Tokyo in 3 days can be done, although it will be a non-stop run around given the size of the city. It’s a place so big you could lose yourself in it for weeks, and still have lots more to see.
That’s what I ended up doing. A recent trip to Japan that was supposed to be for only a few weeks, turned into 40 days, with a lot of that time spent in Tokyo. I have used what to do in Tokyo in 3 days of recommendations for this post as that seemed to be the average time people spent there that I met.
Here’s a rundown on all the things I loved about this city, from the normal to the bizarre., and is some of what you can do in Tokyo in 3 days there.
The list is in no real particular order. It was all awesome!
I recommend to get a Tokyo Metro Pass to get around.
You can check prices of hotels/hostels in Tokyo here for your trip.
What to do in Tokyo in 3 Days
1. Walking the streets of Tokyo.
You could wander for days and never get bored. Visit the huge shopping and nightlife areas of Shinjuku and Shibuya. These are my favourite places to wander around, and are absolutely packed with people. This is the heartbeat of the city, and in particular the nightlife of Tokyo.
At night the bright neon lights come out, and it feels like you are in a scene from a sci- fi movie like Bladerunner. The areas are only a few stops apart on the metro, and both have many restaurants,bars,clubs and massive shopping streets and malls.
Near Shibuya is Harajuku Street which is more youth centric and fun to walk around and try to find people doing “cosplay”. Cosplay meaning costume play, where they get dressed up as their favourite anime characters etc. However these days there are not that many.
If the busy modern bright lights don’t appeal then you can loose yourself in the old areas around Asakusa and north of Ueno Park. There you can find many temples and historic buildings to see, and a really chilled out atmosphere.
2. The food.
Wow! That could pretty much sum up this part completely. Yes the food is that good.
If you love seafood then you will be in heaven. Going to the Tsukiji fish market is a must, as almost anything you could imagine to eat from the sea is there, and you can join others on the busy market streets in search of the perfect sushi or sashimi.
Everywhere else is just as good for all varieties of Japanese cuisine. All food specialities from all over Japan can be found there. From delicious steamy ramen bowls to extravagant barbecues built into your table. It has it all!
Although certain districts have a higher concentration of restaurants than others, I found the food good wherever I was. For example the best bowl of ramen I had there was near a friends house in a non touristy suburb.
Check out 10 essential Japanese foods to try.
3. The stranger things.
You travel too experience different things, right? Well Japan is certainly a culture shock.
One of my favourite areas to go in Tokyo is the anime area of Akihabara. Here many otaku(geeks) go to play games in the huge gaming arcades. I do enjoy gaming!
There are many shops there selling a massive selection of animation products. But there is nothing bizarre about all that. However I bring up Akihabara because of some of the rather comical things you can also see and do there.
Firstly there are the maid cafes. There girls dress up in outfits, such as a schoolgirls, and must treat you like you are the boss, as they serve you drinks. There is nothing sexual involved, it is only supposed to make you feel like you are in control, or something like that.
As mentioned previously you can also see the cosplay, with mostly young people getting dressed up in anime outfits.
Strolling around many parts of Tokyo you will see all kinds of things you are not used to.
One fun way of exploring Akihabara is to do a go kart tour of Akihabara. It looks hella fun!
4. The people.
You could be in the most incredible place on earth, but if the people around you are assholes then it will kill the whole experience. In Japan you will find some of the most friendly and polite people you could meet anywhere.
When you try to ask something, even if they don’t understand, they will try to help you. Meeting and getting to know some local people should be high on your priorities of a visit to Japan. I personally loved spending time with my Japanese friends in Tokyo.
5. The traditional.
There are temples and shrines in many places, you wouldn’t even notice some as they can be tucked away down side streets. You can easily stumble upon traditional things going on, and a visit to Ueno Park is great for this, where people seem to be doing dances, and the National Museum shows displays of traditional music sometimes.
In peaceful Yoyogi Park there is a huge temple to visit, and like I said earlier there are the old areas around Asakusa and north of Ueno to explore. In many other areas you can find the old mixing with the new.
If you are in Tokyo in winter there are some good escapes to be had out of the city with some good traditional experiences.
6. Sumo in Tokyo.
This could be added to number 5 on the list, as it is very traditional, but I figured it deserved its own spot. It could almost just squeeze into the bizarre section as well! If you are lucky enough to be there when sumo tournaments are on, then it is a no-brainer to take a look.
Now it’s not the sexiest of sights seeing a bunch of seriously overweight men, basically wearing what could be described as diapers, wrestle each other.
But the atmosphere there is electric.
The big stadium in Tokyo holds 8000 people, and watching them shout and support their favourite wrestler is great. Seeing the old rituals at play you could loose track of time enjoying it. Having said that, these are all personal experiences and I could see how some could get bored more than others.
7. The museums.
Now I must admit that I am not much of a museum person, but the few museums I did visit were good. From the big national museum full of history, to the more modern contemporary art museums.
There are so many to choose from so you will for sure find something to your tastes.
One very popular museum is the animation studio Tokyo Ghibli Museum. This is perfect if you are just by yourself, with friends, or with children in tow. However it’s so popular it’s often booked out weeks/months in advance. You can reserve a Ghibli Museum ticket here.
8. Getting lost and find some secret places in Tokyo.
Tokyo is massive. Even after many weeks there, I would still find myself lost from time to time. And that’s part of the fun of any big city, getting lost. That’s when you tend to run into the random things you may not have seen otherwise.
Indeed along with number one on this list it could be the best thing you do. Getting lost while walking the streets of this incredible city.
What to do in Tokyo
So that’s a rough rundown on some things you could get up to in a visit to Tokyo. Some people will obviously enjoy things more than others, but all of it combined is what makes it such a cool city to see.
The purpose of this post wasn’t to give an extremely detailed Tokyo travel guide. It’s more to give you an idea of the kind of things you can do to get the best out of the city. You can get most of this done if looking for what to do in Tokyo in 3 days.
One other thing that is good to do, but is not in Tokyo itself, is to do a day trip to Mount Fuji.
I hope you enjoy Tokyo.
Useful Tokyo links:
Japan is an expensive destination and the medical treatment is not cheap. Be sure to take travel insurance before going just in case. I use World Nomads Travel Insurance for my travels.