Tokyo in 24 Hours – First Timer’s Guide
Calling all first timer’s visiting Tokyo, we’ve compiled an hour-by-hour guide to help you navigate the city.
With so much to see, eat, and do, anyone’s first visit to Tokyo can be both invigorating and overwhelming at the same time. In an ideal world, you should probably book at least 3 nights in Tokyo to fully appreciate what the city has to offer. We understand that not everyone can live in an ideal world so we hope the below itinerary will help those who are short on time. Get ready for a sensory overload as you try to see and eat your way through the city in 24 hours. You’ve been warned!
Tokyo hour by hour guide:
8:30 a.m. – Tsukiji Market
Start with the world’s most famous fish market: Tsukiji Market which handles 200,000 tons of marine life per day! Head on over to the Outer Market where you will find plenty of food stores, stalls, and restaurants. Grab your first meal of the day here. You might find it strange to have raw fish first thing in the morning, but as they say “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” We personally enjoyed walking past the many food retails stores as vendors encouraged us to sample their foods and specialties.
Where to Eat at Tsukiji Market?
Honestly, you really can’t go wrong. The fish here is so fresh and the vendors working the stales and restaurants are real professionals. Our advice is to walk around the market before choosing your final eatery. We ended up going back to one of the first spots we saw when entering the market purely based on feeling. For ¥1800 yen I had a dose of fresh fatty tuna and sea urchin. It did not disappoint!
A note about Tsukiji Inner Market
The wholesale part of the market is most famous for its early morning Tuna Auctions. If you want to witness the auctions, you will need to arrive early morning (5 a.m.) to apply for entry as the tuna auction is limited to 120 visitors per day. We decided not to visit the tuna auctions & the inner market mainly due to time constraints & jet lag. If you do decide to go, be mindful that the inner market is an extremely busy market where live business is taking place. Stay alert and don’t get in the way!
[Train from Tsukiji Station to Ningyocho Station – ¥170 – 15 minutes]
10:30 – Ningyocho
Get a glimpse of everyday life in Tokyo in the charming neighborhood of Ningyocho. This neighborhood has quaint streets, cute shops, delicious food, and traditional sweets. What more could you want from a local neighborhood? The area does a good job of preserving its tradition from the Edo Era when it was known to be the center of entertainment and people’s culture.
After exiting the Ningyocho Station, head south down the main street of Ningyocho-dori. Resist the urge to hop into one of the many restaurants that line the street (this part will come later) and make your way towards the Suitengu Shrine. You’ll find many locals, especially couples, who come to pray for safe childbirth and pregnancy.
11:30 Reward Your Stomach and Your Budget
This is going to be a full-day so grab a hearty and quick meal on the main street. Our suggestion is to go for a classic bowl of ramen, soba, or udon. After lunch, do not forget to try the many traditional sweets that can be found in Ningyocho. Our personal favorite the Ningyo-yaki. The batter is placed into a mold and stuffed with red bean before being headed to you hot of the plate!
[Train from Ningyocho Station to Asakusa Station – ¥180 – 10 minutes]
Most tourists who visit Tokyo will most likely head to Asakusa. This is probably one of the most crowded areas in Tokyo with good reason. Our advice is to go with an agenda and then make your way out to more calm areas of the city. As soon as you get out of the station, you’ll see crowds of tourists flock to the Kaminari Gates which lead to the Sensoji Temple. Don’t follow them.
Instead, first make your way towards the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. There on the top floor, you’ll discover one of the best views of the Tokyo Skytree there is! We visited the top floor during peak tourist season and had plenty of breathing space to take in the view and have a cup of coffee too.
Once done, you can finally make your way towards Sensoji (the famous buddhist temple) and walk through Nakamise (shopping road) with the other tourists.
1:30 Taste the Strongest Matcha Ice Cream in the World
A 5 min stroll from Asakusa Shrine will lead you to a place that claims to have the strongest matcha ice cream in the world. That’s a pretty bold claim that we couldn’t resist testing. The shop has 7 levels of matcha ice cream. Thought 7 is the strongest, we opted for level 6 reasoning that this should be plenty intense. Indeed it was, I loved it but Pierre found it too be a bit too bitter for his taste. I guess he’s more of a Level 4 or 5 guy 🙂
[Train from Asakusa Station to Shinjuku-Gyoemmae Station – ¥240 – 35 minutes]
3:00 Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
After all the morning activities, we recommend spending the afternoon in the park. Head on over to Shibuya Gyoen National Garden. A great way to recover from your Asakusa adventure is to take a nap or simply grab a bench and people watch. We were lucky enough to visit during the park when the last cherry blossom trees were still in bloom, and I couldn’t resist playing with the fallen petals. Shibuya Gyoen is by far the best place to see the cherry blossoms in my opinion.
6:00 Shibuya Crossing
If you don’t know Shibuya Crossing by name, you will surely recognize in photos. Shibuya Crossing is probably the most famous and busiest crossing in all of Tokyo and Japan. It the equivalent of Times Square in NYC on steroids. Try not to get knocked over when crossing, really. With so many signs, visual displays, stores, and people, you may want to try and grab a photo or at least a quick video to send back to your friends at home.
8:00 Head to a Traditional Izakaya (Japanese Pub)
A night in Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a traditional Japanese Pub. Come here to experience another facade of Japanese corporate life: “after work drinking”. Izakayas are a great place to unwind with friends (and fellow YouTubers) over cheap drinks and foods. We paid ¥400 yen cover per person but the cheap drink & food prices more than made up for this. You can find our Izakaya in Shibuya here.
10:00 Finish off the day in the Onsen – at your Hotel
I can’t imagine a better way to finish off the day and rest your tired feet than in a traditional onsen, especially one that is located right in your hotel. During our last days in Tokyo, Pierre and I found a great deal with the APA Hotel Chain. We paid $77 USD per night which isn’t too bad at all for a hotel room in Tokyo during peak season. The onsen alone made our stay here completely worth it. Check out the hotel here: APA Hotel & Resort Nishishinjuku-Gochome-Eki Tower
Plan Your Trip to Japan
- Top 10 Things To Do in Ningyocho (Tokyo, Japan)
- Kyoto Travel Guide: 5 Tips To Know Before You Go
- Top 3 Must Eat Foods in Nagoya, Japan
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