Long Layover in Tokyo: 3-Day Legendary Itinerary

Planning a long layover in Tokyo? Rest assured, you'll be able to make the most of your layover with this handy guide, allowing you to experience a legendary Japanese adventure!

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Long Layover in Tokyo

Planning a long layover in Tokyo? You're likely feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out the sights to see, activities to do, and dishes to taste. Rest assured, you'll be able to make the most of your layover with this handy guide, allowing you to experience a legendary Japanese adventure!

Discovering Tokyo means immersing yourself in a fascinating metropolis where tradition and modernity coexist harmoniously. The city's buzz, dazzling lights, cultural richness, and culinary delights make Tokyo an exciting layover not to be missed.

When planning your stay in Tokyo, you’ll notice there are two main airports: Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND).

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You'll likely land at Narita, one of the primary international hubs. But be aware that Haneda International Airport also serves many international flights.

Traveller's tip: When booking your flight, consider the pros and cons of each airport. Narita is more to the east of Tokyo, allowing you to dive into Japanese tradition, while Haneda provides quicker access to downtown Tokyo.

Here's a carefully crafted, tested, and proven 3-day itinerary for Tokyo, allowing you to fully savour the Japanese capital.

Day 1: Tokyo's tradition and nature

One of the first things to do during your long layover in Tokyo is to head to the spectacular Senso-ji temple. Immerse yourself in spirituality and traditional craftsmanship at this iconic sanctuary in Asakusa, which is not only rich in history but also free to explore.

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For a more intimate experience, visit early in the morning before the crowds arrive. With the jet lag, you'll easily be awake at this time!

Also, stroll through Nakamise-dori, the shopping streets at the temple's entrance, where the bustling shops immerse you in a lively and colourful atmosphere.

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In the afternoon, head to the Shrine Meiji Jingu, a sanctuary surrounded by the soothing greenery of Yoyogi Park.

Under the shades of majestic trees, write your thoughts and prayers on small pieces of paper and experience a profound sense of inner peace. You can also taste local cuisine from food stands while strolling in this haven of tranquillity.

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Come evening, treat yourself to a unique gastronomic experience with yakiniku. Imagine grilling slices of Wagyu beef, raised under privileged conditions, on a built-in barbecue at your table.

A social feast where each bite tells a story of tradition and delight.

Day 2: High-speed getaway to Kyoto

For a day trip during your long layover in Tokyo, opt for the high-speed Shinkansen train to reach Kyoto. This 450-kilometre journey takes only two and a half hours, less than half the time it would take by car.

On the Shinkansen, let yourself be carried away by the impressive speed of the train, reaching speeds of up to 300 km/h. The magic lies in the fact that you'll hardly feel the speed. The experience is both comfortable and serene, allowing you to admire the landscapes passing by through the windows without major disturbances.

Plan ahead by booking your Shinkansen tickets to reserve your seats. The average cost for a round trip is about $200 but varies depending on the chosen class and booking period. If you stay longer in Japan, consider the JRPass.

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Once in Kyoto, focus on iconic sites to maximize your day:

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: Immerse yourself in this magical forest where bamboo rises majestically around you. It's a place of tranquil beauty.

Gion: Explore the Gion district, famous for its traditional streets, tea houses, and, with some luck, you might spot a geisha.

Fushimi Inari Taisha: Don't miss this impressive shrine with thousands of red torii forming a tunnel. The climb to the top offers a panoramic view of Kyoto.

Kinkaku-ji Temple: Admire the elegance of this Zen Buddhist temple covered in gold leaf and surrounded by beautiful gardens.

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Day 3: Immersion in Tokyo's modernity and futurism

In the morning, start your day in the eclectic Harajuku district, where exuberant fashion and overflowing creativity reign supreme.

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Explore Takeshita Street, the iconic avenue of eccentric fashion. Make a stop to taste a famous "rainbow cheese toast" or the "unicorn grilled cheese," a creative and visually appealing culinary experience.

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Dive into the excitement of Shibuya in the afternoon. Cross the famous Shibuya intersection, where thousands of people converge at every traffic light change.

Near the intersection, look for the iconic and must-see statue of Hachiko, a loyal Akita who waited for his owner at Shibuya station, even years after his death. This touching story inspired the Hachiko statue near Shibuya station, becoming a popular meeting point and a symbol of unwavering loyalty in Japan.

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Explore modern shopping centres. Visit Totti Candy Factory for a sweet and fun experience with their brightly coloured cotton candy.

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In the evening, finish your day in Shinjuku, the modern district with sparkling skyscrapers. Stroll through Kabukicho, the nightlife district, before getting lost in the narrow alleys of Golden Gai.

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Discover Golden Gai, a network of six narrow lanes housing over 200 miniature bars, an iconic experience of nightlife in Shinjuku.

Challenge yourself to find the mysterious little bar Rincon Flamenco Nana, then take a seat, and enjoy a cocktail for an intimate and unique experience.

Have a great layover in Tokyo, the Land of the Rising Sun!

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This long layover in Tokyo will undoubtedly awaken in you the ardent desire to return for a longer stay! You'll be surprised at how much you'll fall in love with Japan!

For a perfect getaway, contact a SoNomad agent to get the best travel insurance and ensure a seamless experience in Japan.

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