This post was last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 05:47 pm
Many call Tokyo the New York of the East. Why? Because this gigantic metropolis has something to offer every traveler and is always on the move! Just like the capital, Japan is by far the most developed country in terms of infrastructure, technology and social security in Asia. This is clearly reflected in the fantastic infrastructure and facilities for tourists.
We can only show you a fraction of the impressions, amazing food, love and emotions that you will experience during your trip through Tokyo and Japan. It is a country with extremes and a hodgepodge of culture and architecture such as the beautiful old Senso-ji temple between the modern buildings in the Asakusa district.
Each of the 23 neighborhoods and countless districts has its own story. Popular neighborhoods/districts that you really should visit in our opinion? These are Ginza, Akihabara, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ebisu, Odaiba, Chiyoda and Ikebukuro. These are on many travelers’ bucket list!
Tokyo is the largest city in the world with approximately 38 million inhabitants.
There are plenty of activities in the city such as sumo wrestling in the Ryogoku Kokugikan, imaginative anime characters in the Ghibli Museum, the phenomenal view from the Tokyo Skytree or an ascent of the mighty Mount Fuji. Also, don’t forget to take a walk through the beautiful parks and city gardens to cool off from the crowds, start in the Shinjuku Gyoen for example.
Tokyo is also often the organizer of major international events. Such as the Olympic Games of 2021 and the Rugby World Cup in 2019. And what about the many festivals that often have their origins in traditional holidays and folklore?
Tokyo Tips for First-Time Visitors
If you are traveling to Tokyo for the first time, these practical tips are useful to get you started quickly and to explore the city.
- Buy a Tokyo Subway 24, 48 or 72-hour ticket at Narita Airport at the Keisei Bus Ticket Counter. With this you can make unlimited use of the metro network in Tokyo. This is handy because otherwise you need two different passes namely the Suica and Pasmo card as there are two different carriers. With the special Tokyo Subway pass you can just board anywhere. The passes also only cost ¥800 (US $7.25), ¥1200 ($11) and ¥1500 ($13.50), so you also save money with it.
- Exchanging your local currency for Japanese Yen ¥ in advance is not necessary. So avoid unnecessary expensive transaction costs and use one of the many ATMs immediately upon arrival at Narita. You can also easily get money from the ATMs in the 7-elevens or FamilyMart convenience stores.
- Take the Sky Access line directly from Narita Airport to Ueno station. This is a large station from where you can easily catch the metro to the rest of Tokyo. The train takes about 30 minutes and costs ¥2200 (US $20). The slow train is slightly cheaper but takes almost an hour.
- Have a Pocket Wi-Fi delivered to the airport or to the hotel! With this you have unlimited internet in Japan and you can easily use Google Maps for the metro and JR network of Tokyo. You can hand in the Pocket Wi-Fi to every mailbox via an envelope, which is everywhere on the street and at all major airports. Very useful!
- Order a Japan Rail pass in advance. This saves a lot of hassle at the JR counters (which are often very busy) at the stations. Also, with this JR Pass you can reserve train seats online right away. Handy because it is often very busy!
- Temples, parks, museums all close around 5 p.m. so pay attention to this when walking around because it would be a shame if you were standing in front of a closed door.
- The Japanese people eat around 6 p.m. Of course, it is possible to eat later, but many restaurants close around 9.30 p.m. to 10 p.m. An average dinner in a restaurant costs you between $10-20.
- With three full days in Tokyo you can view most of the highlights at a leisurely pace. If you have less time, you will have to make choices.
- The best travel time for Tokyo is March, April, May and early June. In these months you have the least chance of rain, a high chance of sunshine and pleasant temperatures. In addition, the Sakura flowers in March and April and you have the Golden Week in May.
- Traveling with children through Tokyo is no problem. The Japanese love comfort and that is reflected everywhere in the facilities for children.
These practical tips stem from our experience and love for Japan and Tokyo. We would like you to explore the country with our travel advice, not as a gaijin (foreigner) but as a real ronin (roaming samurai).
13 fun things to do in Tokyo
Of course, we recommend booking a ticket to the city to experience it yourself. If you are not completely convinced yet, we have listed our most beautiful, funniest or most interesting highlights in Tokyo below.
If you like museums, request a Grutt Pass. This gives you a discount (or free admission) at more than 70 museums.
1. Walk through the gardens of Koishikawa Kōrakuen
Although Tokyo is a very busy city and daily life rushes past, you will also find beautiful parks and gardens in Tokyo. One of them is the Koishikawa Kōrakuen. This beautiful garden is an oasis of peace in the middle of Tokyo.
The construction of the park began in 1629 by a gentleman, helped by a refugee who fled from the Ming dynasty of China.
TIP – The best time to visit this park is during the fall or spring due to the beautiful colors.
2. Play real-life Mario Kart
You must have seen or heard it; in Tokyo, you can play Mario Kart in real life. You drive kart through the city; dressed in clothes from Mario or other superheroes. It is a special appearance when you suddenly see 10 karts driving through the street with Mario, Luigi or Superman behind the wheel.
It may seem a bit scary, but Tokyo has one of the most advanced road safety systems in the world.
Every movement is recorded by thousands of cameras and, in addition, Japanese people always follow the rules so they will not just drive you off the road (with some exceptions).
During karting, you drive at most 80 km/h past most sights of the city. So it’s not only a lot of fun, but you also see quite a bit of the city. You can also choose multiple routes. This activity is for 6 to 10 people so make sure you find a group.
TIP – You need a valid Japanese License, International Drivers Permit, or a SOFA License. View this site for more info. The office (MariCar) is 1.2 kilometers south of Ueno Station.
3. Visit the Senso-Ji temple; one of the oldest temples in Tokyo
The Senso-Ji is the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan. According to the legend of this temple in the year 628, three fishermen found a statue in the Sumida River. According to the head of the village, this was a statue of the important Buddhist god Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
The head of the village converted his house into a small temple so that everyone could come and worship the statue. The construction of the temple as it can be admired today began in the year 645.
TIP – Access to this temple is free.
4. Visit the artificial island of Odaiba
Odaiba is a large artificial island in the bay of Tokyo. It was built in 1853 during the Tokugawa shogunate, a well-known shogun in the history of Japan. The island served as protection against the threat from the sea.
Daiba refers in Japanese to the guns that were placed on the island. In Japan, it is also known as Daiba.
TIP – Keep waiting until it’s dark outside because the view of the Rainbow Bridge that connects Odaiba with the heart of Tokyo is truly breathtaking.
5. Go to the top of Tokyo Tower
The Tokyo Tower was built in 1958 in honor of building the city after the Second World War. The tower is quite similar to the Eiffel Tower in Paris but, coincidentally or not, is 333 meters high. This makes Tokyo Tower 13 meters higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The color, bright orange with white, has to do with international aviation rules. The observation plateau is located at a height of 145 meters. Entrance to the Tokyo Tower is 900 yen p.p.
You can also go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building where you also have an impressive view of the city (see second photo below).
6. Admire the old Yanaka
Yanaka is one of the oldest parts of the city. Miraculously it was spared during the Second World War, not to mention the many natural disasters such as the Great Kanto Earthquake.
In Yanaka you will find old wooden houses and burgs. That makes the neighborhood unique in Tokyo.
In addition to old wooden houses, you will also find hundreds of temples here. In addition, a lot of artists live and work there.
If you are looking for fun tours organized by locals, take a look at The Backstreet Guides.
7. Visit the famous Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace was the castle where the Edo-ju from the Tokugawa shogun ruled the land. You can walk around for free. Two well-known bridges that go to the Imperial Palace are the Niju-bashi and the Megane-Bashi.
Once inside, you will see the Edo-era Fushimi-yagura watchtower.
TIP – You can also book a tour through the palace. There are two tours a day from Monday to Friday. One at 10 a.m. and one at 1:30 p.m. Take your passport with you! You need this for the tour!
8. Experience the 24/7 life at Shinjuku
Shinjuku is a city in Tokyo. This is the Tokyo you know from the TV. Neon billboards on the wall, giant TV screens on buildings with the craziest commercials and 24/7 activity. It is really immense. Cities such as Amsterdam and even Bangkok pale with this giant.
And Shinjuku is the largest part. To indicate just how large this is; more than three million people come here every day to go to the train station.
Shinjuku is the district with the towering skyscrapers and the highest entertainment level in the city. We were here one night in 2017 and then went to Ueno.
9. People watch at Shibuya Crossing
It is said that this is the busiest intersection in the world. And that could be very true. The Shibuya Crossing is a kind of anthill where people come and go from all sides. This is what you expect from Tokyo when you go to the city.
Every time the light turns green you can see hundreds – and at peak times there are more than 1000 – people cross the street at the same time. It is really a (fun) madhouse.
TIP – For the best view of the intersection you must go to the Starbucks on the 2nd floor of the Q-front building across the street. It is difficult to get a spot by the window, but with some patience and perseverance, it works. And then you can make nice videos to share with your friends and relatives!
10. People watch in Takeshita Street
Harajuku is one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. Close to Yoyogi Park (the nicest park in Tokyo!) is Takeshita Dori or Takeshita Street. This is the center of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles.
Everyone knows those Japanese girls with those crazy clothes. Almost all of them are bought in the Harajuku region, and in particular in Takeshita Dori.
Takeshita Street is a narrow, approximately 400-meter long street surrounded by shops, boutiques, cafes and fast food restaurants aimed at the teenagers of Tokyo. Due to the popularity of the street, it gets very busy during the weekend.
You can also find great (traditional) shops and restaurants in the many side streets.
11. Go shopping in Ameyoko Shopping Street
Ameyoko is a busy, but super fun, market street around the corner from Ueno Station. The name “Ameyoko” actually stands for “Ameya Yokocho” which means candy store. This is because traditional candy was sold here.
We personally find it the nicest street in all of Tokyo. You can sit outside on those typical little Asian chairs and enjoy delicious food and people watching.
Today Ameyoko sells various products such as clothing (lots of shoes!), bags, cosmetics, fresh fish, herbs and spices. There is not really a fixed opening and closing time. Every store arranges that itself.
A number of other fun markets in Tokyo are Oedo Antique, Tsukiji Outer and UNU Farmers Market.
TIP – In general, the stores usually open around 10 a.m. and close around 8 p.m.
12. Visit Tsukiji Market; the Best-Known Market
Tsukiji Market is a large market for fish, vegetables, and fruit in the center of Tokyo. It is the most famous market in the city. Tsukiji Market is one of the world’s largest fish markets, processing more than 2,000 tonnes of fish products per day.
The many types of fresh seafood and the hustle and bustle of scooters, trucks, sellers, and buyers make Tsukiji Market a major tourist attraction.
The number of visitors has increased so rapidly in recent years that it is becoming too busy. Not all tourists can handle the infrastructure of the aging market. Tsukiji Market is therefore expected to close in the near future and move to a new location in Toyosu.
13. The Wonderful World of Yoyogi Park
Yoyogi Park is one of the largest parks in the city with many fields, ponds, and wooded areas. You see many locals and expats doing jogging, picnics and other outdoor activities here. However, that is not the reason that so many people come here.
Yoyogi Park is the nicest park in Tokyo. A lot of things are happening here; from rock and rolling Japanese, to dancing Power Rangers and from live jazz bands to dog shows. If you are looking for a nice, relaxing day you should come here.
In addition, the park is known for its cherry blossom flowers in spring although Yoyogi Park has relatively few cherry blossom trees compared to other places in the city. Before it became a city park in 1967, the area was the site of the Olympic Village for the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964.
TIP – Entrance to the park is free.
Tokyo is a very lively city, where there is much to do both during the day and at night. This city never sleeps! Five Tokyo neighborhoods are known for their nightlife: Akasaka, Ginza, Roppongi, Shibuya and Shinjuku.
The nightlife of Asakasa is concentrated around two streets: Ta-machi-dori and Hitotsugi-dori. In this area you will find many karaoke bars, night clubs, bars and restaurants where you can go for a walk. Ginza is the most famous entertainment district of the city. It is one of the most expensive entertainment areas in the world. The neighborhood owes its reputation mainly to its many, very expensive, hostess bars. You will find affordable restaurants and bars there.
Roppongi is the entertainment district for yuppies and is full of cafés and discos. Velfarre, in Roppongi, is Asia’s largest nightclub; 3000 people fit in. The party district of Japanese youth is Shibuya, northwest of Shibuya station and south of Yoyogi park. The extravagant nightlife can be found in Shinjuku. Shinjuku-nichome is known as the LGBTQ party district. In Shinjuku-Kabuchicko you will find literally everything from peep shows to striptease bars.
In many places in Tokyo you can see kabuki and noh, two forms of traditional theater. The most famous place for kabuki is the kabuki-za theater, for noh the National Noh theater. In Tokyo you can not only enjoy traditional theater, international companies also regularly visit the city. The main stages are in Shinjuku, Shibuja and Marunouchi. There are also often special dance performances.
The Best Hotels in Tokyo
In addition to the traditional capsule hotels and budget hostels, you can also go to a normal hotel in Tokyo. The gigantic city has hotels of all shapes and sizes, just look at this Godzilla hotel. You can also sleep in the most luxurious and most expensive hotels in the world. These hotels are equipped with all conveniences, but do cost a lot. We have listed a number of nice and cozy hotels that have a convenient location to discover the city and its sights. But don’t forget to take a look at the other types of accommodation in Tokyo. You can easily book a hotel in Tokyo through us!
Hotel Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba probably has the best view of Tokyo Bay. In addition, the hotel has no fewer than 7 different dining options, half of which can enjoy this beautiful view. The five-star hotel has a large fitness center, outdoor spa and the rooms are equipped with every luxury. The hotel is located in the Minato district, known for its art, relaxation and business center. In addition, the central districts of Ginza, Akihabara and Shibuya are a stone’s throw away. The hotel also receives an 8.8 score from 5463 reviews on booking.com.
The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon opened in 2012 and is, therefore, brand new and equipped with all modern conveniences. The hotel is located in the historic Asakusa district in the north of Tokyo. You will also find the top sights of Tokyo here, such as the Senso-ji temple. In addition, the hotel is very easily accessible via public transport as the metro station is practically underneath. The restaurant and bar are open 24/7 and serve everything in French style. The hotel receives an 8.9 score from 1204 reviews on booking.com.
In addition to opening various animal cafés in Tokyo such as the cat or owl café, there is now also a Godzilla hotel in Japan. This means that your partner is no longer the only monster you go to bed with (just kidding)! The Godzilla hotel is fully devoted to the world-famous Japanese Kaiju. The hotel is thirty floors high and part of the Hotel Gracery. It contains various original ornaments from multiple Godzilla films. In addition, it is completely monstrously decorated.
A night at the hotel is not cheap and costs around $300 on weekdays and $380 on weekends. You do get a hotel room in a prime location and the luxury of a four-star hotel. If you want to pay less but still want to spend a night with Godzilla, you can rent a hotel room opposite the Toho cinema. This cinema has a gigantic image of the Godzilla because Toho is the company behind various Kaiju films. A room in this hotel costs around $100, but then you have a beautiful view of a giant Godzilla. The hotel receives an 8.5 score from 4631 reviews on booking.com.
The Capitol Hotel Tokyu is a stylish and modern hotel that has been completely designed by the famous architect/artist Kengo Kuma. You can visit three beautiful restaurants, an indoor swimming pool with a view of Tokyo and each hotel room also has a beautiful view of the city. The rooms are equipped with all luxury conveniences such as large flat screen TVs and a giant bathroom. You can relax in the Carju Rajah TIADO Spa or in the fitness center. The hotel receives a 9.2 score from 569 reviews on booking.com.
The Tokyo Station Hotel is a beautiful hotel with a classic European appearance. The rooms have a modern design but still retain a classic atmosphere. The hotel was completely refurbished in 2012 and equipped with every luxury. The hotel is also a piece of Japan’s cultural heritage! The stylish French restaurants and trendy bars make it one of the most wanted places to sleep in Tokyo. The hotel receives a 9.3 from 927 reviewers on booking.com.
Other hotels in Tokyo
A city with 38 million inhabitants has many more places to sleep and hotels to offer. For example, check out the Hostels, Ryokans or Capsule hotels that we recommend. Or maybe you are looking for a hotel during the Olympic Games. You can find it all here on Akisoto.
The History of Tokyo
It has certainly not always been such a metropolis. In 1603 the Tokugawa family took over the shogunate. Because of this, the Daimyo, also known as a Japanese warlord (not an emperor), and his family had to stay in Edo at the time. At that time, Kyoto remained the capital because the emperor still lived here, but the arrival of the Daimyo had a major impact on Edo’s growth.
Did you know that Tokyo was a small fishing village long ago? It was then called Edo.
However, this changed on November 9, 1867. This day, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th shogun of the shogunate, set down his duties as a shogun. This brought the power of Japan back to Emperor Meiji and his government.
His official name was Mutsuhito but after his death, this was changed to Meiji which means “clear state”. The name Edo was changed to Tokyo and it became the capital of Japan.
Tokyo of today
Today it is a world famous city. Cities such as Amsterdam or Paris are villages compared to this mega city. With the most extensive and refined metro and train routes in the world, it has delicious food, shopping centers that are experienced as amusement parks and crossing over here resembles a scene from Brave Heart!
But although it is a huge city and you can literally get lost; there is a friendly and cozy atmosphere.
It looks smaller and if you mentally remove the skyscrapers and neon lights in the background it is completely beautiful. The markets, bars, and restaurants, shops, and sights make this city suitable for every type of traveler! Whether you visit the Sky Tower, view the Imperial Palace or marvel at people crossing a street, Tokyo has it all!
Best Time to Visit Tokyo
What is the time to visit Tokyo? Opinions differ a bit about this. The period September to November is often referred to as the best travel period. In terms of temperature, it is often pleasant, but you have a reasonable chance of rain showers, especially in September and October. In addition, there is also the chance of an unstable day or several unstable days, especially if a typhoon is active nearby. Therefore, we have our own opinion on the best time to visit Tokyo:
The best time to visit Tokyo is from mid-March to the end of April, when it is often pleasant in the city. The colorful cherry blossoms at the end of March/beginning of April are an attractive bonus. The beginning of May is often fine, but then it is the so-called Golden Week in Japan. This is a week in which various national holidays are held in Japan, starting with Showa Day on April 29 and ending with Children’s Day on the 5th of May. During this week, Japanese people often have time off and some companies even close completely. For Japanese workers, this is often the longest continuous holiday period in the year. You can imagine what that does with domestic tourism in a city like Tokyo.
We would avoid the summer in Tokyo. It is then warm, wet, stuffy and crowded with tourists. This is because of the school holidays in Europe, America and Asia.
Winter is a reasonable alternative. The weather is then reasonable, but nature is not at its best and the chance of spring-like weather is not too great. This is the driest period and the time that there are fewer tourists.
From a technical point of view, it doesn’t matter that much when you travel to Tokyo. Airline tickets and hotels are priced approximately the same throughout the year. Avoid the Japanese and some international holidays such as the end of December.
Take a look below for a detailed overview of the weather and seasons in Tokyo.
Tokyo Weather & Seasons
If you travel to Tokyo, you can enjoy a warm sea climate. Within the Tokyo metropolis, there are differences within climate statistics. You can see that the higher western parts of Tokyo are on average somewhat cooler than the boroughs that are close to the water. This has to do with both the influence of the sea water and the influence of the mountains.
Winter Season in Tokyo
Because of Tokyo’s location in the northern hemisphere, the winters in Tokyo start in December, but already in November there is a (not particularly large) chance of snow and light frost at night. The large contrasts that can occur in a short time are sometimes striking. One day it can be 12 to 14°C (54 to 58°F) during the day, while the mercury gets stuck at 4°C (39°F) a day later.
In January for example, you can see fairly large differences between the lowest measured temperatures and the highest maximum temperatures. For example, in the winter on the hottest days it can sometimes be full of spring-like temperatures with temperatures exceeding 20°C (68°F) in the afternoon. However, moderate frost is also possible in these months.
The advantage of the winters is that this is the driest period in Tokyo. With an average of around 1500-1600 millimeters per calendar year, Tokyo is a fairly wet destination, but in the months of December, January and February it is not too bad. Expect an average of 50 to 60 millimeters per month. The winter lasts up to and including February, but March can sometimes also be chilly and can result in snow.
Spring Season in Tokyo
Spring starts sometime in mid-March and lasts until May. This transition season is fairly fickle and shows a clear increase in rainfall. What you notice in the month of May, in particular, is that it is becoming hot and humid in Tokyo. The higher temperatures in combination with more precipitation ensure a higher humidity and you will notice that. Because the number of hours of daylight increases, the number of hours of sunshine (time that the sun shines unimpeded) remains fairly constant. Only in the summer do you see that there is a dip in the number of hours of sunshine.
Spring is also the period in which the well-known cherry blossoms show themselves. The beautiful cherry blossoms show themselves en masse in Tokyo around the end of March. The exact dates vary from year to year because the weather and nature does not follow a set pattern. The most beautiful places to see the cherry blossoms are the parks. Especially the Ueno Park (around 1200 cherry trees), the Shinjuku Gyoen park and the gardens of the Imperial Palace are known for the beautiful flowers that can be seen here every spring. In the relatively short period that the blossom shows itself, so-called Cherry Blossom festivals are held. These are outdoor parties where extensive picnics with family and friends are a central part of it.
Summer Season in Tokyo
From June to September you can speak of summer in Tokyo. In the case of this metropolis, summer means high temperatures and quite a lot of precipitation. The months of June and September are the darkest months of the year, which is quite striking given the length of the days. The relative humidity peaked in this period to an average of 70 to 80 percent. Combine this with summer to tropical temperatures and you can imagine that it can be pretty stuffy in Tokyo in the summer.
Although the Japanese are not known for the large number of days that they take off from work, this is the period where those who can afford it would rather flee the city to better places. The combination of warmth, heavy rain showers and stuffy weather ensures that locals do not experience the summer as the most pleasant season.
As the summer progresses, the chance of a typhoon increases. These tropical storms are accompanied by wind on hurricane power and sometimes huge amounts of rain. Not every typhoon is equally strong, but sometimes there is a significant impact on Tokyo society. Some years there is not a single typhoon that comes close to Tokyo, other years there can be two or three in a year. You have the greatest chance of typhoons in September and October.
Autumn Season in Tokyo
The venom is often in the tail, just like in Tokyo. The transitional month of October is the first full autumn month. Statistically, this is the month with the most precipitation and the greatest chance of heavy winds. The temperatures are falling and the relative humidity is falling. You actually have a chance of two extremes in October. On the one hand you can have pleasant days with a fair amount of sunshine and summer temperatures.
On the other hand, on some days this month can get pretty crowded through the streets of Tokyo. Whoever travels to Tokyo during this period must, therefore, take all possible circumstances into account, except for serious frost or snow. Although frost can occur on the ground and the official minimum temperature sometimes drops a little below freezing every few years in October, it is almost always above 0°C (32°F) in Tokyo in October.
November is a significantly drier transition month. You notice that winter is coming. The temperature drops further and the amount of precipitation increases. There is also a chance of night frost and a small chance of snow. Many tourists consider November a pleasant month to visit Tokyo. Not only because the chance of precipitation decreases, but also because the amount of tourists has clearly decreased during this period.
Tokyo Airport & Transportation Options
Tokyo has two airports: Tokyo Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport). Narita is the farthest from the city and is the newest airport (opened in May 1978). Haneda is the oldest airport (exists since 1931), but still the busiest airport in Japan. This airport is even one of the busiest in all of Asia.
If you travel to Tokyo on an international flight, chances are that you will land at Narita (NRT). This airport handles most of the international flights. The airlines are divided between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. There is a free shuttle bus between these two terminals.
Narita International Airport is located approximately 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) east of central Tokyo. This means that it will take a while to get to your destination in Tokyo. Expect a travel time of at least an hour to sometimes two hours before you reach your hotel, hostel or apartment in Tokyo.
The final travel time mainly depends on how close your accommodation is to the various train stations or bus stations that can be reached directly from Narita. Switching to other lines or the metro takes you extra time and often you also have to walk a bit after leaving the station (or take a taxi).
Transport from the Airport to Tokyo
The Narita Express from JR Lines is a popular train connection with Tokyo. This train stops at the popular Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya and Shinjuku stations, among others. Travel time is a maximum of around 80 minutes. Almost all seats are reserved seats, for which you can buy tickets at the airport. It is cheaper to buy a return ticket immediately than to buy two single tickets.
Another train company, Keisei, also provides train services to Tokyo. The Keisei Narita Airport Line runs to Keisei Takasago Station, Nippori Station and Keisei Ueno Station. This is all in northeastern Tokyo. If you want to continue your journey to another place in the city, you will have to change to the metro or to another train, for example.
Buses also go to Tokyo. These are called “limousine” services. Even though they are called limousines they are actually just buses with a lot of space per seat. The buses normally take about an hour to Tokyo City Air Terminal or 40 to 120 minutes to the various hotels in the city (depending on location). During rush hour, however, the travel time can increase considerably due to the traffic on the road.
The taxi is a comfortable alternative. After all, you do not have to walk or carry your luggage with you into busy subways or trains. The taxi is a bit more expensive. If you use one taxi with 3 or 4 people at the same time, the costs are often not too bad. With the taxi you gain efficiency because you go directly to your final destination. The disadvantage is that they have to throw themselves into the busy traffic of Tokyo, sometimes during rush hour.
The taxis work with a fixed price per route if you want to go to the city from Narita Airport. In addition, you also have to pay a toll. Count on at least 120 dollars for a single journey to the city including the toll.
If you land at Haneda Airport you have the advantage that this airport is much closer to the city. This ensures shorter transfer times from the airport to your final destination in Tokyo. Many passengers who land on Haneda use the Keikyu Line trains as a means of transport to get to the city. You can travel to Tokyo Station in around twenty minutes, Roppongi Station in 25 minutes and Shinjuku within half an hour. The prices depend on the route. Expect an average of 5 to 6 dollars for a single trip.
Another option from Haneda is the Keikyu Limousine Bus. The advantage of these luxury buses is that they also drive to a number of places in Tokyo where there is no train station and that you have good connections to destinations outside of Tokyo itself. You can view the different routes here.
Of course, you can also take a taxi from Haneda Airport. The taxis that run from the airport work with fixed rates per route. For example, a trip to Shibuya or Shinjuku will cost you around 50 to 60 dollars per single trip.
From Tokyo to Kyoto
Many backpackers start their trip through Japan in the capital Tokyo, from where you can easily travel to other places in the country. One of those cities is Kyoto, where you can explore many beautiful temples and a charming bamboo forest. There are different ways to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto and here you can read how.
1. Tokyo to Kyoto by Train
The fastest and easiest way to reach Kyoto from Tokyo is by train. The Shinkansen bullet train takes only 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete this journey. You can get on this train every 30 minutes at Tokyo Central Station and you pay around US $150 for the fastest ride to Kyoto. Slower, cheaper trains are also available. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, the ride is also included.
Buying Tickets – Tickets are available until shortly before departure at train stations and the website 12GoAsia.
2. Tokyo to Kyoto by Bus
Compared to the other modes of transport, the bus is the cheapest in relative terms. The minimum price for a ticket is around US $35, but this can go up to $80 quickly, depending on how long in advance you reserve seats and with which carrier. Willer Express offers cheap tickets. They leave several times a day from different places in Tokyo, so take into account where you want to leave when making your booking. Drivers of long-distance buses in Japan insert several extended breaks, meaning a 370-kilometer journey will take at least 8 to 9 hours.
Buying Tickets – Book your ticket on the Willer Express website or ask for help at your accommodation in Tokyo. You can also easily buy a ticket online via 12GoAsia.
3. Tokyo to Kyoto by Airplane and Train
Because Kyoto itself has no airport, you will first have to fly from Tokyo to Osaka. The cheapest flights usually depart from Tokyo Narita Airport. At Jetstar you pay an average of US $40 for a one-way trip to Osaka Kansai, which takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. You do pay extra if you also bring hand baggage. From the airport in Osaka you can take both the JR train and the bus every 30 minutes to Kyoto. In both cases the journey takes 90 minutes and a ticket costs about US $22. This option is usually slightly more expensive than the full bus trip.
Buying Tickets – You can find airplane tickets easily with Skyscanner. The bus and train tickets are available on site.
From Tokyo to Osaka
For a peek into the traditional and modern Japan, a visit to the metropolis of Osaka is worthwhile. Because Osaka is a big city, you can easily travel to other parts of the country, including the capital Tokyo. These cities are 500 kilometers apart and here you can read how you can best complete this route.
1. Tokyo to Osaka by Train
High-speed trains also run between Tokyo and Osaka. If you have the Japan Rail Pass, some trains are included in this pass. If not, a ticket for the journey of 2 hours and 35 minutes costs around US $150. This makes the train the last option to consider if you want to travel in a budget-friendly way and do not have a Japan Rail Pass. If you do have one we recommend that you use it as much as possible.
Buying Tickets – Tickets for the Shinkansen bullet trains are available at the vending machines at the station or via 12GoAsia.
2. Tokyo to Osaka by Bus
As with many routes in Japan, the bus is also the cheapest means of transport on the Tokyo – Osaka route. Several Willer Express, JR Bus Kanto and Kintetsu buses run daily from various locations in Tokyo to Osaka. On average the journey takes 9 hours and the price for a ticket is between US $40 and $50. There are also cheaper night buses for this route. You pay around $20 for these and you also have no costs for an overnight stay.
Buying Tickets – Via 12GoAsia you can purchase tickets for the different bus companies.
3. Tokyo to Osaka by Airplane and Train
This option is relatively cheap and fast. You can fly daily with Jetstar and Peach Aviation to Kansai International Airport from Narita International Airport in Tokyo. The ticket price starts at US $40, which does not include checked baggage. The flight from Narita takes 90 minutes. Once arrived, you can hop on the JR train to your desired destination in Osaka. The train journey takes – depending on your final destination – at least 45 minutes and a ticket costs around US $10.
Buying Tickets – Once again we recommend using Skyscanner to find cheap airplane tickets. The train tickets are available at the vending machines at the airport.
From Tokyo to Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is one of the most famous sights of Japan and a trek on this mountain is an unforgettable experience for many. Because Mount Fuji is only 150 kilometers (about 93 miles) away from Tokyo, you can easily combine these popular destinations. The only logical means of transport on this route is the bus and here you can read our tips for a smooth bus ride.
1. Tokyo to Mount Fuji by Bus
The journey to the legendary mountain starts at Shinjuku bus station, which is located in the west of the Tokyo metropolis. Several buses of the Fujikyuko Bus and Highway Bus Company run daily from the “Highway Terminal”. According to the timetable, these buses take 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach Mount Fuji 5th Station, from where you have direct access to the hiking trails. It does not matter which bus company you choose; because in all cases you pay US $27 for a single journey. With Highway Bus you do get a discount if you book online. In that case you pay US $22 for a ticket.
Buying Tickets – You can book online via the Highway Bus website, but you can also buy a ticket at the bus terminal itself. You can also buy a ticket online at 12GoAsia which is very simple.
Don’t Forget About the Rest of Japan!
Japan is a beautiful country that has, until now, been relatively unaffected by mass tourism (excluding cities like Tokyo, of course), so be quick to experience the authentic Japanese culture on your journey through the country’s highlights.
With a backpack on your back or by renting a car around the country? Don’t be afraid the country is made for it! It is the perfect holiday destination for an adventure-packed tour. Through us you can easily find the cheapest plane ticket to Japan or a few budget domestic flights. But the best thing is perhaps traveling with a Japan Rail pass! Tasty unlimited trains through the rugged landscape.
Don’t miss these highlights of Japan on your trip!
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Do you need personal advice or have you been unable to find something? Don’t hesitate to email us.