How to Spend 24 Hours in Tokyo

Flag of Japan waving in the Meiji shrine in Tokyo
Flag of Japan waving in the Meiji shrine in Tokyo | © Marco Taliani de Marchio / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer5 July 2019

It’s impossible to experience the entirety of Tokyo in one day, but this itinerary will help you maximise your time – from culinary and cultural experiences to famous sights and activities.

Think of the below guide as a highlight reel of sorts; both urban and green spaces are included and, depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you may even see some of Japan’s famed cherry blossoms.

Grab a coffee and a bite at Yoyogi Park

Start your day bright and early – get to Fuglen around opening time for its legendary coffee and freshly baked treats. Alternatively, Little Nap is a local coffee stand just up the street. They’re both located at the edge of Yoyogi Park in the Shibuya ward, so after you’ve fueled up, make your way through the park towards Meiji Shrine.

Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan. | © Horizon Images/Motion / Alamy Stock Photo

Stop by Meiji Shrine and try on traditional Japanese attire

Although they share the same grounds, you can’t access Meiji Shrine from inside Yoyogi Park, so exit at the southeast corner and head north; the shrine entrance is behind Harajuku Station. If you’ve ever wanted to try on a yukata or kimono, this is a good opportunity to do so. You can book a rental in advance at Sakaeya Kimono Shop and be guided through the shrine (though be sure to budget more time for this activity).

Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan. | © Nattee Chalermtiragool / Alamy Stock Photo

Immerse in the hustle and bustle of Harajuku

Make your way to Harajuku’s Takeshita Street for shopping and people-watching. Takeshita Street contains tonnes of quirky shops and trinket sellers. So whether you’re looking for offbeat souvenirs or unique pieces to add to your wardrobe, you’ll find them here. Harajuku’s unofficial specialty is crepes, so grab one before heading toward Omotesando.

Locals and tourists walking at Harajuku's Takeshita street | © Lior Patel / Alamy Stock Photo

Dine and shop along Omotesando

First, you might want to head straight to 76Cafe for a late lunch of taco rice, an Okinawan dish that combines classic taco ingredients with rice instead of tortillas. Then, along Omotesando, you’ll find luxury goods and some of the most impressive architecture in the world. Many of the best shops, including second-hand and vintage stores, can be found in the winding back alleys, so don’t be afraid to explore.

Omotesando district, Tokyo. | © Roland Nagy / Alamy Stock Photo

Explore Naka Meguro, the cherry blossom-lined district

If you’re feeling energetic, take the train from Omotesando Station to Naka Meguro to see a more laid-back side of Tokyo. Browse the shops along either side of the river and check out some of the area’s great independent coffeehouses, like Onibus Coffee.

Naka Meguro, Tokyo. | © SnoopSnap / Shutterstock

Check out the Shibyua Crossing and enjoy a ramen dinner

Head to Shibuya to check out the sights, including Hachiko, Shibuya Crossing, and the iconic Shibuya 109 mall. It also has endless options when it comes to food. Try ramen at a restaurant where vending machines take your order instead of people, find a sushi go round joint where you order from a tablet, or check out Tengu Sakaba for izakaya fare and a friendly atmosphere.

Street scene Hachiko Shibuya Tokyo | © ROUSSEL BERNARD / Alamy Stock Photo

Drop by Tokyo’s entertainment district, Kabukicho

If you’d like to make it an early night, head to Shinjuku to wander the alleys of Kabukicho, and grab a drink in the district’s famed Golden Gai. Otherwise, stay in Shibuya and spend the night at one of the many live music venues, clubs, or DJ bars in the area.

Kabukicho, Tokyo. | © Photo Japan / Alamy Stock Photo

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