The Ultimate Guide to Tokyo (Part 2: Itinerary)
I hope I was able to start easing the emotional rollercoaster that you may be experiencing from booking your trip to Tokyo, Japan. To recap, in The Ultimate Guide to Tokyo (Part 1: Transportation, I covered the following:
Transportation from Airport to Hotel
Getting Around Tokyo
Now, that you've mastered transportation, I'm going to walk you through how I planned to make the most of this trip.
I was in Tokyo for six (6) days. This may feel like a lot of time. It really wasn't with all there is to see/do in Tokyo. Not to mention, I initially planned on traveling outside of Tokyo, but quickly abandoned those efforts. One, I realized I wouldn't have adequate time to explore Tokyo in addition to other cities. Secondly, it added a layer of stress I wasn't prepared to handle. Next time, I'm staying for a least two weeks. Plus, I'm going to conquer other cities. Typically, when I create an itinerary for a trip, I plan the destinations to be visited by date and when possible, I include time as well. I totally abandoned that process this go round.
First, I researched Tokyo compiling a list of destinations to be visited/things to do.
Next, I looked up the ward (area) the destinations/things to do were located. Then, I started to construct my itinerary by ward (area) instead of by day or time.
Why? It dawned on me that in order to make the most of my six (6) days I needed a better plan. My new plan of action afforded me the opportunity to see more during my stay. It also cut down the time spent commuting back and forth to previously visited areas. This way I was able to check an area off my list and start the process over with another area the next day. Please be advised, it was not as seamless as I'm painting the picture. There were days I ran out of steam, which meant I didn't get to see everything included on my list for an area. This meant I had prioritize the destinations/things to do that were important, if I got to the rest, it was a bonus.
Shinijuku Station (Similar to Times Square)
Robot Restaurant (skip the food, Book Through Voyagin)
Takashimaya Shinijuku - Department Store Food Basement
Isetan Shinijuku - Department Store Food Basement
Memory Lane aka Piss Alley (5pm to midnight)
7-11 Convenient Store (ATMs available)
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (free way to see views, open til 11pm)
Red Light District
Golden Gai - Famous bar area
Don Quijote (open 24 hours – souvenir shop)
Sensoji Temple (Asakusa)
Shibuya Crossing (iconic sight / busiest pedestrian crossing)
Party in Shibuya (all night experience)
Bowling, Billiards, Karaoke (Karaoke Kan)
Cerulean Tower, Bello Visto
Womb – Nightclub
Don Quijote (open 24 hours – souvenir shop)
Bar Ishinohana – Cocktail Claudia won competition in 2005
Rainbow Bridge (Minato City) (connects Tokyo to Odaiba / Great for photos)
Super Mario Themed Go-Kart Tour (book through Tokyo Kart)
Tokyo Skytree (Tallest building in Japan/2nd in the world, open until 10pm)
Yakatabune Harumiya Cruise (6pm, $100D, email two days in advance to book)
Togoshi Ginza (Longest shopping street in Tokyo)
Tokyo Tower (Eiffel Tower in Paris)
Electric Town, Akihabara (MECCA for video games and anime - closed now)
Yebisu Garden Place (Blue Cavern – wonderland of twinkling lights)
Eat on Nakamise Street
Omotenashi Nihonbashi (reserve by 5p day before, start by 3p, end by 6p)
Kimono fitting $45USD / Geisha Dance $45USD
Other Things To Do
Free Tour guide
Cooking Class (Airbnb Experience / Voyagin)
Michelin Restaurant (more stars than NYC and London combined)
Ginza Kojyu $$$, Tsuta $, Nakajima $, Nakiryu $, Konjiki Hototogisu Y900
Shinjuku, Tokyo Station Area, Ginza, Marunouchi, Roppongi
Transportation from Airport
Narita Express Train is the easiest way to get from Narita airport to Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tokyo stations (use Hyperdia for train times)
Reserve Limousine Bus
Transportation – Local
Japanese Rail Pass - JR Yamanote train line makes a loop around the city and many attractions are accessible from it
Tokyo Metro Pass (Discount pass, purchase at airport, doesn’t work on a JR line)
Please note that on top of me running out of steam, two other factors led me change the destinations/things to do each day: free tour guide and Mario Kart. You remember when I shared in part 1 I was anxious to ride the train? This fact led me to select options for the tour guide that I thought we be harder to navigate on my own. In addition, the Mario Kart experience was preset route (there were three (3) route options available). This is why I stated above that the picture wasn't as seamless as it appeared.
In part 3 of this guide, I will take a deeper dive into my itinerary by highlighting the top 14 things to do in Tokyo. I'll also share a few activities that were on my list, but due to time limitations and/or availability, I wasn't able to do. There's always next time! Lastly, I'll share some tips for navigating the language barrier.
Ready?! Read part 3 here.