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1-Day Itinerary in Tokyo

Explore the best things to do in Tokyo in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

#1

#1 in Tokyo

If you're looking to learn a little (or a lot) about Japan's history, the Tokyo National Museum is the place to go. This museum is one of the country's most expansive, housing about 116,000 pieces of art and artifacts that cover the longest recorded history of Japan. Strolling through the halls of its numerous buildings, you'll spot relics such as samurai armor and swords (a traveler favorite), delicate pottery, kimonos, calligraphy, paintings, and much more, some of which are designated as national treasures and Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government. In addition to artifacts from Japan's history, you'll also find pieces from all across the Asian continent, including Buddhist scrolls that date all the way back to 607. 
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Tokyo National Museum
If you're looking to learn a little (or a lot) about Japan's history, the Tokyo National Museum is the place to go. This museum is one of the country's most expansive, housing about 116,000 pieces of art and artifacts that cover the longest recorded history of Japan. Strolling through the halls of its numerous buildings, you'll spot relics such as samurai armor and swords (a traveler favorite), delicate pottery, kimonos, calligraphy, paintings, and much more, some of which are designated as national treasures and Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government. In addition to artifacts from Japan's history, you'll also find pieces from all across the Asian continent, including Buddhist scrolls that date all the way back to 607. 
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10 minutes by car or 25 minutes by metro

#3

#3 in Tokyo

Free
The oldest religious site in Tokyo is also its most visited. The Sensoji Temple sees about 30 million annual visitors and dates all the way back to year 628. Despite its claim to antiquity, however, the structures that currently stand are relatively new reconstructions of previous edifices (during World War II, nearly the entire temple was razed). The Sensoji Temple is dedicated to Asakusa Kannon, the Buddhist god of mercy and happiness. According to legend, two fishermen struck gold and found a statue of the god while fishing on the Sumida River. The Sensoji shrine is dedicated to this lucky catch as well as features a small homage to the fisherman who caught the statue. Unfortunately, while here, you won't be able to see the actual statue. It is there, but it isn't on public display. It has never been. Either way, Buddhists and interested tourists alike flock to this attraction with the hopes that being in the presence of Kannon's healing powers will rub off on them. After you've properly toured Sensoji, take some time to check out the shops that line Nakamise Dori, which you'll find on the way to the temple. 
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Sensoji Temple
The oldest religious site in Tokyo is also its most visited. The Sensoji Temple sees about 30 million annual visitors and dates all the way back to year 628. Despite its claim to antiquity, however, the structures that currently stand are relatively new reconstructions of previous edifices (during World War II, nearly the entire temple was razed). The Sensoji Temple is dedicated to Asakusa Kannon, the Buddhist god of mercy and happiness. According to legend, two fishermen struck gold and found a statue of the god while fishing on the Sumida River. The Sensoji shrine is dedicated to this lucky catch as well as features a small homage to the fisherman who caught the statue. Unfortunately, while here, you won't be able to see the actual statue. It is there, but it isn't on public display. It has never been. Either way, Buddhists and interested tourists alike flock to this attraction with the hopes that being in the presence of Kannon's healing powers will rub off on them. After you've properly toured Sensoji, take some time to check out the shops that line Nakamise Dori, which you'll find on the way to the temple. 
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20 minutes by car

#4

#4 in Tokyo

Free
You'd think the Imperial Palace would be mobbed with tourists, but it's not. You can credit the lack of crowds to an application policy, which limits the number of visitors. That's because the Imperial Palace is home to the Emperor of Japan and the royal family. And before that, it was the residence for some of Japan's most important figures, including Emperor Meiji (credited for modernizing Japan) and rulers during the Edo Period (the time period before Japan was modernized by Meiji). Because of its significant importance in Japanese society, admittance to the site is hard to get (you have to put in your application several weeks in advance) and access inside the actual palace is even fewer and far between.
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Castles/Palaces Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Imperial Palace
You'd think the Imperial Palace would be mobbed with tourists, but it's not. You can credit the lack of crowds to an application policy, which limits the number of visitors. That's because the Imperial Palace is home to the Emperor of Japan and the royal family. And before that, it was the residence for some of Japan's most important figures, including Emperor Meiji (credited for modernizing Japan) and rulers during the Edo Period (the time period before Japan was modernized by Meiji). Because of its significant importance in Japanese society, admittance to the site is hard to get (you have to put in your application several weeks in advance) and access inside the actual palace is even fewer and far between.
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15 minutes by car

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#2

#2 in Tokyo

Free
The Meiji Shrine is a Shinto (Japan's original religion) shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Japanese history credits Meiji for modernizing Japan by incorporating Western principles into Japanese society, including adopting a cabinet system into government. After the emperor's death in 1912 and that of his consort in 1914, the Japanese commemorated their contributions with the Meiji Shrine. While the buildings are certainly worth visiting, the surrounding forest (considered part of the vast Yoyogi Park) is a sight to see as well. That's because 100,000 of the trees standing were all donated by Japanese people from around the country as a thank you to emperor.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine is a Shinto (Japan's original religion) shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Japanese history credits Meiji for modernizing Japan by incorporating Western principles into Japanese society, including adopting a cabinet system into government. After the emperor's death in 1912 and that of his consort in 1914, the Japanese commemorated their contributions with the Meiji Shrine. While the buildings are certainly worth visiting, the surrounding forest (considered part of the vast Yoyogi Park) is a sight to see as well. That's because 100,000 of the trees standing were all donated by Japanese people from around the country as a thank you to emperor.
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20 minutes by car or 40 minutes by metro

Free
Even if you're not a sushi connoisseur, the Tsukiji Market offers an unforgettable experience. It is the largest and oldest fish market in the world, handling upward of 1,800 tons of seafood per day. Ships arrive in the wee hours of the morning, and by 5 a.m., the famous tuna auctions have already commenced with wholesalers bidding for good-looking specimens. Unfortunately, due to the increased number of tourists, these exciting auctions are closed to the public, except for a small viewing area open from 5 to 6:15 a.m. While we encourage early risers to queue for this small space, the rest of the market, which always welcomes visitors, is sufficient to whet your appetite.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Tsukiji Market
Even if you're not a sushi connoisseur, the Tsukiji Market offers an unforgettable experience. It is the largest and oldest fish market in the world, handling upward of 1,800 tons of seafood per day. Ships arrive in the wee hours of the morning, and by 5 a.m., the famous tuna auctions have already commenced with wholesalers bidding for good-looking specimens. Unfortunately, due to the increased number of tourists, these exciting auctions are closed to the public, except for a small viewing area open from 5 to 6:15 a.m. While we encourage early risers to queue for this small space, the rest of the market, which always welcomes visitors, is sufficient to whet your appetite.
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15 minute walk

#8
Ginza Free

#8 in Tokyo

Free
New York has Fifth Avenue, London has Oxford Street, Paris has the Champs-Élysées and Tokyo has Ginza. The neighborhood is a shopper's paradise, housing all types of storefronts from affordable, big-name retailers such as H&M and Zara to upscale design houses such as Dior, Armani and Cartier. You can also find loads of specialty stores selling traditional items, such as kimonos, incense and chopsticks, as well as more unconventional finds, such as stores dedicated to buttons, model trains and even charcoal-infused beauty products. You can also find a plethora of Hello Kitty products at the Sanrio flagship store located here, as well as all the toys your kid's (or your) heart desires at the massive Hakuhinkan Toy Park. 
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Ginza
New York has Fifth Avenue, London has Oxford Street, Paris has the Champs-Élysées and Tokyo has Ginza. The neighborhood is a shopper's paradise, housing all types of storefronts from affordable, big-name retailers such as H&M and Zara to upscale design houses such as Dior, Armani and Cartier. You can also find loads of specialty stores selling traditional items, such as kimonos, incense and chopsticks, as well as more unconventional finds, such as stores dedicated to buttons, model trains and even charcoal-infused beauty products. You can also find a plethora of Hello Kitty products at the Sanrio flagship store located here, as well as all the toys your kid's (or your) heart desires at the massive Hakuhinkan Toy Park. 
... more

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