24 Hours In Tokyo: A lot can happen in a day
By Rebecca Quin
Make every second count with our our 24-hour Tokyo culture tour: eat the world-renowned food, see the landmark sights and do the most iconic experiences. The clock is ticking…
07:30 Try the freshest sushi in town at Tsukiji fish market
While the main wholesale area is closed to the public before nine, the outer Tsukiji market is where you’ll find rows of tiny restaurants offering up the morning’s catch in all its exquisitely fresh glory. Opt for one of the standard sets, order piece by piece or try omakase (chef’s choice) for an authentic sushi experience.
Local Tip: If you want to avoid the long lines at popular places like Sushi Dai or Sushi Daiwa and choose one of the smaller shops along the same street. For non-connoisseurs, the sushi is just as good.
Access: Tsukijishijo (Oedo line) or Tsukiji (Hibiya line)
09:00 Peek into the lives of sumo wrestlers at Ryogoku
Jump on the subway to Ryogoku, Tokyo’s sumo district. You can witness a morning training session at one of the many sumo “stables,” the apartment buildings where wrestlers eat, sleep, and train, before visiting the impressive Kokugikan National Sumo Stadium that houses a small but informative museum.
Access: Ryogoku (Oedo line)
10:30 Travel back in time to Asakusa
Make your way to the historic district of Asakusa, home of Sensoji temple, one of Tokyo’s most iconic sights. Enter via Kaminarimon (or “Thunder Gate”) onto Nakamise street, a colorful corridor lined with traditional shops and food stands leading to the temple’s main hall.
Local Tip: It’s best to visit Sensoji later in the day when the crowds have gone home and the temple is beautifully lit up in the Tokyo twilight.
Access: From Ryogoku take Chuo/Sobu line to Asakusabashi, transfer to Asakusa line for Asakusa
12:30 Cruise over to glitzy Ginza
Board the Tokyo Water Bus for a cruise along the Sumida River to Hamarikyu. The boat docks at the beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens, where you can stroll around before a short walk to the high-end shopping district of Ginza. For a taste of traditional consumerism, Mitsukoshi is Japan’s oldest department store, while further along the main Chuo street, Uniqlo’s flagship store offers 12 floors of the brand’s functional fashion.
Access: Tokyo Water Bus Sumida River line from Hinode Pier to Hamarikyu
14:00 Have a fusion feast at Shiseido Parlour
Yoshoku is a distinctly Japanese style of Western cuisine that the inventive folks at Shiseido Parlour have been pioneering since the early 20th century. Try the classic omu-raisu, fried rice wrapped in an omelette and topped with ketchup, or the meat korokke (croquette), a battered roll of ham and veal with white sauce. If you still have room afterwards, you can hit the third-floor cafe for its famed fruits parfait.
Access: Inside the Tokyo Ginza Shiseido building on the corner of Ginza 8-chome
16:00 Practice your dance moves in Yoyogi Park
Go west toward Harajuku and witness Tokyo’s colorful subculture do what they do best: loiter along Takeshita Street taking pictures. Just behind Harajuku station, Yoyogi Park is a popular practicing ground for dance, music and performance groups looking for a bit of creative breathing space.
Access: Take the Ginza line to Shibuya, transfer to JR Yamanote Line for Harajuku station (Omotesando exit).
Local Tip: On Sundays, Yoyogi is an unofficial stage for the city’s leather-clad rockabilly enthusiasts who gather outside the east entrance to shake, rattle and roll to classic ’50s rock.
19:00 Go izakaya-hopping in Ebisu
The best introduction to a proper izakaya experience is in the lively Ebisu yokocho (back street), a retro collection of micro-taverns inside an old shopping arcade. Tiny shops serve up their own casual dining specialities, from sashimi to fried chicken, in the kind of convivial after-work atmosphere that you could only find in Tokyo.
Access: JR Yamanote line to Ebisu station.
21:30 To morning Sing your heart out in Shibuya
Cross the Shibuya Scramble, the world’s busiest street crossing and walk up to Karaoke-kan, the karaoke chain made famous by Lost In Translation. Get a private room for you and your friends, where you can croon any tune you wish (the choice is endless). Rooms come with microphones, tambourines and an all-you-can-drink menu that will have you belting out the power ballads in no time.
Local Tip: Karaoke chains are usually open 24 hours and many offer a discounted rate for all-night rental. Perfect if you need a cheap place to hide out until morning. To cap off your evening, venture to Shibuya’s superclub, Womb, for a taste of true Tokyo nightlife or try any of the clubs, bars or eateries in the area—most don’t get busy until after 11 p.m.
Access: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya (Hachiko exit)