tokyo itinerary diy tour

As first-time visitors to Japan, we made sure to spend some time exploring its amazing capital city, Tokyo. We wanted to experience what it feels like to be in the world’s most populous metropolis and dive into its wonders. This DIY Tokyo itinerary is not the most perfect one there is, but through it, we experienced the city’s traditional side and modern atmosphere while immersing in the sceneries for at least a couple of days.

From the culture-rich districts of Asakusa to the high rises and busy modern streets of Shibuya. From the hippest and very trendy Akihabara to the old-fashioned setting and vibrant gardens of the Imperial Palace. These are just among the amazing experiences we had on this tour that I want to share with you. The places listed in this itinerary are within relatively short train rides from each other, thus, easy to DIY.

You can also watch our Tokyo City Tour!

 

Tokyo DIY Itinerary

Our Tokyo itinerary started from night 3 through day 5 of our Japan trip.

Here’s a table containing the list of places covered per day.

Day 3PM• Akihabara
Day 4AM• Asakusa with Kimono Experience
PM• Shibuya Sky
• Shibuya Crossing
• Hachiko Memorial Statue
• One Piece Straw Hat Store
• Ichiran Ramen (dinner)
Day 5AM• Imperial Palace Garden
• Nijubashi Bridge
PM• Lunch at Tonkatsu Maruya Kamiyachoten
• Tokyo Tower
• Souvenir shopping at Don Quijote Akihabara

 

AKIHABARA

Upon getting back to Tokyo from our Mt. Fuji day trip, we did a quick night stroll around Akihabara. It is not considered the electronic capital of Japan for nothing. Akihabara is densely packed with electronics retailers ranging from tiny stalls to huge department stores where geeks and tech enthusiasts can score electronic items for competitive prices. But it’s not just about electronics and all sorts of gadgets. This is also a haven for fans of anime, Japanese pop culture, and gastronomic food experiences.

We had no plans for shopping or dining but it was a great night just walking around and observing the urban scenes of Akihabara. It’s nice to see that despite being highly urbanized and crowded, orderliness was still evident. The area doesn’t look and feel polluted, that’s why we still had a pleasurable leisurely walk.

akihabara tokyo itinerary
On one of the famous streets in Akihabara
Outside the JR Akihabara Station

 

ASAKUSA (with Kimono Experience)

When we think about Tokyo, what instantly comes to mind is a modern bustling city powered by advanced technologies. But Tokyo isn’t all about that. Head to Asakusa and you will witness old Tokyo vibes without going out of the city.

This is where you will find the oldest temple in Tokyo, the Sensoji Temple. And the 250-meter path going to the temple is called Nakamise Street. It is the oldest shopping street in Asakusa which is lined with traditional craft shops and food stalls on both sides.

And is there a better way to explore Asakusa than to walk around donning a kimono? Surely, this became one of our most memorable experiences in this Tokyo itinerary! We spent the entire morning of day 4 exploring Asakusa like a traditional Japanese local!

asakusa tokyo itinerary
Enjoying the kimono experience in Asakusa with our friends
Just flaunting my kimono while walking around the busy streets of Asakusa
The Tokyo Skytree as seen from the streets of Asakusa

You can read more about our kimono-wearing experience in Asakusa here.

Asakusa is also a notable location for fans of the anime series Demon Slayer. This is where Tanjiro finally found Muzan. Although it may look a little different because it was the old appearance of the place that was featured in the series. Asakusa was mostly destroyed during the Great Kanto Earthquake and was rebuilt.

 

SHIBUYA SKY

After the cultural trip to Asakusa, we then headed to Shibuya like we were transported from an ancient location to a new-fashioned district. SHIBUYA SKY is a 360° open-air observation deck, a perfect place to have a bird’s eye view of the city. It is located at the highest level of the Shibuya Scramble Square skyscraper.

There are lounges where you can relax while admiring the views, and an indoor museum and cafe as well. It’s also a great spot to see the famous Shibuya crossing scramble!

We booked our tickets via Klook. It’s nice that there’s no need to change into actual tickets. All we needed to do was to go straight to the site and scan our QR codes at the entrance. We booked here: SHIBUYA SKY Ticket

tokyo itinerary shibuya sky
A photo-worthy corner with glass railings
Another corner but with higher see-through walls
shibuya sky tokyo itinerary
Going up and down the escalator was a fun activity in itself
Overlooking Yoyogi Park area
shibuya sky tokyo itinerary
Looks like I’m about to jump off the building
Jec, enjoying the view from the corner
Open-air lounge with a 360° view of the city

 

SHIBUYA CROSSING

Any Tokyo itinerary wouldn’t be complete without seeing the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing. It is a popular pedestrian scramble located in front of the Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit. Here, pedestrian is the priority. Vehicles in all directions should stop to allow pedestrians from the entire intersection to cross over.

It was a nice experience to watch people go across the street like tiny little ants (from Shibuya Sky Observation). And of course, to actually set our foot on the road to cross over and blend in with the local Japanese employees and tourists!

You’d appreciate the place even more if you’re a fan of the Alice in Borderland series because this is one of their most notable shooting locations. You will surely wish that you won’t suddenly see any fireworks in the sky!

tokyo itinerary shibuya crossing
Shibuya Scramble Crossing

 

HACHIKO MEMORIAL STATUE

Just a few meters walk from the Shibuya Scramble Crossing is the Hachiko Square where the Hachiko Memorial Statue is located. For sure, many of us already know the story about Hachiko. Hachiko is a famous Japanese Akita dog who faithfully waited for his deceased owner to return for more than 9 years until his death. The bronze statue was put up in honor of Hachiko’s unwavering loyalty to his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno.

This eventually became a well-known landmark and the whole of Hachiko Square has been a popular meeting place and rendezvous point for everyone, locals and tourists alike.

tokyo itinerary hachiko memorial statue
Hachiko Memorial Statue

 

ICHIRAN RAMEN

After a tiring (but amusing) day, it’s time for a bowl of good Japanese ramen. From Hachiko Square, we walked back to Shibuya Crossing, crossed over the road, and walked for about 5 minutes to Ichiran Shibuya (beside a Family Mart). Unfortunately, the restaurant was full when we arrived. The staff suggested we transfer to another branch which is another 5-minute walk from there. Thankfully, there were available slots!

Ichiran Ramen is a popular Japanese ramen chain restaurant well-known for its rich tonkotsu broth. Their ramen is a big hit especially since you can personalize it according to your preferences.

Ordering your food is pretty easy and convenient:

  1. From the vending machine, pick your ramen base and any add-ons like chashu, egg, seaweed, drinks, etc. Then get your tickets from the vending machine.
  2. The staff will check which booths are available and will guide you to where it’s located. Note that the booths have dividers to give each diner privacy and help focus on the food (mindful eating). But if you have companion/s, don’t worry as the dividers can also be folded so you can still chat while you enjoy your hearty Ichiran Ramen.
  3. You’ll be given an order form to personalize your ramen. The soup stock, richness, and garlic can be adjusted from light, medium, or strong/extra rich. For the noodle texture, you can choose if you want extra firm, firm, medium, soft, or extra soft. There are more other options in the order form like the noodle refill, toppings, and drinks. Once you’re done filling it out, just press the button on your table to notify the staff to take your order form.
  4. Wait for your ramen to be served at your booth. You can drink water from your booth’s own tap while you wait.
  5. Enjoy your personalized delicious ramen!
A hearty bowl of Ichiran Ramen with chashu, egg, and seaweed
ichiran ramen tokyo itinerary
Hungry, but first, picture!

 

IMPERIAL PALACE

Another must-visit place in Tokyo is the Imperial Palace Gardens. This is a great spot not only for those with an interest in Japanese history but also for people who like beautiful gardens. During our visit, we even witnessed an array of plum blossoms!

The gardens are open to the public although the Imperial Palace itself is off-limits. You can take a peek at the palace from the outer gardens and from the double Nijubashi Bridge. The place is very expansive so better wear your most comfy shoes and be prepared for a lot of walking!

plum blossoms imperial palace garden tokyo itinerary
Plum blossoms inside the Imperial East Gardens
imperial palace nijubashi bridge tokyo itinerary
The Imperial Palace viewed from the Double Nijubashi Bridge
tokyo itinerary imperial palace nijubashi bridge
Obligatory photo with the palace

After the tiresome walking tour, we headed to our next destination which is the Tokyo Tower. We boarded a subway and got off at Kamiyacho Station.

But before walking to the Tokyo Tower, we first had our lunch at Tonkatsu Maruya Kamiyachoten located at the Kamiyacho Station. This is where I had the best and tastiest ebi tempura so far!

 

TOKYO TOWER

Among the most iconic landmarks in Tokyo, the Tokyo Tower, is a communications and observation tower in the Minato District. The Tokyo Tower stands at 333 meters high, is the world’s tallest self-supported steel tower, and is even taller (by 3 meters) than its model, the Eiffel Tower. It was the country’s tallest structure until 2012 when the Tokyo Skytree surpassed its height. Apart from being a popular tourist spot, the Tokyo Tower also serves as a broadcast antenna.

It also has an observatory deck where you can have a nice overlooking view of the city. In our case, we already had this kind of activity at the Shibuya Sky so we’re happy just taking photos of the tower. We tried to go to the “secret photo spot” but we discovered that it’s not secret anymore and we did not have enough time to wait in the long queue.

Tokyo Tower
tokyo tower tokyo itinerary
Mandatory photo with the Tokyo Tower

 

After this, we went back to Akihabara for a last-minute souvenir shopping at Don Quijote.

 

How did we get around Tokyo?

We simply booked a Tokyo Subway Ticket from Klook. The ticket is for unlimited access to the Tokyo Subway for 3 days. For us, it’s the cheapest and most convenient way to get around the city because you don’t need to purchase individual tickets for each ride. And you don’t need to buy an IC card that also needs to be topped up with load. I personally did a computation for both options and I found out that the Tokyo Subway Ticket is the cheapest.

You can also choose from 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour tickets. Perfect for any Tokyo City itinerary!

I purchased our tickets here: Tokyo Subway Ticket – Unlimited

Klook.com

To know which subway station you should take, Google Maps is still the best tool. As long as you have your Google Maps with you, you will surely be able to get to your destination.

And of course, you will need an internet connection for it. A pocket wifi is a must-have especially if you have companions as each pocket wifi can hold a maximum of 5 devices.

You can purchase yours here: Unlimited 4G LTE WiFi

 

Tokyo Itinerary: Final Thoughts

As I have mentioned earlier, this DIY Tokyo Itinerary is not the most perfect one there is, but we enjoyed this amazing city even in a short period of time. The greatest thing about this is that we experienced both the old and new Tokyo given the limited time and budget.

If we ever find ourselves exploring Tokyo again in the future, we will cover other notable places such as the Meiji Jingu, Shinjuku, Ueno, and more!

We deeply appreciate the orderliness and cleanliness of the city. It’s amazing that there were no trashes anywhere eventhough there are no trash bins around. The food is evidently clean, even from street food stalls. I never experienced abdominal discomfort eventhough I drank a tap water.

You won’t help but realize that Japanese honesty and integrity is really something we should all be imitating.

 

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Dea Mariano

About Author

Hi, I'm Dea! A traveler who loves good food and an electronics engineer based in PH. I like creating itineraries and daydreaming about the places. As weird as it might sound, I find the planning part as enjoyable as the trip itself. I love sunsets, beaches, and staycation trips. And I'm a worshipper of God—the source of my everything! I once wandered aimlessly in life, until Jesus found me! Now, I just wander around wonderful places as I marvel at His creation ❤️

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