5 Days in Tokyo | The Best Way to See the City
If you’re only spending 5 days in Tokyo, don’t fret – there’s a lot you can still see. Read this guide to learn more about how to maximize your precious time.
I left Tokyo after four years and felt like that still wasn’t enough time. But, if you’re only there for five days, there’s still a lot you can do.
If you really want to maximize your time and get to know Tokyo on a truly deeper level, I recommend my book The Hidden Tokyo Neighborhood Guide. This guidebook goes into specific detail of nearly 30 of Tokyo’s top neighborhoods, organized by ward. Each section packs a brilliant list of Tokyo’s most hidden recommendations for things to see and places to eat. This guidebook is specifically designed to help you experience the best of this city in the most efficient possible way.
For each of these days, of course you can change up the order.
Day 1 | Start the day in The Shibuya Ward
The Shibuya Ward
The best place to start exploring is in the Shibuya Ward. You can easily spend the entire day and night here. The Shibuya Ward doesn’t just include Shibuya, but it’s also home to Daikanyama and Harajuku.
Train Stations: Shibuya Station, Meiji Jinju Mae, Harajuku & Daikanyama
I recommend starting the day in either the Daikanyama or Harajuku neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are best seen during the day and are perfect for some side-street exploring.
Daikanyama is one of Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhoods with some nice places to brunch and boutique shop. Harajuku is of course on the younger and funkier side of Tokyo’s fashion seen. It’s where you can see the epicenter of Lolita fashion culture.
While in Harajuku, you can get off at Meiji Jinju Mae Station to see the Meiji Shrine. This is also right close to Harajuku’s main street, Takeshita Dori. So, spend an hour wandering my favorite shrine in Tokyo and then hit up Harajuku’s colorful neighborhood.
Afterwards, wander over to the more sophisticated neighborhoods of Omotesando and Aoyama. Lastly, end the night in Shibuya Crossing where the nightlife filled and fun.
Day 2 | Exploring Shinjuku
The Shinjuku Ward
The Shinjuku Ward has some of Tokyo’s best free views and nightlife.
Train Stations: Shinjuku Station is the main station.
Shinjuku is ripe for exploring if you’re into photography. Tokyo’s Camera Town is located only a few minutes away from Shinjuku’s West Exit. You can find a hub of quality used camera shops where you can purchase new equipment tax-free.
Shinjuku is also home to some of Tokyo’s best free views, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Lastly, you can find some of the best nightlife in the city at both Omoide Yokocho and the famous Golden Gai. Here, you’ll find a dense network of local, small bars and yakitori stalls.
Day 3 | Take a Trip to Kamakura
Kamakura is the perfect day trip in Tokyo to get your fill of traditional Japanese culture and nature.
Train Station: Take the train Kamakura Station and explore the area on foot. There are bus options too if you’re not up for walking.
I don’t recommend a trip to Tokyo without seeing Kamakura. It’s one of the richest places in Japan in terms of culture and nature. You have some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Japan and outside of the city. There’s also a hub of Zen Buddhist temples to explore. Kamakura is the seat of the old shogunate as well as an epicenter of Zen Buddhism in Tokyo. Because of this, you can also find some of the best vegan and vegetarian food options due to monks’ dietary restrictions. You can find a number of these recommendations in my book The Hidden Tokyo Neighborhood Guide.
Day 4 | Explore Old Tokyo
Asakusa, Yanaka, Sumida
There’s a hub of Shitamachi (Old Tokyo) influence around the city to explore. These districts are the best for exploring this more nostalgic side of the city.
Train Stations: Yanaka, Asakusa, Nihonbashi
One of the best parts of this city is its Shitamachi presence. You have one of the most modern cities in the world and yet, you can also step back in time. Yanaka, Asakusa, and the Sumida neighborhoods offer a great experience. You can walk through old cemeteries, visit the Shitamachi Museum or even go to a sumo match. Consult my guidebook for specific details on where to find the best experiences in each of these neighborhoods.
Day 5 | Roppongi's Art, Architecture & nightlife
Roppongi is where you can find some of the city’s most modern architecture and best nightlife.
Train Station: Take the train to Roppongi Station
It’s hard to pick a favorite neighborhood in Tokyo, but Roppongi is up there precisely because it offers so much. You have some of the city’s finest modern architecture, art, and nightlife. It’s also one to my favorite view in all of Tokyo – The Mori Tower Observation Deck.
Take the train to Roppongi and get off at Tokyo Midtown Mall. You’ll find yourself in one of the most beautifully designed pieces of architecture in the city. Lastly, The National Art Center is a must-see – and it’s free. Just wander inside and prepare to gasp in awe of the architecture.
Like most complex things in life, it’s easy to oversimplify its complexity without knowing it. That’s precisely why I wrote The Hidden Tokyo Neighborhood Guidebook. I’ve designed this book to leave you actually knowing Tokyo – the most complex city in the world. Learn more.