Let me tell you the things to do in 6 days in Tokyo! I have briefly highlighted the two hotels I stayed in and then set out my day by day itinerary. Tokyo really is a rather magical place.
Hotels in Tokyo
We stayed in bustling Shinjuku for both our stints in Tokyo (in between our visit to Kyoto). One thing to note about hotels in Japan is that they are notoriously small!
City Hotel Lonestar Shinjuku (2-12-12 Shinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0022, Tokyo Prefecture)
Located in the heart of Shinjuku near the Golden Gai area, City Hotel Lonestar is around £40 pp a night. It has friendly staff, clean rooms and complimentary breakfast! Great location and good price although the rooms were small, as expected.
Nishi-Shinjuku Hotel MyStays )7-14-14 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0023, Tokyo Prefecture)
There are a number of My Stay hotels around Japan. This one is based in Nishi Shinjuku and was around £45pp a night. Friendly and helpful staff but the room was even smaller than the City Hotel Lonestar. It was a modern hotel with ample facilities but I preferred the Ni Chrome area of Shinjuku.
6 DAYS IN TOKYO
I spent 6 days in Tokyo before and after my trip to Kyoto. If you are travelling around during your time in Japan, I thoroughly recommend purchasing the Japan Rail Pass, which you can use on the majority of trains. The cost for a 7 day pass is around £195 depending on the exchange rate, which is pretty much the same as a return fare from Tokyo to Kyoto. Therefore it is definitely worth it if you are also travelling on a couple of other trains.
You can order a pass HERE and they send a book, map and document to exchange for your pass in advance. You cannot book tickets in advance.
When I arrived at Narita airport, I exchanged my ticket for an official Japan rail pass. NOTE: you do not have to activate your pass at the airport and start your time running. The customer services were very helpful and booked our return tickets to / from Kyoto for us at the airport.
Below is my 6 day itinerary for Tokyo, based on staying in Shinjuku. The prices are based on my pretty poor exchange rate of £1 = 125 yen.
DAY 1 IN TOKYO
I had a fairly chilled day wandering around Shinjuku area including Hanazona Shrine. Just look for the large red Shinto gates on the left hand side of Yasakuni Dori, just before a large set of traffic lights (free entry).
We also visited the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens (entrance £1.75) It was a beautiful garden completed in 1772 divided into French, English and Japanese with an old domed botanical greenhouse and beautiful lake. You can have a lovely walk around, particularly if it is a sunny day.
DAY 2 in Tokyo
We spent Day 2 travelling around. I recommend buying a Suica IC card (500 Yen deposit) from the metro machines which you can use like an Oyster card,
Travel to Ueno Station to get to Ueno Park, which is known as Japan’s first public park. It was not as amazing as some of the places in Tokyo but is a nice area to wander around with various shrines and temples. There is also a small zoo if you fancy a visit. Entrance to the park is free and you just pay to get into some of the temples if you wish. Just outside the entrance to the park is a street food market too for some lunch.
We then travelled to Asakusa Metro Station to visit the oldest temple in Tokyo, Senso-Ji Temple (free entry). Entrance to the temple is through the red Kaminari-mon, which translates as Thunder Gate. Once through the gate, there is a large row of small shops selling all sorts! At the end lies the temple itself and to your left is the five storey pagoda. This is an absolute must visit in Tokyo.
We then walked to the Sumida River Cruise which departed from Hinode pier at Asakusa Azuma Bridge to Hama Rikyu Garden. The cruise lasted around 35 minutes and cost around £8 with entrance to the gardens at the end. The river itself was not that picturesque and there was no English commentary. You could give this a miss.
DAY 3 in Tokyo
We started our day with a visit to the Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens (£2.50 entrance) north of the Imperial Palace, These were my favourite gardens in Tokyo! They were really quiet and you could just immerse yourself in the surroundings. Take a lovely stroll around – you can’t miss the beautiful late in the middle. Try and hunt down the red bridge too!
In the afternoon, we wandered around the Imperial Palace and Grounds which are free! The compound contains the remains of the emperor’s residence, moats, towers, gates and more. It was much larger than we thought, so definitely keep some time aside.
Make sure you do not miss the Sakurada-mon Gate, Ote-mon Gate and Nijubashi Bridge, Wadakura Fountain Park and the Imperial Palace East Gardens. There is more than enough to do for an afternoon!
DAY 4 in Tokyo
We started off our day in Meiji Shrine near Harajuku (free entry). It was not as impressive as some others (e.g. Senso-Ji) but if you are in the area, it is worth checking out.
We moved on to Yoyogi Park, which is a huge grassy space with performers, small food stalls and perfect for picnics. We watched a group of Japanese men in Elvis gear dancing – it was fantastic!
In the afternoon, we explored Harajuku, which was extremely bustling! People go here for the atmosphere and the shopping. The most touristy part is Takeshita Street where there are a number of side streets, containing clothes shops (vintage, fashion, trendy etc) and plenty of food stalls, Make sure you buy a crepe, which is what Harajuku is famous for!
DAY 5 in Tokyo
We booked a day trip through Japan Experience to visit Mount Fuji and Hakone (£100). The itinerary was as follows:
- 07:30 – 08:30 Pick-up Service – We were picked up from Shinjuku and traveled to Hamamatsucho
- 09:00 – Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal
- Depart from Hamamatsucho and head to Mt. Fuji by bus.
- Mt. Fuji 5th Station(30 min)
- The bus will head up to the 5th Station along the Subaru Line. The 5th Station is situated at 2,300 meters (7,546 ft) above sea level. Beautiful views! Make sure you wrap up warm.
- Lunch(50 min) – We had plentiful lunch overlooking a beautiful lake:
- Lake Ashi Cruise (15 min). This crater lake along the southwest wall of the caldera of Mt. Hakone was formed by a powerful volcanic eruption nearly 3,000 years ago, and provides postcard views of Mt. Fuji towering 30 km northwest. Admire the superb view of Mt. Fuji from aboard a ship.
- Mt. Komagatake Ropeway(50 min)
Take a 7-minute ropeway ride to the peak of Mt. Komagatake. A total of 50 minutes will be spent here, including time to walk around at the peak. Take a cableway ride up to the spiritual Hakone Shrine Mototsumiya (original shrine) that nestles at the mountaintop.
- Depart Hakone and return by 5pm
Whilst I was tempted by a trek around Mount Fuji, we just did not have the time. On the bus, our guide told us some beautiful Japanese stories and taught us Origami. The views from Mount Fuji were impressive and I loved the ropeway ride to the peak of Mt Komagatake, where you get time at the top to wander around. Definitely recommend this day trip!
DAY 6 in Tokyo
In the morning, we wandered around Shinjuku city area:
We then walked 15 minutes to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building where you can get a lift to the North or South observatory for free and see beautiful views of the vast city that is Tokyo! Surprisingly, there was not much of a queue. It is an absolute must, particularly given you do not have to pay for entry.
Early evening, we made our way to Shibuya to see the famous busy scrambled crossing . We recommended going to the Starbucks a couple of floors up from the crossing and waiting patiently for a space at the window! It really is something else watching people cross from all different directions.
Tokyo really is such an amazing city. There are so many different areas and nooks and crannies to explore. You can lost but still feel safe as the people are really friendly and willing to help out. There is such a buzz to the city and we recommended staying at least 6 days here.
East London Girl: 6 day itinerary for Tokyo
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