The Tokyo itinerary that you see below isn’t the perfect list of all the “must-do” things to do in the city if you have two days to peruse. But perhaps it’ll give you some ideas on activities.
In recent years, whenever I travel, I try to go on a more leisurely pace. I don’t want to continuously be on-the-go, be stressed by the timeline, or feel rushed in doing anything. My mindset is therefore simple: If I don’t get to do x activity this time, I’ll be back to do it next time.
This crossing has been high on my list for a long time, primarily because people have taken such cool photos of the place and the photographer in me was drawn to it. I didn’t take more than the basic photo of crossing the busy street, though, haha. I don’t know if this happens to you, but if I’m traveling with someone, I feel like I’m holding them back by taking and experimenting with photos that I end up not doing great in the photo department.
Shibuya Crossing is home to the busiest pedestrian crossing, with over 1000 people crossing during peak hours. The awesome thing about Shibuya Crossing is that it’s right by the station, so if all you wanted to do was visit this specific crossing, it’s very accessible.
A close walk from the Harajuku station is the Meiji shrine, built in the 1920s to honor the spirit of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. To get to the shrine, there is a pathway in a forest with over 100,000 trees. With the light just right, there is a soft glow shining through the trees that makes the pathway light up beautifully. When we toured the shrine, we were able to witness a traditional Japanese wedding party pass by the courtyard and into a private part of the shrine. This apparently didn’t occur often, so it was quite the treat to see.
We went back towards Harajuku and explored this part of Tokyo that is deemed the fashion capital of Japan. It’s an area jam-packed with sweet shops, clothing stores, and other trendy things. We went to a store fully dedicated to kawaii hair accessories, waited in line for a skewer of hardened-candied strawberries, ate at an Italian x Japanese fushion restaurant where our pasta dishes were served with udon noodles, and just perused the crowded fashion stores.
There’s so much to do in Harajuku that it’ll be easy to spend the whole afternoon in this area.
As we walked around Harajuku, I spotted a poster for an owl café and then a poster for a pig café. Both were very tempting because it’s not everyday that I get to be surrounded by owls or little piglets! In the end, we opted for the pig café because there seemed to be a higher chance of cuddling them! I wrote a separate blog post about our experience, if you’re interested in reading more.
Back to the Hotel
After all of that walking, we went back to the Grand Hyatt Tokyo to rest our feet and enjoy the executive suite while looking out at the landscape below.
When I was looking for activities to do in Tokyo, one thing that intrigued me was the bustling fish market. Considering that Japan is home to sushi, the fish market seemed like a promising place to an interesting place to visit and, more importantly, take some great photos. Apparently, you can watch tuna being auctioned and there are a lot of food stalls selling fish snacks. What’s not to love?
But guys, they relocated recently and the old vibe of the fish market is no longer a thing. Now, the market is held inside a huge building. There is a section for visitors that is enclosed except for a few small windows that allows visitors to peer down onto the fish market. There is a complete disconnect between the visitors and the market itself.
Although there is a small marketplace for visitors to visit as well as a hallway full of restaurants, the fish market didn’t wow me as much as I had hoped. My fishy senses weren’t tingling. With that said, it’s no surprise that I wouldn’t go again.
If you’re in the area, however, perhaps check out teamLab and immerse your senses through art instead.
We wandered to meet a friend and her friend in Ginza, an upscale area filled with high-end stores and boutiques, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. They wanted to eat at an Italian restaurant so we followed suite. Who knew we’d eat Italian food in Japan twice!
Away from the busy streets of Tokyo is old Tokyo known as Yakana Ginza. Here, you’ll see smaller and quieter shops. We walked around unique shops and ate some mince crochette for 50 yen that’s popular to this district. It is also close to Yakana Cemetary, one of the largest in the city.
Completely opposite of Yakana Ginza may very well be Akihabra, home to all things nerdy. This is where video games, manga, and anime rule the streets. Everywhere you look, there is a different store selling geeky merchandise. Or perhaps you’ll encounter a store full of just claw machines. Or you can grab a bite at a maid café, where you’ll be served by a pretty girl dressed in a french maid outfit.
The one thing that I was on the lookout for in Akihabra was a Naruto jacket, and was surprised I never found it. This area can probably take up your whole day if you’re into nerdy things.
Since we were with my friend, we decided to hit up another café, this time a cat café in Akihabra. If you read my blog post on the pig café in Harajuku, you’ll know what fun times we had. But this cat café was a completely different experience, and not in a good way. I don’t recall the name, unfortunately. But just know that not all pet cafés are equal in their way of doing things. The cats were still cute though.
Close to Shinjuku station is a little alley known as Memory Lane Alley / Piss Alley that’s full of grungy little spots to eat, drink, and be merry. It’s a lively alley to gather with friends, cram yourself into a small bar-style table and enjoy yakitori, or skewered meat. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but wasn’t too fond of the price.
At least the place we went to had a few contingencies as soon as we sat, like each person had to order tea and appetizers irregardless. What should have been cheap eats ended up being quite pricey. So if you’re looking to munch some grub here on a budget, I’d recommend looking at their menu before taking a seat.
Exploring the whole of Tokyo in just two days is impossible. There are so many little nooks and crannies that deserve its own attention. Are there activities you would include in this 2-day Tokyo itinerary? Include them in the comment!