Kick back at Odaiba’s lush Shiokaze Park
Pray for good luck at historic shrines
Dive into the forefronts of art and fashion at Omotesando and Harajuku
Experience Mount Takao’s lush nature
This activity-packed itinerary takes you to some of Tokyo’s most exciting spots.
Day 1: View the city from above by paying a visit to Tokyo Skytree’s sky-high observation deck, then after a stroll in the nearby historic Asakusa area, take a water bus to Odaiba. Visit a digital art museum or one of the many shopping malls in the area before you finish your day with an Olympic game and stunning night views.
Day 2: Begin your day with a leisurely early morning stroll around the Imperial Palace grounds. Then, spend some time exploring the shops in Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya, followed by a visit to the majestic Meiji Shrine.
Day 3: Spend the day wandering the suburbs of Tokyo! Catch a train and head to Mount Takao, a popular hiking spot located just an hour’s train ride from Shinjuku. Crown your night with the glittering city view from the top of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku.
|Required time||72 hours|
|Distance traveled||app. 50 km|
|Transportation||Train, subway, water bus, walking|
Stunning views from Tokyo Skytree
The Tokyo Skytree was completed in 2012 as a radio tower. At 634 meters, it’s the world’s tallest radio tower and offers stunning panoramic views of the city. The observation decks open at 8:00 a.m, making it the perfect place to start the day. You can access it from Oshiage or Tokyo Skytree Station.
Pick up a combined ticket that gives you access to the 350-meter high observation deck and the 450-meter high glass corridor. Same day weekday tickets are 2,100 yen, while advanced tickets are a little cheaper at 1800 yen.
While you’re in the area, you can also pay a visit to the Solamachi complex below, which houses stores, restaurants, the Sumida Aquarium, and Planetarium.
Asakusa, The next spot on the itinerary, is across the Sumida River and just one stop away on the Tobu Line.
The Asakusa area still retains the traditional air of the Edo Era. At its heart is Sensoji Temple, a 7th century edifice. Walk through the crimson red Kaminarimon Gate and you’ll find colorful stalls selling sweets and other knick-knacks.
The Kappabashi area, famous for kitchenware and ceramic shops, is a 10-minute walk from Sensoji Temple. Buy a top-class kitchen knife and have your name engraved on it.
Water buses offer great access from Asakusa to Odaiba, where a number of games are going to be held. The ride is about 70 minutes long and costs about 1,380 yen.
You’ll be traveling over the Sumida River towards Tokyo Bay, passing by the towering Tokyo Skytree and old parts of the city. As the river gets wider, look out for Tokyo Tower on your right and the Athletes’ Village on your left.
You’ll see the shores of Tokyo Bay flanked by skyscrapers. Pass under Rainbow Bridge and step off at Odaiba.
Odaiba is a seaside area home to TV stations, The Tokyo International Exhibition Center, a number of shopping malls, and even a Ferris wheel.
It will be hosting the beach volleyball, basketball (3×3), and sport climbing matches for Tokyo 2020. In addition, the Tokyo International Exhibition Center will be serving as the International Broadcasting Center and Main Press Center for the events.
Pay a visit to Odaiba Seaside Park—the area has wheelchair and baby-stroller friendly shopping malls, a beach, and cafes. Families with children can check out events at Fuji TV Headquarters, the Miraikan science museum, and the Museum of Maritime Science.
The Tokyo 2020 Official Shop, where you can get about 1,100 different types of official merchandise, will be open on the 3rd floor of Aqua City from March 20 to September 30. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir.
DECKS Tokyo Beach houses a retro Japanese-style corridor lined with shops selling old-fashioned candy, vintage signboards, old tools, and knick-knacks reminiscent of the 1964 games in Tokyo. It’s the perfect place to pick up unconventional memorabilia and rare Japanese items to take home with you.
The largest ferris wheel in Japan, with a diameter of 100 meters, looms over the Tokyo waterfront area. Hop in to see views of Haneda and the glittering lights of Shinjuku. The lighting changes with the season, and thrill-seekers can even step into a ferris gondola with completely see-through floors and walls.
TeamLab Borderless is a series of installations made with state-of-the-art digital technology. Video installations bursting with color and amazing soundscapes make for a surreal (and insta-worthy!) experience. There’s a similar space in the Toyosu area. It can get crowded so make sure you reserve your tickets in advance. Entry is 3,200 yen for adults. It’s located right near Palette Town and you can access it via Aomi Station on the Yurikamome Line or Tokyo Teleport Station on the Rinkai Line.
The lush green Shiokaze Park overlooks the sea and is the perfect place for a picnic or barbecue. It will host the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Beach Volleyball Games at 9:00 p.m when it gets dark.
After a fun day in Odaiba, make your way back to the hotel on the Yurikamome Line to see the Rainbow Bridge and the ferris wheel lit up against the glittering lights of Odaiba. The first and last train carriages offer the best views.
Visit Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhoods
The Imperial Palace grounds, surrounded by 12 moats and groves of lush trees, is the perfect place for an early morning stroll.
The outer circumference, a 5-kilometer loop, is a popular course for joggers.
Walk straight from Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi Exit, and you’ll see a moat. Cross over it and head clockwise. You’ll pass by the Central Government Office area and the parliament building before you arrive at the Hanzomon area in about 40 minutes. There are a number of subway stations along the way, so you can hop on the train if you get tired.
The nearest stations to the New National Stadium, Kokuritsu-Kyogijo Station and Gaien-Mae Station, are just a 10-minute train ride from Hanzomon Station. You can transfer at Aoyama-Itchome Station.
The Olympic Stadium (National Stadium) was newly built on the site of the main venue for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The design incorporates domestic materials and traditional Japanese styles. The stadium is slated to host the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field events, and soccer matches.
A 20-minute walk from the National Stadium is the Meiji Shrine, one of the most popular shrines in Japan.
Built in the early 20th century, Meiji Shrine is a relatively new edifice. It is dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken.
The tree-lined shrine grounds are filled with vibrant irises in early summer and you may spot a traditional wedding if you’re luck. You can also pick up a variety of souvenirs to commemorate your visit—lucky charms, casks, and even a temple seal.
Bow before you enter the torii gate. At the water pavilion near the entrance, pick up the ladle and pour water on your left hand first, and then your right hand. This is to purify your spirit.
Stand in front of the altar and gently drop a coin into the saisen-bako offertory box. Bow twice, clap your hands twice, and bow one more time.
Leave from Meiji Shrine’s Harajuku Exit and you’ll find yourself in one of Japan’s most trendsetting neighborhoods. Walk from the colorful Harajuku area to the stylish Omotesando area, passing by all kinds of unique shops and window displays.
Sample rainbow-colored cotton candy, delectable crepes and other fun desserts. You can also find a variety of ramen and sushi joints, as well as hole-in-the-wall restaurants offering traditional cuisine.
The area is dotted with many small art galleries, hair salons, and other fashionable spots. You’ll also find a number of buildings designed by Kengo Kuma, the architect of the New National Stadium, such as Nezu Museum, the bamboo-lined Baisoin Temple, and the One Omotesando complex. You can also walk a little further to the Suntory Museum of Art in Roppongi.
Takeshita Street spans 350 meters between Harajuku Station and Meiji-dori Avenue. No cars are allowed between 11 a.m and 6 p.m, making it a completely pedestrian zone. Home to all things kawaii, the street is sandwiched between clothing boutiques, dollar stores, shops selling celebrity photos, and colorful crepe stands. Expect crowds.
The Omotesando area is known for its high-end brands, stylish cafes, and a variety of artsy establishments. However, unlike the neighboring Shibuya and Shinjuku areas, most places here close early. It’s best to explore during the daytime.
You can sample seasonal rural delicacies in Tokyo if you pay a visit to an “antenna shop.” These stores sell specialty products from all over Japan and can usually be found in places Omotesando and Ginza. For example, Omotesando Niigatakan N’ESPACE hosts events where you can find rice balls, sweets, and sake, all made with top-quality Niigata rice. They sometimes even host miso-making events.
Shibuya is just one train stop away from Harajuku and Omotesando Station. You can also walk to the area in about 20 minutes.
Redevelopment projects have transformed Shibuya in recent times, but it’s still crowned by the iconic Scramble Crossing, famed for being the busiest crossing in the world.
Get a bird’s-eye view of it from the Shibuya Sky observatory or the Sky Deck, perched on top of Shibuya Scramble Square, a brand new complex that just opened in 2019. Same day tickets cost 2,000 yen, while advance online tickets are 1,800 yen. You can reserve a time slot, so no need to worry about crowds.
An easy escape from the city
Spend the day scaling Mount Takao in Hachioji City. At 599 meters, this mountain is a popular destination for casual hikers. It’s easily accessible from the city, and you can get a discount round-trip ticket to Takaosanguchi Station via the Keio Line. The Takaosanguchi Station was designed by Olympic Stadium architect Kengo Kuma.
There are a number of routes to the summit. Depending on your physical abilities, you can take a cable car partway up the slopes, and choose between paved or rough routes to the summit.
Halfway between the cable car terminus and the summit, you’ll find Yakuou-in, an 8th century temple. Look out for unusual mountain guardian statues and sample some shojin ryori—Buddhist vegetarian cuisine.
It takes about 30 minutes to the summit from the cable car station. From the top, you can see beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, and even Mount Fuji if you’re lucky.
Along the way, there are stalls selling drinks, snacks, shaved ice, and even beer.
Wheelchair users can also access the summit. However, there are sections of the trail that are steep and rough, so you will need someone to help. If you are a wheelchair user traveling alone, you can still enjoy great views from the area near the cable car terminus.
Perched at an altitude of 488 meters, this beer garden offers amazing views. You can get an unlimited food and drink package for 2 hours. It’s located near the cable car terminus, and open from mid-June to mid-October, from 1:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m every day. Children are allowed inside. The night views are great, but make sure you don’t miss the last cable car going down.
After descending from Mount Takao, take a rejuvenating soak in Gokurakuyu Onsen. It’s located near the Keio Line Takaosanguchi Station and open from 8:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m. Entrance is 1,000 yen for adults and you can rent bath towels for fee. After a relaxing dip, you can get a massage or sample local delicacies such as soba and grated yam at the facility’s restaurant.
Step off the cable car at the upper station and take trail number 1 towards the summit. On the way, you’ll find a monkey park, inhabited by about 70 monkeys. You can see them go about their daily lives and even catch a monkey show.
The nearby botanical garden houses over 300 species of wild plants and flowers.
After taking in some fresh air Mount Takao, head back to Shinjuku on the Keio Line.
Make your way to the observation deck located on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. You can take in views of Tokyo’s glittering sea of neon lights. Look out for Tokyo Skytree on the north side. There are also restaurants and gift shops on the floor.
The observation deck is generally open from 9:30 a.m to 11:00 p.m. (closed every 2nd and 4th Monday). Entry is free and open to anyone. It’s a 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station and you can also access it from the Tochomae Station on the Oedo Station.
Water bus ticket office
Tokyo International Exhibition Center
Odaiba Seaside Park
Tokyo 2020 Official Shop
Daiba Itchome Shōtengai
Palette Town Ferris Wheel
Digital Art Museum: teamLab
Takeshita Street (Harajuku)
Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Yoyogi Park’s Live Site
Cable car station
Mount Takao summit
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building