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Tokyo in 2 Days

Updated: May 30

Tokyo is a city where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with futuristic innovations. Whether you’re a history bluff, a foodie or city lover, Tokyo has something for you. Here’s a detailed itinerary to help you navigate Tokyo in 2 days:

 

Day 1

Discover the Ancient Past


Start your visit with a trip to Tokyo’s oldest and most significant temple – Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa). Wander down Nakamise Street, lined with traditional shops and food stalls selling all kinds of tasty Japanese snacks. Check out my post on the best cheap eats in Tokyo for more information on these stalls and other spots! The temple itself has a striking red pagoda. You can stop before entering the large shrine for the cleansing of your hands and mouth at the fountain to purify one’s mind and body. The temple was started after two fishermen prayed for a large catch and heard a voice from the heavens; casting their nets into the sea, they came up with a golden statue of Bodhisattva Kannon. Years later the statue was hidden from human view, as it remains so today.

 

Enjoy a Traditional Tea Ceremony


One of our favorite activities in Japan was the traditional tea ceremony. Maikoya, an award-winning institution, includes a Kimono wearing experience in Tokyo. You can pick out your own kimono and hairpieces. Arrive 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment to have someone help you into the kimono and fix your hair. You are even able to wear the kimono for the rest of the day to sightsee! Maikoya also offers this experience in Kyoto at two locations: Nishiki or a private class with sweets in Gion. During the experience, you learn about traditional tea ceremonies and the customs for matcha making. We really enjoyed this!

 

Experience the Shibuya Crossing


No trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to the world-famous Shibuya Crossing. Likened to Times Square, this five-way pedestrian crossing makes you feel like you have definitely arrived in Asia. Hundreds of people cross simultaneously in all different directions, but remember the walking light is quite fast, so grab your picture and hurry! For better views, head to the Starbucks in the Tsutaya building overlooking the crossing. I sat on the second floor for amazing views years ago, but on my most recent trip, the Starbucks was being remodeled (and closed). You can also take pictures from the mall.



Dining Option: If you are looking for a nicer evening than my cheap eats in Tokyo, head to a Gon Pachi. While this restaurant chain definitely caters to Westerners, the food is quite good and offers a nice fusion of different options. There is a location not too far from the Shibuya crossing too.

 

Day 2

Rise Early for the Tsukiji Outer Market

When I first went to Tokyo, the original fish market was a hustle of activity and tourists. There were a few restaurants selling sashimi breakfasts amid the fisherman and wholesale buyers negotiated for the daily haul.  Today, the inner market has moved and tourists are no longer permitted. However, the outer market has been refurbished and remains a hub for fresh seafood, produce and food stalls. It’s definitely geared more toward a tourist experience and a little whitewashed (literally the building is super sterile looking), but you can still same various Japanese delicacies and order a sushi breakfast. Go early for the freshest finds. You can even take a guided tour that samples some of the local foods and provides a bit of food tour.

 

Embrace the Calm at Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park


Continue your second day in tranquility as you make your way through the forested park to visit the Meiji Shrine. Walk under the massive (and very old) torii gate and wander through the park for some great people-watching and a break from the city life.

 

Float in the Clouds at Tokyo Skytree


If you have never enjoyed sky-high views, be sure to check out the tallest structure in Japan, the Tokyo Skytree, for breathtaking views from its observation decks. The large mall at its base also offers shops, restaurants and even an aquarium.

 

Be Fashion Forward in Harajuku and Takeshita Street

Explore the vibrant neighborhood of Harajuku, starting with Takeshita Street. This pedestrian street is famous for its trendy shops, quirky fashion boutiques and colorful stalls. I felt as if I was walking through a real-world Anime comic with some unique takes on Japanese fashion.

 

Rainy Day Activities

 

If you are looking for something unique, check out the Sumo Museum at the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium. It’s a small space but offers free entry to explore the exquisitely embroidered belts, learn about past sumo wrestlers and embrace the history of the sport.  It’s also near the Asahi Flame, a monument of golden fire said to represent the burning heart of Asahi beer. You can enjoy a beer at the base of the building at Super Dry Hall, which serves beer straight from the factory. The beer hall is across the river from the Senso-ji Temple.

 

Additional Activities in Tokyo

 


Odaiba & teamLab Borderless

If you are looking for a truly Japanese experience, schedule a visit (in advance) to the futuristic entertainment hub in Tokyo Bay. teamLab Borderless is an immersive digital art museum that offers constantly changing installations. Tickets must be purchased in advance with timed entry. You can also walk along the waterfront for views of the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo skyline.  

 

Day Trip from Tokyo

No doubt your Japanese trip includes several other stops besides Tokyo, but if you are looking for a wonderful day trip outside the city, hop on a train to Kamakura. We loved this historic town with beautiful temples, a giant Buddha statue and fisherman village vibes. You feel transported far from the busy city life of Tokyo. We even saw a traditional Japanese wedding taking place by the temple. Kamakura offers traditional charm just one hour south of Tokyo. Use the JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo Station for a direct route to Kamakura. Be sure to stroll down Komachi-dori Street leading to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, where you may be lucky to see the cherry trees in blossom. The bamboo temple and the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) will round out your day. If you don’t want to navigate the trip on your own, there are several day trip options on Viator to Kamakura.

 


Tokyo offers a unique blend of traditional and modern attractions. Even if you don’t have much time to explore, these spots will give you a great taste of the city’s culture and perhaps leave you wanting more. 2 days in Tokyo promises to leave you with unforgettable experiences.


You can add 2 days in Kyoto to your trip with this itinerary!

 

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