If coming from Europe, you will be landing in Tokyo around breakfast time. It will take you a good couple of hours to make it to Tokyo city-centre, time to grab your luggage, go through customs, taxi or train, etc. We were staying in Shinjuku where most of the big hotels are, so we decided to spend the afternoon there.
Shinjuku is one of the busiest neighbourhoods of Tokyo and a very convenient place to base yourself during your stay in Tokyo with multiple train and subway stations around. We stayed at the Hilton which was very nice, but a bit expensive like most hotels in Tokyo. Shinjuku is also the perfect place to have a first taste of Tokyo. It is overwhelmingly busy, but Japanese people are so quiet and respectful that it feels less busy than a London pub on a Friday night.
The second day is a perfect mixture of modern and ancient Tokyo. First stop Meiji Jingu in the heart of Harajuku. A beautiful shrine hidden in the middle of a park, offering a little bit of peace and quiet away from the buzzing streets of Harajuku, which could be best described as the Shoreditch of Tokyo.
After enjoying the tranquility of Meiju Jingu, we walked through Harajuku and headed toward Shibuya. Coming from that direction you will arrive straight to the famous Shibuya crossing, which, in real life, looks and feel smaller than what you may have seen in pictures or in movies. It is still busy though! For the best views of the crossing, head to Starbucks for a coffee and the best time-lapse spot. Get lost in the back streets of Shibuya and make sure to grab lunch at Toritake, an excellent yakitori restaurant. We then headed to Roppongi, another very trendy neighbourhood of Tokyo and a great place to do a spot of shopping. We haven’t been there at night but it is supposed to be a very lively place to go out.
After walking all day, we ended the day back in Shinjuku with a delicious ramen at the very popular Ichiran.
On the third day, we headed to an older part of Tokyo and started the day in Asakusa. Just outside of the station you will have a great view of the Skytree. We decide not to visit it though to have more time in the streets of Tokyo and less time waiting in a notoriously long queue.
Walk to the ancient Sensō-ji temple, you will pass charming ancient streets to get there. Embrace the atmosphere of the old shrine and bathe yourself in incense smoke for good health. Head to Tokyo National Museum and grab lunch on your way there. You can easily find bento boxes and onigiri in supermarkets for a lunch on the go. We had our lunch in Ueno Onshi Park.
The Tokyo National Museum is the perfect option if you only have time to visit one museum in Tokyo, or if you are not really into museums. It gives an overview of Japanese history and culture, from clothing to housing. After a few hours wandering the corridors of the museum, we headed deep into Ueno and got lost in the little streets for an afternoon walk.
We ended the day, again in Shinjuku, and had one of the most amazing meals at Imahan.
Tsukiji Fish Market is a must see in Tokyo. A great place to eat sushi but also to better understand what goes on behind the scene for the sushi to get to your plate. Because you can only visit the market the morning, it is a great place to start your day.
After a couple of hours among the fish and their fishmongers, we headed for a bit of fresher air and decided to visit Hamarikyu Gardens. This park is an oasis of tranquility in the middle of Tokyo.
We grabbed lunch on our way to Ginza, an upmarket shopping district. Not far from Ginza is Chiyoda where you will find the Imperial Palace. It is also supposed to be a fantastic spot to see the cherry blossom during the season. We ended the day in the very lively district of Ebisu where we had dinner and a cheeky beer at the Ebisu Beer Hall.
On the last day, immerse yourself in the gamers and technology culture in Akihabara. Get lost in the game centres or in a cat cafe (we did both!). Take some cheesy photo-booth pictures and embrace the weirdness of the place.
In the afternoon we headed to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. It was a highlight of our Tokyo visit. The place is breathtakingly beautiful and, on a rainy day like we had, it has strong Lost in Translation vibes.
Talking about Lost in Translation, make sure to end your trip with a drink at the New York bar, at the top of the Park Hyatt, which was made famous by Sophia Coppola’s movie. It offers the most incredible views of the city at dusk.