Ultimate Tokyo Travel Guide
I hope I was able to start easing the emotional rollercoaster that you may be experiencing from booking your trip to Tokyo, Japan. To recap, in How to Get Around Tokyo, Japan, I covered the following:
Transportation from Airport to Hotel
Getting Around Tokyo
Now, that you've mastered transportation, I'm going to walk you through how I planned to make the most of this trip.
I was in Tokyo for six (6) days. This may feel like a lot of time. It really wasn't with all there is to see/do in Tokyo. Not to mention, I initially planned on traveling outside of Tokyo, but quickly abandoned those efforts because 1) I realized I wouldn't have adequate time to explore Tokyo in addition to other cities and 2) it added a layer of stress I wasn't prepared to handle. Next time, I'll stay for a least two weeks to ensure I'm able to travel to cities like Kyoto.
Location of Picture: Unknown
Typically, when I create an itinerary for a trip, I plan the destinations to be visited by date and when possible, I include time as well. I totally abandoned that process this go round. Here's what I did this time:
First, I researched Tokyo compiling a list of destinations to be visited and things to do.
Next, I looked up the ward (area) the destinations and things to do were located. Then, I started to construct my itinerary by ward instead of by day or time.
Why? It dawned on me that in order to make the most of my six (6) days I needed a better plan. My new plan of action allowed me to see more during my stay. It also cut down the time spent commuting back and forth or revisiting wards to see something I could've saw during my first visit. I was able to check a ward off my list and set my sight on another ward to explore the next day. Please be advised, it was not as seamless as it seems! There were days I ran out of steam and didn't get to see everything on my list. This meant I had prioritize the activities/experiences that were important. If I had a chance to do more, great, but at least I got to experience the things that were at the top of my list.
ACTIVITIES AND EXPERIENCES BY WARD
Shinijuku Station (Similar to Times Square)
Robot Restaurant (skip the food - permanently closed)
Takashimaya Shinijuku - Department Store Food Basement
Isetan Shinijuku - Department Store Food Basement
Memory Lane aka Piss Alley (5pm to midnight)
7-11 Convenient Store (ATMs available)
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (free way to see views, open til 11pm)
Red Light District
Golden Gai - Famous bar area
Don Quijote (open 24 hours – souvenir shop)
Sensoji Temple (Asakusa)
Shibuya Crossing (iconic sight / busiest pedestrian crossing)
Party in Shibuya (all night experience)
Bowling, Billiards, Karaoke (Karaoke Kan)
Cerulean Tower, Bello Visto
Womb – Nightclub
Don Quijote (open 24 hours – souvenir shop)
Bar Ishinohana – Cocktail Claudia won competition in 2005
Rainbow Bridge (Minato City) (connects Tokyo to Odaiba / Great for photos)
Super Mario Themed Go-Kart Tour
We booked through Tokyo Kart
Another option is Tokyo: Go-Kart Tour
Tokyo Skytree (Tallest building in Japan/2nd in the world, open until 10pm)
Yakatabune Harumiya Cruise (6pm, $100D, email two days in advance to book)
Togoshi Ginza (Longest shopping street in Tokyo)
Tokyo Tower (Eiffel Tower in Paris)
Electric Town, Akihabara (MECCA for video games and anime - closed now)
Yebisu Garden Place (Blue Cavern – wonderland of twinkling lights)
Eat on Nakamise Street
Omotenashi Nihonbashi (reserve by 5p day before, start by 3p, end by 6p)
Kimono fitting $45USD / Geisha Dance $45USD
Additional Things To Do
Check out the options on GetYourGuide
Free Tour guide
Check out Tokyo Free Guide - a volunteer service offering free tours (Book in advance)
Check out the cooking classes on GetYourGuide
Michelin Restaurants (more stars than NYC and London combined)
Ginza Kojyu $$$, Tsuta $, Nakajima $, Nakiryu $, Konjiki Hototogisu Y900
GetYourGuide has more incredible options! Check them out here
Shinjuku, Tokyo Station Area, Ginza, Marunouchi, Roppongi
Transportation from Airport
Narita Express Train is the easiest way to get from Narita airport to Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tokyo stations (use Hyperdia for train times)
Reserve Limousine Bus
Transportation – Local
Japanese Rail Pass - JR Yamanote train line makes a loop around the city and many attractions are accessible from it
Tokyo Metro Pass (Discount pass, purchase at airport, doesn’t work on a JR line)
Not only did I run out of steam, two other things led me rearrange the things we did during our stay: 1) free tour guide and 2) Mario Kart. You remember when I shared in part 1 I was anxious to ride the train? This led me to select options for the tour guide that I thought would be harder to get to using public transportation. In addition, the Mario Kart experience was preset route (there were three (3) route options available). So I changed our game plan to account for what we see during the Mario Kart experience and the free tour guide..
In part 3 of this guide, I will take a deeper dive into my itinerary by highlighting the top 14 things to do in Tokyo. I'll also share a few activities that were on my list, but due to time limitations and/or availability, I wasn't able to do. There's always next time! Lastly, I'll share some tips for navigating the language barrier.
Ready?! Read Best Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan here.