What To Do with One Day in Tokyo (PHOTOS)

Categories:Asia, Destinations, Japan, Tokyo, Urban
Jessica Peterson

Tokyo gardens pagoda

I’ve had two extended vacations in Tokyo as well as a couple of single-day (or less) layovers. It’s a safe, eclectic destination and one I recommend you see at least once. These are my picks for the top activities if you have just one day to spend.

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It’s no secret that Shibuya is my favorite part of Tokyo. Myriads of shops and Times Square-esque signage characterize this hip precinct. You’ve got to walk one of the world’s most crowded crosswalks while you’re there. The food is also killer. The tiniest, most unassuming restaurants turn out masterpieces like the one below.


Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden


This 144-acre park is a great place to unwind after a gazillion-hour flight. Stroll the green space filled with hills, ponds, and bridges.


It may even inspire you to paint.

Tokyo-garden-painter-H  Tokyo-garden-pond-H

Darjeeling Indian Restaurant


If I had to eat one type of food until I die, it would be Indian. When my friend in Tokyo asked where I wanted to eat on my layover, I requested Indian. She introduced me to Darjeeling, the most charming Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to. I ordered a mango lassi, paneer tikka masala (my standard, which was a special order here), and garlic naan. Delicious!

Dal-Matto Cucina Italiana


Roppongi Hills, a high-rise shopping center, did less to impress me than the Italian restaurant, Dal-Matt0, within it. This is precisely what I love about Tokyo — the thoughtful and tasty variety of food! If you’re looking for a food destination, you won’t be disappointed with Japan. I ordered the hamachi carpaccio at Dal-Matto, which was made even more special with the addition of pink peppercorns. I’m a sucker for beautiful food like this.

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Jessica Peterson
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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
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  • Would love to visit there someday

    Leonie ♥ IkonikBeauty

  • MissLilly

    I can only wish!

  • Great tips, beautiful pictures – I love it all! 🙂

  • I fall in love with Tokyo the minut I’ve discovered this city!

  • Natalie Tanner

    Wow! You sure found some gorgeous food to enjoy! Those photos are good enough to eat..I can almost smell the dishes. Tokyo looks colorful and interesting and I’d love to take the kids!

  • Neha Verma

    Never thought we could do so much in Tokyo in just one day. I would definitely not want to give SHINJUKU GYOEN NATIONAL GARDEN a miss. Thats my favorite. Will stick to your itinerary though

  • I love reflection photography and you got 2 great reflection photographs in here. I’m wishing for an extended vacation in Tokyo too! I’m sure it’s at Shibuya metro station that you can find the statue of the real Hatchi from the movie, it was a true story!

  • Mel

    The Shibuya area looks so crazy and fun. I think the National Garden might be more my speed, though. I love all the greenery, pagoda, and water. I wouldn’t think to have Italian food in Japan, but it is gorgeous!

  • Christine Krzyszton

    Would love to spend a little time in Shibaya, looks fun. And who wouldn’t enjoy a park so picturesque! Normally wouldn’t try all those different cusines when in Japan but you make it a compelling option to consider.

  • Ivana Leturia

    Tokio is such a colorful city! Stunning pictures. Would love to visit the National Garden.. so peaceful.

  • That Darjeeling restaurant made me quite happy..being a North Indian I look for such places on my trips ?

    Good to see other hot-spots too!

  • Sonia Sahni

    Wow!! An Indian restaurant in Tokyo… I would love to try it! The national garden looks so peaceful. This is the perfect list for a layover… thanks for sharing!

  • Tokyo is on of my favourite places on earth. No really. We went two years ago. But there are a couple of things on your list especially the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park that we didn’t do. Also going to be more adventurous with food next time and not just eat sushi and katsu curry.

  • Japan is seriously on my radar right now and Tokyo is right at the top of my list. I’m with you in your love of Indian food! I hope I can make if there soon.

  • kindell

    I wish to try this place out as soon as possible. As i am quite happy about my next tour to Chicago with Golden Bus Tours.