The 10 Top Things to do in Tokyo – on Your First Trip.

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Helen Foster
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What should you see in Tokyo? That could be a very long list. The city is huge and full of amazing sights – but, if it’s your first trip to Tokyo, there are a few things you really shouldn’t miss. So, here’s our list of the top 10 things to do in Tokyo – on your first visit.

Chances are if you’re planning your first trip to Tokyo, you already know there’s lots to do. Maybe you’ve had a look at a few guidebooks, or some blogs like this one, and you want to try and see everything.

But, after a day or two poring over a map, trying to jiggle everything you’ve probably also realized that’s not going to be possible; the city is huge and packed with excitement.

So our list picks the 10 Tokyo attractions that pretty much everyone visiting Tokyo for the first time is going to want to tick off.

If you’re only there a few days this is the list to print (and if you do want to have a look at our planners below). So, here we go… the 10 top things to do in Tokyo for first-timers.

View of Senso-ji temple. one of the top 10 sights in Tokyo. It's a scarlett gate with a red pagoda behind it. A cherry blossom tree is in the foreground

Article by Helen Foster. Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. See our Affiliate Disclosure.

Quick Guide: How to Do the Top 10 Sights in 3 Days

Day One: Senso-ji and Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree (with booked jump-the-line tickets), Akihabara

Day Two: Early start at Tsukiji Outer Market, Shibuya Crossing, and Shibuya; walk to Meiji Shrine, then visit Harajuku.

Day Three: teamlab Planets, Odaiba. Late afternoon soak in Thermae Yu, evening in Shinjuku

If you have four days, we also have a detailed four-day Tokyo itinerary that takes in all these sights – and some other favorites.

The above shows you how all our sights fit together easily – so now let us tell you a bit more about them.

1. Shibuya and the Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing is the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing and during the busiest times of day, up to 3000 people can all make their way across the road at the same time.

Evening shot of the Shibuya Crossing with all the people blurred.

The best way to experience it is to watch it from one of the viewpoints nearby – walking across it yourself is interesting, and you do need to do it, but you really don’t get the scale of it from on the road itself.

Each viewpoint gives you a slightly different perspective.

3 Spots to View the Shibuya Crossing

The Starbucks that used to be a favorite viewing spot has now closed so, where else can you get a good view of the Shibuya Crossing?

The Mark City Walkway

This walkway between Shibuya Station and the Mark City Building runs just above the road to the left of the crossing (in the picture below it’s the bank of windows in the white building at the back) – giving you a good side view.

This is my personal favourite spot as it’s free, you don’t need to queue and no one is hassling you to move on so they can take their own picture, there’s plenty of room for everyone. Plus, it doesn’t set off my fear of heights!

To find it, head toward a marker for the Myth of Tomorrow on Google Maps – that’s a painting that lines the wall of the walkway and is the easiest way to work out where you need to be.

Mag’s Place

If you want a view from above and don’t mind paying a small fee for the privilege, the rooftop terrace at the MAGNET building (the building that looks a bit like a white tube on the north side of the crossing) is where to go.

This is the view at about 11am – the crossing gets busier the later in the day it gets.

When it first opened it was free but now charges the price of a drink to get in, but gives a great overhead view. Enter from the Food Court on the 7th floor. It’s open from 11am to 11pm.

It’s nice and chilled up here and you can sit down and have a rest – although you do have to stand up to see the crossing.

Shibuya Sky

The newest viewing spot – and the highest one. The viewing area is 230 meters above ground and therefore not one for those who really don’t like heights – especially as it’s surrounded by plexiglass – the view from the escalator makes my head spin!

If you’re not acrophobic though, you can book tickets in advance here. Spots are limited, and sunset sells out very quickly.

Closest Station to Shibuya Crossing

The closest station to the Shibuya crossing is Shibuya which is on the Hibiya, Ginza, and Fukutoshin lines, head to the Hachiko exit to reach the crossing.

What Else is Nearby

The other main draw right by the Shibuya Crossing is the Hachiko Statue. If you haven’t heard the story of Hachiko, he was a famous dog who waited years at Shibuya Station hoping his owner (who had died at work) would return.

If you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time and don’t yet know the story of Hachiko, or if you do and you want to find some other Hachiko-based sights in Tokyo, then check out this post which tells you all about Japan’s most famous dog.

Beyond that Shibuya is a great place for shopping, even if you’re not into Japanese fashion, you’ll spot some of the newest food trends and other interesting shops in the back streets.

Cute Pepper robot waits tables at the Pepper Parlour in Shibuya, Tokyo. He is a white humanoid robot. Attached to his front is a tablet which says Special, Dance, Talk and Games which are all options to interact with him

Another ‘only in Tokyo’ place is the Pepper Parlor where you’ll be able to chat with cute robots while you order drinks and snacks.

Unlike many themed cafes in Tokyo, you don’t always need to book Pepper in advance, you can just turn up – it might be worth making a booking if you want to be there for lunch or dinner though. You have to do this in person, they don’t have booking on their website.

How Long Should You Spend in Shibuya

If you’re not a demon shopper, about half a day is enough – but go when the shops are open. If you want to explore it properly and go in all the shops, you can easily spend 5-6 hours here – and continue into the evening visiting the many bars and restaurants in Shibuya.

2. Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa

If you only have time to see one temple on your Tokyo trip, then Senso-ji should probably be it.

Sensoji is thought to be Tokyo’s oldest temple and the story of its history – involving two brothers, a fishing boat and the statue of a deity is interesting (read it and some more history of the temple here).

Located in Asakusa, this Buddhist temple is probably most famous for the huge red Karimaron gate and giant lantern that guard its entrance but there’s far more to it than that.

Senso-ji temple in Asakusa lit up at night. The main red gate and one site pagoda are shown.

Once you pass through the gate, you’ll walk through a long shopping street full of everything your souvenir-hunting heart might desire – from traditional Japanese sweets to prints with Godzilla on. There’s even a shop where you can buy a kimono-style outfit for your dog!

You’ll also find food stalls. Actor Eugene Levy visited one of these when he was in Tokyo filming The Reluctant Traveler (to see which one, check out our guide to all the locations used in The Reluctant Traveler)

And, then you finally reach the Main Hall and pretty red Pagoda. There are other buildings on the site and the link below has a map that allows you to identify them and explain their purpose.

Senso-ji is probably the most famous shrine or temple in Tokyo, but it’s not the only one that you might want to visit. Take a look at our guide to the best shrines and temples in Tokyo here.

The complex itself is always open and if you want to try and get pictures without too many people in them, visit first thing in the morning, or at night when the gate and lantern are lit are your best options.

The Main Hall is not open 24-7, you can access it from 6.30am and it closes at 5pm.

Obviously, if you want to visit the shops you’ll need to arrive when those are open which is from around 10am.

A clever trick is to get there before this, head straight to the Main Hall and the rest of the temple complex itself before too many other people arrive, and then do the shops on the way back.

How Long Should You Spend at Senso-ji?

About an hour is enough to walk around the temple and some of the shops – but allow at least half a day here if you want to explore both the temple and the surrounding area.

Getting to Senso-ji

Take the train to Asakusa station which is served by the Ginza line and the Asakusa line. Take exit 1.

What Else is Nearby

The area of Asakusa is a great place to wander and soak up some of Tokyo’s older atmosphere – although it’s modernizing fast.

You’ll find some other temples nearby, there’s a road lined with statues of cute Tanuki’s, lots of bars and restaurants and it’s also home to Kappabashi shopping street which is famous for its incredible models of plastic food – and where Japan’s top chefs shop to restock their kitchens.

If you have any interest in buying anything like dishes, it’s a great place to do so – author Jonelle Patrick based one of her books here and she tells us why it’s one of her favourite places in Tokyo, here.

View from the Tourist Information Centre in Asakusa overlooking the shopping street leading up to Sensoji temple. You can see a row of green roofs and lots of people.

One secret spot not to miss is the Tourist Information Centre opposite Sensoji which has a good view from its roof (especially if you can get up there at night when the lights are on) and also offers free weekly walking tours which are a great way to pick up some extra Tokyo travel tips.

Find details of those here, you’ll need to translate it from Japanese but it lists all the tours in one place.

Asakusa is easy to combine with a trip to Tokyo Skytree – more on that in a minute.

3. Tsukiji Outer Market

Once upon a time a trip to the fish market at Tsukiji, and its famous tuna auction, was a must-do on every tourist’s Tokyo itinerary, but, then in 2018, the fish market moved to a new sight in Toyosu.

This caused many people to delete Tsukiji from their itinerary, but you absolutely shouldn’t.

See more about why we love Tsukiji Market in our longer post on it here.

While the big fish aren’t there anymore, the labyrinthine alleys of the Tsukuji outer market that circles the old site are filled with stalls and restaurants that still offer fresh-off-the-boat sashimi and sushi for you to try plus hundreds of other foods.

While you can just wander around, buying whatever takes you fancy, the best way to visit is definitely on a food tour which will take you to the best stalls of the hundreds that fill the space.

Two men carve tuna into squares at the Tsukiji Outer Market in Tokyo.

If that’s not feasible in the time you have for your visit, the Tsukiji website gives a good list of what stalls sell what items so you can highlight your favorites.

It also lists the restaurants and what types of dishes they sell.

The Best Way to Enjoy Tsukiji

While you can easily see Tsukiji on your own, you learn so much more if you take a tour. You’ll also be taken to the best stalls for each type of food too – and, you don’t have to stand in super long queues to taste the goodies!

There are quite a few different tours of Tsukiji but the one I picked was this half-day one which was great. You get a good selection of snacks in the market and finish the tour at a local sushi bar for the freshest fish you’ve ever tasted.

How Long Should You Spend at Tsukiji?

About two hours should be enough to wander around the market and try a decent number of samples – if you get there early, otherwise, you’ll need to allow extra time for queues at very popular stalls.

What Time Should You Arrive at Tsukiji?

While some shops at the market can open as early as 5 am, some areas are only open to those buying for trade at this time.

If you want to get there when all the shops are open arrive as close to 9am as you can – the market can get very, very busy and the queues get loooonnnggg so earlier is definitely better. And note that most of the shops close just after lunch. Some shops also close on Sundays and Wednesdays so try and avoid visiting then if you can.

How To Get There

Either Tsukijishijo Station on the Ueno Line (exit A1) or Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya Line (exit 1)

sashimi bowl breakfast from Tsukiji outer market Tokyo. It contains salmon, tuna and a white fish. Omlette and a prawn on a bed of rice.
Sashimi in Tsukiji Market, Tokyo

What Else is Near Tsukiji Market?

You can easily combine a morning tour of Tsukiji with exploring the shopping district of Ginza or a trip to the grounds of the Imperial Palace.

If you’re trying to fit everything on this list in a short period, Tsukiji is also connected to Shibuya by the Hibaya line – so you could go here first, then get to Shibuya for when things open there. It’s also fairly near the man-made island of Odaiba – and teamLab Planets (see below).

4. See Tokyo from Above

To get a sense of the sprawl that is Tokyo – and maybe catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji if it’s a very clear day, you need to go up one of Tokyo’s tall buildings.

There are a few of these and which you choose might depend on what fits best on your itinerary, budget, or your head for heights. We compare them all fully in our piece on Tokyo’s best observation decks but to give you a quick run down.

Tokyo Skytree

Located close to Asakusa the Skytree is Tokyo’s highest building. The two Observation Decks are located 350 meters and 450 meters above ground and cost from 2100 yen to enter – the higher you go, the more it costs. It’s also more expensive on the weekend than on a weekday.

On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji from here, and visiting in the morning gives you the best chance.

Tokyo skytree building against a bright blue sky

Skytree is also the best tower for adrenaline junkies as it has a section of a glass floor you can walk on with all of Tokyo under your feet and access from the 350m level to the 450m one is via a lift with a view!

You can buy Skytree tickets in advance that let you jump the queue, to do this, or for more details check out their website here. The tower is open from 10am to 8pm.

Tokyo Tower

Located close to the nightlife area of Roppongi the red and white Tokyo Tower is one of the iconic symbols of Tokyo. If you go up it, you’ll be looking down on Tokyo from up to 250m.

Like the Skytree there are two decks at the Tokyo Tower – the Main Deck is 150m above ground, and the Top Deck is 250m high. You can only access the Top Deck with tickets bought in advance.

Tokyo Tower is slightly cheaper than Skytree with admission to the Main Deck from 1000 yen.

Tokyo Tower opens until late so you could combine a visit with a night in Roppongi.

Shibuya Sky

The newest high spot in town, this offers a 360-degree view around Tokyo from a 230m tower.

It’s also famous for its Instagram-friendly escalator and the Sky Edge, a corner of the building with clear glass sides that looks like you’re standing in the air.

It gets very busy – especially around sunset, so it’s a good idea to book your slot in advance. Buy tickets here

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Located in Shinjuku, one benefit of this viewpoint is that it’s completely free.

The viewing area is located 243 meters above the city and you can see Fuji from the windows that look west – plus, you’ll also get Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower in your photos!

There are two towers in the building each with slightly different views, so if you want to check out both, make sure you go on a day when they are both open.

Full opening hours and times are on their website. Generally though at least one tower is open each day from 10 am to 8 pm.

What Else is Nearby?

Skytree can easily be added to a morning at Sensoji, while the Tokyo Metropolitan Building could be your first stop of the day if you’re staying in Shinjuku, or, head there for a sunset view before spending the night in Shinjuku.

5. Visit an Onsen

Onsens are communal hot water baths beloved by people in Japan. If it’s your first time in Tokyo, it might seem a waste to spend an hour or two sitting in hot water, but it really is a chance to experience a true Japanese tradition – plus it can help soothe the aches and pains of sightseeing. You walk A LOT in Tokyo.

If you want to try an onsen on your trip and aren’t going outside of Tokyo to stay at a ryokan that has one, then Thermae Yu in Shinjuku is one of the easiest places to enjoy the experience.

Dark haired woman rests on the edge of a hot water bath

It’s one of the onsens in Tokyo most used to dealing with confused tourists who aren’t quite sure about onsen etiquette and the staff are helpful.

You see when you use an onsen, there are three main things to remember…

You enter the baths naked.

You must wash before you get into the water – and there’s a special area for this.

No-one cares that you are nude but you!

Once you realize that last one, the wonderfulness that is soaking in hot water is yours to enjoy.

Thermae Yu has different pools of varying temperatures, including an outside one that has water shipped specially from a nearby onsen. It’s lovely to sit in this with the open sky above you.

When Should You Visit Thermae Yu?

The baths are normally open 24 hours (except for between 3-5am) so visiting Thermae Yu is a great thing to do in Tokyo in the morning when there’s not a lot else open (here’s where to find some more suggestions for that).

There are also likely to be fewer people here first thing in the morning if you are a bit nervous about getting naked with random strangers.

I went mid-afternoon as I needed to soak every part of me that ached, and there were probably about 20 other people there.

You can just walk in and buy tickets at the door, or, if you can buy them in advance.

Have a look at Thermae Yu tickets here.

Can You Visit Thermae Yu with a Tattoo?

Yes. Thermae Yu is also unusual in that while tattoos are generally banned in Japanese baths, they are now allowing in tourists with small tattoos. Women with small tattoos can enter without issue, but, if you have larger tattoos (30cm by 30cm) you must cover them with a bandage – and if you’re fully covered you’re probably still going to be refused entry.

As you can see from the sign below, men with tattoos do have to show their passport to be allowed in, so make sure you have it with you (although it is the law to carry your passport at all times in Japan anyway – see more about passport rules here). And, you must cover large tattoos with a bandage.

Sign outside Thermae Yu spa in Tokyo explaining the new rules for foreigners with tattoos. It explains that small tattoos are allowed, but that larger tattoos should be covered.

How Long Should You Spend in Thermae Yu?

I was there for about two hours as I really needed the soak! You could experience it in an hour if you have to – but, I warn you, the warm water is very soothing.

What’s the Closest Station?

Shinjuku Sanchome, Toei Shinjuku Line, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, and Fukutoshin Line. Take exit E1

What Else is Nearby?

From our main sights, The Tokyo Metropolitan Building and the nighttime fun of Shinjuku. Shinjuku is also easily connected with Shibuya on the Fukutoshin Line so you could soak before and then head to Shibuya – or after a busy day’s shopping.

Or come here to revive aching feet before going out in Shinjuku at night – remembering though that the baths will dehydrate you so, make sure you drink plenty of water if you’re going to be drinking! And don’t even think about coming in here afterward! Alcohol and very hot baths don’t mix.

Check Out Our Travel Planners

Trying to plan your Japan trip? Visit our Japan travel planner shop on Etsy. We’ve made printable planners containing simple Japan-planning advice and fillable travel planning sheets to help you plan your itinerary, packing, spending etc. If you love travel printables, check out the Japlanease Shop on Etsy.com.

6. Teamlab Borderless/Planets

While much of Japan offers visitors a sense of history and traditions of days gone by, Tokyo always has one foot in the future and that’s why this interactive art exhibit is on this list.

Well, that and the fact that’s it one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attractions and has been voted the most popular museum in the world dedicated to a single artist!

When it first opened, there was nothing else like it in the world and people queued for hours to see works like the Forest of Lamps or the Universe of Water.

Even now queues can be very long so you definitely want to book tickets in advance and try and arrive as early in the day as you can.

Light installation that looks like a hill with rain falling upon it

Image from Jonelle Patrick – onlyintokyo.com

Depending on when your trip to Japan is happening, teamLab Borderless, the more popular museum has been closed for a while as it moved location and when it reopens February 2024, queues will be long. Definitely book your tickets in advance

If you can’t get tickets, or would prefer a quieter location, check out TeamLab Planets instead.

It’s open now and while it’s a lot smaller than the original (which is why it hasn’t created the same mega hype), if you just want to get the Teamlab experience – and some obligatory Instagram photos, you might decide it’s worth a look.

Buy tickets in advance here.

What’s the Closest Station to teamLab?

teamLab Borderless is located in Azabudai. Nearby stations include Roppongi Itchome and Kamiyacho.

teamlab Planets is located in Toyosu.

How Long Should You Spend at teamLab?

About two hours is normal.

What Else is Nearby?

teamLab Borderless is in a fairly new area, but you can easily combine your visit with a trip up Tokyo Tower or the Roppongi district. There’s also a new observation deck in Azabudai on the 33rd floor of the Azabudai Hills building – look for Sky Lobby on google maps.

teamLab Planets is located in Toyosu home to the new Tokyo fish market – go here for a very early breakfast, then head to the first session at teamLab. Then, go and see some of the fun sights at nearby Odaiba – like the Mariakan Science Museum, the fun Poop Museum, the amazing miniatures in Small Worlds, the transforming Gundam – and everything else at the shopping and entertainment complexes around Odaiba. There’s heaps to do around here.

7. Takeshita Street and Harajuku

If you want to indulge in all that is cute (kawaii) in Tokyo, Harajuku is where to come.

While it used to be the in place to see people dressed in cute Japanese styles like the girly Lolita fashion, there’s less of that around now, but you’re still more likely to find fun food trends like giant rainbow candy floss, rainbow cheese toasts, cute animal-shaped ice creams and more.

On our last trip we went and tried some of the new trends with internet superstar Cyber Bunny as she’s now offering tours of Harajuku and other areas of Tokyo – have a look at what I did on my Cyber Bunny-style afternoon out here.

Takeshita Street is the main drag and it can be a scrum on weekends.

Either just happily shuffle along with the hundreds of other people admiring the view, or come in the week when things are less busy.

Ice creams from Harajuku in Tokyo. One is a pink ice cream which has had sweets added to turn it into a pig's head, the other one is a white ice cream which has been given rabbit ears.

Also make sure you explore the back streets where you’ll find lots of smaller clothes shops, rabbit cafes, cute ice cream stores, art exhibits, and more.

What’s the Closest Station to Harajuku?

Harajuku which is on the JR-run Yamanote Line.

Take the Takeshita Exit.

The Yamanote Line is included on your Japan Rail Pass if you’re using it in Tokyo (this doesn’t mean you need a Japan Rail Pass in Tokyo though so, check here to make sure it’s the best choice for your trip).

What Else is Near Harajuku?

It’s easy to combine Harajuku and Shibuya on the same day. The Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park are also close to Takeshita Street.

How Long Should You Spend in Harajuku?

At least two hours – but if you want to try a few trends, visit one of the cute cafes, go shopping, or take photos in a Purikura booth, you’ll be looking more at half a day.

8. Shinjuku at Night

While you can wander around the many, many shops and restaurants of Shinjuku during the day, at night is when it looks the best.

The neon lights create that Bladerunner vibe you always associate with Tokyo, the giant Godzilla head starts to roar, the small bars of Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho aka Memory Lane, and hundreds of other restaurants and izakayas switch on the lights hoping to welcome hungry, thirsty, laughing people.

One part of Shinjuku, Kubukicho is often called a red-light district and yes, while there are some erm, interesting activities inside some of the bars themselves, it’s not a scary or intimidating place so don’t worry about walking around, or through, here at night.

If you want to be a bit more prepared about what you might see when walking around Kabuchiko, especially if you’re traveling with children, have a look at our longer post on what to expect in Kabukicho

The Closest Station to Shinjuku?

Shinjuku. This place is mammoth and you need to know which exit is closest to where you want to go.

If you’re not sure, numbers 3,7 and 9 on the East Side are good bets for getting into Kabukicho

What Else is Nearby?

If you also want to spend the daylight hours in Shinjuku you’ll find the pretty Shinjuku Gyoen garden, lots of shops, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

The famous 3D Cat billboard is also in Shinjuku, close to the east exit of the station.

3D cat billboard in Shinjuku. It's of a calico cat who swishes her tail outside the board - she's wearing a police hat here as she's used in police adverts against touts in Kabukicho

Godzilla lovers should book in for a cake at the Shinjuku Gracery Hotel cafe as it gets you up close and personal with the spiky one.

If you’re a fan of the spotty art of Yayoi Kusama, you can easily take a bus to the Yayoi Kusama Museum from Shinjuku’s main area – and don’t forget the Tokyo Metropolitan Building for your view from above and Thermae Yu to soak your worries away.

If you’d like a sophisticated touch to your evening, the famous bar from the film Lost in Translation is also located in Shinjuku near the Metropolitan Building in the Park Hyatt Hotel.

Plan Your Day With Our Notepads

Our Japan-themed notepads are perfect for noting down your Japan plans – or, your memories once you touch down.

There are many designs to choose from – from cute to classic.

Check them out at our Japlanease shop on Amazon

How Long Should You Spend in Shinjuku?

At least one evening of your trip, but you can also spend at least half a day here during the day as well.

9. Akihabara

If you want to get a taste of the ‘geeky’ side of Japan, but not get too immersed in the whole thing, Akihabara is for you.

Here you’ll find anime emporiums selling all sorts of model figurines, stores full of Gachapon machines where you can rid yourself of thousands of yen in small change buying tiny plastic models in little capsules, Maid Cafes where pretty girls will call you Master (or Mistress) and even Kanda Myojin a shine where you can go and pray for the health of your gadgets and gizmos.

street scent of Akihabara, Tokyo

The days when you’d also find innovations like robot vacuum cleaners that hadn’t yet been seen anywhere else in the world in the Akihabara shops are no more, but gadget lovers and techies should still check out the Tokyo Radio Department Store complex to see what bits (sometimes literally) they can find in the 60 small shops there.

The famous Sega building above is also no more but video game lovers might want to try the retro selection at Super Potato.

Akihabara is one of the best places in Tokyo to find Gachapons – and, if you don’t know what they are then have a look at our post on one of Japan’s cheapest souvenirs here.

Unless you specifically want to shop for collectibles then Akihabara is one of those areas where you’ll just want to wander around and take in the sights.

Definitely pay close attention to the vending machines, this is where I’ve seen some of the most unusual foods and drinks inside. For more tips on finding quirky vending machines in Tokyo, have a look at our post on small things to do on your trip.

Gachapon capsule toy shop in Akihabara. The inside and outside is lined with capsule toy machines. It's sign reads gacha gacha shop.

How Long Should You Spend in Akihabara?

If you’re a big fan of collectibles or gachapon, you’ll want to spend at least half a day here, if you’re not shopping, then 1-2 hours is enough to absorb the feel of Akihabara.

What’s the Closest Station to Akihabara?

Akihabara on the Yamanote line. Take the South exit to Electric Town

What Else is Nearby?

Akihabara is close to Ryogoku, Tokyo’s home of Sumo so you could start your day with an early morning trip to view training at a Sumo stable (see one tour here) or a trip to the Edo Tokyo Museum and then get to Akihabara around lunchtime when most shops will have opened.

Or, Akihabara and Asakusa connect easily via the Tsukuba Express line. Head to Asakusa early, to see Senso-ji and the other Asakusa attractions, then aim to get to Akihabara after lunch when everything is open.

10. Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park

The building of Senso-ji might be more visually arresting than the subtle wooden buildings of the Meiji shrine close to Harajuku, but Meiji is still an important Shinto shrine in Tokyo – and, if you visit at the weekend, it’s also a good place to try and spot the beautiful sight of a Japanese wedding.

It’s a long walk into the shrine, but the peaceful woodland setting gives you a break from Tokyo’s hectic streets. Don’t miss the photo stop of ornately decorated sake barrels close to the entrance.

View of a Japanese wedding procession at Meiji Shrine, Tokyo. The bride wears a white dress and a flower in her hair. Her bother is wearing a black kimono with a gold obi and pattern. A red umbrella is held over their head.

The Closest Station to Meiji Shrine

Harajuku on the JR Yamanote Line. Take the West exit.

How Long to Spend at Meiji Shrine?

It’s quite a big shrine so you’ll need 60-90 minutes here depending on how much you want to explore.

What Else is Nearby?

Harajuku and Shibuya are both a short walk away from Meiji Shrine, but also consider the sprawling Yoyogi Park, particularly if it’s a Sunday.

While this is a peaceful place to stop any day, it comes to life on a Sunday when many young Japanese go there to practice dance lessons and meet with friends – and, the rock and roll dancers come out. They’ve been doing this every Sunday in the park for years – they were there when I first went to Japan 14 years ago! And they always attract a crowd.

If you love shrines and temples, you won’t be disappointed in those in Tokyo – here’s our list of the Top 10 Shrines you might want to add to your Tokyo itinerary.

How to Fit All the Top Ten Sights Into Your Trip

Our Top 10 Tokyo sights are a little bit spread out so you probably need 3-4 days to see them all – and enjoy the areas around them.

Here’s a simple 3-Day Tokyo itinerary that takes them all in without too much crisscrossing – and although you won’t be able to spend hours in every destination it will give you a taste.

If you have longer then you might want to spread things out a little more and visit some of the side sights suggested above.

Remember though that all the big sights attract crowds and you’re not going to be able to go to everything first thing in the morning so plan your exact itinerary around the things you most want to enjoy without people and visit the others later in the day (remember Tsukiji is only open until about 2pm).

You might also want to swap things around slightly depending on where you’re staying, or, where you want to spend your evening – if you want to finish your day in Shibuya, for example, then swap around Shibuya and Harajuku so you don’t have to double back. If you’re staying in Asakusa, you might want to save Skytree for the evening and do Akihabara in the afternoon.

Three-Day Tokyo Itinerary

Day One

Senso-ji and Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree (with booked jump-the-line tickets), Akihabara

Day Two

Tsukiji Outer Market, Shibuya Crossing and Shibuya; walk to Meiji Shrine, then visit Harajuku.

Day Three

Teamlab Borderless, Odaiba and finish your day with a soak in Thermae Yu and a wander around Shinjuku

So, there you have it, our guide to the must-see sights for your first trip to Tokyo. Remember, if you want to get all of this on a handy cheat sheet checklist, sign up on the form above (or the pop-up that’s about to swing in from the side) and we’ll send you the link to get one completely free.

What to Read Next

As we mentioned in this post, things like teamLab Borderless need booking in advance so you don’t miss out, and it’s not the only thing that does – if you want to visit one of Tokyo’s amazing themed cafes (like the Pokemon Cafe or the Harry Potter cafe), you need to book these in advance. See more details on how to do this – and get a full list of what you need to book in our post on booking in advance in Tokyo

Menu at the Pokemon Cafe in Tokyo - one of the places you must book in advance

If you want to save money getting around Tokyo, have a look at the Tokyo Subway Ticket. This is valid for 24,48 or 72 hours and, if you’re getting on the metro a lot could save you some money. See all about the pass here.

If you want to freestyle your travel, you’ll probably want to use what’s known as a Suica card. Right now there’s a shortage of these and so, using a digital Suica is becoming more popular – here’s how to put this on your phone.


Who Writes This Blog?

My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a journalist and author. My travel articles have appeared in publications including The Australian, RAC Horizons, Jetstar Magazine, Sainsbury’s Magazine, and more.

I’ve traveled to Japan five times before- solo and with my partner – and I’ve just returned from trip six in June 2023. So, everything here is pretty up to date.