Things to do

Travel itinerary: Two days in Tokyo

We recently went to Japan on a guided tour with Go Ahead Tours and were able to visit Tokyo, the Mt. Fuji region, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. This was actually was one of our more slower-paced tours we’ve done with the travel company!

Our tour was mostly concentrated in Tokyo and Kyoto, with three nights in Tokyo and four nights in Kyoto. When all was said and done we had spent about two full days in Tokyo – two half-days and one full day.

We could have had one more full day in Tokyo, but we ended up booking the day trip to Kamakura instead as we figured when we return we’ll be able to figure out what to do in Tokyo on our own but probably wouldn’t do the day trip on our own. Plus, the excursion looked really cool so off we went to Kamakura for the day!

Here’s what we did end up doing with our two(ish) days in Tokyo!

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

We had left Sunday morning and arrived in Tokyo at about 3 p.m. on Monday. We made our way through customs and immigration (side note: Had no idea they take your fingerprints when arriving in Japan!), which was easy but the lines were long, and then met our group to get on our bus to go to our hotel.

Our tour director was at Haneda Airport picking up some people from our group, so we had a different guy coordinating us at Narita. We had his contact information and after figuring out which sign people were under we were able to find our group pretty easily.

Once we had everyone that was arriving in Narita, we got on the bus and headed into Tokyo. We got checked into our hotel and had some time to freshen up or rest before meeting for our group dinner that night, which was a buffet dinner at the hotel.

After dinner we went straight to bed to start adjusting to Tokyo time!

Day 2: Full day in Tokyo


The next morning we got up bright and early (well, not so much bright as it was pouring rain, but early) for our sightseeing tour of Tokyo! We were staying in the Asakusa neighborhood so we visited the nearby temple of Sensō-ji and explored the neighborhood.

The temple was free to visit and it was gorgeous. It sounds ridiculous but I kept telling Rick it felt like we were at Epcot but in real life. Which, duh, this was real life!

We had time for some shopping and found our first (of many) vending machines and I got a ridiculous little banana keychain for ¥300 (less than $2 USD).

I’ll be honest and say the weather was a bit of a downer, so we kind of just huddled inside the temple. It was also early so we didn’t need to purchase any snacks and with the rain, I wasn’t in the mood to buy souvenirs that may have gotten wet.

Yoyogi Park & Meiji Shrine

We then got on the bus and drove around Tokyo before stopping at Yoyogi Park and seeing the Meiji Shrine.

Both are free to visit!

The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. Sadly, both the Emperor and Empress had already passed on before the shrine was finished in 1920. 

We had enough time to see the shrine and walk the grounds and let the rain clear up a bit before we were back on the bus.


Our next stop was the Harajuku neighborhood! Unfortunately the rain had picked up again while on the drive over so we didn’t feel like shopping and instead went and found a spot for lunch.

We warmed up with some hot ramen, which was just what we needed and it was super affordable. That’s one thing I had heard about Japan before going that everything would be cheap for us. Like our lunch was under ¥4,000 which showed up as $25 on my credit card. That was for two bowls of ramen and a large beer and a medium beer.

I’m also glad we had our tour guide with us at the door as he explained how to order and how it would be served. It was like the first time we went to Europe and were confused about just grabbing seats ourselves. I didn’t fully know what to expect with dining out in Japan.

At the ramen place, we placed our order and paid and then got in a line to be seated. We didn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes I’d guess before seats opened up. Then the servers know which order is yours and they bring everything to you. We also got a nice big carafe of water which was appreciated.

After lunch, our friends went off to do some shopping and Rick and I just wandered and decided to see where the road would take us and happened across a cute little park with a koi pond and a cherry blossom tree!

Our first sighting in Tokyo! Look how happy we are in the rain:

Shibuya Scramble Crossing

We then got back on the bus and visited the Shibuya Scramble Crossing. It was like Times Square in NYC but also hyper-active. I loved it, but I also don’t mind crowded cities and bright lights.

This too probably would have been more fun if it wasn’t raining and we weren’t trying to battle our way through a crowd of a million umbrellas. I kid, as most people were very respectful and good about not bashing others with their umbrellas.

Word the wise: Get a clear umbrella if you want to blend in with the locals a bit more. You could always tell who a tourist was by the fact that their umbrella was not transparent.

And, if visiting a store or entering any building, use the umbrella plastic bag dispenser to make sure you’re not dripping water all over the floor. Some places also had umbrella stands for you to leave your umbrella while inside.

Japanese cooking class

That night we were booked for one of the optional excursions offered through our tour group: A Japanese Cooking Class.

We were greeted with a glass of sake or sparkling wine and then gathered round the main cooktop station to learn how to prepare our meal.

We made an egg dish, a salad, and gyudon, a beef and onion dish.

It was neat making those dishes and it was a good dinner, but the excursion was described differently on the itinerary and it ended up being a bit expensive for what we actually got out of it. I’m not mad we did it, but I don’t think we’d sign up for it again if we return to Japan with the same tour company.

But it still was a unique experience and let us get more hands on with the cuisine we were enjoying in Tokyo!

Day 3: Evening in Tokyo

On our free full day in Tokyo we opted to go to the seaside city of Kamakura instead, but we did return to Tokyo around 5 p.m. We were already using the trains so we asked our guide what train to take to get to the Akihabara neighborhood. Our guide gave us instructions and off we went!

We didn’t have any set plans as I had tried to find an owl cafe but then found out we needed reservations – so lesson learned there!

We ended up just exploring the area and taking in the extremely bright lights, loud sounds, and all the anime art decorating the buildings. I was on the hunt for a Sailor Moon plushie or doll but could only find action figures or finger puppets (which I did purchase). I was living out my seventh grader fantasy and loved it.

We found a conveyor belt sushi restaurant but the wait was something crazy like an hour and a half so we opted to head back to our neighborhood and find somewhere to eat or just pick up some food from 7-Eleven or LIFE mart.

We did make a quick detour to the iconic Don Quijote – a mega discount store. I found an adorable oven mitt in the shape of a shiba inu and he’s about to eat some sushi. It was only ¥1,200 (~$8 USD) and worth every penny. We then did end up at LIFE mart and got some sushi and delicious Choco Pies! I think our food was cheaper than my souvenir oven mitt.

Day 4: Half-day in Tokyo

Ueno Park

That morning we trolled Tokyo for some cherry blossoms at Ueno Park. It was a bit hit or miss there. Some trees were poppin’ and some still looked very closed up for the winter. It’s a shame because we could tell the park would be stunning when all of the blossoms were in bloom, but we were gonna take what we could get!

The park used to be the site of the Kaneiji Temple, but the temple was destroyed in 1868 in a battle between the shogun loyalists and the new government. It was then converted into a public park and opened in 1873.

The park is free to visit and it also has a zoo and a few museums.

We had about 30 minutes at the park, which was fine since it only took about seven to find all the cherry blossom trees that were in bloom!

East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

Our next stop in Tokyo was to visit the gardens at the Imperial Palace, which is also free! We ended up seeing a lot of historical sites on the cheap during our time in Tokyo.

We had about 45 minutes there so that was plenty of time to walk the trails and take in the stunning gardens and neat buildings on the grounds. The blooms here were a bit hit or miss too, but it was fine because some of the other flora was amazing to look at, as well as some of the other historic sites.

This park really reminded me of Central Park in NYC as you’re surrounded by all this greenery but then there are some skyscrapers visible and you realize you’re in the center of a city.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Afterward, we were getting ready to leave Tokyo but we had one more stop at the Observatory at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to see the city from above.

This too, was free to do! You just have to find the building and line for the elevator.  

It was really neat to see the city from this viewpoint. Just due to the wait to get up to the top we didn’t have much time to stay at the top of the observatory, but it was enough to get some good pics of the city. Even with the clouds we could still see a lot.

After looking down on the city it was time to say goodbye as it was time to start making our way to Mt. Fuji and then on to Kyoto.

I’m really happy with everything we were able to see and do in Tokyo with our travel itinerary but I know we still have so much more to see and do in this town!

I cannot wait to plan a return trip to Japan! I loved Tokyo and though Rick was more partial to Kyoto given its quieter vibes, but I know I can convince him to spend at least another day or two in Tokyo when we do return!

If you have any recommendations of what we should add to our next Tokyo travel itinerary, please feel free to share those in the comments!

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Hey, I'm Stephanie! I'm a copywriter living in beautiful Denver with my husband Rick, and our dog Rocco. I love traveling, writing, reading, and being outside as much as possible - unless I'm on the couch binge watching Stranger Things with a glass of wine! Thanks for reading and being a part of the adventure with Back to the Passport! ❤️

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