A Quick Guide to Tokyo

A Quick guide to Tokyo Japan
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Home to more than 13 million people in the city itself, Tokyo is an incredibly fascinating city of skyscrapers, jumbo advertising boards, quirky characters, and intriguing cultural phenomenons. Tokyo isn’t nearly as expensive as it was some years ago, so be sure not to sell yourself short as you will need at least 3-4 days to see all this city has to offer. If it is your first time to Tokyo, here is a complete quick guide to Tokyo to help make your stay unforgettable!

A Quick guide to Tokyo Japan

Population: 13.35 million +
City Motto: Changes with each governor, currently “My town Tokyo”
Climate: Humid Subtropical (with mild winters)

A Quick Guide to Tokyo

Prior to Arrival

Residents of 66 countries do not need a visa to enter Japan as a tourist, for visits of 90 days or less. This includes residents of the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and EU residents (see a full list here).

As only some ATM machines in Japan accept foreign credit and debit cards, it is advised to get some cash in advance, bring foreign cash to exchange, or remember to use one of the foreign ATMs at the airport as you enter Japan.

Tokyo | Everything you need to know

On Arrival

There are two main airports in Tokyo, which are the most common way for visitors to arrive and begin their Japan journey in the capital itself.

Narita is the main airport for international flights and Haneda mostly serves domestic flights, though some international flights also arrive here.

Narita is usually a 2 hour drive into the city (subject to traffic), with limousine bus being the most direct mode of transport at a modest ¥3,100 one way.

The fastest way into the city from Narita is the Skyline for ¥2,400 per person, one way. The train completes its journey at both Nippori and Ueno Stations.

From Haneda airport, the easiest and cheapest way into the city is by Tokyo Monorail, costing ¥470 per person, one way. As we arrived in to Haneda airport from Sydney at 4:30am in the morning, we decided to hop in a taxi directly to our hotel for around ¥5,000 – more expensive but worth while after a red eye flight arriving before sunrise!

Tokyo | Everything you need to know

Getting Around

Getting around Tokyo is incredibly easy once you’ve got the hang of it. To make it easier for you to understand, let me break it down!

The colourful thick lines on the route map above are the Tokyo Subway network. This services all of the popular neighbourhoods to visit and points of interest, so it is entirely possible to stick to the subway without using any other lines (thus requiring further ticketing). A day pass costs 600 yen (around $5 USD) and allows for unlimited travel on the Tokyo subway for that day. This network operates on the Ginza, Marunouchi, Hibiya, Tozai, Chiyoda, Yurakucho, Hanzomon, Namboku and Fukutoshin lines.

The light grey dotted lines are the JR network, which requires a separate ticket for travel. While it is unlikely you will need to use the JR to transit around the city and will usually find a workable route within the Tokyo subway system, it can sometimes be easier to use a single one-way ticket on the JR (as it was for us travelling from Komagome to Ueno stations). The ticket machines are easy to use – just be sure to find the one that offers English translation! The price for a one-way ticket varies, but for our route cost 160 yen per person, one way.

Getting By

Japanese is the official language spoken and while English is widely spoken, you will find it is not very common for locals to speak more than very basic words and phrases. Here are some quick Japanese phrases to help you get by or just to impress a local!

Hello: Konnichiwa

Excuse Me: Sumimasen

Sorry: Gomen nasai

Thank You: Arigato

Bye: Sayonara

A Quick guide to Tokyo Japan

What to See & Do

If you’re after major tourist attractions, you should aim to visit Meiji Shrine, Senso-ji Temple, get a glimpse of the Emperor’s Palace from afar, see a view of the city from Tokyo Tower and be a kid for the day at Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea.

If you want to really go beyond the major sites and feel like a local in this crazy concrete jungle, then I’d suggest you ditch the major tourist sites (or at least, most of them) and head to the likes of Harajuku for young fashion, Omotesando for grown up fashion, Shibuya crossing for Tokyo’s “Times Square” and Shinjuku garden for some time to unwind.

A Quick guide to Tokyo Japan

Tokyo’s Best Parks

Although a bustling metropolis with busy streets and crazy pedestrian crossings, Tokyo is also an oasis inside the many beautiful parks that provide tranquility to Tokyo residents. Here are the best parks to visit:

Rikugien Garden – One of Tokyo’s lesser known parks for foreigners, Rikugian is worth going out of your way to visit for far less crowds than other parks (pictured above).

Shinjuku Garden – As Tokyo’s most renowned park, Shinjuku is also considered the most beautiful.

Ueno Park – A very large park that has impressive cherry blossoms in the spring with a large lake.

Sushi making class Tokyo

What to Eat & Drink

There’s just no way you can come to the capital of Japan without eating sushi – but beware, western sushi is very different to traditional Japanese sushi so be sure to keep an open mind! Sake (rice wine) is the preferred drink of choice, though for beer lovers you can’t go past home grown Asahi!

Bunny Cafe in Omotesando

Fun dining experiences:

When you think of Tokyo you think of flashing neon lights and chaotic pedestrian streets… but what about heading indoors!? Tokyo is bursting with fun places to eat indoors, with character cafes being as popular with locals as they are for visitors. Popular cafes include the Hello Kitty cafe, Nicolas Charles Bunny Cafe, Alice in Wonderland Cafe and Moomin Anti Loneliness Cafe for singles. Details below!

Cafe de Miki & Hello Kitty Cafe -〒135-0064 東京都江東区青海1-1-10 ダイバーシティ東京プラザ4F (website)

Nicolas Charles Cafe – Address: 東京都渋谷区神宮前4-26-5 神宮前426ビル 1F・2F (website)

Alice in Dancing Land Cafe – Alice in Dancing land is located under Bershka store in Shibuya Parco.

Moomin Cafe – You can reach Moomin Cafe from Suidobashi JR station or Korakuen station (website)
Tokyo New Otani Hotel

Where to Stay

Tokyo is infamously one of the world’s most expensive cities to stay and visit. Accommodation prices are sky high, however there are some great hotels on offer.

New Otani Hotel – for our 3 nights in Tokyo, we stayed at the New Otani Hotel as part of the Trafalgar Tour. This hotel had a great view of the city and was very close to the Ginza Line (which connects you to everywhere you need to go including stops at Shibuya, Omotesando and Ueno).

Park Hyatt – for fans of the film “Lost in Translation”, you might wish to check yourself in to the Park Hyatt hotel and experience Tokyo city life like Scarlett Johanson herself. This would be my first choice if returning to Tokyo in the future as I’m a huge fan of the film and don’t think you can beat a skyline view such as this!

Park Hotel Tokyo – another hotel popular among bloggers right now is the Park Hotel – with great views over the city and playful rooms like the cherry blossom room!

Mount Fuji Japan | World of Wanderlust

Get Out

Mount Fuji – undeniably the most popular day trip from Tokyo is to visit nearby Mt. Fuji (2 hours drive one way).

Hakone – centred around Lake Ashino, Hakone offers hot springs and great views of Mt. Fuji, so is a great place to visit after the mountain base itself.

Kamakura – less than an hour away from Tokyo is Kamakura, known as the Kyoto of Eastern Japan. This area offers a number of temples and shrines to visit.


World of Wanderlust visited Japan with Trafalgar on the Splendours of Japan Tour.

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    March 28, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Tokyo is incredible! I can’t wait to go back and truly appreciate it, your posts are so inspiring! x

    March 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Brooke, I loved this post! I have been looking at going in June but have read mixed things about the weather then (as it is the rainy season… but apparently doesn’t rain every day). Do you have any tips on travelling there in June, or when is the best time to go? Thanks 🙂 Penelope

    March 24, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks for the post, my next destination will be tokyo and kyoto for sure, so I am sure I will make use of your suggestions.

    March 24, 2016 at 2:03 am

    You make me miss Japan so much!! You’re lucky to see Mount. Fuji I heard it’s usually clouded so you can see the top!

    March 23, 2016 at 2:06 am

    I have always dreamed of going to Japan! I’ll keep this post handy when that day comes. 🙂

    Anne’s Scribbles and Doodles | Instagram | Bloglovin’

    Maren Poalses
    March 23, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Thank you for this super informative and beautiful post! Heading to Japan in a month and definitely making sure to add some of your suggestions to the list ~ x

    Janine & Janice
    March 23, 2016 at 1:00 am

    I’m so sad we didn’t get the chance to visit Tokyo. Have you been to Seoul, South Korea yet Brooke? It’s so close and such a wonderful city, so much to see and do!!

    Adelaide Haynes
    March 22, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Ah it looks so beautiful!
    I can’t wait to go there one day! The picture especially of Mt Fuji is gorgeous.

    March 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Definitely need to get to Japan one day, it looks beautiful. As for now, off to backpack mexico and central america 😀

    March 22, 2016 at 11:31 am

    I would love, love, love to go to Japan. I would eat so much too. Great little break down of the city, I’ve always imagined it as the future there would be very interesting.

    conor rees
    March 22, 2016 at 11:21 am

    I love how each topic is short, detailed and to the point.

    Diva In Me
    March 22, 2016 at 11:03 am

    I would love to re-visit Tokyo again. It’s a beautiful place and so clean =)

    Miles of Happiness - Marie
    March 22, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Lucky you! You’ve seen the Fuji perfectly. It was all cloudy and sad in August, we barely saw it…
    Btw, love the rabbit ice cream !

    March 22, 2016 at 6:11 am

    I’ve only been to Tokyo once, now I’m duing to go back as I’m older now!

    March 22, 2016 at 5:23 am

    This is a grat guide! Tnx you!

    marja pajunen
    March 21, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    When is the cherry blossom time(sakura) in Tokio? Is it the same time in Kioto and Osaka also?

      Michael Taylor
      March 22, 2016 at 12:40 am

      It varies from year to year, but the cherry blossoms tend to bloom a few days earlier than Osaka and Kyoto, but there is an overlap. They are supposed to open 21 March in Tokyo this year and reach their peak viewing period between 28 March and 5 April. There’s a listing of 15 key cities here:

    Posh, Broke, & Bored
    March 21, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    I loved Tokyo as a kid – Tokyo Disneysea is hands down the BEST Disneyland in the world – and I’d love to go back again! x

    Jasiminne: Posh, Broke, & Bored

    • Brooke Saward
      March 21, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      Awww I’m so jealous I wanted to go so badly but we just didn’t have any time!! It looks amazing! xx

    Jake Ryan
    March 21, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    I’m desperate to go to Toyko. How long would you recommend visiting for?


    • Brooke Saward
      March 21, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      At least 3-4 days as there is so much to see! We had 3 nights and it didn’t feel like long enough.


    March 21, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    I don’t really agree that Tokyo is a particularly expensive city to visit, I stayed in a lovely little ryokan for 6 nights costing a mere £450, not far from the centre, a few stops down on the subway from Ueno. If anything we spent much less in Tokyo than we did in Kyoto on accommodation and food etc.

    March 21, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    My dad and I visited Tokyo this summer and aside accomodation and shinkansen tickets, we found Tokyo very inexpensive if you knew where to look (not to mention the US$ is very strong to the JP¥ right now. We stayed at the Hotel Gracery in Shinjuku on Kabuki-chou and found it to be a wonderful hotel and location in the city. The complex has restaurants and a movie theater inside of it, with an inexpensive but tasty sushi joint across the way (Hibari) and the awesome Robot Restaurant up the street. Bonus: the hotel has Gofzilla racing up and over the building and you can go out and pet it from the lobby floor!

      Michael Taylor
      March 21, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      I agree! With the weak yen, Japan is not longer expensive – except for accommodation. I was stunned at how small some of the hotel rooms were! One of the ways I saved piles of money was buying prepared foods at the mini-marts. They have a great selection of salads and noodles and stuff, and the quality is really good.

    March 21, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    I have always wanted to go to Tokyo – now I wanna go even more 😉 This place looks just so amazing. And what a cute bunny desert 😉
    xx, Carmen –

    March 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    I cannot wait to visit Japan!! It’s been a bucket list destination for so long. I’m curious to know, how does traditional sushi differ from western sushi? 🙂

      Michael Taylor
      March 21, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Actually, Angela, much of the sushi is pretty much the same, but there is just a whole lot more choice than you get in the West.. Some of it is pretty “exotic”, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t touch some of it with a 10 foot chopstick! LOL!!

    Michael Taylor
    March 21, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I love Tokyo, (and the rest of Japan)! While the city is expensive, thanks to the weak Japanese yen, it is much more affordable now than it used to be. Tipping is also not the norm, which also saves you an automatic 10 to 20%! One thing I wouldn’t miss is taking a tour by rickshaw in the historic Asakusa district! I wasn’t sure if it was ‘politically correct,’ but the warm smiles and waves I got from passers-by quickly put any misgivings i had to rest.

    March 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    What an awesome and detailed guide! Tokyo is one of my favourite places in the world and I’m going in about a week! Rikugien is definitely a great park and I love how not many tourists go there. It’s so peaceful.
    I’ll have to try some of these cafes 🙂

    Rachel Oliver
    March 21, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Tokyo looks like an amazing place!! Some great tips and this place is definitely next on the list!

    rachel // Style Soup