3 days in Tokyo itinerary and what to do

Shibuya crossing (Tokyo)

As most trips to Japan begin their story in Tokyo, here is a three days itinerary, which will take you to all the great places this ever-surprising metropolis has to offer.

By taking all of the advantages of your Japan Rail Pass, in this compact travel guide we will show you how to make the most out of your stay in Tokyo: where to go, what to see and what to do, for the best prices!

Day 1: Landing in Tokyo, Shibuya and Ueno

Exchange your Japan Rail Pass at any of two terminals in Narita Airport or the Haneda Airport International Terminal:

  • Narita Airport Terminal 1
    JR EAST Travel Service Center – Exchange Office
    Working hours: 8:15 – 19:00; every day
  • jr-east-narita
    • Narita Airport Terminal 2-3
      JR EAST Travel Service Center – Exchange Office
      Working hours: 8:15 – 20:00; every day
  • jr-east-narita-2

 

  • Haneda Airport International Terminal
    JR EAST Travel Service Center
    (Tokyo Monorail 2F Ticket Gate – Arrival lobby)
    Working hours: 7:45 – 18:30; every day

After having exchanged your Pass, take the Narita Express, (included in your Japan Rail Pass) and travel to any of the following Tokyo stations: Shinagawa – Shibuya – Shinjuku – Ikebukuro – Omiya – Yokohama – Ofuna.

Note: The Narita Express requires a seat reservation, which is why we recommend reserving a seat during the exchange process. There will be no extra reservation charges for owners of the Japan Rail Pass (for those coming from Haneda airport, the Tokyo Monorail stops at Hamamatsucho station).

Travel tip: When in Tokyo, you can use your Japan Rail Pass on the following lines:

Please refer to our Tokyo metro map for details on which lines you can use. For the rest of the city transport in Tokyo, we recommend you purchase a PASMO or a SUICA card.

The Narita Express, as well as the JR Yamanote Metro line, will take you to one of the most famous, visited and pictured places in Tokyo: the Shibuya Crossing . Google already considers it a fully-functional synonym of the Times Square of Tokyo, because it is!.

Shibuya crossing

Let’s be honest – Shibuya is amazing! It is the world center of the city centers, it is where many Tokyo-natives like to drink after work, it is where the story of the most loyal dog – Hachiko – began, and also where everyone wants to take a picture. Pedestrians stand still on red light, but the second it turns green, the river of people in a hurry cannot be stopped.

Shibuya crossing at night
Shibuya crossing at night

It is the place where the magic happens and where magic has been captured through the centuries. You can spend a whole day around the ward of Shibuya and still not get to see all of it.

After your visit, take the Yamanote line from Shibuya Station, using your Japan Rail Pass, and visit the biggest and most famous park in Tokyo – Ueno Park.

Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo

It is precisely here, where some of the most spectacular views of cherry blossoming (usually between the last week of March and the first week of April) is happening. Perfect for picnics, long walks and talks.

Just next to the Ueno Park is located the famous Ueno Zoo, where children and adults of all ages can enjoy the experience of seeing over 2,600 animals, including giant pandas, red pandas, pelicans, lemurs, wolves, lions, tigers and more.

Children younger than 12 years of age can enter for free, while the price for students is 200¥ Yen and for adults 600¥.

Day 2: Tsukiji market, Ginza and Hamarikyu Gardens

Tsukiji fish market

After visiting the busiest crossing in the world and the greatest park in Tokyo, it is time to discover the uniqueness of the largest and most famous fish market in the world – the Tsukiji fish market.

Tsukiji fish market (Tokyo)
Tsukiji fish market

The market deals with over 2,000 tons of marine products each day. Before any of this starts, each morning between 5:25 and 6:10, tourists are let in on a fantastic free show of fish auction – one of the most authentic experiences in Tokyo. To make sure you are allowed in, we recommend to get there around 3:00 AM in the morning as only 120 people will be able to watch (divided into two separate groups).

Every single Tokyo guide will tell you to visit the market, and there is a good reason for it. Only by seeing it, you will be able to understand the importance of the seafood in the Japanese cuisine and get to try it first-hand from the little pop-up booths offering delicious and fresh meals.

Ginza shopping area and Hamarikyu Gardens

While in the neighborhood, don’t miss out on the Ginza area, which will sweep you off your feet once again. The Tokyo version of Manhattan attracts many people for its clean, organized and diverse stores and restaurants.

If it is only logical to take a rest, after a long morning and a tiring day of crowded streets and stores, take a deep breath and head to the Hamarikyu Gardens. They may not be the most famous, but sure are what anyone would like to experience after a busy day.

Surrounded by nearby tall constructions, it is a little piece of nature, in between the concrete jungle of Tokyo. These Japanese gardens will fascinate you with a little teahouse, located on an island in one of the lakes. Visitors can sip on their tea in peace and quiet while enjoying the cultural experience.

Day 3: Asakusa, Harajuku, Meiji Shrine and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Asakusa and Senso-ji temple

Last day in Tokyo, a day to remember, a day to take the most out of the old Japanese spirits.

Located in Asakusa, one of the Tokyo center districts lays the area’s most famous and beautiful Sensoji temple. Build in the 7th century, it represents one of the oldest and most famous temples in Japan. However, bear in mind that most of the current building is post-war reconstruction, due to massive bombings, which destroyed large parts of the city.

Senso-ji shrine and pagoda
Senso-ji shrine and pagoda

Most of the district has been rebuilt and has regained its popularity amongst locals and international visitors. It will take you nearly 2 hours to take a walk and enjoy everything there is to see.

Don’t be blinded by the endless typical souvenir shops on the main streets and dig deeper into the hidden narrow streets of the area. You will be surprised to discover traditional kimono tailors, purse tailors, even UFO catchers! There is nothing typical about this neighborhood, just step out of the main streets.

Then, after getting to know Asakusa better and enjoying the diverse and beautiful cultural experiences, cross the river and head to the Asahi Beer Hall, where you can have a cold beer on the rooftop.

Harajuku, Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park

Tokyo is a city of contrasts, and you are going to understand this even better by taking a walk down to Harajuku area, located just next to the Harajuku station. Seeing up close the old and the new from Tokyo’s districts will tell you the story of how Japan has changed throughout the years.

Going down the Takeshita Dori (Dori stands for street), you will discover the young and vibrant Japanese shopping and clothing culture. To the east, west, south or north of this point, you will find high-end stores, tiny jewelry shops, broad and diverse streets, all in one: the perfect combination of food, shopping, and culture.

The only thing that might be missing in this combination is the nature aspect – not to worry! The Meiji Shrine entrance is just next to the Harajuku station.

Meiji shrine entrance
Meiji shrine entrance

The temple is dedicated to the first emperor of modern Japan (Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken), and it was one of the severely damaged spiritual places during the World War II, rapidly rebuilt shortly after.

Located within walking distance from the Yoyogi Park (picture below), this is a place preferred by many for its serenity, green fields and a chance to sit down, have a picnic and relax with your family and children.

Tokyo Metropolitan Building

Views from the Tokyo Metropolitan Building in Shinjuku
Views from the Tokyo Metropolitan Building in Shinjuku

Finally, we recommend seeing Tokyo from above, before saying “goodbye.” The spectacular views from different heights and during different times of the day can completely change your perception. Visiting the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku offers the chance to see the entire city from 202 meters height, at the observation deck on the 45th floor.

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25 thoughts on “3 days in Tokyo itinerary and what to do”

  1. Every time I visit Tokyo, I spend time in Asakusa and wander around the Sensoji temple. There’s a special energy to that place; a hustle and bustle with street vendors, tiny shops, and something to look at everywhere you turn. Another spot I recommend is visiting the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi because there are always high-quality exhibits year-round.

  2. Hi, me and my wife are arriving in Fukuoka on Oct17 with flight back to Manila on Oct24 – 7 days! Can we purchase our JR Rail Pass upon our arrival in Fukuoka with our US$?
    Thanks!
    Jeri

  3. Hello Jericho,
    Unfortunately, the Japan Rail Pass is not sold in Fukuoka.
    The easiest option will be to order it online at http://www.jrailpass.com a month in advance before your planned departure date.
    You will be able to exchange the pass at Hakata Station, which is just a short metro ride away.

    This is the fastest, easiest and worry-free option for your and your wife.

    Very happy travels,
    The JRailPass team

  4. Hi! My family and I will have our vacation in Japan next week. We’ll be arriving Narita, Tokyo on April 18 and be back in Manila on April 23. Can we purchase the JR Pass upon our arrival in Narita International Airport ?
    Thanks!
    Viella

  5. Hello Viella,
    You and your family can purchase the Japan Rail Pass in Narita Airport, however, keep in mind that the price will be about 20% higher than purchasing it online.

    Kind regards,
    The JRailPass team

  6. i need help with deciding on the type of JR tickets I need to purchase for my trip. I’m flying into Haneda Airport on 11/4. Here’s my itinerary 11/4-6 TOKYO, 11/6-8 OSAKA, 11/8-11 KYOTO, 11/11-14 TOKYO. If I buy a 7-day JR ticket to travel from Tokyo to Osaka, Kyoto and back to Tokyo (11/6-11 = 6 days), what other type of transportation do i need to buy in order to travel around Tokyo?

    Your help is greatly appreciated!
    Regards,
    May

  7. Hi May,

    Please refer to our Getting around Tokyo with the JR Pass article for more detailed information on what transportation included in the Japan Rail Pass can you use to move around Tokyo. However there will be parts of the city that you won’t be able to reach with the pass and thus you might want to also count on a PASMO card, available for non-Japan Rail transportation in Tokyo, such as the Tokyo railway, Tokyo Metro subway system, and city buses. The Pasmo Card can be purchased at Tokyo Metro stations.

    Have a nice trip!

  8. Hi! Our port of entry and exit is Nagoya. We will arrive on July 1 and head to Tokyo on July 2. We plan to go back to Nagoya on July 6 as our flight departing Nagoya will be on July 7. Can you advice on which JR Pass will we purchase? Can we use the JR Pass within Nagoya as well?

  9. Hi Marc Ronald Paig!

    You won’t be able to use your Japan Rail Pass within Nagoya; however you can use it to travel from there to almost any other location in the country.
    The best pass for you will depend on how much you want to travel – the Japan Rail Pass will save you more money the most you travel around the country.

    Happy travels!

  10. hello there.
    can we use the JR pass going to Kyoto? we are going to Kyoto for 3 days. (bullet train) please let me know.
    thank you.

  11. Hi there! We are traveling to Japan from June 7-14,upon purchase days before can I get the pass delivered to my hotel in Shinjuku new city hotel? And upon arrival early that morning ..what is the next thing to do ?pls respond asap ..thanks..

  12. Hi Teresa Zamar,

    Yes – we do ship orders straight to your acomodation in Japan. Please just make sure to provide the address correctly written and in English to avoid any delivery problem.

    Happy travels!

  13. Hi Donna!

    This is not a tour but a recommended itinerary within the city that will help you get the most out of your Japan Rail Pass. For additional details regarding sightseeing Tokyo we recommend you to also check our article on the JR Yamanote line, which is probably the most popular and convenient way for getting around Tokyo and that is included in the Japan Rail Pass.

    Have a nice trip!

  14. Hi Planning a trip to Tokyo for 3 days and Kyoto for 3 days then back to Tokyo on the 7th day . Flying back to Manila from Narita. What time should I leave Kyoto if my flight is in the afternoon?

  15. Hi Carls!

    To go to Narita Airport you can take the Narita Express, which takes approximately 1 hour to get from Tokyo Station, 1 hour and 15 minutes from Shibuya Station and around 1 hour and 20 minutes from Shinjuku Station.

    Enjoy your trip!

  16. HI I’m planning to trip this July 28 til 31 in Tokyo… Utang i don’t have idea which are the best view I can visit in Japan.. But I have already planned one day July 30 in desneyland…from narita airport you can go to bullet train to Osaka? I think my hotel in Osaka Tokyo.
    Thank you and best regard

  17. Hi Maria!

    From Narita Airport you can take Narita Express to central Tokyo. This trip is fully covered by your Japan Rail Pass. To get from Tokyo to Osaka, you will need to take either the Hikari bullet train or Kodama from Tokyo or Shinagawa stations in central Tokyo. Both run on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, connecting the two cities.

    Very happy travels!

  18. Hi Pungky!

    Sure! The JR Pass affords access to five different Tokyo railway lines:
    – The Yamanote Line is a loop line which passes through Tokyo’s various city centers and numerous stations, including Tokyo, Ueno, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, and Shibuya Stations.
    – The Keihin-Tohoku Line runs parallel to the eastern side of the Yamanote, and can be accessed from Tokyo, Ueno, and Shinagawa Stations. On the western side, the Yamanote is complemented by the Saikyo Line.
    – The Rapid Chuo Line can be accessed from Tokyo and Shinjuku Stations.
    – The local Chuo-Sobu line services both east and west Tokyo, from Chiba to Mitaka, passing through Akihabara, Yoyogi and Shinjuku Stations. Ryogoku Station can be reached from this line, providing access to the Kokugikan Sumo tournament arena.

    In Osaka you will be able to use the Osaka Loop Line, which circles through downtown Osaka.
    Numerous trains in and around Kyoto can be accessed using your Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto. Local Kyoto JR lines include the Sagano Line and the Nara Line.

    Enjoy your trip!

  19. hello there, i am angus . just wanna know about the type of trains and the timetable to mount fuji and hakone. tq

  20. Hi Angus!

    We recommend you to read our article on Mount Fuji and Hakone: day trip itinerary with the JR Pass. There you will find the most interesting tips and recomendations for a visit to that amazing corner of the country. Regarding times please make sure to check Hyperdia for the most updated information. It will enable you to precisely plan your trip in Japan from station to station with punctuality to the second – Japanese style 😉

    We hope you enjoy your trip!

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