Kick-start your day with a dose of Japanese culture and history, with a visit to the Meiji Shrine. Its long, atmospheric walk through centuries-old trees (and its close proximity to Harajuku and Shibuya) makes it one of the most visited shrines in Tokyo. Afterwards, check out Harajuku’s Takeshita-dōri for some eclectic shopping and a snack. Then it’s time to venture away from the touristy areas and explore Ura-Hara, the backstreets of Harajuku. These quieter streets are the place to go to pick up vintage clothing and goods from lesser-known, independent boutiques. If you have time, Omotesandō is just a short walk away – explore this beautiful street for luxury and designer items and inspiring architecture.
Start off in the delightfully hipster Nakameguro district for bargains 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 (also within walking distance). This upscale, stylish neighbourhood is full of boutiques and 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 an array of clubs, restaurants and live music venues to keep you going all night long.
Slowly recover from your hangover with a big, filling bowl of ramen for breakfast at Ichiran Shibuya. Then take the train to Ueno and check out Ameyoko, Tokyo’s old-fashioned indoor-outdoor market. Explore Ueno Park and the Tokyo National Museum for an afternoon of fascinating cultural discovery, before making your way north to Yanaka Ginza and Yanaka Cemetery, stopping at Kayaba Coffee for a pick-me-up on your way.
Today it’s all about the sights. First make your way to Tokyo’s historic Asakusa neighbourhood, making sure to check out the glorious Sensōji and Kaminarimon – arguably two of the city’s most iconic architectural feats. Then it’s time to take a boat ride along the Sumida River with Tokyo Cruise, located beside Asakusa station. Watch as the skyline comes into view from Tokyo Bay. Later, take the train one stop over to see the Tokyo Skytree all lit up and glittering at night. Grab some souvenirs and a bite to eat at the Skytree Village while soaking up the sensory overload.
Head back to the heart of Tokyo to check out the Imperial Palace Gardens. Next, make your way to Marunouchi’s Naka-dōri, a picturesque shopping street lined with luxury stores. Check out the shops and restaurants under the tracks at Yurakucho before stopping at Ginza. Here, 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, which is 35 floors up. Before leaving, stop at The Sun and the Moon by the museum entrance for a meal with unparalleled views of the city.
Make your last day a relaxing one at Saya-no-Yudokoro, a traditional Japanese onsen. The venue comes with outdoor baths and a restaurant on-site (note: they don’t allow people with tattoos). After you’ve soaked and untangled your knots, squeeze in a trip to the laid-back cobbled streets of Jiyūgaoka and the hipster, arty neighbourhood of Kōenji to conclude your one-week Tokyo adventure.