One Day in Tokyo: 7 Things You Must See and Do

Whether you’re in Tokyo for a quick stopover or en route to another city in Japan, Bjorn Koolen shows you how to squeeze plenty into 24 hours.


Photo © iStock/visualspace

Asakusa District & Senjoji Temple

First stop, Asakusa! The district is Tokyo's oldest remaining entertainment area with an Edo-period charm. At the heart of the district lies Senjoji Temple, Tokyo's oldest temple, devoted to the goddess of Kannon.

Nakamise street leading up to Sensoji is lined with countless small shops selling a variety of small items which make for great souvenirs. If you're after a snack, you'll be spoilt for choice here for delicious street food too.

Kaminarimon (Thunder) Gate of Sensoji Temple. Photo credit: iStock/magicflute002

Experience Edo Culture at Ueno Park

By taking the Ginza Line from Asakusa to Ueno Station, we arrive at Ueno Park. One of Tokyo's most popular parks to view cherry blossoms in spring, it’s also home to a number of temples and shrines. The most famous spot here is the Tokyo National Museum, which features national treasures and cultural heritage items.

If you're interested in museums, Edo Tokyo Museum only takes 25 minute on the Oedo Line from Ueno-okachimachi to Ryogoku Station. Ryogoku Kokugikan is also located near the station and if you happen to be in Tokyo at the right time, could even catch the sumo-wrestling tournament when it’s held in the city.

Ginza: the Heart of Tokyo

Heading to central Tokyo from Ueno on the JR Yamanote Line brings us to Tokyo Station, tucked in between Marunouchi and Ginza. The building itself is one of the city's most important symbols as well as a historic reminder of Japan's modernisation at the brink of the 20th century. While Marunouchi is a business district, Ginza is a commercial district known for its brand stores and Kabuki-za, where you can enjoy a kabuki performance.

Stroll Through the Imperial Palace Gardens

The wide road in front of Tokyo station connects it with the Imperial Palace. While you cannot visit the palace itself, its East Gardens are open to the public and well worth a tour. The gardens were once part of Edo Castle's inner defences during the reign of the shogunate. When the castle was handed over to Emperor Meiji, it was converted into an Imperial Palace.

Cosplay in Harajuku

The Chiyoda Line gets us from Otemachi Station on the northern side of the East Gardens to Meiji-jingu Mae near the popular Harajuku district. Harajuku is known throughout the world as the centre of teenage J-Pop and extravagant fashion. Takeshita Street in particular is lined with many small shops, cafes and boutiques.

Pray for Good Fortune at Meji Jingu Shrine

Another not-to-be-missed sight in Harajuku is Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo's most important shrine. Meiji Jingu is dedicated to Emperor Meiji's soul and that of his wife. Take a stroll through the forests of Yoyogi Park surrounding Meiji Jingu and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The observatories on the top floor of each tower offers a stunning view over Tokyo's skyline and on a clear afternoon you might even spot Mount Fuji in the distance!

Sample Tokyo’s Food in Shinjuku

Cap off your day by walking east towards Shinjuku for an evening of shopping – we recommend checking out all the latest tech gadgets! Before you leave Tokyo, don’t miss out on the city’s world-famous dining scene with a delicious dinner in a small restaurant or pub in Golden Gai.

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