Three days. That’s how much time I wish we had in Tokyo — at least.
But instead, we had two days so we crammed everything into 48 hours which wouldn’t have been so bad except we went to all the sites ourselves (read: no tours or hosts – just subways and tons of walking). It was brutal! Our overworked legs were begging us for a rest at the end of our first day… but since we had just kicked off the trip, we had to keep going… and going… and going… setting ourselves up for the worst week ever (have you ever spent an entire trip with aching legs? Ugh). I should have known what kind of trip this would be when we were literally shoved into the subway car at 7am and forced to ride like packed sardines for 40 minutes (“Welcome to Tokyo”, right?).
Looking back, Tokyo really deserves at least three days if you’re planning to sight-see on your own. If I were to plan it again, I’d do it like this:
- Since you may be battling jetlag, start the day with a late breakfast near the hotel
- Make your way to the Imperial Palace in the center of Tokyo
- Take the subway to Asakusa and visit the Senjoji Temple and the surrounding shrines
- Wrap up the day at the tallest tower in the world, Tokyo Skytree – just make sure you’ve got tickets already (they are sold out until July, 2012!)
- Head out early to the Tsukiji Fish Market to watch the famous auctions (while the auction starts at 5am, only the first 120 people are allowed to watch the fish auctions first hand, so you have to get there early!)
- Grab the freshest sashimi breakfast at one of the sushi restaurants by the Tsujiki market
- Relax and sip tea at the nearby Hama-rikyu Gardens
- Do some serious shopping in Shinjuku (the area’s tall buildings and 10 story department stores give New York’s Times Square a run for its money) and grab dinner in this area
- Check out Tokyo Tower and enjoy a set lunch at Toufuya-Ukai (rumored to have the best tofu in Tokyo!)
- Witness the world’s busiest crossing at Shibuya Crossing
- Search for Japan’s infamous Harajuku girls in Harajuku
- Take a stroll down Omotesandō street to see Tokyo’s upscale shopping area
- Finish the day at Roppongi, where you can check out the nightlife
If I had more than three days, I’d also swing in a trip to an onsen and a visit to a sumo wrestling tournament. We barely missed the tournament by a week or so! Darn timing! Here’s hoping some of you learn from our mistakes!
Finally, here are some pics from our couple of days in Tokyo:
While we were only there for two days, I’ve got more pictures from Tokyo coming! Stay tuned…