Tokyo is Japan’s capital and is an exciting and vibrant city. It also has the biggest population in any city in the world. What was once a small castle town in the 16th century has now become a teeming metropolis with so many attractions. There is a seemingly unlimited choice of entertainment, dining, culture and shopping to enjoy. Explore the historic districts like Asakusa and visit the many temples, museums and beautiful gardens. There are also a large number of green spaces within the city itself and on the outskirts, a short train ride away. For those in Tokyo for only a short while, scroll below to view a suggested itinerary for 36 hours in Tokyo, Japan.
Day 1: Afternoon - Visit Ghibli Museum then tour Senso-ji
A tour of Ghibli Museum and Studio Ghibli will give you an insight into the history of the anime movies with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide, or explore the museum in your own time, stopping at each interesting exhibit. The museum and studio are located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, in western Tokyo.
Tokyo Studio Ghibli Museum Afternoon Tour with Admission
Duration: 7 hours
Senso-ji is an ancient Buddhist Temple located in the historic area of Asakusa and it is the oldest temple in the city. The temple was originally associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, but it became independent following World War II. According to legend, in the 600s, two brothers were fishing in the Sumida River when they found a statue of Kannon, Japan’s goddess of mercy. Although they placed the statue back in the river, she kept returning to them, leading to the construction of the temple which was completed in 625.
Address: Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Website: Senso-ji Temple
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Day 1: Evening - Dinner at Ishikawa or Butagami
Ishikawa is a small, minimalist restaurant serving traditional Japanese cuisine in a serene atmosphere. The restaurant has a Michelin three-star rating and serves some of the best sushi in Tokyo.
Address: 5-37 Kagurazaka,1F Takamura Bldg., Shinjuku 16, Tokyo, Japan
Hours: 5:30 PM - 12:00 AM
Price: Above JPY 10,001 (USD 88)
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Butagami is a quaint, out-of-the-way restaurant, whose specialty is tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlets) which you can watch being cooked to perfection in the restaurant’s open kitchen.
Address: B1F Roppongi Hills North Tower, 6−2−31 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Hours: 11:00 AM-10:30 PM
Price: JPY 2,001-4,000 (USD 17-35)
Shinjuko Golden Gai is Tokyo’s main center for nightlife, with many tiny and rather ramshackle bars to explore in narrow, winding alleys. Some of the bars feature outlandish decor, including hospital-themed uniforms or troll toys, along with a fun, signature drink. You will also come across karaoke at all hours of the night, mostly off-key. As the bars are so small, some can only fit around five patrons, while others have room for around 30. Some have cover charges to enter.
Tokyo Shinjuku Drinks and Neon Nights 3-Hour Small-Group Tour
Duration: 150 to 180 minutes
Day 2: Morning - Japanese breakfast, and then visit the Imperial Palace
There are many cafes, bakeries and restaurants serving breakfast in Tokyo, ranging from traditional local fare to international dishes like pancakes and hotcakes. Luxe Dining Hapuna is an excellent choice as it serves a little of both. They serve delicious avocado croquettes, rice balls, udon, vegetable omelets and a range of coffee types, including caffe latte, matcha latte and cappuccino.
Luxe Dining Hapuna
Address: Minato-ku, Takanawa 4-10-30, Tokyo, Japan
Price: JPY 2500 (USD 22)
Hours: 6:00 AM-10:00 AM
Website: Luxe Dining Hapuna
Imperial Palace, Tokyo
The Imperial Palace in Tokyo is the residence of the Emperor of Japan and the imperial family. The palace is located in the city center and has beautiful gardens surrounding it. Much of the palace is inaccessible to visitors, but they can enjoy the East Gardens at the foot of the hill with the ruins of the Edo Castle. It is also possible to tour the Imperial Palace’s Outer Garden, known as Kokyo Galen and the East Garden, known as Kokyo Higashi Gyoen, as well as Kita-no-maru-koen park.
Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Hours: 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, closed Mondays and Fridays
Website: Imperial Palace
Day 2: Afternoon - Visit the Meiji Jingo Shrine, stroll around Harajuku and take the train to Shibuya
Meiji Shrine is located in Shibuya, Tokyo, and it is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. Gaze at the beautiful shrine and pray a little before you leave.
Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Website: Meiji Shrin
Harajuku is a popular area known for its youth culture. However, visitors can see the more traditional Japanese side of this area, with visits to museums to see, and learn about, ukiyo-e prints. It is also possible to don the samurai armor and in the area climb Fujizuka, a mound which was made to resemble Mount Fuji.
Private Tour - Samurai, Mt.Fuji, Ukiyo-e and Meiji Jingu Shrine
Duration: 4 to 5 hours
Bullet train to Shibuya
Catch the bullet train to Shibuya from Tokyo Station. The station can be found in Chiyoda’s Marunouchi district, close to the Imperial Palace. On arrival at the station, head to platform 5. The train runs on the JR Yamamote Line to Shinagawa and Shibuya. The trip takes 24 minutes. Shibuya is a bustling commercial district, where Meiji Shrine and Harajuku are located. It is also home to Yoyogi Park with its fountains, lakes and forested areas to explore. Tokyo Mosque is also located in Shibuya with its adjoining Turkish culture center.
Address: 1 Chome Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Fare: JPY 200 (1.76 USD)
Website: Tokyo Station
Day 2: Evening - Dinner, and then evening tour of Sumida Aquarium
Enjoy an early dinner at a restaurant of your choice before heading to the Sumida Aquarium.
Sumida Aquarium is a contemporary aquarium which features African Blackfoot penguins, fur seals and a large variety of fish, including glowing jellyfish and sand eels. There is also a cafe on site.
Address: Oshiage, 1 Chome−1−2, Sumida, Tokyo, Japan
Hours: 9:00 AM–21:00 PM
Price: Adults - JPY 2050 (USD 18), Children - JPY 600 (USD 5.28)
Website: Sumida Aquarium
Day 2: Night - Visit the red light district of Kabukichō and explore the bars and nightclubs (from USD 83.0)
Kabukichō is known as the red-light district of Tokyo. Located in Shinjuku, the area also offers much in the way of nightclubs and entertainment. The district bears the nickname of the “Sleepless Town” for its bustling, late-night activity. Kabukichō consists of love hotels, host and hostess clubs, as well as restaurants and shops. There is also a thriving cyberpunk scene here and the district has been used as a set for movies and video games.
Private Tour - A Tour of the Cyberpunk Town, Kabukicho
Duration: 4 to 5 hours
A short visit to Tokyo, Japan
While you can’t visit all the major sites in Tokyo, Japan in 36 hours, you will definitely be tempted to come back and spend more time here.
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