Looking for the best way to spend 4 days in Tokyo? You’re in the right place. Here’s my detailed four-day Tokyo itinerary which included suggestions on what to see, the best neighborhoods, and what to do at night. I hope you enjoy!
In my opinion, Tokyo is one of the coolest cities in the world. Equal parts traditional and modern, this megacity has so much to do, see, and eat it would take a lifetime to explore it all. If you don’t have a lifetime, four days in Tokyo is enough — as long as you plan carefully.
At over 800 square miles, Tokyo is huge; it can take hours to get from neighborhood to neighborhood. Because of this, I recommend splitting up your itinerary by neighborhood and spending a full-day or half-day in the neighborhoods you want to visit. If you have four days in Tokyo, I recommend focusing on 3-5 neighborhoods.
Must-visit neighborhoods in Tokyo
Tokyo has 23 distinct wards, or neighborhoods. Here are five of the most popular:
- Shinjuku – a busy, neon-lit neighborhood known for shopping and nightlife
- Shibuya – a chaotic shopping area home to Shibuya Crossing
- Harajuku – a stylish, hipster neighborhood within Shibuya that is famous for its street style and vintage shops
- Asakusa – a laid-back, traditional-feeling neighborhood that is home to Senso-ji, one of Tokyo’s most beautiful temples
- Akihabara – a futuristic neighborhood known for its manga, anime, and videogame shops
Where to stay in Tokyo
I recommend staying in Shinjuku because it’s central and there’s plenty to see and do there. It also has a lot of nightlife, which is important because the Tokyo subway closes at midnight. Personally, I found Shibuya and Harajuku to be a little chaotic for my taste, so I was glad I stayed in slightly more peaceful Shinjuku.
- Budget accommodation: Nine Hours Shinjuku — If you’re on a budget, consider staying at a pod hotel. Also called capsule hotels, pod hotels feature bed-sized rooms called capsules (not for the claustrophobic, mind you). Nine Hours is one of the most highly rated pod hotels and is very affordable. Check current prices here
- My top hotel recommendation for value and price: The Knot Shinjuku — My sister and I stayed at The Knot Shinjuku and loved it. Though the rooms are small (like almost all hotel rooms in Tokyo), this hip, three-star hotel is centrally located and has a great coffee shop in the lobby. Check current prices here
- Splurge hotel: Park Hyatt Tokyo — You may know this stunning luxury hotel from Lost in Translation, a 2002 movie starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannsen. Occupying the top 14 floors of a Shinjuku skyscraper, each room of the hotel boasts a gorgeous view of Tokyo. We stayed here on the last night of our trip and had an absolutely wonderful experience. Check current prices here
What to pack for Tokyo:
- Personal wifi hotspot – That way you’ll always have internet (and it can tether to multiple devices!)
- Jet lag relief pills – So essential if you’re flying from the US!
- Compressible packing cubes – Packing cubes are great because they make packing and unpacking so much easier. I especially like compressible ones because they save space in your suitcase.
- Reusable water bottle – the tap water in Japan is drinkable, so fill up in the sink to save money.
4 days in Tokyo itinerary: A day-by-day breakdown
Getting to Tokyo from the airport: Tokyo has two international airports: Narita and Haneda. If you can, I recommend flying into Haneda as it’s much closer to Tokyo (it’s only 13 miles from the city while Narita is 47 miles away).
Whichever airport you fly into, it’s easy to get to Tokyo by taking the train — you can buy a ticket at the station once you arrive.
Now for the fun part! Here’s my recommended Tokyo itinerary for four days in the city, with day by day break-downs:
Day 1: Shinjuku
Tokyo’s largest neighborhood, Shinjuku is known for its neon lights and excellent nightlife (Golden Gai!). I really enjoyed Shinjuku and found it to be a great place to shop, eat, and go out. Though some parts are a little seedy (like the area around the Samurai Museum), it’s an excellent place to base yourself as it’s very central.
What to do Shinjuku:
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – A beautiful Japanese garden and 143-acre park. It’s especially gorgeous when the cherry trees are in bloom.
- Purikura – Shinjuku has tons of Purikura booths, which are photo booths that apply a pretty filter.
- Tower Records – The famous music store lives on in one place — Japan.
- Samurai Museum – This small museum features Samurai costumes and battle equipment.
- Robot Restaurant – A robot-themed restaurant featuring an extravagant robotic entertainment show. After reading many reviews about it, we decided it wasn’t for us. It costs $70 per person.
Where to shop in Shinjuku:
- Ito-Ya – Japan’s oldest stationery store that sells affordable but high-quality paper goods. There are also Ito-Ya locations in Shibuya and Ginza.
- Muji – A minimalist Japanese homeware store that is very affordable.
Uniqlo – A worldwide Japanese clothing store that makes great basics.
Where to eat in Shinjuku:
- Cinnamoroll Café – A character cafe featuring Cinnamoroll the adorable Sanrio character. If you want to try a character cafe while in Japan, this is a good one!
- Ippudo Ramen and Ichiran Ramen – Two of the most famous ramen chains in Japan. (I personally prefer Ippudo.)
- Himawari Sushi – An affordable conveyer belt sushi with delicious sushi. This was our first meal in Japan and it was SO good!
- Sushi Bar Yasuda — If you’re looking to splurge, head to Sushi Bar Yasuda, a tiny, world-class sushi restaurant. At Sushi Bar Yasuda, the Omakase menu includes 14 pieces of sushi, ranging from USD 6 – 9 per piece of sushi. Reservations must be made in advance. We saved this for the last night of our trip and it was totally worth it.
READ NEXT: Bizarre and Delicious Foods to Try in Japan
What to do in Shinjuku at night:
- Golden Gai — At night, visit Golden Gai, an atmospheric bar area packed with tiny bars. Each bar seats only 6-10 people! Though Golden Gai has tons of bars, it can be hard to find the best ones. You can sign up for a Golden Gai food tour to visit the best izakayas and bars.
- Piss Alley — Despite its unappetizing name, Piss Alley is a small bar district similar to Golden Gai famous for its yakitori. While Golden Gai is the place to go for drinks, Piss Alley has more food options.
- New York Bar & Grill — If you’re a fan of Lost in Translation, you’ll love this bar inside the Park Hyatt, which has amazing views of Tokyo and nightly jazz (just like the movie!). Keep in mind the cocktails aren’t cheap – they cost around $20 each.
Walking down the narrow alleyways in Golden Gai
An open door to a bar in Golden Gai
Day 2: Shibuya
Lively Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s most chaotic and colorful districts. It’s popular with tourists as it’s home to the famous Shibuya Crossing. If you get tired of the madness, head to Yoyogi Park for a break — it’s absolutely gorgeous.
What to do in Shibuya:
- Yoyogi Park – This enormous park has sprawling lawns, majestic gates, and beautiful woodlands. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. Don’t forget to stop by the Whiskey Barrels for a photo.
- Meiji-Jingu – a beautiful Shinto shrine next to Yoyogi Park
- Shibuya Crossing – Reported to be the busiest crosswalk in the world. I recommend catching an aerial view of it at Mag’s Park, a viewing area located on the roof terrace of Shibuya 109. It costs ¥300 to center.
- Jill and Lovers – Come here for crazy mermaid-themed manicures.
- Hachikō Statue – While in Shibuya, pay a visit to the statue of Hachikō, atheloyal Akita dog who came to meet his master at Shibuya Station every day – even 10 years after his master passed away.
Where to shop in Shibuya:
- Loft – a Japanese home goods store that is, as my sister said: “like the dopest Bed Bath & Beyond ever.”
- Shibuya 109 – an iconic shopping mall with amazing Japanese skincare and cosmetics, as well as many clothing stores.
- Tokyo Hands – Another huge Japanese department store.
Where to eat in Shibuya:
- Nabezo – A shabu-shabu restaurant with two locations in Shibuya.
- Shiromaru Ippudo – A branch of the famous Ippudo ramen chain that specializes in Shiromaru, which is an amazingly delicious pork-based broth.
- The World’s Second Best Melon Pan — a stall serving melon pan, a crispy sweet bun stuffed with vanilla ice cream. Highly recommended!
What to do in Shibuya at night:
- Street Kart Shibuya — One unique thing to do in Shibuya is trying real-life MarioKart at Street Kart (formerly MARIKart). With Street Kart, you ride in a Go-Kart on the street next to real cars dressed as a cartoon character. It’s a little scary at first but then super fun. In order to race, you’ll need to book in advance and have an international driving permit (which you can easily get from AAA).
Day 3: Harajuku
The epicenter of “Kawaii” (cute) culture, Harajuku is famous the world over for its cosplay-influenced street style. Harajuku is a neighborhood located in the larger Shibuya ward. If you like to shop and eat, this is the perfect place to spend the day. My sister and I visited several times!
Tip for visiting Harajuku — get off Takeshita Street, which is Harajuku’s largest pedestrian-only shopping street. It was very chaotic and crowded when we visited. My favorite parts of Harajuku were on the side streets, where you can walk in peace.
Rocking a bold lip in Harajuku.
The adorable stickers at B-Side Label. How cute is the mini cart the give you?!
Where to shop in Harajuku:
- Chicago – a vintage shop where you can buy old-school kimonos.
- B-Side Label – a super-cool sticker shop with tons of unique Japanese-themed stickers.
- Lush – Lush Japan is HUGE and even has a sushi conveyer belt with Japanese-themed bath bombs (I almost bought a sumo wrestler bath bomb).
- Kiddyland – a multi-story toy store with merchandise from Studio Ghibli, Disney, Sanrio, and more. It’s a great place to relive your childhood.
Where to eat in Harajuku:
- Gyoza Lou – a restaurant serving delicious, authentic gyozas (Japanese potstickers).
- Deus Ex Machina – a great hipster coffee shop with amazing iced lattes.
- Kawaii Monster Café – a bizarre, colorful café with over-the-top technicolor decor. We decided not to go because it seemed gimmicky and expensive, but it’s famous in Tokyo.
- The Zoo – an underground ice cream parlor with delicious, animal-themed ice cream.
- Reissue – a café with adorable 3-D Latte Art.
- Madosh! Café – A cute café where every dish features avocado.
Day 4: Asakusa & Akihabara
Asakusa is a laid-back neighborhood that feels more residential and traditional than other Tokyo neighborhoods. It’s known for having the best food in Tokyo and some of the most affordable accommodation.
Asakusa is home to Senso-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple that is actually the oldest temple in Tokyo. Wake up early to visit Senso-ji so you’ll have it all to yourself.
Senso-ji hours – Main hall: 6:00 to 17:00 (from 6:30 from October to March) No fee
While in Asakusa, we also did a private sushi class in the home of a third-generation sushi chef. It was super interesting and made us appreciate how much skill goes into making sushi. You can book it here.
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Akihabara is a futuristic neighborhood that is paradise for anime and manga fans. We enjoyed our visit and loved checking out Super Potato, where you can browse vintage videogames. We spent the afternoon there (about three hours) which was perfect.
Things to do in Akihabara:
- Super Potato – a multistory vintage videogame store. If you’re a 90s kid who loved Nintendo, you’ll love this place.
- Mandarake – the largest manga and anime store in the world.
- Kurikoan – a street stall that sells Magikarp-themed taiyaki (so cute!)
- Tokyo Skytree – a huge tower that has tons of shopping. Head to the viewing platform on top for amazing views of Tokyo.
Other things to do in Tokyo
Visit teamLab Borderless – One of the coolest things I checked out in Tokyo was teamLab Borderless. It’s a digital art museum where artwork moves between rooms. Pro tip- book your ticket a few weeks in advance, and get there at 9:45, 15 minutes before it opens, so you’ll have the best chance of avoiding the crowds. It’s super popular!
Tsujiki Fish Market – Unfortunately I didn’t have time to tour Tsujiki Market while in Tokyo. But if I were to visit, I would definitely do a guided walking tour, as it’s large and there’s a lot to see. Learn more about tours here.
Go to the Ghibli Museum – Miyazaki fans should not miss the Ghibli Museum. I LOVED it. Read how to buy tickets and see my review of the museum in this post. Tip – stop at Shirohige’s Creampuff Factory on the way!
Have you ever been to Tokyo? What do you think of this four-day itinerary for Tokyo?
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