Tokyo, one of the busiest and densely populated cities in the entire world. A city so different from any others I’ve ever visited, but one very close to my heart. Japan itself is a wonderful travel destination and being able to fit in as many places as possible during your time in Japan is always a great idea. That’s why this Tokyo 2 day itinerary will show you how to see the best of the city in only two short days.
How to Get to Tokyo
By plane: If you’re visiting Japan, it’s most likely that you will arrive in Tokyo or Osaka. Two of Japan’s biggest airports are located outside of Tokyo: Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita. If you have the choice, I would recommend flying to Tokyo Haneda Airport because it’s much closer to the city compared to Narita.
After arriving at Haneda airport, you can take the metro or train to get to Tokyo Central. This will take about 30 minutes. The best way to figure out what train to take is downloading the Hyperdia app. This English app gives you accurate train times for any station in Japan. This way, you can easily find your way to your hotel after arriving at the airport.
By train: Tokyo can be reached by train from any city in Japan. Using the shinkansen, you can reach Tokyo within 2.5 hours from Kyoto (another popular city to visit by tourists). If you want to visit more than one city in Japan, I’d recommend buying a JR Pass. Trains in Japan can get pretty pricey and with this pass, you can save a lot of money.
How to Get Around Tokyo
Tokyo is a huge metropolitan city and it’s impossible to explore it just on foot. But luckily, the public transport system in Tokyo is pretty impressive (and surprisingly easy to use, even for those of us who don’t speak Japanese). From busses, metros and trains, Tokyo can be navigated easily with the Hyperdia app.
I recommend getting a Suica Card when arriving in Tokyo. This electronic travel pass can be loaded with yen at any station in Japan. You can then easily tap in and out when travelling. It automatically takes off the correct change, so you don’t have to worry about buying individual tickets. It’s super easy to use and will save you a lot of time.
Tokyo 2 Day Itinerary:
Day 1: Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku
Walk Across Shibuya Crossing
When in Tokyo, you kinda have to walk across the world-famous Shibuya Crossing. This is the busiest crossing in the world and a real Tokyo icon. Located right outside of Shibuya Station, it’s a perfect spot to start your adventure in Tokyo. Make sure to stop by the Hachiko Statue. If you’re looking for a great spot to enjoy a view across this crossing, check out the Starbucks across the road. From the second floor, you can find a great spot to enjoy the crossing from above.
Visit Meiji Shrine
After visiting Shibuya, walk towards Harajuku. It’s only a 15 minute walk by foot and you get to enjoy all the lovely Japanese streets along the way. The entrance to the Meiji Shrine is located near Harajuku Station. The shrine is dedicated to late emperor Meiji and his wife. You walk through a beautiful forest which includes more than 10.000 trees to get to the inner shrine. It’s such a peaceful, beautiful spot in such a large and busy city.
Shop in Harajuku
Meiji Shrine is located in Harajuku, but there are some other great spots to check out in this part of Tokyo. Harajuku is filled with the coolest, most unique shops selling tons of amazing items. I recommend checking out Takeshita Street and Omotesando Avenue. When walking through Harajuku, I also recommend trying out Purikura. This is a Japanese photo booth where you can edit your photos to make them look more “kawaii”. It’s very popular with the native teenagers.
Walk Through Gyoen National Park
After Harajuku, we head to Shinjuku. From Harajuku, it’s another 15 minute walk. You can also decide to get the metro, but wandering around the city was one of my favourite things to do. When in Shinjuku, check out Gyoen National Park. This is one of the biggest and most beautiful parks in Tokyo. There is a small entree fee, but especially during cherry blossom season, it’s more than worth it.
Enjoy the View at Metropolitan Government Building
In Shinjuku, you can also find the Metropolitan Government Building. Here, you can enjoy one of the best views across the city. At 243 meters, you can find an observation deck that you can access for FREE. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji from there.
Dine at the Robot Restaurant
Japan is known for its crazy themed cafes and restaurants, this one being no exception. The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku is one of the most popular restaurants in Tokyo. You enjoy a meal while watching a show where humans take the stage with… robots!
Drinks at Omoide Yokocho
After dinner, head over to Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane). This atmospheric back alley is the perfect place for a cup of sake after a long day of exploring Tokyo. It really takes you back in time: yakitori is being grilled on barbecues in the street while business man enjoy their sake alongside the grilled chicken skewers.
Day 2: Asakusa and Akihabara
Visit Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
On our second day in Tokyo, we start by visiting Asakusa. The main reason we start here is because of Senso-ji Temple. This is the oldest temple in Tokyo and absolutely stunning. It was built in 645 and attracts more than 30 million visitors every year. When visiting Senso-ji Temple, try o-mikuji, a traditional form of fortune telling. By shaking a wooden box and receiving a stick with a number from it. Matching the number on the stick with the fortunes, you can find out what your future will be like 😉
Buy Retro Games in Akihabara
After visiting Asakusa, we take the metro towards Akihabara. This part of Tokyo is the polar opposite of the peaceful, quiet temple. It goes by the nickname of Electric Town. Filled with skyscrapers, Akihabara is the centre of video game Japan. From tons of stores to buy retro video games and the latest tech, you can also find tons of arcades here and stores that sell anime figurines. Even if you’re not really into that side of the Japanese Culture, it’s quite interesting to wander around.
Visit a Maid Cafe
One of the bucket-list items many people fulfil when in Akihabara is visiting a maid cafe. You may have already noticed Japan’s obsession with maid outfits, but this is taking things a step further. It’s an experience you can’t have anywhere but in Japan and Akihabara is the perfect place for it. There are countless maid cafes in Akihabara so you don’t need to reserve a place.
Play Games in the Arcades
End the day by playing some games in one of the many arcades in the district. I recommend going to some of the top floors, as the ground floor is usually filled with boring crane machines. The good games are located on the first floor and above. You can also head back to Shinjuku and find a Pachinko Parlour to try this typical Japanese gambling game. It’s not really gambling, because it’s more like a game but as gambling itself is against the law in Japan, this is the closest thing to it.
If you want to see more of this amazing city, consider going for a bit longer than two days. Check out this 6 day Tokyo itinerary to find out what else you can see in Tokyo.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Because you’re only staying in Tokyo for two days, I recommend getting a hotel in a central place. This is either Shinjuku or Central Tokyo. Both are lively, exciting neighbourhoods filled with restaurants and bars for you to enjoy after a day of exploring. There are also train stations and metro stations in these districts, making it easy for you to travel to any other part of the city during your two days in Tokyo.
Budget: Capsule hotel. If you’re in for an experience you can only get in Japan and stay very on-budget? Try a capsule hotel! They’re unique to Japan and give you a cheap, yet comfortable stay in the city. Capsule hotels are usually located in some of the most exciting parts of the city, and you can stay there for cheaper than any hotel.
Mid-range: Belken Hotel Tokyo. Located in the center of Tokyo, close to Tokyo Station, this hotel gives you a comfortable place to sleep. Even though hotel rooms are very small in Japan, this gives you everything you need. The thing I loved most about this hotel, is that it’s super close to literally everything! Click here to read the reviews on TripAdvisor or here to book directly on Booking.com.
Luxury: Sotetsu Fresa Inn Higashi Shinjuku. If you want to spend a little extra on your hotel, check out this beautiful hotel in Shinjuku. Located in one of the most exciting parts of Tokyo, there is always something to do near your hotel. There is also a metro station next to the hotel, which is a lot quieter and easier to navigate compared to Shinjuku Station. The room is quite large for Japanese standards and the bed is incredibly comfortable! Click here to read the reviews on TripAdvisor or here to book directly on Booking.com
Nele van Hout is a Dutch travel writer living in the UK. On her blog, she shares free guides and itineraries for destinations in Europe and Japan. Follow her adventures over at The Navigatio.
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