From the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to 5/6/7 story buildings filled (choose a different word) with arcade games to Buddhist temples, Japan is a treasure trove of things to see and do. You’ll most likely fly into Tokyo, so we’ve pulled together a 7-day itinerary for your next Tokyo vacation!
Japan has always seemed like a bit of a mystery. A nation where traditional meets modern, this East Asian country is unlike any other and one that can only truly be understood by visiting. But planning a trip can be overwhelming, so we’ve decided to show you how to plan a trip to Tokyo, an anime lover’s paradise. Though you can visit any time of the year, the best time to visit Tokyo is March to May(Spring) and September to November (fall). Summer in Tokyo lasts from late June to the end of August when it generally gets hot and humid.
There are two airports in Tokyo, but you’ll most likely land at Haneda Airport. From here, it’s an hour’s train ride into the city centre. A good place to disembark once you reach the city is Shibuya, a ward and home to the world-famous Shibuya Crossing. Japan is incredibly densely populated, which some may struggle to adjust to. But starting in Shibuya, perhaps one of the most densely populated parts of Tokyo, you’ll be throwing yourself into the deep end.
Tokyo is home to numerous shrines, temples, and pagodas. If you want to see them all, you will need more than a week! But for a short trip, you’re going to have to be picky. A few minutes from Harajuku station is Meiji Jingu Shrine, perhaps the most beautiful temple in Tokyo. The grand Shinto shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife and has a vast land of forest spreading over 70 hectares.
Later, take a 15-minute train ride from Tokyo to Asakusa to visit Senso-Ji temple, the city’s oldest shrine. The historic building, completed in 645, is home to Tokyo’s biggest souvenir market and the remarkable Kaminarimon Gate with its imposing red chochin lantern.
Though this requires an early start, it’s definitely a unique local experience. Starting at 5:30 am, you can view the well-known tune auction at Toyosu Market. Though you can’t enter the private room, you can view what’s taking place from the observation deck on the second floor of the Fisheries Wholesale Market Building. Have breakfast at one of the eateries at the market – they open at 5 am – before heading to Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower. Standing at 634 metres, you’ll get panoramic views of the city, including Mount Fuji, on a clear day. Get here early to avoid the crowds.
After strolling around exploring different neighbourhoods during the day, head back to your accommodation for some rest. A trip to Tokyo isn’t complete without stunning views from soaring heights. If the fatigue hasn’t crept in, take in the stunning views of Tokyo at night from the observation deck at Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. From the 54-story skyscraper, you’ll be able to spot the city’s landmarks.
Looking to have a good time in Tokyo? Your next stop should be Shinjuku, a commercial hub known for its laidback atmosphere and LGBTQ-friendly vibes – there are over 300 inclusive nightclubs and bars! The ward is where you go to experience Tokyo’s buzzing ambience, with its neon-lit streets in eastern Shinjuku. While it’s worth visiting during the day, Shinjuku comes to life after dark when neon-spangled skyscrapers light up the area. Stop by a karaoke bar or enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants or cafes in the area.
If you’re looking for tranquillity, you’d be remiss not to visit the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Japan is renowned for its beauty, and here you can see much of it concentrated in one place. The park’s spacious lawns and pathways allow visitors to escape the bustle and experience calmness in the heart of Tokyo.
If museums are your thing, you’re once again in the right place! Tokyo is home to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which goes into great detail on the city’s history, from its founding to the present day. The museum is temporarily closed, but hopefully, it’ll open its doors soon. Alternatively, you could explore the Tokyo National Museum, where over 100,000 items are housed, including national treasures.
It’d be rude to have a Tokyo itinerary and not include the Shinkansen (or the Bullet Train to you and I). End your trip vacation by riding the train to Mount Fuji and walking up the sacred mountain to enjoy the views. The journey to Fuji-san is just under two hours, but the speed of the train will make it feel like a quick trip. Just make sure you get on the right train, otherwise, you’ll go a long way in the wrong direction before you get a chance to change!
Why not round off your trip by visiting some of Tokyo’s world-famous drinkeries in the compact yet favoured Golden Gai? Located in Shinjuku, these bars are minuscule buildings crammed on top of each other. How tiny are they? Each venue consists of a small bar area with stools along it, and a small toilet! Seating no more than six people in each spot, the miniature bars are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Find somewhere to sit, enjoy a warm Sake or a Japanese beer, and reflect on your once-in-a-lifetime vacay.
Sadly, all that’s left to do now is head home! Another train ride to Haneda or Narita airport, and you’ll leave Japan behind you. A week in Tokyo is not enough, and even if you’ve seen enough of it, there are Hokkaido, Osaka, Hiroshima, and countless other cities to explore.