My friends often ask me what my top destinations are in Tokyo and where I would recommend they visit, so I have thought about this often! Recently a friend only had 24 hours in Tokyo to take in all the sights and didn’t want to spend their day travelling. So below is my idea of what you can do in 24 hours in Tokyo to get the most out of this amazing city (with the minimum of travel).
To truly appreciate the size, beauty and geography of Tokyo I would start the day visiting one of the tallest towers in the world: Tokyo Skytree. The Skytree now dominates the skyline across Tokyo and is truly beautiful when lit at night, most of all it offers an unrivalled view of Tokyo, even as far as Mt Fuji. I’d recommend either visiting in the morning or after dark and the sky tends to be clearer so you can see more of Tokyo and marvel at the size of this city.
Nearby is the historic area of Asakusa, home to one of the oldest (but rebuilt) shrines. In Asakusa, you can experience a bit of how Tokyo used to be, a bustling street lined with vendors selling traditional Japanese sweets, baked goods, clothes and wares. Once you have walked through the shops you can view the splendour or Sensoji temple and shrine, where Buddhism and Shinto sit side by side. Here you can view some beautiful buildings, buy a fortune from the shrine and appease the Gods. If you can spare the cash try a Rickshaw ride around the city, there are many men and women offering it outside the shrine.
After experiencing the tallest tower and a traditional shrine, you are probably quite hungry. To try something a bit different go to one of the small food establishments on the road opposite the shrine entrance. Here you order your food with a machine! Simply choose what you want to eat from the pictures and replica food available, put in your money and press the button. You will be given a ticket which states your chosen meal, take it to the food window and in no time you will have delicious, affordable food just like that! If this sounds a bit daunting there are also many pizza places, and even a Denny’s near the shrine.
Next, hop on the Toei Subway line right next to the station and make your way to the other side of Tokyo, to Harajuku station on the Yamanote line. You may have heard of Harajuku as a centre for Japanese youth fashion, but just near the station there are a few hidden gems to experience more of ancient, and current, Japan. If you turn right when exiting Harajuku station you can walk to nearby Yoyogi Park. Yoyogi park is a beautiful setting to get a glimpse of some Japanese entertainment. Each time you visit the park you may get something different, a rockabilly group performing, people playing the shamisen or violin, a Jpop group having a practice or a theatre group giving a free performance. To get some free cultural experience, Yoyogi park is a must! Heading back to Harajuku station you can enter Meiji-Jingu shrine and one of the largest Torii gates you could see! Here you can write your wishes on an ema board and, if you are lucky, see a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony!
Harajuku is the unrivalled hub of teen fashion, take a walk down Takeshita street and see all the boutiques selling the latest in teen fashion, from lolita to visual-kei. The streets surrounding Takeshita offer famous boutiques and quaint little eateries. If you’re not yet ready for dinner try one of the crepes that are on sale, they are delicious!
A short ride on the Yamanote line from Harajuku will take you to Shinjuku where you can get one of the most memorable dining experiences possible! Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant is gaining fame and is a great show of all that is Japanese, high tech and good food! It is certainly a meal you won’t forget!
If you only have short time in Tokyo don’t worry, there is plenty you can see and do to make your short time memorable and enjoyable.
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