Tokyo doesn’t do things by halves – it’s one of the world’s biggest cities, it has the world’s tallest tower and has the most Michelin-starred restaurants.
For all its bright lights, au fait trends and glass towers, Tokyo is not as modern as it appears. It has a layer of rich culture and ancient traditions mixed with modernisation – you can explore traditional temples and high-end shopping malls, interspersed with plenty of delicious food on your holiday to Japan.
If you’ve only got 48 hours in Tokyo here’s our suggestion on how to spend your time:
Hop on the metro and head to the Asakusa district to see Tokyo from the dizzy heights of the Skytree. At 634m high, it is the world’s tallest tower and offers amazing views over the city and, if you’re lucky you might see Mt Fuji in the distance.
Once you’ve taken in the views, head back down and wander over to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest and most acclaimed temple. Always bustling with worshipping locals and tourists, there is a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere. Browse the stalls of the street market, grab some of the cooked-to-order snacks or explore the narrow alleys to find a more substantial lunch.
Ueno Park is full of fascinating museums and galleries – take your pick from the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Nature and Science or, our recommendation, the Tokyo National Museum. Here you can wander through an impressive collection of art and artefacts, from Edo paintings to kimonos.
The lively district of Shibuya with its neon billboards, bars and restaurants is the perfect place to spend an evening. Disembark the train at Shibuya Station to experience the famous road crossing, before browsing the numerous boutique shops and grabbing a bite to eat. While here, why not indulge in the ultimate Japanese pastime and belt out a bit of karaoke?
While it is possible to catch the 5am tuna auctions at Tsukiji Fish Market, rolling up at 9am when the market properly opens still gives you plenty to see and experience. Restaurateurs and locals shop here for fish and you can grab a sushi breakfast at one of the many tiny shops. Take some time out of the hustle and bustle of the city in Yoyogi Park – the perfect place to people watch, you’ll also find the Shinto Meiji Jingu Shrine which is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
Catch the metro to Tokyo Central terminal and stop for lunch on the station’s ‘Ramen Street’. Pick your food from the vending machine outside the shop and hand your ticket to the staff to get a delicious bowl of noodle soup.
Next door to Tokyo Station is Chiyoda, the district at the very heart of old Edo Tokyo known as the ‘centre of Japan’. Here you’ll find the Imperial Palace, home to the royal family – you can see the buildings and explore some of the gardens. The area also houses Hibiya Park, the National Museum of Modern Art and Yasukuni Shrine.
From here walk into Ginza, Tokyo’s luxury shopping and entertainment district where you’ll find interesting architecture, luxury brands, twinkling neon lights and tea houses to enjoy a traditional hot beverage.
You’ve now spent the perfect 48 hours in Tokyo! Find out even more on our Tokyo destination page.