I just want to share our travel itinerary when my friend Abbey visited me here in Japan. We roamed around Tokyo during her visit! : )
If you are a creative person / an artist, maybe you will love our list of places. We would leave at around 9-10AM from Saitama to go to Tokyo. Most of the stores are still closed by 10/11AM so if you want to go temple-hopping, do it in the morning.
Arrive from airport
Rent wifi from Narita Airport (there are a lot, you just have to ask around: “Sumimasen, wifi rentaru / poketto wifi wa doko ni arimasu ka?”)
Keisei Skyliner -> Ueno
Leave bags inside rental locker (located inside the station)
Extra: Akihabara is just a station away. You can also walk from Ueno to Akihabara. : )
You can also rent meido-san / cosplay costumes here haha.
KINOKUNIYA bookstore in Shinjuku. Go to 7th floor for the English books. They do have the rare ones! : )
Sekaido = heaven for those who love hoarding art materials (like Abbey lolol)
Takeshita Street (first-timers might get overwhelmed because there are lots of stores to shop from!!)
Recommend shops: WEGO, TUTUANA, MOMO Wonderrocket, etc.
Recommended cafe: Nescafe Cafe (Abbey and I are both fans of cafes with superb interior design. We did some brainstorming here haha)
To go to Shibuya, you can either take Yamanote Line (1 stop away) or just walk from Harajuku to Shibuya. Abbey and I love enjoy walking (double purpose: sight-seeing and burn fats / get tummy space for more eating lolol)
I brought Abbey to Shibuya Crossing (forgot to see Hachiko though haha), LoFT (a paradise for notebook / pen / stationery / things-we-don’t-need lovers like us), and other places that I’ve forgotten. Woops!
Just roam around this area and discover homey cafes on your own. We loved
Extra: Nakano / Kichijoji
Asakusa for more traditional Japanese kawaii
If you can’t get enough of Harajuku, you can go back to Harajuku like what we did haha.
Extra: Tokyo Skytree (this is just near Asakusa, but you have to take the Tobu Skytree Line)
There are also a lot of rental lockers in Asakusa (though you must come early to reserve yours, as there are many tourists going to this area). I also suggest that if you are going to take the train from Shinjuku (like Narita Express / NEX) to the airport, you might consider leaving your stuff there first before you spend your last day to explore in Asakusa / elsewhere. If your flight is later in the evening, you can spend a short time around Asakusa and then go back to Shinjuku again. Please be mindful of your time, so that you won’t be late for your flight! : )
If you are looking for a snack stores to buy / hoard greentea KitKat & #OnlyInJapan omiyage / pasalubong for your friends, look for an Okashi no Machioka stall. They sell these chocolates / snacks cheaper than the ones in convenience stores. Okashi no Machioka has a branch in Shinjuku, Asakusa, and Nakano Broadway (and so much more). : )
If you want to explore an area in Tokyo for around 4-5 hours, I would recommend Ueno because it is such a hugeee place to roam around. You can have time for nature (and ZOOO), museums, shopping, eating and so much more. And you can walk to Akihabara (Tokyo’s Electric Town) if you get bored too, haha.
When my friend Abbey arrived from airport, we only had the rest of the afternoon to go exploring. I didn’t drag her to go to Shibuya / Harajuku / and the like because I know that for a first-timer, she would definitely want to spend a whole day in Harajuku + Shibuya area. You could say that “Ueno” is a good starter for a Tokyo trip.
Fresh from Narita, we decided to stop by Ueno first. There are lockers inside the train stations and we decided to leave Abbey’s luggage inside the Keisei station area. (From Narita, we took the “regular” train because it’s cheaper. More info about this here.)
Ueno is part of the historical Shitamachi (literally “low city”) district of Japan, a working class area rather than where the aristocrats and rich merchants lived. Today the immediate area, due to its close proximity to a major transportation hub, retains high land value but just a short walk away to the east or north reveals some of the less glitzy architecture of Tokyo.
Ueno Park and Ueno Station are also home to a large percentage of Tokyo’s homeless population. Though nearly invisible in other parts of Tokyo, the homeless population in Ueno can be found sleeping or communing in large numbers around the “ike” (ponds) of this district.