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8 Days in Tokyo: Itinerary and Tips For First-Timers

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On my first trip to the continent of Asia, I was constantly in awe of how different Japanese culture is from American or European cultures. Building an itinerary for 8 days in Tokyo was a challenge based upon my lack of knowledge about Japan, but the work was 110% worth it!

My mom and I did this trip as a graduation present for me, and a treat that was a long time coming for her. We left the USA from Los Angeles with two things booked aside from our hotel, and the rest came as we were there.

Here is my guide to 8 fun, but still relaxed, days in Tokyo!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products or services from the links below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I love!

Where to Stay // Hotel the Celestine Tokyo Shiba ($140 per night)

We absolutely loved our stay here. Shiba is a great area to be in if you want to be close to attractions, but still want to be in a quiet, more residential area.

The staff are incredible, the room clean, and view of the city stunning. Highly recommend!

Pro tip: Agoda is the best hotel search engine to find amazing deals for places to stay in Asia. You can find The Celestine and other wonderful places to stay on Agoda for your own trip to Tokyo!

Navigating the Metro // Pasmo Card

The Tokyo metro system is the most complicated in the world. Buying a Pasmo card (or Suica, but we used Pasmo) makes it less stressful to get from point A to point B.

You can get one in any metro station, and at the airport. You’re supposed to tap the card when you enter your station of departure and when you exit your station of arrival. The amount of your ride is debited from your balance on the card.

If you don’t have enough money on the card to enter, then the machine will tell you and you’ll know to put more money on it.

This system eliminates those rude metro workers from checking people’s cards on the train (cough, cough Europe) and is the most efficient system I’ve ever been on.

Tokyo metro train
The Tokyo metro is one of the most confusing in the world!

Phone Service // Pocket Wifi ($6 per day)

Having Pocket Wifi was a lifesaver when looking up directions on Google Maps and keeping in communication throughout the trip.

Just keep your phone on airplane mode and keep the Pocket Wifi with you throughout the day.

We never had problems with coverage, and the company includes a portable battery in case you’re gone for a long time and the battery starts to run low.

When you’re done, you can drop the return package provided by the company in any mailbox or at any post office.

However, if you would rather have a phone plan that works anywhere in the world, Google Fi is the way to go. I’ve used it in Japan on my iPhone 11 and it works like a charm! See if switching to Google Fi is worth it for you.

Note: You’ll need a plug converter for your trip to Tokyo! You can find my favorite one on Amazon for $7. It’s lightweight and can convert for every plug type in the world. It’s never let me down in 4 years of traveling!

Day 1 // Robot Restaurant and Show ($70)

This experience was like no other. I have never seen anything so bizarre, yet ultimately I absolutely loved this show!

My mom and I definitely consider it something everyone should see when they go to Tokyo, but I wouldn’t necessarily go back for seconds.

It’s an overwhelming attack of the senses, that will leave you wondering what just happened and who came up with this, but will also give you a taste of something that you can never experience anywhere else. It’s like anime come to life, and then some.

Trust me, just buy the tickets and go!

Day 2 // Samurai Museum ($10)

This activity was packed with Japanese history from the period when samurai warriors were in charge of the political structure of the country. I highly recommend visiting and taking their tour.

Our guide offered to help visitors dress in kimonos and traditional samurai armor. I took her up on the offer, and it’s probably one of my favorite photos we took on the whole trip.

Visiting this museum is the perfect rainy day (and any other day) excursion for your Tokyo itinerary!

Girl wearing a red, floral kimono at the Samurai Museum in Tokyo
It was an honor to try on a traditional kimono at the Samurai Museum.

Day 3 // Onsen Bath in Hakone

One of the best things about basing yourself in Tokyo if you don’t have time to travel the country is its proximity to other small towns by train in a couple of hours.

We took the train from Tokyo to Hakone to see something different from the capital, and loved its small-town feel. Right after we got off the train, we were a couple minutes away from a shuttle stop to an onsen resort and spa.

I know public bathing is taboo and scary for most Americans, but do yourself a favor and really take in the culture by participating in an onsen.

I absolutely loved it, and will definitely do it again in future travels to Japan, or any other culture that partakes in public baths.

Day 4 // Day Trip to the Chureito Pagoda

In theory, Mt. Fuji is visible from Hakone. We decided not to go to the viewing points while there, and instead reserved our Mt. Fuji experience for this adventure to the Chureito Pagoda.

It was stunning.

The hike to the Pagoda from the train station is very uphill, but worth the view and satisfaction that you did the hike! I’ll let the photo I took from the top speak for itself.

Mt. Fuji and Chureito Pagoda near Tokyo
Seeing Mt. Fuji from the Chureito Pagoda was truly the view of a lifetime.

Day 5 // Tokyo DisneySea ($50 for Starlight, $65 for All Day)

As a Disney fan, I knew I wanted to visit a Tokyo Disney park while in Japan. After doing some research and going back and forth, we decided on DisneySea. I’m so glad we did!

Disneyland is more for families with young children, while DisneySea tends to be more fun for adults.

My favorite part about this day was seeing Disney, a classic in my childhood and beyond, from another culture’s eyes.

You can buy a night pass for a lower price than a full day price if you’d rather sleep in and take your time getting to the park. You can also take the metro to get there and then use Disney’s train to get to DisneySea specifically.

Enjoy the magic from the moment you see Cinderella’s castle from the metro!

Cinderella's Castle at Disneyland Tokyo
Even though Cinderella’s Castle isn’t in Tokyo Disneysea, it is visible from the Disney train!

Day 6 // Tokyo Bay Dinner Cruise and Oiran Show ($75)

This excursion was so interesting and provides a truly beautiful show. The staff were so accommodating to our dietary restrictions (Pro Tip: notify them when you reserve your tickets) and the view from the boat was so beautiful.

Bring something warm, because the wind is a little powerful! The performers are so fun and friendly, and are great about taking photos with every guest that wants one. As a traveler who loves art and music, this was one of my favorites.

Day 7 // Sensoji Temple

This stunning religious landmark is in the northeast area of the city. There are tons of vendors selling souvenirs of every shape and size, many of which are handmade in Japan.

I loved getting to see the temple I had heard so much about, but was disappointed in the amount of tourists taking pictures inside.

Even if you don’t believe in the same religion as the people who worship in this temple, don’t be that person with a selfie stick in their place of worship! There are plenty of opportunities for beautiful photo ops on the exterior of the temple, free of disrespect.

Sensoji Temple in Tokyo
Sensoji Temple is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city!

Day 8 // Imperial Palace East Gardens and Tokyo Tower Observation Deck ($8)

On our last day, we took it easy and visited the beautiful gardens of the Japanese emperor and his family. The palace itself is not visible from these gardens, and the palace does not accept visitors like one would expect, but the gardens are enjoyable for a stroll and some landmarks from Japanese history.

That night, we went to the observation deck at Tokyo Tower for a 360° view of the city lights. It’s very affordable, especially if you don’t go to the top deck, and there weren’t long lines to get in. The staff are very friendly and helpful. This is a great activity for your last night in the city!

8 days in Tokyo: Imperial Palace Gardens
lots of green space in the Imperial Palace gardens

. . .

These are just a few of many activities and sights to enjoy for 8 days in Tokyo! Of course, I would love to revisit Japan, and plan to see even more next time.

Who knows where I’ll end up? Maybe I’ll take the bullet train from Hokkaido to Osaka and go cherry blossom chasing. The opportunities are endless!

What itinerary will you do for 8 days in Tokyo?

*Cover photo by Jean Vella. Thanks, Jean!

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