Discovering Tokyo: An Epic Itinerary in Unveiling Japan’s Spirit

time lapse photography of downtown

Things to Know about Tokyo:

  • Proper bowing is important
  • No shoes inside, no bare feet in homes or tatami-style restaurant 
  • Use the back end of chopsticks for shared food
  • Bring small bowls close to you to eat
  • Don’t go to temples/shrines if sick or in mourning 
  • No shoes in temples, pray in front of sacred objects, and toss coins in offering box
  • Shrines: ladle water on your hands to wash, not contaminating the communal water with yours, place a coin in the offering box, bow twice, clap your hands twice, bow again, and pray
  • Follow signs regarding pictures, normally not inside temples and shrines 
  • Study some basic Japanese phrases 
  • Carry some yen just in case, get it at 7/11
  • Need passport and return ticket
  • No vaccinations necessary 
  • Wear comfortable shoes and plan some downtime
  • Spring: April-May, temperate
  • Summer: June-August, starts with rain then hot and humid
  • Fall: September-November, occasional typhoons
  • Winter: December-March, somewhat cold
orange temple
Photo by Pixabay on

Transportation: in Japan

  • Metro and Toei Subway 
    • Takes Apple and Google Pay
    • Tokyo Subway App to help navigate 
  •  Stand on the left, walk on the right
  • Walking friendly
  • Bike rental
white and green train on rail tracks
Photo by Eva Bronzini on

Where to Stay in Tokyo:

Tokyo Activities:

people walking on the street
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on

Day trips: (Follow links for more information)

  • Kamakura: Seaside Japanese City, Buddhist Zen temples, and Shinto shrine
  • Hitachi Seaside Park: flower fields
  • Arakurayama Scenic Park: Iconic views of Mt. Fuji, cherry blossoms, and crimson pagoda
  • Chichibu: Mountains, rocky cliffs, river, temples, night festival and colorful fields
  • Hakone: hot springs, natural beauty, lake with views of Mt. Fuji
  • Nikko: lavish shrine, bridge, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails
  • Okutama: lush mountains, beautiful lakes, and a limestone cave

*Consider a trip to Osaka, it’s only 3 hours away via train

red and gray pagoda temple
Photo by Tomáš Malík on


Foods to Try: 

  • Sushi
  • Ramen 
  • Tempora (fried vegetables, crab, etc.)
  • Yakitori (chicken skewer)
  • Okonomiyaki (savory pancake)
  • Takoyaki (ball-shaped snack)
  • Wagyu Beef
  • Taiyaki (fish-shaped pastry)
  • Melonpan (Japanese sweet bun)
  • Soba (noodle)
  • Sukiyaki (a broth-based dish with meat etc)
  • Udon (noodle)
  • Yakiniku (grilled meat)
  • Shabu Shabu (hot pot)
  • Teppanyaki (iron plate)
  • Grab-and-Go Sandwiches 
sushi on brown wooden board
Photo by Rajesh TP on

*Post contains affiliate links


“10 Best Day Trips from Tokyo: Travel Japan: Jnto.” Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). Accessed April 5, 2024.

“All You Need to Know about Traveling to Japan for the First Time.” WorldTrips. Accessed April 5, 2024.

JOC, Mr. “Ultimate Tokyo Food Guide: Top Best Foods to Eat in Tokyo.” Just One Cookbook, August 1, 2023.

Melinda Joe, Anna Chittenden. “27 Best Things to Do in Tokyo for Every Type of Traveler.” Condé Nast Traveler, August 25, 2023.

“Tokyo’s Subway and Trains: How to Confidently Navigate the Tokyo Metro System.” Tokyo’s Trains and Subway: How to Confidently Navigate the Tokyo Metro System – Context Travel, May 27, 2023. 

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