Tokyo: 4 Day Itinerary

I spent about 4 days in Tokyo and had a great time. I was told that 4 days in Tokyo is too much time, but honestly, I thought that it was perfect to visit the city and places around it. In fact, it would have been great to have a couple of more days to do a few day trips. 

Asakusa ...perfect for old world charm and to rent a kimono

Here is my recommended 4 day itinerary for Tokyo –

Day 1 – Cultural side of Tokyo 

Spend the first day soaking in the cultural side of Tokyo by visiting the temples and the old town area. Start of with the Meiji Jingu shrine in the morning. This is one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan. There are a few guided tours that happen here and I highly recommend taking one to understand more about the Japanese belief system.

The next is Gotukoji temple, which is small, quiet and peaceful. It is famous for having hundreds of ‘beckoning cat’ figurines. This is were the story of the beckoning cat came into beings. You can make a wish here, and when your wish comes true, you come back and leave a cat figurine. 

Spend the second half of the day in the Asakusa area, visiting the Senso ji shrine and the Asakusa temple. Pull out This is the old and touristy part of Tokyo and is perfect for sampling local food and buying souvenirs (Nakamise Street). You can also rent a kimono and potter around and take a thousand pictures!

Day 2 – Hakone Day Trip

Take a day trip to the Hakone area to see Mt Fuji and and soak in Nature’s lap. It makes a lot of sense to buy the Hakone pass that covers all the transport costs from Tokyo and within the Hakone area, including the must do boat ride on Lake Ashi.

Start your day early and reach Hakone as early as possible. Include the cable car ride and the boat trip in your itinerary in the first half. By about 3, reach and onsen (natural hot water springs) and soak away your tired muscles.

Follow it up by an early dinner in the onsen, which usually has options for vegetarians as well. You can also spend a night in Hakone as there is a fair bit to do, including an open air museum, nature walk etc. However, I preferred taking the 7 pm train back to Tokyo. 

Day 3 – Peep into History

Do a day trip to Nikko, which has some of the most adorned shrines in Japan. The Shinto and Buddhist shrines co-exist at the place here and it is a must do trip of history and architecture interest you. The site is listed in the UNESCO world heritage sites and is a must do if you are in Tokyo. The area is especially famous for its fall colours during the months of November and December. 

You can do the Nikko trip on your own using the Nikko Rail Pass on hop on a guided tour that will pick you up from your hotel and get you back. I would recommend the guided tour as there is so much to learn about the site the interaction with an English speaking guide can take it to a whole new level.

Day 4 – Modern Tokyo 

No trip to Tokyo can be complete unless you have seen and experienced the fast paced life of this city. 

If there is one thing that you must not miss when you are in Tokyo, it is the Digital Art Museum. The museum is a refreshing experience even for the most jaded traveller. It was the highlight of my Tokyo trip. Children and adults – it’s meant for all! I spent about 3 hours here and could not cover it well. I will surely go back when I am in Tokyo next. 

Also, while in Tokyo, do visit the Shibuya crossing, the busiest crossing in the world. The Starbucks here is ideal to watch the world go by.

For the geeks and the nerds, Akihabara is the place to visit for electronics and video games.

If you want to shop high end brands, Ginza is the place to go. However, I enjoyed shopping in the Ometesando area as well. The malls in Shibuya and Shinjuku had a lot of options too! 

There are a few more day trips around Tokyo like Yokohama, the Five Lakes at the base of Mt . Fuji and a couple of national parks as well. Honestly, if you want to explore Tokyo and it’s surroundings well in an easy pace, a week is perfect. However, just for the highlights, 4 days is good!

Bon voyage – have a good time in Japan!

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