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Travel Guide: 24 Hours in Tokyo, Japan

by - September 18, 2020

[9/18/2020] As a result of COVID-19, the borders remain closed, and Japan is currently not accepting any overseas tourists from Canada.

Ever since I was young, one of the destinations on my bucket list was Tokyo. I finally checked that off my list in December 2013, and I loved every moment of it. Since then, we have been fortunate to be able to go back to Japan a few more times. As of last year, J and I, have visited 19 cities and 4  prefectures in Japan. I know that some people prefer the main cities, but I also enjoy checking out less-known cities as well. 

While it is impossible to see all of Tokyo in a 24 hours time-frame. You can still hit the top attractions even if you're only here for a day. Please note that this complete 24-hours itinerary is best only if you're jet-lagged and not sleepy. Otherwise, I'd just skip checking out the Toyosu Fish Market, and just sleep in until 9 am. 

3:00 AM – Toyosu Fish Market

If you have a layover, an early bird, or can't sleep, then you definitely have to check out the Toyosu Fish Market. The wholesale market is located near Shijomae Station, on the Yurikamome Line - about 2km east of Tsukiji’s current location. It was closed during the COVID-19 outbreak but has re-opened June 8, 2020. The tuna auctions take place around 5:30 am to 6:30 am. 

5:00 AM – Sushi Breakfast

The building complex that houses the Toyosu Fish Market has a small number of restaurants available, and an observation deck to view the auctions. The restaurants open around 6 am, so it's a great time to enjoy a nice sushi breakfast. The fish are ultra-fresh, and prices are affordable. I'd say that the fish at these restaurants are very comparable to the high-end sushi restaurants in Toronto. 

7:00 AM - Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta

The Tokyo subway is a part of the extensive rapid transit system, and I believe that most trains do start around 5 am. So after your sushi breakfast, I'd hop on the train to Yoyogi-Uehara Station to get to Tsuta. Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta (ジャパニーズソバヌードル 蔦) is a popular ramen shop located in Tokyo's Yoyogi-Uehara. They are the world’s first Michelin starred ramen restaurant, as Tsuta was awarded its first Michelin star in December 2015. Their signature ramen is the "Shoyu Soba", which is a soy sauce ramen, comprising of chicken and seafood stock base, and topped off with a slice of pork, and signature black truffle oil. Although it wasn't the top ramen that I have ever had, it's definitely one of the best ones I have had.

Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta operates a ticket system, and numbered tickets are handed out starting at 7 AM. For each ticket, you would hand the employee a 1,000 yen deposit (which will be used towards your ramen meal).  You can choose from the following time slots: 11:00-12:00, 12:00-13:00, 13:00-14:00, and finally 14:00-15:00. We were able to grab two tickets that day for lunch slots at 12 pm (our desired time) and then went back to our hotel.

How To Get There: 2 mins walk from Yoyogi-Uehara Station (代々木上原駅)
Address: 3–2–4 Frontier Yoyogi-Uehara B1F, Nishihara, Shibuya, Tokyo 151–0066

6:30 AM – Go Back To Hotel

To be honest, there wasn't a lot to see after the Toyosu Fish Market cause most attractions and shops open around 9 am. So, we ended up getting a taxi back to our hotel at the InterContinental Tokyo Bay (review here). Since neither of us was sleepy, I went to the gym for an hour, and then went to the room to shower. We left for the next attraction around 8:30 am. J and I took the hotel complimentary shuttle bus to Hamamatsucho Station and went from there to Sensoji Temple. 

9:00 AM – Explore Sensoji Temple

One of my favorite temples in Tokyo is the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. It's one of the most-visited spots in Tokyo, so it gets super packed around afternoon to evening. Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and you will definitely recognize it by its main landmark, the Kanimarimon gate.

10:00 AM - Explore Nakamise-dori

The shops on Nakamise-dori opens around 10 am. The decorated street is filled with shops offering souvenirs, food, snacks, and more. I was kept pretty occupied exploring it that 1.5 hours passed by pretty quickly. Nearby is a popular spot called Kagetsudo, where they sell their famous melon-pans. 

It was super hot that afternoon, so we decided to drop by the nearby Suzukien Asakusa. It is an ice-cream shop boasting seven levels of matcha tea flavored gelato. I am not a fan of super bitter matcha, so I opted for Level 4. 

11:30 AM - Explore Kappabashi Street

Kappabashi Street is a short walk from Sensoji Temple, approximately10 minutes. Here you find a variety of souvenir shops and is the home of plastic food models. There are a few shops offering Japanese knives for sale. Please note that the stores are closed on Sunday. 

12:30 PM - Lunch Time @ Shibuya Station 

If I had to choose one district where I should have lunch, then Shibuya is a hot spot. There are a plethora of options near Shibuya Station ranging from popular chains, independent restaurants, mom/pop shops, and so many delicious dessert places. There are plenty of delicious restaurants in the area, and it's really difficult to narrow it down. 

For us, it was time for lunch at Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta. We were lucky enough to grab two spots for 12:30 pm, which was the perfect lunchtime. After lunch, we took a taxi to Shibuya to explore the area.


1:30 PM - See Hachiko Statue 

Once you're done with lunch, then it's time to explore what Shibuya has to offer. The first stop is the Hachiko Statue at Shibuya Crossing. Hachiko was the most loyal dog in the world. He would show up at the train station every evening to meet his owner after work and continued to do so even after the owner’s death. The train station employees fed him, gave him water, and took good care of him. They even erected this statue for Hachiko after his own death. Say hello to Hachiko on your way to the Shibuya Crossing.

How To Get There: Oshiage Station → Hanzomon Line (Platform 3) → Shibuya Station
Address: 2-1, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 東京都渋谷区道玄坂2-1

2:00 PM - Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing is one of Japan's busiest crossings, and up to 2500 people cross this intersection at any given time. It was such a great sight to see, especially from high up. So if you're interested in people watching, then I highly recommend grabbing yourself a cup of coffee from the nearby Starbucks and find a seat to watch it all in action.

2:30 PM - Shopping Time

You can skip this if shopping isn't your thing. However, Shibuya has a lot of great malls and stores. 

3:30 PM - Meiji Shrine @ Meiji Jingu

A short distance walks away from the Shibuya district is Meiji Jingu. We started off at Meiji Shrine. Meiji Shrine is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. The shrine itself isn't too big, and the entire walk takes about 30 minutes. 

4:30 PM - Harajuku / Takeshita Street

Next, you should make your way to Harajuku’s Takeshita Street for some shopping, and sight-seeing. I love this street! It's an incredibly bustling street lined up with many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, crepe stands, and fast food outlets geared towards the younger generation. I had a fun time shopping at Kiddy Land, Daiso, and We Go while I was there.

We also tried two of the crepe stands, Angels Heart and Santa Monica Crepes (pictured below).

6:00 PM - Akihabara

After indulging in some crepes, time to make your way to Akihabara. Akihabara is a popular district known for its electronics, otaku goods, and anime shops. Some of the main attractions are Sofmap, Yodobashi Camera, Maid Cafes, Don Quijote, and Mandarake. If you're into anime, then this is the place to have a nerdgasm.

7:30 PM – Shinjuku: Drinks in Golden Gai and Kabukicho

If you're looking to have a relaxing time, then I would check out Shinjuku. They have a little bit of everything - the LOVE sign, restaurants, robots, and even a red-light district area.  You can wander the alleys of Kabukicho in search of some food, or grab a drink in the district’s famed Golden Gai. 

8:30 PM – Dinner Time

We stayed in Shinjuku for dinner, as there were a lot of options. Some popular must-eats are Ichiran Ramen, Konjiki Hototogisu, Shin Udon, Funnji, and Tonkatsu Santa. If you're not in the mood for ramen, then there are plenty of other cuisines available. 

9:30 PM – Tokyo Metropolitan Building

If you stuck around the Shinjuku district for dinner, then make your way to Tokyo Metropolitan Building. Going up Tokyo Skytree for a view of Tokyo's skyline is pretty expensive at ¥2,060 ($23) a person. A cheaper alternative (aka FREE) is from the two observation decks (North and South) on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The building is open pretty late as well, so you can also get a night view of Tokyo.

Missing Japan! J and I actually booked another one-month trip to Japan/Taiwan for December 2020 prior to the world shutdown. Due to the current state of travel, and rumors of Japan not allowing tourists until mid next year, the trip is postponed until 2021 for us. Hopefully, things will slowly be back to normal sooner than later. 

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