Monday, March 16, 2015

Planning for your trip to Tokyo

Updated on February-28-2016

Featured article in issue 40 of MyM: The official magazine of MCM Expo Group 

Why should you plan your own trip to Tokyo or Japan instead of joining a guided tour? because it is more adventurous, flexible, and fun!

Moderate to large size guided tours are unlikely to take the entire group to the best sushi or ramen restaurants simply because of the long wait in line and lack of profit for the tour company.

Majority of the all-inclusive guided tours are likely to put you on a tour bus and take you to very touristy places instead of showing you the real Tokyo/Japan when you can only experience on foot or when taking the city's public transportation.
How many days in Tokyo Japan. Plan, Travel, trip, vacation, holiday, tour. Odaiba. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
View from Odaiba, Tokyo Bay.

- To read about my recommendations of affordable, Reasonable, Convenient hotels in Tokyo, visit: Affordable Cheap Reasonable Hotels in Tokyo
- To read about my recommendations of affordable and reasonable hotels in OSAKA, visit: Osaka Reasonable Affordable Hotels
- To read about how to plan your trip to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, visit: Planning your trip to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe in Japan
- To read about the best way to exchange your money, visit: Money Exchange ATM credit card issue in Tokyo Japan

After going through the preparation process for the trip, reading about sightseeing spots, and booking your flight ticket, more detailed planning should be started as early as possible. I highly recommend planning and organizing your own trip. This type of travel is more individualized to different people's interest. However, different options are out there if you Google popular commercialized travel websites. There are also options for short guided tours that you can join after you arrive in Tokyo. Planning your own trip definitely helps you understand the sightseeing spots much better and the your wonderful travel memory will last much longer. There are partially, fully guided tours and All-Inclusive-Tour options available, services can be found on tour companies sites of JTB and HIS.

How many days in Tokyo, Japan?

For first time travelers to Japan, I recommend at least 3 to 5 days if you are only visiting Tokyo. If you are planning to visit other parts of Japan such as Kyoto or Osaka, I would recommend at least 7 to 10 days for the duration of your entire trip and split it in half for Tokyo, the other half for other cities. Readers often ask me how many days minimum they need for Tokyo, and I often tell people the longer the better. Tokyo is an ever evolving city that runs 24 hours a day, no one will ever get bored while in Tokyo.

Sightseeing Spots

How many days in Tokyo Japan. Plan, Travel, trip, vacation, holiday, tour; Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Arcade, Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Arcade, Tokyo.

I would recommend new Tokyo travelers to divide their days from 8am to 10pm into 4 parts: Morning, Early afternoon, Evening and Night time. Fit in the visits for temples, palaces and shopping for the morning and early afternoon. Schedule bustling nightlife spots in Evening and Night time slots. Theme parks such as Tokyo Disneyland and Sanrio Puroland could easily take up the entire day. There are no rules on how people travel, but having a schedule is good way to organize ideas of interest.

Sample itinerary/schedule

You may try to break up your day into 4 parts:
From 1 day, 3 days, 5 Days Tokyo Trip and beyond

Day 1
How many days in Tokyo Japan. Plan,  Travel, trip, vacation, holiday, tour. Asakusa. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Asakusa Nakamise Shopping Street
Morning: Asakusa Temple
Early Afternoon: Akihabara for Electronics/Anime/Maid Cafe
Evening: Tokyo Tower
Night Time: Nightlife in Roppongi

Day 2
How many days in Tokyo Japan. Plan, Travel, trip, vacation, holiday, tour. Shinjuku Kabukicho, Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Bustling street of Tokyo Shinjuku Kabukicho
Morning: Tsukiji fish market for your gastronomy adventure.
Early Afternoon: Trolling in Ikebukuro area.
Evening: Ginza for your luxurious shopping experience.
Night Time: Shinjuku Kabukicho, Tokyo's infamous entertainment district. The real sleepless town/district. Enter at your own risk...

Day 3
How many days in Tokyo Japan. Plan, Travel, trip, vacation, holiday, tour. Odaiba. Gundam Robot. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Life size Gundam Robot in Tokyo Odaiba
Morning: Meiji Jingu Shrine
Early Afternoon: Kichijoji area
Evening: Odaiba man-made island of Tokyo bay. 
Night Time: Tokyo City View Observatory.

Day 4
How many days in Tokyo Japan. Plan, Travel, trip, vacation, holiday, tour. Shibuya Scramble Crossing. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Tokyo Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Morning: Spend some time enjoying hotel buffet breakfast if your hotel offers it.
Early Afternoon: Harajuku kawaii wonderland
Evening: Trolling in Shimokitazawa area.
Night Time: Shibuya area to experience the scramble crossing and Hachiko statue.

Day 5
How many days in Tokyo Japan. Plan, Travel, trip, vacation, holiday, tour. Ueno, Ameyokocho. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Street food vendors at Tokyo Ueno Ameyokocho
Morning: Ueno Ameyokocho
Early Afternoon: Yokohama area for Ramen Museum.
Evening: Yokohama Chinatown.
Night Time: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory


Experiences such as Sumo, baseball game, Samurai/Ninja, and Tea ceremony can be easily arranged by local tour company such as Viator Tours. These specialty tours can easily take up half to entire day.


How many days in Tokyo Japan. Plan, Travel, trip, vacation, holiday, tour. Asakusa. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Yakitori, Tokyo Japan.
Popular food/dishes are: Sushi, Ramen, Yakitori, Tempura, Unagi-don, Beef bowls, Oden, Shabu-Shabu, Yakiniku, Sukiyaki, ethnic cuisine, Udon, MOS rice burger, Curry rice, Wagyu beef steak, Tonkatsu, Oyakodon, Omlet rice, Izakaya dishes.

I recommend eating like a Tokyoite while in Tokyo. Why stick with McDonald's and Sharky's pizza when you visit Japan? Food is as good as it gets with regard to the freshness and hygiene. Quality of the food is the best of the world at reasonable prices. Certain Ramen shops and revolving sushi restaurants open 24 hours, so one can practically have anything at anytime of the day. Just bring a few empty stomachs with you to Tokyo.

For travelers who already have some experiences with Tokyo or are familiar with its transportation system, I recommend coming up with a list of must-visit spots and must-have food ahead of time. Be flexible with regard to what day to visit and eat certain item, just cross out or check off from your must-visit or must-eat list as you proceed with your trip in Tokyo. I have been doing this type of trips for the past few years, and I found myself able to check off most of the items on my lists.

Check the Weather Forecast

Look up weather channel or website for the forecast of Tokyo a few days before you get to Tokyo. Plan outdoor activities (such as Tokyo Disneyland, Sanrio Puroland) on sunny days and plan indoor activities (such as shopping, special dinning experiences, baseball game at Tokyo dome) on days when there is a high probability of raining.

Japan Rail Pass

I did meticulously planned a 14-day trip to Japan using the Japan Rail Pass in May, 2010. I went from Kumamoto in Kyushuu all the way to Furano in Hokkaido, visiting many places along the route. JR Rail Pass trips take a lot more planning, researching, and repeated modification of the itinerary. The use of the JR rail pass and the story of the trip will be covered in THE JOURNEY series in my future posts.

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