1 Day in Tokyo
Tokyo, the city that never sleeps. For first-timers, the hustle and bustle of Tokyo can be crazy and intimidating. Here is our short guide to help you navigate a day in the hectic city.
Getting to Tokyo from Narita Airport
If you should be staying at a hotel where the Airport Limousine bus stops at, take it. There are three ticket counters in Narita Terminal 1 and two in Terminal 2 in the airport arrival hall. It costs ¥4,500 for an adult ticket and ¥2,250 for a child one.
Another bus option if you are staying in the Ginza area is the Access Narita bus. The buses stop at the Ginza Sukiyabashi station. Tickets cost ¥1,000 and can be purchased on the bus. The journey into Tokyo city centre is about 70 minutes.
The Tokyo Shuttle, operated by the Keisei Bus Company, runs from Narita Airport to the following stations: Tokyo (Yaesu exit), Ginza Yurakucho, Shinonomeshako and Ooedo Onsen Monogatari. Tickets are ¥1,000. Bus services run throughout the day, but if you’re taking the bus between 1-5am, the ticket price would be ¥2,000.
The Narita Express costs around ¥3,000-4500 for first class, which is also known as the Green cars. Alight at Tokyo to change trains to Shinjuku and Shibuya.
The new NEX Tokyo Direct ticket (¥1,500) is a one-way ticket from Narita Airport on the Narita Express train. It’s a good choice if you don’t need a return trip.
If you’re staying in the Ueno or Nippori area, you can take the Keisei Skyliner which will take you to Narita in 45 minutes. Fares are ¥2,400 return for Ueno and Nippori, and ¥2,550 for Tokyo.
Of the train operators, Japan Rail (JR), the public national rail company of Japan is by far the best-known, and the JR Yamanote (山手線) and Chūo Lines (中央線) are the most integral for travel around Tokyo. The JR Yamanote Line is especially helpful as it is a loop line connecting most of the major city centers.
You can buy a JR Pass if you are intending to travel around Tokyo and a few other cities. However, it can only be bought outside Japan, at your local travel agency, so make sure to plan your purchase before you leave for Tokyo. It costs ¥29,110 for a 7-day Ordinary Pass, ¥46,390 for 14 days, and ¥59,350 for 21 days. It applies to Shinkansen lines, thus it is worth it if you are planning to use the Shinkansen often during your trip.
Otherwise, buy day passes for the metro, with the different kinds listed below. You can also purchase a prepaid Suica card from JR stations or Pasmo from non-JR stations, which will facilitate traveling as you only need to tap the card when you board and alight. Some shops even accept these cards as a method of payment!
TOKYO DAY PASSES
– Tokyo Free Kippu (aka Tokyo Tour Ticket) (¥1590)
This ticket offers unlimited use of all subway lines (run by the Toei and Tokyo Metro Companies) and JR trains in the central Tokyo area on one calendar day. It is also valid on buses and streetcars operated by Toei. However, most say that this pass is overpriced and will unlikely provide any savings over regular tickets or prepaid cards.
– Tokyo Subway Ticket (24 hours: ¥800, 48 hours: ¥1200, 72 hours: ¥1500)
This pass gives unlimited use of all subway lines (Toei and Tokyo Metro) but is not valid on JR trains. The pass is only sold at Narita Airport, Haneda Airport and Bic Camera electronic stores in central Tokyo and is only available to foreigners, thus, you will be required to furnish your passport during the purchase.
– Toei and Tokyo Metro One-Day Economy Pass (¥1000)
This pass allows the unlimited use of all subway lines (Toei and Tokyo Metro) on one calendar day and can be bought at most central subway stations. However, it is only worth it if you use the subways excessively, since it is not valid on JR trains.
– Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket (¥600)
This pass only gives unlimited use of the nine Tokyo Metro subway lines, not the four Toei subway lines and JR trains. The ticket is available through ticket machines at Tokyo Metro stations.
– Toei One-Day Economy Pass (¥700)
Unlimited use of the four Toei subway lines, buses and streetcars on one calendar day. It is not valid on the nine Tokyo Metro subway lines and JR trains. The pass is available at ticket machines and ticket counters at Toei stations.
– Tokunai Pass (¥750)
Unlimited use of JR trains in the central Tokyo area on one calendar day. The pass is available at the purple vending machines and ticket counters at JR stations.
What to Do
Asakusa used to be Tokyo’s leading entertainment district. Now, it is best known for the Buddhist temple Sensoji. The opening of Tokyo Skytree has also led to a rise in tourist traffic.
Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Opening Hours: Main hall, Daily – 6AM-5PM | Temple grounds, always open
Sensoji is currently Tokyo’s most famous and popular temple. Access is via Nakamise, a shopping street with a range of traditional, local snacks, and trinkets to bring back for your friends back home.
Address: 1 Mukojima, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 131-0033
This park is located along Sumida River. In spring, it becomes a popular cherry blossom viewing spot, while on the last Saturday of July it becomes the site of the Sumida River Firework.
Address: 1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045, Japan
Opening Hours: Daily – 8AM–10PM
With a height of 634m, this broadcasting tower is also a huge shopping mall, located a 20-minute walk away from Sensoji. It can be reached via the Sumida Park.
Studio Ghibli Museum
Address: 1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0013, Japan
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Closed | Wednesday to Monday – 10AM-6PM
How to get there: The museum can be reached from Mitaka Station on the JR Chuo Line (15 minutes, 220 yen from Shinjuku Station). There are shuttle buses from the station to the museum (210 yen one way, 320 yen roundtrip, children are half price), while a taxi ride costs about 750 yen. Alternatively you can walk in about 20 minutes from Mitaka Station or from Kichijoji Station through Inokashira Park.
The Ghibli Museum is the animation and art museum of Studio Ghibli, the most famous animation studio in Japan, made famous by Hayao Miyazaki’s animated feature films Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Located just outside central Tokyo, this quirky and whimsical museum provides insight into some of the best animation by this prolific studio. Tickets cost ¥1000 and must be booked in advance as they are in high demand.
Akihabara is known as the electronics district of Tokyo, but is also the center of otaku (diehard fan) culture, with many anime and manga related establishments, the most notable of which is the maid café.
Address: Mitsuwa Building 4F-7F, Soto-Kanda 1-11-4, Chiyoda-ku
The waitresses dress up as maids and write on your omelette rice using ketchup. The conversational skills of the maids explain why this café is so popular, with lines more than 2 hours long despite the ¥500 seating charge.
AKB48 Café and Shop Akihabara
Address: 1-1 Kanda Hanaokacho, Tokyo 101-0028, Japan
Phone Number: +81 3-5297-4848
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday – 11AM–10PM | Friday – 11AM–11PM | Saturday – 10AM–11PM | Sunday – 10AM–10PM
This themed café is based on the popular girl group AKB48, with merchandise sold at the attached retail section. The café also has a theatre where fans can catch free shows of AKB48 cast members performing daily, although reservations are required for these performances.
Walk along Takeshita Dori, open daily from 11AM to 8PM. This is the neighborhood where Lolita girls, gyaru and decora fashion originated, made most famous by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. It is known as the mecca for “kawaii”. Shop to your heart’s content in the Laforet mall.
Address: 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Opening Hours: Daily – 11AM-9PM
Laforet is located in the heart of Harajuku and is recognizable by the flower sculptures outside. This department store contains boutiques with an eclectic mix of clothes and accessories.
Address: 6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday – 11AM-9PM | Saturday to Sunday – 10:30AM-9PM
Make sure you visit Kiddy Land if you are a Hello Kitty fan. This Tokyo institution is chock-full of cuteness with Disney, Hello Kitty, Doraemon, and many, many more.
How to get there: Almost all train lines go to Shinjuku.
If it’s your first time in Shinjuku, we recommend the free English language sightseeing tour service provided by the ward as there is just too much to see. It starts from the Tokyo Tourist Information Center Head Office at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings at 10AM and 1PM daily. The tour will take you through Southern Terrace and Takashima Times Square, and then onto the East Entrance shopping area, before going to the basement food court of Isetan Department Store, and to the traditional performing arts theater, Shinjuku Suehirotei.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Address: 11 Naito-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan
Opening Hours: Daily – 9AM-4:30PM
Fork out ¥200 for entrance into this colossal garden’s grounds, and have a picnic along the park’s spacious lawns, escaping from the urban jungle for a short breather.
Address: 5-17-3 Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan
This shrine dates back to the Edo Period and is good to visit if you want to see what a Shinto shrine looks like. Shinto is the indigenous religion in Japan and shrines are usually painted bright vermilion for good luck.
How to get there: Take the train to Ginza Station, which is on the Hibiya, Marunouchi and Ginza Subway Lines and Yurakucho Station on the JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line and Yurakucho Subway Line.
Visit Ginza on a weekend as the main shopping road, Chuo-dori, will be closed to cars then (from 2-6pm on Saturdays and 12-5pm on Sundays.
Hakuhinkan Toy Park Ginza Shop
Address: 8-8-11, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8132, Japan
Opening Hours: Daily – 11AM-8PM
Be wowed by the oldest toy shop in Tokyo.
Address: 2-7-15, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061, Japan
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday – 10AM-8PM | Sunday – 10AM-7PM
Look out for the large red paperclip on the storefront to enter this stationery shop, which holds an amazing collection of notebooks, globes, and pens.
What to Eat
Address: 5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
Opening Hours: Daily – 5AM-2PM
How to get there: Take the Hibiya Subway line from Ginza and alight at Tsukiji station, or the Ōedo-Shinjuku line from Shinjuku and alight at Tsukiji Shijo.
If you reach early enough, you can catch the tuna auction in the market section. Otherwise, walk around and explore the fresh seafood on offer. Take advantage of the chance to have an authentic sushi dining experience too.
Address: B1 Roppongi Hills North Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Roppongi Station)
Opening Hours: Daily – 11AM–11PM
This yuzu ramen restaurant is arguably one of the most unique ramen restaurants around.
Where to Stay
- APA Hotel Shinjuku-Kabukicho Tower ($$$$)
Address: 160-0021 Tokyo Prefecture, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-20-2, Japan
- Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo ($$$$$)
Address: 104-0061 Tokyo Prefecture, Chuo-ku Ginza 5-11-1, Japan
- Grand Pacific Le Daiba ($$$$$)
Address: 135-8701 Tokyo Prefecture, Minato-ku Daiba 2-6-1 , Japan
Basic Japanese Phrases
These few phrases will help get you through any awkward situation! Don’t worry though, in Tokyo, most Japanese can speak basic English and are more than willing to help you.
Thank you. – Arigatoo gozaimasu.
You’re welcome. – Doo itashimashite.
Please. – onegai shimasu
Yes. – hai
No. – iie
Excuse me. – Sumimasen.
I’m sorry. – Gomen’nasai.
I don’t understand. – Wakarimasen.
Do you speak English? – Eigo o hanashimasu ka?
Repeat, please. – Moo ichido onegai shimasu.
What’s your name? – Onamae wa nandesu ka?
How are you? – Ogenki desu ka?
Do you speak English? – Eigo o hanashimasu ka?
Where is the subway? – Chikatetsu wa doko desu ka?
Is the tip included? – Chippu wa fukumarete imasu ka?
How much does that cost? – Kore wa ikura desu ka?
Can I get on the internet? – Intaanetto o tsukattemo iidesu ka?
Can you help me? – Tetsudatte itadakemasu ka?
Where is the bathroom? – Otearai wa doko desu ka?