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HomeTravel2024 Itinerary: A Recommended 3-5 Day Schedule

2024 Itinerary: A Recommended 3-5 Day Schedule


Last Updated: 4/22/24 | April 22nd, 2024

Tokyo is one of the most amazing cities in the world. It’s fast-paced, futuristic, and bursting with weird and wonderful activities to keep you busy, including gorgeous shrines, palaces, and temples; hip clubs and bars; and fashionable people and shopping, not to mention beautiful cherry blossoms.

Tokyo lives up to all the hype. If I could spend months living there, I would.

You never know what you’ll find here. One second you’ll run into a group of women dressed in pig masks and ’80s dresses and the next you’re in a robot café or a centuries-old temple.

It’s also one of the biggest cities in the world, home to almost 14 million people (almost 40 million if you count the metropolitan area). Not surprisingly, there are many nooks and crannies to explore in this city that seamlessly weave centuries-old Japanese traditions with modern technology. (So don’t rush your visit. You’re never going to see it all anyway, so don’t try!)

To help you plan your trip, here is my suggested itinerary based on over seven visits to Tokyo:

Tokyo Itinerary Highlights

Day 1: Fish Market, Imperial Palace, Harajuku, & more!

Day 2: Asakusa, Ueno Park, Sento, & more!

Day 3: Shinjuku, Shibuya, Quirky Cafes, & more!

Day 4: Take a Day Trip

Day 5: Sumo, Samurai, Meguro River, & more!

 

Tokyo Itinerary: Day 1

An Ueno Park path river in Tokyo surrounded by cherry blossomsAn Ueno Park path river in Tokyo surrounded by cherry blossoms
(Note: There’s a lot listed for this day. Since you’re likely to wake up super early because of jet lag, you can fit it all in. You might not want to, though. Maybe you need an afternoon nap!)

Roam the Tsukiji and Toyosu Fish Markets
In 2018, Tokyo’s main fish market moved to Toyosu, which is twice the size of the old one, Tsukiji, making it the largest in the world. While a lot of good restaurants moved too (Sushi Dai being the most famous), I find the place itself very stale, since you can no longer wander the floor (you look down via a walkway above; you also need a visitor’s pass to enter).

The old outer market in Tsukiji is still great though, and you can still find food and stores there too. You can wander alone and just eat and shop until you can’t anymore! Most businesses open at 6am, so it’s a perfect place to go in the morning when you wake up early because of jet lag. Food and drink tours of the Tsukiji Outer Market are available for around 13,500 JPY.

Tsukiji Fish Market: 5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, +81 3-3542-1111. Admission is free. Toyosu Fish Market: 6 Chome-6-2 Toyosu, Koto, +81 3-3520-8205. Open Monday-Saturday 5am-5pm, though most businesses don’t open until 7am. Admission is free.

Immerse yourself at teamLab Planets
This really fun and quirky digital art installation is a multisensory and immersive experience in which you become part of the artwork, walking barefoot through the four exhibition spaces and gardens as you interact with the installations. It takes an hour or so to go through. teamLab is quite popular and generally sells out at least a few days in advance, so I recommend getting your tickets online ahead of time.

6 Chome-1-16 Toyosu, Koto City, teamlab.art/e/planets. Open Monday-Sunday 9am-10pm; last entry is one hour before closing. Admission is 3,800 JPY for adults during weekdays and 4,200 JPY on weekends. Discounts are available for children and those with disabilities.

Admire the Imperial Palace
When the emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869, he took Edo for his new residence and renamed it Tokyo. Though you can’t go inside (or get very close), the building is amazing. It is surrounded by lovely grounds and a park, and there’s a moat around the stone walls. You can also see the changing of the guard, though it’s a relatively low-key and unassuming ceremony. Tokyo Localized offers a free walking tour of the gardens that is worth taking and lasts 2.5 hours. Admission to the grounds is free.

Feast below the Girders
Not far from the palace is the Yurakucho neighborhood. Below the elevated train tracks at Yurakucho Station is a 700-meter stretch of wine bars, beer pubs, and casual restaurants filled with businessmen. It’s a good spot for lunch, though it gets the most busy after work, when people stop in for food and happy hour on their way home.

Scale the Tokyo Tower
Built in 1957 and resembling the Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower is taller (at 333 meters/1,092 feet) than its European version and made entirely of steel. It was the city’s tallest structure until the “Skytree” was built in 2010. You can pay to go all the way to the top floor to take in the view, but frankly, the main observation deck offers one that’s just as good.

4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato, +81 3-3433-5111, tokyotower.co.jp. Open daily 9am-11pm. Admission is 1,200 JPY.

Relax at Meiji Jingu
Located at the northern end of Yoyogi Park, Meiji Jingu is a peaceful Shinto shrine honoring Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, who helped modernize Japan. It’s nestled in a serene forest, with a big wooden gate marking the entrance and paths lined with trees. You really don’t feel like you’re in one of the busiest, most densely populated cities in the world when you wander around here. Watch traditional ceremonies, stroll through the gardens, or check out the museum. (FYI: It gets really busy on the weekends.)

1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, +81 3-3379-5511, meijijingu.or.jp. Open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free.

Enjoy Yoyogi Park
One of Tokyo’s largest parks, Yoyogi is laced with walking paths, forested areas, and ponds. It is also used for music events and festivals throughout the year, and you’ll see many street performers and shops selling snacks. If you’re visiting in late March or early April, you’ll be able to catch the cherry blossoms. In the fall, the ginkgo forest takes on a beautiful golden color.

2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, +81 3-3469-6081, tokyo-park.or.jp/park/yoyogi. Open 24 hours, though some facilities have shorter opening times. Admission is free.

Get trendy in Harajuku
Harajuku is one of the most iconic districts in Tokyo. It’s renowned for its avant-garde take on fashion, it’s the epicenter of anime and kawaii (cuteness) culture in Tokyo, with lots of quirky and vintage-clothing stores and street art. Walking around the area, you’ll see all kinds of outfits, mostly worn by younger Japanese people (predominantly teenagers), making it a fun place to people-watch and window-shop. If you want to go shopping, this is one of the best areas to do it in. you’ll find a lot of the best Japanese designers here.

Dine with ninjas
For a unique dining experience, head to Ninja Tokyo (formerly Ninja Akasaka), a ninja-themed restaurant designed like an Edo-era building, with wait staff clothed in stereotypical all-black garb and trained in all sorts of tricks and illusions. You’ll order off old scrolls while being entertained by the skills of your server! It’s super fun.

Tokyu Plaza Akasaka, +81 3-5157-3936, ninja-tokyo.jp. Open daily 5pm-10pm, plus 11:30am-2pm on weekends.

Drink in Golden Gai
This district, lined with backstreet bars, may be touristy, but it’s one of the most fun in Tokyo. These zigzag alleys are filled with hole-in-the-wall bars serving cheap drinks. Each is unique, so it’s fun to pop in and out of them. It’s very touristy, but you’ll find a lot of Japanese people here too. It’s quite crowded on the weekends, so go early before the bars fill up.

If you want a deep dive into the area, take a food tour. Arigato Tours runs an evening tour around Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku that will show you around and let you sample the best ramen and yakitori in the area.

Tokyo Itinerary: Day 2

a peaceful garden near the Imperial Palace in beautiful Tokyo, Japana peaceful garden near the Imperial Palace in beautiful Tokyo, Japan
Check out Asakusa
If you want to see some of Tokyo’s historic religious sites, spend some time wandering around Asakusa….

To read more, visit the article linked in the text.

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