pray for their professional success at Atago Shrine.

tokyo travel time

You can also visit Tokyo Station , which is only one station away from Ginza. It’s weird to be visiting a station, I know, but the BASEMENT of Tokyo station is seriously a gem. There is Tokyo Ramen Street , Tokyo Character Street , and Tokyo Food Street .

What might be of interest to most people is probably Tokyo Character Street, where you can find beloved characters like Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Studio Ghibli characters, etc. Take note most of the character shops close by 8:30 PM.

Also, Tokyo Station is an excellent place for omiyage (gift) shopping for stuff you can bring back home, so it’s great to hit up on your last day.

  • Rokurinsha ( maps ) – This is located on the Ramen Street at Tokyo station. If you missed my description of Rokurinsha on Day 3, scroll up . I included it here again since it’s really a must-go for all foodies and it’s in the vicinity of this itinerary. You can also have this at Haneda Airport if you are flying out from there.
  • Onigiriya Marutoyo at Tsukiji Market ( maps )

Short trips from Tokyo: Easy Day trips and excursions

What to mix up the Tokyo metropolitan city life with nature, temple visits, and countryside living? Good news for you! There are plenty of options that can be reached in just under 3 hours from Tokyo . These options are perfect for a short weekend trip, or even day trips for some of them.

You could visit Hakone , Nikko , Lake Kawaguchi , just to name a few.

➡️ Check it out: I’ve done a round-up of my recommended short-trip destinations from Tokyo here. You’ll find all the places I love that can be conveniently reached from Tokyo.

View of Mount Fuji from Arakuyama Sengen Park

More things to do in Tokyo and places worth visiting

If you still have time to spend in Tokyo and wondering what else you can do, here are some of my recommendations for activities in Tokyo:

1. Take a Sunset Cruise around the Tokyo Bay

Symphony Cruise is a cruising company that runs multiple cruises around the Tokyo Bay. Starting from Hinode Pier, you’ll be able to take a 2-hour cruise while being served a 5-course fine dining meal. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in Tokyo.

➡️ Dive deeper: Read my experience onboard their sunset cruise here

Tokyo Bay Cruise - The Symphony

2. Go on a Ramen tour around Tokyo

You can’t come to Japan and not try ramen. If you’re a fan of this comforting noodle dish, definitely try this Tokyo Ramen Tour . I went on this tour during one of my visits to Tokyo. Although I’ve had plenty of ramen in my life, they were mostly Tonkotsu ramen (pork bone broth). I learned a lot about other types of ramen from Frank’s tour.

My tip? Come with an empty stomach. Seriously, because you’ll be trying many different types of ramen during your visit – up to 6 bowls of tasting-portion ramen. I was so stuffed (but happy) by the time we were done with the tour.

➡️ Book Tokyo Ramen Tour here

3. Eat Onigiri from any Japanese Konbini (Convenience Store)

Convenience stores (called “Konbini” in Japanese) are an integral part of Japanese cities. The Konbini’s that can be commonly found in Japan are Family Mart (Famima for short), Lawsons, 7/11, and Daily Yamazaki.

My fondest memory of Japan has always been going into a Konbini first thing in the morning to see what Onigiri they have that day. Onigiri is this triangle-shaped rice wrapped in seaweed and stuffed with various fillings, perfect to eat as a snack on the go. My personal favorite is the salmon onigiri. There is something magical about the combination of salmon, rice, and seaweed.

Rows of neatly stacked Onigiri - my personal heaven

4. The original Midori Sushi at Umegaoka

Eating sushi while you are in Japan is undeniably a must-do. While staying at an Airbnb apartment in Tokyo, I got to know one of my roommates, a Japanese guy who kindly offered to drive me to his favorite local sushi joint. It’s called Midori Sushi – they are famous for being affordable yet offering high-quality food.

Midori Sushi

They have a few branches in Tokyo, but the original one is at Umegaoka and is located in a very local residential area. They are famous for shaping their nigiri such that the meat topping forms this very long “tail”, much longer than normal.

5. Visit Studio Ghibli Museum

Any Japanese anime fan must visit the Studio Ghibli Museum. I went here on my very first visit to Tokyo as I am a huge fan. The museum is located in Mitaka – not too far away from Shibuya. At the studio, you can see their early sketches, watch a short animation, and buy some Ghibli merchandise. It’s a bit small though so I would say you only need to set aside 2 hours for this museum.

Visiting Studio Ghibli Museum as an English-speaking tourist has gotten easier over the years. A few years ago, you could only get tickets in person at a Lawson’s branch and the instructions were all in Japanese. Lucky for you, these days Studio Ghibli tickets can be booked online (and in English too).

You can read here for instructions on how to obtain a ticket , but you still have to book this a month in advance and book for a specific day and time slot.

And yes, Studio Ghibli is popular and tickets DO sell out a month in advance. If it has sold out online, you can try getting them as part of a tour here:

  • Mitaka no Mori Ghibli Museum
  • Mitaka Ghibli Museum Tour

6. Shop Japanese Brands and a variety of stores

I love shopping for random goods while in Japan, especially for home goods. On my recent trip, I discovered LOFT at Shibuya and I was just blown away by the sheer amount of shopping you can do there! They sell everything and anything, from home goods, kitchen wares, stationeries, and clothing. Another similar shop is Tokyu Hands .

I also love checking out eclectic discount stores like Don Quijote and Daiso , guaranteed to be fun and easy on your wallet. They carry everything from snacks to home goods and skin care. Living in Singapore, we have a lot of Daiso and Donki stores, but the experience in Japan is still different.

If you like home goods, you might be interested to check out Nittori . They are like IKEA, but Japanese.

If you’re into shoes, you can’t miss ABC Mart , the best shop for kicks in Japan. They have regular ABC Mart, and ABC Mart Grandstage for more premium shoes. I bought some Nikes when I was in Tokyo – they are much cheaper than in Singapore.

And of course, you should check out the famous Japanese clothing brands like Uniqlo and MUJI , even if you have them in your home country. They are usually about 20% cheaper in Japan.

7. Visit the Lucky Cat temple in Gotokuji

Just a few stops away from Shinjuku, you can find a lovely neighborhood called Gotokuji , where you can find cat-themed items and pastries, as well as a temple filled with Maneki Neko figurines.

Read about my visit to Gotokuji Temple here

Maneki Neko at Gotokuji Temple

And even more places to visit

STILL looking for more places in Japan? Here are some of my Japan articles you might be interested in:

  • Shanghai Food: What to eat at Shanghai’s food street Huanghe road

📌 Pin this post: This was a very long post. Click any of the images below to pin it to your pinterest board

First Time in Tokyo? The Complete Tokyo Travel Guide and Itinerary

Alright, that was super long.

If you end up doing any of my itineraries, please leave a comment below and let me know how it went!

Also, if there is any information you want to know about visiting Tokyo, please do not hesitate to ask in the comments section below and I’ll try to answer them as fast as I can. I want your first visit to Tokyo to be as magical as possible.

Until next time 👋🏻

Are you planning a trip to Japan? I’ve written loads about the beautiful country. Check out the  ‘Japan’ category of this blog for some travel inspiration.


  • April 8, 2024

Hi Melissa, Your blog was soooo helpful! Planning a trip to Tokyo in October for my birthday. Couple of questions, you mentioned that you were an anime fan, do you know of any other museums or cool places to visit for anime? I’m also a BIG Hello Kitty fan and wanted to visit Sanrio Puroland. What would be the best way to travel there and are there any other spots a Hello Kitty enthusiasts should go? Thanks in advance for your help!

Hey Trinette! I liked the Doraemon museum, especially if you’re a fan of the manga (not just anime). I haven’t been to Puroland but i imagine it would be a good place to go. Aside of that, look out for temporary exhibitions – when I went to Tokyo last time they had the Sailor Moon 30th anniversary exhibition which was really good for fans.

  • March 14, 2024

Hi Melissa, Im just planning a trip to Tokyo. Ive loved reading your recomendations and all the useful informations you have provided. Im still very confussed on what trein pass I should buy. WE are planning a couple of days in Kyoto so I thought the JR rail pass would be smart. But travelling in Tokyo I understand they onky run a few trains. Should i get the additional IC card? Thank you

  • March 15, 2024

Hey Kristin, yes I do recommend the IC Card since Tokyo Metro is more prevalent in Tokyo. If you have an iPhone, you can easily use the virtual IC Card via the wallet app and don’t need a physical IC Card. I have some tips here:

If not, you can try to get a physical IC Card when you’re in Japan, but there is a shortage in Tokyo. I recommend seeing if you can get an ICOCA card in Osaka or Kyoto.

  • February 29, 2024

Hi Melissa,

Thank you for this extensive list! The 16-piece breakfast sushi you ate at Tsukiji looks incredible — do you happen to remember where this was?

Thank you in advance!!

Hey Angela, I honestly don’t remember :/ I just went to a random place at Tsukiji! But If you’re interested in a sushi platter like that, it’s very common.

  • January 31, 2024

Hi Melissa, your post is really an enlightening read and made me relook at my plan for the 100000th time. I’d like your comment on my itinerary. I’m travelling with my husband and 3 kids 7, 11 and 13yo this coming late Feb – early March. Day 1- Arrive in Tokyo at noon. Stay at Shinjuku. Visit Shinjuku Gyoen Day 2- Sanrio Puroland, Ikebukuro Day 3- Mt. Fuji, Lake Kawaguchiko with private tour Day 4- Travel to Osaka via JR Hokuriku Arch Pass (Tokyo-Kanazawa-Osaka). Arrive by noon. Start 1.5 days Universal Studios pass. Day 5- Whole day Universal Studios Day 6- Travel back to Tokyo via JR Hokuriku Arch Pass. Arrive around 3pm. Stay at Asakusa. Sunset at Tokyo Skytree. Day 7- Kimono experience to Sensoji Temple, UENO PARK & National Museum of Nature and Science Day 8- Tsukiji Fish Market, Teamlabs planet, Ginza Day 9- Travel back to KL

We’re planning to get the Klook Greater Tokyo pass for most of the attractions, 72hr subway pass, and of course the 1.5 day USJ pass also from Klook. Question: 1. Do I still need to purchase a Welcome Suica? 2. I’ve done the math and I found that it’s cheaper to travel to Osaka and return to Tokyo via Hokuriku Arch Pass. But somehow i feel that we’re wasting time on the train with super early morning timing and not making full use of the pass by not going to at least Nagano for some powder action, or at least a short sightseeing around Kanazawa. Is there, any options cheaper and faster (longshot question here)?. Have you ever gone this route?

It’s our first time to Japan! I’d really appreciate your insight. Thanks in advance!

Hey Zaza 1. You don’t need a welcome suica if you have iPhone, bc you can just use the wallet app and add Suica there: But if you dont use iPhone then yes you need suica card for the local travel within the city. Otherwise you’ll have to get a ticket for each travel. For your kids i think they can get kids Suica card at the station, You should try that since kids travel for less. 2. It is indeed a waste to not go to other parts of Japan, but given your itinerary is already packed, I am not sure how you’ll be able to fit more in. You will have to sacrifice some time in Tokyo.

  • January 29, 2024

Hello Melissa,

My dad and I are visiting Japan for the first time. We are staying in Osaka because we are exploring mainly the Kansai region; however, we have an 8-hour layover in HND from about 5AM to 1:30PM on a Tuesday. What would you recommend us see or visit during our layover? Thank you!

P.S. Thank you so much for your blog posts! I have only read the Osaka Itinerary one because so far that is only what I really need, but I am sure they are all helpful!

Hey Inday, lucky Haneda is so close to the city! I would head to Tsukiji outer market for a sushi breakfast. Its only 30 mins by train. If you want the real fish market though, it’s been moved to Toyosu which isnt too far from Tsukiji as well. After, if you still have time you can stroll around Ginza then head back to Haneda

  • January 7, 2024

Thanks, Melissa for your amazing blog. We are going to Japan soon and will spend 4 nights in Tokyo, 2 nights in Kyoto and another 3 nights in Tokyo. Should we invest in a 7 day JR Pass or buy return bullet train tickets to Kyoto and use the local trains when in Tokyo? Your advice is greatly appreciated. We are really only there to eat! Thanks

Hey, if you’re only going to Tokyo and Kyoto then JR Pass is not worth it. Just get the return ticket and use IC card for the local trains.

  • October 22, 2023

Great informative blog Melissa! I’m going to Japan next month for the first time and this will be so helpful. We will be in Tokyo for 4 days, staying in the Shinjuku area, so your tips will be perfect. My daughter is pescatarian so wondering if you have any more vegetarian tips for where to eat? Also, have you written any blogs about Kyoto?

Hello fellow Melissa! Yes I do I have a guide for Kyoto as well:

You can see all my posts about Japan here:

Re: vegetarian, unfortunately I am not one so I only have the one restaurant I’ve gone to (which is included in this blog post), However if my understanding of pescatarian is that she eats fish, then she would be fine in most restaurant. The most common animal product that I tell my vegetarian friends to watch out for is bonito, which are fish flakes and used in broth often. I assume your daughter will not have such issues?

  • October 16, 2023

Hi Melissa, This is a great article that I might try to do on our first visit in Japan. I will be travelling with my wife and 2 kids and we’ll add a 2 day in Disneyland/Disneysea. I was wondering if you stayed in one place during all your days. Which city would you suggest if we have to add our disneyland days? thanks!

Hi Marvs, I just stayed at my original accommodation. Disney is pretty easy to get to via a train, so I don’t think you need to change.. I imagine it would be difficult to change accommodation with 2 kids. The best thing would be to stay at the Disney resort itself, but if you aren’t keen then the next best thing is to stay close to Maihama station, which takes you to Disneyland. I’ll add some recommended hotels in my Disneyland post 🙂

  • October 17, 2023

Hi Melissa, Thank you so much for the info. I’ll read your Disneyland post to get more ideas. btw, I know I will be buying a lot of stuffs to take back home, but I would like to buy heavy on my last day. Which on the 5 days/location you suggest we do last so we can take a lot of shopping before we head back home? thanks!

Hey marvs, I would do either Day 4 (Shinjuku) or Day 5 since it is lighter in travel. Also, Ginza is a shopping district. The MUJI and Uniqlo store in Ginza is the flagship in Tokyo. So just depends what you want to get!

  • October 14, 2023

Thanks for all your great ideas – looking forward to our first time in Japan next spring. By the way, they say on the teamLab website that “planets” has been extended to the end of 2027 due to popular demand. 🙂

Hey Lisa! Thanks for letting me know. I’ll update my post 😀

  • October 4, 2023

Way too many exclamation points! I’m only on day 2 of the itinerary, and I’m exhausted by them already!!

Ha! you’re funny! okay, I’ve toned it down a bit!

  • September 24, 2023

Your articles about Tokyo are super helpful for a Tokyo first timer. We’ll be traveling in November and I’m trying to read as much as I can to try and familiarize myself with Tokyo, Your articles are such a great help.

Do you have any article about going for a day tour to see Mt. Fuji (not climb it)? It will be a big help!

Thanks again.

Hey Val, thank you for the kind word! I do have a post on My Fuji, although it is not about a day tour. But you can still get an idea what you see there

  • May 1, 2023

Helpful blog, Thanks!

  • December 30, 2022

Hi Melissa!

I’m planning a trip for my two friends and I this summer to Tokyo and this was super helpful! Thank you so much for making everything so concise and detailed, your hard work really goes a long way, especially with first-time Tokyo travelers.

  • December 26, 2022

Hello. How much did you budget for your trip?

  • December 19, 2022

My son is heading to Tokyo

I see that you can buy JR passes in person @ certain locations

And was told our att phone will work ($15 a day)

Am I wrong?

Also the market you mention above has moved and been renamed … it’s now Toyosu market

  • April 8, 2022

HI melissa, thanks for sharing your trip, i’m so amazed with Japan and the culture and i have a plan to visit there, reading your post really help me alot 🙂

  • November 28, 2021

Great blog! Thanks for sharing informative and helpful content.

  • November 15, 2021

Meu sonho é fazer esta viagem parabéns pelo conteúdo aqui João Brasil 🇧🇷

  • July 30, 2021

Thank you so much for awesome blog and best content about Japan country, it is interesting and informative article, we really enjoyed so much your blog, we loved so much Japan food and we don’t forget the taste of sushi, we will be back again to Japan next year, and we wanted to visit other parts of this beautiful country.

  • October 28, 2021

You definitely had an awesome time in Japan. I always hope one day, my family and I can go there so we can enjoy its wonders.

  • June 3, 2021

Hi Melissa, my official trip is scheduled for 19th September, 21 for Japan, hopefully, it will work as planned. Could you suggest some Indian restaurants (if familiar) in Shinjuku (Tokyo). Thanks in advance.

  • July 2, 2021

yes! You must go to Samrat!

  • October 11, 2020

This is one the best article i have ever seen in my life you are inspiration for youth keep continue these type of articles thank you.

  • October 7, 2020

Great list Melissa, hopefully Covid / Corona is cured soon so people can get back to traveling and experiencing places like Tokyo!

  • April 25, 2020

Perfect guide!

What a great article! As an old-timer in Tokyo (getting up to thirty years) I think travellers will find this article extremely helpful (and very accurate!).

  • January 15, 2020

thank you, your article is very good

  • November 22, 2019

Hi mell, I like your itinerary, :D. and I’m going to japan for the first time in april 2020.

can u advise about : 1. itinerary at osaka in 1 day? is it possible if I go to kyoto and kobe in 1 day?

2. If I wanna go to Tokyo, but I’m using night bus from osaka, can u tell me how? specially from USJ.

Thank you 😀

I have an Osaka Itinerary post here: One day for Kyoto and Kobe is definitely NOT enough. Please see the post above Lastly I don’t have experience with night bus unfortunately so I can’t advise you there.

  • December 15, 2019

Hi mel, Appreciate your advice if I spend 9 days 8 nights at Tokyo, going to hitachi seaside, mount Fuji, ashikaya wisteria park and Nikko next year May 20 , I will just need to buy suica card for my transportation only right? My round trip as airport is haneda. Thanks .

  • December 17, 2019

Suica is normally good for local transport only. It cant be used on express trains so when you go to Hitachi, Nikko, Mount Fuji, etc you might need to get a separate train tickets for those. Take a look at JR Pass and see if it makes sense for you.

  • November 17, 2019

I really enjoyed reading your Japan itinerary.

I will be flying to Japan in March2020 for the first time.. 😅

Questions to you:

1. Our flight will be arrive 1am midnight, will it be any transportation to the hotel? (2 adults & 2 kids – 9 & 13 years old) destination maybe to SHinagawa or Shimbashi ?

2. My japanesse friend suggested to find a hotel somewhere Shimbashi or Shinagawa, do u think they are far away from the city ?

3. We have 11 days in Japan, and i know the JR Pass is so expensive, do u think we should stay in Tokyo & surrounds (will go to Disneyland for sure )or should we go out of town ? Hiroshima etc..

4. Money wise, should we get the travel money as well ? i heard they dont accept many Credit card.

Thanking you in advance 😘

1. Which airport are you flying into? Haneda or Narita? In any case, you might need to pre-book a private transfer (I have a link above) since all trains would have stopped by then. It’s worth it since you are traveling in a large group. From Haneda there are some late night buses: but they come very sporadically

2. I have stayed in Shinagawa. It’s convenient if you are close to Shinagawa station and if you are flying out of Haneda later on (only 20 mins by train). Shimbashi is also a great option as it is in the middle of most things.

3. Most people do Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto so you should look into that for first time visit. I’d save Hiroshima for a second visit. I have a blog post on Osaka and Kyoto too! If you want to save on JR, then I’d check out cities around Tokyo like Hakone (for a chance to view Mount Fuji) or Nikko (temples and UNESCO heritage area). You only need 5-7 days to explore Tokyo.

4. Yeah certain places are cash only but if you stay within Tokyo, you’ll find credit card accepted in most places (convenient store, hotes, etc). I’d get some cash ready, probably about 2,000-3,000 yen per person per day. Definitely check your bank and options to withdraw ATM since you probably don’t want to be traveling with that much money for 11 days.

  • November 12, 2019

The most helpful write-up I’ve seen while researching for my trip. Thank you so much!

glad to be able to help 🙂

  • September 9, 2019

As of 9/9/2019, it looks like none of the rail links from NrT to Tokyo are running or will be running for several days. Any suggestions how I can get into town-Ueno area? Thanks

Hey Tim, is this due to the typhoon? If so, you’ll have to follow what the officials say on ground – they will know best.

  • August 26, 2019

Thank you Melissa for your helpful blog. I have traveled extensively on my own and this helps.

In November I will be in Tokyo for 5 days on my own. I lived there as a child.

1) Can you recommend a few ryokans or mid price small hotels in a few of the areas that are convenient for first time visitors? Not too noisy?

I would like to stay in an area with local stores and restaurants and away from steel, concrete, and high rises.

2) Is it best to stay near a station on the Yamanote Line?

Thank you!! Loren

Hey Loren, so glad a veteran traveler found this useful!

1. For Ryokan, I don’t know many in Tokyo itself but if you go to Hakone and Nikko, there are plenty. I have a little blurb on Hakone in this post. If you like quiet area, I suggest checking out Shimokitazawa or Daikanyama. They are quiet but still close enough to central Tokyo.

2. It’s not really necessary, Tokyo is so well connected that you won’t have too much trouble with commute, as long as you stay near a train station. One might be more convenient than others but for a 5 day trip it shouldn’t make too much difference.

  • August 20, 2019

Hi there! I’m traveling to Tokyo in about a week for a five day stay. I plan to follow the itinerary you posted as much as I can.

1). What is the best way to get from Narita airport (terminal 3) to my hotel in Shinjuku? Do I take the Keisei Skyliner, and transfer at Nippori for a local JR line train to Shinjuku Station? Should I buy a round-trip Keisei Skyliner ticket so that I can use this same way on my return to Narita at the end of my trip?

2). I’ll be in Tokyo for nearly my entire stay. Is there a 5 day JR line pass I can buy?

Thanks in advance 🤗

1. Keisei Skyliner is the cheapest way to get to city, so yes you can take it to Nippori then transfer to local line to Shinjuku (20 mins) The other option is Narita Express, which takes you to Tokyo station and you can take the local line to Shinjuku for shorter time (13 mins), but it costs more. I personally would take the Skyliner.

2. If you are just staying in Tokyo, you don’t need a JR Pass. Just buy the SUICA card for train transfers.

  • August 22, 2019

Thanks for the tips. I think I will use the Skyliner as you suggested. Some follow-up questions:

1). Should I buy this ahead of my trip and go to the Skyliner counter when I arrive for the actual pass? I hope the counter is open when I arrive around 6:30 am.

2). Should I buy/book my return Skyliner ticket ahead of time?

3). About the SUICA card, is it advisable to buy this at Narita airport upon my arrival or ahead of time?

4). Is there a 5-day SUICA pass or do I just top up as my balance runs low?

Thanks again!

Hey Maddy, 1. Buying ahead of time is cheaper so do that if you can. A voucher will be emailed to you right away and you can redeem from Skyliner ticket counter when you reach Narita. However, the counter is only open from 7AM onward. Assuming you have to go through immigration etc then you might just get to the counter right when they open. 2. That depends on your flexibility. I see the ticket is not sold as round trip package so you could just buy them later if you arent sure. 3. You can do both. Buying ahead of time saves you a little bit of money 4. I usually just top up as I go, I find this the easiest and fuss free. There are some passes that has unlimited pass, but as I mentioned in my post Japan runs on multiple different train companies, and the unlimited passes only work on certain lines.

  • July 29, 2019

Melissa god bless you. Thanks a lot for creating such a simple & straight forward content. Its easy to understand. I love it and i love you! haha thanks alot.

Thank you for taking the time to leave this comment, Nisa!! Enjoy Japan

  • July 28, 2019

Greetings from Denmark – we love your Tokyo guide and are very excited about going to Japan in about 3 weeks time. We have one question regarding the JR pass which we can´t seem to figure out:

We are primarily staying in Tokyo for a few days but are then travelling TO Kyoto – and BACK when we catch the flight home. And PERHAPS we will do a day-trip outside Tokyo, depends. So we a getting the SUICA card – but what about the JR pass, since it´s only back and forth between Tokyo and Kyoto and eventually 1-day trip??? What do you recommend?

A 7-day JR Pass costs about the same as regular round trip tickets for Tokyo – Kyoto, so its worth to get in my opinion. You can use it for the local JR trains too when you are in Tokyo and Kyoto, so it would save you some money instead of using SUICA balance. Each trip cost about 260-300 yen (depending on distance), and in my experience I use the train 3-4 times a day so that adds up to about 900-1200 yen a day. See this page for the price of Tokyo-Kyoto train:

If you are in Japan longer than 7 days and you are getting the 7-day JR Pass, just make sure you don’t activate / use the JR pass until 7 days before you get on the train back to Tokyo – basically you need the JR pass to still be active for when you go to Tokyo->Kyoto and Kyoto->Tokyo.

Hope that helps!!

THANKS a lot! That was very helpful – we´ll purchase the JR tickets then and take care not to activate them too soon! 😀

  • May 20, 2019

My husband and I visited Japan in January 2019. We are frequent travelers, but this was our first time there. We found ourselves referencing your various travel itineraries repeatedly throughout our trip (including your Tokyo and Osaka itineraries). Your transit tips were very helpful and we found we couldn’t go wrong when following your food recommendations (including suggesting we check out Definitely helped to make the trip amazing! And we were really glad to see you back in Japan again recently as we’re already planning a return trip and will definitely check out your updated info. Thanks for the awesome tips!

thank you so much for your kind words Kathleen! comments like yours are what keeps me motivated to maintain this blog. thank you for taking the time to come back and write this ❤️

  • May 14, 2019

Hi, we are group of 5, will travel to narita by next week, and had a booking at narita airport hostel. Could you have any recommendations or suggestions for us.. which place is best to see near or around narita. Its our first time to go to Japan and your blog was really helpful. Thank you so much

Hey Mary, glad to hear the post is helpful! Unfortunately, I am not familiar with Narita area. I hope you’ll be going into the city?

  • May 25, 2019

Narita San Temple and the awesome windy road that is directly Infront of the the temple is amazing to visit. Lots of shops and restaurants. I always go to this temple when I fly into Japan before heading out to Tokyo. The temple is very big and a local friend of mine said that’s where his highschool graduation took place.

  • May 7, 2019

Great post! And informative. If I may add something here, I would say it is definitely possible for you to buy Japan SIM at the airport – Mobal offers affordable phone plans and English support. I would also recommend visiting Shibamata, an old quarter where “it’s tough being a man” was filmed – you need to change a lot of trains to get there if you are staying in central Tokyo or the West of Tokyo, but you may love the good and old days’ ambience there.

  • April 7, 2019

Hi Melissa! Great post. Very helpful as I’ll be heading to Japan for 3 weeks later this month. We’ve already purchased and picked up a 21-day JR pass, but I’m wondering if we also have to purchase extra passes like the Hakone-Kamakura pass you mentioned? (Both of those places are on our itinerary) If so, where can these be purchased and does it have to be outside of Japan?

The JR pass can only cover the journey up to Odawara station, after which it switches to Odakyu line, which is why I recommend getting the Hakone pass as it offers discounts on the journey from Odawara to Hakone (or straight from Tokyo). I bought the pass in Japan, but it might be cheaper to buy through Klook link I have above. This pass does not have to be bought from outside of Japan. Find info about Hakone-Kamakura pass here – It has info about their office in Shinjuku

This detailed post is very helpful. I am travelling from 9th until 21st April to Tokyo. My husband will be woking so I will be mostly on my own. Please recommend anything you want as i am going to stay for 2 weeks.

  • April 8, 2019

Aastha, you are going to have so much fun! Perhaps you can look into day trips to nearby Tokyo, such as Hakone, Yokohama, and Kamakura. I also recommend exploring the lesser known neighborhoods such as Daikanyama, Nakameguro, Ebisu, and Shimokitazawa. I have a quick write up on Daikanyama here:

You can also look into Tokyo Disneyland trip if that’s something that interests you.

  • March 27, 2019

Does the JR pass include the cities we are visiting.. Dor it includes Haneda airport to Chiba when we arrive from Bangkok..

Tokyo to Hamamatsu – Yes Hamamatsu to Kyoto – Yes Kyoto to Tokyo – Yes

Haneda to Chiba you need to look it up yourself. I think it does not.

family of 3 traveling from Tokyo to Hakone to Hammamatsu to Kyoto then back to Tokyo, over 10 days.. is the JR pass feasible..? Does JR pass cover transport from Haneda airport to hotel nearby Disney, this is when we first arrive.. Thanks.. Richard

Hey Richard, it’s hard to say since it depends on how long you plan to stay in Kyoto. In general, most of the savings of JR pass comes from the city to city bullet train so I feel it would be good for your Kyoto – Hamamatsu – Tokyo transfers, but you need to compare the actual price difference depending on your plan.

Does JR pass cover Tokyo to Hakone fare..

Hey Richard, I think it only covers part of the way. You can use your JR Pass to reach Odawara, then from there Hakone can be reached by private Odakyu line, which is not part of JR.

  • March 19, 2019

HI, good day to you

We are 4 adult will be travelling to Tokyo this mid May 2019. my questions as below:- Any hotels receommand (transfer from Haneda Airport around 12am mid night to shinjuku bus terminal or Tokyo City Air Terminal for us with some luggages

  • February 26, 2019

Hi thank you for your post. Our family of four (kids 11 and 15) will be visitng Tokyo for the first time this coming May. We saw lots of affordable hotels in Ueno (3 min by foot from JR Ueno Station) that are new and spacious. Do you suggest this is a good base area for our 6 days? We are only planning to tour around Tokyo. I read somewhere that we might be wasting our time in transportation getting around the city (as opposed to staying in areas like Shinjuku, Tokyo Station or Shibuya.

Also for 6 days in Tokyo, can we just use Pasmo or Suica card in getting around the city? There is also a 3 day Tokyo city pass???

Thank you so much!

Hey Eyelett, Ueno is not too bad – if you don’t mind the 30 mins train ride to Shibuya and Shinjuku. Are you planning to spend many of your days there? There are things to see near Ueno too, like Akihabara and Asakusa.

For the 3 day pass, can you link me to the pass? You have to be careful bc sometimes they only include certain lines and does not include JR, which you’ll want if you’re staying near JR Ueno. If they don’t include JR then you’ll still need to pay with Pasmo/Suica. It’s usually around 260-320 yen per ride.

Thank you Melissa,

The 3 day pass is for the Tokyo Metro Subway. I read the link here:

Do I need to get both JR Pass and Tokyo Metro Subway Pass? If so, I read that there are different kinds of JR Pass? I am only interested for the one to use in the city, or is the Metro Subway enough to get around?

Hey Eyelett, that 3-day pass is only valid on Tokyo Metro and Toei lines. These are different than JR. That said, if you are planning to travel a lot by train in the first 3 days then I think it’s still worth getting. Each ride on Toei/Metro line is usually 200 yen so to make it worth it you just need to ride it at least 3 times a day.

Then, if you need to take a JR line then you can pay for it individually by either buying tickets each time at the ticket counter or use Suica.

For JR passes, these are only worth it if you are planning to get out of Tokyo since the savings are in the fact that you can take the longer ride bullet train between cities.

  • February 23, 2019

Love your post! Thanks so much 🙂

Have a few questions for you : 1. Any suggested apps to download prior to trip? 2. Based on your blog post, you suggested to buy these beforehand: 1) JR Pass 2) Suica pass 3) Prepaid Sim / Router… did I miss anything else? 3. Did you go to Disneyland Tokyo during any of your trips? Any tips to share? 4. If we arrive Haneda Airport late and trains may have stopped running by then, would taxi be the only option to get into Tokyo?

Thanks again! Look forward to hear back from you x

Hey Ada 1) Definitely download a google translate pack for Japanese, just in case 2) yup, those should be good. I also suggest booking in advance if you want to visit Ghibli museum as they have limited tickets. And the Tokyo Disneyland ticket since you have to print those out in advance. 3) Not yet 🙁 It’s still in my to-do list! I have heard you should just buy directly from the Disney website though since it allows direct entry and you won’t have to pick up the ticket elsewhere. But you still have to print out the ticket no matter where you buy it from. 4) There is a night bus from Haneda to certain areas of Tokyo, but the coverage is very limited – click here for more information . Aside of this yeah you have to take the taxi I suppose – it won’t be cheap.

  • February 25, 2019

thanks melissa!

  • February 17, 2019

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for your advise, I am first time to Tokyo for Rugby World Cup 2019 in October. 1) For accommodation, any suggestion place to stay for 2 adults + 1 child? 2) Can you suggest place to visit in Osaka? How many days require?

Best regards, Ah Zul

1) Since you are a family, I would recommend looking through Airbnb for a one-bedroom apartment. This would be pretty small, but perfect for your family because you won’t have to share. Just make sure it’s close to a train station so you can get around easily. 2) For osaka, I have an entire blog post on it! I recommend at least 3 days in Osaka.

  • February 10, 2019

Hi!! I was planning to go to Japan in the middle of September (sept 16 – 30th). I was wondering if it would still be hot summer weather or if it would have already cooled down for the Autumn. Great post by the way and very easy to understand 😀

September will be pleasant weather. Probably just need a light jacket for night time. enjoy!!

  • January 24, 2019

Thank you for writing a long and detailed blog. It is so helpful. We are planning to go in March mid during sakura season for the first time. I have 2 questions if you could help:

1) Will it be cold or hot during Cherry Blossom season? Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka?

2) Are local train station included in JR rail pass? Specially in shinjuku area? I read its huge.

Best, Qurat ul ain

Hi Qurat, the cherry blossom season is in spring, so it won’t be too cold. A pleasant 20C days if i remember correctly! The JR rail pass can be used on JR trains, which includes some local trains. Shinjuku has some JR lines so you’ll be able to use them there.

  • January 25, 2019

Thank you Melissa!

Forgot to say, I have a blog for cherry blossom season!

  • January 14, 2019

Thank you for your advise, I ll change the schedule as per your advise, as I am first time to Tokyo and with the kids do you recommend that I am going to pick the local city tour at our arrival? thanks.

Best regards, Putu

I think Japan is pretty easy to do by yourself – why don’t you try first and see how it goes? If you need a tour then you can book on the second day

  • January 11, 2019

Hello we are going for a 30th Birthday is there anywhere you would recommend going for dinner for a special occasion? Also how much spending money do you think you need a day? Look forward to hearing back Francesca

Hey Francesca! Happy birthday to the person celebrating. For daily allowance, I recommend having about $10-20 per meal and about $4-8 for transportation. As for 30th birthday recommendation, try walking around Daikanyama area ( ) there are lots of nice restaurants you can try there. You can also try Zauo, a restaurant in Shibuya where you can fish for your own meal.

  • January 8, 2019

Dear Author,

Thank you for your awesome testimony particularly for the first time traveler go to Japan, may your recommendation and advise to me if we go with family, wife and two kids of 10 and 12 years old.

Hi Putu, I think the above itinerary can still work for a family. Just make sure your kids are prepared to walk a lot! You might also want to check out disney sea in Tokyo.

  • January 9, 2019

Hi Melissa Hie,

Thank you for your reply, my last query is beginning of July this year a convenient weather in Tokyo? As this the kids holiday in Indonesia.

Thanks and regards, Putu

It will be hot, but the same as Indonesia 🙂

  • December 16, 2018

Loved your post. Just got back from a 10 day stay in Tokyo and I am in love with it!! We did everything on your list and some. Just wanted to update you on the Golden Dai area: Most of the little bars have cover charges between $5-10 so it didn’t make it convenient to go bar hopping. We just picked one and stayed the night…. it was great but would have enjoyed see each bar since they are unique to the owner. We would like to go back and visit more of the county side and the Cherry Blossom festival!

Hey Kris! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and leave this comment. I’ll update the post with your information 🙂 (dunno how I could have forgotten that!) is there anything else I can do better?

  • September 27, 2018

Gotta use your itinerary! 🙂 we’ll be in Japan in 2mos. time!

  • June 2, 2018

Thank you soooo much for this!! It’s so nice that you grouped activities based on location. It’s gonna make it much easier to see all I want to see. Wish more bloggers did this.

  • June 3, 2018

Thank you Zebeth! That was what I was thinking when I was visiting Tokyo, since I had limited time. So I made this guide 😀

  • May 28, 2018

Enjoyed your Tokyo itinerary! Impressed that you made it to Shimokitazawa. It’s a great neighborhood and doesn’t show up on many “first time visitor” itineraries. You always can tell the difference between an itinerary from someone who spent a few days in Tokyo and someone like you who has visited several times for work and holiday alike.

On your next visit to Tokyo, you might also enjoy Jimbocho. It receives even fewer visitors than Shimokitazawa, but likewise is a great place to explore.

  • May 29, 2018

Thank you for stopping by! I feel Shimokita is getting more and more popular these days, I guess because it was featured in Vogue as one of Coolest Neighborhoods in the world. But yeah, it’s definitely more low-key. I personally made it there due to a friend’s recommendation and I ended up loving it so much that I had to include it here 😀

Definitely will keep Jimbocho in mind for my next Tokyo trip. I love how your blog recommends not-so-common things to do around the world too!

  • June 5, 2018

You’re quite welcome! Wasn’t aware of the Vogue mention for Shimokitazawa, but that is the kind of mention that will raise its profile, no doubt.

Thank you for the kind words about travelgasm, as well!

  • December 14, 2017

Thank you for this post, it helped me out alot in planning my stay here in Tokyo and I managed to do everything I wanted :). My favourite places to eat were definitely Hiroki (they actually had an english menu too) and Asakusa were I tried tons of the little snacks (agemanju was delicious)

oooh nice! so glad hiroki has an english menu 😀

  • December 5, 2017

I loved your post and all you colourful pictures! I was actually thinking of visiting Japan next but I was wondering which periods of the year you think are the best to visit? Also, could you let me know which camera do you normally use? Xxxxx Cheers!

  • December 7, 2017

Definitely March to April for Sakura ( you can check out my Sakura post! :D) or November for the fall foliage (blog post coming soon). Avoid Summer as it’s usually hot and humid. I usually just use my iPhone to take picture – I’m not very fancy 🙂

  • November 3, 2017

I agree with you that Tokyo is very safe for solo travelers. I was there alone and I enjoyed it. 3 days in Tokyo isn’t enough *sigh*

definitely not. I think 5 days is ideal, 4 is pushing it. Such an amazing city!

  • November 1, 2017

Bless you, I swear. Thanks for this! If I ever blog about my Japan experience next year I’ll definitely credit your for a few of these things.

thank you! please let me know if you have any feedback on it too!

No worries, thanks Melissa!

  • October 27, 2017

i love your travel blog! will save it for my future trip!!

  • October 28, 2017

Thanks Nana, let me know if you do use the itineraries and if you have any feedback

Omg I am going to Tokyo for a Working Holiday in December and I am sooo excited! Your post couldn’t have had a better timing <3

WOW a work holiday?! So jealous! How long are you going to be there for?

1 year is planned if everything works out fine 🙂

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tokyo travel time

Tokyo (����, Tōkyō) is Japan's capital and the world's most populous metropolis. It is also one of Japan's 47 prefectures , consisting of 23 central city wards and multiple cities, towns and villages west of the city center. The Izu and Ogasawara Islands are also part of Tokyo.

Prior to 1868, Tokyo was known as Edo. Previously a small castle town , Edo became Japan's political center in 1603 when Tokugawa Ieyasu established his feudal government there. A few decades later, Edo had grown into one of the world's largest cities. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the emperor and capital moved from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo ("Eastern Capital"). Large parts of Tokyo were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the air raids of 1945.

Today, Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping , entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors. The city's history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa and in many excellent museums , historic temples and gardens . Contrary to common perception, Tokyo also offers a number of attractive green spaces in the city center and within relatively short train rides at its outskirts.

Top attractions in Tokyo

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Tsukiji Outer Market •

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Akihabara •

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Koishikawa Korakuen •

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Hama Rikyu •

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Imperial East Gardens •

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Imperial Palace •

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Ginza •

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Nihonbashi •

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Yasukuni Shrine

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Tokyo Dome City

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State Guest House

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Tokyo National Museum ••

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Tokyo Skytree ••

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Asakusa •

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Sensoji Temple •

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Edo-Tokyo Museum •

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Rikugien •

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Ueno Park •

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Tokyo Solamachi •

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Botanical Garden

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Sumida Aquarium

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Sumida Hokusai Museum

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Kappabashi Street

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Shibuya ••

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Shinjuku ••

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Meiji Shrine •

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Harajuku •

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Shinjuku Gyoen •

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Yoyogi Park

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Government Building

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Nakano Broadway

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Yebisu Garden Place

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Odaiba •

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Institute for Nature •

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Toyosu Market •

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Roppongi Hills •

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Tokyo Tower

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Sengakuji Temple

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Zojoji Temple

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Tokyo Water Bus

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Kyu Shiba Rikyu

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Tokyo Midtown

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Akasaka Sacas

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Tokyo DisneySea ••

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Tokyo Disneyland ••

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Shibamata •

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Ghibli Museum •

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Mount Mitake •

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Takaosan •

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Edo Open Air Museum

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Kiyosumi Garden

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Showa Memorial Park

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Todoroki Valley

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Kasai Rinkai Koen

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Ikspiari Mall

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Makuhari Messe

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The Making of Harry Potter

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Sanja Matsuri •

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Kanda Matsuri •

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Japan Mobility Show •

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Tokyo Game Show

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Sanno Matsuri

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Tokyo Marathon

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Ceatec Japan

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Nikko •••

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Kamakura ••

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Fuji Five Lakes •

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Hakone •

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Kusatsu Onsen •

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Yokohama •

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Izu Peninsula •

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Ikaho Onsen

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Tokyo by interest

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Getting there and around

Itinerary ideas.

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  • Tranquil Meiji Shrine
  • Urban exploring in Shibuya
  • Shopping in Shinjuku and youth culture in Harajuku

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  • Ancient Sensoji Temple
  • Cruise down the Sumida River
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  • Exploring Shinjuku's busy streets
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  • Exploring Asakusa area

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  • Serene Imperial East Gardens
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17 Best Things To Do In Tokyo For First-Time Visitors, According To Travelers

I t's no surprise that there is an extensive list of tempting things to do in Tokyo for first-time visitors with such a vast wealth of space and culture to explore in the city. It's the largest metropolitan city on the planet with a population of 37.3 million and one of the world's biggest urban cities according to land area. 

Tokyo, the capital city of Japan , is a city of contrasts. There are opportunities to dive into the local culture at historic temples and century-old markets, along with the chance to feel like you're living in the future with cutting-edge art exhibitions, neighborhoods dedicated to video gaming and anime, and even Japan's version of Disneyland. 

With only a few days to a week in the city, visitors must properly narrow all the possible options to only the very best things to do in Tokyo. Luckily, your search is over. We figured out the best things to do in Tokyo for first-time visitors by tirelessly combing through reviews and Japanese blogs to reveal the city's gems. 

Read more: 22 Underrated Tourist Destinations In Asia To Add To Your Bucket List

Senso-Ji Temple

Sensō-ji Temple is famed for being the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, dating back to 628. The story goes that over a thousand years ago, a pair of brothers kept inexplicably fishing a statue of the goddess of mercy out of the nearby Sumida River. The temple was later built in the area to honor that deity officially. 

The five-story pagoda's historic esteem and beauty draw in around 30 million visitors to Sensō-ji annually. The colorful, red architecture of Sensō-ji Temple is also a calling card for photographers in Japan. Multiple events are held at Sensō-ji Temple throughout the year, including the Sanja Matsuri Festival and Asakusa Samba Carnival. You can check out the list of annual events on the  Sensō-ji Temple website . 

The temple is also right next to Nakamise Shopping Street in the Asakusa neighborhood. It's one of the city's best places to buy souvenirs and grab snacks. The temple and shopping street are good stops for first-time visitors after landing at the  Tokyo International Airport  because they provide a solid introduction to the city. 

Tokyo Skytree

The Tokyo Skytree is a broadcasting tower that also happens to be the best spot for first-time visitors to access panoramic views of the city. You'll likely spot the Skytree as soon as you touch down in Tokyo because it's by far the highest structure in the city. At 2,080 feet tall, it is the tallest free-standing tower in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records . It features two different observation decks at varying heights to appreciate the lofty perspective over Tokyo. 

The first is called the 1,150-foot-high Tembo Deck, and it has a glass floor to really illustrate to visitors just how high they are inside the Skytree. The second viewpoint is called Tembo Gallery at 1,500 feet high and it enables you to see as far as 43 miles in the distance in every direction. Inside the base of the Skytree, there are tons of shops, restaurants, and even a planetarium and aquarium.

Shibuya is one of the most iconic and busiest areas in all of Tokyo. This Tokyo ward is huge and encompasses popular neighborhoods like Harajuku and Ebisu. It's one of the best places to go for entertainment and nightlife. To get an authentic feel for the organized chaos of Tokyo, first-timers in the city must make an obligatory pilgrimage to Shibuya Crossing. 

The Shibuya Crossing is one of the most famous spots in Tokyo, with hectic crowds of approximately 2 to 3 million people passing through the area every single day. First-timers should move with the herd through the crossing, then head up to Mag's Park Rooftop to snap a photo over the chaotic street. 

After the crossing, there is plenty of other stuff to do in Shibuya. During the day, go shopping at boutique stores, one of the must-do things in Harajuku . In the evening, check out the local nightlife scene at popular teenie Shibuya bars like Tasuichi. 

Tsukiji Outer Fish Market

The early-morning Tsukiji Outer Market has specialized in providing fresh fish to Tokyo for nearly a century. The market is a few blocks long, and strolling through the aisles gives first-time visitors in Tokyo a crash course in Japan's famous food scene. While it is a wholesale market that first gained notoriety for its morning tuna auction, there is plenty of food around for tourists to try on the spot. It's one of the best places to taste raw fish in the form of sushi, sashimi, or kaisendon. 

A few of the most famous dishes and stalls to try while walking around Tsukiji Market include the tamagoyaki from Daisada, kaisendon from Tsukiji Koromo Sushi, and onigiri from Marutoyo. One of the easiest ways to explore everything the market has to offer is by joining a tour with a local guide. For example, this  half-day tour  will take you around Tsukiji Fish Market and the Asakusa neighborhood with food samples. 

Shopping In Harajuku And Akihabara

Shopping or even just browsing the stores in Tokyo is a must. Two of the best spots for the activity are Harajuku and Akihabara. The shopping scenes in these Tokyo districts are very different, but each one reflects a unique facet of Japanese culture that first-time visitors to the city are typically searching for.

Harajuku is located next to Shibuya Station, and it's a hub for the one-of-a-kind, head-turning street fashion scene that emerged from Tokyo. Along Takeshita Street in this district are countless boutique shops, clothing stores, and places to eat. Alternatively, you can wander around Omotesando Hills Mall to do some indoor shopping in Harajuku.

Akihabara, also known as Electric Town, is a solid spot to visit in Tokyo for gaming products, electronics, and anime shopping. Simply walking around the neon-drenched Tokyo neighborhood is enough to entertain any bright-eyed traveler. The stores in Akihabara range from entertaining to odd, with establishments completely made up of toy vending machines and one of the largest Don Quijote stores in Japan. 

Ueno Park is one of Tokyo's many enormous green spaces and has 133 acres of area to discover. It was opened 150 years ago, making Ueno the very first city park in Tokyo and one of the oldest public parks in all of Japan.  It is a particularly good stop for first-time visitors in Tokyo because there are several cultural attractions of the city located within its bounds.

Firstly, six of Tokyo's top museums are inside Ueno Park, including the Tokyo National Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science, and the National Museum of Western Art. The Ueno Park and Zoo are fun stops in the park for families with kids. Finally, there are several temples and shrines inside Ueno Park, such as Shinobazunoike Benten-do, Ueno Toshogu Shrine, and Kiyomizu Kannon-dō Temple.

Ueno Park is also famed for its bloom during the cherry blossom season in Japan, which lasts approximately two weeks in early spring. Around 1,200 cherry trees are planted inside Ueno. During this time of year, the park attracts over 2 million visitors hoping to relax in the romantic scenery and take photos.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

The sprawling 144 acres of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden are located in the heart of Tokyo and are home to around 10,000 trees. It was originally constructed for the imperial family in Japan but was later transformed into a public park. The late 19th-century garden is a lush green escape right in the middle of the city's busiest neighborhoods, perfect for people who need a break from the Tokyo crowds. 

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is made up of three distinct variations of gardens -- Japanese traditional, landscaping, and formal. No matter what time of year you visit Tokyo, the garden is a must-see, but it's 100% necessary if you're in the city during the spring season from March to May. In the springtime, approximately 900 cherry trees cover the entire garden in varying shades of pink, and it's one of the best places to take in the beauty of Japan's legendary cherry blossom season. 

The Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace in the Chiyoda ward is a key piece of Tokyo's history. The palace was initially built in 1457 and has since served as the Japanese Emperor's residence. The palace is surrounded by three pristine gardens; the East Gardens, Kokyo Gaien National Garden, and Kitanomaru Park. Each of the gardens has its own benefits. For example, in Kitanomaru Park, you can rent a boat to take out on the moat near the palace from April to November. 

While visitors aren't permitted in certain parts of the site due to its high-profile nature, they are allowed to wander some of the palace's parks and gardens. It's even totally free to walk around these areas, so it's a great place to visit in Tokyo for budget travelers. The best time of year to visit the Imperial Palace is fall or spring when the flowers are in bloom, or the leaves are changing colors.

teamLab Planets

Teamlab Planets is a fully immersive digital art museum in Tokyo that makes visitors feel like they're stepping into an alternate universe. Teamlab Planets engages all of your senses in a mind-bending way as you explore the four enormous exhibition rooms and two gardens. It's a captivating activity showing first-time visitors the depths of the city's creativity, and you'll definitely want to have your camera handy.

The goal of these exhibits is to make visitors feel indistinguishable from the works around them. At the beginning, visitors take their shoes off, as several of the art installations include a significant water element. Throughout the journey, you wade your way through ankle-deep pools as projected light shows play around you, enter a mirrored room filled with colorful orchards that playfully move around you, and go through other types of otherwordly spaces that are difficult to fully embody in words alone. Many people spend hours stuck in these rooms because of the incredible details of each space.

Memory Lane

Memory Lane is the nickname for a teenie alleyway in the Shinjuku neighborhood lined with places to try authentic Japanese street food. It's located right near the Shinjuku Station's east exit, so it's very easy to reach this hotspot from pretty much anywhere else in the city. 

The best time to visit Memory Lane, also known as Omoide Yokocho, is in the evening. This area is more of a night-time hangout, and you probably won't find as much activity during the day. It's a common after-work hangout for locals because the food and drinks are quite affordable. 

Memory Lane is distinctly cozier than most of the busy, ultra-modern metropolis that is Tokyo. So, it's a good spot for going out on a date or just getting a more authentic feel for traditional local culture. Walking down the street, you'll pass by dozens of vendors selling things like yakitori, BBQ, and noodles. 

Nezu Shrine

Most visitors are familiar with the famous red gates in Kyoto , but there is also a smaller version of this Japanese attraction in Tokyo called the Nezu Shrine. Nezu Shrine was constructed in 1705, making it one of Tokyo's oldest Shinto shrines. It was designed to resemble the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, and it is also considered to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing shrines in the city by many people because it is surrounded by gardens and fish-filled ponds. 

The best time to visit the Nezu Shrine is the month of April because this is when the annual Azalea Spring Festival is held. During this time, 50 different species of azalea flowers burst into full, colorful bloom, which gives the shrine a particularly charming atmosphere. However, no matter the time of year, the Nezu Shrine is a lovely experience and a must-do for first-time visitors in Tokyo. 

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Attending a Japanese tea ceremony is a fun and engaging way for first-time visitors in Tokyo to dive into the local culture. The practice was initially introduced in the eighth century as a medicine for the rich but eventually became a country-wide activity. Tea ceremonies can last anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours and involve a mix of entertaining your tastebuds and learning about Japanese history.   

During the ceremony, guests will watch their host go through the process of preparing the tea before enjoying a sweet snack. Once it's complete, the drink will be served in a tea bowl. The processes between individual teahouses can vary slightly, but in general, this is what visitors can expect.  

There are a few different places to go and try out a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony in Tokyo. For example, the tea ceremony at Maikoya in Tokyo is amazing. Maikoya has won the Tripadvisor Traveler's Award five years in a row, and the experience includes an English-speaking guide who will walk you through the history and proper protocol before the magic begins. 

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Sumo wrestling is a major athletic staple in Japan and has even been called the country's national sport. That's why going to a sumo wrestling event at Ryōgoku Kokugikan sports arena is a must for a first-time visit to Tokyo. Ryōgoku Kokugikan was the world's first sumo wrestling stadium, with roots dating back over 100 years, but the current building was opened to the public in 1985. The stadium can fit up to 10,000 people, so expect lots of energy at these sporting events. 

There are three national sumo tournaments held at Ryōgoku Kokugikan throughout the year, which take place in January, May, and September. Each season is around two weeks long, with several matches throughout this time period. There is a fairly good chance of being in Tokyo for a match around these months. You can check out the upcoming schedule for sumo wrestling events on the Ryogoku Kokugikan website .

Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort is Japan's version of the iconic Disney theme park. It was opened in the 1980s as the very first Disney theme park outside of the United States and has since worked its way up to being one of the most popular amusement parks in the world. At the time of writing, Tokyo Disney Resort is the third most-visited theme park on the planet, with over a million visitors monthly visitors. Of course, this place is a big hit with families visiting Tokyo, but it can also be an entertaining afternoon for adults. 

The Tokyo Disney Resort comprises two major theme parks -- Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Tokyo Disneyland is modeled after California's park with a slight Japanese twist on the food and attractions. Here, you'll find Disney-themed culinary delicacies like stormtrooper mochi, melon bread, and sparkling berry and cream cheese tapioca tea. 

On the other hand, DisneySea is unlike any other Disney park on the planet (literally) because it's the only one of its kind. As the name suggests, DisneySea is devised around ocean legends, and it features themed areas like a futuristic marina called Port Discovery and Lost River Delta, modeled after the ruins of an ancient civilization. 

Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge is a key element of Tokyo's skyline and a landmark of the city. Visitors can use this bridge to cross from mainland Tokyo to an artificial island called Odaiba. One of the reasons that this suspension bridge has become such an iconic site in Tokyo is that every night, it goes aglow with colorful solar-powered lights that are usually green, pink, and white. However, the bridge's lights turn rainbow during special events, hence the nickname. 

It's possible to go across the bridge by car or on foot to reach Odaiba. It takes approximately 30 minutes to walk across the Rainbow Bridge. The footbridge closes at 9 p.m. in the summer and 6 p.m. in the winter. Walking along the bridge, you'll be able to spot other well-known Tokyo sites, such as Tokyo Tower. When the weather is sunny, you may even be able to see all the way out to Mount Fuji. 

Kabuki is a traditional expression of Japanese theater that has been enjoyed since the 17th century. The art form is distinguished by its use of eye-catching, elaborate costumes and dramatic performances. Watching a kabuki show is an excellent way for first-timers (and frequent visitors) in Tokyo to spend an evening. 

One of the best places to experience this style of performance is at Kabuki-za in the Ginza neighborhood of Tokyo. This traditional kabuki theater has been putting on performances since 1889. It's not just the show itself that's incredible at Kabuki-za; it's also the architecture of the theater itself. 

The layout of the theater is designed to ensure that every one of the 2,000 seats has a clear view of the stage. The theater is also very tourist-friendly, with helpful staff. Whether it is your first time in Tokyo or you are a veteran of the city, a night at a kabuki show is a fabulous experience.

Gotoku-Ji Temple

Any travelers in Japan who need a little extra luck on their side should pay a visit to the Gōtoku-ji Temple, located around 30 to 40 minutes away from the city center of Tokyo. At Gōtoku-ji Temple, you'll be surrounded by thousands of those inexplicably wise white cat statues. According to legend, there will also be a lot of luck in the air. 

The story goes that a lord was coaxed into a temple by a cat waving their paw at him just before a thunderstorm, and he took the furry friend as a sign of good fortune. In 1633, the Gōtoku-ji Temple was constructed in honor of the lucky cat to hopefully tether its power to the location. To this day, people go there to pray for good fortune in their lives.  

This particular Tokyo attraction is a bit removed from the city's other main attractions. However, it's still not too tricky to reach Gōtoku-ji Temple. The temple is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and can be reached via public transportation by taking the Odakyū line from Shinjuku Station.


The rankings in this article were concluded based on in-depth research into the most visited, popular, and unique tourist attractions in Tokyo, Japan. Several aspects were considered in deciding which attractions would make the list, including the number of visitors per year, the historic and cultural significance, and the overall entertainment value for visitors. 

First, we determined the best things to do in Tokyo by browsing current blogs about Japan and online travel forums to find contending options. Then, we dug deeper into these highlighted activities by reading reviews from authentic, recent visitors to determine which attractions actually lived up to the hype. Finally, we collected the most iconic and most-loved things to do in Tokyo onto this list.  

Read the original article on Explore .

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Got a yen to travel?

With Japan’s once-feared currency plummeting to thirty-year lows and the country quietly sliding into recession, Tokyo — which cratered more than twenty spots to 60th place on the Economist’s annual cost of living survey at the beginning of the year — is a relative bargain in 2024.

The news comes as New York heads in the absolute opposite direction. Last year, the inflation-ravaged Big Apple soared to number one on that same list. (It’s now the third most expensive, behind Geneva and Singapore — cold comfort to gouged Gothamites battling a cost of living that won’t stop rising.)

A group of people in boats on a river at Chidorigafuchi park in Tokyo, surrounded by sakura trees in bloom

And while our subway stations may still be filthy ( Jimmy Kimmel was right! ) and our toilets still don’t sing to us when we flush them, scruffy New York is suddenly the lion, while Tokyo — for so many years seemingly out of our league — is now the easy, affordable alternative. Can you even afford to stay home? 

Don’t take our word for it — here are just a few cost comparisons that highlight the sometimes astonishing differences between the cost of existing in the two cities.

For prices, we’ve used mid-May, right after Japan’s Golden Week (a peak travel time, to put it mildly) and before our Memorial Day Weekend, when prices in New York have yet to kick into high gear. Not that this helped NYC’s case in the slightest.

Sleep like a king — even on a budget

The average room rate in Japan hit a 21st-century record in 2024, but don’t freak out — it’s still far cheaper to sleep in Tokyo than it is in New York. For budgeteers, the tried-and-true Toyoko Inn chain is ubiquitous and often as little as $50 per night; with free breakfast buffets and other welcomed amenities, think of it as the Hampton Inn by Hilton of Japan.

Except that in New York City, the cheapest Hampton Inn in the quiet period after Memorial Day was $249 per night, way down in the sleepy Financial District. (Guess whose free breakfast is better.) In Tokyo, also look out for the APA hotel chain — another reliable often opening the bidding at around $50.

Want to splurge? During a week when The Peninsula New York is asking nearly $1,500 a night, the absolutely superior Peninsula Tokyo is charging $841. You’re getting the picture.

Where going out is still affordable

Tokyo city skyline at sunset with Mt. Fuji in the background

Like most cities now, Tokyo isn’t immune to the rising cost of everything — but with food, they’re starting from so much further behind. For example, the average bowl of ramen, according to Unseen Japan, is now about 860 yen, or $5.62 a bowl.

In New York, the idea of a bowl of ramen for less than $14 seems quaint. For locals, the new average is considered a problem; the new steeper prices are threatening ramen culture.

At Kura Sushi — an affordable Tokyo favorite — in Flushing, all pieces are priced at $3.80. At the famed conveyor belt restaurant’s hometown flagship in hip Harajuku, they start at $0.75.

And while Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo — the city with the most stars in the world, currently — are often as pricey as their Big Apple or Paris counterparts, they are often a much better deal, too.

t L’Insieme, a popular Bib Gourmand spot for Neapolitan-style pizzas, you can get your own pie for $11. At Una Pizza Napoletana on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the margherita will cost you well over $20 .

A row of red lanterns on a building in Tokyo's Ueno commercial district, representing affordable dining options

And street food, forget about it — for a buck and change, you can snap up everything from onigiri to a yakitori skewer to mochi and beyond. What they’re selling for that little on the streets of Midtown Manhattan — if they were — you don’t want. Also, you’re in a country with stringent food hygiene standards — be bold, point to what you want and you’ll go away happy and so will your stomach.

Thirsty? While Tokyo has some of the world’s best cocktail bars — check out The Bellwood, for example — it also sells beer out of vending machines, though that practice isn’t quite so prominent as it used to be, you can still snag an Asahi tallboy or similar from any konbi (convenience store) for a little over a buck. At a random Manhattan corner grocery, a six-pack of Bud Light 12 oz. bottles was going for $16.99, or $2.83 per bottle. Which one would you prefer?

The best things to do in Tokyo are free (or almost)

One of the great things about Tokyo is that you don’t have to do much of anything in the way of planning, beyond doing some reading and seeing which parts of the city might interest you most. In the old days, you needed books of maps and lots of advanced planning to tour the city where the streets have no name (they really don’t, it’s wild). Now, you just use your phone to get around, just like you would anywhere else.

That makes burrowing your way into (and out of) the alleyways of timeworn youth culture capital Harajuku or nightlife districts in Shinjuku, Roppongi or Shibuya much easier than it used to be. Ditto visiting the parks, where you’ve got a guide in the palm of your hand; go ahead and get lost in the many vast parks and gardens dotting Central Tokyo, or jump on the circular Yamanote Line train that races around the core of the metropolis all day and all night.

Asian woman in traditional Japanese kimono walking near a temple in Tokyo, Japan with a yellow umbrella

Stop in one of the city’s many coffee shops — there’s entire coffee district, the Kiyosumi-Shirakawa neighborhood — cute French bakeries (they’re just as good as in Paris, sometimes better, more precise) and just take in the sights — almost everything you’ll remember about your visit to the city will be free, or had at the cost of a cup of coffee, a train ticket or a blister on your feet from too much walking.

Affordable Tokyo adventures you can’t miss

Enjoy the silence at one of the city’s many temples — for free. Buddhist Sensō-ji is the oldest and most significant, while Meiji-Jingu, a Shinto shrine in the forest near Harajuku station, is extra relaxed, even when busy.

Climb the Tokyo Skytree So it’s not The Edge, but that costs $36 and up; Tokyo’s highest observation deck is just $25.

Brave Shibuya Crossing The busiest pedestrian crossing in the world puts Times Square to shame. Follow the crowds as they zig and zag their way across this insane meeting of major roads, then repair to one of the food halls in the nearby department stores and ogle some of the world’s priciest strawberries.

Find nature in Yoyogi Park Any park will do, really, but this 134-acre respite is a fine example of just how restorative open spaces can be in a city, even at the heart of one like Tokyo. As with any of the city green zones, the best parts are the actual forest lands that make you feel like you’re very, very far away from town.

See Yayoi Kusama’s museum She’s hotter than hot around the world right now, and certainly in New York — the contemporary artist has her own museum in Shinjuku, and tickets are just over $7.

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A group of people in boats on a river at Chidorigafuchi park in Tokyo, surrounded by sakura trees in bloom


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Tokyo to Kyoto: The Fastest and Cheapest Ways to Travel

Kyoto is such a popular destination from Tokyo, and there are many ways to make the trip. The bullet train (aka the Shinkansen) — our favorite way to travel — can get you there in under 2.5 hours; other budget options include cheap flights and highway buses.

How to get from Tokyo to Kyoto

Kyoto is about 370 kilometers (225 miles) west of Tokyo. It’s part of the Kansai region, and thus actually much closer to Osaka : the two cities are about 30 minutes apart on the train. Coming from Tokyo, you’ll reach Kyoto before Osaka.

Top choice: Shinkansen

The  fastest, easiest, and most convenient option   is the Shinkansen, especially if you have a  Japan Rail Pass . The cheapest option  is usually a highway bus, followed by flights — but these are both a bit time-consuming.

tokyo to kyoto bullet train

Comparing Tokyo to Kyoto travel options

Here’s a quick overview of all the different types of transport.

Taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto

From ¥ 13,320 2 hours and 15 minutes (fastest service) Buy a one-way ticket on Klook or Rakuten Travel Experiences , or a JR Pass in advance

The Tōkaidō Shinkansen connnects Tokyo and Kyoto (and terminates one stop further, at Shin-Osaka Station). It’s a direct route, so you won’t usually need to transfer. There are three services on this line: Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama; the travel time and cost varies by service.

Tōkaidō Shinkansen services to Kyoto

Nozomi is the fastest service on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, and for this reason it costs a little bit extra. Note that the JR Pass covers travel on all services, including Nozomi.

Note: If you’re traveling during off-peak season, you can knock ¥ 200 off the reserved seat price. During peak season it’s an extra ¥ 200 (and an extra ¥ 400 during super-peak season). For more information on seasonal price fluctuations, see our breakdown of how Shinkansen fares are calculated .

Hikari and Kodama services are priced the same, even though Kodama services take signficantly longer — taking between 3.5 hours and 4 hours to make the trip between Tokyo and Kyoto!

Kodama services also stop at more stations, like Odawara, which is convenient if you want to work in a visit to Hakone on the way from Tokyo to Kyoto.

tokyo shinkansen to kyoto

Departing Tokyo for Kyoto

You can board any Tōkaidō Shinkansen service for Kyoto Station at Tokyo Station , Shinagawa Station, or Shin-Yokohama Station. Ticket prices are the same whether you depart from Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station. From Shin-Yokohama, the fare is cheaper by ¥ 670 .

After Shin-Yokohama, Nozomi services make one additional stop at Nagoya before Kyoto; meanwhile, Hikari and Kodama services make more stops along the way.

Arriving at Kyoto Station

Unlike some destinations, where the Shinkansen station is outside the city center, Kyoto Station is right in central Kyoto. You can transfer easily to local trains and buses, the city subway, or catch a taxi.

The modern interior of Kyoto Station

How often does the Shinkansen run from Tokyo to Kyoto?

The Tōkaidō Shinkansen is the most popular bullet train route in the country, with trains departing from Tokyo for Kyoto approximately every 10 minutes. There are PDF timetables here , or you can use navigation apps to plan your journey.

Seat reservations on the Shinkansen to Kyoto

The frequency of trains doesn’t mean you should board without a seat reservation. Opting for a non-reserved seat ( jiyūseki ) will save you a few hundred yen (see pricing above) — but could see you standing awkwardly the whole way to Kyoto.

Our advice (especially if traveling during rush hour and peak periods) is, if possible, to use those extra coins to get a reserved seat ( shiteiseki ). You can arrange this easily at JR ticket offices or at specially marked ticket machines.

You can even make seat reservations when activating your JR Pass, if you have one (reservations are free with the pass).

If you’re committed to non-reserved seats, just get to the station well before your planned departure time — so you can line up in the designated places on the platform to snag a seat. It’s also better to board the train at Tokyo Station, where the route begins, rather than get on one stop later at Shinagawa Station.

Kyoto neighborhood with a cherry tree in full bloom

Buying Tokyo to Kyoto Shinkansen tickets

If you can’t get a JR Pass , or you’re only interested in traveling one way by Shinkansen to Kyoto, Klook offers a Shinkansen ticket service that can deliver your ticket to your accommodation. Prices are as charged by JR, but Klook adds a ¥ 1,200 fulfillment fee on top. You can also buy Shinkansen tickets at the station. Read our complete guide to buying Shinkansen tickets .

Luggage rules on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen

If you have a lot of luggage, or even one huge bag, consider sending it on ahead with a luggage delivery service. Shinkansen luggage rules dictate that luggage with combined dimensions of over 160cm but under 250cm will require special reservations (included in your JR Pass). Bags over 250cm won’t be allowed onboard the bullet train at all!

What rail passes cover the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto?

The only rail pass that covers travel on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen is the country-wide Japan Rail Pass . But from October 2023, using an All Japan Rail Pass for this journey only makes sense if you are visiting more places around the country as well.

There is, however, one regional rail pass that you can use to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto: the Hokuriku Arch Pass . The catch? You can’t use the Tōkaidō Shinkansen; instead, you use a combination of other Shinkansen lines and JR Limited Express lines to travel along an arching route from Tokyo to Kyoto via Nagano and Kanazawa .

Note: The JR Pass and the Hokuriku Arch Pass are only available to short-term visitors to Japan.

Discounts for Shinkansen tickets to Kyoto

Puratto Kodama Economy Plan allows travel on the slow Kodama service from Tokyo to Kyoto for [price amount=10600]–[price amount=12000] one way, depending on the season. You have to buy Puratto tickets at least 1 day in advance, and numbers are limited. Purchase them from JR Tokai Tours or from any JTB Travel counter in Tokyo.-->

Low-cost flights from Tokyo to Kyoto

From ¥ 4,000 (one-way) + travel cost to/from the airport 90 minutes (flight time) + travel time to/from the airport Narita Airport or Haneda Airport to Kansai International Airport (KIX)

The nearest, most convenient airport to Kyoto is Kansai International Airport, which is not really that close to Kyoto. While the flight time is minimal — quicker than the Shinkansen — it’s the time spent getting to and from the airports that adds up.

You’ll need more than an hour on each end, just for travel to and from the city center. Or a minimum 30 minutes on the Tokyo side if you use Haneda Airport instead of Narita. That extra travel costs extra money, too.

Prices for flights start around  ¥ 4,000 to ¥ 6,000 one way, but can go for twice as much. There are promo fares and sales every so often, so be on the lookout.

Peach Airlines

Departing Tokyo

Currently, StarFlyer is the only one of Japan’s budget airlines flying the Haneda–KIX route. All other LCCs depart from Narita Airport, which means you need to factor in the time and cost of traveling between Tokyo and Narita Airport . You need to budget around 90 minutes for this journey, and a minimum of ¥ 1,000 .

It’s generally quicker and cheaper to travel between central Tokyo and Haneda . You can do it by public transport from most center city districts in about 30 minutes. However, flights from Haneda are often more expensive.

Arriving at Kansai International Airport

Once you land at Kansai Airport, you’ll have to board a train or bus to Kyoto .

The JR Haruka Ltd. Express service connects Kansai Airport to Kyoto in 75 minutes. The ride costs about ¥ 3,630 one-way in high season. However, discounted tickets can be purchased online (foreign passport holders only) for as little as ¥ 1,800 .

ICOCA & Haruka package deal

For short-term visitors, we recommend getting an ICOCA & Haruka package at the airport station ticket office. This is a good deal at ¥ 3,800 one-way (and ¥ 5,600 for a round trip).

In addition to transport from the airport, you get an IC travel card called ICOCA that comes with an initial balance of ¥ 1,500 . You can use this card to pay for rail and bus travel in Kyoto and around Japan.

Note 1: Residents of Japan cannot buy this package. Note 2: The route from Kansai Airport to Kyoto is also covered by the JR Pass and most JR West regional rail passes.

What about Osaka’s Itami Airport?

Low-cost carriers generally don’t fly into Osaka Itami Airport. You can book flights from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Osaka Itami Airport on legacy carriers like JAL and ANA. However, you are still looking at a 1-hour bus ride into Kyoto (or multiple train transfers).

Highway buses to Kyoto from Tokyo

From ¥ 3,100 one-way 7 hours or more

Several different companies operate highway buses along the route between Tokyo and Kyoto (and nearby Osaka). A ride starts from as little as ¥ 3,100 and can go up to around ¥ 12,000 , depending on comfort and season.

The journey takes about 7 to 9 hours. Buses that depart from Tokyo during the day usually take longer due to traffic. Late-night buses, which are the preferred option, depart Tokyo between 9 p.m. and midnight, and can get you to Kyoto Station as early as 5:15 a.m., giving you a full day to explore.

highway bus japan

Play around on Headout , as well as bus companies like Willer Express and Kosoku Bus to see what your cheapest options are.

Note: Many buses from Tokyo end their journey in Osaka, which is not far from Kyoto. The two cities are just a 30-minute train ride apart. So, if you find a good price on a bus ticket that goes to Osaka but not Kyoto, it’s still a viable option. Read up on other ways to get from Tokyo to Osaka.

Regular trains: The slow travel option

Approximately ¥ 8,360 one-way 8 hours or more + transfer time Tokyo, Shimbashi, Shinagawa, Kawasaki or Yokohama Station to Kyoto Station

JR Tokyo train ticket

The approximate cost of a one-way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto on regular, rather than bullet, trains, is ¥ 8,360 . Those are not huge savings over the Shinkansen, considering the journey would take all day!

The Tōkaidō Main Line follows roughly the same path as the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, but makes over 100 stops. No single train travels the whole route, so you’d have to transfer at least four times.

The Seishun 18 Pass

There is, however, a hack that allows significant savings, which makes this journey more attractive. The Seishun 18 Pass is a seasonal rail package consisting of five tickets (for 5 consecutive or non-consecutive days of travel) for ¥ 12,050 . Anytime during the validity period, solo travelers can use up all 5 days, or group travelers can split them among themselves. In effect, 1 day of travel costs just ¥ 2,410 per person.

The catch? The pass can only be used on local and rapid JR trains, which makes for long journeys. Plus, it’s only valid for a few weeks, three times a year. Read more about the Seishun 18 Pass and how you can take advantage of it.

Driving from Tokyo to Kyoto

From ¥ 15,000 one way 5 hours and 30 minutes or more

Japan has a well developed, but expensive highway network. On top of fuel (likely ¥ 8,000 to ¥ 12,000 depending on vehicle size), rental car charges, and sky-high parking prices on arrival, the highway toll charges alone from Tokyo (Shinjuku) to Kyoto (Sanjo) will set you back between ¥ 10,000 and ¥ 15,000 . That works out to a lot more than any of the other options here.

With rest stops, the journey can easily take 6 and a half to 7 hours. If you feel like you need to drive, we recommend renting after you arrive at your destination, rather than wasting time and money going back and forth from Tokyo to Kyoto by car.

For more on traveling by car, see our guide to renting a car in Japan .

Video guide to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto

The reverse route: Traveling from Kyoto to Tokyo

If you are looking for the best ways to get from Kyoto to Tokyo, rather than the other way round, your transport options are almost exactly the same — with a few different special offers for tourists. We have a dedicated guide to the reverse route — read it here .

Tokyo to Kyoto travel FAQs

Traditional rock garden at a temple in Kyoto

Can I do a day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto?

While we recommend spending a few days in Kyoto, the simple answer is yes. As long as you plan things very carefully, you can manage a lot in a day trip to Kyoto from Tokyo.

A guided tour of Kyoto can help you fit in a lot of the best places without having to worry about logistics.

The Shinkansen is the best option for a day trip, as it starts running around 6 a.m. and the last train departs Kyoto for Tokyo at around 9:30 p.m. So you can get a full day of sightseeing, in if you’re prepared to be up with the larks and go to bed late. You can also get a full day in Kyoto by using a night bus there and a night bus back, but this can be tiring.

How far is it from Tokyo to Kyoto?

Kyoto is about 370km (225 miles) west of Tokyo as the crow flies. By rail or road, the journey is more like 460km (285 miles).

How do you get from Tokyo to Kyoto?

The fastest and easiest way is taking the bullet train (Shinkansen). Alternative ways of getting between the two cities include highway buses and airplanes, including low-cost flights.

How long does it take to get from Tokyo to Kyoto?

It depends whether you take the bullet train, bus, or plane (or local trains). If you choose to travel by plane, you are looking at about 90 minutes in the air, and a couple of hours of transfer time either side (you need to get to Narita or Haneda Airport in Tokyo and then from Kansai International Airport in Osaka to Kyoto). This makes the Shinkansen, at 2 hrs 15 min to 3 hrs 40 min, the fastest option for getting from central Tokyo to central Kyoto.

How long does it take to get from Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen?

The fastest bullet train service, the Nozomi, will get you there in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. The second-fastest option, the Hikari, takes about 20 minutes longer. And the slowest option, the Kodama, takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Unlike some Shinkansen stations, which are located in satellite hubs (and often have “Shin” or “New” amended to their names), both Tokyo Station and Kyoto Station are centrally located.

How much is the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto?

Without discounts, a one-way ticket with non-reserved seating costs ¥ 13,320 . For a reserved seat, which we recommend, the price is a little more: ¥ 13,650 – ¥ 14,570 , depending on the service and season. The faster Nozomi service is more expensive than Hikari and Kodama services (but only if you’re reserving a seat).

Should I buy a JR Pass to get from Tokyo to Kyoto?

If Tokyo to Kyoto is your only trip, then a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) will not be worth it. You’ll want to buy a point-to-point Shinkansen ticket . However, if you are planning to travel extensively, e.g. Tokyo to Kyoto, and then on to Hiroshima and Fukuoka, a JR Pass can save you money. Read more about the JR Pass .

Can you see Mt. Fuj from the Shinkansen to Kyoto?

On a clear day, yes. For the best view of Mt. Fuji , snag yourself a window seat on the right side of the train.

When is the best time to book travel between Tokyo and Kyoto?

The usual peak travel season cautions apply. Travel in Japan is always more hectic, crowded, and expensive during peak periods, which include: year-end/New Year’s, cherry blossom season (late March to early April), Golden Week, and summer break (late July through August). This is especially true in Kyoto, which is a very, very popular domestic tourist destination.

Shinkansen tickets fluctuate only slightly — a couple of hundred yen — but flights and buses, with dynamic pricing, can cost as much as twice the price of an off-peak ticket.

Coming from overseas? Kyoto’s nearest major airport is Kansai International Airport (KIX). From there, you can pick-up transport from the airport to Kyoto .

While we do our best to ensure it is correct, pricing and other information is subject to change. This post was originally written by Tiffany . First published in February 2015. Last updated in October 2023.

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The best time to call from los angeles to tokyo.

When planning a call between Los Angeles and Tokyo, you need to consider that the cities are in different time zones. Los Angeles is 16 hours behind of Tokyo.

If you are in Los Angeles, the most convenient time to accommodate all parties is between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm for a conference call or meeting. In Tokyo, this will be a usual working time of between 9:00 am and 10:00 am.

If you want to reach out to someone in Tokyo and you are available anytime, you can schedule a call between 3:00 pm and 7:00 am your time. This time span will be between 7:00 am and 11:00 pm Tokyo time.

Quickly and easily compare or convert Los Angeles time to Tokyo time, or the other way around, with the help of this time converter. Below, you can see the complete table of the conversions between Los Angeles and Tokyo.

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Getting around Tokyo

Planning to travel in Tokyo? Whether you’re a visitor or a resident, let this guide help you make the most of your Tokyo experience. Travel from the airport to a hotel using Uber and discover popular routes and destinations. Depending on your city, you can even use the app to get around with public transport, bikes or scooters, and more.

Plus, check out Uber rates for riders and drivers and learn how to use Uber to get paid to drive or deliver in Tokyo.

Reserve car service in Tokyo with Uber

Arrange your car service needs in advance with Uber in Tokyo. Request a ride anytime up to 90 days ahead, whether you need transportation to Tokyo Haneda International Airport, you have plans to visit your favorite restaurant, or you’re going somewhere else.

Ride Sharing in Tokyo

Getting around Tokyo without a car is easy with Uber. Find places to visit in the area, then request a ride on any day and at any time of the week. You can request a ride in real-time or request a ride in advance so your ride is ready when you are. Whether you’re traveling in a group or alone, you can use the app to find a ride option for your needs.

Open the Uber app and enter your destination to begin exploring Tokyo.

Tokyo-area airport car service

When your travel in Tokyo takes you to an airport from a neighborhood, or elsewhere, open the app and request a ride at any time of day. Tap below on the name of a nearby airport to learn how to use Uber to get car service to arrivals and departures. On the linked airport page, you’ll find out where to meet your driver for pickup, how much the trip will cost, and more.

Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND)

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Consider Uber as an alternative to taxis when getting around Tokyo. With Uber, you can trade flagging down cabs for requesting rides on demand, no matter the time of day. Request a ride from an airport to a hotel, head to a restaurant, or visit another place. The choice is yours. Open the app and enter a destination to get started.

Public transport in Tokyo

Getting around with public transport is an affordable way to travel. Depending on the area, you can view nearby bus or subway routes with Uber Transit to help plan your travels. Open the app to see if Uber Transit is available in your neighborhood or visit popular places in Tokyo by ridesharing with Uber.

Bike rentals in Tokyo

Biking is an eco-friendly way to get around the heart of a city. In select cities, you can find and ride electric bikes with Uber. Open the app to see if bikes are available in Tokyo. If bikes are available in Tokyo, remember to wear a helmet and follow traffic laws while riding.

Uber does not tolerate the use of alcohol or drugs by drivers using the Uber app. If you believe your driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, please have the driver end the trip immediately.

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Tokyo Named As a Budget-Friendly Travel Spot for 2024

The results of this U.K.-based report might surprise you!


Japan is often viewed as a destination with a reputation for being expensive. From luxurious hotels and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) to its world-renowned dining scene, this perception as a pricey travel spot has been ingrained in the minds of many travelers. However, there are a wealth of opportunities for budget-conscious explorers, and this is especially so at the moment with the weak yen offering favorable exchange rates and allowing travelers to stretch their money further.

This was highlighted in a recent publication from the U.K.'s Post Office Holiday Money Report for 2024 , which is now in its 18th year. The report saw Tokyo take out fourth spot as one of the year's most economical travel spots, beaten out only by Hoi An in Vietnam, Cape Town in South Africa, and Mombasa in Kenya. It was noted that an average of £59.05 a day (approximately $74.43 USD at the time of writing) is needed for essential tourist purchases, with specific costs mentioned like a glass of wine averaging only $4.56 and a bottle of water averaging 77 cents.

Outside of what the report covers, it's worth noting that there are a plethora of free or cheap activities to enjoy in the Tokyo metropolitan area. From temples and shrines to parks and gardens, and even free observation decks like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building , there are plenty of ways to keep costs down.

For the savvy-saver travelers out there, be sure to explore the following budget-friendly articles on our site:

  • Free Options and Facilities (a general guide to some things in Japan you can do on the cheap)
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  • MyMizu Free Water Refill App (this is a great resource for both your overall travel expenses and the environment!)
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Tokyo Named As a Budget-Friendly Travel Spot for 2024


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  1. 20 best free things to do in Tokyo

    tokyo travel time

  2. 10 Best Things to Do in Tokyo at Night

    tokyo travel time

  3. Tokyo Tower With Light During Nighttime In Japan HD Travel Wallpapers

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  4. When to go to Tokyo

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  5. 10 Things You Must Do In Tokyo

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  6. Visit Tokyo on a trip to Japan

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  1. Tokyo Travel Guide: Must-Do's for an Unforgettable Trip

  2. First Impressions Of Tokyo, Japan! 🇯🇵

  3. TOKYO is the PERFECT City 🇯🇵 (My First Time Back) Japan

  4. First Time in Tokyo? Watch this before you go! Includes Prices 2023 🇯🇵


  6. How to See Tokyo in A day


  1. The Best Time to Visit Tokyo

    The rules that govern the best time to visit Japan as a whole — early spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming, before late April — apply to Tokyo as well. Golden Week — a weeklong holiday at the end of April — is an immensely busy travel time, especially for tourists from East Asia.If your trip falls around this time, expect to grapple with inflated hotel and transport prices, and ...

  2. Best time to visit Tokyo

    Always dynamic, Tokyo shows a new side to its character with each passing season. There's really no bad time to visit. Spring and fall bring great weather for sightseeing and seasonal changes in foliage - hanami (flower viewing) in spring and momijigari (leaf-viewing) in autumn - that are followed by locals with giddy enthusiasm. In summer people gather to watch giant firework displays ...

  3. Best Time to Visit Tokyo: When to Go & When to Avoid

    Full disclosure: I'm a sucker for fall, and autumn in Japan is no exception. With nice weather, comfy temperatures, and spectacular foliage, we think fall is one of the best times to visit Tokyo. September sees daytime temps around 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit (25-30°C), which cools to 50-68°F (10-20°C) in November.

  4. The Best & Worst Times to Visit Tokyo in 2024 (Our Take)

    f11photo/Shutterstock. The best times to visit Tokyo are the spring (March-April) and fall (September-October), thanks to their prolific festival seasons and excellent weather. Tokyo has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. While summer and winter can have extreme temperatures, weather in the spring and autumn is fairly mild.

  5. The Best Time To Go To Tokyo

    The best times to visit Tokyo are fall (late September to November) and spring (March/April/May) Summer (late June to the end of August) in Tokyo is hot and humid. Winter (December/January/February) in Tokyo is cold but not too cold for traveling. The rainy season goes from mid-June to late July, but it does NOT rain every day and you can travel.

  6. Best Times to Visit Tokyo

    When is the best time to visit Tokyo, Japan? Find out from U.S. News Travel, a trusted source of travel information and rankings. Learn about the weather, festivals, and attractions in different ...

  7. Best (and Worst) Times to Visit Tokyo in 2024

    Tokyo festivals and events in January: New Year is a popular time to travel to Tokyo and you could pray for good luck in the coming year at a shrine. 9-Day Best of Japan's Winter - Hokkaido Private Tour. 12-Day Classic Japan Tour Tokyo - Takayama - Shirakawa - Kanazawa - Kyoto - Osaka .

  8. A beginner's guide to visiting Tokyo: Everything you need to eat, see

    It's a Japanese specialty where the cold noodles are served in a bowl separate from the warm broth. You dip the cold noodles in the broth and then you reach ramen Nirvana. It's all part of the experience. The best tsukemen I had was at Fuunji, followed closely by Rokurinsha on Ramen Street in Tokyo Station.

  9. 5-6 Days in Tokyo Itinerary: Comprehensive First-Timers Guide

    Complete 6 days in Tokyo itinerary for first-time visitors How to get to Tokyo from Narita Airport. Getting there: Narita Airport to Tokyo via Narita Express, approx. 1 hour. Cost: Adult Narita Express Ticket JPY 3,250 ea A popular option is also the Narita Airport Limousine Bus.At almost half the cost of Narita Express, you're able to book tickets in advance!

  10. Best Time to Visit Tokyo: Weather By Month & Season

    The best time to visit Tokyo, Japan, is in mid-spring (April to early May) and in late autumn (late October to mid-November). During these shoulder season months, temperatures are still relatively mild to warm, and rainfall is lower than in the periods surrounding Japan's hot and wet summer. In these seasons, you'll also get to enjoy Tokyo ...

  11. Tokyo Travel Guide: Things to Do, Transportation, Weather, Events, and

    This complete Tokyo travel guide covers everything you need for those initial stages of planning your Tokyo itinerary. We'll cover things to do in Tokyo, annual events and festivals, recommended accommodations, transportation, and more. Tokyo is an enormous city with many different faces, from glamorous shopping districts to retro downtown neighborhoods and even lush parks and gardens ...

  12. 6 Day Tokyo Itinerary 2023: Perfect For First Time Visitors

    Sensoji Temple (also known as Asakusa Kannon) is the oldest Buddhist temple in the whole of Tokyo. It dates back to the year 645. Legend says that the temple has been build for the goddess of mercy, Kannon. More than 30 million people visit the temple every year, so you can expect it to be a little busy.

  13. First Time In Tokyo

    Tokyo is one of the world's great cities. It is a hi-tech showcase of modern Japan, and yet it still retains the soul of traditional Japan. It manages to be extremely comfortable, even luxurious, while remaining decidedly mysterious and exotic. First and foremost, Tokyo is a food-lover's paradise.

  14. First Time in Tokyo? Know These 18 Things Before You Go

    Tokyo is covered by an extensive network of train and subway lines. Getting around Tokyo couldn't have been easier. If you're planning to use trains and subways to travel around Tokyo, buy a Pasmo or Suica card as soon as you arrive in Japan! Those prepaid cards allow you to take all trains, subways, and buses in Tokyo. You can even use ...

  15. Most epic 7 Day Tokyo Itinerary for first time visitors

    But if you decide to make Tokyo your base, here are some great day trips from Tokyo you can enjoy: Nikko (travel time: around 2 hours) - Nikko is a city known for its beautiful shrines and temples, including the famous Toshogu Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is also renowned for its stunning natural beauty, with places like ...

  16. Tokyo Itinerary & DIY Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors

    Tokyo Itinerary & DIY Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors: Trip Planning for 1 to 5 Days or More (Japan) Japan is one of my top favorite destinations, and if you've been following my journey, it's an obvious fact because I've been doing multiple visits there every year — most of which are to the capital city of Tokyo.

  17. Tokyo Itinerary: The Complete Travel Guide for First-timers

    Here is how the system works: Tokyo Pass: A 72-hour subway ticket (for Tokyo Metro and Toei line) can be bought as an add-on to Tokyo Pass, making it cheaper than paying for a single train fare each time. 1. Using Local Trains with IC cards (SUICA or PASMO) Local trains in Japan run on IC (Integrated Circuit) Cards.

  18. Tokyo Travel Tips: 50 Things To Know Before You Go

    The best time to go to Tokyo is in the spring or autumn. In the spring, Tokyo is famous for its cherry blossoms, which bloom in late March to early April. The city is transformed into a sea of pink and white flowers, and it's a magical time to visit! ... Tokyo Travel Tips: Other Things You Should Know 42. There is a no-tipping culture in ...

  19. Tokyo City Guide

    Japan's capital and largest city. Tokyo (東京, Tōkyō) is Japan's capital and the world's most populous metropolis. It is also one of Japan's 47 prefectures, consisting of 23 central city wards and multiple cities, towns and villages west of the city center. The Izu and Ogasawara Islands are also part of Tokyo. Prior to 1868, Tokyo was ...

  20. 17 Best Things To Do In Tokyo For First-Time Visitors, According ...

    Watching a kabuki show is an excellent way for first-timers (and frequent visitors) in Tokyo to spend an evening. One of the best places to experience this style of performance is at Kabuki-za in ...

  21. Time Out Tokyo

    Gloomy weather side, this weekend's the best time to see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo. Take a short trip out of the city and experience these sakura destinations in Kanagawa, Saitama and Yamanashi ...

  22. Tokyo now cheaper to visit than inflation-hit NYC

    the economist. tokyo. travel deals. travel secrets. 4/11/24. With Japan's once-feared currency plummeting to thirty-year lows and the country quietly sliding into recession, Tokyo is a relative ...

  23. Travel Time Calculator

    Travelmath provides an online travel time calculator to help you figure out flight and driving times. You can compare the results to see the effect on the total duration of your trip. Usually, the flight time will be shorter, but if the destination is close, the driving time can still be reasonable. Another popular tool is the time difference ...

  24. Tokyo to Nikkō: Quick Transport Guide

    In particular, we recommend the Nikkō World Heritage Area Pass, which you can buy online from Viator and Klook (we suggest you compare prices).. The Nikkō World Heritage Pass is a two-day pass that costs just ¥ 2,120.It includes round-trip travel from Asakusa Station to Tobu-Nikkō Station and unlimited train rides within the Central Nikkō area — including to Edo Nikkō Wonderland.

  25. Tokyo to Kyoto: The Fastest and Cheapest Ways to Travel

    Taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. From US$88.00 *. 2 hours and 15 minutes (fastest service) Buy a one-way ticket on Klook or Rakuten Travel Experiences, or a JR Pass in advance. The Tōkaidō Shinkansen connnects Tokyo and Kyoto (and terminates one stop further, at Shin-Osaka Station).

  26. Los Angeles time to Tokyo time conversion

    The best time to call from Los Angeles to Tokyo. When planning a call between Los Angeles and Tokyo, you need to consider that the cities are in different time zones. Los Angeles is 16 hours behind of Tokyo. If you are in Los Angeles, the most convenient time to accommodate all parties is between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm for a conference call or ...

  27. Getting Around Tokyo: Ride, Earn, Eat

    Taxi in Tokyo. Consider Uber as an alternative to taxis when getting around Tokyo. With Uber, you can trade flagging down cabs for requesting rides on demand, no matter the time of day. Request a ride from an airport to a hotel, head to a restaurant, or visit another place. The choice is yours. Open the app and enter a destination to get started.

  28. Tokyo Named As a Budget-Friendly Travel Spot for 2024

    The report saw Tokyo take out fourth spot as one of the year's most economical travel spots, beaten out only by Hoi An in Vietnam, Cape Town in South Africa, and Mombasa in Kenya. It was noted that an average of £59.05 a day (approximately $74.43 USD at the time of writing) is needed for essential tourist purchases, with specific costs ...

  29. What time is the Formula 1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix?

    03 April 2024. Japan. After a short break, F1 returns to action this weekend with the Japanese Grand Prix - and here are all the timings you need to watch the race wherever you are around the world. The Suzuka event will get underway with FP1 and FP2 on Friday, April 5, in preparation for FP3 and qualifying on Saturday, April 6, and then the ...