tokyo japan

Your Ultimate Planning Guide for Tokyo Japan

Here’s a guide to help you with your itinerary planning to Tokyo, the bustling capital of Japan, where about 250 thousand sushi restaurants can be found, home to the biggest wholesale fish market in the world and where the Kitkat wafer chocolate come in vast array of flavors including sake.

Check Visa Requirements

Aside for a valid passport, any foreign visitor will need a visa to enter Japan either on a short visit or for a long-term visit. If you are a national of countries that have “Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements” with Japan then you will not need a visa to visit. Since I’m a Philippines passport holder, I need to apply for visit visa to enter Japan. Usually visa application takes 3-5 working days and you need to leave your passport with the embassy during these days for them to process your visa application.

To check if you do need a visa and to start processing your visa application, you can visit this website.

Check the Weather

Japan has four distinct seasons.

  • Winter (December – February)
  • Spring (March – May)
  • Summer (June – August)
  • Autumn (September – November)

You need to check what would be the season on when you will be travelling. After checking the weather, you will  have a clearer picture on what to pack for, how to prepare your activities and what to include in your itinerary.

Here is a great source to check and monitor the weather for Tokyo and surrounding cities for your travel dates on the internet. Also, there’s an app for that. I heavily rely on Yahoo Weather app for weather monitoring. It’s got 5-10 days forecast included plus it features nice images and graphics on your destination. Making you more excited for your upcoming trip.

 

Check Events and Festivals

It’s a good idea to check if there are events or festivals that you may want to be a part of when coming to Tokyo. For first timers like me, the cherry blossoms in early April tops the list.

Ueno Park Tokyo Japan Photo Credit:en.wikipedia.org
Ueno Park Tokyo Japan Photo Credit:en.wikipedia.org

But if you are coming to Tokyo around winter season or just after winter season, then it might be a good idea to try ski resorts around Tokyo and make your trip a memorable snowy getaway. There are a number of them actually and just within 3 hours of Tokyo!

If you are travelling to Tokyo around the summer months, then a good thing to add in to your itinerary are the Sanja Matsuri Festival and the Tokyo Minato Matsuri.

Check Day Tours or Daytrips

Tokyo is the capital of and is located in the heart of Japan. Being a major tourist destination, group tours and activities are abundant that caters to every type of tourist. If you want to escape the bustling and loud Tokyo for a day, you can always take day trips and be back at Tokyo at night to enjoy yet another ramen place.

For my trip, I booked a day trip and sightseeing tour to Mt. Fuji and Hakone in advance. This might be a good idea for your trip too. One website that has helped me a lot in planning my activities is https://www.gotokyo.org.

Packing Guide

To help you with your packing list for Tokyo, you need to have a clear picture of when are you travelling and what activities do you want to do while you’re there.

From my previous post on what not to pack, make sure to travel light. Don’t forget your reading materials and movies on your tablets for your additional inflight entertainment. If you are on a long haul flight, here is my previous post on what else to bring to help you feel better during your flight.

For reading materials, I love to read short stories. Since I can easily go dip in and out of each short story without having to finish the entire book. A good one that I have just downloaded on my iBook is Walden and Hyde (and Other Short Stories). Oh and it’s free!

 

Downloaded on my #ibook and ready to read. #waldenandhyde #shortstories #writersofinstagram #inflightentertainment

A photo posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on

Tokyo Travel Apps

Part of your preparation to conquer to Tokyo is to download and prepare on your devices travel apps. Travel apps are a heaven-sent to tourist for its big help on navigation and directions.

A good one that I have right now on my iPhone is GPSmyCity. I love the offline feature so I don’t have to worry if I don’t find a good wifi signal. Another navigation app that I prepared on my device is the Tokyo Subway Navigation. Tokyo has hundreds of multi-linked train stations and I still have no idea how to figure it out. Here’s the Japan Rail pdf and you can give it a try.

You can download more Tokyo travel apps from this website.

Tokyo Itinerary Ideas

Tokyo is so lively day and night and has so much to offer for every age and budget. So if you run out of activities to do during your stay in Tokyo, its your fault. There is so much to see, do, and listen to that you will find your stay short-lived.

I visited Tokyo during the cherry blossom season in the late part of March and early part of April and had a grand time rounding up the parks of Tokyo. I had fun visiting the Meiji Shrine and spent the whole afternoon people watching in its sprawling grounds.

tokyo japan

If you get bored and run out of activities to do in Tokyo, its your fault. Click To Tweet

I also spent a day being a kid again and just letting my guards down at Tokyo Disneyland Park and Resort.

 

Owmeen which one to try first? #tokyodisneyland #tokyoeats #foodie #wheninjapan #minniecookies

A photo posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on


Related Post : Free Activities You Can Enjoy in Tokyo

For more itinerary guide to help you in your Tokyo trip planning, click here.

Where to stay

Looking for a place to stay in Tokyo is not really a problem, just roam the busy streets and you will find lots of capsule hotels and manga kissa comic book internet cafe that offers overnight stay too in every corner. Try both alternative accommodations for an authentic Japanese experience!

During my trip, I stayed in the suburbs area of Tokyo, along the Niporri line. Its more quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo plus you get to feel the neighborhood vibe of Tokyo. Another good thing about staying away from the city center where the action is, is that the rates are cheaper too. Travel time may be longer but the tranquility of suburban area may pay it off.

tokyo japan

For places to stay with affordable rates around Tokyo, click here. I have sorted the list listing the cheaper hotel rates first for ease of use.

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  1. Reply

    Loved this. Saved it for my Japan trip!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 26, 2016
      Reply

      Happy travels!! Im headed there in 2 weeks too! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  2. Reply

    Thanks for this, I particularly like the app recommendations. I just started working for an airline so I’m thinking about using my discounted tickets to visit Tokyo soon. I’ve missed blossom season though 🙁

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 26, 2016
      Reply

      Wow, I love your job! hahaha Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  3. Reply

    A very helpful list, great stuff. Will have to save this for when I head over to Tokyo 🙂

  4. Reply

    We’ve been all over SE Asia but have never been to Japan. I can’t wait to go one day! I agree that a transportation app would be a god-send in a place like Tokyo!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 26, 2016
      Reply

      I know! Thank you for dropping by and visit again soon!

  5. I did Kyoto and Osaka but not yet Tokyo. It would be good to have offline maps too and pictures of the places you visit incase you go offline. But yes, I would love to visit Tokyo too.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 26, 2016
      Reply

      Yes you should go see Tokyo too, I was able to visit Kyoto and Osaka i think 10 years ago and would love to visit again soon. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  6. Reply

    What a lovely guide. I remember when I was there i did a lovely day trip to Kyoto with the fast train but Kyoto was so nice that deserves another day for sure. What I also loved was the free tours by volunteers in Tokyo. It was the highlight of my trip I think.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 26, 2016
      Reply

      Volunteers in Tokyo? That I gotta try too! thanks for sharing and drop by again soon!

      1. I am actually looking for a volunteering gig in JP! Hit me up. Xx

          • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
          • March 26, 2016
          Reply

          will do if I find one!! googling still hahahaha

  7. Great tips! Have saved this post for when I finally make it to Japan!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 26, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you and excited for my trip in 2 weeks! Hope you can travel there soon too! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  8. Is it just me? Or you also noticed that a lot of Filipinos are in Japan atm? It’s insane! I am planning to go in April for a few months! Do you have an article about Japanese visas?

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 26, 2016
      Reply

      From my post there’s a visa requirement link depending on your nationality. I hope this helps!

  9. Reply

    I am saving this for my Tokyo Trip! Thanks for the informative guide!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 27, 2016
      Reply

      You are most welcome! Visit again soon for more travel tips!

  10. Reply

    Guess what? Having been to most of SE Asia, I was actually planning to go to Japan but thought it’s late to plan for Cherry Blossom season. Probably next year. I can’t wait to go there.
    Bookmarked your post for that day. Your packing tips are great too.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 27, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you and visit again soon for more travel tips!

    • noel
    • March 27, 2016
    Reply

    Great planning tips to visiting Tokyo, there is so much to see in this exciting and vibrant city. I also did a post on cool things to do in the city and most of it free.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 27, 2016
      Reply

      Cool!!You are correct, there’s so much to see, I don’t my 8 days is not enough! Thank you for dropping by and come visit again soon!

  11. Reply

    Great resource and tips. Everyone that I know that has been to Tokyo and Japan talks really high about it. I considered going this year but then ended up with different plans. Maybe next year! Really want to visit not only Tokyo but also other parts of Japan.

    Thanks for sharing!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 27, 2016
      Reply

      You are most welcome, glad that my post was helpful to you. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  12. Reply

    I never feel complete without a trip to Tokyo every year, its a whole new world in Japan. Thanks for the tips! The subway navigation app is a great idea, I was completely lost the first time- so many different lines!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 27, 2016
      Reply

      Yes, the JR lines is a big headache to many first timers including me. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  13. What a perfect guide for those just getting started in the Tokyo travel planning stages, Carla! Not overwhelming, but not overlooking important factors in the process. Exactly what I will need when I plan my travel to Japan.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 28, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you Howard! Happy travels to the land of the rising sun!!

  14. Reply

    Seems you have all the Tokyo resources and tips covered here. my daughter so wants to go when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 28, 2016
      Reply

      There is no more perfect time for cherry blossom than now. Cherry blossom is mar-apr. Headed there myself in the next 2 weeks! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  15. Reply

    Fantastic! Everything you need to start planning right here. Japan is a bit of a daunting task to plan for.

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 28, 2016
      Reply

      Thank! I hope you enjpy your trip to Japan soon! Yes, the JR line map is a bit overwhelming but excited to conquer it! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  16. Reply

    Great guide with some really good points on considerations for Tokyo. Especially re checking what kind of festivals and events are on. The cherry blossoms in early April also tops the list for me – looking forward to hopefully again in 2017 🙂

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 28, 2016
      Reply

      Glad that you found it helpful and with good points! Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  17. I have always loved Japan. Thanks for your easy to follow guide!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • March 28, 2016
      Reply

      You are most welcome!

  18. Reply

    This was a nice guide, especially for the first time visitor. I love Tokyo was recently there in June and had a blast. Wish I would have know about the Tokyo Subway Navigation App and GPSMyCity apps before my trip.

  19. Reply

    You have a lot of good and useful information for anyone traveling to Tokyo. I love how you included the apps and day trips and also never thought about checking out to see what festivals may be happening once you get there. Thanks this was a great post!

  20. Reply

    Great useful information. Just sent this to my daughter. She wants to go to Japan as an exchange student in the very near future. If California Universities are worth their salt, she might even be fluent in the language by then. Still, I will feel better if she has some good mapping software on her phone. I think she sill like the idea of in an internet cafe all night. That sounds like a bit of her.

  21. Perfect, I need this guide because we are going to Japan in January. We’ll be spending most of our time in Niseko skiing & snowboarding but have a few days in Tokyo – that’s such a great idea about GPSMyCity, am going to find a Tokyo guide on that because I think that will make things heaps easier to get around!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • November 6, 2016
      Reply

      That sounds lovely! Happy travels and I know you will love Japan!

    • Mimi
    • November 6, 2016
    Reply

    Your guide makes me nostalgic of my trip . I loved visiting Japan so much and would do anything to go back right now!

  22. Reply

    Blossoms, blossoms and more blossoms. Natural beauty would be one of the biggest attractions for me in Japan. Saving your post for when we go…

    • Rob
    • November 6, 2016
    Reply

    Wow great guide, we would love to visit Japan and Tokyo. It is such a fascinating culture and seems like a incredible travel experience. I think Japan has jumped up a few spots on the places we must see list. The Cherry Festival in April looks like a great time to visit. Your post makes me want to book tickets today!

  23. Reply

    I heard Japan can be an expensive place. How much do you think you will spend on an average per day (in US dollars)?

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • November 6, 2016
      Reply

      Well you heard it wrong! I opted to stay in alternative accommodations instead of the usual hotel. I chose to eat at inexpensive places, if you see a vending machine then its an affordable place to eat plus you get to eat authentic ramen and donbori! On the average I think I spent about USD20-30 a day but then again this is an approximation.

  24. Reply

    I’m so curious about visiting Tokyo and Japan in general. It all looks so neat and perfect!

    Thank you for these great tips.

  25. Reply

    I was only afforded 24 hours in Japan on a layover years ago, but I would love to go back and see the Cherry blossoms! While we have beautiful ones in Vancouver, I would love to compare them to what Japan has to offer

  26. Reply

    There are simply no words to describe how much I enjoyed staying in Japan. So much good food, awesome culture and beautiful sights! I only regret visiting it at the height of summer – it was stifling! I have no idea how they cope. Though maybe that’s a Brit who’s not used to sunshine talking.

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