Destinations Japan

The Best 7 Day Tokyo Itinerary For First Time Visitors

This 7 day Tokyo itinerary is designed to pack in as many of the major attractions that the capital of Japan has to offer. Making it perfect for first-time visitors to the city. Visiting Japan had been a dream of mine for many years and we had the possibility to travel around Japan for the best part of two months back in 2018.

Quick Guide To Tokyo For First Timers

Before we get started I want to cover a couple of basics before I get into this 7-day guide to Tokyo. This will really help you to plan and prepare for your trip.

You’re Not Going To Need A JR Rail Pass

You’re going to be doing enough travelling around Japan as a whole to require a JR Rail pass. An at just short of £200 ($260) it’s probably a good job. That’s not to say a JR Rail pass isn’t great money saving opportunity – just for those who plan to travel outside of Tokyo which sadly, on a 7-day trip here you won’t have time to do.

You’re Going To Want To Stay Somewhere Central

Maximising your time on your first trip to Tokyo is going to require you to stay somewhere central. This will minimise the amount of time you need to spend on the JR Rail travelling between your hostel/hotel and attraction. We stayed at three different places during our trip to Tokyo.

Playsis East – Near the Skytower.

FlexStay Inn – Near DisneySea / Tokyo Disneyland

Nine Hours Capsule Hotel – Amazing budget capsule hotel, just a little too far out of the ‘centre’

None of them was entirely central to where I believe you should be when trying to achieve a 7 day Tokyo itinerary, and that is in the Shibuya area. That said we could afford to move around to multiple different places due to the amount of time we were spending in the city / in Japan as a whole.

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Most Places Do Take Credit / Debit Cards

When I was looking at Tokyo tips prior to our first trip to the Japanese capital, everyone told me to take cash as next to nowhere took debit or credit cards. I actually found that Tokyo was one of the most accommodating cities for international debit and credit cards that I’ve ever travelled to. With only a handful of smaller more niche establishments not accepting card payments.

It’s Not Quite As Expensive As Everyone Makes Out

I mean sure it’s not cheap, but 7 days in Tokyo can be easily achieved on a budget. We saved money by dining at the many 7-11’s dotted around the city and avoided eating in restaurants. We also avoided taking taxi’s and instead took public transport or walked everywhere within the city.

7 Day Tokyo Itinerary

Below is a break down of our 7 day Tokyo itinerary. As always this is our personal preference, be sure to use it as a guide and adjust things as you require. If you’re only in Tokyo for three days or five days then try and take out the things you think you might be least interested in visiting or combining two or more attractions into one mega-day!

Day One: Harajuku District

We’re kicking off the 7 day Tokyo itinerary with a bang in the Harajuku district, but first, we’re going to get off at Shibuya Station as just outside is the Statue of Hachiko. This small statue just outside of the station is designed to commemorate the Akita dog came to Shibuya Station every day to meet his master, a professor, returning from work back in the 1930s. Today it’s a popular meeting point for locals, and a popular photo spot for tourists – so expect to queue.

Just meters from Hachiko you’ll find one of the most famous attractions in all of Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing. This crossing is rumoured to be the busiest in the world, this crossing can see up to 3,000 people cross at any one time. If you’re planning on taking photos like the one above, please try and be courteous to those crossing and stand to the side. If you fancy an ariel shot of Shibuya Crossing then head inside Starbucks and grab a coffee. There’s a viewing/seating area on the second floor which is also home to a pretty cool music store.

Around Shibuya Crossing you’ll no doubt see people driving around on Mario Kart style go-karts. You can book a two-hour tour of the city on one of these carts for around £20 ($26) – some even come with costumes.

After taking in Shibuya Crossing you’re going to want to walk to Harajuku. The distance is around 1.6km so if you’re uncomfortable with walking that distance for whatever reason you can easily take a private taxi or hop back onto the JY Yamanote line at Shibuya station up to Harajuku Station.

The reason I suggest walking is due to just how much of the Japanese culture you’re able to experience. Everything from the backstreets, to the sights and smells of this fantastic capital city. No trip to Harajuku is complete without a visit to Harry – The hedgehog cafe. This remains one of the highlights from our entire trip to Japan, it’s super quirky, super fun and the staff are so lovely.

There’s also plenty of unique and quirky places to eat in Harajuku that don’t have to break the bank. If you’re not hungry, that’s fine but you’ll still want to pick up a bubble tea for the walk back to your accommodation.

Day Two: Odiba

On your second of seven days in Tokyo, you’re going to want to head out to Odiba. This island symbolises what I believe to tourists in Japan is all about, futuristic, crazy colours, electronic stuff. Accessed by the Rainbow Bridge or on the incredible Yurikamome train you’ll want to spend the entire day here starting with shopping in Diver City.

Diver City is home to the famous Gundam mega statue that stands outside the shopping mall and towers over pedestrians below. Even if you’re not a fan of the [easyazon_link identifier=”B000621P9C” locale=”UK” tag=”pog04-21″]hit TV series Gundam[/easyazon_link] you’re going to want to head inside Diver City to experience what it’s like inside the largest Gundam store in the world.

Next, it’s time to relax with a visit to Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari springs. This is one of the most popular hot springs in all of Tokyo and is modelled on onsen town. It features both indoor and outdoor pools, food and drink and is suitable for all ages. You will not be permitted to enter the hot springs if you have tattoos.

After a relaxing bath in the hot springs, it’s time to explore more of what Odaiba has to offer with a visit to Joypolis. Be sure to bring a copy of your passport to Joypolis as you can get some pretty decent discounts if it’s your birthday month or if you’re passport is from outside of Japan. 

Joypolis is one of the largest indoor amusement parks in all of Japan. It features both indoor rollercoasters and rides as well as VR based attractions. Making it the perfect experience if it’s raining outside or, like me, if you’re a bit of a thrill seeker. Joypolis is situated inside the Decks shopping mall, and we suggest once leaving Joypolis you remain inside Decks and take the escalators in front of you to the third floor. Here you’ll find a large free to enter old school arcade area and a lot of independent small eateries with a large seating area.

After a bite to eat it’s time to head back outdoors and over to Aqua city where you’ll see one of the stranger things we saw during our trip to Tokyo… the Statue of Liberty. If you thought Japan having A Statue of Liberty was a little weird… you’ll be pleased to know that there’s two more you can see outside of Tokyo one in Shimoda, one in Osaka – oh, and of course the real one in New York.

After a photo with lady liberty, it’s time for your final stop before taking the Rainbow bridge back over to the city. That is a trip to Fuji Television headquarters. Fuji Television is one of the most popular TV channels in all of Japan, and their headquarters is a building you’ve no doubt seen towering over the rest of Odaiba.

Head inside the building and you’ll be able to buy a ticket to take a ride in the elevator up to the “hachitama” on the 25th floor. From here you have a great aerial view of Odaiba and on a clear day, you can even see out over to Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji.

Day Three: DisneySea

On your 3 out of 7 day Tokyo itinerary, we recommend visiting one of the two Disney parks in Tokyo, DisneySea. We have visited both parks ourselves but recommend this one for those on a 7 day Tokyo itinerary due to how unique it is compared to the traditional Disneyland Tokyo. That said if you’re a bit of a Disney nut like we are you’ll probably want to look at replacing one of the other days from this 7 day Tokyo itinerary with a day exploring Disneyland Tokyo.

DisneySea is like no other Disney park in the world and the people of Japan make the atmosphere here even more incredible. There’s so much to experience both in the form of rides, experiences as well as food and drink you’ll be spoilt for choice. Tickets for DisneySea can be purchased in advance online or upon arrival at the DisneySea gates. Don’t leave the parks without a souvenir, even if it is something small and cheap. The souvenirs from the Disney parks in Tokyo are some of the most in-demand in the world due to their kawaii style.

Day Four: Ueno Park & Kitchen Street

Day four of your seven day Tokyo itinerary will see you visit Ueno park and the nearby kitchen street. If you’re visiting Japan during Cherry Blossom season then Ueno park is going to be at the heart of your trip. It’s one of the most popular Cherry Blossom viewing points, is incredibly easy to navigate to and completely free to enter.

Inside Ueno Park, you’ll also find Ueno zoo. The zoo is spread over 35 acres and costs to enter, unlike the remainder of the park. Tickets for adults are 600 yen and 300 yen for seniors, 200 yen for students and free for children under the age of 12. All further information about Ueno zoo can be found on the dedicated Ueno zoo website including opening times, maps and additional visitor information.

It’s a short walk over lunch from Ueno Park over to our next stop, Kitchen Street (Kappabashi Street). An despite its name there’s little edible food here, so if you’re doing this trip over lunchtime I’d suggest getting something to eat from one of the many local and international places on your journey.

Kappabashi Street is one of those quirky places I’d heard about on the internet prior to visiting Japan. It was somewhere we wanted to visit but never quite found the time… Until we stumbled upon it walking back to our hotel from Ueno Zoo – I told you walking short distances around Tokyo (or any city for that matter) overtaking public/private transport has its benefits. 

The novelty and sheer volume of kitchen items here is phenomenal, both for industrial kitchens and homes. Along with the odd tourist, you’ll no doubt also see local restaurant owners picking up the latest plastic food to promote their menu and housewives from all over Japan who come here to purchase the best quality kitchen equipment for their home.

Day Five: Sensō-Ji & Tokyo SkyTree

Welcome to day 5 of your 7 day Tokyo itinerary. Today you’ll be kicking off the day by visiting the oldest and most significant temple in Tokyo; Sensō-Ji. Don’t worry if you’ve not had time to grab any breakfast, there’s plenty of local and international places around this area where you can eat both luxury and on a budget.

Sensō-Ji is also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple, as it is set in the district of Asakusa. Upon entering the temple area you’ll often walk through the large thunder gate also known as a kaminarimon.

As you walk up to the temple you’ll notice a lot of different areas including some small shopping huts on either side. These shops sell official Senso-Ji products including; scrolls, incense sticks, books and fortunes.

Post your visit to Senso-Ji you’ll want to head over the Sumida river to the Tokyo Skytree. The distance from Senso-Ji is around 1.7km on foot, taking you on a scenic tour over the river and through some of the back streets in the district for that true authentic Tokyo. Alternatively, multiple lines run non-stop from Asakusa Station to Tokyo Skytree Station in a journey that should take around 3 minutes.

Tokyo Skytree is more than just a broadcasting tower and observation deck. As the adjoining building is one of the largest and most commercial shopping centres in all of central Tokyo. It features multiple brands you’ve no doubt heard of; Starbucks, Gap, Uniqlo etc. But also, the more unique shops you’ve probably not such as the Pokemon Centre, Tully’s Coffee and Hello Kitty.

If you’re 7 day Tokyo itinerary is a budget one then I’d probably recommend against a trip to the top of the Tokyo Skytree. While it is the largest observation deck in the whole of Japan, it’s certainly one of the more expensive experiences on this trip with tickets for adults costing 2060 yen for the 1st observatory and a further 1030 yen for the 2nd observatory plus an additional fee of 510 yen for reservations in advance.

Day Six: Mount Fuji

Day 6 see’s you take the only trip out of central Japan during this 7 day Tokyo itinerary. We’re heading 100km south-west of the capital to Mount Fuji. Getting to any of the nearby regions of Mount Fuji by public transport can be difficult requiring multiple changes in a journey that takes around 3 hours one-way.

For this reason (and many more) we suggest getting a guided tour of the Mount Fuji area. This bus tour collects you from central Tokyo and takes you around the Mount Fuji area over the course of around 9 hours. It features multiple photo opportunities, the chance to dine at Oshino Shinobi no Sato and the chance to experience Mount Fuji like never before on a 4D Fuji Airways flight simulator.

Day Seven: View The Shinkansen

It’s your final day here in Tokyo and depending on your flight time you’ll be limited on what you can do before heading back to the airport. We have scheduled only one thing to do on this final leg of our 7 day Tokyo itinerary and that’s a trip to see the Shinkansen (bullet train) in person. Something you can easily tie into a trip back to the airport via public transport.

There are viewing platforms to see the Shinkansen at both Shinagawa station and Tokyo Station. A ticket costs around 200Yen, it’s an incredible way to end your time in Tokyo. As always, we’d love to know what you think of this 7 day Tokyo itinerary and if there’s anything you’d recommend to include – let us know in the comments below.

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