Tokyo is a crazy, frenetic, eclectic, and astounding city. It marries traditional tastes, unique fashion, Western music, avant-garde cocktails, and delicious food to create a place that is incredibly cool and weird. It comes alive at night, when the neon billboards and bright lights turn on and the Japanese cut loose after a long day at work.
I love Tokyo. I think it is one of the most interesting cities in the world. I love that it’s a fast-paced, modern metropolis that still embraces its traditional roots. I love the orderly crowds when you expect chaos and the never-ending list of amazing things to see and do. I love the wild nightlife scene of the Japanese “salaryman” bars, cocktail bars, karaoke bars, nightclubs, and jazz venues.
Everyone falls in love with Tokyo. Seriously.
This travel guide to Tokyo can help you navigate on a budget, see the major sights, take part in its eclectic nightlife, and get off the beaten track a bit.
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Tokyo
1. Admire Senso-ji Temple
The original Buddhist temple here was built in the seventh century. The current restored temple, just a quick walk from the Asakusa train station, is beautifully painted in rich reds and lives in an oasis of ancient structures nestled among modern skyscrapers, including a five-story pagoda and the famous Kaminarimon aka “Thunder Gate,” constructed in 941. There’s also a huge statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, inside the main hall, and other statues of ancient gods and goddesses, lanterns, and much more throughout the grounds, which are free to enter and open 24/7. The temple itself is open daily 6am–5pm (6:30am October-March). Get there early to avoid the crowds. On the weekends, you’ll want to get there by 8am.
2. Visit the Tokyo Tower
Built in 1957, this bright Eiffel Tower doppelgänger stands approximately 333 meters (1,092 feet) and is made entirely out of steel. It was Tokyo’s tallest structure until the Skytree was built in 2010 (where admission is 1,800 JPY when booked online). You can pay to go up 250 meters (820 feet) to the top floor of the tower to take in expansive views of the city, though the main observation deck (150 meters or 492 feet up) offers views that are just as impressive. On a clear day, you can even see Mt. Fuji. Admission is 1,200 JPY for the main deck or 2,800 JPY to go to the top.
3. See the Tsukiji and Toyosu Fish Markets
Tsukiji Fish Market opened in 1935 and for decades was the most famous wholesale fish market in the world. In October 2018, it moved its wholesale (inner) market and fish auction to a new location in Toyosu and doubled in size, now including a fruit and vegetable section and rooftop garden.
If you want to experience the wholesale market auctions, head to Toyosu, where there are also endless fishmongers at rows upon rows of tables. However, you can no longer walk the floor unless on an organized tour, so it’s a little bit of a bland experience as otherwise you are just looking down from a viewing platform.
While the Tsukiji inner market moved, you can still visit the outer market, which has rows and rows of \ retail stalls, as well as tons of restaurants, and is still in its original spot. Here you can get a taste of what the market used to be like, while eating some incredible food and picking up souvenirs. Food and drink tours of the Tsukiji Outer Market are around 13,500 JPY.
Both markets are closed Sundays, holidays, and some Wednesdays. Some stalls at the outer market open as early as 5am, but the majority open around 6am. The place is really crowded by 9am, so get there as early as you can. It’s a great place to go if you wake up early from jet lag!
4. Admire the Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the emperor of Japan. Built in the late 15th century as a feudal city-within-the-city and inhabited by various warrior clans, Edo Castle, as it was called through most of history, was renamed when the then-emperor moved Japan’s capital from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869. While visitors aren’t permitted inside the palace and other buildings, the grounds are a peaceful place to wander. For access to limited areas of the grounds, book a free tour in advance on the Imperial Palace website.
5. Explore Ueno Park
Ueno Park is home to over a thousand cherry blossom trees as well as the Tokyo National Museum (admission is 1,000 JPY), both the oldest and largest art museum in Japan, with the world’s largest collection of art and artifacts from Asia. The park is also the site of Ueno Tosho-gu, a Shinto shrine for several shoguns (free, but it’s 500 JPY to visit the inner shrine); the National Museum of Nature and Science (630 JPY); the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (admission varies by exhibition); the National Museum of Western Art (500 JPY); the Shitamachi Museum (300 JPY); and the Ueno Zoo (600 JPY), Japan’s oldest zoo, which has four hundred animal species. There are plenty of places to sit and relax or have a picnic. On weekends, you usually find some events or festivals here too.
Other Things to See and Do in Tokyo
1. Watch a sumo match
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Japan’s most famous sumo wrestling arena, hosts tournaments three times each year, in January, May, and September. The sumo wrestling that we see today dates back to the 17th century, though its origins far precede that. To this day, it’s one of the most popular traditions in the country. If you’re in town at the right time, this is a must-see.
Tickets sell out quickly so book online in advance. Prices vary but start around 3,200 JPY for arena seats. You can book a ticket online here (you’ll be accompanied by a guide too, so you can learn more about the tradition as it unfolds before your eyes). To learn more about the sport in in the off-season, book a tour of a sumo stable.
2. Take a walking tour
Walking tours are a great way to get the lay of the land while connecting with a local guide. I always go on one or two when I first arrive somewhere, as then I can get recommendations and tips for the rest of my trip.
Tokyo Localized offers several free walking tours, including a classic overview of the city, and walking tours of both the famed Harajuku and Shinjuku neighborhoods. If you’re willing to spend a bit on a paid tour (starting at 1,800 JPY), dive into Tokyo’s most important traditional districts on a Yanaka District tour or a Asakusa tour. Both of these areas have great historic significance for Tokyo.
3. Go on a day trip to Mount Fuji
Hakone is a picturesque mountain town located an hour outside of Tokyo. It is known for its stunning views of Mount Fuji, aka “Fuji-san,” one of Japan’s three holy mountains. It’s easy to go for the day and spend some time in the area and hike a bit of the mountain (weather permitting). Hakone, also famed for hotels with private onsen (hot springs), is a good place to spend a couple nights if you have the time. Be sure to get the Hakone Free Pass, which provides round-trip train travel from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station and access to eight attractions at a bundled rate of 6,100 JPY.
4. See the Hachiko statue
This is a life-sized bronze statue of an Akita dog located outside Shibuya Station, the fourth-largest commuter station in the world (and Shibuya Crossing is the world’s busiest intersection). The legendary Hachiko would greet his owner there on his return from his daily commute, until the owner passed away at work in 1925. Hachiko visited the train station daily and waited for his owner until he also died in 1935. He is a national hero in Japan, and his story is well known, as it highlights virtues of loyalty and devotion, which are highly valued in Japanese culture. You can find Hachiko, unsurprisingly, at the Hachiko Exit.
5. Shop at Akihabara Electric Town
This is one of the funkiest neighborhoods in town. You can find pretty much any gadget you’ve ever imagined here, on block after block of electronics shops, ranging from one-man kiosks to massive malls. There are also lots of artists selling their music, manga and anime specialty shops, weird maid cafés (where the staff dress up as maids), pachinko arcades (video game spots), and a bunch of eclectic stores. You can also take a tour of Akihabara on which a guide will escort you to the best hidden shops while explaining the culture and history of the area.
6. Wander Roppongi Hills
Roppongi Hills is one of Tokyo’s more upscale neighborhoods. The National Art Center is located here, featuring 12 galleries that showcase rotating exhibitions by contemporary artists (admission is free). One of Tokyo’s tallest buildings, Mori Tower, is also in Roppongi; it contains the hip Mori Art Museum, which features Japanese modern art (2,000 JPY admission), and Tokyo City View, a 52nd-floor vantage point of the endless concrete jungle (admission to the viewpoint is 2,000 JPY when booked online, with an additional 500 JPY for the rooftop Sky Deck). Additionally, the neighborhood is famous for high-end restaurants (including a lot of omakase sushi eateries), clothing stores, and cafés. It’s much more low-key and suburban than other parts of Tokyo.
7. Drink on Golden Gai
In a dark corner of Shinjuku, Tokyo’s largest and most famous nightlife district, is located this lively alleyway of hundreds of back-street bars. The area is relatively quiet during the day, but at night, its zigzagging hallways and closet-sized beer rooms are filled with people getting cheap drinks and wanting to party. Though it’s touristy, you’ll still find a number of Japanese people here.
8. Get on a suijo-bus
For centuries, one of the traditional ways to get around has always been via water bus. There are even floating restaurants, known as yakata-bune, as well as lunch and dinner cruises that you can book. Expect to pay at least 13,000 JPY for a cruise with a meal. Regular ferries vary greatly depending on the route and company, but generally range from 860 to 1,700 JPY.
9. Visit the Great Buddha
Make a day trip to the small city of Kamakura to see its 13-meter (43-foot) bronze statue of Buddha, built in 1252. The statue was initially constructed within Kotoku-in Temple, but that has since been washed away by several storms, so the statue now sits in the open air. Usually, you can even go inside it as well (there’s nothing to really see, but it’s neat to step inside a centuries-old work of art). Admission to enter the temple grounds is 300 JPY, while it’s 20 JPY to go inside the statue.
Kamakura is on the proposed list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is also home to important Zen temples and shrines of historical significance to Japan. The journey there takes around an hour and is free with a Japan Rail Pass.
10. Check out a sento
A sento is a traditional Japanese public bathhouse, typically separated by gender. While they were originally built to accommodate those that did not have such facilities at home, they are now a great place to go for some peace and relaxation. The Japanese are not shy, so you need to be comfortable with nudity. Many sento are traditional, but some modern “super sento” offer more luxe amenities, including massages, fitness facilities, and cafés. A budget-friendly sento costs around 500-700 JPY. If you have tattoos, you may not be allowed to enter (or you may have to cover them), so double-check your chosen facility’s policy before heading over.
11. Have fun at Tokyo Disneyland
I’m a sucker for Disney. You’ll find many of the same classic rides from Disney World here, like Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, and everyone’s favorite teacup ride, The Mad Tea Party. But Tokyo Disney has several unique attractions as well, like “Pooh’s Hunny Hunt” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Ticket prices vary depending on the day and time, but full-day admission begins at 7,900 JPY for adults and 4,400-6,200 JPY for children, depending on their age. It’s best to book online in advance.
12. Have dinner with ninjas
For a unique dining experience, head to Ninja Tokyo (formerly Ninja Akasaka). It’s super fun! This ninja-themed restaurant is set in a medieval, Edo-era “village.” The wait staff are clothed in stereotypical, all-black “ninja” garb and trained in all sorts of ninjutsu magic tricks and simple illusions. You’ll order your meal off of old scrolls while being entertained by the skillful feats of your server. Prices range from 6,000 JPY for a six-course vegetarian dinner to 18,000 JPY for an eight-course dinner including premium Wagyu steak. You’ll definitely need to book this in advance.
13. Tour the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
Built in 1933, this beautiful Art Deco edifice was originally the official residence of Prince and Princess Asaka (who are a branch of the imperial family). Asaka founder Prince Yasahiku studied and lived in France from 1922 to 1925 and wanted to bring this architectural style to Japan, which explains the building’s unique design and decor. After various incarnations, including serving as the prime minister’s residence and a state guesthouse, this building eventually found its current purpose as a small museum in 1983 and is now home to rotating modern art exhibitions. Admission varies depending on the exhibition, while entrance to the garden is 200 JPY.
14. Try superhero go-karting
Want to speed around the busy streets of Tokyo in a go-kart while wearing a costume? Of course you do! There are a number of companies that let you dress up as Mario or Luigi, a Marvel superhero, or Pikachu and race through the city in go-karts (just like in the Mario Kart video games). There are both private and group tours, with multiple departure locations, that cruise through different neighborhoods. Expect to spend about 1-2 hours and 10,000-18,000 JPY per person, depending on the options you choose. An international driving permit is required. This activity books out far in advance.
15. Visit one of the many quirky cafés in town
Tokyo has all sorts of over-the-top, weird, and wonderfully themed cafés. These include monster cafés, vampire cafés, owl cafés, cat cafés, dog cafés, religious-themed cafés, and much more! If you’re seeking a unique dining experience that highlights Japan’s kawaii (cute) side, research which such cafés are near you. They’re all around, so you never have to go far to find one.
16. Try a food tour
Japanese cuisine is world-renowned, featuring delicate ingredients and flavors that vary greatly both seasonally and regionally. Arigato Travel offers a ton of different food tours in Tokyo. You can either sample a bit of everything on its Flavors of Japan Tour (on which you visit seven shops, each specializing in a different regional cuisine), or dive deep into one dish, such as on the Ultimate Ramen Tasting Tour. I really like the Shimbasa tour, as it takes you to a part of town most people just pass through. Tours start at 22,000 JPY.
17. Take a cooking class
In addition to food tours, cooking classes are a great way to learn something new and connect with local chefs. There are a lot of options to choose from, from sushi-making workshops to a wagyu cooking class.
18. Experience a tea ceremony
Learn about the highly specific and meditative ways to prepare and serve tea, and then enjoy it, accompanied by traditional sweets. Maikoya in Shinjuku is one of the best places to do it in Tokyo; ceremonies cost 2,700 JPY without a kimono or 5,400 JPY with one.
19. Immerse yourself at teamLab Planets TOKYO
This digital art installation is a multisensory and immersive experience where you become part of the artwork, walking barefoot through the four exhibition spaces and gardens as you interact with the installations’ elements in unique ways. teamLab is really popular and generally sells out at least a few days in advance, so I recommend getting your tickets online ahead of time.
20. Go museum-hopping
Beyond the aforementioned classic museums, Tokyo has plenty of fascinating ones dedicated to specific aspects of Japanese culture and history. For anime fans, there’s the whimsical Ghibli Museum, designed by famed director Hayao Miyazaki and dedicated to the animated films from Studio Ghibli (admission is 1,000 JPY, advance reservations required). For photography lovers, there’s the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, which has both permanent exhibitions on Japanese photographers as well as temporary international exhibitions (admission varies depending on the exhibit). And for history buffs, the Fukagawa Edo Museum features a full-scale replica of a 19th-century neighborhood, with 11 traditional buildings that you can wander around, asking questions of the helpful volunteer docents (admission is 400 JPY).
And that’s just scratching the surface — there are many, many more! If you plan to visit a few museums, it’s worth it to get the Tokyo Museum Grutto Pass (2,500 JPY for admission to 101 museums and other attractions).
For information on other cities in Japan, check out these guides:
Tokyo Travel Costs
Hostels – Most hostels in Tokyo cost around 4,000-7,500 JPY per night for a bed in a dorm of any size. For a private room with a twin or double bed, expect to pay 10,500-17,500 JPY per night. Prices are the same year-round.
Free Wi-Fi, private lockers, and self-catering facilities are standard in most hostels. Only a few include free breakfast, so research and book in advance if this is important to you.
Budget hotels – If you’re looking for a budget hotel, expect to pay at least 10,000 JPY for a double bed at a two-star location. For a mid-range, three-star hotel, prices start at 12,500 JPY per night, while capsule hotels start at 6,500 JPY for a tiny pod that is essentially just a bed. If you want to stay in a Western chain (think Hilton), expect to spend at least 20,000 JPY or more a night, depending on the brand.
Airbnb – Airbnb is tightly regulated in Japan, so there are not a ton of options. You’ll find mostly hotel rooms and guesthouses rather than people’s homes, due to these regulations. And prices aren’t that much cheaper than hotels: private apartments or homes on Airbnb usually start around 10,000-15,000 JPY per night. Private rooms aren’t very common and only slightly cheaper, at 7,500 JPY per night.
Food – Japanese cuisine is made up of internationally recognizable dishes, including sushi and sashimi, tempura, gyoza, and miso soup, as well as various noodle-, beef-, and seafood-centric courses.
There are tons of cheap food options in the city. Soba, curry, and donburi (bowls of meat and rice) cost 400-700 JPY. Ramen is around 1,200-1,500 JPY. Fast food (think McDonald’s or KFC) is around 750 JPY for a combo meal. Kaitenzushi, or conveyor belt sushi, costs 150-700 JPY per piece.
You can also find plenty of inexpensive meals and prepackaged items at 7-Eleven, Family Mart, or Lawson. Prepackaged meals of noodles, rice balls, tofu, and sushi are all available for 300-500 JPY, making for cheap lunches. (Supermarkets have many meal sets at similar prices too.) The food is actually really good (even the locals eat them all the time), so if you want a quick, cheap meal, don’t be afraid about getting food here.
Lunch at a sit-down café is around 1,200-1,500 JPY, while midrange restaurants (think three courses) cost around 3,000 JPY per person. And, if you want to splurge, Tokyo is the perfect place to do it, with the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. An eight-course meal at a higher-end restaurant costs 10,000-30,000 JPY.
A beer costs around 600-800 JPY, a glass of wine is 1,000 JPY and up, and cocktails start at 800-1,200 JPY. A latte is 600 JPY, while a bottle of water is 100-130 JPY.
For a list of some of my favorite places to eat in Tokyo, check out this blog post.
Buying groceries costs 5,000-6,500 JPY per week for basic staples like rice, seasonal vegetables, and some fish.
Backpacking Tokyo Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking in Tokyo, budget 10,000 JPY per day. This assumes you’re staying in a hostel dorm, cooking most of your meals, grabbing food from 100-yen shops, visiting free museums and temples, using public transportation to get around (or renting a bike for a few hours), and limiting your drinking.
On a midrange budget of 19,500 JPY per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb or hostel room, eat out at some budget restaurants, indulge in some drinks, do some paid activities like visiting a quirky café or going go-karting, and rent a bike for a day or take the occasional taxi.
On a “luxury” budget of 37,500 JPY per day or more, you can stay in traditional Japanese accommodations or hotels, dine in nicer restaurants, enjoy drinks as often as you want, go on paid tours, and take more taxis. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
Tokyo Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
While Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are still plenty of ways to reduce your costs while visiting. There are lots of free activities, inexpensive dining options, and even cheaper drinks if you know where to look. Here are some ways to save money:
- Skip the taxis – Since cabs can be expensive (they have a 475 JPY starting fare), use public transportation to save money. Tokyo’s Metro runs until midnight, with routes throughout the city, while JR East shuts down at 1:20am. If you can be home before then, you’ll save a ton by avoiding taxis.
- Shop at the 100-yen stores – There are many 100-yen shops (like dollar stores) where you can grab premade meals, groceries, water, toiletries, and household items. This is where you should purchase necessities, allowing you to eat and shop on a budget. Just ask your hostel or hotel where the nearest “Hyaku En” shop is located.
- Eat at 7-Eleven – 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and other convenience stores sell a variety of meal sets for under 500 JPY, which can make for a cheap lunch option. Additionally, supermarkets sell these at similar prices. You can also find a lot of cheap meals (such as curry, ramen, and donburi) at the major bus or train stations. Locals regularly eat these, so don’t be shy!
- Get a transportation pass or prepaid card – Chances are you’ll be using a lot of public transportation to get around. Be sure to get a transit day pass or prepaid card. There are a variety of passes available, since there are many subway and railway companies operating various lines. One-day passes range from 600 to 1,600 JPY.
- Get a Tokyo Museum Grutto Pass – If you plan on visiting a lot of museums, it’s worth it to get this pass, as it’s only 2,500 JPY and gives you admission to 101 museums and other attractions. It’s available as a digital ticket too, which streamlines getting into each museum.
- Stay with a local – Using sites like Couchsurfing that connect you with hosts not only gets you a free place to stay but provides you with the opportunity to learn about local life. Just make inquiries far in advance — the response rate in Japan isn’t great. Try requesting accommodation with expats, as they are generally more active on the platform.
- Work for your room – Certain hostels in Japan let you work for your room. A typical arrangement may involve spending a few hours in the morning cleaning in exchange for free accommodation. Inquire in advance to see if any hostels offer this option for your target dates.
- Sleep in an internet or manga café – These 24-hour cafés are host to late-night gamers, partiers, and businessmen who didn’t make it home after a night out. They rent by the hour, so if you just need to kill some time but don’t want to splurge on a hostel or hotel, consider a café. Some offer beds, though most just have comfortable chairs. Food and snacks are generally included in the price. Rates can be as low as 1,500 JPY per night.
- Buy food at night – After 8pm, many supermarkets discount their fresh foods. If you take advantage of this evening special, you can save up to 50% on the majority of your fresh food purchases.
- Stay at a capsule hotel – If you’re on a tight budget, stay at a capsule hotel. They are a little cheaper than hostels and can help you pinch pennies. Just don’t expect anything fancy!
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink, so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw makes reusable bottles with a built-in filter so you always know your water is clean and safe.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Tokyo has lots of hostels, and they’re all comfortable, clean, and social. Here are some of my recommended places to stay:
For more suggestions, check out my list of the best hostels in Tokyo!
And if you’re not sure what neighborhood is best for you, here’s a post that breaks down the city’s top neighborhoods so you know exactly where to stay in Tokyo.
How to Get Around Tokyo
Public transportation – Buses are widely available in Tokyo, though you can usually get by without them, because the subway and train systems are comprehensive. If you do need to take the bus, fares are around 210 JPY for adults and 110 JPY for kids. Toei is the main bus company providing service. A single-day bus pass for Toei lines is 700 JPY (available for purchase directly from the driver). Buses run approximately 6am-10pm.
The metro and Japanese Rail (“JR”) systems throughout Tokyo are the most efficient in the world. They ferry almost nine million riders daily and are known for being extremely punctual. The metro system is made up of 13 different lines, with single-ride tickets starting at 170 JPY (165 JPY with a PASMO or Suica card).
Adults can purchase a 24-hour pass for 800 JPY, a 48-hour pass for 1,200 JPY, and a 72-hour pass for 1,500 JPY, with half-price passes for children. These work on all Tokyo metro and Toei subway lines. JR lines, however, are excluded and tickets for those must be purchased separately.
You can also use a prepaid and rechargeable PASMO passport card (for use on the subway, rail, and bus) or Suica card (for use on JR East lines). Mobile apps for both are available for iPhones and Androids, though the apps are not always compatible with international smartphones. While these cards don’t offer discounted fares, they streamline using public transportation, as you don’t have to fumble with cash every time you ride. These are a great option if you’re not going to make use of an unlimited daily pass. Just keep in mind that you can’t get any of the money back that you put on the card, so load only as much as you need.
Metro trains are available 5am-12am, with women-only cars for added security and safety. Things get busy at rush hour (7:30am-9:30am and 5:30pm-7:30pm on weekdays), so avoid those times if you are able to.
There are also five Metropolitan JR lines in Tokyo (Yamanote, Chuo, Keihin-Tohoku, Sobu, and Saikyo), so if you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can utilize these lines at no additional cost.
Taxi – Taxis in Tokyo aren’t cheap, so I’d avoid them if you can. Fares start at 475 JPY and go up by 415 JPY per kilometer. Skip them!
Ridesharing – Ridesharing in Tokyo isn’t any cheaper than taxis, so don’t expect any savings here. DiDi is the go-to ridesharing app in Tokyo; its prices are generally on par with (or higher than) the JapanTaxi app or Uber.
Bicycle – Tokyo is relatively safe for cyclists. There are many bike lanes, and many locals commute via bicycle. There are both bike-share and bike rental options. For a full-day rental or 24-hour bike share, expect to pay 1,000-1,600 JPY, though pricing varies greatly. Hourly rentals may be found for 200-300 JPY, if you prefer a short-term rental. Often, rental companies charge an additional fee for bike helmets and may require a deposit.
Car rental – There’s no reason to rent a car in Tokyo. The city is designed around public transportation, and it is the quicker travel method. In the event you do plan to rent a car, prices start at 7,200 JPY per day for a small two-door vehicle. For the best rental car prices, use Discover Cars.
When to Go to Tokyo
The most popular time to visit Tokyo is during the spring or fall, when, respectively, the cherry blossoms come out or the leaves change color and the temperature is cooler.
Temperatures in June-August hover around 32°C (89°F) and it is very humid. It’s not my favorite time to go. The air is very stuffy, and it’s super hot.
Personally, I recommend the shoulder seasons as the best times to visit Tokyo. April-May and October-November see cooler temperatures and better air. Late March through early April is cherry blossom season, so expect massive crowds everywhere.
While winter in Tokyo is cold, it is not unbearable. Temperatures usually sit around 10°C (50°F) during the day and drop to around 2°C (36°F) at night. The city is much quieter during this time as well. Snow isn’t common and, when it does fall, it usually melts within a day or two.
Keep in mind that typhoon season affects Japan from May through October. Japan has the infrastructure to handle typhoons, but be sure to purchase travel insurance in advance!
How to Stay Safe in Tokyo
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Even in Tokyo, home to 10 million people, there’s virtually zero chance you’re going to get robbed, scammed, or hurt. In fact, Tokyo is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the world.
Scams here are virtually nonexistent, but if you’re worried about getting ripped off, you can read about common travel scams to avoid.
Your main risk here is from Mother Nature. Earthquakes and typhoons are common, so make note of the exits when you arrive at your accommodation. Download offline maps to your phone, as well, in the event you may need to navigate during an emergency.
While exploring, note that Japan does not issue building addresses in the order we are used to, so it is easy to get turned around or lost. Also, Japanese citizens possess significantly less English-language fluency than you may have encountered in prior travels, with less than 10% being fluent. Make sure you have an offline map and language app just to be safe.
Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here; however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). As a solo female traveler, you may have to watch out for occasional lewd behavior. Some have reported inappropriate behavior, such as men asking personal questions or catcalling. Groping has been reported on the cramped subways. Many train lines have “women-only” cars during rush hour (you’ll see pink signs directing women on where to board), so you can use those if you feel the need.
Japan’s emergency number is 110. For nonemergency assistance, you can call the Japan Helpline at 0570-000-911.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancelations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, and I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Tokyo Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Agoda – Other than Hostelworld, Agoda is the best hotel accommodation site for Asia.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
- Japan Rail Pass – This is a flexible transportation pass used for navigating Japan. Similar to the Eurail pass in Europe, it turns expensive bullet trains into budget-friendly modes of transportation. You honestly can’t visit Japan without one.
Tokyo Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling in Japan and continue planning your trip: