The following is a guest post by Viola, a Canadian girl who is obsessed with seeing the world. She loves hunting for unusual destinations and best sunset spots with her camera. Viola currently documents her adventures living in Japan and travels throughout Asia. Read her easy to digest itineraries, foodie guides, packing advice and more on her blog The Blessing Bucket.
True to its reputation as the capital of Japan, Tokyo is a big bustling city. There is a lot to see and do in Tokyo, from traditional Japanese temples to modern entertainment districts, to can’t miss foodie spots. If you’ll only be in Tokyo for two days, don’t worry! It’s still entirely possible to experience the best of this metropolis. This best Tokyo itinerary will help you plan a compact and kick-ass trip!
Whether you’re enjoying a stopover in Tokyo or visiting as part of a wider trip to Japan, once you are all settled in the city, it’s time to get to the fun stuff! Here are the best things to do on an itinerary for Tokyo in two days in the city!
Table of Contents
What to do in Tokyo – Day 1
Visit one of the most famous street crossings in the world on your first day in Tokyo. Located right outside of Shibuya Station, this busy crossing is a bucket list experience for most visitors. When the light turns green, the scramble begins! Businessmen, students, shoppers, foreigners… everyone is going everywhere. Welcome to Tokyo! Besides participating in the mayhem yourself, you can also stay amused by people watching from the Starbucks window nearby. If you’re wondering what to do in Tokyo, this is the number one thing for your list!
A statue outside of Shibuya station commemorates the most well-known dog in Japan: Hachiko. The story goes that this Akita dog would come to Shibuya Station every day to meet his master, a professor, on his way home from work. After his master passed away, Hachiko still came to the station every day in search of his former owner….Gah, I’m not crying, you are crying! Definitely, snap a pic with Hachiko!
Meiji Jingu, a famous Shinto Shrine, is about 15 minutes walk from Shibuya Station so it’s an easy thing to add to your Tokyo itinerary. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. The ground is beautiful for a morning stroll and a great place to learn about Japanese history.
In opposite contrast to the serene traditional energy of Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, located five minutes away, is a modern area for youngsters and fashion enthusiasts. Walk down Takeshita Street and witness the kawaii culture of Japan. There are shops selling adorable trinkets, unicorn colored candy floss, oversized fruit crepes and more. Your eyes won’t know where to look!
Hop on the JR to Shinjuku (only one station away from Harajuku). As the largest shopping and commercial district in Tokyo, Shinjuku offers a lot to do and see. Some of Tokyo’s largest skyscrapers live here. Go up to the observation deck of the Metropolitan Government Office for a panoramic view of the city, a must see in Tokyo. The area really comes alive at night time when the lights are turned on. Take your time exploring!
Speaking of lights, you can’t miss the flashy Kabukicho, the notorious red light district of Tokyo. Eateries, bars, nightclubs, love hotels, karaoke, pachinokos…you name an entertainment, Kabukicho has it! My personal favourite part of Kabukicho is Golden Gai, an area with a series of alleyways packed with the tiniest bars and restaurants. Wind down your the first day of your Tokyo itinerary in one of these bars with a drink.
What to do in Tokyo – Day 2
Tsukiji Fish Market
Start your second day with a delicious seafood breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market. This wholesale fish market has gained fame for its early morning tuna auctions (You have to get there at 3 A.M to watch the auction though!). If you are not an early riser, you can still have fun browsing the market on your own time and get an amazingly fresh seafood bowl.
After you are full and satisfied, get on the subway and head to Sensoji Temple, the most popular Buhhdist temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. Pass through the famous Thunder Gate (Kaminorimon) and shop around Nakamise, a long street with shops selling all sorts of traditional goods like yukatas and fans, before arriving at the majestic Sensoji Hall.
Akihabara is 15 minutes away from Sensoji by subway. This area is reputed for being the go-to place for “Otaku”s, anime lovers (or geeks if you prefer). This is also where you can get all your electronics shopping done if that’s on your list of things to do in Tokyo! Visit Yodabashi Camera to find all the fancy Japanese gadgets of your dreams.
If you go to one themed restaurant in Japan, make it the Robot Restaurant. It’s really an experience less about the food but everything about the spectacular show. Flashing lasers, robot monsters, dancing girls, it’s madness in the most mesmerizing way! Entrance is quite expensive at 6,000-10,000 yen, but trust me, it’s worth it! Make sure to check the website for show times and reserve in advance!
Although the Robot Restaurant is stunning for their performance, sadly, their food will probably leave you feeling unsatisfied. Don’t worry! Right next door is the tastiest ramen shop in the world, Ichiran. End your two days in Tokyo with a bowl of comforting tonkotsu ramen from this award-winning restaurant.
How to get to Tokyo
There are two major airports in Tokyo, Narita and Haneda. Narita Airport handles most international flights while Haneda Airport handles most domestic flights. To get to central Tokyo from Narita, the Narita Express is the best way. Ticket price starts at 3,020 yen depending on which urban area you are heading to. Haneda Aiport, on the other hand, is closer to the city centre. 50 minutes on the Haneda Airport Limousine Bus will bring you to the heart of Shinjuku district. The bus ticket cost 1,230 yen.
If you are traveling by Shinkansen, AKA bullet train, getting to Tokyo should be easy peasy. Most Shinkansen lines go to Tokyo (duh, it’s the boss city in Japan). From Osaka/Kyoto, the ride is about three hours and will set you back 14,650 yen. Yikes, pricey!? Well, the good news is, if you are planning to travel around Japan quite a bit, there is a special deal for foreigners. Take advantage of the JR Rail Pass. With a 7 Days Pass (29,110 yen), you can enjoy unlimited rides on all national JR trains, including Shinkansens and Narita Express!
Learn more tips on enjoying Japan on a budget here!
Where to stay in Tokyo
Choosing where to stay in Tokyo can be a little daunting, given the size of the city. Shinjuku is a great area to stay because it has accommodation for all budgets, and there’s a lot to do in the area. Ginza is also popular, as is Asakusa, Tokyo Station, and Shibuya. Staying near the JR Yamanote Line means you will have easy access to the major tourist districts. You can expect to pay around $100USD for a 3-star local business hotel, $150-300USD for an international hotel and over $300USD for a luxury hotel.
Day trips from Tokyo
If you have some extra time in your Tokyo itinerary, consider these amazing day trips!
A mountain town on the west side of Tokyo, Hakone is popular for its hot spring resorts and iconic view of Mount Fuji. Check out day trips here.
Hitachi Seaside Park
For photography lovers, you would adore this pretty park in Ibaraki. Sandunes, flower fields, forests, grassland, so many perfect backdrops for Instagram! I mean..photos. Visit in the spring for a magical view of baby blue Nemophilas or Autumn for rolling red Kochia hills. Read more about visiting Hitachi Seaside Park here.
We don’t need much introduction here, do we? One thing to note about Tokyo Disneyland is that it’s actually located in Chiba. It takes about an hour to get to from Tokyo by public transport. Spend a day in the happiest place on earth (Japan version)! Book a bus and advance ticket here.
2 days in Tokyo is not a lot of time, but you can definitely make the most of the experience. I hope this guide has given you some good ideas for your trip planning. Between learning about the traditional culture, witnessing cutting edge technology, experiencing the lively nightlife, and devouring Japanese cuisine, what are you looking forward to the most?
Read more: 13 Awesome Day Trips from Tokyo
Enjoy your adventures in Japan!
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