Japan is one of my favourite countries. From its warm people to its tasty food, there is little to dislike. That’s why when a flight option opened up and offered a Tokyo layover on a recent trip to Asia, I jumped on it. Not only did it allow me to fly ANA business class for the first time, but it also got me the opportunity to share what wonderfully Japanese things you can do on a Tokyo layover from Haneda airport.
Getting to the City from Haneda Airport
Before I jump into this list of things to do on a Tokyo layover,
let’s look at how to get into town from Haneda airport. Like the entire country, Tokyo Haneda airport is very well connected via rail and light transit. As soon as you collect your bags you will find signs for the various rail lines. Next to the ticketing machines, you will also find helpful attendants ready to assist you with where you want to go and how to get there.
Note: Tickets machines are cash only. There’s an ATM conveniently located next to the machines if you don’t have any Yen.
Tokyo Haneda Airport is located ~20 kilometres south of the city. This means it is close to Shibuya, our first stop on this Tokyo layover. You can take the Keikyu Line for ¥470 to the Yamanote Line or retro Tokyo-Monorail to the Yamanote Line for ¥700.
Play in Traffic at Shibuya Crossing
First up on this list of things to do on a Tokyo layover from Haneda is visit the iconic Shibuya crossing. This famous all-walk is located outside of Shibuya Station. Playing in traffic here will never get old for me.
Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s best shopping and entertainment areas. With a population density that almost hits 15 thousand people per square kilometre, Shibuya is crowded, to say the least. This has made the intersections of 10 automobile lanes and 5 pedestrian crossings one of the busiest intersections in the city, if not the world. To alleviate both foot and vehicle traffic, Tokyo officials decided to make the intersection an all-walk pedestrian crossing. Known as a “scramble,” for 2-minute intervals, pedestrians can cross in all directions at the same time. Not surprisingly, it is an effective way to alleviate foot and vehicle congestion. Surprisingly, it has become a very popular tourist attraction for its mass movement of people.
Also, don’t miss a visit to Tokyo’s most loyal pup, Hachiko. Just outside the Shibuya Station, you will find a statue dedicated to Hachiko who, in the 1920s, would come to the station every day to meet his owner. As touching as that is, the truly heartwarming fact is that Hachiko continued to visit the Shibuya Station for 10 years after his owner’s passing.
From sushi to Ramen there is no shortage of tasty eats to enjoy on your Tokyo layover. From Shibuya crossing, head to nearby Nonbei Yokocho for its tiny bars and Yakiniku eateries. There are also a ton of vending machine-style ramen restaurants in the area with Ichiran Shibuya being one of the most popular with tourists for its atmosphere and soup.
From Shibuya station, it’s one-stop to Harajuku. Depending on the time of day you can either spot kids dressed in cosplay and wander the city’s largest park, Yoyogi Park, explore the cute shops on Takeshita Street, or head to the Golden Gai, a collection of tiny bars stacked on top of each other.
Visit a Cat Café
If jet lag has got you messed up find therapy in one of the many cat cafés in Tokyo. There’s something soothing about enjoying a coffee while plenty of cats surrounding you doing cat things. Although I visited possibly the saddest cat café in Tokyo, I did enjoy my time and would recommend.
Catch a Baseball Game
Japan is baseball mad so if your Tokyo layover aligns with a game, I highly recommend going. The experience is nothing like what you will find in North America. The possibility of it lining up are good as the Tokyo area is home to four teams. The Yomiuri Giants are a good bet as they play in the Tokyo dome which is covered so there is no chance of rain delays.
- READ MORE: A Visitor’s Guide to Japan Baseball
Play Video Games in Akihabara
Tokyo’s electronics district is a sight to see on its own but the real draw is the arcades. You could easily spend a few hours (and many Yen) playing hilariously Japanese games or try your luck at winning a prize.
Visit a 7-Eleven
As I noted in my post on why I think 7-Eleven is the best restaurant in Asia, I have a thing for this otherwise passable North American chain. In Japan, you will find curiously good and cheap eats and surprisingly great coffee. So much so that I have a follow-up post coming on my favourite Japanese 7-Eleven snacks!
Last up on this list of things to do on a Tokyo layover is, simply, sleep. Tokyo offers plenty of cheap capsule hotels for those travelling on a budget. On my recent visit, I chose Hotel Emit Shibuya for its great location between Shibuya in Shinjuku stations. This budget hotel’s location makes all of the activities listed above within reach and at a great value!
As you can see, there is no shortage of great things to see and do in Tokyo, even if you are just passing through. Be warned though, if you sample some of the above on a Tokyo layover you will want to return and stay longer. Japan is incredible and a place I will return to again and again, even if it’s just for a night 😉
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