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How To Tackle Tokyo In 24 Hours

By DeAnna Taylor

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Tokyo, Japan is hands down one of the most futuristic cities you will ever encounter. From the neon lights to innovative pod hotels, this Japanese city is one that should always be on your travel bucket list.

If you are planning a trip to Tokyo, or even if you have a layover there, check out these suggestions on how to navigate the city with very little time to spare.

Where to go

Tokyo is a huge city. If you want to get the most out of a short trip there, you should focus on staying around the Shibuya and Harajuku neighborhoods. These two neighborhoods have the most photo-worthy spots as well as a young hip crowd.

The neighborhoods border each other, so it will be easy to get between the two as needed.

You will find plenty of accommodations here as well. From traditional hotels all the way to capsule hotels, which are popular around Japan. If you aren’t familiar with a capsule or pod hotel, they are small single-person bedrooms that are usually in a room or hallway full of other beds. Each bed has it’s own “door” so you can close yourself off from the other people on your hall. It sounds weird, but when you see and experience it, its super dope.

Photo courtesy of DeAnna Taylor

Transportation

If you actually adhere to the suggestion above, you won’t have to worry too much about transportation during your visit.

As far as getting from the airport, you can take an express bus service. It is hard to book these buses before arriving in Tokyo because the website is in Japanese. But, it is very easy to get a seat once you arrive. Simply go to the counter, no matter which airport you fly into, and ask for the bus that goes into the neighborhood you are staying in. The tickets are fairly reasonable. You will pay between $8 and $15 one-way depending on where you are going.

Photo courtesy of DeAnna Taylor

Once you get into the neighborhood that you are staying in, you can use Tokyo’s train system or your two good feet. The Shibuya and Harajuku neighborhoods are in walking distance to each other.

I personally found the subway system to be a little hard to navigate, and I’m usually really good with them. I had to ask the station guards several times to help me find the proper train to use when I was in certain stations. This is because there are so many different lines running at one time, it gets really overwhelming.

Photo courtesy of DeAnna Taylor

Food

Eating in Tokyo can vary in price. You will have plenty of street vendors, traditional restaurants, and sushi train places to choose from.

Since you are short on time I suggest the following:

  • Ramen from Inchiran: This is the world famous ramen spot. It tastes great and it’s IG worthy as well. Get there at a decent time or you will experience up to a 2-hour wait. The way it works is you order your basic choice from a vending machine outside of the actual restaurant. You will need Yen, it doesn’t take cards. You wait to be seated at a single-person window. They give you a slip of paper that allows you to customize your ramen and a few minutes later a person slides your noodles under a window flap.
  • Kawaii Monster Cafe: Now this is an experience you can’t miss. You can either choose the Monster cafe or the Robot cafe. They are similar in concept, but Robot cafe can cost more and sometimes you aren’t able to get in. They are both over the top food cafes that offer light shows and performances too. I purchased my entry ticket and reserved a time prior to coming to ensure that I wouldn’t have to wait.
  • Sushi train: Now Tokyo gives a whole new meaning to sushi trains. They aren’t the ones we are used to in the states. The one I went to was super futuristic. You order from a personal iPad that is in front of you. Your sushi is then whipped to you on a conveyor belt style train. You pick up your plate and the belt goes back to the kitchen. You literally have to see it to understand it.

Related: How To Tackle Hong Kong In 24 Hours

Photo courtesy of DeAnna Taylor

In addition to these suggestions, be prepared for lots of shopping too. The Harajuku neighborhood is filled with lots of vintage clothing shops and sneaker stores. It’s the best of both worlds. You’ll find the most action down Takeshita Street. You have to snap a selfie here.

You also can’t forget to watch people cross at Shibuya crossing. It’s crazy to see hundreds of people cross the large intersection at once. Have your video mode ready, you’ll definitely want to capture this.

If you use these tips, you will easily be able to navigate the important parts of Tokyo on a tight schedule.

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DeAnna Taylor

DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.

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