Japan Beginner's Guide | How to Spend a DAY in TOKYO

If you have 24 hours in Tokyo, where would you go and what would you do? 

From my experience, it's hard to plan how to spend a day EFFICIENTLY without local's advice.  So in this blog, I'm going to introduce you the most efficient way to get around the major tourist spots in Tokyo.  

(We actually did all of this in a day and made it just on time. (As you can see in our video!)


8:00 Breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market
10:00 Imperial Palace Tour
12:00 Check out Tokyo Station
12:30 Lunch at Ameya Yokocho
14:00 Tokyo Skytree
16:00 Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine)
17:00 Shopping at Harajuku/Omotesando
19:00 Dinner in Shibuya


How to Spend a DAY in TOKYO

8:00 Breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market

 at Taneichi

at Taneichi

We are starting our morning at Tsukiji Fish Market(築地市場).  If you really want to, you could get up before dawn and check out the morning auction. We are starting at this time because we don't want to be sleepy throughout the day.

 Jogai Market

Jogai Market

 Salmon/Tuna/Negitoro 

Salmon/Tuna/Negitoro 

There are SO MANY restaurants you can choose from.  Although this is a FISH market, there are many other great restaurants that offer other than seafood.  However, if this is your first time, you have got to try seafood.  My recommendation is TANEICHI (種市)which I have been a regular since I moved here. Why? Because TANEICHI offers the best price and quality!

Don't fill your stomach too much at lunch because there are some street food too.

how to spend a day in tokyo

Tsukiji → Kayabacho
(HIBIYA LINE)

how to spend a day in tokyo

Kayamacho → Otemachi
(TOZAI LINE)

10:00 Imperial Palace Tour

how to spend a day in tokyo

Now let's move on to the Imperial Palace(皇居). Make sure to get out of exit 2 at Otemachi Station when you get off.  There are 2 other stations that are close to the Imperial Palace and Otemachi Station is the closest one among all to the tour starting point. (It is a HUGE property. If you use other stations, you will have to walk A LOT.)

how to spend a day in tokyo

You can make a reservation for tour in advance or just walk-in.  Be sure to arrive 10-15 minutes early if you are thinking of walk-in.  For more info, check out Imperial Household Agency's guidance.

Also, depending on the day, some parts of the property are closed so I strongly recommend to check out their official website in advance.

how to spend a day in tokyo

WALK to Tokyo Station

12:00 Check out Tokyo Station

how to spend a day in tokyo

Since Tokyo Station is a hub for bullet trains, there are countless souvenir shops and cool bento shops inside of the beautiful building which just had a renovation. 

We are taking train to the next destination, so buy a ticket and get inside to enjoy one of the busiest stations of all. 

how to spend a day in tokyo

Tokyo → Ueno
 (JR YAMANOTE LINE)

12:30 Lunch at Ameya Yokocho

how to spend a day in tokyo

LUNCH TIME!! Ameya Yokocho(アメヤ横丁), A.K.A. Ameyoko as locals call it, is a flea market where you can enjoy street food.  The name AMEYA can be traced back to the early post-war era when solders who came back from China started candy shops (飴屋 ameya).  All the candy shops lining up in the market got popular since sugar was hard to come by at that time.  Still now there are some candy shops here and there.

how to spend a day in tokyo

Many food stalls are Chinese or other asian restaurants there.   We got this spicy soup(麻辣湯), pig ear, drunk chicken and 2 large beer was under $15 total.  So reasonable right?

how to spend a day in tokyo

Ueno → Asakusa
(GINZA LINE)

how to spend a day in tokyo

Asakusa → Skytree
(TOBU SKYTREE LINE)

14:00 Tokyo Skytree

how to spend a day in tokyo

**If you are not interested in towers, you can visit Asakusa instead.  It is on the way from Ameyoko to Skytree. Check out our Asakusa video.

Tokyo Skytree is a new tower that Tokyo is proud of.  Tokyo Tower is cool too but if you can only visit one, the taller and newer one is probably the wise choice. 

how to spend a day in tokyo

You might think going up on the tower is the only thing to do at Tokyo Skytree.  Wrong.  Tokyo Skytree is actually one big shopping center, and little play ground area for families to hung out. 

how to spend a day in tokyo

Oshiage → Shibuya
(HANZOMON LINE)

how to spend a day in tokyo

Shibuya → Harajuku
(JR YAMANOTE LINE)

16:00 Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine)

how to spend a day in tokyo

Now, let's get in touch with God at Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine) which is a Shinto shrine deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.  This shrine is loved by not only tourists but also locals as people believe it is a 'Power Spot'. 

how to spend a day in tokyo

Meiji Jingu is surrounded by thousands of trees.  Just walking in the area is so relaxing and you almost feel like hiking.  Just to note, it is quite a big shrine so be sure to wear shoes that are comfortable to walk about 30 minutes. 

You don't know how to behave in shrines?  No problem.  Check out Japanese Shrine Manners | Dos and Don'ts to prepare for a visit.

how to spend a day in tokyo

Walk toTakeshita Dori
5 mins

17:00 Shopping at Harajuku/Omotesando

how to spend a day in tokyo

Finally, shopping time! Harajuku and Omotesando is located just next to Meiji Jingu.  What's the difference between Harajuku and Omotesando? Let's say Harajuku is for young crowd and Omotesando is for gown ups.

In Harajuku area, you will find more street fashion, fast fashion and 'Kawaii' fluffy rainbow fashion.  Takeshita Dori is one of the famous streets in Harajuku.  It used to be just all about Kawaii fashion but now it became a completely different world.  Even thought it is not like it used to be, Takeshita Dori is still a cool place to visit. 

Omotesando is filled with high fashion stores and trendy cafes. Omotesando Hills is a high-end shopping center for you to check out. 

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Omotesando → Shibuya
 (GINZA LINE)

19:00 Dinner in Shibuya

Now let's have more on to Shibuya. You can simply get around by subway but there are some cool stores between Harajuku and Shibuya, so you can walk also. It only takes about 15 minutes anyways. 

Before (or after) dinner, don't forget to check out Scramble Crossing. It is right in front of the station so you will never miss it. 

There are so many places to eat in Shibuya from trendy Izakaya to casual ramen houses. Locals use TABELOG to find out the places to go. 

If you still have an energy, hit cool bars and clubs.