Tokyo Itinerary

Japan: A First-Timer’s Guide and Itinerary to Tokyo

We are down to our last Japanese city – Tokyo! I’ve already blogged about my explorations in Osaka and Kyoto day tour so let me now take you to the wildest city of Japan. I’ve allotted 3 days in Tokyo and I’m already telling you that it’s not enough!  (Warning: This is a long and a photo dump post but in a very friendly tone because I know Tokyo can be quite intimidating.)

Japan Jetstar

HOW TO GO TO TOKYO

 You can read my previous post Japan: Airfare, Visa, Budget & Travel Guide for some basic things you need to know before going to Tokyo, or basically Japan.

via plane: You can reach Tokyo via Haneda or Narita Airport. Haneda Airport is more convenient since it is already in Tokyo. (Only Philippine Airlines has a direct flight to Haneda) But most of the international flights are directed to Narita Airport which is 1.5 hours away from Tokyo.

via train: If you will enter Japan in Osaka or Fukuoka, or Sapporo, you can go to Tokyo by their shinkansen (bullet train).

via bus: Shinkansen can be quite expensive. So if you’re on a budget, try Willer overnight bus.

Tokyo Subway

The spaghetti subway system of Tokyo

GOING AROUND IN TOKYO

Yamanote Line

Taxis, of course, are the most efficient way but it is as well the most expensive way to get around the city. Bus routes in another country are complicated to know so it’s always better to take the train.

I never had a hard time planning our transportation in Osaka and Kyoto but I went crazy in Tokyo. Their subway system is so tangled up with each other that even the locals get lost. Imagine that! There is a dozen of subway companies running around Tokyo but the big three are the JR East, Toei and Tokyo Metro. You also need to keep in mind that Tokyo has different train types. You might skip your station if you rode an express train or take a lot of your time if you rode a local train with 10+ stops on your destination.

  • Local – Just like our MRT-LRT, this stops at all stations.
  • Rapid – Trains skip some stations.
  • Express – Trains skip more stations than the rapid.
  • Limited Express – Trains that stop at major stations.

Since we have a JR Pass and my head is hurting by just looking the subway route map, I decided to stick with the JR Yamanote Line. This line is a loop that goes around Tokyo which is very famous for tourist (and even locals) who wants to go around the city. I’ll stick with this train line in my whole Tokyo guide, okay? (NOTE: We had a JR Pass because we went to Osaka and Kyoto too. If you’re planning to see only Tokyo, I advise you not to get one. )

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN TOKYO

Tokyo trains

I compiled all the famous places you can do and visit on each ward in Tokyo. Artworks are not mine. (C) to the owner

FIRST STOP: SHIBUYA

We rented an Airbnb in Shibuya and it’s the best ward in Tokyo to stay in. It got food, entertainment, and shopping malls. Plus, it’s freaking wild at night, people (and wink wink specials) are everywhere that I didn’t get scared to walk alone at 12 midnight! There’s also a lot of drunk kids but they’re harmless.

The best things to do here: visit Hachiko monument and cross the Shibuya crossing until you canl. If you love shopping, there’s one whole building of H&M, Forever21, and Daiso here. And of course, the famous Shibuya 109. I’ve also tried Ichiran here.

Shibuya

SECOND STOP: HARAJUKU

Harajuku is said to be the kawaii capital of Tokyo. This is the ward where Japanese teenage culture and fashion trends are much visible. If you’re a fan of cute things and Lolita fashion, you should check out Takeshita Street. So hello kikay girls, you’ll 100% enjoy this street but be sure to brace yourself of the crowd.

But if you think you’re too old for this teenager things and crowd, you can go check out Meiji Shrine just behind Harajuku Station. You’ll be transported back to Kyoto with all its green trees and temples and if you’re lucky enough, you can witness a Shinto wedding here. Be sure not to wedding crash.

harajuku

THIRD STOP: SHINJUKU

Shinjuku is another ward that is good to rent a place to stay. It has the busiest train station. All most dozen of railway and subway lines stops at Shinjuku and it is also a major stop for overnight buses. (In short para siyang Cubao) Shinjuku is divided into two: the east side is more of entertainment and shopping; while the west side is more of business and skyscrapers.

Best things to do here are the free aerial view of Shinjuku in Tokyo Metropolitan Building, Godzilla head in Hotel Gracery, Robot Cafe and Don Quijote for pasalubongs. I also crossed out one of my Japan bucket list here- Purikura!! I went all different stages of cray my sister and I tried it in a Game station.

shinjuku

FOURTH STOP: UENO  & ASAKUSA

Ueno is the home of the famous park in Tokyo – the Ueno Park! The park is crowded during the cherry blossom and autumn foliage season because of the hundred trees around.  We just walked around Ueno Park enjoying the street performers. You can see Ueno zoo and Tokyo national museum as well since it’s inside the park.

If you’re already in Ueno, you shouldn’t miss Asakusa! You have to transfer to Ginza line (with the orange G symbol) from JR Ueno Station then go down at Asakusa Station. Asakusa has the famous Buddhist temple Sensoji. You can make wishes here or shop Japanese souvenirs at Nakamise street. I bought my Japan snow globe here. This place is flocked with tourist at 10 am so I advised you to see it as early as 7 am or just go back at night like what I did.

Just near Sensoji temple is the Tokyo Sky Tree. We decided to just walk since we want to cross the Sumida river and do some photo walk. At the Tokyo Sky Tree, we didn’t go up since a ticket cost around P1,000 and we are 5. Good thing, Akiko told me that there’s a free observation deck in the adjacent building of Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s not as high but the view is already good anyway.

asakusa

FIFTH STOP: AKIHABARA

(c) http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3003.html

I didn’t get the chance to roam around Akihabara since I’m distracted by my Fujifilm camera. Akihabara is known to be the electronic town of Tokyo but today it also the center of Japan’s otaku culture.  So if you’re one anime lover, better not miss this.

Best things to do here are shop or window shop at Yodobashi Camera, eat at maid cafes, visit Tokyo anime center and Gundam Cafe!

You’ll easily see this building near the exit of JR Akihabara Station. I bought my Fujifilm XA2 (with two kit lens) for P23K.

SIXTH STOP: CENTRAL TOKYO

We didn’t get the chance to visit central Tokyo. And I promise to go back for this someday. Central Tokyo is said to be the heart of business and politics of Japan. It is in my itinerary so I’m gonna share it anyway.

Best places to see here are the Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tsukiji Market, Ginza and Tokyo Tower of course. You can also transfer to JR Keiyo Line to be able to go to Tokyo Disney Resort.

In need of some palace, head to Imperial Palace which is just a walking distance from Tokyo Station. (c) photo not mine

If you’re looking for the best sushis in town, you better head in Tsukiji Fish Market! (c) photo not mine

Tokyo Disney Resort is consists of two theme park: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea. (c)

SEVENTH STOP: ODAIBA

Odaiba is a man-made island in Tokyo Bay that is turned into a futuristic town. From Shimbashi (Yamanote Line) we rode a Yurikamome, an automated, elevated train! I was so amazed how advanced it is. But it turned out that there’s still a lot more of futuristic things in Odaiba (like the robot that is so much like a human already!).

You shouldn’t miss the Gundam statue and buy Gundams inside Diver City for it is a lot cheaper. You can visit Palette Town as well if you’re into shopping and entertainment. But be sure to witness the sunset with the view of the Rainbow Bridge. We waited until the Rainbow bridge, Fuji TV Building and Tokyo Tower are all lit. I swear it’s one of the best views.

odaiba

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ME?

Almost all that I mentioned here are free except of course if you planned to dine in the cafes or shop till you drop in the malls mentioned. Here’s a sample of an itinerary with the estimated budget in Tokyo.

*Given this itinerary & your hotel is in Shibuya
Day 1: West Tokyo ( Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku)
Day 2: North Tokyo (Ueno, Asakusa, Akihabara)
Day 3: Tokyo Disneyland Resort
Day 4: Central Tokyo (Imperial Palace, Tsukuji, Ginza, Odaiba & Roppongi Hills)

West Tokyo North Tokyo Disneyland Central Tokyo
Transportation 420 yen  880 yen 1300 yen  1950 yen
Entrance fee free  1030 yen (skytree*)  7400 yen  free
Food (*estimated) 2500 yen  2500 yen  2500 yen  2500 yen

TOTAL= 22,980 yen (approx. 10,500PHP)

So there are the famous things you can do it Tokyo. Have you been to Tokyo? Or going to anytime soon? We can talk in the comment section below! 🙂

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33 Comments. Leave new

Thank you for this info! I’m travelling to Tokyo next month and so excited to explore. Beautiful photos btw x

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Ang neat and detailed ng travel guide na to which I’m so amazed! Loved your edits sa photos, you made the complicated Tokyo to sound like an easy city to travel.
We’ll surely keep this guide for our travel to Japan in the future, keep sharing your experiences and guides. More power to your blog 🙂

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Your blog is really good. I can see you must put lots of effort in writing this blogpost especially in editing the photos. Thumbs up!

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Love this travel guide, B! Sobrang dami talagang mapupuntahan in Tokyo alone. Nakakaoverwhelm! ? How many days do you recommend, if 3 is not enough?

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I’m heading to Tokyo next month and this guide has been really helpful!

-Kiara
http://www.viaisabelle.com

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7 stops all in all? I think of the seven, I have a feeling the Imperial Palace has got to be one of the better ones. It’s nice to see the lights of the night scene in a modern city, but in the end, I guess being in a more peaceful place makes for quite an experience in itself too.

Great trip you had there. Not a lot of people have that opportunity to go to Japan and you did that already, which means you must be planning for the next country by now.

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Such a nice guide! Very detailed with accompanying pictures too. Very nice. Just looking at the train routes made me dizzy! I know for a FACT that I’d be lost immediately after taking the first train, if I was alone. Haha. I’d love to visit Japan though, as I’m an animator who first fell in love with Japanese anime hehe. Glad you had such a nice time!

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    Given that I’m good with directions, I’ll get lost too so how much more the people who are not. Even the local get lost too. You’ll in love Japan if you love anime. They are every where!

    Reply

Wow, great post!Japan is top of my list of countries to visit. It’s a bit far from Ireland though! 🙁 But hopefully some day!

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Oh wow! I’d love to go Tokyo some day and it was super interesting to read your experiences and see all those photos. All the old culture combined with popular culture, nature and shops is very interesting. I’d be little afraid to go around without knowing any Japanese but I guess there is so many people that there must be someone able to help a lost tourist haha!

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    Japanese are friendly people. They’ll help you even they can’t understand you that’s why you should have google translate app on your phone. It’s a great help.

    Reply

Bookmarking this for future reference. Nagbasa din ako ng travel guides for Japan before and nalilito pa rin ako sa train system nila. Hahaha!

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Would love to explore Tokyo as well. If taxi is expensive, I wonder if walking from one place to another is practical to save on yen? After all, walking would lead one to many discoveries. Only that I am also considering the time spent. But then, exploring Tokyo should entail one to really save a lot to enjoy.

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    It is! But you must have good cardio for it. I’m with my mom so we can’t do long walks too much. But I really advised walking especially the Shibuya-Harajuku-Shinjuku one! You’ll discover a lot of places/cafes around too.

    Reply

I love staying in Shinjuku when I visit Japan but need to try a new neighbourhood next time 😉

This post is making me miss Japan so much! Thanks for sharing your tips 🙂

-Christine
http://www.christinelovestotravel.com

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Tokyo is definitely in my must-visit list! I did, ever since I watched Hachiko. I envy your Shibuya crossing photo. haha! I saw a lot of IG photos crossing on a pedestrian lane with people behind them, just like yours. I can’t imagine myself figuring out places to go using their public train. Seeing those colorful lines give me headache. I am terrible with directions. I get lost even here in the city I’m living.

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    That Shibuya crossing photo took a lot of tries hahaha! The Yamanote Line is an easy train route to use since it’s just a loop. 🙂

    Reply

I’ve been to Tokyo a few years back and for a Japanese fanatic such as myself, it’s absolutely the best place I’ve been to! We stayed there for 6 days but we limited ourselves to Tokyo as well and there really is so much to do there! My favorite place is Akihabara, or as I liked to say, my happiest place on earth. I am definitely going back but I’ll be brushing up on my Nihonggo skills first so I can experience Japan the way it is meant to be.

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    It really is. We only have 4 full days on Tokyo and it was really bitin that’s why I would really want to go back too. Are you a plan of anime?

    Reply

Their train system is so confusing! Hahaha. They have too many options. Good thing Google maps indicate the fastest route possible and what line you should take. Ahhhhh, I really want to go there already! My boyfriend and I still can’t decide where to go – should we stay in Tokyo? But we like to eat every food in Osaka. Hahaha!

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really amazed to see your detailed travel guide..i am bookmaking your article to get help for future traveling…great job..thanks man

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What do you use to edit your photos? Ang tiyaga! 🙂 Bookmarking this, planning to go to Japan next year! Huhu *crosses fingers*

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Hi what month did you went to Japan, we will be travelling first week of Oct snd I still har no clue what clothes to bring

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