What To Do in 3 Days in Tokyo

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I only had 3 days in Tokyo when I visited the city for the first time. While most of my friends said that this was crazy and not nearly enough time to see much, those who’ve been to Tokyo can agree that for basic tourism purposes, 72h in Tokyo can be enough. What can you do in Tokyo in 3 days?

What To Do in 3 Days in Tokyo

Day 1

Tokyo is a huge city with so much to do, so it’s best to get yourself oriented and find out where to go beforehand. Addresses in Tokyo are pretty much non-existent and many people don’t know where things are located, so keep this in mind when visiting the city. I was lucky enough to arrive at Haneda Airport, which is located much closer to the city center than Narita Airport.

The transportation system confused me a bit, but there were free maps available everywhere so it wasn’t a problem to find my way to Shibuya Crossing – the busiest crossroad in the world.

Shibuya crossing

 


Shibuya crossing is one of those spots you just have to see in Tokyo since it’s one of the busiest crossings in the city. It’s impressive to see how hundreds of people cross the road when the light turns green. I recommend getting to the first floor of Starbucks to see the whole scene from there. Also, see the statue of Hachikō, the world’s most loyal dog, while you’re out there.

There are plenty of bars and small restaurants in Shibuya and Shinjukuto go for a drink and try some Japanese sake. Don’t be afraid to try some even if you’re not a big fan of sake like me – sparkling strawberry sake was actually pretty tasty.

Ueno Market

Strolling around the market


If you wanna do some shopping go to either Ueno Market or/and Akihabara station. Ueno Market sells a lot of clothes and weird food, but without extensive knowledge of Japanese you might not know what they want to sell me there. Either way, it’s a great place to visit at least even if you don’t want to buy new gadgets.

Akihabara Station is famous for electronics and manga related shops (most of them are manga-gaming stations), but be prepared that unless you want to buy your new computer or camera in Japanese only you shouldn’t try to buy anything there. The lack of English electronics in Japan is due to a special export tax that must be put when they install non-Japanese languages on electronics.


At the end of the day pay a visit to Ra.agf Rabbit Cafe. The concept of animal-themed cafes has become quite popular over the last few years. You can find them with rabbits, cats, owls and even penguins! How does it work? You pay an entrance fee, get a drink, and enjoy the presence of animals running around that you can pet and feed. There was no English speaking staff at the café but I was lucky to meet two Singaporean girls who spoke Japanese and explained me everything.

rabbit cafe

Feeding a happy bunny!


Day 2

On your second day consider a morning tour to breakfast at the hub of worldwide sushi fish commerce the Tsukiji Fish Market. You may either love it or hate it, but you should at least go and see how the REAL sushi is being prepared and what locals eat.

Visit the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, as it’s a must-see spot in Tokyo. However, you need to be prepared for what the temple represents as I guess I expected to see something as impressive as the temples in Thailand so I was slightly disappointed. The temple was tiny and partially closed for tourists.

In front of the temple, there was a market with souvenirs which made the passage cramped with people and the atmosphere of the temple not very magical but I was still glad I made it there. When you’re at the temple you can test your luck with a Japanese stick prophecy for 100 JPY. I got a bad luck card but not everyone has a bad luck when traveling.Senso-ji Temple


You may also want to visit the modern zone of Tokyo, next to the Tokyo beach. It’s a nice stylish area, but I wish I went there at night to see the city lights. From the bridge, you can even spot a miniature Japanese version of the Statue of Liberty.bridge


It might sound hilarious, but the Fukuro no Mise Owl Cafe was the greatest part of my visit to Tokyo, so I’d say don’t skip this place on your visit. You may have to wait for a few hours because the cafe doesn’t take telephone reservations but you can always pop in to book an appointment for the same day. The whole experience costs 2000 JPY and it’s definitely worth it if you always wanted to play with owls and getting to pet 10 of them at the same time.

owl cafe tokyo

Mad owl! 😉


Day 3

You can’t leave Tokyo without trying an awesome Shabu Shabu dinner. For less than 4000 JPY you can get stuffed with absolutely anything as it’s all you can eat pot. dinner


If you ask me what to skip… I’d skip Ueno Gardens as they were just awful! I felt like I was visiting a theme park with a Starbucks on one side and stalls selling sweets on the other. Apart from that, there was a lot of cement and many people with balloons who had just visited the zoo located next door.

You can take a train to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens instead and see the gardens for 300 JPY. I don’t want to sound mean, but the Japanese garden I visited in Sydney was much nicer than this one. Maybe it’s my subjective opinion, but I was convinced that Japanese style gardens were always taken care of so imagine my surprise when I saw that the water had a lot of ugly looking mud in it and the rice field had changed into a toilet for ducks.


Information for visiting Tokyo:

  • Most metro stations in Tokyo have English signs, but the system can get confusing. Get a free map beforehand in order not to get lost. Also, remember that public transportation isn’t working 24/7 in Tokyo, so catch the last train before 11 pm.
  • As many streets have no name and not everyone speaks English consider renting a wireless router. It will allow you to use Google Maps.
  • It can be surprisingly difficult to find an ATM that accepts foreign cards, even in Tokyo. The easiest place to get money is an ATM at 7-Eleven.
  • How to behave in Japan? Find out here!
  • Trick for saving on water:  If you want to save money on water get a LifeStraw Water Bottle. It’s a water bottle with a special filter that will allow you to drink tap water (or even some from the pond, puddle or waterfall) everywhere!

Finding Accommodation:

There are plenty of amazing hotels, hostels and even capsule hotels in the city! While you may need to book in advance, as when I went all the capsule hotels were fully booked, you can easily find a nice affordable place. Here are my suggestions:
First Cabin Tsukiji – great capsule hotel in the center of the city.
Oak Zen Hostel – hostel that feels like a hotel, moreover super close to the metro station.
Tokyo Hikari Guesthouse – budget-friendly guesthouse with private rooms.
Park Hyatt Hotel – have you seen ‘Lost in Translation‘? That’s the hotel!


Suggested Guides for Tokyo:


ARRANGE YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE

Don’t forget to arrange a health insurance before heading to Japan. The easiest and the most reliable travel insurance is World Nomads Travel Insurance. Get it before your trip to avoid unnecessary troubles that might ruin your holidays!

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19 Comments

  1. 1997 ford explorer www.youtube.com
    Jun 22, 2014 / 4:20 am

    These are really impressive ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some nice factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

  2. bill Clinton
    Jul 12, 2014 / 10:14 pm

    Wow great article, I’ll try and visit the owls on my trip

    • Anna
      Aug 4, 2014 / 10:11 pm

      I’m sure you won’t regret this!

  3. Veera Bianca / Wanderlust Expert
    Jul 20, 2014 / 5:22 pm

    Hey, thanks for sharing the link to your blog on Facebook! 🙂 I’ve actually been reading your Japan tips before! The owl cafe sounds really interesting, but I am a little bit concerned about how they are treated and where are they originally from? Do you have any idea on this topic?

    • Anna
      Jul 20, 2014 / 7:28 pm

      No worries Veera 🙂
      From what I saw the owls are being treated very well. Some owls were quite scared, so you couldn’t touch them – same with injured ones. Actually some of them were customers’ pets who were ‘renting’ them to a cafe for a few days.

  4. Nov 16, 2014 / 5:49 pm

    The owl cafe sounds all kinds of awesome! I think I will find away to fit that into my Tokyo experience. Does that include food as well?

    • Nov 17, 2014 / 8:54 pm

      You get a free drink, but trust me – owls are so cute that you don’t even care about your drink 😉

  5. Blinky Bill of Australia
    Nov 21, 2014 / 1:59 am

    Sounds like you didn’t enjoy Tokyo nearly enough. I’ve visited Japan on many occasions and unless you do your homework before hand, you will more than likely get caught-up in a whirlpool of people and get swept along with the crowd, and that can be exhausting. It was for me anyway. My rule is ‘Tokyo for business & the lovely Japanese countryside for R&R’. We all have to start somewhere, so of course ‘why not Tokyo’. However once you venture into the rurals of Japan, you will want to return over & over again. My tip: Visit the island of Kyushu. Lovely countryside, wonderful people, delicious food & take the bullet train to have a fantastic view of the towns, cities, paddies, mountains & lakes as you whiz along. It’s amazing & cheap on a JR Rail Pass.

    By the way that picture ‘The Sydney Japanese Gardens’, I think may be the Chinese Gardens in China Town Sydney. In Japan there are some fantastic gardens that the tourism people will happily point you to.

    • Nov 21, 2014 / 5:07 pm

      I definitely want to return one day, this time to enjoy the southern part of the country 😉
      The gardens in Sydney weren’t in Chinatown. They’re located right next to the harbor.

  6. Richal
    Jan 13, 2015 / 1:36 am

    Hi. Nice blog:) I just wanna ask where the owl resto is located.. Ill go to tokyo nxt week:) thanks and your blogs are really helpful.

  7. Amber Dixon
    May 20, 2015 / 4:58 am

    I think you have missed out on a lot of places in Tokyo. If you love shopping Harajuku is a must visit place, I spent a good time at Ghibli Museum with my 2 kids, they loved it. You also missed the Tsukiji Fish Market, I love seafood so this was a must visit place for me. I had gone to Tokyo for 3 days as well and had taken help from an itinerary planner and followed a plan at http://www.triphobo.com/tokyo-itinerary-544211a4e70545464200023e, so I got to see a lot of places and also did a bit of shopping. The one thing that you enjoyed and I missed is the themed cafes, have added it to my next trip to tokyo with kids 🙂

    • May 20, 2015 / 2:45 pm

      I went to the Fish Market actually 🙂

      • Amber Dixon
        May 21, 2015 / 4:17 am

        Hope you were not disappointed with the experience. 🙂

  8. Stewart
    Nov 26, 2015 / 12:19 am

    Hi Anna some great reading and advice on your blog i look forward to travelling to Japan in the near future 🙂

  9. Hika
    Oct 24, 2016 / 1:34 pm

    Hello! I am a Japanese;) Thank you for visiting my country!
    If you want to go more places in Tokyo, I will show you around!!

    • Oct 24, 2016 / 10:24 pm

      I’m dying to see more of Japan! Such a great country 🙂

  10. CY
    May 8, 2017 / 8:09 am

    Japan is a very diversified country with 47 prefectures. Everyday I keep having something new added onto my bucket list, even after living here for over 10 years. You’d want to spend more than just 3 days. If you know the animation of Ghibli studio call Laputa – Castle in the Sky, there is actually a Laputa in Hyogo. The whole castle looks like is above the cloud.

    There’s a colorful canyon in Nagano which is absolutely calendar worthy. It will take you 9 hours one way to hike to the place but it would be a life time experience spending a night camping there.

    There are a lot lot more other places to visit in Japan. These are just two of those on my bucket list.

  11. Jul 16, 2017 / 9:01 am

    nice write up! that rabbit cafe sounds awesome, such a fun city to visit sad we missed that cafe

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