Tokyo doesn’t do things by halves – it is one of the world’s biggest cities, it has the world’s tallest tower, it has the most Michelin-starred restaurants… For all its bright lights, au fait trends and glass towers, Tokyo is not as modern as it appears, with a layer of rich culture and unexpected tradition just under the surface. Visitors can get a taste of both of these sides of the city, with traditional temples and high end shopping malls, interspersed with plenty of delicious food on their holiday to Japan.
Here’s how to spend the perfect 48 hours in Tokyo.
Hop on the metro and head to the Asakusa district and head up to the dizzy heights of the Tokyo Skytree. At 634 metres tall, this is the world’s tallest tower and offers amazing views over the city and, if you’re lucky, to Mount Fuji beyond. Once you’ve had your fill of the views, head back down and wander over to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest and most venerated temple. Always bustling with worshipping locals and tourists alike, there is a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere. Browse the stalls of the street market, grab some of the cooked-to-order snacks or have a wander through the narrow alleys nearby to find a more substantial lunch.
Ueno Park is packed full of fascinating museums and galleries – take your pick from the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Nature and Science or, our recommendation, the Tokyo National Museum. Here you can wander through an impressive collection of art and artefacts, from Edo paintings to kimonos.
The buzzing district of Shibuya with its neon billboards and plentiful bars and restaurants is the perfect place to spend an evening. Disembark the train at Shibuya Station to see and experience the famous road crossing, before browsing through some of the many boutique shops and grabbing a bite to eat. Whilst here, why not partake in the ultimate Japanese pastime and belt out a bit of karaoke?
Whilst it is possible to catch the 5am tuna auctions at Tsukiji Fish Market, rolling up at 9am when the market properly opens still gives you plenty to see and experience. Restaurateurs and ordinary people alike shop here for fish and you can grab a sushi breakfast at one of the many tiny shops. Take a little time out of the hustle and bustle of the city in Yoyogi Park. The perfect place to people watch, you’ll also find the Shinto Meiji Jingu Shrine at its heart, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, for some quiet reflection.
Pop on the metro to the huge Tokyo Central terminal where you can stop for lunch on the station’s ‘Ramen Street’. Pick your food from the vending machine outside the shop and hand your ticket over to the staff to get a steaming hot bowl of delicious noodle soup.
Right next door to Tokyo Station is Chiyoda, the district at the very heart of old Edo Tokyo, and called the ‘centre of Japan’ by many. Of particular interest in the area is the Imperial Palace, home to the royal family – you can see the buildings and walk in some of its gardens. The area also houses Hibiya Park, the National Museum of Modern Art and Yasukuni Shrine.
From here wander into Ginza, Tokyo’s luxury shopping and entertainment district. There is interesting architecture, luxury brands and twinkling neon lights to admire, and tea houses to visit for a traditional hot beverage.
You’ve now spent the perfect 48 hours in Tokyo! Find out even more on our Tokyo destination page.
For the lowdown on when to go, take a look at our Best Time to Visit Japan page
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