A Perfect 3 Days in Tokyo Itinerary & Travel Guide
We recently decided to do an extended layover on the way to Bali in Tokyo because we had been wanting to do Japan together forever (I had already been twice without Kenny – you can read my ultimate 10 days in Japan itinerary here, but my husband had never been and we hadn’t been as a family yet!) so we decided to travel to Tokyo with a toddler in tow – our 16-month-old son, and it was such an amazing three days in Tokyo! Japan is definitely a family-friendly travel destination, but these recommendations below go for if you’re traveling as a couple, with friends, or as a family! Tokyo is so cool, and the culture in Japan is unmatched – it’s a super organized, clean, and pretty easy to navigate country, even with a language barrier. But, that being said, there are definitely some tips to make it as easy and seamless as possible, which I’ll get into below!
What to do with three days in Tokyo
Check in to The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon. This hot spot is where we stayed after it was recommended by multiple friends and I’m SO glad we did. The hotel is brand new, just opened this year, and is located in the Toranomon district, which is more of a business district of Tokyo, making it a nice and quiet oasis outside of the more ‘city’ feeling neighborhoods (but they were a short walk or train away!). We had great eating and walking options nearby and easy access to a train station. I would highly recommend this hotel for any stay in Tokyo! It was luxe, hip, and the bars and restaurants are definitely a scene. The food in the lobby bar and at breakfast was SO good.
This gorgeous sleek Tokyo hotel is definitely where all of the coolest travelers are going right now. (But, that being said, we didn’t feel out of place with our toddler here, either!) Check rates for your dates here.
Where to Eat in Tokyo
With three days and nights, if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to do one night at a fancy sushi restaurant, one night (or lunch) at a casual local spot eating Tepanyaki or Okonomiyaki, another lunch doing ramen, and one night finding delicious Kobe beef somewhere. Here’s where I recommend in Tokyo for each food type:
Nobu Tokyo is also an option for a fine dining sushi option, of course, as well! The famed NOBU worldwide brand did start here, after all!
Also worth noting Akasaka Kikunoi – not a sushi restaurant only, but a 2-michelin star Japanese cuisine fine dining spot to consider!
Tepanyaki, Okonomiyaki, or Monjayaki:
Tsukishima Monja Street – this was such a cool street that we found full of local restaurants packed with Japanese enjoying tepanyaki (food grilled yourself in the middle of your table on a heated iron pan), okonomiyaki and monjayaki (both are versions of Japanese style savory pancakes that are SO good!!!!!). Choose from any of these restaurants and you’ll be so glad you did! Monjayaki is made from a flour-based batter with cabbage and ginger combined with a selection of meat, octopus, shrimp, cheese, or other toppings. Upon ordering a dish, you’ll be presented with a bowl of batter and a separate bowl of ingredients. Oil the pan and spread out the ingredients. Once things are thoroughly sizzling, create a donut-shaped hole in the center, pour in the batter, then begin swiftly mixing the batter and ingredients towards the center of the pan, as the liquid slowly firms up. In a few minutes, you’ll have a large, flat pancake, which you can cut up and enjoy using the spatula. It’s a really cool local experience and we loved this street! I also recommend going for lunch!!
Ichiran – For a classic bowl of ramen, head to one of the many Ichiran locations in the city, a ramen chain found all over Tokyo, which is a testament to the fact that Ichiran dishes up a damn good bowl of ramen. Here, the specialty is the pork-based tonkotsu ramen — thin noodles surrounded by a milky, sweet broth topped with sliced pork.
Rokurinsha – one of the most famous Ramen restaurants in Japan, known to be one of Tokyo’s best ramen spots. During lunch time, over 30-40 people make a queue in front of Rokurinsha and sometimes you need to wait more than one hour! They have a few locations, but the most famous one is on Tokyo’s “Ramen Street” located on an underground floor of Tokyo Station near Yaesu South Exit. To avoid a long wait at Rokurinsha, you have to try to get there by 10:30am on the weekdays, right at the opening time, when usually there will be less people at the Ramen Street.
Kikanbo – At Kikanbo, you can customize your ramen bowl by choosing the amount of spice – from 1 to 5 – when you place your order. Then you pay for your order at a vending machine, give your ticket to the chef, grab a pair of chopsticks, and get ready for a deliiiiicious bowl of spicy miso ramen.
Wagyu Katsu Sandos
Okay so there was one thing that I knew we HAD to get while we were in Tokyo and that was something called a “Katsu Sando” – this is a Wagyu Steak sandwich that has been gaining in popularity in recent years in Tokyo. It looked SO good when I saw instagrams and TikToks about them, so I knew we had to try one. Here’s where I recommend for the best Katsu Sandos in Tokyo:
Shima Steak – As noted above, can be hard to get in, so have your hotel book you a reservation. Kids are not allowed. Small restaurant and they do takeaway for their sandwiches as well, which will run you about $150 per sandwich (Wagyu beef is pricey!!!)
WagyuMafia – very well known spot for their Katsu Sandos as well as their Wagyu burgers!
The Lobby Bar at the Edition Toranomon – This is actually where we ended up getting our Katsu Sando after being pretty tired from walking around the city with our toddler all day, and wanting something easy and fun. The lobby bar at the EDITION is SO beautiful and chic, this ended up being my favorite dinner! We did make a reservation ahead of time so we could snag a good table (these views are unreal). And I could write a love letter to the Wagyu Katsu Sando at the Edition, WOW. It was TO DIE FOR. We ordered it Medium (which is really more like an American medium rare) and it was easily the best sandwich I’ve ever had. I’m getting hungry thinking about it.
Also, they have a great selection of Japanese whiskeys as well as wines and champagnes! And we had money to spend on drinks at the hotel from our $100 free resort credit we got for booking with my Jetset travel agent who gets you travel perks (at no cost to you!), from free breakfast (which was so good!), and a room upgrade (when available). To get perks at the Tokyo Edition, fill out this contact form and be sure to use the referral code “JETSETCHRISTINA” if you use my referral, my agency partner will reach out with more information and can help book you with all kinds of fun perks (and they don’t charge a fee to book!) – you can use them for any destination you’re heading – just be sure to use the code JETSETCHRISTINA!
Shima Steak – Hard to get in but this spot is located in Nihonbashi area, near Tokyo Station. This renowned steakhouse restaurant in Tokyo serves high-grade beef including wagyu beef, all cooked by the experienced owner/chef to bring out amazing flavors. People rave that this is an unforgettable dining experience with an exceptional food and warm and welcoming hospitality. But note that kids are not allowed.
Jiromaru Akihabara – This is a standing restaurant, and a very unique Japanese experience with melt-in-your-mouth beef.
Atelier Morimoto Xex – If you’re looking for an amazing experience, look no further than this small, intimate Japanese restaurant.
The Best Vegetarian Food in Tokyo
Sougou – Vegetarians visiting Tokyo should head straight to Sougou in the Roppongi district for the absolute best Japanese vegetarian meal you could ever dream of!
What to do in Tokyo
TeamLabs Planets Interactive Museum – We had so much fun going to TeamLabs Planets. This is such a fun, very-Tokyo experience for people of all ages! Highly recommend. But try and go early!!! It gets crowded.
Shibuya scramble crossing – don’t miss the busiest crossing in the world! This is the epitome of what you think of when you think of Tokyo and it’s so fun. I recommend going at night!
Shinjuku Gardens – This 144-acre park has some of the most beautiful Japanese gardens. This place is stunning! Don’t miss cherry blossom season (around April)
Walk to the Imperial Palace through Hibuya Park – This was a perfect walk from the EDITION hotel to see the Imperial Palace and really pretty parks!
Tokyo Skytree – look out onto the entire 360-degree-view of the city from the third tallest building in the world!! There’s also awesome dining options here (I like Toriton), and some fun shopping.
Visit the most famous fish market in the world – As the biggest fish market in the world, the Tsukiji Market is a bustling jungle of a market, with some seriously amazing sushi spots too. Definitely a must-do in Tokyo.
Sakurai Tea Experience- head to this minimalist oasis that is all about “sado”, the Japanese “way of tea.” A small space filled with glass jars containing 30 varieties of green tea and only 8 seats in the cafe! Founder Shinya Sakurai takes a meditative, spiritual approach to the art of tea and this is such an experience! The tasting flight for ¥4,800 (about $35) is the best introduction to the range of teas on offer.
Catch a baseball game – If it’s season (March-October) and the timing lines up, seeing a baseball game in Tokyo is a must. Baseball to Japanese is like soccer to Brazilians. They go nuts for it. This is an experience you can’t miss in Japan, especially if you’re a US baseball fan.
What to know about traveling to Tokyo
Have some cash (Japanese yen) on you
There are definitely places that are cash only (especially some of the more local restaurants and shops), so it’s a good idea to get some Yen ahead of your trip (you can usually order through your bank! That’s what we do!)
There’s not a ton of English, but it’s very navigable, just have Google Translate handy!
We found that google translate was super useful in restaurants, etc. when communicating with the locals. I also downloaded an app called AR Translator, which translates automatically from a photo – so helpful for menus, etc.! And it works without wifi.
7-elevens and other convenience stores are on every corner
Convenience stores are a way of life in Japan! Enjoy them, and be sure to try some funky Japanese snacks and drinks!
You don’t need a power converter from the US!
I was surprised to learn that Japan uses the same power outlets as the US! One less thing to pack!