One day Itinerary for Tokyo.
(Please note this has been planned for a weekend)
Following on from our Quick Tokyo Guide, here is a suggested itinerary for one day in Tokyo!
Begin the day in Harajuku exploring Takeshita Dori. This area is more for people watching, specifically for those wanting to see Harajuku teens in their finest fashions, than for shopping although the original Daiso is located here. Have a mid morning snack on a crepe. You’ll find plenty of crepe stalls selling these sweet and cream filled crepes that will keep you filled through to lunch.
Continue past Takeshita Dori into the backstreets of Harajuku where the best shopping options are. Here you will find local boutique and start up brands with the latest and coolest fashions.
Once you’re finished in the backstreets head to Omotosando Street, which is considered the Champs-Élysées of Tokyo. You’ll find all the big international brands along side each other. In some of these stores you can find incredible coffee pop up stores serving exceptional artisan coffee, making it a perfect mid-morning pit stop.
When you are finished shopping head back towards Harajuku station. Instead of jumping on the train cross over the train line into Yoyogi Park. There is a clear path indicated through Meiji Jingu’s Forest towards the Meiji Shrine. It’s an easy 5-10min walk through the park towards the shrine, and you’ll notice the impressive sake and wine barrels, given as offerings, all piled up along the walk route. At this famous Shinto shrine visitors can purchase charms or amulets or make an offering in the main hall. Keep your eyes peeled for traditional Shinto wedding precessions!
Head back to Harajuku station and catch the train one stop to Shibuya Station, and exit at Shibuya 109. This is the closest exit to the iconic Shibuya crossing where thousands of people will cross at any one time. Cross the road and head into the Shibuya 109 building into the Starbucks on level 2. Grab yourself a cool drink as you watch the thousands all scamper over the crossing whenever the traffic lights go red!
Shibuya is one of the busiest hubs in Tokyo, filled with eateries, shops, department stores and arcade parlors. It will be simple to find some delicious eats for lunch! A personal favorite would be to try Genki Sushi. This is a friendly conveyer belt sushi where you order off a touch screen and then very quickly you’ll find small plates of sushi arriving in front of you. Now I recommend this place to those who aren’t keen on raw sushi or those wanting an interactive experience. I personally am not a fan of raw sushi but enjoy the menu here, as there are plenty of vegetarian or cooked seafood options.
Jump back on the train and head to the Tokyo Dome. This will take you approximately 20-25 minutes. Spa LaQua is the perfect location for an afternoon of relaxation where you can enjoy gender segregated nude bathing. This spa is situated on a natural hot spring. You can see my post of demystifying this process— click here. Spa La Qua has both indoor and outdoor bathing options, as well as general amusement attractions within the complex. Cost- 2,634yen
After an afternoon relaxing you can head to Shinjuku. This area is filled with many department stores including Takeshimaya or Isetan. Head to the basement of any of these department stalls for an unexpected foodie heaven- a whole floor dedicated to food. Whilst here you’ll notice all the perfect looking fruit and vegetables- almost too good to eat! Examine all the delicate desserts, traditional Japanese sweets, savories, salads and sushi boxes. In the late afternoon the prices are slashed in order to sell of stock. Pick up an afternoon snack- either a sushi box or a delicious French patisserie.
Close by you’ll find the Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens. You’ll have time to quickly check out the formal Japanese gardens or the tropical greenhouse. Cost of entry is 200Yen.
Whilst in Shinjuku it is worth wandering on foot, simply to see the shopping options and the density of the population. Burn time before dinner at Don Quijote where you will find everything you could possible want to buy- from clothes, luggage, food, drinks, wigs, sex toys, electronics, fire works and makeup. You’ll find an eclectic mix of stuff here at very reasonable prices.
Final food pit stop is on the western side of Shinjuku station. This shanty style area is filled with tiny yakitori bars. It used to be called Piss Alley because of the drunken workers who would stumble here after a big night out, but it has since been cleaned up and renamed Memory alley. The future of this dining district is still unclear with plans regularly discussed for an expansion of the station. Until then find yourself a stool in one of the tiny bars and order some of the best yakitori you’ll find.
After dinner and a few cold beers with your yakitori you might want to head out for a few more drinks. Best option is to walk back through Shinjuku towards Kabukicho. Head to the Golden Gai drinking district which is similar in style to Memory Alley. Tiny bars are squished into a small block and serve their clientele in the evening. This area is often avoided by tourists because of its yakuza (Japanese mafia) connection, but it is a safe and interesting place to check out.
It’s probably time to call it a night- you’ve explored Tokyo to its fullest! On your way back to the station and your accommodation don’t forget to appreciate Tokyo’s stunning neon lights. Enjoy!!