The Perfect 2 Days in Tokyo

While we would all love to have as much time as possible to explore a city, sometimes we’re forced to make the most of a short period of time.  So what happens if you only have 2 days in Tokyo?  Here’s what you can’t miss:

Sushi.  Tokyo is home to some of the best raw fish in the world.  It’s a must.  While there are a lot of fantastic sushi restaurants in New York, nothing compares to the sushi in Japan.  In fact, I haven’t eaten sushi since I returned to New York.

Tempura.  Tempura, or deep fried seafood and vegetables, is a common Japanese dish.  Unlike traditional raw fish, tempura is hot and crunchy.

Sake.  Obviously.

Tsukiji Fish Market.  Tsukiji is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world.  There is an inner market where dealers purchase fish directly from licensed wholesalers, and an outer market where  pre-packaged sushi and other goods can be purchased by the public.  Visit the inner market early and then head to the outer market for sushi breakfast.

Nakamise Dori.  Nakamise Dori is a short street lined with many shops selling souvenirs such as kimonos and fans, as well as food.

Sensoji.  Nakamise Dori is the road leading to Sensoji, a Buddhist temple located in the Asakusa section of Tokyo.  Pictured below is the  the Hozomon Gate, the inner entrance to Sensoji.

Omikuji.  On the grounds of Sensoji, you will have the option to draw Omikuji (written fortunes).  If you draw negative Omikuji (bad fortune), you tie it to string or wire and release it.  Thankfully, I drew a positive fortune!

Toilets.  Ok, so this is more of a necessity, but you might as well enjoy it.  Toilets in Tokyo are high-tech.  Even the seats are heated.  Perhaps America will catch on soon!

Ueno Park.  Ueno Park, a public park in the Ueno district of Tokyo, is home to museums, fountains, a lake and a zoo.  Its biggest draw is its cherry blossoms, which draw large crowds when they bloom each spring.  Ueno Park is a bit like Central Park, but with more concrete and less grass.

Ginza.  Ginza is an upscale shopping district and is home to the most expensive shopping and real estate in Tokyo.  Ginza is like New York’s Fifth Avenue, but with more lights.

Vending machines.  Japanese vending machines sell all sorts of goodies.  Try the Japanese or Chinese tea – they’re the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.

Public transport.  The subway system in Tokyo is extremely clean and efficient.  Traffic in Tokyo can be unbearable, so the subway is your best option.  When you want a break from mass transit, hop in a taxi and watch the doors open themselves after you pay the fare.  Everything in Japan is high-tech.

Harajuku.  If you want to get a taste for Japanese street style, visit Harajuku.  You can reach Harajuku by taking the Yamanote line to Harajuku Station.  Upon exiting the subway station, you will face the entrance to Takeshita Dori, the famous shopping street in Harajuku.  On Sundays, you can see traditional traditional Harajuku Girls dressed in elaborate costumes and anime.  If you can’t make it on a Sunday, you can get a feel for Japanese street style any day of the week.

Imperial Palace.  The Imperial Palace is a large park in central Tokyo.  The grounds are home to the main residence of the Emperor of Japan, government buildings, lush gardens and a music hall.

Additional options would be the Shibuya Scramble, one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world, and the nearby Meiji Shrine.

What would you add?

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30 comments on The Perfect 2 Days in Tokyo

  1. Melissa @ Suitcase and Heels
    December 4, 2012 at 7:51 am (5 years ago)

    If you want to see just how far Tokyo expands (ie. forver) check out Tokyo Tower. It’s not as tall but there will be shorter lines than Tokyo Skytree.

    Did you ever get a toilet that played music? I had one at a public restroom one time that played a flushing sound when you hit the music button. I need to get one of those toilets here in Canada.
    Melissa @ Suitcase and Heels recently posted..Life’s a Beach in DubrovnikMy Profile

      • Melissa @ Suitcase and Heels
        December 4, 2012 at 9:07 am (5 years ago)

        When it comes to bathroom experiences, Japan had the most variety: in one public restroom they had squatters, regular toilets and the fancy ones with buttons – pictures on the doors to let you know what to expect. Something for everyone I guess. I went with buttons! lol
        Melissa @ Suitcase and Heels recently posted..Photo of the Week: Seonim BridgeMy Profile

  2. The Guy
    December 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm (5 years ago)

    They are some great suggestions. I’ve not been to Japan yet but it certainly sounds intriguing. The sushi is definitely a must!

    • City Gal
      December 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm (5 years ago)

      The sushi was seriously amazing! Everything was super fresh and there was such variety! We went to a restaurant one night specializing in tempura, and that was pretty damn good too!
      City Gal recently posted..The Perfect 2 Days in TokyoMy Profile

  3. Tom @ Waegook Tom
    December 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm (5 years ago)

    This looks awesome for a couple of days in Tokyo! I’ve been meaning to get over there for soooo long (I’ve been living in South Korea for 3 years+) and won’t be able to go in 2012…hopefully 2013 finally. I think based on this, Harajuku would be my first stop, and then some sushi (but without the tentacles!)
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Finding Peace in BuyeoMy Profile

    • City Gal
      December 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm (5 years ago)

      Funny, I loved Harajuku and couldn’t wait to go, but my Japanese friend who lives in Tokyo actually left me there to go shopping in Ginza. Apparently Harajuku is one of those things (every city has them) that’s super cool to foreigners, but not that cool to those who live in Tokyo (unless, of course, that’s your thing). I still think it was super cool though! Def go!
      City Gal recently posted..The Perfect 2 Days in TokyoMy Profile

  4. Wends of Journeys and Travels
    December 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm (5 years ago)

    Had been to Osaka but not to Tokyo and this post is just great. I missed sushi and tempura. The Japanese people are so friendly and very accommodating.

  5. Erica from
    December 5, 2012 at 2:55 am (5 years ago)

    Tokyo is one of the most amazing cities in the world! You have a great list of things to do while in the city. I would definitely add getting to a traditional Japanese onsen if you have the opportunity, the hot water and unique experience is definitely worth seeking out. However, I could just spend all my time eating sushi at Tsukiji too!
    Erica from recently posted..Cave Treasures of Ajanta and ElloraMy Profile

  6. Jess @UsedYorkCity
    December 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm (5 years ago)

    Love the guide…their toilets are the BEST! For night life, I would add hitting up one of those “all you can drink for 10 yen” places (but careful, they can be dangerous!), and then KARAOKE!
    Jess @UsedYorkCity recently posted..NYC’s Naughtiest Guidebook + GiveawayMy Profile

  7. Mary {The World Is A Book}
    December 6, 2012 at 2:07 am (5 years ago)

    Great compilation of Tokyo sights and scenes. We were in Tokyo last year and loved it. My kids have proclaimed Japan to have the best toilets and vending machines ever :) The Skytree just opened so that would be great to add. We went up the Government Municipal building for free and had some amazing views.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..The Magic of Disneyland during the HolidaysMy Profile

    • City Gal
      December 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm (5 years ago)

      I definitely missed the Skytree. When you have such limited time, there will always be things you miss, but you can look forward to doing them next time! Thanks for the suggestion!

      And yes, best toilets ever!
      City Gal recently posted..Channelling our Inner Blair WaldorfMy Profile

  8. Susan @ Online Travel Portal
    December 10, 2012 at 5:58 am (5 years ago)

    First of all thanks for sharing your experience in Tokyo amazing feelings while reading this. And I’d love to visit this place. but have you ever faced the language problem. because, seriously I never understand their signs it’s looks just a symbols to me.

    • City Gal
      December 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm (5 years ago)

      I am sure I would have noticed it more had I not been in Tokyo with my Japanese friend who lives there. I was by myself for a day and definitely had some difficulty finding things! The nice thing is it’s very easy to spot people who will speak English!
      City Gal recently posted..The Yacht Week Launches Nautical Brunch at Beauty & EssexMy Profile

  9. Amy
    December 10, 2012 at 7:26 am (5 years ago)

    Great pictures, especially the street dress style! I’m still not sure whether Japan is going on our travel itinerary yet, we already have two big budget countries on the list (Australia and New Zealand), so Japan might have to wait a while. Pics like yours make me want to reconsider though!
    Amy recently posted..Homesick? But we haven’t even left yet…My Profile

    • City Gal
      December 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm (5 years ago)

      I loved Tokyo and Harajuku! You should definitely visit!
      City Gal recently posted..SantaCon 2012My Profile

  10. Lombok Wander
    December 25, 2015 at 9:53 pm (2 years ago)

    NIce Sensoji temple in Japan..


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