A handful of suggested day itineraries that try to cover different areas and aspects of the capital.
Mix the Old with the New
After lunch take a taxi to Kappabashi Kitchenware Town (less than ¥1,500). Spend the afternoon looking around the crockery and utensil stores before heading east towards Asakusa (it’s worth checking out the bazaar-like collection of gifts and souvenirs in Don Quijote on your way). Start off at Kaminarimon and make your way up Nakamise towards Senso-ji Temple.
Grab dinner at nearby Hoppy Street (or at one of the many tempura or okonomiyaki restaurants in the area). Once it gets dark, walk back through the grounds of Senso-ji Temple to see the structures lit up at night (in particular, the Five-Storied Pagoda) before carrying on to Tokyo Skytree to see the capital from its highest point.
Tokyo’s Fashion Districts
Harajuku | Omotesando | Aoyama | Shibuya
Come out of the Omotesando Exit of Harajuku Station and make your way up the gravel path towards Meiji Shrine before the crowds arrive. After spending an hour or so looking around the grounds, walk back to Harajuku Station, down Takeshita Dori, and onwards into the side streets off Omotesando Dori.
Slowly head towards Aoyama and get lunch at one of the many trendy restaurants in the area (Commune 2nd is one recommendation if the weather is good). Afterwards cross to the other side of Omotesando Dori and move back towards Harajuku until you reach Cat Street, a winding shopping street that leads to Shibuya.
Spend the rest of the day exploring Center Gai in Shibuya until the sun sets and the neon lights take over. For dinner head to Ebisu, but before you do get a drink in the narrow alleyway of Nonbei Yokocho.
Go All Cultural
Start out from Nippori Station ready to explore the backstreets of Yanaka and its many temples. Slowly meander your way to Nezu Shrine.
From Nezu Shrine it’s a 20-minute walk to the south end of Ueno Park. Get lunch on the way and spend the afternoon looking around the many museums and art galleries in and around the park.
Leave Ueno Park via the Park Exit to the east and head south towards Ameya Yokocho. Jump into one of the yakitori bars under the rail tracks for dinner before making your way towards Okachimachi Station via the night market.
For the Energetic
Make an early start and get breakfast at the sushi bars of Tsukiji Fish Market before spending the morning browsing the outer market stalls (for the true early birds there is also the tuna auction).
Around midday walk to Shiodome Station and take the Yurikamome Line to Odaiba. Spend the afternoon strolling along the beachfront and shopping in the many malls (you can re-energize at Oedo Monogatari Onsen).
Shimokitazawa | Jindai-ji Motomachi | Yoyogi-Uehara
Start your day by exploring the north-side of Shimokitzawa. The area is Tokyo’s East London—a hipster area with pop-up coffee bars and second-hand shops—and one of the most popular places to live for young Japanese.
After a late breakfast in Shimokitazawa jump back on the train from Shimokitazawa Station and head to Chofu (Keoi-Inokashira Line to Meidaimae Station and then change to the Keoi Line). The area around Jindai-ji Temple (a short bus ride from the station) is famous for soba and you could easily forget that you’re in the capital when wandering around its quiet paths. In the late afternoon walk to the day onsen Yumori no Sato to refresh yourself in the salt hearth sauna and relax in the jet black natural spring water.
In the evening head to Yoyogi-Uehara. Come out of the West Exit of the station, turn right, and follow the road. It’s quite an exclusive and expensive area, and a superb place for a peaceful evening drink or dinner.