So last week I only had 3 full days to see Tokyo, if you’re wondering how (believe me, I was too) then here is my itinerary below:
Shinjuku Gyoen National park. With blossom, Japanese traditional garden, all sorts of gardens and contrasted with view of the city.
Meiji shrine – main shrine is construction but see front building get fortune, cleanse hands and mouth, surrounding gardens, sake barrels.
Metropolitan government building – 40 min wait was warned but it wasn’t that long. Got up there in time for sunset. City in every direction, see the lights come on as dusk comes down. Free and so worth the view.
Karabukio and Golden Gai – walking round district to see the lights and grab some food. Karabukio is home to the famous Robot Restaurant if you fancy a typically bizarre Japanese experience. Golden Gai is labrinyth of streets with tiny bars that only seat 5/6 people so get there early! Often a cover charge, and full of locals so try to blend in and don’t take loads of photos.
Sensoji shrine first thing in the morning, it’s worth getting there early to avoid the crowds as the shrine and nearby Asakusa temple get extremely busy. I actually preferred this temple to the Meiji shrine, there was more to see, it’s surrounded by a traditional market and the red colour is gorgeous.
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens were next – take advantage of your metro day pass or Suica card to get you around the city. These were my favourite gardens with lots of beautiful sections and scenic paths. It was like an oasis in the middle of the city with its full moon bridge, stepping stones and cherry blossom.
Imperial Palace isn’t open usually except from public holidays but the gardens and grounds are still lovely to walk around the palace and to give you an idea of traditional Japanese architecture for palaces and their surroundings.
In the evening I went to see Shibuya Crossing – the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. It’s definitely worth going to see and experience it – I crossed it several times just for fun! You can view it from above either from the Starbucks or from the surrounding hotels and restaurants if you have a reservation.
This evening I met a group of fellow travellers out in Shinjuku and we ended up going to a karaoke booth and singing the night away until the early hours. Proper Japanese karaoke is away must!
Again I got up fairly early to head to Tsujiki fish market. Some people may want to go at 4am to see the biggest tuna fish auction in the world. Sadly I’m not that hardcore for my sushi. However going early means you can experience the bust morning rush of the biggest wholesale fish market in the world and bag yourself some fresh, tasty sushi for breakfast.
Tokyo National Museum was my next stop and I was amazed at how cheap it was – 500 yen so that’s about £3.50 for me. So totally worth it even if you only want to pop in for an hour to see an exhibition or two. My favourites were the National Treasures exhibit, the Japanese art and rise of Buddhism and Buddhist art exhibits. The sword and military exhibits are also worth a look but there is loads of history of Japan in terms of culture, politics, religion and art, so something for everyone.
On my way to Tokyo Tower I came across Zohu shrine on the road just below the tower. It’s quiet but lovely and I happened to catch a monk striking the gong which was the experience of it.
Tokyo Tower is definitely worth a visit on a clear day. I had an exceptionally clear day and the great thing is that there isn’t an time limit on the ticket so you can stay up there as long as you like. I went up about 5pm and stayed until after sunset. The day was so clear I could see Mount Fuji in the distance and the sun setting there was spectacular. Watching the lights come on across the city was definitely an awesome experience and a completely different view from the Metropolitan Government building.
And those were my three days in Tokyo! There is obviously so much more to see, not to mention the tonnes of parks and shrines there are to see. One thing I didn’t do was the Tokyo Skytree, I planned to do it but on the day I planned to it was very overcast and I didn’t want to queue and waste my money on a cloudy day. But there are so viewing towers in Tokyo you can take your pick.
Ask me anything or tell me if there’s something else you loved while you were here?