2 Days in Tokyo: The Ultimate First Time in Tokyo 2 Day Itinerary and Travel Guide
Looking for the best way to spend 2 days in Tokyo? Find out what to do and see in Tokyo with this complete 2 day Tokyo itinerary. This Tokyo itinerary also shows you how to get around Tokyo, where to stay in Tokyo and other practical tips to visit Tokyo.
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Even if you are not a fan of temples and shrines, there are themed cafes, high end shopping (and 2nd hand vintage Chanel and Rolex shopping), delicious restaurants, relaxing hot springs, fun arcade games (their claw games are the best), and themed parks like Disneyland and DisneySea.
Keep reading and find out how you can spend 2 days in Tokyo, where to stay in Tokyo, how to get around Tokyo and other practical travel information.
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Complete 2 Day Tokyo Itinerary For First Timers
This two day Tokyo itinerary is meant for someone visiting Tokyo for the first time. This itinerary is divided as below:
- Day 1: Western Tokyo: Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku
- Day 2: Eastern Tokyo: Tsukiji, Asakusa, Akihabara, Ginza, Tokyo Tower, Roppongi
I will also tell you fun things to do in Tokyo besides what’s mentioned on this sample itinerary so you can decide how to draft a perfect Tokyo itinerary for you (I mean everyone can’t possibly all like the same things right?).
Without further ado, let’s dive right into this super efficient 2 day Tokyo itinerary.
Day 1 in Tokyo: Western Tokyo – Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku
Tokyo can be roughly divided into west and east. Therefore if you only have two days in Tokyo, it is only reasonable to divide up your Tokyo itinerary into west and east!
On your first day in Tokyo, you will be exploring the west side of Tokyo, including the neighborhoods of Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinjuku. These neighborhoods are grouped together due to their proximity, so you don’t need to waste too much time on the train.
Early Morning: Grab a Bite at your local 7-Eleven or Lawson
Why are you asking me to eat breakfast at 7-Eleven? You may be very doubtful of this suggestion but trust me, convenience stores in Japan are 1000x better than convenience stores elsewhere in the world. In fact, I (and everybody I know) absolutely loved getting breakfast from 7-Eleven in Tokyo.
Unlike the US, convenience stores in Japan are well stocked, with actual high quality and good tasting food. You can find all sorts of things from rice balls to sandwiches to boxed lunches (bentos) to fried chickens. There are also all sorts of drinks (cold and hot), bread, pastries, snacks and ice creams at a Japanese convenience store.
Trust me, get your breakfast at a local convenience store and you will want to go back for more.
Morning: Meiji Temple
Start your morning in Meiji Temple. Meiji Temple is one of Japan’s most iconic Shinto shrines, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The shrine was established in 1920 to honor the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
Meiji Temple is on everyone’s must-see Tokyo list; it is inside a large forested area, with a large Torii gate at its entrance. You will see the stack of sake barrels, the main hall (and side buildings), gardens, and a new museum (opened in 2019) at Meiji Temple.
You can buy amulets for good luck and Ema (votive tablets), write your wishes on it and hang it around the tree in front of the main shrine. If you are lucky enough you will also witness a traditional Japanese wedding at Meiji Temple.
If you enjoy nature, you can also stop by the nearby Yoyogi Park, one of the largest parks in Tokyo.
Late Morning: Harajuku
Harajuku is a vibrant and eclectic district that has become associated with youth kawaii (cutesy) culture, fashion, and creativity.
The most famous street in Harajuku is Takeshita Street, a narrow pedestrian street lined with quirky boutiques, trendy cafes and restaurants.
You will also see the giant DAISO store, a 3 story Japanese variety store that has so many things, from snacks to character products to gadgets to souvenirs and much more and everything is 100 Yen.
You will also find a ton of crepe shops and the viral cotton candy shop on Takeshita Street. Around Takeshita Street and elsewhere in Harajuku, there are a number of animal and themed cafes:
- PEANUTS Cafe SUNNY SIDE kitchen: Snoopy themed cafe where food, furniture and decorations are all Peanuts themed. Their pancakes are good and super cute!
- Mipig Cafe: animal cafe with minipigs that roam around and interact with you. Skip if you don’t endorse animal cafes
- Pompompurin Cafe: Super cute Pompompurin themed cafe and restaurant where all the food are Pompompurin themed!
- Owl Village Cafe: animal cafe with owls flying around
- Hedgehog Cafe & Pet Store HARRY: animal cafe with hedgehogs (and hedgehog toys and souvenirs)
- Harajuku Mame Shiba Cafe: animal cafe with Shiba Inu dogs lying around
- Cafe Reissue: known for their amazing 2D and 3D latte art
Keep in mind that Harajuku is much more than just Takeshita Street. A few other noteworthy things to see in Harajuku include:
- Tokyu Plaza: a shopping center that is famous for its mirrored kaleidoscope escalator at the entrance. If you are an Instagrammer you would have to stop here for a photo. Check out the rooftop while you are there too.
- Omotesando: Technically not in Harajuku, but if you are into shopping and designer boutiques this is the place to be (besides Ginza). You will find all types of shops, including many famous second hand luxury shops like AMORE for vintage Chanel.
Grab lunch in Harajuku or if you are not hungry yet after visiting a cafe, continue to Shibuya and get lunch there.
Early Afternoon: Shibuya
Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s most iconic neighborhoods, is where you are thinking about when you think about Tokyo. Shibuya is on everyone’s Tokyo itinerary and it’s not hard to see why.
At the heart of Shibuya lies the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing, often touted as the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. This iconic intersection has been featured on many films and shows, including The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Beyond the Shibuya Crossing, the Shibuya offers an array of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Some of the best shopping centers and stores in Shibuya include:
- Shibuya 109: Most popular fashion shopping center especially for teenagers and people in their 20s with amazing selection of fashion accessories, clothing and shoes
- Loft: very unique stationery store
- Tokyu Hands: arts and crafts and other household items, you will find all sorts of things
- MEGA Don Quijote: A must visit in Japan: they have everything from souvenirs to food/snacks to gadgets to beauty products to houseware to other quirky Japanese things
- Pokemon Center: everything Pokemon that you can think of
Other unique things to do and see in Shibuya include:
- Hachiko Square: named after the loyal Akita dog Hachiko, it is a popular meeting point
- Shibuya Sky: one of the most popular observation decks in Tokyo. Famous for its location, view of the Tokyo skyline, photo opportunities and its escalator over Tokyo sunset views. It gets crowded and you have to get tickets ahead of time (especially for sunset).
- Eating: There are a ton of restaurants and cafes in Shibuya. If you haven’t gotten lunch yet, be sure to grab lunch in Shibuya. I really liked Gyukatsu Motomura for their grilled beef cutlet. Wait is line so you might want to put your name down, explore Shibuya then come back to get seated.
Late Afternoon: Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a large beautiful public park located near Shinjuku. It is popular among locals and tourists alike, providing a nice escape from the bustling streets of Tokyo. The park is especially popular during cherry blossom season in the spring.
The park is made up of many different gardens, such as the French Garden, English Garden and Japanese Garden. Therefore you will notice the different landscaping styles within the park. You can explore the expansive lawns, meandering pathways, and picturesque ponds that are home to vibrant koi fish.
One thing you can’t miss is the greenhouse, featuring tropical and subtropical plants from around the world.
Evening: Enjoy Nightlife in Shinjuku
Shinjuku is Tokyo’s bustling entertainment and business district. It is especially popular at night due to its wide array of restaurants, bars and interesting nightlife. There are also a number of shopping centers in Shinjuku and even the station itself has so many stores (it is also super big and you probably will get lost in there like I did).
Some of the most famous nightlife areas in Shinjuku include:
- Shinjuku Kabukicho: often referred to as Tokyo’s red-light district, is known for its neon lights, lively bars, and a plethora of adult entertainment options including host/ hostess clubs and karaoke bars
- Golden Gai: maze-like network of 6 narrow alleys lined with tiny bars, each with its unique theme and décor. There are over 200 bars in Golden Gai so you will definitely find something you like.
- Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane): otherwise known as Piss Alley, is another famous alley known for small izakayas. You will find skewers in these small izakayas as well as alcoholic drinks.
- Ryu no Miyako Inshokugai: a very interesting food court. Commonly known as bad and expensive food but cool vibes and photo opportunities. Pop in to take a look but don’t eat anything there.
If you want a free observation deck, then head over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. You will see the entire cityscape from the observatory at no cost at all.
Day 2 in Tokyo: Eastern Tokyo – Tsukiji, Asakusa, Akihabara, Ginza, Tokyo Tower, Roppongi
After a full day exploring the west side of Tokyo, you will explore the east side of Tokyo on your second and last day in Tokyo.
There are a lot of things to cover on your 2nd day in Tokyo and don’t worry if you can’t do them all, the itinerary is very ambitious and I just want to let you know what’s there, and you can pick what things interest you the most.
Early Morning: Tsukiji Outer Market (avoid Wednesday & Sundays)
Tsukiji Outer Market is a famous seafood market in Tokyo. It used to be famous for its early morning tuna auctions but in 2018 the inner market (where the auctions happen) moved to Toyosu Market and what’s left now is the outer market.
Since you have a lot to see on your last day of this 2 day Tokyo itinerary, I highly suggest you come to Tsukiji no later than 8am. Most stalls are open by 8 (some are open at 6 and have long lines by 6:30am)! So it’s never too early to visit Tsukiji Outer Market.
Tsukiji Outer Market is a cool food market; you will find over 400 stalls and restaurants there. You can get raw seafood of course but the main appeal for most people is to get food like sushi, skewers, mochi, sea urchin bun, etc.
Be sure to visit Tsukiji in the morning as it closes around 2pm. Avoid Wednesday and Sundays.
Morning: Sensoji and Asakusa
After Tsukiji, take the Asakusa Line to Asakusa station to visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest and most revered Buddhist temple.
The temple’s history traces back to the 7th century, and its iconic Thunder Gate (Kaminarimon) serves as a grand entrance, leading to Nakamise-dori street.
You will find this pedestrian street festively decorated and lined with souvenir shops and Japanese confectionery shops. You can find all sorts of Japanese street food and snacks here (but be sure to only eat in the designated areas as it is considered rude to walk and eat).
Pro Tip: the best view of Nakamise-dori and Sensoji is from the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, which opens from 9am to 8pm.
If you are visiting Tokyo during Sanja Matsuri in May, the Asakusa area near Sensoji will be extra crowded, with traditional performances and ceremonies. This festival lasts for 3 days.
Besides Sensoji and Nakamise-dori, there are a few other shopping streets in Asakusa, such as Nishi-Sando shopping street, Shin-Nakamise shopping street and Kappabashi Dougu Street, where you will find kitchen supplies and knives.
If you are visiting Tokyo in the spring, be sure to stop by Smmida Park to enjoy some cherry blossom. You can also easily see the Asahi Corporate building and Tokyo Skytree from this park, which is right by the river.
While in Asakusa, a cute coffee shop you can check out is HATCOFFEE, known for their 3D foam art.
Early Afternoon: Akihabara
Assuming you ate an early lunch in Asakusa, your next stop is Akihabara, the quirky electronic and gaming district of Tokyo.
Akihabara is heaven for those who loves anime, manga, or gaming. In Akihabara you will find numerous manga bookstores, anime and video game shops that also sell figurines and collectibles in places like Mandarake Complex, Super Potato and Animate Akihabara.
If you are in the market for electronics (or any electronic gadgets), you will love the multi-story electronic store Yodobashi Akiba, where you will find cameras, computers, gadgets, games (and gaming system), appliances, and some toys. There is also a foodcourt on the top floor.
Lastly, Akihabara is also known for its maid cafes, where young waitresses dress up as maids from anime and talk to you in cutesy voices. You can eat in these cafes and chat with the waitresses (if you speak Japanese since their English is not good), but photos of waitresses are not allowed.
You can make a quick stop in Ginza, one of the fanciest neighborhoods in Tokyo. Known for its high end shopping centers, boutique stores and luxury hotels, Ginza is heaven for those who want to go designer shopping.
If you are a Ghibli fan, then walk over to the NTV Tower building to see the giant Ghibli clock.
Late Afternoon: teamLabs (PLANETS or Borderless)
TeamLabs are digital interactive art exhibits in Tokyo. There are actually two teamLabs, one called PLANETS in Odaiba and another called Borderless (opening early Feb 2024) near Tokyo Tower. Both are about 25 to 30 minutes from Ginza.
Pick one of the teamLabs to visit and be sure to wear the appropriate clothes. For example, TeamLabs PLANETS has knee high water, so you will need to go barefoot inside and there are rooms with glasses on the floor, so you don’t want to wear a mini skirt.
If you decide to visit teamLabs Planets be sure to stop by the Unicorn Gundam Statue in Odaiba and walk around the Odaiba Marine Park (where you will see a mini Statue of Liberty).
Regardless of which teamLabs you choose, you will definitely have a good time, so it really just depends on your personal preference.
While around Tokyo Tower, you can grab a drink at Sky Lounge Stellar Garden for a perfect view of Tokyo Tower.
Roppongi is super close to teamLabs Borderless and it is an area known for its nightlife and foreigner-friendly bars and restaurants. Around the Christmas holiday time in December, the streets of Roppongi is also lit up, making it extra festive.
If you are not sick of observation decks yet, you can go up Tokyo City View for a sweeping view of Tokyo and of the Tokyo Tower, but most likely you will be hitting the bars and even clubs in Roppongi. The first time I went clubbing in Tokyo was in Roppongi and the experience was interesting.
In Roppongi, especially Roppongi Hills area, you will find a number of western restaurants, like burgers, Italian, steakhouses, French, etc.
Other Things to Do in Tokyo with 2 Days
The sample 2 day Tokyo itinerary above should give you some ideas on how to spend 2 days in Tokyo, especially if it’s your first time in Tokyo. But there are a number of things that I left out on this itinerary that you could potentially do:
- Ueno Park: located very close to Asakusa, Ueno Park is a large public park that’s renowned for its picturesque cherry blossoms in spring. Ueno park encompasses diverse attractions, including museums, temples, scenic ponds and the Ueno Zoo.
- Ueno: aside from Ueno Park, you can also explore Ueno. Ameyoko Shopping District is a fun area to check out for street vendors. There you will find a lot of food stalls, restaurants, clothes, suitcases, souvenirs, gadgets and shoes.
- Watch a baseball game: baseball is THE sports to watch in Japan and you have the perfect opportunity to watch a Giants baseball game at Tokyo Dome if you visit between mid March and mid September.
- Visit a museum: Tokyo has no shortage of museums. Some of the most famous museums in Tokyo include the National Art Center Tokyo, Mori Art Museum, okyo Metropolitan Art Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, Fujiko Fujio Museum (if you like Doraemon) and Ghibli Museum.
Is 2 Days Enough for Tokyo? Do I Need More Than 2 Days in Tokyo?
2 days is not enough to see Tokyo, especially if it’s your first time in Tokyo. Tokyo is a large city with so many things to do, see and eat. It is also very spread out so it takes time to travel between places.
As you can see from this 2 day Tokyo itinerary, you barely scratch the surface with just two days in Tokyo. Your days are completely packed (and even requires you to get up early), and you only get to spend 2-3 hours in each location (including meal time).
What Airports to Fly into Tokyo
There are two major airports for Tokyo: Narita and Haneda.
Ultimately both airports in Tokyo are convenient to get into city center, so just pick whichever airport is the cheapest for you!
Best Way to Get Around Tokyo
The best and the cheapest way to get around Tokyo is to take public transportation. However I understand that there will be instances when you need to take a taxi to go around Tokyo. In addition, you can also walk around Tokyo between adjacent neighborhoods (like from Harajuku to Shibuya).
Taking the train in Tokyo
Tokyo has an amazing network of public transportation system. There are numerous subway and train lines, and they are actually managed by different companies. You can pretty much get anywhere in (and outside) of Tokyo on public transportation.
You can navigate the train directions using Google Maps, Japan Transit Planner, or Japan Travel by Navitime.
Trains in Tokyo generally operates between 5am to midnight. If you miss the train, you will need to get a taxi (or book a cheap hotel).
Taking Taxis in Tokyo
You can try to hail down a taxi in Tokyo but that might not always be the easiest (since they are technically supposed to only pick you up in designated areas like a taxi stand).
An easier way to get a taxi is through Uber. You can use Uber in Tokyo but that will not get you a private car like you do in the US. Instead Uber will help to get a taxi for you, which is probably easier than you trying to hail one off the street.
Other apps to get Tokyo taxi include Go App and Didi. If you are staying at a hotel, you can always ask the hotel front desk to help you call a taxi.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Anywhere close a metro station in Tokyo is convenient to stay, especially if you are near a Yamanote Line (山手線) that runs in a circle and passes by the major stations in Tokyo.
In particular people like to stay in areas such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Asakusa. I stayed in Asakusa twice and Shinjuku twice, Shibuya once and near Tokyo Station another time. If you have a train or bus to catch from Shinjuku Station or Tokyo Station, then spending the night there would be convenient. Otherwise all of the areas above are good to stay in.
Best Japan Travel Booking Sites
If you found this post useful, please take a look at some of the best sites for booking hotels, tours and other activities in Japan.
If you do need medical help in Japan, always contact your travel insurance first and they can tell you which English speaking hospital to go in Tokyo.
Check Out My Other Japan Blogs
To help you plan your perfect trip to Japan, be sure to check out my other blogs on Japan below!
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