From sumo and sake to ultra-contemporary art and historic shrines, this 5-day adventure in Tokyo offers a well-balanced mix of traditional Japanese culture and modern urban life. As you explore one of the world's most vibrant cities, you'll go back in time, visiting landmark shrines, as well as a museum and a cultural theme park, to learn about Edo-era Japan. After witnessing sumo wrestlers in training and tasting sake, you'll see edgy interactive art at TeamLab and bar-hop in the Golden Gai district. These five days are rich with experiences you'll remember for a lifetime!

Highlights

  • Witness the power and grace of sumo wrestlers in action
  • Explore the bars and neon lights of Golden Gai and Kabukicho
  • See futuristic art at an interactive exhibition in Odaiba
  • Sip fermented wine at a sake tasting center
  • Travel back in time to Edo-era Japan at a cultural theme park
  • Wander through the shrines and temples of Nikko

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Visit the World's Tallest Tower Tokyo
Day 2 Enjoy Sumo & Sake  Tokyo
Day 3 Side-trip to Nikko's Temples & Shrines Tokyo
Day 4 Explore Futuristic Odaiba Tokyo
Day 5 Farewell Tokyo - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Visit the World's Tallest Tower

View Across the Sensoji Temple, Tokyo
View of Tokyo's Sensoji Temple

Welcome to Japan! Get oriented in Tokyo with a visit to the world’s tallest tower. At 2,080 feet (634 meters), the Tokyo Skytree offers spectacular views as far as Mount Fuji from its 360-degree observation deck. Afterward, take a walk through the grounds of Sensoji, the city's oldest and most historically significant temple. Legends say it was founded when two brothers fished a statue of the goddess Kannon out of the Sumida River. The neighboring Asakusa Shrine also highlights the stark differences between Shinto and Buddhist belief systems. As night falls, make your way to Shibuya, home to the vibrant Shibuya Crossing. The area is packed with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, perfect for a night out on the town.

Day 2: Enjoy Sumo & Sake 

Barrels of sake.
Decorative barrels of sake

Today you'll get a deeper insight into some traditional and spiritual aspects of Japanese culture. Begin by heading to a morning sumo training session in Ryogoku, where you'll witness the skill and power of these traditional athletes. More ceremony than sport, sumo wrestling is a tradition that began centuries ago — as the legend goes, it started as a ritual to entertain the gods.

Afterward, take a short walk to the Edo-Tokyo Museum to discover what it was like to live in 16th-century Japan. Learn about how the residents worked together to build and protect their communities while walking through the halls of a replica Edo-era town. End the afternoon with a visit to one of Tokyo’s sake tasting centers. Choose from a sampling of over 80 different fermented wines and spirits as you learn the art of food and sake pairing.

Day 3: Side-trip to Nikko's Temples & Shrines

Toshogu Shrine in Nikko

Today you’ll head north to Nikko, home of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Toshogu Shrine. The ornate shrine, which contains the mausoleum to Japan’s last shogun, is one of the most beautiful in Japan. A short walk south will take you to Rinnoji, Nikko's most famous temple. Explore the grounds at your leisure, visiting a charming Japanese garden and a shrine that’s said to house Nikko's three mountain gods.

Finish your day with some lighthearted fun at Edo Wonderland, a cultural theme park where you’ll step back in time to the 15th century. Sit back and experience a traditional magic show, or try your hand at Hariko doll painting or makeup artistry. You'll also have the chance to take a samurai sword-fighting class. When you’re ready to return to the 21st century, you’ll head back to your accommodation in Tokyo for the evening.

Day 4: Explore Futuristic Odaiba

Lanterns at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum, Odaiba
Lanterns at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum in Odaiba

Today you'll explore the artificial island of Odaiba, a hot spot for futuristic fun. The trip to this shopping and entertainment district is enjoyable, whether you arrive by taking a cruise through Tokyo Bay or by crossing the colorful Rainbow Bridge. Start at TeamLab, a permanent interactive art exhibition on the island that gives new meaning to the term "modern art" — be prepared to follow art as it moves along the walls. Car enthusiasts can also visit the nearby Toyota City Showcase. Check out the latest innovations in the technology zone, reminisce about the old days in the vintage car collection rooms, or test-drive a favorite car on their private track (an international driving license is required).  

In the evening, experience one of Tokyo's wackiest shows at the Robot Restaurant. Less of a culinary adventure and more of a theatrical experience, this 90-minute show is jam-packed with neon lights and vibrant music and is a great way to experience Japan's techno culture. Afterward, weave in and out of the alleys of the famous Golden Gai district, stopping in some of the area's hundreds of bars. It's a lively way to finish your last night in Tokyo.

Day 5: Farewell Tokyo - End of Trip

Looking out over the glittering skyline of Tokyo

Today you'll bid farewell to Japan. After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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Sarah
Written by Sarah Ager, updated Oct 29, 2021