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One Week In Tokyo Itinerary (2024): What To Do In 1–7 Days

Asakusa Tokyo

Tokyo is the destination many people have on their bucket lists, whether you’re a huge film buff who wants to follow in the footsteps of the characters from your favorite movies (Kill Bill, Godzilla, Lost in Translation, — so many great ones!) or a shopaholic who wants to buy the coveted limited-edition items (Diptyque Tokyo candle that can only be bought here or Le Labo Tokyo exclusive scent — Gaiac 10).

We’re no different: For years, we have been dreaming of the moment we could step foot on Shibuya Crossing or hear the Godzilla roar. Our last trip to Tokyo wasn’t the first one (our first pilgrimage was five years ago, and it was terribly brief), but we did come here with a purpose of creating the most detailed one week in Tokyo itinerary. We believe we’ve succeeded in this regard here, because this article is the only source you’ll ever need to plan your ultimate Tokyo trip. So grab a pencil, you might want to take notes as you read!

Things you need to know before visiting Tokyo, Japan

Japan, as expected, is a pretty alien destination (at least to Westerners), so you might have a tad of a culture shock when you first come here. We know the struggle firsthand, so much so that we went ahead and created a highly curated list of everything you need to know before visiting Tokyo to make your trip to Japan as problem-free and fun as possible.

Still, it’s good to get at least a few quirky oddities and practical tips out of the way, right here, right now!

  • Don’t forget your phone when going to a public restroom in Tokyo: There are so many buttons you can press that the situation gets confusing quickly (the instructions usually don’t have English signage mirroring the directions in Japanese); so much so that you might want to use the handy Google Translate to find “the one”;
  • Don’t talk too loud when out and about: Even the busiest streets in Tokyo are pretty quiet when compared to those in other countries. Also, don’t litter (however, finding a garbage can will prove to be a difficult task: Our article explains this phenomenon in full);
  • Do go to convenience stores at all times of the day: Even at night, you can purchase here all kinds of snacks (and even a hot meal!). Lawson and 7/11 are meccas of yummy food;
  • When shopping, make use of the Tax-Free system: Get your money back and spend it on food instead (we spend an exorbitant amount of cash on ramen: It’s just too good to pass up in Tokyo!).

How to get around Tokyo?

Tokyo metro station

Tokyo public transport is one of the fastest, most convenient and most reliable in the world: There are almost 300 metro stations peppered all around the city. To be better prepared for extensive traveling between the many neighborhoods, get yourself an IC Card (Suica Card will be best, in our opinion).

🔹Side note: One thing with train travel around Tokyo that can throw you off is the fact that different lines are serviced by different train companies, so always check before actually getting on a train.

Other than that, buses in Tokyo can get you to the most remote districts, but aren’t as reliable as trains; and taxis are fine to use to get back to your hotel after a night out on the town, but they tend to run on the more expensive side.

How to get to Tokyo from Haneda airport? You can get from the airport to Shibuya, for example, in just under 20 minutes if you’re using the Tokyo Monorail. If you expect to be doing a lot of train travel in the region (like day trips to Mt. Fuji or to the town of Nikko, which we’ll explore closer to the end of our article), then it’s a wise idea to invest in a JR Pass. You can use it to cover the cost of your trip from the airport as well!

Tokyo neighborhoods for tourists

Hipster Harajuku

It’s no secret that the city of Tokyo is simply massive. Because of that, our usual ways of creating itineraries went right out the window: Here, the best course of action is to divide and conquer. That means you choose one neighborhood for the day and explore its attractions in full, before moving on to another area the next morning.

Each neighborhood in Tokyo is like a city in itself; plus, the districts completely transform at night, easily doubling the experience. In all of our ten days that we spent in Tokyo (we went over the original seven-day plan, just to make this itinerary as full and detailed as possible, and to also have a little fun outside city limits), we never went to the same district twice, and that’s saying a lot!

A week is just enough time to see all the main Tokyo districts. Our itinerary is organized in such a way that you will get to cover one (two, max) neighborhood in one day. Here’s a short description of the areas we will be exploring in our guide:

  1. Ginza — main shopping district, with corporate-meets-luxury vibes (we’re pretty sure Miranda Priestly-types would feel right at home here), super stylish people, and towering sleek skyscrapers. You won’t find the usual visual noise of blinking neon signs and tiny restaurants packed like sardines here: Everything is aesthetically pleasing, with clean lines and a glossy finish.
  2. Asakusa — a pretty traditional Japanese neighborhood characterized best by its most treasured attraction — Sensoji Temple. National costumes, yummy local food, and the tallest tower in the world, — you will never get bored in Asakusa.
  3. Akihabara — nerd alert! Akihabara is a safe haven for both electronics geeks and anime superfans. Despite the fact that video game parlors and arcades can be found all throughout Tokyo, Akihabara has the highest concentration of them. On top of that, it’s here that you will find manga-themed cafes, comic book stores, shops with used/rare/retro/vintage electronics (you can buy consoles that are considered great-great-great-great-great-parents of Xbox), and other spots of that nature.
  4. Shibuya — main party district of Tokyo, and the only area of the city that is neither spotless nor odorless (we know, it was quite a surprise for us as well, since Tokyo is usually super clean). To best understand what you will see after sundown when in the neighborhood, google “Shibuya Meltdown”.
  5. Harajuku — technically still part of Shibuya, this area has all the craziness and entertainment, but none of the intoxication: Crazy Instagram foods, cosplay stores (plus locals of all the niche fashion subcultures), and even animal cafes, — does it get better than that? Just around the corner sits Omotesandō — hub for luxury shopping and upscale experiences.
  6. Shinjuku — bustling neighborhood that comes alive after dark: Dimly lit little side streets and the sound of Godzilla roar create an atmosphere that is cinematic and fascinating, a rare sight in otherwise orderly and organized Tokyo. If you’ve been scared of TikTok’s depiction of the neighborhood (and mainly its eponymous train station), drop your apprehension at least by 30 percent: There aren’t a lot of crazy people here (like “Bumping men” or touts in front of bars), but being careful should still be on the table.
  7. Odaiba — the most serene Tokyo neighborhood. A beautiful beach and TeamLab Museum are just cherries on top of the generally fantastic experience!

Note that we already have a 5-day Tokyo itinerary. What you’re about to witness, however, is an exhaustive and updated guide that will cover even more places, leaving you as prepared as you can be for your Tokyo trip.

Tokyo Day 1

Tsukiji Market

What to expect:
✔️Tsukiji Market
✔️Ginza Six
✔️Chuo-dori Avenue
✔️Imperial Palace
✔️Hibiya
✔️Godzilla Statue

Let’s get shopping out of the way right away: We know that it’s a pretty hopeless ambition, since Tokyo as a whole is a shopping heaven, and cool stores and boutiques will follow you wherever you go. Still, Ginza is a good place to start!

It’s no secret that Japan has the most competitive pricing on things like clothing and electronics (and don’t forget about the tax-free system that can save you hundreds of dollars), so it’s a pretty good idea to purchase the thing you’ve been wanting to buy for a while while on your vacation in Tokyo (just don’t go over your budget).

Ginza is the perfect neighborhood for a first day in Tokyo, so take it slow, wander around the malls, pop into coffee shops and cafes, and have a good time (it helps especially in the case of jetlag), — it only gets crazier from here.

Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market

General admission: Free

Contrary to the common misconception, Tsukiji Market is still alive, well, and thriving: It is the market’s inner section (the one that used to hold the iconic tuna auctions) that was relocated to Toyosu Market in 2018. Tsukiji Outer Market is the perfect jumping off point of our one week in Tokyo itinerary, since it’s here where you’re thrown into the local culture headfirst, without beating around the bush too much.

The whole market area covers a few blocks, but you’ll soon find that there are more popular streets where you’ll see most of the action going on (one of the tricks to finding the cream of the crop food joints is looking for the longest queues: People wouldn’t be waiting for hours for a subpar delicacy).

Tsukiji Market has countless shops, food stalls, and even small restaurants lining every narrow (too narrow for our liking, especially with the amount of traffic this place faces each day) street of the area, with produce so fresh and the dishes so yummy it can blow your mind, especially if it’s your first time experiencing an Asian-style market.

Despite the “market” status of Tsukiji, don’t expect food here to be budget-friendly. On the contrary, the great quality comes with a quite significant (though justified) price point:

  • One of the world’s best tuna (and without a doubt, freshest) sushi here cost 3,000¥ ($21) per serving;
  • Raw oysters go for 600¥ ($4) a piece;
  • A delightful treat of a premium wagyu beef slab (we wouldn’t call it a slice, it’s that thick) with either sea urchin or salmon roe topping (we know, how more extravagant can it get?) on a stick goes for 5,500¥ ($40) a piece;
  • There’s also quite a lot of fresh produce at the market, which also falls victim to outlandish pricing: A small skewer with two strawberries and two grapes (though we’re sure they’re of the finest in quality) costs 600¥ ($4).

Still, if you want to dabble in some local treats, the market is a great place to spend a few hours in. Not a fan of somewhat aimless (yet delicious) wandering? Then book a tour of Tsukiji Market: You will learn the history of the place and have a few tastings in the process!

If you are traveling on a budget, your best bet at Tsukiji Market is to resort to eating at small hole-in-the-wall restaurants that get their produce fresh from the neighboring vendors:

  • Onigiri Marutoyo — hefty onigiri portions (they are pretty generous with the filling) that can feed even the hangriest of travelers;
  • Tsukiji Itadori Uogashi Senryo — best donburi (something resembling a poke bowl, for those not in the know) in Tokyo.

The market tends to become super crowded, so come here as early as possible (most shops at Tsukiji Market open at 5 a.m., so an early bird will certainly get the worm here — and by worm, I mean the ability to walk freely without bumping into people constantly).

Tsukiji Hongwanji

Tsukiji Hongwanji

General admission: Free

Located within walking distance of the Tsukiji Market, Tsukiji Hongwanji seems to be a smooth transition into the more enlightening part of our guide to 7 days in Tokyo. Now that you’ve got a bellyful of yummy treats you’ve taste-tested at the market, you can spend an hour or so walking around the grounds of one of the most breathtaking Buddhist temples we’ve ever seen in our entire lives.

Tsukiji Hongwanji’s overall look is so intricate it can stop you in the tracks: The attention to detail (while evocative of Buddhist temples of India) is something else entirely. For us, personally, the temple was reminiscent of some opera houses in Europe!

This blending of cultures is what makes the temple such a popular tourist attraction: A pipe organ is contrasted by a stately statue of Buddha here, while a stained-glass window above the temple door is a step and a half, aesthetics-wise, from the rounded roof of the building that resembles a leaf of the sacred Bodhi tree with a full lotus flower in the middle.

It also helps that Tsukiji Hongwanji’s opening hours are from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Given the fact that we encourage you to start your first day of the 7-day Tokyo itinerary as early as you can (to beat the crowds), the ability to strike off two places from your list before even grabbing coffee is the level of productivity that you want to establish to be able to see as much as you can while in the city.

Ginza Six

Ginza Six

General admission: Free

Ginza neighborhood has long been synonymous with shopping: A giant mall by the name of Ginza Six sits as a crown jewel of the district that makes every retail therapy afficionado flock to its walls as soon as they step foot in Tokyo. After all, shopping has always been the top answer to the question of what to do in Tokyo for a week (a month, or even a year, if the budget allows it).

Ginza Six is a grandiose-looking shopping center: Sleek lines and unique architectural choices (the lower levels aren’t uniform in style: Each high-end store, like Dior, Fendi, and Celine created their own facade designs) make for a peculiar eye-candy. But don’t get too excited yet: The building is a million times more impressive on the inside! A giant illuminated atrium, winding floor plan (reminiscent of what the district looked like in the past), digital installations, a vertical garden, and even a peaceful rooftop garden (that is free to enter, by the way) can make you lose track of time while inside the mall!

Countless stores (most of them luxury brands), cafes, and restaurants aren’t an afterthought at Ginza Six either. Yes, they require you being ready to spend your travel budget, but you don’t need to have millions: Start your journey of exploring the mall by paying a quick visit to Tsutaya Bookstore (one of the most Instagrammable spots in Ginza Six) and grabbing yourself a coffee at the Starbucks located on site. Then, go up to the rooftop and spend a few moments enjoying the surrounding landscape (you can see Chuo-dori Avenue (your next stop on our guide), a super-tall Uniqlo store, and even the Tokyo Tower from up there). Your remaining time should be spent shopping (or at least window shopping) at such iconic shops as Saint Laurent, Valentino, or Van Cleef & Arpels.

Сhuo-dori Avenue

Chuo-dori Avenue

General admission: Free

Сhuo-dori Avenue is the main shopping destination in Ginza, and leisurely discovering it on foot definitely makes for a peculiar experience: Wherever you look, you’re met with either a stunning architectural quirk or outlandish advertisement efforts. Look out for the following gems while strolling through the street:

  • Uniqlo’s official flagship store — this 12-story high mammoth of a building is definitely the first thing you’ll see upon arriving in the neighborhood. If you’re a fan of Uniqlo, do come inside: Each floor is dedicated to a particular category of clothing, with colorful installations to boot. At the top, there’s a lounge area with a cafe (not the best we’ve been to in Tokyo, but good enough to replenish your energy levels). You can also customize your own t-shirts here, which is a great way to remember your trip by! We also saw a small outlet with fresh flowers inside, which we’re pretty sure wasn’t a fever dream: After all, what does one need after buying yet another pair of Heattech leggings? A bouquet of flowers!
  • Hermès Ginza — even if you’re not on the hunt for the hottest bag in the world (The Birkin, of course), you might want to make your way towards the Hermès building in Ginza. Made entirely out of glass cubes, the building looks like its illuminated from its very essence: Either sparkling in the sun or vibrating warm hues at night, it’s a sight to behold! From what we’ve read, the salespeople are pretty judge-y here if you come as a customer, but if you simply enter the store for a chance to see a free exhibit (at Le Forum, an exhibition space inside the building), they will be happy to assist you.
  • Ginza Wako — a decadent neo-renaissance building that is so different from other clean-lined and harsh architecture of Ginza. The iconic clock set on top of the Wako in a clock tower is one of the top attractions in Tokyo for film buffs: After all, it was this clock that was destroyed by Godzilla in the 1956 eponymous film.

Muji Ginza Flagship Store

  • Muji Ginza Flagship Store — if you’ve never heard of Muji, then you’re probably not big on stationary. Still, this store is a worthy detour on your Tokyo itinerary. Here, you can eat, sleep, and breathe Muji: The brand is known for its minimalistic design and efficient choices. The best way to describe the store to a newbie: Its Ikea, but on Japanese steroids. Inside the store (apart from filled to the brim shop floors), there’s a cafe, a lounge area, a hotel, and even a produce section! We bought tons of yummy snacks (weird chips, fancy popcorn and the like), which didn’t blow our minds, but still left us pretty satisfied.
  • Okuno Building — one of the last examples of early modernist architecture in Tokyo, this building is where time stands still: Okuno looks the same as it did when it was first built in 1932 (!), with surprisingly well-preserved apartments, narrow hallways, staircases, and even one of the few remaining manually operated elevators in Tokyo. Looking at the structure in passing is a treat in itself, but do go in if you have the time: The complex is full of dozens of independent art galleries and artisan shops, all worthy of exploring.

Kabukiza Theatre

  • Kabukiza Theatre — finally, a building that looks like it belongs in an older-style Tokyo cityscape! The beautiful traditional architecture is a match for what is going on inside the theater’s walls — an ancient Kabuki performing art (where men put on a lot of make-up and do highly exaggerated plays. Oh, and there’s also dancing!). Personally, we didn’t have the time to go in and watch the show, but if you care for the authentic Japanese theater, be our guest and purchase a ticket. A 30-minute performance is a nice way to take a breather inside your busy day in Tokyo.
  • Tokyo Station — a beautiful red-brick building that looks exquisitely European; the station is a major transportation hub, with hundreds of trains and thousands of travelers perusing its services daily. There’s a giant underground shopping mall below the station, if you want to take yet another shopping detour. For unparalleled views of the station itself, head up to the rooftop garden of the closest mall — KITTE Garden. No entrance fee required, which is a steal considering the stunning vistas that open up before your eyes once you’re up there.
  • Marunouchi Building — a stoic-looking steel-and-glass high-rise that is often overlooked in this bustling area. The building sports another free viewpoint (what is it with Japan? They give out the best views for free!), located at the 35th (!) floor. The views are at their peak right after sunset, when the whole neighborhood comes alive with light. If you visit the observation deck during the day (on an especially clear day), you might be lucky to catch the glimpse of the iconic Mount Fuji!

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

General admission: Free

Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan, but unlike the White House, you cannot actually see the inner grounds surrounding the castle for most of the year. There are a few guided tours that do take you closer to the castle, but the number of open slots is pretty limited. Plus, the tours are organized by the Imperial Household Agency and not some easy-to-use online service, which adds to the difficulty of the touring experience.

🔹Side note: There are only a few times out of the year where the general public can take a peek into the inner compound grounds and even watch the Imperial Family from afar: On January 2 (for a New Year’s greeting) and on February 23 (for a celebration of the Emperor’s birthday).

Still, the outer grounds of the castle are well-worth a visit. Made up of a few gardens and parks (The East Gardens being the most famous of the bunch), the territory offers a calming respite from the craziness that is our one week in Tokyo itinerary. Come here for a chance of quiet contemplation and reconnection with nature (in Tokyo, every patch of greenery is working overtime: The ever-evolving metropolis that most resembles a concrete jungle takes whatever it can get).

Our favorite part of the whole experience was a visit to Ninomaru Garden — a beautiful piece of land that boasts a pond with giant koi carps, aesthetic-looking rocks of different sizes scattered around it, and the humble tree line that is interspersed by tops of the skyscrapers so prominent in the area.

A couple of things to know:

  • You can easily reach the gardens by walking through either the Otemon Gate or Kikyomon Gate. While the entry is free, you may be given a special token you need to return as you exit — that is how they track the number of daily visitors;
  • Despite the fact that the gardens don’t require any booking efforts on your part, you still need to pay close attention to their timetable! The East Gardens are closed on Mondays and Fridays, with their opening hours being quite narrow: They are usually open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (until 5 p.m. in summertime).

Hibiya Park

Hibiya Park

General admission: Free

Yes, we’ve included yet another green space on our list of things to do in Tokyo in 1 day. Looking back at our hectic itinerary, we believe that the number of destinations set in nature allowed us to not go crazy after one week in Tokyo.

Tokyo is famous for all things human-made and human-imagined: Anime, video games, vending machines, complete automation, electronics and the like. So when an opportunity arises to take a step back and wonder the paths inside one of the most beautiful parks in the whole city, you take it, even though you’ve just completed a tour of the aforementioned gardens. Located super close to each other, these green spaces will clean your palate from all the high-rises, ads, and digital screens that take up the major part of the area.

The park is super old: First opened in 1903, it was the first garden of Japan created in a more Western-leaning style. The park is not a simple patch of grass with some footpaths and flowerbeds: It covers lots of territory with all the different facilities and areas scattered around it. There is a grand fountain, two ponds (where we finally saw turtles swimming in the green-ish waters), a tennis court (!), open-air venues, two (!!) flower gardens with seasonal rotation of the blooms, and a large lawn area perfect for a picnic.

Coming to Hibiya Park in the fall proves to be one of the most visually pleasing experiences: The red maple leaves maintain their reign over the area, only to be outshined by the stunning (and super old) bright-yellow ginkgo tree. So, if you’re lucky to be spending time in Tokyo this autumn season, make sure to pay a visit to Hibiya Park.

🔹Side note: Best time to visit Tokyo for peak foliage is the month of November, so set the date!

Godzilla Statue

Godzilla Tokyo

Not too far from the park sits the famous statue of the monster — Godzilla, the creature that has seemingly returned to its original stomping grounds. In all actuality, this (the Yurakucho monument) is the lesser-known Godzilla statue in Tokyo (of which there are several). We will cover the more popular one further down in the article.

This monument, however, is still very exciting: It’s a full-bodied statue of the monster, the giant tail and short T-Rex hands of it all. We believe that this Godzilla is the one that most resembles the creature from the 2016 film Shin Godzilla (be sure to get up-to-date with your movie viewing before coming here, for some extra atmosphere). Don’t get your hopes up about the size though: The monument is much smaller than it looks in any photographs online!

Day 1 in Tokyo, where to stay:

Day 1 in Tokyo, where to eat:

  • KNAG — great coffee and pretty decent food;
  • Ginza Kimuraya — one of the oldest bakeries of Tokyo;
  • Turret Coffee — wonderful coffee shop with amazing coffee.

Tokyo Day 2

What to expect:
✔️Sensoji Temple
✔️Asakusa district and its Insta-worthy food spots
✔️Kappabashi-dori
✔️Tokyo Skytree
✔️Ueno Park

A historic neighborhood of Asakusa (and our eventual detour to the vast and green Ueno Park) is a natural progression of our Tokyo itinerary. It’s here where you’ll get to see the more traditional side of Tokyo: Ryokans (traditional Japanese inns), shrines, people in traditional clothing, traditional food… The history of Tokyo is almost palpable in Asakusa.

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center

General admission: Free

Asakusa Culture Tourist Info Center is every tourist’s saving grace whenever you need something in Tokyo: Inside, there are currency exchange offices, free Wi-Fi, restrooms, power bank rental kiosks, and, of course, a tourist information corner. When explored more thoroughly, you might stumble upon exhibition spaces on higher floors of the building, only to be met with a cherry on top of all the experiences — a free (!) viewpoint on the 8th floor.

  • The observation deck, though pretty small, is very mighty: It overlooks the stunning Sensoji Temple on the one side, as well as Tokyo Skytree Tower on the other (though the Tower is further away, it’s still perfectly visible).

The building of the Tourist Information Center itself should not be overlooked: An architectural marvel, it blends wooden and glass panels in astonishing synchronicity. Depending on what angle you’re looking from, the building’s levels are all mismatched: They look like misshapen blocks stacked on top of each other by a toddler with impressively fine motor skills.

Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple Sensoji Temple 2

General admission: Free

Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, Sensoji usually tops the lists of things to do in Tokyo in a week, purely based on spiritual and historical importance. The temple’s grounds, that include the main hall, a garden, a five-story pagoda, and a couple of monumental gates (more on them later), with an addition of a large shopping street, make your visit to the Sensoji Temple a perfectly well-rounded experience.

As you exit the aforementioned Asakusa Culture Tourist Info Center, you’re met with a stunning sight — Kaminarimon, also referred to as Thunder Gate. This is the first of two gates that you have to go through to reach the main hall, and its arguably the most impressive of the two. A giant bright red structure sports an equally monumental lantern in its midst — a sight you can witness on majorly all photos shared online from the area.

As you go further, you’re squeezed into a shopping street — Nakamise-dori. Here, you can purchase some traditional souvenirs (fans, lanterns, and such) or grab a quick bite: We went ham on both sweet and savory treats, starting with Mitarashi dango (rice dumplings with sweet soy glaze) and Menchi-katsu (a fried meat cake), only to top it all off with some Belgian Fries from Frites Bruges and sweet potato ice-cream from Imo Pippi (YUM).

After walking under Hozomon Gate, you finally reach the temple’s main grounds. Don’t be too surprised to see lots of tourists in traditional kimonos: There are plenty of small rental shops in the area (some even offer hair styling as a perk). If you’re up for a little adventure (that looks pretty dang neat in pictures), grab yourself a colorful dress and go explore the grounds!

Apart from walking around admiring the sights, you can also get a fortune (100¥/$0,70 in coins is required): There are a few bad ones, but if unlucky, you can just tie them in a designated place and then they will not have any power. The experience is a rollercoaster of emotions, that’s for sure!

🔹Side note: The main hall closes at 5 p.m., but the grounds are open 24/7. That means you can enjoy the light show that is the bright red temple illuminated before the backdrop of a night sky.

Insta-worthy food spots

Cloud pancakes in Tokyo

While we do have an exhaustive list of places that answer the question of where to eat in Tokyo at the end of the article, Day 2 of our itinerary has an impressive chunk of foodie spots all gathered closely together, so we cannot pass up the opportunity to mention them here (you can get a more detailed description of some of the places further down):

  • Hat Coffee — a cafe specializing in latte art (important correction: 3D latte art!). You can drink a hot beverage with a foamy figure of your pet sitting on top (bring the reference pic)!
  • ChaCha Futatsume — a place put on the map by matcha “noodle” ice-cream that is so popular on Instagram.
  • Asakusa Unana — a small eatery that serves the yummiest Unagi (grilled freshwater eel) in all of Japan!
  • Misojyu — a small restaurant that mainly serves all kinds of miso soup with onigiri balls, which most of the patrons have as a hearty breakfast.
  • Sukemasa Coffee — just an all-around great little coffee shop tucked away in a quiet corner of the otherwise bustling Asakusa neighborhood.

🔹Side note: If you love to cook almost as much as you love to eat, there are pretty popular cooking classes held in Asakusa. You can book the experience through Klook.

Kappabashi-dori

Kappabashi-dori

General admission: Free

Also known as Kitchen Town, Kappabashi-dori is a perfect place for amateur and professional cooks alike. Located between Asakusa and Ueno Park, it’s here that they sell all things needed in a restaurant: Cooking utensils, dishes, stoves, tables, and even plastic food samples!

  • We’re not really big on cooking, but still, the experience of browsing these specialty shops was a big hit: It isn’t often that you see a small kitchen knife for 7,000¥ ($50)!

You cannot miss the street: Look out for a giant chef’s head on top of the building; that way you know you’ve reached your destination.

If cooking isn’t your forte, come to Kappabashi-dori for the ultimate view of the Tokyo Skytree Tower! As you walk closer and closer to it, you will become even more enamored by this mammoth of a structure, which we will delve into momentarily.

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

Tembo Deck: 1,800¥ / $13 per person (if booked in advance on Klook

Combo Ticket (Tembo Deck + Tembo Galleria): 2,700¥ / $19 per person

No week in Tokyo travel guide can be complete without a mention of Tokyo Skytree — the tallest structure in Tokyo (and Japan in general), which has become its unofficial symbol. The tower is a part of a larger complex of Tokyo Skytree Town, that also includes an aquarium, a planetarium, and countless shops and restaurants.

Let’s focus on the star of the show: Tokyo Skytree stands at 634 meters tall, piercing the Tokyo skyline with its sharp stature. It boasts two (!) observation decks (also the highest ones in Japan):

  • Tembo Deck (350 meters) — spanning three whole floors, this observation deck has an area with a glass floor for the most adrenaline-inducing experience, a restaurant, a cafe, and a 360-degree view of the neighborhood;
  • Tembo Galleria (450 meters) — a unique spiral ramp that gains height as you walk up, leading you to the top floor, where giant floor-to-ceiling walls let you take in as much of the panorama as possible.

The observation decks become super crowded right before sundown: Paying a visit to Tokyo Skytree is one of the most popular things to do in Tokyo at night, as the views of the sprawling streets glistening against the dark backdrop of twilight like millions of precious gemstones are just what the doctor ordered for the ultimate experience of the city.

view from Tokyo Skytree

In my mind, however, Tokyo Skytree (especially its highest observation deck) is a tad overrated. There are plenty of free viewpoints in Tokyo, which can give Skytree a run for its money (as the tickets price here starts at 1,800¥ / $13 per person). Because of its popularity, the attraction is always swarming with tourists, and there are lines everywhere you look. We had to queue up for half an hour just to get inside!

🔹Side note: Don’t even think about coming here in hopes of getting a ticket on the spot, it’s virtually impossible. Book your ticket online on Klook. If you’ve found yourself in dire need of some dramatic cityscapes and can’t get into Skytree, head on over to Asahi Group Head Office Building — an iconic structure that looks like a tall glass of beer with, you’ve guessed it, a cool pub on top of it. Break open a cold one and enjoy the view!

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

General admission: Free

While being considered one of the oldest parks in Tokyo, Ueno Park is not a mere afterthought of a green space in the city: It’s actually one of the first spots we recommend to visit if you’re traveling with family; it has so much to offer, both culture- and entertainment-wise, that everybody who comes here is guaranteed to have a grand ol’ time.

Ueno Park is the destination you want to experience in full: Shrines, temples, pagodas, museums (yup, plural, there’s a few of them), cherry blossoms, a pond, and even a zoo, — thankfully, it’s the final stop on our Tokyo third day itinerary, so you can spend as much time here as you can.

Start your visit with a paddle boat ride on Shinobazu Pond and admire your surroundings from the water: A huge part of the pond gets covered by lotus flowers, which is a rare sight, usually associated with Buddhist religion in Japan. Speaking of beautiful blooms, if you’ve made one of the best decisions in your travel career and decided to come to Tokyo sometime in late March or early April, then rush over to the park’s main street: At this time of year (aesthetics-wise, arguably the best time to visit Tokyo), it is lined with jaw-dropping sakura blossoms, creating a purely magical sight.

Visiting Ueno Zoo is, without a doubt, one of the ultimate things to do in Tokyo with toddlers: Your little ones will never get tired of looking at the giant pandas the zoo is so famous for. By the way, did you know there’s an actual job title of a panda hugger/panda nanny? Just watch those few lucky dogs of humans get paid to cuddle these cute creatures. Don’t try this at home though!*
*However, if not friend, why friend shaped?

If you crave some food for thought/soul/pleasure, then pop into one (or more) of the park’s museums. Our favorites here are definitely National Museum of Nature and Science and Tokyo National Museum (honorary mention goes to the mecca for art lovers — Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum).

Not a fan of museums? Check out the area anyway: There are a couple of Pokémon-themed manhole covers scattered in these general parts, so make it an adventure for the evening to find both of them!

🔹Side note: The whole of Tokyo is littered with these Pokémon manhole covers, so keep an eye out for them as you explore the city. Most of them double as Pokéstops in the Pokémon Go game, so if you’re a Poké-gamer, you’ll be killing two Pidgeots with one Pokéball!

Day 2 in Tokyo, where to stay:

Day 2 in Tokyo, where to eat:

  • February Cafe — perfect breakfast spot;
  • ChaCha Futatsume — matcha “noodle” ice-cream;
  • Asakusa Unana — best grilled freshwater eel in all of Tokyo.

Tokyo Day 3

anime and electronics shops GIGO

What to expect:
✔️Akihabara district and its quirky attractions!

How to spend one week in Tokyo, Japan if you’re a die-hard anime and manga fan, electronics connoisseur, and video games nerd (in the best way, of course)? We don’t know about a week, but you can definitely get lost in the infamous otaku culture for a full third day of our itinerary.

It doesn’t happen that often, but we find it pretty unique that Akihabara is the only neighborhood on our list with attractions being solely in the retail category. If you’re on the hunt for the retro Game Boy, the latest installment of the popular manga series, or a costume to cosplay as your favorite anime character, Akihabara is definitely the place for you.

  • The area is particularly enjoyable to discover by foot on Sundays: Every week, the main street of the neighborhood — Chuo-dori — gets closed off to car traffic for a few hours, with waves of tourists and locals (many dressed up as manga characters) promptly taking their place.

We will forever remember Akihabara as a bustling capital of all things colors, games, and particular oddities: Both retro and new arcades, vibrant signs that are so in-your-face (especially at night time) you cannot focus your gaze on one particular thing, and weird (in a non-judging way, of course) local spots in forms of maid cafes. Yup, you’ve read that part right: These are the establishments where waitresses dress up and act as maids (is it a fetish thing, we have no idea). You can see them practically on every corner, handing out flyers: Don’t take pictures of them though, it seems to be frowned upon.

🔸Good to know: If you’re not into the whole culture, then you wouldn’t probably want to spend a whole day on Akihabara: Come here after a visit to Asakusa or Ueno Park. Otherwise, take a chill pill and relax at your hotel; you’re going to need lots of energy to complete our full to the brim one week in Tokyo itinerary.

Things to do in Akihabara

Gigo Akihabara

When in Akihabara, make sure to hit up these unique retail and entertainment destinations:

✔️ GiGO Akihabara — if your nervous system can survive a game on an obviously rigged claw machine, then head on over to one of the few giant GiGO buildings. They’re pretty hard to miss, and then impossibly hard to get away from: That’s why we’re usually setting ourselves a limit of two or three games per visit, otherwise we would be broke with at the very best two plush toys to our name.

✔️ HEY Taito — GoGo’s neighbor that is no less endearing: Lots of arcade games here await your visit (bring coins, and lots of them). If the staff have a free moment, they can give you tips on how to win the prizes (some might even help you), which is an obvious perk to an otherwise negative, at least profit-wise, experience.

✔️ Akihabara Kotobukiya — a giant toy store that has virtually everything: Plushies, figurines, models, and thousands of other thematic merchandize options. We admit, it was incredibly hard not to leave the store without a huge Totoro stuffed animal. Thank God for the checked bag limit!

✔️ Mandarake — mecca for limited edition merchandize: Come here every time you’re in the area, as the collectibles come and go in the blink of an eye, meaning every time is as good as any to score some particularly rare item!

✔️ Animate Akihabara — one of the busier stores on the street (at least it was the case during our visit), it’s another hot spot for anime fans. Spanning multiple floors (opt for an elevator, since the stairs are super narrow), this shop is clad with thousands of themed items, which can dramatically range in price (we see you, people making “investments” in rare Pokémon artefacts: You do you, boo!).

✔️ Super Potato — located on the floors three through five of a building adorned with characters from Mario, Super Potato is the hub for vintage game connoisseurs. Don’t let the “vintage” part fool you: Things can get quite pricey in here!

✔️ 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan — set in what looks like tunnels under the train tracks (things are much more civil here than they sound, trust us), this Artisan Street (that mostly resembles a covered market) is one of the few Tokyo hidden gems we were most excited about coming across! As the name suggests, the spot is great for buying the bulk of your Japanese souvenirs to bring home: Everything’s made locally, with outstanding artisan craftsmanship.

✔️ If you’ve still got the time after all the window shopping, pay a visit to the Owl Café. Here, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with these giant-eyed creatures for a humble price of $17. Big or small, owls are super mesmerizing: Personally, we loved the white one that looked quite similar to Hedwig from Harry Potter. Make sure to book this experience way in advance: Walk-ins are a rare thing, this spot is that popular!

🔹Side note: Don’t worry if you didn’t get to meet these winged creatures of the night, as there’s another option — cats! As aloof and as mythical as owls, cats at the MoCHA Cat Cafe will get you to pay up to let you watch them from afar. If you don’t have a purring ball of fur of your own, this experience is just as exciting!

Day 3 in Tokyo, where to stay:

Day 3 in Tokyo, where to eat:

  • Beef Skewers Maruju Meat Shop — great stall with grilled skewers (chicken and Kobe beef are all the rage here);
  • Kyushu Jangara Akihabara — amazing ramen shop, lots of vegan options.

Tokyo Day 4

Akihabara Tokyo

What to expect:
✔️Shibuya Sky observation deck
✔️Hachiko memorial statue
✔️Shibuya Scramble Crossing
✔️Shibuya Center-Gai
✔️Shibuya Parco
✔️Shibuya Kitaya Park

Gritty, weird, and not always pleasant — Shibuya neighborhood in Tokyo is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Don’t discount it though: The area is a must-visit when you’re in the city just for this very reason. After all, where else would you catch a break from minimalist, clean, and at times too artificial-looking streets that are so prevalent in the rest of Tokyo? Thankfully, Shibuya has plenty of attractions to offer to its unsuspecting visitors without scaring them away.

Shibuya Sky

Shibuya Sky

General admission: 2,200¥ / $15 (when booked in advance on Klook

2,500¥ / $18 at the counter

One of the best viewpoints in Tokyo, Shibuya Sky stole our hearts the second we stepped out onto the viewing deck. The open-air platform is a nice change of pace from the majority of other viewpoints in Tokyo: Here, you have completely unobstructed views of the neighborhood and the rest of Tokyo. The highlights for us were the first-row view of the world-famous Shibuya Crossing (more on this later) and the vistas opening up as far as Mount Fuji!

🔹Side note: Keep in mind that because the deck is not sheltered in any way from the elements, your visit might easily get cancelled due to bad weather. They do have the option to change your date of visit for free, but if you have only a limited time in the city, this could make or break your whole experience.

Apart from the head-spinning 360-degree panoramas that open up from Shibuya Sky, the attraction has so much more to offer: The “Sky Edge” — a part of the platform most open to the view — perfect to get your heart rate up in no time; rooftop hammocks for looking at the clouds, a large compass to help you locate other Tokyo landmarks, and, finally, beautiful digital art installations and a cafe on lower levels.

Word of advice: Book your tickets way in advance to guarantee yourself this undisputedly core Tokyo experience.

Hachikō Memorial Statue & Family Mural

Hachikō Memorial Statue & Family Mural

Is somebody cutting onions over here? Honestly, I can’t seem to even start thinking about this story without tears streaming down my face. I’m guessing we’re all familiar with the tale, thanks to the movie Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009), where red Akita dog and Richard Gere’s performances break the hearts of everyone watching it.

Without going too much into the details, the story boils down to this: The dog, Hachikō, and its owner, the professor, had a very special bond, with the pup always patiently awaiting his human’s return from work at Shibuya Station. Sadly, one day the owner didn’t return: He died while at work. Still, the faithful dog continued to await the owner’s return for ten whole years after the fact, until its eventual passing.

The statue is a symbol of loyalty, faithfulness, and hope, and we believe that its a worthy stop if you’re ever in the area. Bring the Kleenex though, as it’s impossible to remember the tale with a straight face!

While the monument is often used as a meeting point at Shibuya, we believe that the Hachikō Family Mural is a better place for this purpose: The colorful mural that depicts an imaginary family of this famous dog (surrounded with rainbows and stars) is usually way less crowded than the “main thing”. It’s a work of art that evokes plenty of emotion, but thanks to all the bright colors, the sadness is way more manageable than the feelings you get when looking at the statue.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing

Shibuya Scramble Crossing

If you’ve seen Lost in Translation (2003), you can imagine that even while on the busiest intersection in the world, one can feel as alone as ever.

When people talk about must-see attractions in Shibuya, Shibuya Crossing usually crowns the list. Those not in-the-know are always baffled by the fact: How can a simple intersection be an iconic city landmark? Well, you’ve got to see for yourself: In Shibuya, it’s not merely an intersection, but more of a performance art created daily by hundreds of pedestrians crossing the street at the same time.

Shibuya Scramble is one of the busiest intersections in the world, with cars stopping at the lights in all directions, leaving pedestrians with complete free reign of this piece of the road. Despite the idea sounding like pure chaos, the crossing-the-road part is wonderfully organized: So much so, that we rarely saw people bumping into each other while going at pretty fast speeds.

Why does this particular intersection get so busy? We have no idea! But if we had to guess, it’s most likely a mix of the popularity and draw of the general area and the amounts of people using the nearest Shibuya Station.

For purely practical reasons, if you want to safely use Shibuya Scramble Crossing to get from point A to point B, then come here around lunchtime on a weekday: There will be no crowds on the intersection. But if you want to see the crossing at its peak performance, evenings and weekends are the busiest times at Shibuya.

There are a few spots with unparalleled views of the crossing:

  • The nearest metro station;
  • Starbucks that overlooks the crossing (now closed; but permanently or not, that’s another question);
  • Shibuya Sky — both the best and the most expensive vantage point;
  • Shibuya Hikarie — there’s a corner with unbeatable views of the Scramble on the 11th floor.

Bunkamura

Bunkamura

General admission: Free

Ticket price changes depending on the exhibit/show

Bunkamura is a large-scale cultural complex for travelers who love art: It holds museums, galleries, exhibition and event spaces, concert halls, theaters, and other art-related spaces under one big umbrella. From the outside, the building, though multilayered and unique, looks quite stoic and minimalist. Don’t expect frills and thrills: Bunkamura’s design is something you would expect the Capitol buildings from Hunger Games to look like.

Come here to catch the latest exhibition (Accidentally Wes Anderson, on show all of December 2023 was a pretty big hit) or an evening viewing of some art-house film. Make a night out of the experience, to put a tart cherry on top of your fun and emotion-filled day at Shibuya!

🔹Side note: Most of the Bunkamura facilities (with the exception of the grand Orchard Hall) either moved to other locations or ceased operating entirely. This temporary closure is rumored to last until some time in 2027. Check the official Bunkamura website before coming here.

Shibuya Center-Gai

Shibuya Center-Gai

Shibuya Center-Gai is the street (and a few little side streets that create an intricate web around the main artery) that can be considered the heart of the neighborhood. However, it is hard to describe the area in just one word: It’s complex, unique, with places that every visitor can find interesting.

Fast-fashion joints, vintage boutiques, arcade shops, restaurants, food stalls, cafes, pubs, clubs, — the list goes on and on! Strolling through the street is a fun experience in and of itself: Peek in and out of small boutiques and large shopping complexes, each a small microcosm of a place (Tokyu Hands is your ordinary one-stop-shop for all things homeware and DIY, so we would start with that), and then go for a drink after.

🔹Side note: Be mindful of your alcohol consumption when in Shibuya Center-Gai. We understand that the eclectic energy of the street goes hand-in-hand with letting loose and having a fantastic time, but some people take it to the extremes. There’s even such a thing as Shibuya Meltdown: Google at your own risk!

Shibuya Parco

Shibuya Parco

General admission: Free

Home to the incredibly sought-after Nintendo Store and Pokémon Center, Shibuya Parco is a mall out of every superfan’s dream! With sprawling food hall hidden at the basement level and both luxury boutiques and local designer stores strewn about the floors, the mall is the ultimate shopping experience.

When you get tired of the scrambling though, head up to the rooftop to see one of the most amazing rooftop parks we’ve ever been to! Rich with colors of the flowers in bloom and as much greenery as possible that could fit onto the rooftop, the park is an ideal setting for a calming little break. The best time to come to the park is during sunset, but get ready for crowds: After all, great minds think alike, so it’s no wonder your fellow travelers all have the same plans for the evening.

Shibuya Kitaya Park

Shibuya Kitaya Park

General admission: Free

Shibuya Kitaya Park is a teeny tiny park that used to be a parking lot for bicycles and has now been transformed into an oasis for rest and relaxation. Home to the first Blue Bottle Coffee in the city, this is a perfect little hang-out spot that we returned to again and again during our stay in Tokyo. The simple pleasure of getting a caffeinated beverage and sitting outside, under the twilight and Tokyo city lights is what dreams are made of, Hillary Duff-style!

The park is a great palate cleanser after a whole day in Shibuya: Murky at times and gritty at its core, the neighborhood is starkly different from the neatly organized and OCD-approved rest of the city.

The area is not all calm and quiet: There are quite a few fun shops you can get lost in! Personally, we did a little damage to our travel budget at BEAMS — a true household name of a store. If you have money to burn, come to BEAMS: Not only do they have epic clothes by local Japanese designers, but also rare finds from world-renowned brands like Asics and New Balance (try and not go too crazy on your shopping spree, even though we know it’s hard).

Day 4 in Tokyo, where to stay:

Day 4 in Tokyo, where to eat:

  • Flipper’s — mouth-watering fluffy pancakes;
  • Bricolage bread & co. — tiny bakery with authentic bread recipes: Take a loaf for the road!
  • Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka Store — amazing conveyor belt sushi restaurant.

Tokyo Day 5

Tokyo Day 5 Spain-zaka slope

What to expect:
✔️Takeshita Street
✔️Omotesando
✔️Meiji Shrine
✔️Yoyogi Park

A birthplace of kawaii culture, Harajuku is the area in Tokyo that you’ve got to see with your own eyes at least once in your lifetime. From the bustling craziness that is Takeshita-dori Street to more refined style options of Omotesandō (that is sometimes described as Tokyo's Champs-Élysées, based purely on the visual aspect of the avenue lined with trees on either side), from large green spaces to one of the most cherished shrines of the city, — Harajuku knows how to keep its visitors from getting bored.

Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls song has made the phenomenon that is Harajuku reach global audiences: You cannot even imagine how many styles of streetwear are prominent in the district. Set as a certain f-you to the stuck-up and polished corporate style of clothes so widespread in Tokyo’s office workers, the area has birthed the wildest fashions: Goth, punk, Lolita, — the list is long, too hard for an outsider to comprehend.

If you love watching videos in the styles of What are people wearing in…, then walking around Harajuku will be as entertaining as it is enlightening. Who knows, maybe you will want to change your style too?

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street is where locals go to show off their crazy looks, to meet like-minded individuals, and to search for some rare element that would complete their outfits. Streetstyle is taken very seriously here, and you can always tell who’s a local and who’s a tourist.

Tiny boutiques lining the main street (that is 400 meters long, so imagine four whole football fields) have the weirdest merchandize you could ever hope for: To our untrained eyes, the clothes and accessories looked perfect for creating an outfit to go to Burning Man. We hope this visual carried the load of the description, because honestly, some of the shops on Takeshita Street left us entirely speechless.

🔹Side note: If you want to be able to actually see all the crazy fashion statements Takeshita flaneurs make, come here during the work week. On the weekends, the pretty narrow street gets very crowded, and the only things you’ll be looking at are the backs of the heads of the people in front of you.

The street food on Takeshita is just as cute and crazy as its niche subculture fashions. If you’re ever in the area, you simply must try tanghulu (crunchy candied strawberries (or other pieces of fruit) on a stick), rainbow-colored giant cotton candy, and Belgian waffles. The diet starts tomorrow!

Omotesandō

Omotesandо

Omotesandō, Takeshita’s older sibling (or maybe a stylish nanny, we’re not sure), is the street to go for some luxury shopping in Tokyo. Even if you weren’t planning on dropping big money on a Dior headband or yet another Chanel bag, walking along the street is a treat enough to make you want to visit Omotesandō.

🔹Side note: At Christmastime, the tall trees of Omotesandō Street become the attraction of the masses. Over 900,000 lights are woven around the trees’ branches, creating a purely magical sight.

The star of the show on Omotesandō is the mirrored Tokyu Plaza: The mall’s architecture is even more impressive than the stores that fill its floors. The kaleidoscope-inspired entrance to the department store sets the tone to the out-of-this-world experience you’ll get shopping inside of it. If you get tired of this wild experience of retail therapy, head on over to the rooftop of the plaza, where a serene garden offers respite to weary shoppers.

Note that not all stores and experiences on Omotesandō are as opulent and at times out of reach as its Dior or Louis Vuitton boutiques: There’s also a pretty cool Zara outlet, an Ikea, a New Balance store, as well as Chicago Harajuku Jingumae that sells the best vintage clothes and plenty of animal cafes to choose from (and not the simple cat ones either: Here, you can spend your time in the company of hedgehogs, owls, and even Shiba Inus!).

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine

General admission: Free

Meiji Shrine, tucked away in a lush forest land in the heart of Tokyo (ah, the dream!), is the city’s main Shintō shrine. Dedicated originally to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken, the shrine has withstood the test of time (although not without some rebuilding) — in 2020, the temple celebrated its 100th (!) anniversary!

The beautifully humble wooden structure of the shrine adds into the flair of divinity: It’s weird how something so simple can evoke strong emotions! No matter how busy the square in front of the shrine gets, the general atmosphere always remains calm and peaceful (so please, be respectful and lower your voice when talking).

Cameras are frowned upon inside the shrine, but you can freely photograph the surrounding landscape and its curiosities:

  • Our favorite part of the complex is the place where you can make a wish on a small wooden plate or even get a protective amulet (both activities not free and require a small donation);
  • The largest torii gates in Japan also found their home on the temple grounds: The sight of them towering over you is uniquely impressive!
  • On your way to/from the shrine, you can stumble upon rows of barrels! There are two kinds: First, large wooden barrels of wine that signify the Emperor’s modern outlook on life (the Emperor acquired a taste for Western food that went surprisingly well with wine): The barrels were a gift from France, and now they represent the spirit of friendship between the nations. Other, smaller barrels are filled with sake and wrapped in straw. Every year sake manufacturers make offers of sake to the deities of the Emperor and the Empress, thanking them for helping out the local makers in their time.

If you’re lucky to visit the temple grounds in June, you will have the most wonderful panorama unfold before your eyes: Thousands of irises planted in the shrine gardens bloom during the month (which is not a high-season month for blossoms that usually bring the crowds — sakura, but still, a beautiful sight!). Get your camera ready!

🔹Side note: On Sunday mornings, there’s high chance to see a traditional Shintō wedding happening in the square. If you’ve been curious what the ceremony looks like, we suggest you wake up early and make your way to the Meiji Shrine.

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park 2

General admission: Free

A short walk away from the shrine, Yoyogi Park is another peaceful oasis set right in the center of Tokyo city. Yoyogi is one of the largest and most popular parks of Tokyo, not only because of its sprawling beautiful grounds, but also due to its sheer practicality: Thousands of people come to the park daily, to unwind after a long work day, to have a romantic picnic, or to burn off some calories by renting a bike and perusing the park’s great bicycle course.

There aren’t as many cherry trees as there are in other spots in Tokyo here, but the few that bloom in the area garner just as much attention. In the fall, colorful ginkgo trees become the most sought-after photo backdrops.

The interesting mix of locals in the park make it an ideal destination for people-watching: From small festivals of like-minded individuals, to groups of amateur sportsmen and stylishly dressed subcultures, — if you want to get to know the neighborhood through its people, then Yoyogi Park is the place for you!

If you want to delve even deeper into Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo, we have just the thing for you: A detailed guide that focuses specifically on this area.

Day 5 in Tokyo, where to stay:

Day 5 in Tokyo, where to eat:

  • Afuri Harajuku — a ramen shop famous for shio ramen with yuzu citrus;
  • Vegan Bistro Jangara — a vegan restaurant that is so hard to find in the city;
  • Sakura-tei — best okonomiyaki (savory pancake) in all of Tokyo!

Tokyo Day 6

Shinjuku Golden Gai

What to expect:
✔️Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
✔️Sompo Museum of Art
✔️Omoide Yokocho
✔️Shinjuku Golden Gai
✔️Godzilla Head
✔️Hanazono Shrine

As we’ve mentioned before, Shinjuku is best explored at nighttime: A neon heaven of glittering signs, the neighborhood will blow your mind with its sheer span of activities (even if discounting Kabukichō, Tokyo’s very own big red-light district). By day, Shinjuku is a sprawling business and shopping district, only for it to drop that heavy work bag and a smart suit and go all out once the sun goes down.

🔹Side note: Walking along the district’s vividly illuminated streets proves to be one of the most exciting free things to do in Tokyo: Just be aware of your surroundings and don’t follow shady people into bars/clubs.

During daytime, however, it is a good idea to pay attention to the following attractions.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

General admission: Free

Two interconnected twin towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building dominate the cityscape of the area: The pompous building serves both practical and inspiring purposes, with dozens of offices neighboring two observation decks inside their respective towers.

While not getting you as high as Skytree (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s observatories are both located on the 45th floors, at the height of 202 meters), which you can, however, see from the viewing decks of the towers; the fact that the building offers stunning panoramas of the city for free adds points to its final score.

Apart from head-spinning panoramic views of Tokyo (on a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Fuji), Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building has a great cafe to hang out in (there’s a piano that guests can use, and most of them play wonderfully), as well as an area at the first floor that sometimes welcomes local manufacturers to show off their produce (definitely pop in for a taste test).

🔹Side note: South Building has much better views that North Building, so plan your visit accordingly. Also, despite the fact that these observation decks are completely free to visit, the waiting times to get up there are minimal: You won’t spend hours queueing up just to get inside.

Sompo Museum of Art

General admission: Varies depending on the exhibition

For a chance to scratch your artistic and aesthetic itch, head on over to Sompo Museum of Art, most commonly known in these parts as the place they exhibit Van Gogh’s iconic Sunflowers painting. Just for this reason alone, the museum is worth a detour on your full Tokyo itinerary.

Focused mainly on Western and Japanese contemporary art, Sompo Museum is on par with other modern art galleries you might’ve visited in your lifetime. We loved that exhibition spaces here are on the smaller side (overall collection ranges somewhere in six hundreds), creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, great for exploration and contemplation.

Temporary exhibitions at Sompo are planned to a tee: Curators do such an amazing job at telling a whole story through works of art, that even art novices and the uninitiated get what the artists were trying to say at the time of the creation of each piece.

🔹Side note: The museum is closed on Mondays, so plan your visit accordingly.

Omoide Yokocho

Omoide Yokocho

Omoide Yokocho is a true hidden gem of Shinjuku: This maze of tiny alleyways is a remnant of the gritty bygone era of post-war Tokyo. Back when the black market dealers, illegal cabarets, and drunkards filled the narrow streets, the area wasn’t really a safe place to visit. Now, the locals tried to replicate the overall vibe of the days of yore, but put a lovely modern spin on it.

The alley is always decked out in traditional ornaments and decorations: Paper lanterns light your way, as humble stall signs fight for the attention of the visitors. The main thing that will be guiding you through this complicated web of little side streets is, of course, mouth-watering smell of food being prepared right then and there.

Plenty of tiny izakayas line Omoide Yokocho (sort of bars with finger food and alcoholic beverages): And we mean TINY, as most of the times they have seats for eight people, max. The dishes served here vary quite a bit, but the stars of the show are skewered everything: Vegetables, fish, and all the different kinds of meat (yakitori, or grilled chicken stewers, being the most popular choices). If you’re feeling brave, then definitely try motsu — inner organs, also prepared on the grill.

Shinjuku Golden Gai

Shinjuku Golden Gai

Shinjuku Golden Gai is yet another block of tiny alleyways in the general Shinjuku area. Part of the famous red-light district of Kabukichō (which is heralded by the not-so-subtle gate illuminated with red lights), Shinjuku Golden Gai is where people used to come to get some liquid courage (alcohol, that is) before delving into the world of the “Sleepless City”.

Now, the streets of Shinjuku Golden Gai are filled with more than 250 microscopic bars, each themed, each super tiny. Bar culture in these parts is really quite different from the rest of the world: Sitting at the bar for hours while nursing a single drink is frowned upon and is a good way to get kicked out. Because most of the establishments can only fit about six or so patrons at one time, you are encouraged to order up, finish your drinks, and then leave, so that other guests can have the opportunity to enjoy their beverages as well.

Even if you’re not a huge drinker, a visit to Shinjuku Golden Gai is in order: The dimly lit streets are cinematic to say the least, and the overall atmosphere of the area is unique and very intriguing. Here, you can meet local characters from all walks of life and learn their stories, — after all, isn’t it what travel is all about?

🔹Side note: The streets of Shinjuku Golden Gai are extremely narrow, so be considerate of other people’s personal space. Also, walking while smoking or drinking is discouraged, as it may lead to unfortunate incidents.

Godzilla Head

Tokyo at night Sinjuku Godzilla Head

General admission: Free, if you’re a guest of the hotel

View from the street is free for all!

Finally, we’ve come around to the aforementioned “other” Godzilla statue. Hold on to your butts (whoops, wring movie reference! Is Godzilla a dinosaur?), because this particular tourist attraction is much more exciting than its humble and tame predecessor: Roar!*
*(or Rawr, kawaii-style)

This giant monster head can be seen from far away: It crowns the 8th floor of Hotel Gracery, which, in turn, is set inside the beautiful Shinjuku Toho Building. The 4-star hotel is on the pricier side, but perfect for Godzilla superfans: Apart from the obvious perk of getting to see the statue up close, from the terrace on that same floor, the guests can even stay in a Godzilla-themed room.

🔹Side note: The terrace is currently closed to visitors. Even if it wasn’t, only hotel guests have access to it. Still, you can get closer to Godzilla by paying a visit to Caféterasse Bonjour: Get a table closest to the terrace, and you’re golden!

When we first went to see this attraction, we weren’t familiar with the guests-only rule and managed to find our way to the terrace. Trust us, you’re not prepared for how loud the roar of the Godzilla is!

View from the hotel with Godzilla Head

Hanazono Shrine

General admission: Free

Arguably the most important Shintō shrine of the area, Hanazono Shrine is a well-kept secret of the bustling Shinjuku neighborhood. This temple looks exactly as you would imagine a traditional Japanese shrine to seem: Not too tall, painted in bright red, and exuding the feelings of calm and peace even when surrounded by tall skyscrapers.

Coming to the Hanazono Shrine at the end of your Day Six Tokyo itinerary will provide the much-needed room for contemplation, adding a strong finishing touch to this crazy experience.

🔹Side note: If you decide to visit the temple grounds during one of the many festivals that are held here, forget about both rest and relaxation! The small area becomes as crowded as the neighborhood’s main shopping street, and that’s saying a lot!

Day 6 in Tokyo, where to stay:

Day 6 in Tokyo, where to eat:

  • Naruto Taiyaki Honpo — small cafe serving fish-shaped pastries with sweet red bean paste filling;
  • Udon Shinudon noodle restaurant, a great change of pace from all the ramen shops;
  • Ippudotonkotsu ramen restaurant: Don’t forget about a side of gyoza!

Tokyo Day 7

TeamLab Tokyo

What to expect:
✔️TeamLab museum
✔️Statue of Liberty
✔️The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
✔️Rainbow Bridge
✔️Tokyo Tower
✔️Zōjō-ji Temple

Usually dubbed the quietest neighborhood of the city, Odaiba is still an integral part of any Tokyo itinerary: Without paying a visit to this “newer” addition to the metropolitan cityscape, you won’t be able to understand the city in full, both its wild and more muted sides.

If you’re more of a go-go-go travel type and need to constantly be doing something, don’t bypass Odaiba because of its more laid-back atmosphere, as it still has tons of exciting things* to offer:

TeamLab

TeamLab TeamLab 2

General admission: 3,800¥ / $27

If your social media account is worth anything to you, then visiting TeamLab Planets should be the obvious answer to the question of what to do in Tokyo for a week.

TeamLab exhibitions are in an entirely different category from all other city attractions: They are spaces where people merge with the art form, creating a dance of elements in the process.

At this particular location, you would be expected to wade through knee-deep water (they will let you take off your shoes first, don’t worry), walk on mirrored floors (refrain from wearing a short skirt, just in case), and interact with dozens of illuminated shapes (like string garlands and giant light balls), each bringing a new experience into the mix.

TeamLab has managed to create the museum that can clearly boost traffic to your account: Just look at the pictures! You don’t need to be a professional photographer to tell a mesmerizing story through the lab’s snapshots!

🔹Side note: Though the tickets are linked to particular time slots, the space still can get crowded. Either roll with the punches and weather the crowds, or come here as early as you can to have the exhibition all to yourself!

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

General admission: Free

Most American tourists are baffled to find their familiar Statue of Liberty in Tokyo, and we understand the confusion! Though the statue has nothing to do with the USA, it is a very recognizable monument, worldwide.

Built to commemorate the budding French-Japanese friendship, this Statue of Liberty was supposed to be a temporary installation, but the public loved it too much to let it go without a fight. So, in the year 2000, it was placed right here in Odaiba and hasn’t been moved since.

🔹Side note: Another part of this story that might derail some tourists who don’t do too much research is the fact that this Statue of Liberty is not the only one in Tokyo (it has two other sisters scattered all across the city).

Because of its position in front of the iconic Rainbow Bridge (more on it later), Odaiba’s Statue of Liberty looks quite grand and impressive in pictures. What you don’t know is that its height just exceeds 12 meters, and the massive look is just an optical illusion. Still, the attraction is worth a visit, just for the pure novelty of the idea.

The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

General admission: 630¥ ($4,40) for adults / 210¥ ($1,50) for children

Simply referred to as the Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is the perfect destination for adults and kids alike. The younger generation will appreciate the interactive style of learning, while grown-ups will get lost in (and made hopeful by) the latest research in modern science.

The museum’s permanent exhibitions’ main concerns are connecting with the Earth (which can be done through Geo-Cosmos — the installation showing our planet as it is right now; even the clouds are constantly updated by satellites!), learning more about the environment (both from space and through tiny particles), and planning for the future (through creating new sustainability efforts). The way these important issues are brought up at the Miraikan cannot leave its visitors impartial: You will leave the exhibits with the newfound interest in emerging science.

🔹Side note: Plan your visit to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation with the knowledge that all six floors of the building are filled to the brim with cutting-edge and fascinating information. Allocate at least a couple of hours, so that your visit doesn’t feel too rushed.

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

General admission: Free

Why did this traditionally grey-ish bridge got the descriptor of the “Rainbow” in the title? The answer lies in the time of the day: Every day, come sundown, Rainbow Bridge bursts with colors, and stays that way up until midnight. Much like the Empire State Building in New York, the bridge’s illumination is used to commemorate different dates with different colors (blue for Diabetes’ Day, pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Day, and so on).

The bridge itself is open to pedestrians (but not cyclists, although you can walk your two-wheeled buddy across) for the major part of the day. In colder months, the bridge closes for foot traffic at around 6 or 7 p.m.; it stays open longer in summertime. It takes around half an hour to walk from one end of the bridge to another, although we believe you should plan for longer times: the views are so magnificent you would want to stop every five minutes to enjoy them!

Speaking of views, the entirety of Tokyo Bay is at your disposal while walking across the bridge. The panoramas are made even better by the stunning Tokyo cityscape used as the backdrop. You know what that means: A little photoshoot to remember this moment by!

🔹Side note: If our seven day Tokyo itinerary has been too much for you, walking-wise, you can skip this physical activity while on the bridge. Simply take the Yurikamome subway line going to or from Odaiba, and enjoy the views from the comfort of the train.

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

General admission: 1,200¥ ($8,40) for the main deck / 3,000¥ ($21) for both decks (2,800¥ / $20 if purchased in advance)

Now that you’ve taken the subway across the Rainbow Bridge, you’re ready to have some fun on the “main land” again, and the first stop back in Tokyo city center is, of course, the Tokyo Tower. This attraction, which from afar looks like somebody’s painted the Eiffel Tower red and white, is an integral part of Tokyo skyline. The comparison to its French cousin is justified: The Eiffel Tower was used as inspiration for the Tokyo Tower’s design.

The Tower was once the tallest freestanding structure in all of Japan, only to be surpassed by the aforementioned Tokyo Skytree in the early 2010s. Still, this 333-meter monument pierces the air with the same pomposity and meaning as it did when it was first erected (it’s also worth mentioning that the structure serves a practical purpose as well, by being a functioning broadcast antenna).

Now a popular hotspot, the Tokyo Tower has three levels worth mentioning:

  • The Foot Tower — the base of the structure, home to countless shops and restaurants, a space for festivals and exhibitions, and a learning center.
  • The Main Deck — the lower viewing platform of the two, this deck still sits at an impressive 150-meter height. The viewpoint can be reached via the elevator or by 600 stairs, if you’re feeling particularly energized. On theme with other Tokyo viewpoints, the main deck has an area with a glass floor — taste your fear limits by looking directly down!
  • The Top Deck — at 250 meters in height, it’s the third tallest observation deck in Tokyo (the other two are at the Tokyo Skytree). It sports stunning bird’s-eye views of the Tokyo city center, as well as sights as far as Mount Fuji (on a clear day).

Many visitors share the sentiment that a visit of the Tokyo Tower feels more real and authentic: It’s not as commercialized as Skytree (at least not yet). So, if you want to experience something true and genuine, we wouldn’t skip the Tokyo Tower.

🔹Side note: As is the case with many other Tokyo tourist attractions, the decks can become quite crowded. The earlier you come here, the more space you will have to yourself.

Zōjō-ji Temple

General admission: Free

Set right at the base of the Tokyo Tower, Zōjō-ji Temple is an obvious next step on your Tokyo itinerary: It’s basically a package deal! Despite the apparent closeness, the two attractions could not be more different: One resembles Japan’s ambitions looking into the future, while the other (the temple) celebrates tradition and spirituality carried out throughout the decades.

This 600 (!) year old Buddhist monastery is a place of tranquility and inner thought: While the grounds of the temple aren’t that vast, taking a walk around the property still manages to calm the mind and ease the spirit. What’s more, temple grounds have the best views of the Tokyo Tower, so keep an eye out for that one angle!

Just like other Tokyo temples and shrines, Zōjō-ji Temple has plenty of powerful souvenirs to buy for a small donation: Get yourself and your loved ones some amulets to protect them from evil!

🔹Side note: In more somber fashion, the temple has one attraction you want to, but cannot avoid. It’s the Garden of Unborn Children — rows of tiny stone sculptures dressed up as infants. The garden is the place to mourn the lives of babies that died before even being born. It’s a hard place to be in, but by learning that this place helps families mourn their unborn children you realize the importance of it.

Day 7 in Tokyo, where to stay:

Day 7 in Tokyo, where to eat:

  • Chopped Salad Day — a salad shop, perfect after a week of eating rice and fish all the time;
  • Tonkatsu Aoki — if a salad didn’t cut it, then a breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet will do the trick!

Because we love Odaiba so much, we decided to advocate for it even more, by creating a whole Odaiba travel guide, which you can read here. There’s much more to the area that we’ve covered on here, so feel free to delve deeper into one of our favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo.

More things to add to your Tokyo 7-day itinerary

Starbucks Reserve in Tokyo

While we believe that the attractions we’ve listed so far are more than enough to understand Tokyo at its core level, there are still a few other locations that can be worthy of your time and attention. So, if you still have some free time to fill while in the city, look into exploring these places:

  • Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour (7,100¥ / $50) — a substantial detour from the city center; still, the journey is worth it: Here, you get an opportunity to peek behind-the-scenes of the making of the world’s most famous franchise.
  • Ghibli Museum (1,000¥ / $7) — animation and art museum; a must-visit if you enjoyed watching Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro.
  • Tokyo Disney Resort (7,900¥ / $55) — combining Disneyland and DisneySea, this is the park that attracts million visitors annually. Modeled after California’s famous Disneyland, the resort is a treasure trove of entertainment for families.
  • Sky Carrot Observatory — though the Carrot Tower’s building doesn’t resemble a carrot (well, maybe just in color), it is still a unique attraction in Tokyo. The main draw of the building is its free (!) observation deck on the 26th floor — a must-visit if the viewpoints we’ve listed so far aren’t enough.
  • Starbucks Reserve — though many believe that Starbucks is a tad overrated, no one can argue with the taste of their coffee drinks: They are bloody delicious! And Starbucks Reserve raises the experience to a whole different level: Here, they usually serve the rarest coffee blends that might not be available elsewhere. Plus, the Tokyo Starbucks Reserve’s design is off the charts: Come here for a chance to reach a visual nirvana!
  • Daikanyamacho neighborhood — also known as the “Brooklyn” of Tokyo (although the real Brooklyn’s MO has changed over the last decades), this district usually draws the visitors with upscale brunch options and unique boutique shopping experiences. If you’re a Birkin Mom with a Maltese dog in tow, you would fit right in here!
  • Roppongi Hills — a glitzy entertainment complex in the South of Tokyo that has great shopping opportunities and high-end restaurants. What it’s famous for though is much more exciting: The building is home to Mori Art Museum (with exhibitions that focus mainly on contemporary art) and Tokyo City View (an observation deck with unbeatable panoramas of the city center).
  • The National Art Center Tokyo — aesthetes of the world unite! This is the place to visit in Tokyo if you adore beautiful architecture and visually stimulating experiences. The center’s latest Yves Saint Laurent exhibit was a huge hit!

For easy reference, you can find the map with our 7-day Tokyo itinerary here:

Day trips from Tokyo

When you get tired of the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, getting outside city limits starts to sound as a terrific idea. Thankfully, this giant metropolis is surrounded by exciting locations that can be explored in just one day! Even though this topic deserves to be explored in depth, this is a story for another time. For now, here are the best day trips from Tokyo, classifieds-style:

Kyoto

  • Kamakura — hilly seaside town with tons of hiking trails, hip cafes and restaurants, intriguing boutiques, and historical attractions: The city is home to lots of fascinating temples and even the Great Buddha statue!
  • Mt. Fuji — arguably the most popular day trip from Tokyo; with stunning locations like Kawaguchiko Lake (a huge body of water that beautifully reflects the mountain behind it), Chureito Pagoda (the traditional red five-story pagoda surrounded by cherry trees, topped only with unbeatable views of the mountain), Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station (most popular out of the area’s five stations, this one has the most jaw-dropping view of Mt. Fuji), Lawson Kawaguchiko Station (one of the most captivating convenience stores in the world: Not looks-wise, but scenery-wise), and Shimoyoshida Honcho Street (a must-visit photo spot: A street that opens up directly onto the mountain vista) creating an overall unforgettable experience.
  • Nikko — another beautiful mountainous town located around 2-3 hours away from Tokyo. What’s more, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so you can expect to be treated to lots of charming scenery (Shinkyo Bridge with a background of fall foliage is postcard material, if we say so ourselves!) and heavenly heritage sights (honestly, we’ve lost count of how many shrines and temples we’ve seen on this trip).
  • Kyoto — the city that needs no introduction, Kyoto is famous for its more rural atmosphere and profound spiritual practices (so expect even more temples and shrines). This former capital of Japan is pretty hard to explain in just one sentence, so if you’re planning a day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto (best reached by a bullet train, by the way), make sure to read our detailed Kyoto itinerary.
  • Hakone — a quaint town surrounded by mountains (you can even take a peek at the glorious Mt. Fuji from here!), it’s popular for hot springs (onsens) and hiking trails. You cannot leave without trying the legendary black eggs that are boiled in hot springs on site.

Personally, we opted for a Mt. Fuji bus tour that we booked through Klook, and we loved every second of it! Despite the view of the mountain being a tad hazy (although it was a nice and clear day), every other experience was amazing: We made matcha (!), found a few manholes covers with Mt. Fuji illustrations on them, got taken to the very base of the mountain itself (mind you, the location is set at 2,305 meters in elevation), and walked around the picturesque little village near the mountain.

🔹Side note: We went on this tour in October, and we feel it’s a good idea to mention the weather conditions. While it was 25°C in Tokyo, the area by Mt. Fuji was way colder, around 10°C. So, pack some layers to be comfortable!

5 tours you shouldn't miss while in Tokyo

Before you visit Japan, familiarize yourself with:

These services are a godsend when planning your downtime here. Anything from museum tickets to public transport passes can be bought through these platforms, making your trip a more efficiently planned one!

To help you navigate in the vast sea of fantastic tour options, we’ve gathered five essential types of excursions you should consider booking when in Tokyo:

🔸 Mt. Fuji tours: From bullet train and bus to private tours, any shape of organized outing to the area with a knowledgeable guide is a win in our book!

🔸 Tokyo food tours: Ramen Tour (eat like a local) or All-You-Can-Drink Sake Experience? Cooking classes are also all the rage here — you can try and make your own sushi and ramen (with gyoza).

🔸 Tokyo sightseeing tours: From Hop-On Hop-off Bus Tour for $27 or typical Coach Tour for $125, Biking Tour to Asakusa Rickshaw Tour for $45. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, you are guaranteed to have an amazing time getting to learn more about the city!

🔸 Go-karting tours (exactly what it sounds like, you get to drive around Tokyo Downtown in little go-karts): Some let you do some sort of cosplay, and take lots of pictures of the experience for you to enjoy after.

🔸Japanese Alps tours: Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, and others. To better plan your trip (granted, if you have more than one week in Japan, because the Alps require quite a bit of time to explore them), make sure to consult with our detailed Japanese Alps itinerary.

Tickets you have to book in advance for a week in Tokyo

While we’ve already mentioned these attractions all throughout our text, now is as good a time as any to remind you to book the tickets for the following Tokyo sites well in advance:

Plan your trip beforehand: In Japan, with its long lines and generally high tourist demand, you can never be too prepared!

Where to eat in Tokyo? Our picks

Food in Tokyo

To us, Tokyo has become one of the most exciting food destinations in the world: From local food stalls to high-end restaurants, you can eat yummy food here at any price point. To tell you the truth, it was pretty hard to narrow down the list of our favorite Tokyo eateries, so we hope these ones will do the trick just fine:

🍜 Ichiran — even if you’ve never been to Japan, you’ve probably still seen pictures on the internet from this world-renowned ramen shop. With the chain’s restaurants peppered all around the country, it’s easy to make time in your full itinerary to pay a visit to this iconic Japanese establishment (keep in mind that the lines will be longer in Tokyo when compared to Osaka or Hiroshima, for example). The unique arrangements inside (think automated ordering process, dividers between seats, and small curtains from where your delicious bowl of hot ramen comes from) and the top-tier tonkotsu ramen (it’s the only kind they serve in Ichiran, which basically means the recipe here is as perfect as it can be) all drive Ichiran to the top of our list of places to eat at when in Japan. A classic bowl of ramen (made just the way you’ve asked, with all of your preferences like richness of broth and spice levels carefully brought to life) costs 980¥ ($6,90), with all the add-ons being extra.

🍣 Kura Sushi — a chain of conveyor belt sushi restaurants popular among both locals and tourists: You can never go wrong with Kura Sushi — whether you want to have a light lunch or a hearty dinner. While the majority of dishes served here are various plates of nigiri (that cost anywhere from 115¥ to 280¥ ($1-$2)), it’s not the only thing on the menu: You can expect a trusty conveyor belt to bring you miso ramen (490¥/$3,40), fried chicken (400¥/$2,80), and even dessert: Anything from an ice-cream puff (150¥/$1) to a sweet red bean soup (220¥/$1,50). Like at Ichiran, the whole dining process here is entirely automated (from order to check-out). A great addition to the robotization is a touch of gamification — for every five plates you return, you get a free round of Bikkurapon, which is a game where you can win a capsule toy prize. All around, Kura Sushi is a great experience, if not for the quality of food (which is stellar, by the way), but for the very novelty of a conveyor belt restaurant so foreign to Westerners.

🍣 Nemuro Hanamaru — another conveyor belt restaurant that should definitely be on your radar: It’s a Tokyo bucket list eatery, in my humble opinion. The quality of food here is just as amazing as in Kura Sushi, but the menu has even more variety to it (a double-decker scallop dish is a must-try) and the overall atmosphere is much more enjoyable: There’s an open kitchen surrounded by the tables, so you can not only see the masterful chefs perform their out-of-this-world tricks on every piece of raw fish that comes their way, but also people-watch — the activity that is so rare in Japanese restaurants.

🍥 Afuri Ramen — we realize that ramen joints (and sushi restaurants) are considered to be the most popular places to eat in Tokyo, and we’re not here to go against the grain! Afuri Ramen is the place to satisfy your noodle cravings. Pompously named after a mountain located close to Tokyo, Afuri is all about authenticity and clean, distinct flavors: The chain was put on the map by their special shio ramen with yuzu citrus. Salty, citrus-y, and overall belly-filling and exciting to your tastebuds, — this ramen is worth standing in line for! The price range, however, is a little out there — most of the ramen bowls (all decked out with yummy add-ons like pork fillet and eggs) cost somewhere around the $15 mark.

🍣 Uobei Dogenzaka Store — not as much a conveyor belt sushi restaurant; the store has been described as having a bullet train sushi experience! Instead of having one conveyor belt with small plates constantly rotating in front of your eyes, Uobei Dogenzaka Store has a a couple “lanes” where specific table orders zoom past other restaurant patrons until they reach the table the order was made from. The process is super fun in all of its automation (kudos to the person who made the trays that bring you the food race-car themed), and the quality of food far exceeds its humble pricing: Even the yummiest sushi plates start at the modest price of 110¥ ($0,80).

🥞 Flipper’s — the perfect place to start your Japanese fluffy pancake journey! Though mostly considered to be a tourist trap, Flipper’s deliver time and time again: Their souffle pancakes will shoot you straight into another dimension. Taking the long wait times into account, we would recommend heading out to wait in line for Flipper’s after you’ve already had your morning coffee — it’s more of a brunch spot than a breakfast eatery! Even though they serve dishes other than fluffy pancakes (their brunch plate and chicken with fried eggs (that still have pancakes as ingredients, just not the souffle kind) are pretty dang good), you cannot come here and not try their signature order: A plain fluffy pancake will cost you 1,400¥ ($10), but what’s the fun in that? Matcha (1,500¥/$10,50), Royal Sweet Milk Tea (1,650¥/$11,60), and Lemon&Cheese (1,500¥/$10,50) pancakes will satisfy your cravings (and help with the hangover if you’ve been out late drinking too much sake). Flippin’ Good!

🥠 Naruto Taiyaki Honpo — if it’s your first time visiting Japan, then trying Taiyaki should be at the top of your list. What is Taiyaki? It’s the iconic fish-shaped dessert with yummy filling (think curiously shaped sweet hot pocket). The fillings range quite a bit, but this particular chain of eateries usually serves two: The original red bean paste and sweet potato. On occasion, you can be lucky to come across a premium custard filling or even some limited edition treat (the latest foray is Naruto Taiyaki Honpo’s collaboration with the band Aerosmith — an apple is added to the usual bean paste. They say that Steven Tyler, the lead singer of the band, is a huge fan of Taiyaki — so much so that he once ate ten (!) of these delicious cakes before a concert). Be like Steven Tyler and get yourself a sweet Taiyaki (the prices usually stay within a 300¥/$2 range); just make sure to eat it while it’s hot, it’s not as tasty when cold.

🍲 Ippudo — if you crave tonkotsu ramen, bit Ichiran’a lines are as long as Shinano River, head on over to Ippudo! This ramen chain is a global affair, with restaurants open in London and New York of all places! Still, Ippudo stays true to its roots, with Tokyo locations constantly buzzing with visitors. Don’t fret though: The lines here are not as long as at Ichiran, the turnover is fast, and the whole operation works as efficiently as it can. The atmosphere here is a little more comradely: Most of the times the restaurants have an open kitchen and the tables aren’t facing the walls. The prices at Ippudo are also quite affordable: A bowl of ramen will cost anywhere between 900¥ and 1,200¥ ($6-$8), depending on the contents. There’re also set dishes that usually come with a side order of gyoza — note that the dumplings here are on the smaller side, so order in accordance with your appetite!

🍤 Udon Shin — a rare Pokémon sighting on our list, since Udon Shin is not a chain restaurant. A small hole-in-the-wall eatery with limited seating is reserved to a single location in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, which makes it that much more appealing to a newbie traveler. Udon Shin is guaranteed to make you a convert: Once you try their signature udon noodles, you will forget about ramen for the rest of your life! Served cold or hot (perfect seasonal variability if I say so myself), udon noodles at Udon Shin are the most satisfying noodles we’ve ever eaten! There is one particular dish that locals and tourists alike weather the long line for — carbonara udon ($7)! Yup, you’ve read that right — beautifully braided udon noodles in this dish are served together with butter, pepper, a raw egg, Parmesan, and even a slice of bacon tempura (max crispiness galore!), creating a fusion dish that makes both Japan and Italy proud.

🍤 Udon Maruka — another small udon joint famous among Tokyo visitors for its affordability. Because of this fact, the lines in front of Udon Maruka are extra long, but move fairly quickly: You place your order while you’re still queuing up and get your food mere minutes after finally being seated. Different types of udon humbly range in price (from 500¥ to 1,000¥/$3-$7) and variations: Hot, cold, with broth, with dipping sauce, etc. We recommend you get tempura with your order — either prawn or chicken, as it elevates the whole taste experience to a whole ‘nother level!

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee — with more than ten locations in Tokyo alone, this globally acclaimed company continues to leave a prominent mark on Japan’s coffee shop culture. Their signature “seed-to-cup” method guarantees the crispiest taste of the freshly brewed coffee drink options. The minimalist (and yet quite welcoming) style of Blue Bottle coffee shops encourages you to focus on the coffee instead of the interiors: And let me tell you, their coffee is worth writing a song about! A simple and sophisticated espresso here will set you back 577¥ ($4), while a tried-and-tested cappuccino will cost 634¥ ($4,50). The food is not the star of the show at Blue Bottle, but still, their treats accompany the hot beverages perfectly: A chocolate chip cookie (380¥/$2,70) or a lemon cardamom cake (440¥/$3), depending on what you’re in the mood for, will be the perfect pairing to your coffee order.

🍵 Café Kitsuné — a worldwide sensation under an umbrella of Maison Kitsuné brand, where French-Japanese influences come together and create anything and everything under the sun: Fashion, art, music, and, most importantly, — coffee! Grabbing a morning pick-me-up in one of the Kitsuné Tokyo locations almost always results in a quick photo session. After all, the brand itself is a household name: Super stylish and sophisticated. The coffee, despite what one would assume about a cafe born from such a large brand, is surprisingly great: Order a latte (780¥/$5,50) and a croissant (600¥/$4,20) and enjoy a sliver of Paris in the heart of the bustling Tokyo (grab yourself a tote bag with a Café Kitsuné logo to get into the mix with people in the know)!

🌯 Chopped Salad Day — when you get tired of all the rice, raw fish, and noodles and crave something crunchy, fresh, and healthy while in Tokyo, Chopped Salad Day comes to save the day! Chopped Salad Day can be best described as a sweet spot between Sweetgreen and Erewhon (with a touch of Chipotle, since they also serve pretty good burritos). Here, you can create your own salad, or go for something that has stood the test of time: Cobb salad (1,550¥/$11) or Grilled Chicken Caesar salad (1,280¥/$9). If shaking the container like a Kardashian you are doesn’t sound exciting, opt for the same ingredient list, but in burrito form: The price is the same, but somehow the food seems to be more filling when wrapped up in a tortilla. For extra-health-conscious visitors, Chopped Salad Day has a a few cold pressed juice options (670¥/$4,70); for people who want to have a good time, there’s beer (700¥/$5).

🍱 Tonkatsu Aoki — let’s do a complete 180 on the health front and look into deep-frying: That’s right, Tonkatsu is a popular Japanese dish that consists of a breaded pork cutlet deep-fried to perfection — it’s an absolute must-try when in Tokyo! Tonkatsu Aoki is the perfect spot to get familiar with this yummy dish: Served with miso soup, rice, and humble seasoning options (Tonkatsu needs nothing other than a little salt, which you can add to your liking), you will be transported into the entire new world of Japanese cuisine (sushi and ramen can only get you thus far). Depending on the loin cut, the set meal will cost you anywhere between 1,500¥ and 3,000¥ ($10-$20). The restaurant itself is super tiny: Expect long wait times!

Hat Coffee — is that latte wearing a hat? Hat Coffee takes steamed milk and creates art on top of your coffee order: Whether it’s 3D, or just printed on the surface, you are guaranteed to be blown away with the sheer talent of baristas working here! You can show a picture of your favorite pet and they will recreate it to a tee! Since the coffee shop is famous on TikTok and Instagram, they lean into the content creation: There’s a stand where you can mount your phone so that you will have a detailed video of the process. If you want to have such a unique experience during your next Tokyo getaway, we recommend you book a table at least two weeks in advance! Request latte art (as opposed to a cheaper alternative of pre-selected designs) will cost you 1,200¥ ($8,40).

🍙 Asakusa Unana — in accordance with the greatest lesson in optimism (The Little Food Stand That Could), Asakusa Unana is a small but mighty restaurant that has the reputation that precedes it! From what we’ve heard long before even setting foot in Tokyo, this place has the best Unagi (grilled freshwater eel) in all of Japan! You can get it in a form of onigiri (600¥/$4,20), or in a box as unaju (1,350¥/$9,50). The lines here can get a tad crazy: First you have to queue up to place your order in the machine, and then come back at a set time to pick up your order after, you’ve guessed it, standing in yet another line. The food is 10/10, but if you’re impatient and hangry, we would recommend going someplace else.

Fuglen — originally Norwegian, this brand opens up spaces so unique they might confuse you: Each location usually combines small indoor and outdoor seating areas that start out as a coffee shop in the morning, only to moonlight as a bar once the sun starts to set. Fuglen has arguably the best quality coffee in Tokyo, and we always make sure to grab a few freshly roasted bags when we visit. A hand brew coffee drink at Fuglen costs 550¥ ($4), which is a pretty good price considering the sheer excellence with which the coffee is roasted and brewed here. We’re not big on drinking, so our expertise on evening cocktails (Old Fashioned for 1,120¥ ($8) or Espresso Martini for 1,390¥ ($10) are the most popular choices) at Fuglen is limited: Although we can attest to the fact that the atmosphere here is conductive with having a great time!

Where to stay in Tokyo for a week?

Almont Inn Tokyo hotel

Again, there are thousands of great accommodation options when you’re looking for a place to stay in Tokyo. Still, it’s a good idea to have this wide range limited to a few tried-and-tested options. Here they are:

  • 3* Almont Inn Tokyo Nihonbashi (from $55 per night) — nice, budget-friendly hotel located withing walking distance of the bustling Ginza. You can easily reach the hotel from the airport without the need for a transfer: Metro station is a 10-minute walk away from the building.
  • 5* The Prince Park Tower Tokyo (from $400 per night) — a five-star hotel with unbeatable views of Tokyo Tower (don’t miss the show you have front-row seats for: Make sure to be in your room when the tower lights up in the evening). Besides the usual facilities in a hotel of such status, Prince Park Tower also has its own bowling alley and karaoke room. Where to stay in Tokyo for a week if you love luxury and have the funds to back up your wants? This hotel is by far the best accommodation we’ve found that puts the money where the mouth is.
  • 3* Candeo Hotels Roppongi (from $220 per night) — nice mid-range hotel with clean, decently sized rooms (by Japan standards at least; the rooms are pretty small for newbie Tokyo visitors), and great amenities: A pool with a view of Tokyo skyline is to die for!
  • 3* remm Roppongi (from $80 a night) — located not too far from the Roppongi Hills complex, this hotel is a great base for people who want to explore the area. Colorful rooms offset the grey skyscrapers that surround the building, and pleasant and helpful staff alleviate the stress left over from running around Tokyo all day.
  • 5* Kimpton Shinjuku (from $380 a night) — amazing hotel with cool location: Is it better to stay in Shibuya or Shinjuku? Kimpton will make you lean hard towards the Shinjuku answer. The hotel has impeccable design: It is such a treat to stay here!
  • 4* Hotel Century Southern Tower (from $230 a night) — another great hotel option in Shinjuku: the rooms were too beige for our liking, but most travelers will consider the muted design to be a great palate cleanser after a crazy day in the city. There’s a 7/11 inside the building the hotel is set in, which is always great in Tokyo: Even if you arrive past midnight, you’re guaranteed a tasty snack from the convenience store.
  • 3* Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu (from $65 a night) — a fantastic traditional stay in Asakusa: To get the most authentic experience possible, choose the Japanese style rooms (where you will be sleeping on a futon mattress placed right on the floor). However, if you’re a person who usually parallels the Princess and the Pea scenario (that is, if you need lots of cushioning between your body and the hard bed frame), opt for Western rooms.
  • 3* APA Hotel Hatchobori Ekimae (from $55 a night) — a newly opened hotel in Ginza, part of the famous Japanese hotel chain. Because it’s new, both rooms and facilities are all immaculately spotless, which is great news for germophobes visiting Tokyo. All in all, it’s budget-friendly accommodation set in the heart of the main shopping district of the city: Put the saved cash towards buying yourself something pretty!

One week in Tokyo itinerary: in conclusion

Whew, that was a lot! We have one more score to settle, and that is the frequently asked question of “Is one week enough for Japan”? Oh, how do we say this: One week is hardly enough even for Tokyo! Trust us, our first Japan vacation was a week long and we didn’t even begin to comprehend the strange place we found ourselves in. If you want to get this trip done right, allocate as much time for it as humanly possible: You’ll thank yourself later!

We hope that our ultimate Tokyo itinerary has managed to steer you away from making mistakes when exploring the city. Please, tell us your experiences of following our advice: Your stories, as well as the questions you might have, are more than welcome in the comment section down below. Have a good trip! Bai Bai!