Embark on a Tokyo adventure like no other as we go beyond the ordinary tourist attractions and uncover the hidden gems that make this city truly captivating. While many guides bombard you with an endless list of activities to cram into a short itinerary, let’s be honest — some of Tokyo’s famed tourist spots can leave you craving more. Let’s move beyond the clichés and delve into the heart of what makes Tokyo so special: its quirky cafes, vintage treasures, and the remarkable day trips that await just beyond the city’s borders. 

Our Tokyo guide not only provides an efficient itinerary to explore the city’s vibrant core but also unveils a selection of captivating excursions beyond the metropolitan area.

Photo: @bright__hero / Instagram

But before we embark on this thrilling journey, let’s ensure your accommodations and travel logistics are in perfect order.

Best accommodations in Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the more expensive cities when it comes to accommodations. Boutique hotels can start from as high as $70 per night, while the cheapest accommodations you can find, which are hostels and capsule hotels, start from $35.

Pegasus Hotel, located along Asakusa bridge, is conveniently located beside Akihabara. You can choose between western-style rooms and traditional Japanese rooms; both are clean and comfortable. However, the traditional Japanese rooms are more suitable for larger groups. The rooms start from $95 a night, and is available for booking on AirBnb

Pegasus Hotel offers a beautiful view of Asakusa Bridge

For an even more affordable option, which is perfect for solo travellers, opt for a capsule hotel nearby popular district. Manga Art Hotel is a manga-themed hotel that is located in Chiyoda City, just 20 minutes from Shibuya. At $35 per night, this hotel offers a no-frills, clean and comfortable lodging. Shavers, towels, and toiletries are also provided for those who wish to pack light.

Feel free to browse through their large collection of manga, ranging from popular options like Demon Slayer, to more niche series like Akira.

If budget isn’t an issue, then it will be more convenient to stay within the popular districts such as Bellustar Tokyo and Mitsui Garden Hotel Jingu-Gaien Tokyo Hotel. Tokyo is also known for their interesting and unique themed hotels, such as the Pokemon-themed hotel by MIMARU, and Godzilla-themed hotel at Hotel Gracery

Public transport or car – How should I travel around in Tokyo?

With over 800 interconnection train stations in Tokyo, you can easily navigate the city via public transport.

There are two popular transport card in Tokyo — Suica and Pasmo. To keep things simple, both cards allow you to ride on most trains or bus lines in Tokyo, without having to go through the hassle of manually buying a ticket at the train station. You might have also heard of the Tokyo Metro card, an enticing offer that grants unlimited rides on all Tokyo Metro lines for less than $5 a day. While it sounds like a good deal, it is important that you plan your itinerary well, such that all the attractions are conveniently accessibly via the Tokyo Metro lines. Otherwise, you will have to pay an additional train fare on top of the cost of the Tokyo Metro pass.

Day 1 – Discovering Akihabara’s arcade wonderland

Day 1 of your Tokyo adventure begins not with the well-trodden paths of Shibuya, but with an exhilarating journey to a gamer’s, tech fanatic’s, and anime lover’s paradise – Akihabara.

Each building has at least three stories of claw machines, arcade games and entertainment

Akihabara has become synonymous with Japanese pop culture and is known as the ultimate destination for tech enthusiasts and anime lovers. But don’t fret if you don’t consider yourself part of their niche audience; Akihabara promises an intriguing and entertaining experience for all. Challenge your friends to vintage arcade games at Super Potato, test your skills at claw machines at GiGO (they have three buildings in the same area), and immerse yourself in the whimsical atmosphere of a maid cafe. Fun fact, you can even visit an 8-story sex toy shop that’s located right outside Akihabara station. 

You can spend anywhere from an hour to half a day wandering through Akihabara’s dynamic streets, perfect for those who arrive in Tokyo in the afternoon or late evening. However, if you have to whole day, hop on a train to Sumida City, just a few stops away. There, you can explore the intriguing Kokugikan Sumo Stadium & Museum, if the stars align, witness a thrilling sumo wrestling match. Right beside the museum, you’ll find the Edo-Tokyo Museum, where precious artifacts from Tokyo’s Edo period are beautifully displayed, and the Japanese Sword Museum, showcasing masterfully crafted Japanese swords spanning centuries of history.

Sumo wrestling match at Kokugikan Sumo Stadium & Museum. Photo: Planet of Hotels

Activities in Akihabara:

  • Retro arcade games and shop at Super Potato Akihabara
  • Claw machines at GiGo Akihabara 1, 2 and 3
  • Claw machines at Tokyo Leisureland
  • Maid cafe experience at @Home Cafe or Cure Maid Cafe
  • Owl cafe at Akiba Fukuro

Activities in Chiyoda City

  • Kokugikan Sumo Stadium & Museum
  • Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Japanese Sword Museum

Cafes in Akihabara

  • Vault Coffee
  • Mister Donut

Day 2 – Traditional tea ceremony, cafe hopping & shopping

After a chaotic first day in the city, treat yourself to a serene and authentic experience with a traditional tea ceremony.

No. I don’t mean going to a cafe and watch the staff prepare tea in front of you. I’m referring to a legitimate, authentic tea ceremony. Prepare to be transported into the heart of history as you enter Chawa Masudaya, a tea house steeped in nearly 100 years of Japanese tea ceremony expertise, nestled in Shinjuku.

You can start with a basic tea ceremony. Ranging between 30 to 45 minutes, the basic tea ceremony allows you to learn more about the culture, purpose, and etiquette of Japanese tea ceremonies. You will be served a bowl of tea prepared with ceremonial-grade matcha from Uji City, Kyoto. Wagashi, which are Japanesee sweets, will also be paired with the tea. For a more immersive experience, you can also request to change into a kimono, but you have to inform the staff in advance when you’re making a reservation online.

Masuda-san, the host of tea ceremony during our visit, praying in front of a shrine before preparing our tea

Alternatively, for an indulgent experience, you can opt for the full tea ceremony experience that includes a deluxe kaiseki lunch. It is priced at ¥24,000 per person for a group of four, or ¥25,000 per person for a group of three.

After this enchanting experience, make your way south to Shibuya City. Wander through the vibrant streets, either on foot, exploring at your own pace, or opt for a short train ride. Aside from a mandatory visit to Shibuya Crossing, day two is for the city boys and girls — shopping and cafe-hopping.

Al fresco dining area of The Roastery by Nozy Coffee

Japanese brands

  • BLACK LABEL CRESTBRIDGE
  • HARUTA
  • me ISSEY MIYAKE
  • sAagara
  • Sacai
  • United Arrows

Thrift stores

  • BAZZ Store
  • BINGO Shibuya MODI
  • One W Oh
  • RAGTAG Shibuya Store

Cafes

  • Micasedeco & Cafe Jingumae — fluffy souffle pancakes
  • The Roastery by Nozy Coffee — award-wining local roaster with an amazing al fresco dining area
  • The Little BAKERY Tokyo — handmade donuts in a retro setting 

Restaurants

  • Kura Sushi Shibuya Ekimae — conveyor belt sushi chain from ¥108 per plate
  • Jidoriya Tsukada — chicken-centric dishes 
  • Kobe Beef Teppanyaki — award-winning wagyu beef
  • Okonomiyaki Mura — authentic okonomiyaki
  • Maguro to Shari Shibuya — tuna rice bowls

Day 3 – Hop around Tokyo

Of course, Tokyo isn’t just limited to these neighbourhoods. The city is teeming with alluring attractions, spread across its diverse landscape. As mentioned earlier, getting around Tokyo using its efficient public transport system is an absolute breeze, making it incredibly convenient to explore these scattered gems.

Attractions around Tokyo

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo – The Making of Harry Potter
  • Ghibli Museum 
  • Hedgehog Cafe & Pet Store HARRY Harajuku
  • Tsukiji Market
  • Gotokuji Temple — cat temple
  • Wanariya — traditional indigo-dyeing class
  • Nakano Broadway — shopping mall for otaku
  • Koganeyu — public bathhouse
  • Kuge Crafts — workshops for the traditional art of fixing broken pottery

Day 4 – Day trip to Yokohama

Located just an hour away from central Tokyo, Yokohama is a port city renowned for its captivating blend of historical charm and modern marvels.Yokohama boasts a fascinating history as one of the country’s first ports open to foreign trade in the 19th century. Today, it stands as a vibrant waterfront destination with a plethora of attractions to enchant visitors.

Its most famous attractions are Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, a lively shopping and dining complex that mainly features local brands, as well as the Cup Noodles Museum, where you can not only learn more about the history and process that led to the innovation of cup noodles, but also design and personalise your very own cup noodles!

The gorgeous view from Zou no Hana Park

The best part about Yokohama is that all the attractions are within walking distance. If you’re taking the train from Tokyo, drop off at Kannai station and begin your adventure at Yokohama Chinatown. Stroll through its bustling streets, capturing the vibrant Chinese energy through your lens, but hold off on indulging in a meal here. There are better options elsewhere. Next, walk up to Zou no Hana Park, a picturesque oasis that oversees the harbour, and Elephant’s Nose Breakwater, a narrow seawater that is perfect for photos, before reaching Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse. Aside from the Cup Noodles museum, there are multiple museums around the area such as the Silk Museum and Yokohama Archives of History Museum. For an extra dose of excitement, don’t miss the chance to experience the thrill of the rides at Yokohama Cosmoworld, guaranteed to add a dash of adrenaline to your Yokohama adventure.

On the way back to Kannai Station, we recommend grabbing dinner Nonki, serving one of the best yakitori we’ve ever had.

Attractions

  • Cup Noodles Museum
  • Elephant’s Nose Breakwater
  • Higa Garden
  • Silk Museum
  • Yokohama Archives of History Museum
  • Yokohama Cosmoworld
  • Yokohama Red Brick Museum
  • Zou no Hana Park

Cafes 

  • Granny Smith Apple Pie
  • Hawaiian waffle Merengue
  • LES ANGES Baie 
  • Milk Marche
  • Motomachi Coffee Roastery

Restaurants

  • Disney HARVEST MARKET By CAFE COMPANY
  • Café & Rotisserie LA COCORICO
  • Nonki
  • Shogun Burger

Day 5 – Day trip to Enoshima

Further west, just an hour from Yokohama, resides Enoshima, a charming island located just off the coast of Kamakura. Famous for its spiritual allure and historical landmarks, Enoshima promises an unforgettable getaway for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and seekers of serenity.

As you step foot on Enoshima Island, you’ll be enchanted by its mystical ambiance and breathtaking views. The island is renowned for its interesting folklores and monuments. One of the main attractions is the iconic Enoshima Sea Candle, a lighthouse that offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding ocean and nearby Mount Fuji on clear days. Hike further south to visit the Iwaya Caves, where visitors can explore the awe-inspiring rock formations with the gentle glow of a candle, and pay homage to the deities that form the bedrock of Enoshima’s rich culture.

Explore Iwaya Caves with nothing but a candle in hand

Attractions

  • Benzaiten Nakamise Street
  • Enoshima Aquarium
  • Enoshima Iwaya Caves
  • Enoshima Island Spa
  • Enoshima Sky Candle
  • Samuel Cocking Garden
  • Share Surf — surfing classes

Cafes

  • Lon Cafe — French toast speciality cafe
  • GP Coffee Roaster Enoshima 

Restaurants

  • Aloha Table Shonan — fluffy pancakes and Hawaiian food
  • Enoshima Koya — unique fish-topped rice bowls
  • Enoshima Uomi-tei — grilled seafood by the sea
  • Kalae-Ribs Kitchen — the most memorable steak curry rice 
  • Kinokuniya Canteen — no-frills kaisendon

Read on for the full day-trip guide to Enoshima Island.

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