Tokyo in a Day

Shibuya crossing on a rainy day.

Here’s a simple plan for one day in Tokyo.

This plan is based on the JR Yamanote line which is a loop train line that hits most of the major spots in the city. All you need to do is buy a day ticket for 750 yen at a JR train station. It’s impossible to see everything so just pick the stations that sound interesting to you. And since the train runs in a big circle, you will end up right back where you started!

  • For some of the stops because there is so much to see, it is better to go on foot to the next station.
  • The pass is only good for JR trains in the city. It cannot be used with the subway.
  • The pass is not the same as the Suica card which is a pre-paid card.
Map of the Yamanote train line. It takes two to three minutes between stops.

Map of the Yamanote train line. It takes two to three minutes between stops.

Here are some of the stations on the Yamanote line:

Shinjuku – This is the busiest train station in the world. Check out the observatory on the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (it’s free!).

Harajuku – Visit the serenity of the Meiji Shrine where you might catch a traditional wedding procession. On the other side of the station, see where the Tokyo teens go shopping in Takeshita dori street. You can walk from Harajuku to Shibuya.

Wedding at the Meiji Shrine.

Wedding at the Meiji Shrine.

Shibuya – Shibuya is a major entertainment area with shopping, restaurants, bars and clubs. A must-see is the world famous Shibuya crossing. Then check out the mecca for Japanese girls fashion inside the 109 department store.

Shibuya crossing on a rainy day.

Shibuya crossing on a somewhat rainy day.

Ebisu –  Not much to see in Ebisu during the day, but it’s one of the nicer places to grab dinner. The trendy shopping neighborhood of Daikanyama is about a 10-minute walk from Ebisu station.

Hamamatsucho – Mainly a business district, but from here you can walk to Zozoji Temple and the Tokyo Tower.

Shimbashi – The point of interest here is in the evening when all the salarymen come to eat and drink after a hard day at the office. Or if you are into gardens, the Hama-Rikyu Garden is a 1km walk from the station through the Shiodome office complex.

Yurakucho ==on foot==> Tokyo station – Exit Yurakucho and walk to the Ginza Mitsukoshi department store. Make sure to visit the food court in the basement. Then walk up Chuo dori street and make your way to Tokyo station. Option 1: The Kabuki theater is not too far from Mitsukoshi. Option 2: The Imperial Palace is close to Tokyo station.

Akihabara ==on foot==> Ueno – Once famous for electronics, Akihabara is now the anime capital of the world. Be an otaku for an hour and visit a maid cafe. Walk towards Ueno by following the tracks. A must-see is 2k540 Aki Oka Artisan, a cool shopping mall of made in Japan crafts and products. Then you will hit Ameyokocho shopping street. Keep going until you get to Ueno station.

2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan shopping mall near Akihabara station.

2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan shopping mall near Akihabara station.

Nippori – In this slow-paced neighborhood called Yanaka you can still find old wooden buildings and can even go inside some. This place is also famous for the Yanaka Cemetery and Yanaka Ginza shopping street.

An old liquor shop, now the Shitamachi Museum Annex near Nippori station.

An old liquor shop, now the Shitamachi Museum Annex near Nippori station.

Sugamo – Sugamo is a residential neighborhood with a shopping street across from the station that caters to senior citizens.

Ikebukuro – Ikebukuro is a lot like Shinjuku. It is also a place for anime fans. A popular attraction here is Sunshine City shopping mall.

Back to Shinjuku – At night explore the infamous Kabuki-cho entertainment district. Finish your one day in Tokyo with a drink in Goldengai. Alternatively, you can go back up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for a night view of the city. The observation deck is open until 11pm.

A bar in Goldengai drinking alley in Shinjuku.

A bar in Goldengai drinking alley in Shinjuku.

updated: 02-19-15

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