• Lisa

Tokyo, Japan - City Guide

Updated: 6 days ago

I love Japan. The hustle and bustle of the city, combined with unique culture that dates back thousands of years - what more could you want?! Tokyo is a vibrant city with so much to explore and see. It's truly a perfect mix between traditional and modern so there is something for everyone to enjoy!

It's easy to get lost in the world's most populated city, so plan ahead and know where you want to go!

Know Before You Go to Tokyo:

Read my full guide for 10 Tips for Tourists in Japan here!

  • Currency: The national currency of Japan is the yen (JPY). Check current conversions here - usually about 1,000 yen is $9USD. Carry cash because some places will not accept credit cards.

  • Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit Tokyo is between February-March and September-November. Summer is unbearably hot and very crowded.

  • Culture: The Japanese culture is extremely respectful. Be sure to respect personal boundaries and follow the lead from others.

  • Metro: Don't let the subway system overwhelm you. There are two transit systems (government operated "Toei Subway" and the private Toyko subway). Use a Pasmo card to get around with ease! Download the offical metro map here!

Tokyo Subway Mappdf
  • Tipping: Tipping is not necessary in Japan - it is often added to the bill.

  • Language: English is scarce - learn a few key words before going (hello, thank you, restroom, please, how much, etc)

  • Eating: Be prepared to use chopsticks, or know how to ask for forks/knives!

  • Traffic: Always keep to the left, even if you're walking on the sidewalk!

  • Visa: You don't need a Visa or any special vaccines to visit Tokyo.

Getting to Tokyo:

By Plane:

There are two airports in Tokyo that you can fly into: Narita Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND).

  • Narita Airport is about 45 miles from the heart of Tokyo. A taxi would be over $200USD for the 1 hour and 30 minute drive.

  • Haneda Airport is about 15 miles from the heart of Tokyo. A taxi would be about $100 for a 40 minute ride.

By Train:

Already in Japan? Train is the best way to get to Tokyo. The bullet train (shinkansen) offers quick and easy travel options all throughout Japan.

By Metro:

The Metro system in Tokyo is very advanced. It's a great way to navigate the city. Download the official Metro Map below!

Tokyo Subway Mappdf

Where to Stay in Tokyo, Japan:

Best Luxury Hotels:

  • Imperial Hotel: 12 restaurants, an indoor pool, and 3 bars/lounges, free WiFi

  • Keio Plaza Hotel: 11 restaurants, 5 bars/lounges, a fitness center, free WiFi

Best Mid-Range Hotels:

Best Budget Hotels:

Top 15 Things To Do in Tokyo, Japan:

1. Senso-ji

This is the exact image I think of when I think of Tokyo. Senso-ji Temple is a beautiful landmark with bright red decor. The street in front of it is filled with markets and shops to explore. The entire atmosphere around Senso-ji is fun and upbeat. This is a must do for your time in Toyko.

2. Tsukiji Market

This was once the world's largest fish market but after 183 years, the city shut it down and split it into two markets. The original location still is used as a fish market with street food stalls selling fresh sushi and seared tuna! The "new" market, now called Toyosu Market, is just down the road and has more raw fish.

3. Shibuya Crossing

Visit the world's busiest intersection at Shibuya Crossing. It has a vague resemblance to NYC's Time Square with large video screens flashing ads all around. To see maximum traffic, go during rush hour when the business people begin to leave work and go home. You'll be amazed at how quickly the street fills with pedestrians!

Wanderlust With Lisa Tip: There is a Starbucks on the second floor of one of the buildings on this corner. Go to this Starbucks to get the best pictures - although you will be required to buy something! Definitely worth it!

4. Yoyogi Park

If Shibuya Crossing is like NYC's Time Square, then you can compare this park to Central Park in NYC. Talk about finding your zen!! Yoyogi Park is 134 acres large and perfect for picnics or long strolls. here you may find locals playing badminton, creating a drum circle, or dancers enjoying the day. It is a vibrant park and worth walking through!

5. Go to the Top of Tokyo Skytree

View the city from 2,080ft in the air! It's the tallest tower in the world (note: not the tallest "building" in the world). The observation deck at the top offers 360-degree views of Tokyo. The Skytree is a broadcast tower that houses Japan's major networks. The view at the top though has become a top tourist destination!

6. Experience a Japanese Karaoke Bar

There are dozens of Karaoke bars all over Toyko. The most well known is Karaoke-Kan Shibuya which is the perfect place for cheap drinks and lots of fun. The food is average at best (typical bar food with a bit of a Japanese twist) but the atmosphere is worth it!

7. Watch a Sumo Wrestling Match

Take part in the Japanese sporting events by going to Ryoguku Kokugikan Stadium. This stadium features the best sumo wrestling in the area so be sure to check the dates ahead of time and buy tickets for this unique experience! Japan has a total of 6 Official Sumo Tournaments - three of which are held here at Ryoguku Kokugikan.

8. Visit a Cat Cafe!

How fun is it that you can have a coffee and hang out with over 20 cats at the same time! Cat Cafe MOCHA in Harajuka combines the best of both words (and free wifi) for a once in a lifetime experience.

9. Visit Toyko Disneyland!!!

I'm a huge lover of all things Disney. In fact, I've been to all Disney parks (except for Shanghai). Out of all of the parks, Disneyland Toyko is the most detail oriented and magical. There are two parks here so I would spend two full days in Disneyland (personal preference).

10. Visit the Imperial Palace & Gardens

Visit the stunning Imperial Palace to learn more about the history of the dynasty. This is still the current home of the Imperial Family and sits on a beautiful moat surrounded by gardens.

Note: There is little shade in the gardens and the tour is HOT during the summer.

11. Iush Meiji Shrine

The beautiful shrine was built to honor Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It's one of the cities most popular Shinto shrines and a beautiful spot to walk around and explore.

12. Go to a Baseball Game

Many tourists don't know that the Japanese love baseball! There are a few different teams here in Toyko and you can watch them play at the Tokyo Dome!

13. Go Shopping in Harajuku

If you want to shop like a local, go to Harajuku. This is a popular street filled with unique shops, cosplay, quick service restaurants, and more!

14. Attend a Japanese Tea Ceremony

To get the best experience at a tea ceremony, visit Happo-en Japanese Garden where you check out the traditional bonsai trees as well as the ornate koi fish pond.

15. Travel to Kamakuru

Kamakuru is a beautiful town located about an hour from Tokyo. It is a great way to see the "countryside" of Japan without traveling too far. Here you will find the Zen Buddhist Temple (Engaku-ji) and the Trurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Best Japanese Food to Try in Tokyo, Japan:

  • Sushi and Sashimi

  • Udon and Soma Noodles

  • Tempura

  • Ramen

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Related Post: 10 Tips for Tourists in Japan

Looking to book a trip soon? Check out my favorite resources below:

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  • Travelocity: Search for great deals on hotels, rental cars, fights, and more!

  • Contiki: Travel the world with 18-35 year olds!

  • CityPASS: Buy a CityPASS to save money on popular attractions!

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