Asia

19 Places to Discover with this 3 Day Tokyo Itinerary

Shibuya Metro Car. 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
Shibuya Station is a transportation hub of western Tokyo. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Tokyo blends the energy of New York City with the refinement of Paris. Though it can be intimidating to plan a trip for a first time visitor, especially if it’s their first trip to Asia. By combining the traditional Japanese sights, the arts of Tokyo and the pop culture musts, this 3 day Tokyo itinerary explores the largest city in the world.

Since most flights from North America arrive in the afternoon or evening, gather your checked luggage and head downstairs at Narita International Airport. Pick up you Japan Rail Pass or arrange for luggage delivery if your bags are large.

Board a Japan Rail Express Train to the Tokyo Terminal or Shibuyu Station for the most economical way into downtown Tokyo. Transfer to a Tokyo Metro line to get to your hotel. After arriving, explore around its neighborhood and grab some dinner. Rest up for the 3 day Tokyo itinerary starts early and explores all day.

Top Attractions in Tokyo

Shibuyu Station
Hachiko Statue
Myth of Tomorrow Mural
Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya Center-gai
Omote-Sando
Meiji-Jingu
Shinjuku
Robot Restaurant
Tsukiji Outer Market
Hama-rikyu Onshi-teien
Imperial Palace
National Museum of Modern Art
After 5 Food Tour by Urban Adventures
Senso-ji
Ueno-koen
National Museum of Western Art
Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo Sky Tree Observation Deck

Day 1 Tokyo Pop Culture Day

Spend the first day in Tokyo getting acquainted with Tokyo’s pop culture. Board the Ginza Line (orange line) to Shibuyu Station, the hub of shopping and entrainment.

Shibuyu Station

At the intersection of the Hanzomon, Fukutoshin and Ginza Lines
Food Show
2-24-1 in the basement of Shibuya Station.

Head downstairs if you’re hungry to Food Show, a grocery store with a food hall attached. Find bento boxes, sushi, Japanese gyoza and lots of French pastries and breads.

Head upstairs and outside for the next destinations.

Hachiko Statue

Shibuya Station at Hachiko Exit

Free

As a national symbol of loyalty, a dog named Akita walked to Shibuya Station everyday to meet its master, even years after his master’s death.

Myth of Tomorrow Mural
Shibuya Station at Hachiko Exit

Free

Mural depicting the Hiroshima bombing that went missing in the 1960s to be found in the early 2000s.

Shibuya Crossing
Outside Shibuya Station

Free

As the busiest intersection in Japan, just take a few moments and people watch. Then take a time-lapse video at the corner of the intersection while the pedestrians cross in all directions.

Shibuya Center-gai (Shopping District)

Udagawacho, near Shibuya Station

Free

Walk down the main pedestrian only drag in Shibuya for a lesson in Japan’s pop culture. Find a mix of Japanese and North American shopping along with fast food dining. A must for teens and young adults then pop into a Purikura Photo booths for a strip of pics as a souvenir.

After exploring Shibuya and doing a bit of souvenir shopping, head back to Shibuya Station for the next destination. Take the Ginza Line (Orange) from Shibuyu Station to Omate-Sando Station (G2).

Prada Building in Omote-Sando. 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
The Omote-Sando is an edgy shopping district with designers like Prada. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Omote-Sando (Shopping District)

Exit Omote-Sando Station and walk in either direction.

Where the Ginza area is for traditional luxury shopping, Omote-Sando offers edgier designers. See designers like Commes des Garcons, Stella McCarthey and Prada, as a bonus the contemporary architecture is tops in Omote-Sando as well.

Walk west along Omote-Sando, ducking down Cat Street for window shopping towards the next destination.

Meiji Jingu Shrine torii. 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
See the giant Torii of Meiji Jingu Shrine and stroll through the gardens. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Meiji-Jingu (Shinto Shrine)

Yoygi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku

Open dawn to dusk

Free

As Toyko’s grandest Shinto Shrine, it’s a must. It offers a wooded escape from the buzz of Harajuku along with a picturesque shrine that wedding parties use for portraits.

Emperor Meiji (1868-1912) designed the garden for his empress. Built in 1920 the original Shrine burned down during WWII and later rebuilt.

To walk through the Shrine, rinse your hands and mouth at font and pay respects. Amulets and wooden plaques available for purchase.

Walk through the Meiji-Jingu Inner Garden for a teahouse, the iris garden, Kiyomasa’s Well and the azalea garden. Additional 500 yen admission.

After exploring Shibuya and Harajuku neighborhoods, head north for the evening. For next destination, walk north out of Meiji-Jingu to the Kita-Sando Station (F14) and take the Fukutoshin Line (brown) to Shinjuku-Sanchome (F13). Then transfer to the Marunouchi Line (red) to the Shinjuku Station (M8).
Shinjuku (neighborhood)
Walk around this entertainment district in the early evening for a taste of Tokyo nightlife. Then head to an early show that embodies Tokyo pop culture.

Robot Restaurant

1-7-1 Kabukicho

Shows at 4:00 5:55, 7:50 and 9:45 p.m.

Admission based on age.

Take in Tokyo’s pop culture in a temple of light, sound and action. Complete with lady-eating monsters, pyrotechnics and lasers, a show at Robot Restaurant is an experience you see and feel with the pounding soundtrack. Find samurai sword-wielding characters, Pokemon-like players even an homage to Hello Kitty in a fast-paced show.

Arrive early, the lounge looks like a Japanese version of Liberace’s mansion. Drinks and snacks available with live entertainment before the real show downstairs.

The earlier shows offer a family-friendly vibe and tweens and teens will enjoy the show that feels like walking into a video game. Though too much stimulation for younger kids. Ear protection is advised for younger guests.

Day 2 Traditional Tokyo Day

Learn about Tokyo by sampling some Japanese food, walking through one of Tokyo’s best gardens and strolling through the Imperial Palace Gardens. Follow up by enjoying some contemporary Japanese art, located close-by.

Arrive hungry for the first destination and have lots of Japanese yen on hand. Take Marunouchi Line (Red) to Kasumigaseki Station (M15) then transfer to the Hibiya Line (Silver) to Tsukiji stop (H10).

Tsukiji Market. 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
A walk through the Tsukiji Market is a must for sampling Tokyo’s rich food culture. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Tsukiji Outer Market (Food Market)

5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ju

Open 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Saturday

Free to walk

Tokyo’s culinary tradition is driven by seafood so head to the seafood auction marketplace. Walk the pedestrian alleys lined with food stalls on both sides surrounding the auction area. Find everything from Wagu Beef to mochi desserts to matcha ice cream and spices.

If you didn’t eat breakfast at your hotel then grab a Japanese egg omelette at Tsukiji Outer Market. And bring lots of Japanese Yen for sampling.

Note: The actual fish market is closed until 11 a.m. to tours and tourists so explore the outer market instead. And a guard is posted so no sneaking into the auction.

Put the next destination into your maps app and walk .7 miles.

Hama-rikyu Onshi-teien (Garden)
and Naajima no Ochaya (teahouse)

1-1 Hama-rikyu teien, Chuo-ku

Open 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Admission 300 yen for Adults, free for kids

Tea service additional

Walk through one of the best gardens in all of Tokyo. It features lots of trees along with seasonal blooming gardens. See the tidal pond and the bridges that cross it. Don’t miss the 300-year pine tree.

The shogunate used this garden to hunt duck. The picturesque tea house is open for a cup of green tea, or matcha.

For the next destination take Oedo (magenta) Line at Shiodome to Monsen-naacho Station (E15) transfer to the Tozai (Light blue) Line to Otemachi Station (T09).

Imperial Gardens Tokyo. 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
Walk through the gardens at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Imperial Palace

1 Chiyoda, Chiyodao-ku

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Free

Cross the impressive moat surrounding the Imperial Palace. Tour the Imperial Palace East Garden with lots of trees. Walk through the Kokyo Higashi Gyoen to find a small waterfall and pond for a perfect picture backdrop.

Exit through the Hirakawamon Gate of the Imperial Palace East and walk to the next destination. If you need a drink or snack duck into 1 Chrome-1 Hitosubashi, across from the north gate of the Imperial Palace East Garden for a convenience store and a sandwich shop.

Tokyo Museum of Modern Art. 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
See the Museum of Modern Art along the edge of the Imperial Palace. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

National Museum of Modern Art—MOMAT

3-1 Kitanomaru-koen, Chiyodao-ku

Walking distance from Imperial Palace (on northern boundary)

Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday

Admission Adults 500 yen, 250 yen college students and free for kids under 18.

Head to the highlights gallery on fourth floor for the best of Japanese modern and contemporary art. During the early part of the 20th century Japanese artists studied and worked in Paris.

Continue down through the galleries and if you have time walk to the Crafts Gallery for kimonos, lacquerware and glassware. Located close-by at 1 Kitanomaru-koen. Additional admission.

Grab the Tokyo Metro’s Tozai Line (light blue) at the Takebashi Station (T08) to Otemachi Station (T09). Transfer to the Chiyoda Line (green) to Hibiya Station (C09) and walk the JR Yurakucho Station, connect to the Hibiya Station for the next adventure.

After 5 Food Tour by Urban Adventures

Meet outside JR Yurakucho Station

Tour from 5 p.m. to at least 8 p.m.

Admission based on age, not for kids under 12.

Reservations required.

The food in Tokyo is some of the most diverse in the world so learn about its rich culinary heritage from a local. I recommend a guided food tour, like After 5offered by Urban Adventures.

My English-speaking guide offered insights into Japanese dining customs. Our tour started with a favorite for locals after work, yakitori.

First stop, Yakitori Alley, where we sampled several bamboo-skewered meat and vegetable appetizers. Then we nibbled on mochi in Ginza before hopping a Tokyo Metro for the final stop, Tsukishima, an island close to Tokyo.

We walked down the quieter streets for our next culinary treat, Monja-yaki. It’s a traditional pancake made with cabbage, mochi and pork on a griddle in the middle of our table.

Day 3 Tokyo Culture Day

Learn more about the Japanese culture by exploring a temple and the best museums. Arrive early at the first destination and take the Ginza Line (orange) to the Asakusa Station (A18).

Senso ji Tokyo. 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
Senso ji Temple in Tokyo is a top sight so visit early or late in the day. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Senso-ji (Temple)

2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku

Open 24 hours

Free

It’s Tokyo’s most visited temple for Kannon—the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. First walk through red Kaminari-mon (thunder gate) to appreciate the scale of the structure.

Then take a moment to light some incense and pay your respects at the temple. Afterwards ee the Five-Story Pagoda that stands next to Senso-ji. Walk around the grounds for smaller structures and gardens with koi ponds.

The walk up to the temple offers a souvenir and food arcade. Arrive early in the morning for fewer crowds.

After visiting Senso-ji head the next destination for several museums. Head back to the Asakusa Station (A18) for the Ginza Line (orange) to the Ueno Station (G16).

Ueno-koen (City park with museums)
Ueno neighborhood

Free

Open dawn to dusk

A large city park that offers lots of space to explore along with the Ueno Zoo, several museums and a large pond with lotus.

National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
For western art lovers, the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

National Museum of Western Art

7-7 Ueno-Koen

Admission 500 yen adult, 250 yen college students, free for kids and seniors

Open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed Monday

Designed by famed architect Le Corbusier, the modern building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk by or for art lovers, the National Museum of Western Art offers a study in western art from the renaissance through the modern periods.

See extensive collection of Roudin, Delacroix and Monet. Along with masters Renoir, Van Gogh and Gaugin, this museum offers all the thrills of New York City museums.

For those pining for Western food, the café offers a French-inspired café with views of the garden.

Tokyo National Museum

13-9 Ueno-Koen

Admission 620 yen adults, 410 yen college students, free for kids and seniors

Open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Monday

Find the world’s largest collection of Japanese Art, like wood prints and silk screens, samurai swords and kimonos. Focus on Honkan Galley and Galley of Horyu-ji Treasures for the labeled Japanese national treasures.

After spending three full days exploring Tokyo head up for a nighttime view over the largest city in the world. Take the Ginza line (orange) from the Ueno Station (G16) to the Asakusa Station (G19) and transfer to the Asakusa line (rose) to Osiage Station.

Tokyo Sky Tree Observation Deck

1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku

Admission: 350-meter deck 2060 yen, 450-meter deck 1030 yen adults. 350-meter deck 1540 yen, 450-meter deck 820 yen kids 12 to 17.

Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Head up the tallest tower in the world, Tokyo Sky Tree offers two different observation decks. Along with observation decks, find restaurants and a glass tube connecting the different levels. On a clear day see Mt. Fuji.

For Your First Trip to Tokyo

When I started planning my trip to Japan, I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t remember the names of places. I thought Tokyo would be a super expensive city. Soon I discovered it was more reasonable than I originally thought.

For more information about traveling to and around Japan, head to the Prep and Pack Post for Japan

For students and teachers, check out the packing list for exchange students and teachers.

This is where I stayed during my visit in Tokyo, offering great accessibility to the Tokyo Metro Station.

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Tokyo offers a delightful mix of the arts, traditional Japanese culture and in the moment pop culture. Get a sampling of all while exploring the largest city in the world via the Tokyo Metro. #Tokyo #itinerary #Japan

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