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How to Spend 24 Hours in Tokyo

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
Thanks to Getty Images for the pictures and videos! In this famed, vibrant, fast-paced Japanese city, you don’t want to wind up missing out on some crucial experiences. Welcome to MojoTravels, where we’ve picked out the absolute must-sees and created an itinerary for a perfect day in Tokyo. Japan’s capital city has one of the world’s greatest public transportation systems, so grab one of their 24 hour subway passes, and we’ll get started! Please note that we won’t be focusing primarily on restaurants for this video, but foodies should check out our video on How to Eat Your Way Through A Day in Tokyo.
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How to Spend 24 Hours in Tokyo


In this famed, vibrant, fast-paced Japanese city, you don’t want to wind up missing out on some crucial experiences. Welcome to MojoTravels, where we’ve picked out the absolute must-sees and created an itinerary for a perfect day in Tokyo. Japan’s capital city has one of the world’s greatest public transportation systems, so grab one of their 24 hour subway passes, and we’ll get started!

Please note that we won’t be focusing primarily on restaurants for this video, but foodies should check out our video on How to Eat Your Way Through A Day in Tokyo.

Part of Tokyo’s charm is just how different the various neighborhoods are from one another. You can’t really experience Tokyo unless you’re willing to get out there and explore. Thankfully, with the aforementioned public transportation system, you can cover a lot of ground without wasting too much time in transit.

A fish market might seem like an odd place to start your day, but Tsukiji Market is the largest in the world - and it is unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Now… to see their famous tuna auction, you’re going to need to get there by about, oh, 3:00 AM, so let’s just assume that you’re skipping that part. Nonetheless, this is a morning destination. Walk amongst the countless vendors and marvel at their offerings. You’ll definitely want to stop in at one (if not a few) of the food stalls for some of the most delicious (and fresh) cheap eats in Tokyo. Seafood breakfast? Nothing strange about it at Tsukiji Market!


Seeing all that commerce in action, you might be in the mood to do a little shopping of your own, and thankfully, leaving from Tsukiji, you’re just around the corner from Tokyo’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue, the glamorous upscale shopping district of Ginza. Even if you haven’t budgeted for a shopping spree, this is a window shopper’s heaven and a fascinating look into Tokyo fashion and craftwork.

After a morning of fish and fashion, it’s time for a change of scenery. Tokyo is a city steeped in tradition, and that’s on full display at the Imperial Palace. Walking through an immaculately cared-for green space, dramatically surrounded by a moat, you’ll be in awe of the majesty of it all. The bad news is that you can’t go into the palace itself, but considering that it is still technically the Emperor’s primary residence, that’s fairly understandable. One of the best things about visiting the inner grounds that it gives you a break from crowds; the tours are by reservation only, so be sure to book ahead of time!


Having spent the morning outdoors (and now that you’ve gotten a little taste of Japanese history at the Imperial Palace), it’s time to kick off the afternoon with a ride on the Chiyoda metro line up to the Tokyo National Museum. The country’s oldest national museum and one of the world’s largest art museums, it boasts over 11,000 unique artifacts and works of art. Visitors will be able to see traditional costumes, masks, Buddhist statues, painted sliding doors, weapons and more, including some of Japan’s most cherished cultural properties.


You haven’t immersed yourself in an essential part of Tokyo’s history and culture until you’ve visited a Buddhist temple, and Sensō-ji, located in Asakusa District, is the logical choice given that it is the oldest and most culturally significant in the entire city. Completed close to 1500 years ago, it attracts more visitors each year than any other sacred site in the world. The walk to the temple, Nakamise-dōri, is lined with shops where you can pick up any number of souvenirs or grab a snack. Simply walking around the gorgeous temple and its grounds is activity enough, but we highly recommend getting an omikuji paper fortune while you’re there to get the full experience!


We’ve already covered a decent amount of ground today, so this might just be the perfect time get your bearings. And where better to do that then from the Tokyo’s tallest building, the aptly named Tokyo Skytree? Located in Sumida and just a 12 minute metro ride away, the Skytree is actually the second tallest structure in the world at 2,080 feet and houses two observation decks which, for a fee, offer a breathtaking, unparalleled view of the Tokyo skyline.


To end off the afternoon, we’re going to be travelling across town to make sure that we have plenty of time to explore the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden before the sun goes down. It’s about a 45 minute trip by public transit from the Skytree, but then you’ll be nicely set up for an evening in Tokyo’s most popular area for nightlife. Just a short walk from Shinjuku station, this sprawling, beautiful green space features different gardens taking inspiration from around the world, so be sure to get a map at the entrance. Then… just walk around and soak it all in. You’re particularly lucky if you’re visiting in late March or early April, when the cherry trees are blossoming.

Now that the sun is setting, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to spend your evening. Tokyo is hopping with nightlife, and though there is fun to be found all throughout the city, you already just so happen to be in one of the night-time cultural hubs, the Shinjuku ward. The neon-lit Kabukicho red light district is jam-packed with bars and clubs. Since it can get rather . . . rowdy later, an early evening visit might be your safest and tamest bet. Shinjuku is also home to ever-popular Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho, which translates to “Memory Lane”, an alley full of small bars, perfect for an izakaya crawl and evening snacks.

Of course, you won’t want to party too hard, because the night’s not over. We’ve already seen Tokyo by day at the Sky Tree, but the skyline at night is an entirely different experience, so before it closes at 11 PM, you’re going to want to head over to the Tokyo Tower, one of the city’s most iconic lookout points.


After a little breather to gaze out over the city, it’s back to the party, this time in Shibuya ward, an area which seemingly never sleeps. You’ll want to be sure to walk Shibuya crossing, the famous intersection known for its intense foot traffic and scramble crossings. This youth-oriented neighbourhood offers anything and everything you could ask for in terms of late night entertainment. From trendy bars and clubs to arcades, karaoke joints, and late night eats, there’s really something for everyone. If you’re looking to dance along to some of the hottest up-and-coming DJs, it doesn’t get any better than this area of Tokyo. In Shibuya, your incredible day in Tokyo is guaranteed to end on an appropriately memorable note.

Of course, 24 hours is only enough to scratch the surface of what Tokyo has to offer. We’ll just have to go back!
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