For a dose of Japanese culture and history, head to Meiji Shrine. Thanks to its long, atmospheric walk through centuries-old trees and its proximity to Harajuku and Shibuya, this is one of the most visited shrines in Tokyo. Afterwards, check out Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori for some eclectic shopping and a snack. Then it’s time to get off the beaten path and explore Ura-Hara, the backstreets of Harajuku. These quieter streets are the place to go to pick up vintage and used clothing and goods from lesser known boutiques. Omotesando is just a short walk away – explore this street for luxury and designer items and inspiring architecture.
Start off in Naka-Meguro for shopping and a stroll along the Meguro River. Grab a coffee at one of the area’s craft coffee houses, then make your way to Daikanyama, just one station over and also within walking distance. Daikanyama is an upscale, stylish neighborhood full of boutiques, indie restaurants, and cafés. In the evening, head to Shibuya Station (by train or by foot), where right outside you’ll find the Hachiko Statue, Shibuya Crossing, and some of the best shopping the city has to offer, not to mention fistfuls of clubs, restaurants, and live music venues to keep you going all night long.
Take it easy in the morning and get some rest. Then take the train to Ueno and check out Ameyoko, the old-fashioned indoor-outdoor market. Explore Ueno Park and the Tokyo National Museum for the afternoon before making your way north to Yanaka Ginza and Yanaka Cemetery, stopping at Kayaba Coffee for a pick-me-up on your way.
Visit Tokyo’s historic Asakusa neighborhood, making sure to check out the famed Senso-ji and Kaminarimon. If you’re keen, Tokyo Cruise beside Asakusa Station can organize a cruise along the Sumida River and Tokyo Bay. Later, take the train one stop over to see the Tokyo Skytree all lit up at night. Grab some souvenirs and a bite to eat at the Skytree Village.
Head back to the heart of Tokyo to check out the Imperial Palace Gardens before heading to Marunouchi’s Naka-dori, a picturesque shopping street lined with luxury stores. Check out the shops and restaurants under the tracks at Yurakucho on your way to Ginza for more exploring. Unwind at the nearby Hamarikyu Gardens, enjoying traditional Japanese tea and sweets at the teahouse before hopping in a taxi for an elegant kaiseki dinner at Ginza’s Ichigo.
A trip to Tokyo isn’t compete without seeing Akihabara. Known as Akiba for short, an otaku (obsessive fan) could spend all day here. Check out the arcades, maid cafés, and shops overflowing with anime and manga merchandise on and around the main strip. Later, if you have the time or the energy, head to Roppongi Hills, the stylish multi-use development in Minato Ward. Don’t miss the Mori Art Museum, a contemporary art museum 35 floors up. Before leaving, stop at the Sun and the Moon by the museum entrance for a meal with stunning views of the city.
On your last day, relax at Saya-no-Yudokoro, a traditional onsen with outdoor baths and a restaurant on-site (note: they don’t allow people with tattoos). But public bathing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you opt out, squeeze in a trip to the laid-back cobbled streets of Jiyugaoka or the hipster, artsy neighborhood of Koenji instead.