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1 day in Tokyo: The ultimate 24 hours in Tokyo itinerary

Spending 1 day in Tokyo might just about give you an idea of how incredible Japan's capital is. Here's your complete 24 hours in Tokyo itinerary

Japanese salaryman passing a local coffee joint in Shibuya

Discover the magic of Japan's capital with my ultimate one-day Tokyo itinerary. As a city brimming with diverse experiences, Tokyo offers a blend of great experiences, mouthwatering cuisine, and unique pop culture. It's not just the mesmerizing neon lights and multi-story shopping centres that define Tokyo; tranquil moments of reflection and harmony can be found within its numerous shrines and temples too.

Tokyo is a huge metropolis with so much waiting to be discovered. While 24 hours in Tokyo may not be enough to explore all its facets, my Tokyo guide will help you make the most of your day, leaving you eager to return for more. You'll see Shibuya crossing, the top attraction in the city, do some shopping, eat ramen, see some spiritual and cultural side of Japan, try street food and wander through Tokyo's most colourful streets.

Dive into the best things to do in Tokyo in one day below.

1 day in Tokyo itinerary

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Where to stay in Tokyo for 1-2 night

Assuming you need one or two nights in Tokyo, then I recommend that you find a hotel either in Shibuya or in central Tokyo, right by the Tokyo station. This allows you to explore with ease and, again, maximize your time seeing attractions and spending less changing subways and metro lines.

For a complete breakdown on all important areas in Tokyo and reviews of my favourite hotels, read my where to stay in Tokyo article. I talk about different areas and why they are most suitable for your type of travel style and budget. I also recommend my favourite hotels in Tokyo, organized by budget.

For more hotels and reviews, I recommend using Booking.com for accommodation in Tokyo.

Apartments and houses in Tokyo

How to spend 24 hours in Tokyo?

Get ready because this will be a packed day in Tokyo. By the end of it, I'm sure you will be planning your next trip and will want to spend at least 7 days in Tokyo.

But for now, let's focus on the task at hand and go on an adventure. I made this itinerary to maximize your time. It may seem like a lot, and in the grand scheme of things it's a fairly packed day in Tokyo, but I've done myself and I can tell you it's 100% doable. I've tried and tested this itinerary with a timer in hand to ensure you really get to see it all.

A few notes on how it's all possible:

  • Tokyo's transportation system is extremely efficient. It's fast, affordable and very much runs on time, which allows you to go from A to B without any delays.
  • To ensure you can do it all, I recommend that you get a Suica or Pasmo prepaid card. This allows you to tap in and out of all metro stations, preserving precious time. It's a prepaid card, and when you leave Tokyo you can get your money refunded.
  • I'm assuming you have a comfortable pair of shoes, and you're ready to do some walking.
  • While there are many popular restaurants I want to recommend, this is not the time to queue for them. Unless you really want to queue for an hour to eat the precious ramen in Ichiran, today is not the day.
  • I assume you will arrive from the airports to the main Tokyo station. From central Tokyo, you can take the Yamanote line to Shibuya station. Alternatively, you can take the Tokyo metro Ginza line.

Alright, now that it's all clear, it's time to start exploring. Let the 24 hours in Tokyo begin.

24 hours in Tokyo itinerary

Shibuya Crossing

Begin your day in Tokyo by making your way to Shibuya station. Now, this is a maze on its own, but carefully follow the signs for any exit and make your way outside. Now it's the time to take a moment to appreciate the fact that you are in Tokyo's most iconic district.

Look around you, take in all the sounds and colours, then prepare to cross the world's busiest pedestrian crossing. It has 2500-3000 people crossing at one given time, and throughout the day as many as 2 million people cross it. You're about to be one of them. How exhilarating!

I recommend crossing it, photographing and just taking it all in. And with that, the first stop can be ticked off the itinerary! Shibuya crossing, done!

Hachiko

Hachiko statue is located right outside the Hachiko Exit of Shibuya Station. It's just 2 This statue has become an important attraction due to the heart-warming story behind it, which symbolizes loyalty, love, and dedication.

Hachiko was an Akita dog owned by Professor Hidesaburo Ueno in the 1920s. Every day, Hachiko would accompany his owner to Shibuya Station and wait for his return from work in the evening. In 1925, Professor Ueno passed away suddenly while at work, but Hachiko continued to wait for him at the station every day for the next nine years until his death.

The story of Hachiko's unwavering loyalty touched the hearts of the Japanese people, and in 1934, a bronze statue of Hachiko was erected outside Shibuya Station to honour his devotion. Over the years, the statue has become a popular meeting spot for locals and a must-visit attraction for tourists. It serves as a symbol of love, loyalty, and the special bond between humans and their pets.

Shibuya Dog Hachiko

Shibuya Sky

Continue your day in Tokyo with a visit to Shibuya Sky, a brand-new observation deck with breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Shibuya Sky is towering at approximately 230 meters above ground level and provides a 360° open-air vantage point to take in the vast and bustling metropolis below, as well as the iconic Shibuya Crossing.

The main highlight is the Sky Stage on the 46th floor. Spot iconic landmarks part of the stunning Tokyo skyline such as Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Skytree, and even Mount Fuji on a clear day.

To ensure you make the most out of your visit and save lots of precious time, book your tickets in advance and pick the earliest slot, at 10am.

Shibuya Sky observatory at night

Centre Gai

Shibuya Center Gai is a vibrant pedestrian street that begins right next to the iconic Shibuya Starbucks. Stretching from Shibuya Scramble Crossing to Yumeji Street, this long street is brimming with shops and restaurants.

Centre Gai is perfect for doing some shopping for Japanese souvenirs. Feast your eyes on striking billboards, cutting-edge fashion, and a diverse array of retail offerings.

Feeling peckish? Center Gai has got you covered, with a multitude of dining options serving both Japanese cuisine and international dishes. Satisfy your cravings and explore everything this lively street has to offer.

Centre Gai in Shibuya at night

Don Quijote (Donki)

Located right on Centre Gai you will find the MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya Honten, one of the largest Don Quijote stores in Tokyo. Incorporating Don Quijote Shibuya into your one-day Tokyo itinerary will provide a memorable shopping experience, for sure.

Donki is a popular discount store chain in Japan and the Shibuya branch offers an incredible array of products, from electronics and cosmetics to snacks, clothing, and unique souvenirs. It's a one-stop-shop for all your shopping needs during your Tokyo trip. You'll find many quirky items at affordable prices and get to strike great deals on popular Japanese products and brands.

Escalator to a shop floor in a Donki in Tokyo

Shibuya Parco

During your one-day Tokyo itinerary, I recommend a visit to the hidden oasis at Shibuya Parco. This shopping and entertainment complex conceals a serene rooftop garden on the 10th floor. Grab a cup of coffee from one of Parco's cafés, then head to the rooftop to have a wonder and take in the views over Tokyo.

Shibuya Parco's rooftop garden provides a calm, peaceful haven where you can relax and unwind in a beautifully landscaped garden with greenery and trees. There are great views over Tokyo's skyline, quite different from what you'd see in the Shibuya Observation deck.

Shibuya Parco's rooftop garden is an unforgettable blend of urban excitement and peaceful relaxation.

Views from Shibuya Parco

Omotesando

From Shibuya Parco walk for 15 minutes towards Omotesando, Tokyo's Champs-Élysées. Take a walk along Omotesando and admire the high-end boutiques, stylish cafés, and impressive architectural designs. Depending on your preference, you can just walk along Omotesando and admire the stunning zelkova lined avenue, or check the shopping malls for a bit of shopping.

There are three main shopping malls I recommend here: Omotesando Hills, Gyre and Tokyu Plaza. I especially love Tokyu Plaza because of its unusual design and its stunning Omohara Garden at the top of the mall. Omohara garden has a stunning rooftop garden with decking wood, great fairy lights, lush greenery and awesome views.

People walking on Omotesando avenue in Tokyo

Lunch at Afuri Ramen

Afuri Ramen is a popular ramen chain in Japan, known for its signature yuzu-infused ramen, which adds a refreshing, citrusy twist to the traditional ramen experience.

Afuri's ramen broth is typically lighter and more delicate than the rich, heavy broths found in other ramen shops. They offer chicken-based broths combined with seafood, resulting in a complex and flavourful taste. The yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) adds a fragrant, tangy element to the broth, which is highly refreshing and complements the other flavours in the dish.

Afuri Ramen also made an appearance in the theworlds50best, so you know it's going to be a great experience. Afuri is about 15-minute walk from Omotesando Hills.

Meiji jingu shrine

Make your way to the southern entrance near Harajuku Station, and walk for about 10 minutes to reach the stunning Meiji Jingu Shrine. No one day in Tokyo is complete without seeing the spiritual side of Japanese culture.

Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, and it's surrounded by a beautiful forest. Pass the large wooden torii gate and enter the sacred grounds. At the main Shinto complex, you can observe locals partake in traditional Shinto practices such as offering prayers.

Consider buying a charm, or inscribing your desires on a wooden tablet called an ema. At the temple premises, numerous ema are left by visitors in hopes that the Gods will grant their wishes.

Wedding at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

Shinjuku Station

From Harajuku station, take the Tamanote line (6 minutes) to Shinjuku station. Now, Shinjuku station is the world's busiest train station. There are over 3.5 million passengers passing through daily, and you're about to be one of them.

Shinjuku is definitely a flashy, neon-lit, large billboard type of district. There's shopping, there's dinning and there is unusual entertainment here. There's also adult only type of entertainment with its famous Kabukicho district, Asia's largest red district.

But there's also the classy streets lined with skyscrapers and expensive department stores on Shinjuku San-chrome, such as Isetan.

Visiting Shinjuku Station is an experience in itself, offering a glimpse into the fast-paced life of Tokyo.

Explore Shinjuku at night and see all the cool skyscrappers and neon lights

Omoide Yokochō

Omoide Yokochō, also known as Memory Lane or Piss Alley, is a historic and atmospheric alleyway in Shinjuku, right beside the bustling Shinjuku Station. Enter this narrow, lantern-lit street that takes you back in time to post-war Japan, providing a stark contrast to the surrounding modern skyscrapers and bright lights.

Omoide Yokochō is famous for its small izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) and yakitori joints, where you can indulge in grilled skewers of meat, seafood, and vegetables. The alleyway is lined with tiny bars and eateries, many of which can only accommodate a handful of customers at a time.

This is a perfect location for photography, but I especially recommend joining a tour that takes you here for street food. You'll have better chances of trying something cool and unique.

As you stroll through Omoide Yokochō, you'll experience authentic Japanese street food and local culture with great food, drinks and fun locals. I recommend this for your dinner, so you can experience some of the street food culture in Japan as well.

Salarymen in Japan searching for fun things to do in Shinjuku

Kabukicho

End your 24 hours in Tokyo with a trip to Kabukicho, a lively entertainment and red-light district located in the heart of Shinjuku.

This is a busy adult only type area with countless bars, clubs, restaurants, karaoke establishments, and pachinko parlours. Kabukicho is also well-known for its love hotels, host and hostess clubs, and adult entertainment venues, which contribute to the area's reputation as a red-light district. It's worth noting that, recently, the district has undergone significant revitalization, with many new attractions and establishments catering to a broader range of interests.

While Kabukicho is generally safe for tourists, please be cautious and aware of your surroundings, as some parts of the district can be seedy, and scams targeting tourists are not unheard of. Stick to well-lit and populated areas, and avoid engaging with street touts or accepting invitations to bars or clubs from strangers. It's still one of the best places for night photography to enjoy all those neon lights and colourful streets.

More attractions for your 24 hours in Tokyo

As previously mentioned, I created the above itinerary to ensure you truly see the main highlights of Tokyo. I also organized your day in Tokyo in such a way that you don't need to take too many subways or walk for far too long. I maximized your time to eat, shop, see and do a bit of everything. This itinerary is my personal favourite, but I appreciate that there are some other top attractions you might want to add or replace.

Tsukiji fish market - Often highlighted in many itineraries, Tsukiji fish market is now a fish and fresh produce market with stalls. The main fish market has moved to Toyosu market, including the famed tuna auction. While I do recommend Tsukiji fish market, I believe it's a little out of the way, hence why I didn't include it in my itinerary. Nevertheless, this is a great attraction in Tokyo and a must-do, especially if you want a fresh sushi breakfast.

Tsukiji Market stalls at night when it

Tokyo Imperial palace - The Imperial Palace, located in central Tokyo, is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan and an iconic symbol of the nation's history and culture. Surrounded by lush gardens, ancient stone walls, and a serene moat, the palace offers a stark contrast to the bustling city that surrounds it. Though the inner grounds are mostly off-limits to the public, you can explore the picturesque East Gardens, which showcase a beautiful blend of traditional Japanese landscaping and modern horticulture. The gardens are not open everyday, making it difficult to add them to my itinerary as a definitive.

The gardens at the Imperial Palace Tokyo

Roppongi Hills - There is so much to do and experience in Roppongi Hills. I especially love the Mori Art Museum and the Mori Observation Deck at the top of Mori Tower. If you are not too tired after doing the above itinerary, I absolutely recommend that you take the Tokyo metro Marunouchi Line + Tokyo metro Hibiya Line from Shinjuku to Roppongi. The journey takes about 30 minutes. There is a catch though, as the last admission is at 9pm, so be mindful before you begin your journey. Having said, there are plenty of nightclubs in Roppongi, most of which actually cater to foreign tourists.

View from Roppongi in Tokyo

Yoyogi Park - Located right next to Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park is one of my favourite parks in Tokyo. It's especially beautiful during the cherry blossom season or koyo festival. However, Yoyogi Park is best explored on foot and it's huge. It can take 2-3 hours just to walk around it and admire all the beautiful landscapes. I do think your 24 hours in Tokyo can be spent exploring more unique locations. Nevertheless, it's a gorgeous attraction to add to the list.

Yoyogi Park Tokyo Autumn Red Leaves

Shinjuku Gyoen - Oh, such a gorgeous national garden. It has everything you would expect from a large park in Tokyo. It features superb landscaped gardens, including a Japanese garden and an English garden. It has a pond, stunning views of the skyscrapers, it even features a beautiful glasshouse. But Shinjuku Gyoen is large and a bit of a maze. One wrong turn, and you can find yourself exploring this surreal park for hours. Of course, this is not a bad thing, but when you have just 1 day in Tokyo, you will want to tick as many places off the box as possible.

Shinjuku skyscrapers from Shinjuku National Park

Sensoji temple - I bet this is quite controversial, as I left one of the main temples in Tokyo off the itinerary. If you want to add it to your day in Tokyo, then visiting as early morning as possible is a must. Ideally, you will do it just before you start this itinerary. Sensoji can get very crowded. Visit it just at sunrise and admire it all. But be mindful that it's 40 minutes on a subway away from Shibuya Station.

Senso-ji temple in Asakusa Tokyo

Tips for first time visitors

  • To stay connected, rent a pocket Wi-Fi device or buy a prepaid SIM card. This will help you use navigation apps, use a translator, and do some extra research on the go. I recommend ordering it in advance. You can pick it up at the arrivals at Narita airport or Haneda airport.
  • Tokyo's public system can be overwhelming, but with the use of Google Maps, it's super easy to get around. The metro lines are colour coded for your ease and Google Maps even tells you in real time the next train, the best car for boarding and where to make connections.
  • While cards are widely accepted, many small establishments, particularly in older neighbourhoods, still prefer cash. Take some Japanese yen with you. Major banks in Japan now accept international cards for cash withdrawals, too. Speaking of money, check out how expensive Japan really is.
  • Be aware of Japanese customs and manners such as removing your shoes before entering someone's home or specific rooms in restaurants, bowing as a form of greeting, and not tipping at restaurants.
  • Knowing a few simple Japanese phrases can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable. If you're serious about learning Japanese, I recommend Japanese with Aimee. Use "YCTRAVEL" when you sign up and get 10% discount on the course. It's a great deal, right?
  • For those on a budget, visit Japanese convenience stores, or "konbini," for snacks, drinks, and meals at affordable prices. You can also grab a quick drink or bite from a vending machine.

Tokyo Shibuya crossing from Shibuya Hikarie

Useful resources for first timers

  • Check all the dos and don'ts for when you are planning your first trip to Japan.
  • Learn what to pack for Japan to ensure you have the perfect wardrobe for every season.
  • When planning your first trip to Tokyo, it's a good ideal to check the best time to visit Japan.
  • I highly recommend booking most of your activities in Tokyo in advance. Popular attractions can book up in advance, so it's always best to have all your tickets ready. This also means less queuing.
  • If you wish to stay a little extra in Japan, make sure to check our Japan itineraries with details on where to go, and how to plan the perfect trip. For this, I recommend that you invest in a JR Pass to save you lots of money.
  • When it comes to customs and manners, Japan can be fairly peculiar, which is the joy of seeing such a different country! I strongly suggest that you get our Japanese customs and manners book, with fun Japanese illustrations and crucial information on how you should behave in various scenarios when visiting Tokyo!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is one day enough in Tokyo?

    One day is not enough to fully explore Tokyo, as the city is a megapolis with countless attractions. A well-planned one-day itinerary can definitely give you a taster of what the city is all about. In my one-day itinerary you get to see the top attractions like Shibuya Crossing, Meiji Shrine, Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku, eat ramen, try street food, enjoy some culture, get to purchase souvenirs and photograph the best iconic spots. However, I am certain, you will come back for more.

  • How to explore Tokyo in one day?

    A day is quite limited to fully experience Tokyo, but with careful planning, you can certainly explore some of its key highlights. Here's a suggested itinerary that should give you a taste of both the traditional and modern aspects of Tokyo:

    • 1. Shibuya Crossing (sightseeing)
    • 2. Hachiko (sightseeing)
    • 3. Shibuya Sky (popular attraction)
    • 4. Centre Gai (ideal for shopping)
    • 5. Don Quijote (Donki) (souvenirs)
    • 6. Shibuya Parco (great views)
    • 7. Omotesando (sightseeing & shopping)
    • 8. Lunch at Afuri Ramen (food)
    • 9. Meiji jingu shrine (cultural attraction)
    • 10. Shinjuku Station (great for shopping)
    • 11. Omoide Yokochō (street food)
    • 12. Kabukicho (nightlife)
  • How much would a day in Tokyo cost?

    Here's a rough estimate of daily expenses for different types of travellers:

    • Budget traveller: ¥4,000 - ¥6,000 ($30-$45)
      • Inexpensive meals: ¥800 - ¥1,500 per meal
      • Public transportation: ¥500 - ¥1,500
      • Attractions and activities: ¥1,000 - ¥3,000
    • Mid-range traveller: ¥10,000 - ¥15,000 ($75-$112)
      • Mid-range meals: ¥1,500 - ¥3,500 per meal
      • Public transportation or taxis: ¥1,000 - ¥3,000
      • Attractions and activities: ¥3,000 - ¥6,000
    • Luxury traveller: ¥25,000 and above ($185+)
      • Fine dining: ¥5,000 - ¥10,000 per meal
      • Taxis or private transportation: ¥5,000 - ¥10,000
      • Attractions, activities, and experiences: ¥10,000 and above
  • Is Tokyo a 24 hour city?

    Yes, Tokyo is a 24-hour city. While not all businesses and attractions are open 24/7, there is always something going on in Tokyo at any given hour. Many restaurants, especially in busy districts like Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Roppongi, stay open until the early hours of the morning, as do numerous karaoke places and bars.

    The district of Shinjuku is particularly known for its nightlife, featuring areas like Kabukicho (an entertainment and red-light district) and Golden Gai, which are busy well into the night.

    Konbini like 7-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart are open 24 hours a day. Some of the larger Don Quijote discount stores, offering everything from groceries to electronics and clothing, are also open 24 hours.

    In addition, Tokyo is home to multiple 24-hour internet and manga cafes, where customers can read manga, use computers, and even sleep on couches or in private booths overnight.

    Public transportation, however, does not run 24/7. Trains and buses generally start around 5 AM and stop around midnight or 1 AM, depending on the line. Taxis and ride shares are available during these hours, but please note that taxi rates increase late at night.

  • What to do in Tokyo for half a day?

    If you only have half a day to explore Tokyo, it's important to prioritize and focus on a specific area or activity that interests you most. Here are a couple of options:

    Option 1: Cultural Exploration in Asakusa

    • Senso-ji Temple: Visit Senso-ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The main approach to the temple, Nakamise Dori, is lined with small shops selling traditional souvenirs and snacks.
    • Kappabashi Street: Visit the Asakusa kitchen town for lots of fantastic traditional shops with ceramics and souvenirs.
    • Lunch: Try some traditional Japanese cuisine. I recommend Sometarō for okonomiyaki.

    Option 2: Modern Tokyo in Shibuya and Harajuku

    • Shibuya Crossing: Visit the famous Shibuya Crossing. Nearby, you can also see the statue of Hachiko, the loyal dog.
    • Shopping in Shibuya: Check out the trendy shops and boutiques in the area. If you're into music or books, visit Tsutaya in Shibuya, one of the largest CD and book stores in Tokyo.
    • Harajuku and Takeshita Street: A short walk from Shibuya, Harajuku is renowned for its unique street fashion. Takeshita Street is lined with trendy boutiques and cafes.
    • Lunch: Grab a crepe or cotton candy from one of the many food stands in Harajuku, or try a local café for a more substantial meal.

What do you think?

Did you like this article? Do you have any questions or suggestions?
Leave a comment below.

Your Comment

M
Metrocazar

Thanks for this very good travel guide about Tokyo.
Although it is possible to see many things in 1 day, I would recomment a longer visit to Tokyo. For a very nice view at Tokyo Tower, I advise, to go visit the top floor of the WTC.

T
Tena Spicknall

Quality article post! I'll promote this on my social networks.

B
Becca Huxley

Love this! Tokyo is one place I've always wanted to visit, and definitely will one day! Really enjoyed reading this and seeing your pictures!

Cory Varga
Cory Varga - You Could Travel

Hi Becca! Tokyo has to be my favorite city on this planet. I love Japan so much. Already planning my trip back. I hope you can make to Tokyo asap.

y
yokomeshii

Perfect 24 hours in Tokyo and love all your photos! I love food, so would probably add in a visit to the Momofuku noodle Museum and Tsukiji fish markets :)

Cory Varga
Cory Varga - You Could Travel

The Tsukiji fish market (https://www.youcouldtravel.com/travel-blog/tsukiji-fish-market-is-tokyos...) really is a dream come true! The food there, oh my word...So fresh and delicious, it's unreal. You must visit Tsukiji if you go to Tokyo.

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