Robert Schrader in Tokyo, Japan

How Many Days Should You Spend in Tokyo?

With all the places to visit in Tokyo, you’d think the answer to the question of how many days in Tokyo to spend would be a million. Its long list of attractions, and its size—with an area of 845 square miles and metro area population of nearly 38 million, Tokyo is by most measures the largest city on the planet.

The truth of the matter might come as a relief to you, whether you have 10 days in Japan or an entire month: You can see the best Tokyo has to offer in just a few days. Continue reading to see my best Tokyo tips, which I’ve gleaned from nearly a dozen trips to Japan’s “Eastern Capital.”

Need help deciding how many days to spend in Tokyo? Commission a custom Japan itinerary!

Where to Stay in Tokyo

The place you choose to sleep in Tokyo has a big impact on how you enjoy your trip, though quality accommodation is available at every income level. From luxury hotels like Park Hyatt Tokyo and boutique properties such as Celestine Hotel, to “business hotels” like UNIZO Inn Tokyo Kanda-eki West and capsule hotels like nine hours Shinjuku-North, you’ll find clean, safe and convenient Tokyo lodging no matter how much money you want to spend—and now matter how many days Tokyo occupies in your final Japan itinerary.

Tokyo Itinerary Ideas

Tokyo in 2 Days

In my opinion, the minimum answer for how many days you need in Tokyo is two days, which will allow you to see the most important attractions of the city (though one day in Tokyo is technically possible).

After breakfast in your hotel on day one, ride the Tokyo Metro to Asakusa station, where you can experience Tokyo history in the district of the same name, visiting ancient Senso-ji Temple and the ultra-modern Tokyo SkyTree. Ride the Ginza Line to Omote-sando, and stroll down the famous boulevard to Harajuku, home both to wild Takeshita Street and the serene Meiji Shrine. Finish out day one with dinner at a raucous Izakaya in the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku, or near Shibuya‘s famous pedestrian crossing. Speaking of Shibuya, a great way to discover the nightlife of this iconic Tokyo district, along the fabled Nonbei Yokocho and otherwise, is with a guided Shibuya tour.

Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan

Devote the second day of your Tokyo 2 day itinerary to some of the city’s finer points. If you’re an early riser, for instance, get a taxi to Toyosu Fish Market no later than 3 am to watch one of its famous tuna auctions, or head to the former site of the auctions, the picturesque Tsukiji district, and simply eat “sushi for breakfast” before heading to Shinjuku or Shibuya, Yoyogi or Ueno Parks for a relaxing afternoon.

By night, head to Hamamatsu-cho at the observatory of the Tokyo World Trade Center, which offers one of the best views of Tokyo (and, on clear days, Mt. Fuji)—a perfect conclusion to your short, sweet trip.

Asakusa in Tokyo, Japan
Omote-sando in Tokyo, Japan
Harajuku in Tokyo, Japan
Cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Japan
Sashimi in Tokyo, Japan
Tuna Auction in Tokyo, Japan
Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan

3 Days in Tokyo

To create a 3 day Tokyo itinerary, simply take my two-day plan above and build upon it. If you prefer to stay inside the city, add districts and attractions to the list I’ve already helped you make. For example, add a morning at the base of the Tokyo Tower in Shibakoen, an afternoon along the Chidorigafuchi moat of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, a night strolling in the arcade district of Akihabara or in high-end shopping mecca (and home of the $600 melon!) Ginza.

Day trip from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji

Another option, if you decide the answer for how many days for Tokyo is at least three, would be to visit one of Tokyo’s exciting museums, like the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation on Odaiba Island (which, incidentally, is a great place to enjoy a night view of Tokyo’s skyline and the Rainbow Bridge). For a more comprehensive guide of how to see Tokyo in 3 days, including the option for day trips from Tokyo, check out the three days in Tokyo itinerary I’ve written over at my other site, Japan Starts Here.

5 Days in Tokyo

With 5 days in Tokyo, you can see all the best places in Tokyo, plus take one or two Tokyo day trips. For example, you can follow the three days in Tokyo itinerary I’ve created above, and spend your fourth in heritage-filled Nikko (about an hour from the city via the private Tobu Nikko Line, or 90 minutes using JR Pass trains including the super-fast Shinkansen) and your fifth in the hot springs town of Hakone. You can also enjoy the view of the city (and Mt. Fuji rising above it) from the free i-Link observation deck in Ichikawa city, Chiba prefecture, which is a bit more difficult to pull off if two or three days is what you’ve decided when it comes to how many days to visit Tokyo.

Nikko in Tokyo, Japan

Want to actually spend a night outside of Tokyo? How many days to stay in Tokyo doesn’t simply have to be about the city center. You could head north into the mountains of Gunma prefecture to the pristine Takaragawa Onsen, westward toward the Fuji Five Lakes region (and in particular, the town of Kawaguchi-ko) or southward into Kanagawa prefecture, where cities like historical Kamakura and industrial Yokohama are far more than Tokyo exurbs.

When to Visit Tokyo

Whether or not you absolutely believe that cherry blossom season is the best time to visit Japan, the country’s capital surely looks its best dressed in pink and white. Tokyo is likewise beautiful in October, November and December, when yellow gingko trees and red Japanese maples paint the city in a warmer palette.

With this being said, Tokyo is at its most expensive when it’s at its most gorgeous, so a visit to Tokyo in winter or summer might be the best idea if you want to see Tokyo on a budget. Furthermore, if the main purpose of your trip to Japan lies outside the capital (for example, coming to Kyoto during sakura season or going to Osaka either for business or to compare Osaka vs Tokyo—I’ve also written a post comparing Tokyo vs Kyoto), the timing of your Tokyo trip (and when it comes to the practical aspect of visiting Tokyo, how many days you spend) may necessarily reflect that.

The Bottom Line

No matter how many days in Tokyo you have, you can gain deep insights into the largest city in the world in a surprisingly short amount of time. Spend three days out of two weeks in Japan (or five days in one month), or simply add a “bleisure” day or two onto a Tokyo (or even an Osaka!) business trip. Regardless, your next trip to Japan won’t be your last, so see the most you can and vow to return again some day—how long to stay in Tokyo becomes a more superfluous question the more frequently you return. Need an even more interesting perspective? Read my new post comparing Tokyo with Seoul!

Leave Your Daily Hell   Filed under: Japan

About The Author

is the author of 1074 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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