24 Hours In Tokyo

Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world. This is a hyperactive city that’s always on the move and constantly changing. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself with 24 hours in this incredible city then you can use the below guide to get a taste of what it has to offer.

8am: Tsukiji Fish Market

The iconic Tsukiji Market is a must see for anyone who comes to Tokyo. This is especially true as this market is slated to close in November 2016. Arrive early in the morning after the tuna auctions (which takes place between 5 and 6 am) to explore this massive market. You’ll be amazed by the variety of fish (both live and frozen) that’s on display and the manic activity of vendors and customers buying and selling fish in front of you. A word of caution, as you’re doing your tour make sure you stay in the designated visitor paths so you don’t disturb the vendors who are trying sell their products.

Directions: The closest station is Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Toei Oedo subway line. The second closest is Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya subway line (a few minutes’ walk).

10:30am: Sushi Breakfast In Tsukiji’s Outer Market

Next up is the breakfast of champions, sushi. Right next to Tsukiji is an outer market known as Jogai Shijo, which is lined with endless rows of small sushi parlors and restaurants. This is an opportunity to eat the freshest fish imaginable. Don’t be surprised if you find lines on many these parlors. Usually the best places have the longest lines.

If you want to test your luck then head over to Sushidai(寿司大)which is one the most recommended sushi parlors in the outer market. This is a small 13 counter-seat shop that has the absolute best sushi.

Address: 5-2-1 Tsikiji Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0045 / Phone: 03-3547-6797

12pm: Sensoji Temple In Asakusa

In the afternoon head over to the Sensoji Temple. This is one of the premiere tourist destinations in Tokyo. Not only will you get to see one of the best temples in the city, but just in front of it is Nakamise-Dori Street which is a bustling narrow lane that’s filled to the brim with small stores selling incredible street food, sweets and trinkets. It offers a lively fun atmosphere for window shopping through these stalls.

At the end of the street is a massive red gate that leads into the Sensoji Temple grounds. This temple is big, red and bold. Right next to it is a 5 story pagoda. Take your time taking in the sights and viewing these amazing buildings.

Before you leave find out your fortune by trying “Omikuji”. There are “Omikuji” stations on both sides of the entrance. You’ll see people shaking wooden sticks from a silver praying box. These sticks have a number on them that maps to a fortune. If it’s a bad fortune make sure you tie it to a prayer wall to get rid of the bad luck!

Directions: The Sensoji Temple is a few steps from Asakusa Station, served by the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line and Tobu Railways.

2PM: Unwind in Yoyogi Park 

Yoyogi park is my favorite park in Tokyo and its a great way to relax, especially after the hyperactivity in Tsukiji market and the packed grounds of the Sensoji Temple. This is a beautiful park with lots of space to walk around, unwind and enjoy the nature. Don’t be surprised if you come across club meetings and practice sessions as Yoyogi it’s a popular meeting place for social groups. Spend an hour in the park taking in the scenery and people watching.

Directions: Take the JR Yamanote line to Harajuku, Omotesando exit, or the Chiyoda line to Yoyogi-koen, exit 4.

3PM: Meji Shrine

Right next to Yoyogi is the Meji Shrine which is considered by most people as THE must see shrine in Tokyo. It was founded in 1920 to commemorate the souls for Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. A massive torii gate stands at the entrance of the Shrine leading to a long path that’s shaded by beautiful trees. Meji Shrine is very popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Beyond the Shrine the massive grounds holds two annex museums,  a traditional teahouse and Tokyo’s best lily garden.

Directions: Closest stations are Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line or Meiji-jingu-mae Station on the Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Subway Lines.

4PM: Watch the “Shibuya Shuffle” at Starbucks

After your done with Meji Shrine take the subway to the main Shibuya square . This iconic street intersection has been filmed in many movies and during it’s peak hours it’s one of the busiest intersections in the world. Go to the Starbucks at the square, grab a drink and head up to the first floor. Their windows face the square and you can watch the “Shibuya Shuffle” from an elevated view. It’s fascinating to see so many people scramble across the street like an army of ants.

As an added bonus checkout the statue of Hachikō, a famous Akita Inu, that waited at the entrance of the station for the return of its beloved (deceased) owner until the day it died.

Directions: Shibuya square is in front of Shibuya Station

5pm: Akihabara

Visitors seeing Akihabara for the first time can be overwhelmed. It’s an audiovisual attack on the senses. The tall buildings are lined with lights and screens that shine down on the streets, store clerks scream for the attention of people passing by and young women dressed in maid costumes try to lure patrons into the “maid cafes”. It takes some time to process all the stimulation that bombards your senses.

Akihabara is primarily known as the Electronics district of Tokyo. When you visit, make sure that you go into Yodobashi which is a massive electronics store. This place is guaranteed to have whatever high tech gizmo your heart desires. Walk down the main avenue (Chuo Dori), checkout the smaller stores and grab some tasty Japanese street food along the way.

Finally  make sure to checkout one of the many arcades that line this street. The gamer industry is huge in Japan and there’s no age limit for geeking out on these games. Most of the people you’ll see at the arcades are adults. The immensely popular claw machines is a national addiction. Everyone plays it.  That said, I did see a father playing a claw machine with his sleeping baby strapped to his back. That was a sight crying out for an intervention.

Directions: Closest station is Akihabara station that is serviced by both JR and Metro lines.

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