What to do when you have a long layover in Tokyo, Japan?
After recent layover in Tokyo for 15 hours, I told myself that you can definitely still have fun while in transit, given that the transit time is longer than 6 hours. I agree, transits can be your best friend or your worst nightmare.
On our way back to home in the USA, we were transiting in Jakarta, Indonesia for 4 hours and Tokyo, Japan for 15 hours, with 2 flights connections, flying Garuda Indonesia and Delta respectively, to Los Angeles, California. Two transits? I know, it was actually awesome! The ticket deal was awesome too. I've never done multi-city stops before, or cheap multi-city stops like this one!
And there was Japan on the way. I honestly never put Japan on the list of countries I want to visit. People(some of them) in my home country are so obsessed with the Japanese culture and they even trying to become Japanese themselves. I found this crazy sick obsession is slowly changing my mind about how I perceive Japan in general. How unpleasant and unfair I sounded, I know. I don't have problems with Japan, only the wannabes mentioned above who kind of made me want to always justify myself.
But you should never judge one place until you are actually there. I had fun even planning on what to do for 6-15 hours in Tokyo, Japan. It is easy and totally doable! Since we landed in Haneda, that makes it so much easier to get to city center from the airport. Given that you first stop is North of Tokyo, this guide will be THE guide.
First you have to find the exit that says "KEIKYU AIRPORT LINE".
After you passed a 7-Eleven on your left, there will be a Tokyo Subway Ticket/Pass counter. The lovely Japanese ladies will help you getting the right kind of pass for you, and in my case, it was a 1-Day unlimited pass. The price was 1,400 Yen/USD12/MYR42 (as for February 27th, 2015) and that will buy you unlimited rides on any Tokyo Metro or Toei Subway line. Remember to validate the ticket at the gate before embarking! You can also choose a 2-days pass or 3-days pass. The more number of days, the cheaper it gets but these are only for short stays in Tokyo. These passes however are not valid for JR Lines(Yamanote Line etc) or on private railway lines.
Suggested route is:
1. Haneda Airport to Asakusa
Asakusa is home to the famous Senso-ji Temple from Edo Era. If you want to see old Tokyo, this is the right place to go. There will tonnes of little stalls and the streets nearby in Asakusa are great place to buy souvenirs, from A to Z, to eat great sushis, tasty takoyaki(octopus ball) and rice crackers! We even made our own okonomiyaki in a cool traditional Japanese oknomiyaki restaurant where sat down on the floor having our shoes off at the door, having the best green tea ever!
To get to Asakusa, get on the train to Keiseitakasago. Now the train will make multiple stops along the way. When you are at Sengakuji station, REMAIN on board. From this point on, the train will take you directly to Asakusa, exactly 11 stops after. Whole journey from Haneda Airport to Asakusa will be 46 minutes. Yes, Tokyo Subway is really on time.
Time consumed at this point: Approx. 1 hour
Time assumed to be spent in Asakusa: 3-4 hours
Total first stop estimated time consumption: 5 hours
Time left out of 15 hours: 10 hours
2. Asakusa to Shibuya
Shibuya is the home of Japan's famous crossing, Shibuya Crossing. It will be a shame to come to Tokyo without seeing this place. During peak hour, this place will be packed with people from all sorts of life, and when the WALK light turns green, hundreds of people will be crossing the junction to every direction. Such an amazing experience to say. Shibuya finest fashion+gadget+etc mall, The Shibuya 109 is also a must visit while in Shibuya, you'll want to buy everything! In the surrounding area, you'll find a little toy dog shop, great coffee houses for your matcha latte(also a must try!) and shops selling cute stuff and trinkets. Also, another highlight would be Hachiko, the legendary loyal dog statue near the entrance of Hachiko, one of Shibuya 5 train entrances/exits.
To get to Shibuya from Asakusa, get on G(Ginza) line, towards Shibuya. Get off at Shibuya Station. Whole trip will take 46 minutes.
Time consumed at this point: 5 hours 46 minutes
Time assumed to be spent at Shibuya: 2 hours
Total first stop+second stop estimated time consumption: 7 hours 46 minutes
Time left before heading back to airport= 2 hours 14 minutes
3. Shibuya to Haneda Aiport
To get back to the airport, get on G(Ginza) line towards Asakusa, get off at Shimbashi station and change to A(Asakusa) line towards Nishi-Magome.
So there! These two places will give you an insights (a fun one too!) of Tokyo and the great vibes! This layover had changed my mind, and I took back what I said couple of years ago when I said "I would never want to see Japan!" Never say never!
Photos below will describe each stop we made!
Asakusa's Senso-ji Temple>Shibuya Crossing>Hachiko Statue