Tokyo is a huge place. And, no surprise, it has tons to do. So, I thought I’d do something a little different and instead of just having one little old 3-day itinerary, I’d give you three Tokyo itineraries! Or to be more specific, three ways to explore Japan’s biggest metropolis depending on your interests. You can pick your favorite for your own trip, or smash ’em all together for a mega Tokyo bonanza.
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Multiple Tokyo Itineraries Make for Tons of Travel
Now, just because these are Tokyo itineraries, doesn’t mean you have to stay in the city the whole time. I mean, sure, it’s a huge enough city that you could get away with it, but why limit yourself? A couple of day trips can really spice up your route.
Add to Itinerary #1
- Tour the Chuo and Shibuya areas
- Day trip to Mt. Fuji and Fuji Five Lakes region
Add to Itinerary #2
- Tour Koenji, Shibuya, and Ueno
Add to Itinerary #3
- Tour Akihabara and Odaiba
- Half-day trip to Mitaka for the Ghibli Museum
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Tokyo Itineraries Option #1: Adventurers and Sumo Fans Unite!
I’ve already gone over how to get around Tokyo in a more general sense, so here, I’ll focus more on tips to making travel easy. This first options is for anyone craving a little adventure. No dull or dry museums, this itinerary is action-packed. Explore Mt. Fuji, see the famous Suicide Forest, ride go-karts in Shibuya, and grab some seats to sumo wrestling.
Tips & Tricks
- If you’re not in the area around tournament season (January, May, and September), then you can sign up to watch a morning practice session at a sumo stable.
- Sumo’s not your thing? Swap it out with a kendo samurai experience instead.
- If you don’t want to book a tour to Mt. Fuji, you can get there either by grabbing a bus from Tokyo Station (cheapest option), or by taking the Fuji Excursion Limited Express train from Shinjuku Station.
- Mt. Fuji’s only open to climbing from early July to early September, but you can still visit the Fuji Five Lakes during the rest of the year. And winter-time arguably has some advantages going for it.
- On a related note, Japan’s summers are HOT hot, especially in July and August. So if you’re going hiking, make sure to stay hydrated!
Where To Stay
You won’t know ahead of time which sumo stable you’ll go to, but most are in the Koto and Chuo areas. And since morning practice starts at 7:30 am, your best bet is to stay as close as possible so you can get there on time. For that reason, I’d suggest Hotel Villa Fontaine Grand Tokyo Ariake. It also has a nice compromise of good ratings and decent price, so you get the most bang for your buck.
PHOTO CREDITS: HOTEL VILLA FONTAINE GRAND TOKYO ARIAKE VIA HOTELS.COM
I’d recommend lumping the first three (sumo practice, Ginza, and Kabukiza theatre) into one day, then Meiji Jingu Shrine, Street Cart Shibuya, and Shibuya Crossing into another, since they’re all in the same general area.
If you’re looking for a nightcap after go-karting, the Golden Gai is a network of bars in Shinjuku, not far from Shibuya.
|• Sumo Morning Practice||• Street Kart Shibuya|
|• Ginza||• Golden Gai|
|• Kabukiza Theatre||• Mt. Fuji|
|• Meiji Jingu Shrine||• Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest|
|• Shibuya Crossing|
Tokyo Itineraries Option #2: Art of All Shapes and Sizes
I’m something of an amateur art connoisseur. I especially love alternative art, and boy, does Tokyo have it in spades. And there’s a lot that’s not super mainstream, so you’re not likely to be crushed by tourists along the way.
Tips & Tricks
- Location is super important. Below, I recommend a hotel near Koenji Station because it’s in a really artsy neighborhood, with a live music venue and performance arts theatre in easy walking distance. Wherever you book, choose somewhere that’ll give your eyes a feast!
- For street art, check out the Mural City Project. You’ll be able to find gorgeous murals painted by local artists all over the place near Koenji Station.
- Another great place for street art is Ura-Harajuku in Shibuya. There’s a pretty cool modern and alternative art scene in that area, so there’ll be plenty to see.
Where To Stay
As the sponsor for the Mural City Project, BnA Hotel Koenji is kind of a no-brainer for artsy travelers to hang their coats. It hosts loads of music events, and even has rooms designed by local artists. So, whatever room you stay in, you’re in for a visual treat.
PHOTO CREDITS: BnA HOTEL KOENJI VIA HOTELS.COM
The sightseeing below is pretty mix-and-match. You want to keep Takeshita, Ōta Museum, and Ura-Harajuku on the same day
I’d suggest at least a half-day wandering around the Koenji neighborhood soaking up the vibes, especially if you’re into the music scene. Stop in café AIMU for lunch – it has beautifully designed desserts, with a simple but pleasant floral theme.
|• Koenji Mural City Project||• Mori Art Museum|
|• Takeshita Street||• teamLab Planets TOKYO|
|• Ōta Memorial Museum of Art||• Ueno Park|
|• Ura-Harajuku||• Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum|
Tokyo Itineraries Option #3: Anime Lovers’ Dream Tour
Come on, don’t lie. You knew this was coming. Even though I’m not a huge anime fan, loads of people flock to Japan to see the home of their fave series. I’d have to be nuts not to include an option for all the otakus out there. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little kitsch now and then?
This itinerary features the famous Akibahara, a Pokemon Café, and the Ghibli Museum, an absolute must-visit for any fans of the internationally recognized Ghibli films.
Tips & Tricks
- Most of Akibahara is geared towards “guy” anime. If you’re more of a fan of girl anime, check out Otome Road instead (or in addition, if you like both).
- Purchase Ghibli Museum tickets WAY in advance, because they sell like hotcakes. You won’t get in if you just show up empty-handed!
- Ghibli Museum is still in Tokyo, but it’s pretty far from the city center. Fortunately, getting there isn’t too much of a trial. Just take a train from Shibuya (or transfer in Shibuya) to Kichijoji Station, then walk the rest of the way.
Where To Stay
Since we’re going all-out with the anime theme, why not combine it with a capsule hotel? I’m sure you’ve heard of these – rather than a room, you basically get just a bed and a small, private space. And at the Manga Art Hotel, you also get access to a library of manga, the Japanese version of comic books. Accommodations are pretty bare bones and no staff on-site, but it’s all part of the unique capsule experience.
PHOTO CREDITS: MANGA ART HOTEL VIA HOTELS.COM
Akihabara can be an all-day trip by itself (same goes for Otome Road). There’s tons to see, from shops to arcades to maid cafés. For the second day, Odaiba has a lot to offer (including an indoor amusement park called Tokyo Joypolis), but it’s especially good for Gundam or Attack on Titan fans. It’s also pretty close to the Pokémon Center.
Third day, Nakano isn’t too far from Mitaka, so you can visit Nakano Broadway on the same day as the Ghibli Museum.
|• Akihabara||• Pokémon Center and Café|
|• Otome Road||• Nakano Broadway|
|• Odaiba and Gundam Statue||• Ghibli Museum|
More Than Just Tokyo Itineraries
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