Highlights of Tokyo Featured Image

first time in Tokyo itinerary

Highlights of Tokyo: I was SO excited for our two-week four-city trip to Japan this year and for our first time in Tokyo during the springtime cherry blossom season!

After exploring Fukuoka and then taking the Shinkansen or ‘Bullet Train’ to Hiroshima and prior to us finishing our trip out of Osaka – we were heading to Japan’s capital city for the highlights of TOKYO!

three days and THREE Nights in Tokyo

I had high hopes and great expectations for our visit to the largest and quite possibly the most crazy city in the whole world.

But, with just three days and three nights in Tokyo, I knew we had to keep our itinerary real and prioritise what we wanted to see and do in the few days we had to spend there.

So this was our wish list for the highlights of Tokyo.

OUR TOKYO WISH LIST AND ITINERARY

GETTING AROUND: I’ve included a note on where each of these attractions are located using the Tokyo subway. I recommend you get a Suica Card to make travel around Tokyo easier and more convenient using buses, trams, and subway trains. But as these are discounted tourist travel cards – you should arrange them before travel to Japan. I’ve written a post for you about how to get Suica Cards and JR Passes and the difference between them.

HIGHLIGHTS OF TOKYO

1.Tokyo Tower – Minato District

The Backpacking Housewife Janice Horton at the Tokyo Tower Japan
The Backpacking Housewife at Tokyo Tower!

I wanted to SEE the whole of Tokyo and the only sure way to do that is from a tall vantage point.

I absolutely love an iconic city tower. And, in the past, I’ve enjoyed our experiences viewing the city of Kuala Lumpur from the top of the Petronas Towers, Taipei from the 101 Tower, and Ho Chi Minh City from the Bitexco Tower.

So, I was really looking forward to gazing over the cityscape of the world’s largest city, from the highest possible floor of the Tokyo Tower.

The Tokyo Tower looks exactly like the Eiffel Tower because it was actually inspired by the French version.

But, of course, the Tokyo Tower is taller!

I was also hoping for a view of a snow-capped Mount Fuji in the distance for a highlight of Tokyo.

Because, it’s said that on a clear day, there are great views of the mountain from the observation deck.

You can find out more about our Tokyo Tower experience and if we did get to see Mount Fuji in my Tokyo Tower post.

Getting there by Subway: Toei Subway, Oedo Line – Akabanebashi Station; Tokyo Metro, Hibiya Line – Kamiyacho Station.

Japan Travel: Tokyo Tower #japan #travel #tokyo #tokyotower

2. Scramble Crossing – Shibuya District

This world-famous pedestrian crossing is a must see and do experience in Tokyo in the trendy downtown district of Shibuya.

The Shibuya intersection has a reputation as the world’s busiest road crossing.

It’s estimated 1,000 to 2,500 people cross every two minutes giving rise to its famous nickname “scramble” as pedestrians cross from all directions at once.

Scramble Crossing Tokyo
Shibuya Intersection – the world’s busiest road crossing

The crossing is often seen as an iconic image all around the world of ultra-modern Tokyo as the junction is surrounded by huge video screens and advertising hoardings.

I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself.

I actually walked across the crossing several time just for the fun of it.

Getting there by subway: The crossing is just outside the Shibuya Station.

Do watch the video I made while I was there – as I was so excited to be walking amongst the Tokyo crowd and experiencing the phenomenon of the world famous and iconic Scramble Crossing!

JAPAN: TOKYO SHIBUYA 'SCRAMBLE' CROSSING! #japan #shibuya #tokyo #travel

3. Hachiko Dog Statue – Shibuya Station

The statue of Japan’s most famous dog, Hachiko, is located outside Shibuya Station, so you can stop to see it on your way to or from the Scramble Crossing.

Hachiko was a real dog who lived in Tokyo in the early 1900s. He was known for meeting with his owner at that spot outside the train station every single day.

Then, after his owner passed away, he continued to wait.

Poor Hachiko waited at that spot outside the station for ten years and he became famous for his loyalty and devotion.

Hachiko (November 10, 1923 – March 8, 1935) was a Japanese Akita dog and – perhaps a little bizarrely – you can see a taxidermied Hachiko with his original fur on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science.

The statue of Japan’s most famous dog, Hachiko, is located outside Shibuya Station. Tokyo.
Japan’s most famous dog – Hachiko – is located outside Shibuya Station

3. Senso-Ji Temple – Asakusa District

Sensō-ji is Tokyo’s largest and, dating from 645, the city’s most ancient temple.

Both the temple and its Kaminari-mon (the thunder and lightning Gate) are important symbols of the city. This beautiful Buddhist shrine is dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy.

The Senso-Ji is also the most visited temple in the whole of Japan.

Located in the historic Asakusa District, this neighbourhood offers a more traditional feel of Tokyo.

As you walk along the boulevard (Nakamise Dori) seeing people dressed up on traditional Japanese clothing – renting a kimono is popular – it will almost feel as if you time travelled back in time

Getting there by subway: Ginza Line – Asakusa Station.

Sensō-ji is Tokyo’s largest temple
At Senso-Ji – Tokyo’s Largest Buddhist Temple

4. Ueno Park – Ueno District

As we were visiting Japan in the ‘sakura’ or cherry blossom season, we were looking to immerse ourselves in the popular activity of walking amongst and admiring the beautiful blossoming trees.

Ueno Park is located in the Ueno ‘Green District.’ It’s Tokyo’s largest park.

It has several attractions including a zoo, many museums, shrines and temples.

And… 1200 blossoming cherry trees!

The day we visited the park was very busy indeed.

The paved promenade between the rows of blossoming cherry trees was packed with people taking photos and selfies amongst the pale pink blooms.

Every inch of the grassy areas under the trees were occupied by families having their picnics together. It was really quite surreal and rather wonderful.

Getting there by subway: Ueno Station is a stop on the JR Yamanote Line. The park is just across the street from Ueno Station.

Janice Horton Tokyo Cherry Blossom
In Tokyo Ueno Park in Cherry Blossom Season

5. The Tokyo Food Scene

You cannot fully embrace Tokyo without experiencing its food! We went sightseeing by day – stopping off in quirky café’s and having lunch in tucked-away sushi joints.

At sundown, with colourful neon-lights twinkling across the city, we sought out popular dining spots offering amazing Japanese cuisine.

I had to write a whole post about The Tokyo Food Scene, as it was such a highlight of our trip, and I also made this video!

TOKYO FOOD SCENE: SUSHI #japanesefood #sushi #tokyo #travel #midlifetravel

Exploring Iconic City Centre Districts

It was never going to be possible for us to see and do everything that Tokyo has to offer in the time we had to spend in the city – the world’s largest city!

So we finished off by taking the subway – The Yamanote Line – to specific districts just to walk around them and see them for ourselves and to experience the sights there.

Crowded subway train Tokyo
On a crowded Tokyo subway train

There are actually twenty-three districts or ‘wards’ in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.

The iconic ones are perhaps: Super-trendy Shibuya with its scramble crossing. Traditional Asakusa with its amazing street food stalls. Neon-lit and upscale Shinjuku. Expensive and elegant Ginza. And energetic Akihabara – also known as ‘Electric Town’.

It was exhilarating to ride on the busy Tokyo subway trains and to walk around these iconic districts.

We walked for miles. I absolutely loved the fashion scene in Tokyo.

I saw lots of colourful textured fabrics and layers of lace in bohemian style.

As I travel light (we did this six-month trip around Asia with only 7kg of hand luggage) I had serious clothes envy!

Tokyo is so alive and vibrant. It’s also quite crazy and wonderfully eccentric – especially in places like Akihabara!

It’s also not at all unusual to see young people dressed up as their favourite fictional anime and manga character as they peruse the various electronics shops, comic shops, and maid cafes, located here in Akihabara – Electric Town.

Getting there by subway: Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line – Akihabara Station

Electric City 1 Tokyo
Electric city 2 tokyo
Akihabara – Electric Town!

WHERE IS THE BEST AREA TO STAY IN TOKYO

There are so many great places to stay in Tokyo that it is difficult to know where to stay when visiting Tokyo.

We stayed at a hotel called HOTEL MONTEREY AKASAKA (affiliate link) which I can recommend as it was wonderful and in a great location for sightseeing.

Our three nights in a double room cost a total of 238 GBP or approx $300 USD.

Our choice of hotel is in the central Akasaka district and just 1500 feet from the subway station giving easy access to Central Tokyo. We booked all our hotels in Japan using (affiliate link) Booking Dotcom.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT TOKYO

The best time to visit Tokyo, Japan, depends on the type of experience you’re seeking regarding weather, festivals, and the type of activities you want to do.

Keep in mind that popular times, like cherry blossom season, can be crowded, so plan accordingly.

Also, Tokyo is a vibrant city with events and attractions year-round, so you can find something interesting no matter when you visit.

Spring (March to May)

Cherry Blossom Season: Spring is one of the most popular times to visit Tokyo due to the cherry blossoms (sakura). This usually occurs in late March to early April, and the city becomes incredibly scenic with pink and white flowers.

Mild temperatures make it comfortable for outdoor activities.

We took our own trip to Japan and first time in Tokyo in late March. It was perfect. The temperatures not too hot and the weather dry and sunny.

And of course, we got to experience the ‘sakura’ cherry blossoms

Summer (June to August)

Summer in Tokyo can be hot and humid with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F). This is also the rainy season so be prepared for occasional heavy rain. If you can handle the heat you might enjoy summer festivals and events.

Autumn (September to November)

The fall foliage season is another beautiful time to visit Tokyo. Parks and gardens transform into a riot of red and orange colours. Temperatures are milder compared to summer.

Winter (December to February)

Winter in Tokyo is generally mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing. However, it can be cold, especially in January. If you enjoy festive decorations and illuminations, visiting Tokyo during the holiday season can be charming.

Are you planning a trip to Japan?

Is Tokyo on your Itinerary?

Let me know? Leave a comment.

I’d be delighted to hear from you!

THE BACKPACKING HOUSEWIFE AFFILIATE LINK STATEMENT

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