Spending a week in Tokyo is not enough to take in all the sights, sounds, and culture, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to experience everything that you can in this vibrant city.
The best time to go to Tokyo is from April to May, when the cherry blossoms are in season, the kids are on their summer break, and the weather is mostly pleasant.
From historical sites, traditional cuisine, majestic temples, anime, and manga, this itinerary has something for everyone in the family:
Day 1: Visit Shibuya
- Arrive in Tokyo – Check-in at your hotel and spend the rest of your day in Shibuya Tokyo. This area is the most interesting districts, with great introduction to the fast-paced and quirky life in Japan. Aside from the famous Shibuya Crossing, there are other great things to see and do.
- Take a photo with the Hachiko statue – This popular meeting place in front of the train station is a reminder of the relationship between man and his best friend.
- Have your first meal in a Kaiten-Zushi restaurant – These are sushi bars that serve food in conveyor belts. You may also order via the tablet on your table. Try Genki Sushi Shibuya, which is located only four minutes away from Hachiko Gate.
- Head to Manga Café for some reading and relaxation – You can rent a booth and have access to tons of manga to enjoy. Unfortunately, there are no English translations.
Read Top 10 Things to Do in Tokyo
Day 2: Immerse yourself in Japanese Culture
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- Harajuku for unique souvenirs – Famous for its quirky fashion and vintage clothing shops. Harajuku is the best place to experience all the eccentricities of Japanese culture.
- Explore Takeshita Street and the nearby side streets – Visit the cosplay stores and take in the colorful fashion of the people milling around this busy street. Buy a kawaii or cute souvenir while you’re here.
- Have lunch at the very colorful Kawaii Monster Cafe – where the waitresses called “monster girls”, they were dressed in crazy costumes, and the food is an explosion of colors.
- Head to Jingu Bashi – also known as Harajuku Bridge and immerse yourself in Japanese cosplay.
- Have a walk in Omotesando – Just south of Takeshita Street lies Omotesando, which is the Champs-Élysées of Japan. Stroll down this tree-lined avenue and enjoy the sights and sounds of the refined.
- Shop at Tokyu Plaza – Its entrance is filled with a kaleidoscope, like ceiling of mirrors where you can see your reflection from all sides.
- Have a quick coffee break – Check out the sixth-floor rooftop at Tokyu Plaza. You can enjoy the outdoor terrace and overlooking of Harajuku.
- Relax and chill in Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park – Located west of the railway tracks of the Harajuku Station is Yoyogi Park. Walk along its serene roads until you reach Meiji Jingu at the end. This complex has an outdoor food court that sells all sorts of traditional Japanese street food like takoyaki. Take them all to a secluded spot in the park for a nice picnic.
Day 3: Have fun in Tokyo Disneyland
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- Enjoy the rides in DisneySea – If your children are more adventurous, they will probably enjoy the rides in Tokyo Disneyland Resort. Tokyo Disneyland has two amusement parks Disneyland and DisneySea. Book your tickets advance to avoid long queues.
Read 12 Best Tourist Spots in Tokyo Not to Miss
Day 4: Combining the old and new
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- Visit Asakusa district – Immerse in the country’s religious history and see how far along they’ve advanced.
- See the Buddhist temple of Sensoji – It is one of the city’s most colorful and popular temples. Sensoji’s temple grounds are always open, but the main hall is open 6:30 AM to 5 PM daily. Admission is free.
- Walk to Nakamise temple’s second gate – This street is filled with shopping stalls. Some historical area sells typical Japanese souvenirs and scrumptious traditional snacks.
- Check out Tokyo Skytree and bask in the country’s modernization – With a height of 634 meters, the building is the tallest self-supporting tower in the world. Its two observation decks show the magnificent skyline of Tokyo, located in two different locations at 350 and 450 meters high.
- Visit Sumida Aquarium – Enjoy watching the fish and penguins at the base of Tokyo tower. Operating hours are 8 AM to 10 PM daily.
Day 5: Mount Fuji and Hakone
Wake up early for Mount Fuji hiking and sails to its nearby lakes – Mount Fuji the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776m above sea level and represents good luck or good fortune. It is best to book a hotel near Mount Fuji for your family as preparation before climbing. The hiking season runs from July to September.
Spend a lovely day in Hakone hot springs – Historical town of Hakone has over 20 hot springs. To enjoy don’t forget to pack your swimsuit while enjoying the view of Mount Fuji.
Have a hearty lunch – Stop by Tamura Ginkatsutei for a taste of delicious pork katsu.
Fill your tummy with street food – Close to the Hakone-Yumoto Station is a street filled with food stalls that are all made with Hakone’s water. The soba noodles and bread being sold fresh in these kiosks taste better with the water they use to cook it.
Day 6: Explore Shinjuku
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- Shinkuju train station – With bustling streets, neon lights, and the busiest train station in the world, Shinkuju represents the side of Tokyo we always see in movies. Here you’ll find fun-filled streets, yakitori bars, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
- Stroll down Memory Lane – One of the most popular and interesting streets in Tokyo. Go on a bar crawl while eating some yakitori and if you’re feeling chatty, make friends with the locals!
- Have a walk to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Burn all that yakitori you ate and go for a stroll to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. With over 20,000 trees sprawled in beautiful gardens, this park is more popular in April to May during the cherry blossom season.
- Tasted the famous Tsukemen Ramen – End your day with a hearty and delicious bowl of ramen in Fuunji. They’re popular for Tokusei Tsukemen (thicker noodle) served with broth for dipping. This restaurant has a limited seating capacity for customer and order payment is done by the vending machine.
Day 7 – Tsukiji Outer Market
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- Have a Breakfast at Tsukiji Outer Market – Wake up early on the day of your flight home and try the best sushi and sashimi in the Tsukiji Outer Market. This market consists of wholesale and retail shops, as well as restaurants that open as early as 5 AM, ready to serve traditional Japanese breakfast.
- Eat a seafood rice bowl – A must-try is Kaisendon Marukita. They serve over 30 different kinds of Kaisen Don, which is a bowl of rice with different seafood toppings. The best part is they have an English menu so you know exactly what you’re ordering!
Read Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market Closed & Replaced with Toyosu Fish Market
Accommodation in Tokyo
Hotels in Tokyo are a dime a dozen, so you have a lot of options. The Shibuya and Shinjuku districts are the best areas to stay in because their metro and train lines are the most centric.
Recommended Shibuya Hotels:
1. The Westin Tokyo
2. Shibuya Tokyu REI Hotel
3. Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu
Recommended Shinjuku Hotels:
1. Park Hyatt Tokyo
2. Agnes Hotel and Apartments Tokyo
Know Before You Go
- Always have Japanse Yen on hand. As modernized as Japan is, not all stores accept credit cards.
- Familiarize yourself with the metro. Taxis are very expensive in Japan and the metro and trains are amazingly efficient. Study the map so you can easily get from one point to another.
- Don’t shy away from convenience stores. Most sell really good traditional Japanese food.
- Save money by bringing bottled water from the hotel when you head out. Although there are vending machines in a lot of places, they often are very expensive.
- Book in advance. English speakers are hard to come by, so booking hotels, tickets, and tours in advance will save you from a lot of hassle.
Haven’t booked your flight yet? Check out this guide to flights from Manila to Japan.