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How to Plan Your First Trip to Tokyo in 2024/2025

By Vicky LengUpdated Sep. 25, 2023

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, combines history and modernity perfectly. It is the top destination for travelers to experience as a birthday/graduation gift, annual trip, or bucket list trip, especially for families with teenagers and couples.

Tokyo offers unique experiences suitable for everyone, such as a ninja experience, admiring the iconic Mount Fuji, having fun in anime shops and theme parks, staying at a traditional ryokan, and visiting traditional shrines.

In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know for planning a trip to Tokyo, including how to budget, when you should visit, top things to do, and more.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Tokyo

Plentiful experiences and charming attractions await you in Tokyo, and we know that it can be hard to choose what you want to do. Below are some of our suggested activities in and around Tokyo, based on our experience of traveling and planning vacations in the city.

1) Visit shrines and temples to experience the traditional side of Tokyo

Except for the modern buildings, Tokyo boasts many representative shrines and temples with a long history that are worth visiting. Century-old Senso-ji and Meiji Shrine are attractions you should not miss. Take a rickshaw ride or walk through Asakusa district to feel the old vibe of Tokyo, where you can explore and pray at the most atmospheric Shinto site in Tokyo — Meiji Shrine, surrounded by towering trees.

2) Immerse yourself in a ninja experience in Tokyo

Ninja experience in Tokyo Ninja experience in Tokyo

Ninjas are often depicted in movies and anime around the world. In Tokyo, you have the opportunity to experience a fun-filled activity that is popular with kids and adults. You could suit up in a classic ninja outfit and learn about ninja culture, techniques, and weapons from an instructor, immersing yourself completely in the experience.

3) Soak up the anime atmosphere to fulfill your anime dream

Tokyo is a paradise for anime lovers. It's the perfect place to fulfill your children's interest in anime. A variety of family-friendly anime theme parks, such as the Pokémon Center, Tokyo Disneyland, and J-World, could captivate you with anime characters and fully immerse you in a fun atmosphere. You could also enjoy yourself in all kinds of anime cafés that offer interesting food based on anime characters.

You can just tell us your preferences and requirements and our Japan travel consultant will customize a tour for you.

4) Stay at a Japanese-style ryokan with an onsen in Hakone

Tradition Japanese ryokanJapanese-style ryokan

Hakone, located about 2 hours from Tokyo, is a popular destination known for its ryokans (old-style inns) with onsens (hot-spring baths) and picturesque scenery. Staying at a traditional Japanese-style ryokan is definitely one of the top things to do near Tokyo. Not only can you relax in a hot spring, but also you can sleep on a tatami and enjoy a high-class kaiseki meal to top off your experience.

5) Appreciate iconic Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji, the symbol of Japan, is best appreciated from Lake Kawaguchi, located about 2 hours away from Tokyo. Various activities allow you to immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery of Mount Fuji and provide unforgettable experiences, such as light hiking, taking a cable car ride, and biking.

How Long to Spend in Tokyo

Ideally, you should spend at least 2 full days experiencing the best of Tokyo. To discover more of Tokyo and visit popular places around it, such as Hakone and Lake Kawaguchi, you would need an extra day or two. If you have a vacation of 7–10 days, you could explore Kyoto or Osaka too.

3–5 Days in Tokyo

With 3–5 days in Tokyo, you could explore the major highlights, have some authentic experiences, and enjoy an in-depth Tokyo trip.

Day 1: Explore Meiji Shrine and Asakusa to experience the old vibe of Tokyo, take a stroll around the anime center in Akihabara, and dress up like a ninja to experience ninja techniques and weapons.

Day 2: Buy unique anime products exclusively available in Japan at the Pokémon Center, walk through the bustling Shibuya Crossing, enjoy a breathtaking view of the city from the iconic Tokyo Tower, and experience making sushi by hand in a local's home.

Day 3: Head to Hakone to enjoy a picturesque rural view and spend a night at a Japanese-style ryokan with onsen baths. Experience traditional Japanese accommodation by sleeping on a tatami, sampling high-end kaiseki, and relaxing in a hot spring.

If your time permits, we suggest you add one day to go to Kawaguchiko to visit the magnificent Mount Fuji or have fun at Tokyo Disneyland.

7 Days in Japan

One week in Japan is not a long time but it's enough to cover the highlights of two cities. On a 7-day trip, it's perfect to spend 3 days in both Tokyo and Kyoto, the two must-see cities in Japan.

Here is the suggested itinerary, for inspiration:

  • Days 1–3: Tokyo (Asakusa, Meiji Shrine, Pokémon Center, ramen-making, and a ninja experience)
  • Days 4–6: Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine, geisha, kimono wearing, and a ryokan)
  • Day 7: Departure

9–10 Days in Japan

If you have a longer vacation and want to explore the best of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, then this itinerary is perfect for you. Spending 5 days in the Tokyo area, 3 days in Kyoto, and 1 day in Osaka would allow you to have a richly-varied, highlight-filled trip in Japan.

Here is the hand-picked itinerary, for inspiration:

japan travel guide
  • Days 1–3: Tokyo (Asakusa, Pokémon Center, a ninja experience, sushi-making, and Tokyo Disneyland)
  • Days 4–5: Hakone (stay at a ryokan with onsen)
  • Days 6–8: Kyoto (afternoon tea with geisha, trying on a kimono, a tea ceremony, and feeding deer in Nara)
  • Day 9: Osaka (Dotonbori district and sampling street food)

How Much Does a Tokyo Trip Cost?

cost of Japan

A private tour in Tokyo includes 4-star hotels, a full-day itinerary, tickets for attractions, a private car, and a private guide.

  • For a family (3–5 people): a private tour costs approximately $350–500 per person per day
  • For a couple: prices start at approximately $450 per person per day

Our Japan expert will customize your trip based on your requirements, and make the most of your money.

Best Times to Visit Tokyo

Cherry blossoms in spring in TokyoCherry blossoms in spring in Tokyo

Tokyo can be visited all year round as each season provides various benefits and charming views.

The best times to visit Tokyo, when the weather is pleasant and the views are attractive, are in spring (March to May) to enjoy the incredible scenery of cherry blossoms and in autumn (September to November) to appreciate the colorful autumn foliage.

Summer (June to August) is hot and humid in Tokyo, with an average daily high of 31°C (88°F). Summer is the festival season in Tokyo, offering an opportunity to enjoy lively festivals and fireworks celebrations. June is a better time for families to spend their summer vacation as it is cooler and less crowded than July and August.

Winter (December to February) in Tokyo is cold and dry with a daily high of about 10°C (50°F). Nothing is better than staying at a traditional Japanese-style ryokan with an onsen to enjoy the snowy scenery in winter. Christmas and New Year are the busiest times to travel to Tokyo. Hotels and flights are easily booked up. Be sure to plan ahead and make reservations at least 3–6 months in advance.

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