The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo: Everything You Should Know

A complete itinerary on where to stay, what to see, and what to eat in Tokyo.
BY Vanessa Camozzi On April 13, 2023

Travel Itinerary to Tokyo For 3 Nights 4 Days


Visit Tokyo

Get excited for our grown-up's guide to Tokyo. As we get older, our travel preferences often shift from budget-friendly hostels and partying all night to seeking out unique experiences and exploring new cultures. Tokyo, Japan's bustling capital city, is the perfect destination for those looking to combine adulting with adventure.

From world-class restaurants to quirky museums, Tokyo has something for everyone, making it an ideal destination for travelers who want to explore and enjoy all that this vibrant city has to offer. In this guide, we will delve into why Tokyo is the ultimate adulting destination and provide tips for making the most of your trip

The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
A birdseye view of Tokyo

Adulting In Tokyo

With its incredible food, shopping, entertainment, and cultural attractions, it's no wonder that Tokyo is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at some of the reasons why Tokyo is an amazing city to visit.

In this article, we will answer some questions such as:

-What are the travel restrictions in Japan right now?
-Do you need a visa? What are the entry requirements with Covid?
-What are the best hotels to stay at on and off a budget?
-What is the best month to go to Japan, and where are the best areas in Tokyo to visit?

We have you covered. Keep reading for the Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo: Everything You Should Know.

Japan has a deep-rooted culture of respect toward elders, which is reflected in various aspects of daily life. This respect is known as "Keigo," a form of honorific language used when addressing elders or people in higher positions.

It is considered rude to address someone of older age or higher status without the appropriate honorific language.

Additionally, there is a strong emphasis on caring for the elderly in Japan, with many social programs and services aimed at supporting the aging population.

This cultural value of respect for elders is also evident in the way that Japanese society is structured, with many traditional customs and practices that honor and prioritize the needs of older individuals.

What To Know About Traveling To Japan

  • Japan is open to travel for US Visitors. (this post was published in Spring 2023)

  • You do not need a Visa for a short-term stay in Japan

  • Passengers who have been fully vaccinated and boosted with vaccines approved by the Japanese government and who are arriving in Japan after October 11, 2022, will not require a pre-travel COVID-19 test.

  • The best time to see the Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) in Tokyo typically falls between late March and early April, but it can vary slightly depending on weather conditions each year. The blooming period usually lasts for about one to two weeks.

  • To get a better idea of when the Sakuras will be at their peak in Tokyo, you can check the cherry blossom forecast, which is usually released by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) in late January or early February each year. The forecast predicts when the cherry blossoms will start blooming and when they will be in full bloom in various regions of Japan, including Tokyo.

When Is The Best Time To Travel To Japan?

The best time to travel to Japan depends on your personal preferences and what you would like to see and do during your trip. Japan has four distinct seasons, each with its own unique charm and attractions.

-Spring (March to May) is a popular time to visit Japan, especially for the cherry blossom season, which usually occurs in late March to early April. The weather is mild and pleasant, and there are many festivals and events celebrating the arrival of spring.

-Summer (June to August) can be hot and humid, but it's a great time to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and attending summer festivals.

-Autumn (September to November) is another popular time to visit Japan, with mild weather and beautiful autumn foliage. It's a great time to explore the countryside, visit traditional temples and shrines, and sample seasonal food.

-Winter (December to February) can be cold, especially in northern Japan, but it's a great time to enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Winter illuminations and festivals are also popular attractions.

Keep in mind that the peak travel seasons in Japan are during the cherry blossom season in spring and the autumn foliage season in late November, so prices can be higher, and popular tourist spots can be crowded during these times.

We're Obsessed With Tokyo

The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Beautiful photo of a Geisha
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Takoyaki a common street food in Japan
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Tokyo Tower


One of the main draws of Tokyo is its incredible food scene. Whether you're looking for traditional Japanese cuisine, international flavors, or something entirely unique, you'll find it in Tokyo. Keep reading for the Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo: Everything You Should Know.

From sushi and ramen to yakitori and okonomiyaki, there's something for everyone in this city. And with over 230 Michelin-starred restaurants, Tokyo is the food capital of the world.


Tokyo is steeped in traditional Japanese culture, and you can experience it firsthand by visiting some of the city's many temples, shrines, and museums. The Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo, and for good reason.

This ancient temple, which dates back to the 7th century, is an impressive sight to behold, with its towering pagoda, ornate gates, and colorful lanterns.


Tokyo is a shopper's paradise, with everything from high-end designer stores to quirky boutiques and vintage shops. The Ginza district is one of the most famous shopping areas in Tokyo, with its luxury department stores, upscale restaurants, and trendy cafes.

For a more eclectic shopping experience, head to Harajuku, where you'll find an array of colorful streetwear shops, vintage stores, and unique boutiques.


Tokyo is known for its cutting-edge technology, and visitors can experience some of the city's most innovative creations firsthand. From high-speed trains to robot restaurants, Tokyo is constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible.

And with its futuristic architecture and neon-lit streets, Tokyo is a city that feels like it's straight out of a science fiction movie.


When the sun goes down, Tokyo comes alive with its vibrant nightlife scene. From karaoke bars and izakayas to nightclubs and live music venues, there's something for everyone in this city. The Kabukicho district in Shinjuku is one of the most famous nightlife areas in Tokyo, with its bright lights, bustling streets, and endless entertainment options.

The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Cocktail bar in Japan
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Izakaya Alley in Tokyo
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Shibuya area

With its incredible food, culture, shopping, technology, and nightlife, Tokyo has something to offer every kind of traveler. Whether you're visiting for the first time or returning for another adventure, Tokyo is a city that seriously never fails to impress. Keep reading for the Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo: Everything You Should Know.

Best Budget-Friendly Hotels in Tokyo

  1. Tokyu Stay Shinjuku: This hotel is located in the heart of Shinjuku, one of the most vibrant areas in Tokyo. It offers comfortable and modern rooms with kitchenettes, making it a great option for travelers who want to save money by preparing their own meals.

  2. APA Hotel Asakusa Tawaramachi Ekimae: This hotel is located in the historic Asakusa district and offers compact but comfortable rooms with modern amenities. It's just a short walk from popular tourist attractions like the Senso-ji Temple and the Nakamise shopping street.

  3. CITAN: This is an amazing option to stay on a budget. CITAN is a brand new seven stories hostel located in Higashi-nihonbash. This is not a hotel, it's a hostel. Hostels are budget accommodation options that typically offer dormitory-style rooms with multiple beds, shared bathrooms, and communal spaces. Hostels can also offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. This is a super clean and trendy option to save money on your stay in Tokyo.

  4. Capsule Hotel Asakusa Riverside: For a truly unique experience, consider staying in a capsule hotel. This one, located in the Asakusa neighborhood, offers compact capsules that are perfect for solo travelers on a budget. It also has a communal lounge and kitchen area for socializing and preparing meals.

It's important to do your research and read reviews to find the best hotel for your needs and budget.

Luxury Hotels To Stay in Tokyo

Tokyo is known for its luxury hotels, and there are many options for travelers looking for a more upscale experience. Here are some of the best luxury hotels in Tokyo:

  1. Mandarin Oriental Tokyo: Located in the upscale Nihonbashi neighborhood, the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo offers luxurious rooms and suites with stunning views of the city skyline. The hotel also has a spa, fitness center, and multiple restaurants serving gourmet cuisine.

  2. The Peninsula Tokyo: This iconic hotel is located in the Marunouchi district, just steps away from the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station. It offers spacious and elegant rooms and suites, as well as multiple dining options and a full-service spa.

  3. Aman Tokyo: This hotel is located in the Otemachi neighborhood, on the top floors of the Otemachi Tower. It offers spacious rooms and suites with panoramic views of the city, as well as a full-service spa and multiple dining options.

  4. Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi: This luxury hotel is located in the heart of Tokyo's financial district, just steps away from Tokyo Station. It offers spacious and elegant rooms and suites, as well as multiple dining options and a full-service spa.

  5. Park Hyatt Tokyo: This hotel is located in the trendy Shinjuku neighborhood, on the top floors of the Shinjuku Park Tower. It offers spacious and stylish rooms and suites with panoramic views of the city, as well as multiple dining options and a full-service spa.

These are just a few of the many luxury hotels in Tokyo. Keep in mind that prices for these hotels can be quite high, but they offer an unparalleled level of comfort and luxury. Keep reading for the Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo: Everything You Should Know.

Tokyo Itinerary: 4 Days 3 Nights

Day 1: Arrival and Exploration of Tokyo

  • Arrive at Narita or Haneda Airport and transfer to your hotel. *Take the train do not take a taxi! Taxis are extremely expensive in Tokyo and the train stop is right at the airport and easy to take.

  • Head to the Shibuya crossing and watch the famous scramble from the Starbucks located on the second floor of Tsutaya.

  • Visit the Meiji Shrine, one of the most important shrines in Tokyo dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken.

  • Explore the trendy Harajuku district, where you can find unique fashion and streetwear shops, vintage stores, and quirky boutiques.

  • End the day with a visit to Shinjuku, known for its bustling streets, neon lights, and lively nightlife.

Day 2: Tokyo's History and Culture

  • Start the day with a visit to the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, the oldest temple in Tokyo and one of the most famous.

  • Take a boat ride down the Sumida River and enjoy views of the city skyline.

  • Head to the Imperial Palace, the residence of the Emperor of Japan, and stroll through the beautiful East Gardens.

  • End the day with a visit to Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics and anime district.
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo

Day 3: Food and Shopping in Tokyo

  • Start the day with a visit to Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Enjoy a sushi breakfast at one of the many restaurants in the market.

  • Explore the upscale Ginza district, known for its high-end designer stores, luxury department stores, and fancy restaurants.

  • End the day with a visit to Shibuya, one of Tokyo's busiest shopping districts.

Day 4: Technology and Entertainment

  • Visit the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in Japan and the second-tallest in the world.
    Enjoy the views of Tokyo from the observation decks located 350 and 450 meters above ground.

  • Head to the famous Golden Gai area in Shinjuku, known for its small, narrow alleyways lined with tiny bars and restaurants.

  • End the day with a visit to the Kabukicho district in Shinjuku, Tokyo's most famous entertainment district.

Of course, this itinerary is just a suggestion and can be customized to fit your interests and preferences. Tokyo has so much to offer, and there's always something new to discover.

Helpful Phrases to Know In Japanese

Learning some common phrases in Japanese can be very helpful when traveling to Japan, as it can make it easier to navigate and communicate with locals. Here are some essential Japanese phrases to know:

  1. Hello - こんにちは (Konnichiwa)
  2. Thank you - ありがとう (Arigatou)
  3. Excuse me - すみません (Sumimasen)
  4. Yes - はい (Hai)
  5. No - いいえ (Iie)
  6. Please - お願いします (Onegaishimasu)
  7. Goodbye - さようなら (Sayounara)
  8. I'm sorry - ごめんなさい (Gomen nasai)
  9. Do you speak English? - 英語を話せますか? (Eigo wo hanasemasu ka?)
  10. Where is the restroom? - トイレはどこですか?(Toire wa doko desu ka?)

It's also a good idea to learn some basic numbers in Japanese, especially for shopping and taking public transportation:

  1. One - 一 (Ichi)
  2. Two - 二 (Ni)
  3. Three - 三 (San)
  4. Four - 四 (Yon or Shi)
  5. Five - 五 (Go)
  6. Six - 六 (Roku)
  7. Seven - 七 (Nana or Shichi)
  8. Eight - 八 (Hachi)
  9. Nine - 九 (Kyuu or Ku)
  10. Ten - 十 (Ju)

Learning some basic Japanese phrases can go a long way in making your trip to Japan more enjoyable and memorable.

The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
helloSPICA editor Vanessa visiting a Temple in Tokyo

About Japanese Culture

Japanese culture is rich and diverse, with a long history that has been shaped by its geography, religion, and traditions. Here are some key aspects of Japanese culture. Keep reading for the Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo: Everything You Should Know.

  1. Respect: Respect is a cornerstone of Japanese culture, and is deeply ingrained in everyday life. This includes showing respect to elders, authority figures, and others in positions of power or influence. Bowing is a common gesture of respect in Japan, and is used to greet others and show appreciation.

  2. Food: Japanese cuisine is known for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and beautiful presentation. Traditional Japanese meals often include rice, fish or meat, vegetables, and soup. Sushi, tempura, and ramen are some of the most famous Japanese dishes, but there is a wide variety of regional and seasonal specialties to explore.

  3. Tea Ceremony: The Japanese tea ceremony, or chanoyu, is a traditional ritual that has been practiced for centuries. It involves the preparation and serving of matcha tea, a finely ground powder made from green tea leaves. The tea ceremony emphasizes harmony, respect, and tranquility, and is a beautiful expression of Japanese culture.

  4. Art and Design: Japan has a rich artistic heritage, with traditional forms of art including calligraphy, painting, and pottery. Japanese design is also highly respected and influential around the world, with a focus on simplicity, elegance, and functionality.

  5. Religion: Shinto and Buddhism are the two major religions in Japan, and both have had a profound impact on Japanese culture. Shintoism emphasizes the worship of nature and ancestors, while Buddhism emphasizes the pursuit of enlightenment and compassion.

  6. Fashion: Japanese fashion is known for its unique and eclectic style, with a focus on mixing and matching different patterns, colors, and textures. Harajuku, a neighborhood in Tokyo, is famous for its street fashion scene, which includes everything from gothic Lolita to avant-garde couture.

These are just a few of the many aspects of Japanese culture. Japan is a fascinating country with a rich history and vibrant contemporary culture, and exploring its many facets can be a rewarding and unforgettable experience.

Where to Eat in Tokyo

Tokyo is home to some of the most innovative and exciting restaurants in the world, offering a wide range of dining experiences that cater to all tastes and budgets. Here are some of the coolest areas and gems to experience in Tokyo:

The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Fresh tuna
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Whiskey highballs and yakitori
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Smoked eel and rice

  1. Yakitori Alley (Yurakucho): A narrow alley near the train station with various yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) stalls and bars.

  2. Tsukiji Outer Market: A popular seafood market where you can find various sushi and sashimi restaurants. It's less touristy than the inner market, which is now closed to the public.

  3. Kichijoji: A trendy neighborhood in western Tokyo with a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes. Try Harmonica Yokocho, a narrow alleyway lined with tiny eateries and bars.

  4. Monzennakacho: A traditional neighborhood in eastern Tokyo with many old temples and shrines. Try the local delicacy, monjayaki (a type of savory pancake).

  5. Sugamo Jizo-dori Shopping Street: A shopping street known for its red lanterns and traditional Japanese snacks such as dango (rice dumplings) and imagawayaki (sweet filled pancakes).

  6. Setagaya: A residential neighborhood in western Tokyo with many small cafes and restaurants. Try the local specialty, shoyu ramen (ramen with soy sauce-based broth), at a small ramen shop.

These are just a few suggestions, but Tokyo has many more hidden gems waiting to be discovered. It's always a good idea to ask locals for recommendations or explore different neighborhoods to find your favorite spots.

Don't Forget To Experience A Bathhouse in Tokyo

Bathhouses, or sento, are an important part of Japanese culture and have been around for centuries. They are communal bathing facilities that are typically separated by gender and are still popular today despite the widespread availability of private bathrooms in homes and apartments. Here are some things to know about bathhouses in Japan. Keep reading for the Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo: Everything You Should Know.

The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
A bathhouse in Japan
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Birdseye view of a bathhouse
The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
Person relaxing in a bathhouse

Visiting a bathhouse in Japan can be a memorable and relaxing experience, and is a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture. However, it's important to be respectful of local customs and follow etiquette rules to ensure a positive experience for everyone.

  1. History: Bathhouses have been a part of Japanese culture since at least the 6th century when they were used by monks for ritual purification. Over time, they became more widespread and were used by the general public as a place to socialize, relax, and get clean.

  2. Layout: Most bathhouses in Japan have a similar layout, with separate areas for men and women. They typically have a changing room, a shower area, and a bath area. Some bathhouses may also have additional facilities like saunas, hot tubs, and massage services.

  3. Etiquette: When visiting a bathhouse in Japan, there are some important etiquette rules to follow. Before entering the bath area, you should thoroughly wash your body and rinse off all soap and shampoo to keep the water clean. You should also avoid splashing, swimming, or dunking your head in the water, and be respectful of others by keeping noise levels down and avoiding staring.

  4. Benefits: Bathhouses are not just a place to get clean; they also offer a range of health benefits. The hot water can help to relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce stress. Bathhouses are also great places to socialize and relax, and many people find them to be a calming and rejuvenating experience.

  5. Tokyo Bathhouses: Tokyo has a number of traditional bathhouses that offer a unique and authentic Japanese experience. Some popular options include Jakotsuyu, which is located in the trendy Asakusa neighborhood, and Thermae-Yu, which is a modern bathhouse with a rooftop onsen and views of Shinjuku.

    *IF YOU HAVE TATOOS PLEASE READ* Typically hot spring resorts - onsen and sento – often do not allow people with tattoos to avoid offending other bathers. But that’s changing quite a bit. Visit this link of where you can go if you happen to be tatted.

It's Not Japan Without Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty is a popular character in Japan and around the world. The character was created in 1974 by the Japanese company Sanrio and has since become a global phenomenon. Here are a few reasons why Hello Kitty is so popular in Japan:

The Grown Up's Guide to Tokyo
helloSPICA editor Vanessa with Hello Kitty!
  1. Cute Culture: Hello Kitty is part of Japan's "kawaii" or cute culture. The Japanese have a long history of appreciating cute things, and Hello Kitty fits right in with this trend. The character's design is simple, with big eyes and a small nose, making her an adorable and charming figure.

  2. Universal Appeal: Hello Kitty is a character that can appeal to all ages and genders. Her image is not overly feminine, making it easy for both boys and girls to enjoy her. Her design is also timeless, so she can continue to be relevant for many years to come.

  3. Merchandise: Hello Kitty has an extensive range of merchandise that includes everything from toys and clothing to home decor and even cars. Sanrio has done an excellent job of creating a brand that people want to associate with, and the variety of products available helps to keep the character fresh in people's minds.

  4. Nostalgia: Many people in Japan grew up with Hello Kitty, and the character holds a special place in their hearts. As a result, people continue to buy Hello Kitty merchandise and introduce the character to the younger generation, creating a cycle of nostalgia and continued popularity.

Overall, Hello Kitty's popularity in Japan can be attributed to a combination of factors, including her cute design, universal appeal, extensive merchandise, and nostalgia.

We hope that you have enjoyed this master Tokyo Guide to enjoy all things Japan. If you make it to Tokyo, leave us a comment below and tell us where you visited and what you did!

And that's our grown up's guide to to traveling to Tokyo!
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