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Craig Mar 23rd, 2013 10:32 AM

3 Days in Tokyo
We will be in Tokyo on a Thursday, Friday and a Saturday in October and I am starting to plan an itinerary. Here is what I have so far:
Thursday -
Imperial Palace and East Garden (see separate post with questions on this)
Shinjuku National Garden and Sieji Togo Museum of Art (we are staying in Shinjuku)
Friday -
Asakusa: Sensoji Temple/Asakusa Jinja, Namamise Dori (bazaar street) and Tokyo Skytree
Ueno: museums, zoo, Ameyoko Street Market and Rikugien Garden
Saturday -
Ginza: art galleries, department stores
Bridgestone Museum of Art
Meiji Jingu Shrine
Nezu Institute of Fine Arts
Fodors GTG :-)
I am sure that this is overly ambitious. Any suggestions for must-sees or what to skip would be appreciated. Also, what have I left out?

hawaiiantraveler Mar 23rd, 2013 02:24 PM

Wow! Yes there are so many places to see that you missed but of course you would need more time.

Thursday: We have never done the tour of the Imperial Palace and have heard it to be a hassle and not worth the time as you really don't see much. The East Garden is worth 45 minutes when we went during cherry blossoms but the real prize I thought is Chidorigafuchi around Kitanomaru Park. You can rent a boat and row the moat around part of the castle but may not be as spectacular in the fall as it was in the spring. We don't find the East Garden to be anything special but just our opinions.

Shinjuku Gyoen is worth at least 2 1/2 hours or more and real close to your hotel(walkable). You might want to consider Meiji Jingu on this day instead of Saturday as it is closer to Shinjuku than the Ginza area. You may could also explore the area and shopping in and around the Shinjuku Station. You could be there all day with all the options and the tons of food options will boggle your minds.

Friday: You have lots planned this day and it will be a long one if you get through all of it. Maybe start at the Skytree(we haven't been yet) as the early bird worm thing would work here as it does get crowded I hear. Then work your way down to Sensoji Temple and shop and eat your way through Nakamise Dori. This area might take 90 minutes or so then jump in the subway two stops down to Ueno and do the Ueno park, museums and zoo. Depending on how long you take in museums this might take 3 hours or more. Stroll through and past Ameyoko Market on your way back to the subway and on your way to Rikugien(another of our faves). This usually takes us 90 minutes in the park. Then make your way back across town to Shinjuku and pass out because you have just completed the Tokyo half marathon,lol.

Without Meiji hear this actually sounds doable. Give yourselves plenty of time to get to the GTG as it will be Sat nite on the subways.
Like I mentioned earlier you've left out a lot of sights in Tokyo but you don't have the time this time anyways ;)


DonTopaz Mar 23rd, 2013 06:13 PM

I don't find the Ginza department stores to be all that interesting -- not all that much different than department stores in London or Paris or Hong Kong. The most interesting part of most department stores for me is the food hall that's in the basement -- amazing stuff. The electronics superstores in Akihabara are a Tokyo signature, and close to the Ameyoko market. My favorite shops in Tokyo are those that specialize in one type of item -- stationery, kitchen knives, art prints, etc.

If you find yourself exhausted and are looking for a passive way to see the town, the river cruise that departs from the Asakusa pier isn't a bad choice.

rhkkmk Mar 23rd, 2013 06:41 PM

don---hope my travel guide is paying attention

Craig Mar 24th, 2013 08:57 AM

How about if we do the boat around the castle and the Ginza on Thursday, keeping Friday as it is (maybe cut out one or two things) and do Meiji and Shinjuku activities on Saturday?

mrwunrfl Mar 24th, 2013 09:59 AM

Don't skip Meiji Jingu. Better on Saturday as I think it would be more likely then than a weekday for you to see a Shinto wedding procession at the shrine.

Option: after Senso-ji take a boat down to Hamarikyu garden and then walk over to Tsukiji for an early/late lunch of sushi/sashimi.

Smeagol Mar 24th, 2013 10:54 AM

Very interested in this as hopefully we can get an idea for our itinerary a few weeks later.....
Thanks for doing the legwork Craig. :)

Craig Mar 24th, 2013 02:28 PM

Hi Nicky - I am pretty clueless right now on Japan and hope my questions help the crowd that is going next fall. Do you think 7 months is enough time to allow the "experts" to do all of this legwork, though? :-) :-)

rhkkmk Mar 24th, 2013 07:41 PM

you've had more than 7 months!!!

Kathie Mar 25th, 2013 06:31 AM

Hi Craig, I, too, am reading along. I spent a fair amount of time with the Gateway to japan book while we were in Kauai. But there is so much to see and do in Japan, I'm still overwhelmed. You keep working at it, and when you get the "ideal" itinerary for each city, let the rest of us know...

hawaiiantraveler Mar 25th, 2013 07:09 AM

The ideal itinerary for each city is multiple visits ;)

Pick a sector of the city and dive into it with the amount of time you have, especially while in Tokyo. I have mentioned this clock method before but for those who haven't heard, I think of Tokyo in my head as a 12 hour clock. For time and transport sake we try to explore venues in no more than a quarter of the clock a day(we often stray lol). There are tons of venues in each quadrant of Tokyo.

Shinjuku, where we usually stay, is in the 9:30 section. Asakusa in the 2:00 section, Shinegawa in the six o'clock position, the Imperial Palace in the center, Ebisu at eight and so on and so forth. Its works well for us and keeps us from going back and forth.

You are all finding out now the answer to that question you all have asked when we met in person. Why Japan for so many trips?

Craig, that would work out better and on the weekends mrw is right you may see a wedding at Meiji Shrine and also the cosplayers that come out on the weekends in Harajuku and even more recently Shinjuku. They are always a Kodak moment.

Mrw gives another great idea of taking the boat to Tsukiji for an early lunch(Bob and I need to replenish after the walking) that I(we) may take when visiting Sensoji with rhk's. That would kill the two birds and not have to be early in the morning for Tsukiji(which I dislike). No need to see the fish being sold, just eat the fish. The other stuff will still be there to see when we get there, haha


Kathie Mar 25th, 2013 11:08 AM

"No need to see the fish being sold, just eat the fish." Well said, HT!

rhkkmk Mar 25th, 2013 12:14 PM

bravo... no 3:30 wakeup

Craig Mar 25th, 2013 12:21 PM

A 3:30 wake-up never would have happened, and is not on our list either...

rhkkmk Mar 25th, 2013 07:41 PM

i hope my man is taking care of figuring out the "segments"...

hawaiiantraveler Mar 25th, 2013 09:49 PM

First segment
5:00 am daily alarm call
Cockle doodle doooooo!!!!

mrwunrfl Mar 25th, 2013 11:43 PM

Kathie, I've been thinking today about your being overwhelmed by planning a trip to Japan. I was overwhelmed, too. I realized that with all of the good choices that are available that the subset that I chose would still be full of good choices.

I chose an itinerary with several stops. It was the only way to "get a sense of the place" or "get a feel for the place". For me, the "place" was Japan.

I think I have mentioned the following on fodors before but will do it again:

After my 6th or 7th trip someone asked me what I liked the most about visiting Japan. I surprised myself by instantly answering: "the Japanese".

So, no matter where you go or what you do in Japan you will experience what I like the most about the place.

KimJapan Mar 26th, 2013 01:39 AM

You really can't go wrong. Tokyo is interesting at every turn, and different, too. It's Japanese and its not, then it is - like green tea ice cream is vanilla then tea then vanilla taste all in the same bite.

If you have strong interest in architecture (which Tokyo is lucky to have some world class examples of) and art (same plus lots of galleries you'd never find without someone who knew) I really recommend spending the money for a specialist guide for a day. A volunteer won't be the same no matter what, though they are great for general sightseeing and friendliness.

It's true about Tsukiji - no need to start your day at 4:00 as for me, at least, it was not a highlight. I am, however, going to Kanazawa's fish auction this Friday - it is the earliest in Japan starting at 3:30. Voluntarily. Hmmm.

Don't over schedule. You'll find it takes longer than you think to see, do, and go everywhere. Especially first timers using unfamiliar subway - beware of the many, many exits - use the wrong one and you'll be hopelessly lost. At least that's what happens to us every time, adding time to journeys and adventure and unexpected finds - so it's not bad, just plan for the time.

kmkrnn Mar 26th, 2013 04:50 AM

WOW...I can see when we get back from our spring trip I better do more home work here. But we have a guide in mind, so hopefully he will know which subway exit to take.

Kathie Mar 26th, 2013 05:05 AM

Cheryl and I were discussing this over dinner last night, and we, too, came to the conclusion that whatever we chose to do/see/experience would be fabulous. We also came up with an idea similar to HT's on our own, about exploring the area we are staying in in Tokyo, rather than trying to see a lot of scattered sights.

Reading about all the places feels overwhelming, but once we get there, we will be in "experience" mode and it won't really matter if we miss this garden or that temple. We will experience what is there. Like I'm always telling people about SE Asia, there will be another trip.

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