If you happen to find yourself with 24 hours in Tokyo and only have enough time to spend one day in this buzzing metropolis, do not despair. Though we recommend spending around three to five days exploring Tokyo, there is plenty that can be covered in one day.
You may not be able to see EVERYTHING in 24 hours but you certainly will be able to gain a good sense of what this thriving city is all about.
24 hours in Tokyo: Morning
Tsukiji Fish Market
If you only have one day in Tokyo, wake up nice and early and do not waste a second of it. In fact some of Tokyo’s most popular experiences happen in the early hours of the morning. For the yells and big buys at the Tsukiji Tuna Auction, arrive at around 3:00 in the morning to join the queue. Due to the important business deals that happen here, only a very limited number of tourists are permitted into the auction. Once the auction is over and Tsukiji Market opens to the public, there is no better place to enjoy a fresh sushi breakfast than at the sushi stalls that surround the market (check our breakfast guide for other options and the best breakfast in Tokyo). As of October 2018, the Tsukiji Fish Market will relocate to it’s new location and reopen at the Toyosu Market approximately 2.3 km from the original location.
If waking up before 3:00 in the morning sounds too early then there are plenty of other things to do in the morning. Sumo wrestling is a hugely popular sport in Japan and a number of major tournaments are held in Tokyo throughout the year. If you do not get the chance to see one of these matches, the next best option is to watch a training session. Sumo training sessions offer a fascinating chance to catch a glimpse of the wrestlers at work.
There are around 45 sumo stables in Tokyo in which the wrestlers live and train. The easiest and cheapest way to watch a training session is to head to Arashio-beya stable where visitors can stand on the path and look through the stable’s large windows for free. The practice begins at 7:30 in the morning and usually lasts for around three hours. The nearest station is Hamacho Station on the Toei Subway Shinjuku Line.
Once the early morning activities are over, head to Asakusa and visit Tokyo’s oldest temple. This historical site is home to the shrine of the Goddess Kannon and is an important Buddhist temple. Around the temple grounds is a market selling a range of authentic souvenirs and tasty food – ideal for a quick bite to eat.
If you have a head for heights then visit Tokyo Skytree for panoramic views of the entire city. This contemporary broadcasting tower is 634 meters high and boasts two spacious observation decks.
If you wish to experience Tokyo’s renowned fashion subcultures then Harajuku is the place to go. Here you will find a range of weird and wonderful shops selling a variety of quirky outfits and accessories. Harajuku also has a vibrant café culture with plenty of unique options.
For those who like to shop, Ginza boasts everything from high end fashion trends to high street favourites. There are also a number of large department stores which could take a few hours to explore.
For something truly unusual head to the exciting district of Akihabara and visit one of the area’s many Maid Cafes. Waitresses dress similar to Anime characters and serve customers in a witty, cutesy style. Food is served in the shape of cute animals and the waitresses can provide a variety of quizzes and games. It may sound slightly strange but it is a brilliant experience.
Once the setting for the movie Lost in Translation, the Park Hyatt is an iconic Tokyo hotel with a number of destination bars and restaurants. In the early evening, visitors can experience some of the most delicious sake at the exquisite Kozue restaurant. This restaurant is made up of large glass windows which offer stunning city views that reach as far as Mount Fuji on a clear day. Lunch is between 11:30-14:30 and dinner starts at 17:30.
The district of Shinjuku is famed for its energetic nightlife and vivacious atmosphere. Begin by exploring Shinjuku’s local bars before visiting one of the area’s many karaoke bars. Karaoke is a popular pastime in Japan and the perfect way to celebrate your only evening in the city.