[Updated 8 January 2020]
Visiting Japan during cherry blossom season is definitely one of the items to tick off your bucket list, and the best place to start would be the capital city of Tokyo! While you're busy looking for the best cherry blossom spots in Tokyo, there are many striking hidden gems, bustling shopping spots, and kid-friendly attractions that are worth visiting in Tokyo too.
Yes, it can be overwhelming to plan for this exciting trip. With so many things to see and do in Tokyo, you just don't know where to start! Well, don't worry because we've planned the only 5D4N itinerary you'll need for your ultimate cherry blossom chase in Tokyo.
When is the cherry blossom season in Tokyo?
While waiting for the official Japan cherry blossom forecast in January 2020, you can use last year's forecast to estimate the cherry blossom season in Japan. In 2019, the viewing time for cherry blossoms in Tokyo was from 20 March to 14 April. Do your best to arrange your trip between the end of March to early April ?
Getting to Tokyo from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport
Since there are a variety of transportation options to get from the airport to your hotel, we're here to break it down for you! You can either opt to take the train or limousine bus to your accommodation in Tokyo.
From Narita Airport
Option 1: Take the Keisei Skyliner from Narita Airport to Nippori or Ueno station
- The Keisei Skyliner brings you from Narita Airport to Nippori or Ueno station where you can easily transfer to other subway lines to get to your accommodation.
- The best part about this is the free Wi-Fi onboard all Skyliner trains.
- Book your Keisei Skyliner ticket in advance on Klook
Option 2: Take the airport limousine bus to Shinjuku
- If you prefer a fuss-free and more comfortable way to get to downtown Tokyo, take the airport limousine bus!
- The airport limousine bus will bring you to various stops in the city including Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal, Shinjuku Station West Exit and Shinjuku Washington Hotel.
- Book your airport limousine bus ticket in advance on Klook
From Haneda Airport
Option 1: Take the Tokyo Monorail or Airport Limousine bus to downtown Tokyo
- From Haneda Airport to downtown Tokyo, you can take either the Tokyo Monorail, Keikyu Line or limousine bus.
- For those travelling in a large group, you might want to consider booking a private airport transfer.
- Book your private transfer from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport in advance on Klook
- #HHWT Tip: We know the pain of lugging your bags around public transport and it can especially tough if you arrive early in the morning or during the rush hour. Book the LuggAgent service in advance on Klook from either airport to your accommodation, so you can say goodbye to all the hassle.
Getting around Tokyo
- Navigating Tokyo can be daunting as the many subway lines can be confusing but that's what makes it an adventure!
- We recommend using HyperDia to figure out the best route (download from iOS)
- You might want to get the Tokyo Subway Pass for unlimited rides around the city too.
- If you're planning to explore multiple cities in Japan, you can also book the JR Rail Pass in advance on Klook. That way, you can travel on the JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo for free!
- For a crash course on Tokyo subways and JR Rail Pass, check our ultimate guide to navigating Tokyo's public transport.
- #HHWT Tip: If you’re a social media junkie like us, stay connected across Japan with a portable 4G Wi-Fi router! Book a pocket Wi-Fi on Klook that includes easy pick-up at Narita Airport or Haneda Airport, so you can use it on the go. Alternatively, choose to pick the router up in Singapore or Malaysia.
Get your first taste of authentic Japanese food
- Your first taste of authentic Japanese cuisine starts at the airport!
- At Narita Airport, enjoy a bowl of authentic homemade Udon noodles at Kineyamugimaru (Terminal 1), yummy Japanese curry at La Toque (Terminal 2) or Japanese soba at Sojibou (Terminal 2).
- At Haneda Airport, there are no halal-certified Japanese eateries available for the time being. However, there's a kebab stand (Edo Market) that is only available for takeaways.
- #HHWT Tip: To perform your prayers, both Narita Airport and Haneda Airport have prayer rooms too.
[P.S. For authentic Japanese cuisine, this ultimate halal food guide is all you need for your Tokyo trip!]
Check-in to your hotel
- Pick an accommodation near Shinjuku station, right in the heart of Tokyo’s most important hub!
- We highly recommend staying at Shinjuku Washington Hotel or Keio Plaza Hotel as it’s perfect for any occasion – whether you’re a solo traveller, couple, family or even a large group of friends.
- P.S. Both hotels provide complimentary prayer mats and compasses too.
[P.S. Stay the night at these amazing hostels and hotels in Shinjuku, Tokyo!]
Hanami at Shinjuku Gyoen
- Shinjuku Gyoen is a MUST-visit for your sakura sighting! Located just 10 minutes away from Shinjuku station, the park is a respite from the bustling city. There is an admission fee of JPY200 (RM7.50/SGD2.50).
- Although the park gets busy during cherry blossoms season, it’s an experience to be among the crowds and marvel at the gorgeous blooms together.
- Explore the park further and you’ll be greeted with spacious lawns and quiet spaces. Don't forget to bring a mat and some snacks for a picnic!
- For a glimpse of this experience, our colleague, Gracia shares what it's like celebrating the cherry blossom season in Japan!
[P.S. Planning a sakura-filled getaway? You'll regret not visiting these beautiful cherry blossom spots in Tokyo!]
Lunch at Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka
- Indulge in a piping hot bowl of mouth-watering halal ramen at this hidden eatery. The ramen soup is made from sea bream, which gives it its unique flavour ?
- Finish your meal by pouring the remaining ramen soup into the rice which is served together with the ramen. That lets you savour the delicious ramen in two ways!
- Ramen Ouka has limited seats so do call to reserve your seats if you’re in a large group.
- Halal status: Halal-certified (by Japan Islamic Trust)
- #HHWT Tip: If you're looking for a prayer spot in Shinjuku, you can head to LAOX or Takashimaya.
[P.S. Hungry for ramen? Get your halal ramen fix at these Muslim-friendly eateries in Tokyo]
Visit Tokyo's icons - Harajuku and Shibuya crossing
- Take in the sights and sounds of Takeshita Dori in Japan's kawaii capital, Harajuku.
- This is the best place to do some people-watching - see what Tokyo's teenage culture is like through the many trendy shops on this street!
- To maximise your time, here's our essential Muslim-friendly guide to Harajuku!
- Head over to the Shibuya Crossing - rumoured to be the busiest intersection of the world!?
- Feel your heartbeat pulsating as you join the throngs of people crossing the intersection. You can't say that you've been to Japan if you haven't been here!
- #HHWT Tip: The best vantage points for Shibuya Crossing are Starbucks at Shibuya Tsutaya and the newly opened Shibuya Scramble Square!
- Take a 5-minute walk to the newly opened Shibuya Parco shopping mall that houses the world's second Nintendo flagship store after Nintendo New York and Pokemon Center Shibuya.
Treat yourself to halal yakiniku at Gyumon
- Have an authentic Japanese-style barbecue at Gyumon. The beef is so tender and juicy that it melts in your mouth.
- The best part is that you can grill the meat yourself, so that gives you the perfect reason to be a chef for a day ?
- If you need further convincing, here are more reasons why you should try halal yakiniku at Gyumon!
- #HHWT Tip: Request to be seated at the table where you can kick off your shoes and rest your feet as you enjoy your yakiniku Japanese-style.
- Halal status: Halal-certified
[P.S. For the best of Shinjuku, read our Muslim-friendly guide to the hidden gems of Shinjuku, Tokyo!]
Relieve your childhood at Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea
- Feel like a kid again at Tokyo Disneyland, one of the happiest places on earth!
- Besides enjoying its themed attractions, you can meet your favourite Disney characters, hop on thrilling rides, and feast your eyes on the colourful parade.
- Catch the theme park's famous landmark, the Cinderella Castle. For top rides, make a beeline to Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, Haunted Mansion and Monster's Inc.
- Book your Tokyo Disneyland tickets in advance on their official website to avoid the hassle of queuing up at the entrance.
- Before heading to your theme park adventure, check out our essential (and Muslim-friendly) tips to Tokyo Disneyland.
- Alternatively, you can spend a day at the only DisneySea in the world!
- Besides waving at Mickey and Minnie, you'll also meet characters that are exclusive to DisneySea such as Duffy (Mickey's stuffed bear), Stella Lou, ShellieMay and Gelatoni.
- DisneySea is also famous for its landmark attraction, Mysterious Island. The theme park's popular rides include Toy Story Mania!, Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple Of The Crystal Skull, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, and Tower Of Terror.
- If you're heading to DisneySea for the first time, we have amazing tips to share for the perfect DisneySea experience!
- #HHWT Tip: Get a FASTPASS to enjoy express accesses at selected popular rides. If you’re a big Disney fan (like us!), get a 2-Day Disney Pass to spend a day each at BOTH Disneyland and Disneysea.
- Can't decide between these two Disney theme parks? We help you decide if you should visit Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea!
Have a halal bento lunch set delivered to you
- At the moment, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea do not have halal-certified dining options ?
- Fortunately, Taste&Discover Japan allows you to place delivery orders for halal-certified and Muslim-friendly bento sets all over Japan! Do remember to place your orders at least several weeks in advance, just to ensure that the bento set will still be in stock.
- Note: Do consume the bento set at the designated picnic area for both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea. The Tokyo Disney staff might ask you about the bento set but just explain to them that it's part of your dietary requirements ?
- Alternatively, check out the Muslim-friendly menu at Red Lobster Tokyo Disney Resort which includes beef bowl (JPY1,080), butter chicken curry (JPY1,280) and vegetable penne (JPY1,280).
- Halal status: All ingredients in Muslim-friendly menu are from halal-certified suppliers and although it’s prepared in the same kitchen as non-halal meals, separate kitchenware is used to prepare the meals. Do note that dining utensils are the same as non-halal meals but you can request for disposable utensils.
Perform your prayers at Tokyo Disneyland
- If you need to do your prayers, drop by Main Street House and request for a prayer spot from one of the friendly staff.
- Do remember to bring your own prayer mat, Qibla compass and prayer garments.
[P.S. Before your trip to Japan, here are some useful tips you absolutely have to know before you visit Japan!]
Enjoy the night view of Tokyo in Odaiba
- Take a stroll along the boardwalk outside The Decks shopping mall to admire a panoramic view of Tokyo's skyline at night.
- Do check out the lights on the Rainbow Bridge and you might even catch a water illumination show. The best part - everything is free!
Have soba for dinner at Sojibou
- It’s time for dinner at Odaiba’s only halal-certified Japanese eatery - Sojibo!
- Located on the 6th floor of Diver City shopping mall, Sojibo is known for serving soba and tempura sets. There’s an option for cold soba too if you’re visiting in summer!
- Halal status: Halal-certified
Get a glimpse of Tokyo's past in Asakusa
- Immerse yourself in the well-preserved streets of Asakusa either by exploring it on foot or hopping on a rickshaw tour.
- Don't forget to stop by Sensoji temple and go crazy shopping for souvenirs at Nakamise-dori!
- What better way to explore traditional Japan than to do it wearing a kimono? Experience what it's like to dress like the locals and stroll down the historic alleyways of Asakusa. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed!
[P.S. Planning a trip with your kids? Head over to these kid-friendly places in Tokyo for a fun-filled family trip!]
Savour authentic sushi at Asakusa Sushi Ken
- Finding halal sushi in Japan is not an easy task but Asakusa Sushi Ken is the first halal-certified sushi eatery in the country. The impeccable service offered by the staff at the restaurant will also blow you away.
- All of the ingredients used to make the sushi - from its soy sauce, vinegar to its meat - is halal, so you can eat to your heart's content!
- #HHWT Tip: Asakusa Sushi Ken also has a prayer space so you can conveniently do your prayers after your meal ☺️
- Halal status: Halal-certified
Join hundreds of locals for the Sakura Matsuri Festival at Ueno Park
- Take a stroll through Ueno Park and feast your eyes on the beautiful scene of endless cherry trees blooming.
- Lanterns are also strung up during the festival so if you're staying till the evening, you'll be able to see the festival come alive at night!
- The festival runs from late March to early April, so remember to plan your trip accordingly ?
- If you're lucky, you might even spot geishas adorned in their colourful kimonos and performing various Japanese arts. Some 50 active geishas live nearby in Asakusa.
- #HHWT Tip: While the sea of pink is a pretty sight, you'll most likely be jostling with the crowd. So, we recommend getting to Ueno Park early and grab a spot before everyone else does!
Marvel at Tokyo's skyline at the Tokyo Skytree
- At 634 metres, the Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan so you're sure to get the most spectacular views from its two observation decks. The decks are one of the highest in the world.
- When night falls, head over to the Sumida River nearby to see hundreds of cherry trees illuminate with the Tokyo Skytree in the backdrop. The magnificent view is one that should not be missed.
[P.S. Looking for more things to do? Check out these top attractions in Tokyo that are worth every single yen]
Refuel at Ayam-YA Okachimachi
- It’s time to refuel at Ayam-YA Okachimachi, one of the most popular halal ramen chains in Japan!
- We recommend ordering the regular-sized Spicy Tori Ramen Shio (salt-based) for JPY890 and the broth was super rich and flavourful!
- Don’t forget to top up JPY100 for a soft-boiled egg and make sure you order their kaarage chicken (JPY380) too as it’s really yummy ?
- Halal status: Halal-certified (by Japan Halal Foundation)
[P.S. Hungry for more? You'll love this ultimate guide to halal ramen in Japan!]
Visit both the Inner and Outer Tsukiji Markets!
- Known as one of the world's largest fish markets, the Tsukiji Fish Market is a place you absolutely cannot miss when in Tokyo. Only the freshest seafood can be found here and the list includes massive crabs, scallops and rows of fish freshly captured by local fishermen.
- Since October 11 2018, the inner wholesale market has moved to a new location at Toyosu, and is in fact directly connected to Shijo-mae Station which is on the Yurikamome line! It is sometimes known as the Toyosu Fish Market now, so remember to double-check whether you're headed to the old or new site before you head out for the day.
- Despite the move, the live tuna auction that Tsujiki is famous for will continue to happen at Toyosu Market! ? Unlike at its original location where you had to get a reserved ticket to view the auction, visitors to the new site will just have to go to the designated viewing platform to watch it all take place. The auctions will take place around 4.30AM, so we recommend getting there a bit earlier around 3AM-4AM to try and get a good spot!
- The Tsukiji Outer Market, which features vendors selling everything from freshly grilled seafood to Japanese high-quality knives, is still open at the original location. They even continue to get their produce fresh from the inner market, so don't forget to feast on fresh seafood like grilled scallops, baby squids and freshly shucked oysters while you're there ?
- #HHWT Tip: The Markets may not be open every day so it's best to check the calendar on their website.
- Note: The food items sold at Tsukiji Outer Market are not halal-certified, so it’s best to check with the individual vendors before consuming at your own discretion.
[P.S. You know what they say, you haven't been to Tokyo until you've visited these amazing sights]
Late breakfast at Luna Hala Café
- If you're looking for halal food around Tsukiji Market, do drop by Luna Hala cafe.
- They have a halal menu to cater to their Muslim customers. One dish that we absolutely can't get enough of is their grilled salmon set. Totally oishii!
- #HHWT Tip: They only serve meals with chopsticks and no spoons. According to the Japanese way of eating, diners are supposed to eat the rice with the bowl close to their face and drink the soup straight from the bowl. It might be awkward at first, but it's definitely fun to try this out!
Row, row, row your boat at Chidorigafuchi
- Chidorigafuchi is a moat located in the Imperial Palace surroundings and here's where you can admire cherry blossoms while rowing your own boat. The picturesque views of sakuras and the water are something that you won't want to miss ?
- The estimated boat rental costs JPY800 for 30 minutes during cherry blossom season.
- #HHWT Tip: The queue for the boats can get really long so do plan to go early if you want to avoid the crowd. The boat pier opens at 9.30 am.
Shopping at Ginza
- A trip to Tokyo won't be complete without spending a few bucks at its most famous upmarket shopping district - Ginza. The selection of various Japanese departmental stores and international brands is sure to leave you spoiled for choice.
- Be sure to visit Uniqlo's flagship store in Ginza. That's 12 storeys worth of clothes to discover! Don’t forget to bring along your passport to enjoy tax-free shopping.
- #HHWT Tip: If you need to do your prayers, head over to LAOX or WJS in Ginza which have designated prayer spaces. Otherwise, you can find a prayer room at the Matsuya Department Store.
Go Kart down a street in Akihabara
- You've explored Tokyo on foot, by train and by boat. Now it's time for you explore the city with a go-kart!
- This is definitely one of the most thrilling ways to discover Akihabara - Tokyo's otaku district. Soak in the bright lights as you drive around downtown Tokyo.
- Dress up in cosplay costumes while you're driving in the go-kart but just beware, you might just be the centre of attention ?
Recharge at Coco Ichibanya Curry House
- Tuck into a piping hot plate of Japanese curry at Coco Ichibanya's first ever halal-certified outlet in Akihabara.
- Whet your appetite with the crispy chicken cutlet or tender beef curry rice ?
- Halal status: Halal-certified
[P.S. Make the most of your holiday by going on these unforgettable day trips from Tokyo!]
Stroll along Megurogawa River
- It's your final day in Tokyo but you can never get enough of the cherry blossoms.
- Head over to Megurogawa River and be awed by thousands of sakura trees lining the sides of the river.
- The magnificent view is definitely a sight to behold. Plus, it'll make the perfect Insta-worthy shot!
Make your way to Narita Airport
- Once you’ve dropped off your luggage, enjoy some last-minute shopping at Narita International Airport.
- If you can’t get enough of tax-free shopping in Japan, Narita Airport has many tax-free shops to spend your last yen.
- Some of the tax-free shops you can visit include BIC Camera (gadgets and electronics), ABC Mart (sneakers), Cath Kidston (bags and gifts) and more.
- P.S. Since you have limited time before your departure, plan ahead with a full list of duty-free shops at Narita International Airport!
- For your final shopping stop, visit the Pokemon Store that’s located on the second floor.
- It may not be as huge as the Shibuya Pokemon Centre Megastore, but it has enough souvenirs to attract any Pokemon fan!
- Besides the adorable socks, keychains and other collectables, you can buy a Narita Airport and Graffiti Artist Pikachu too.
[P.S. Check out these Pokemon hotspots in Tokyo to catch 'em all while you sightsee!]
Enjoy your final taste of Japan at Narita Airport
- It's time to say sayonara Japan ? But before you go, we recommend that you have your last Japanese meal to satiate your cravings.
- Head over to La Toque that serves Japanese curry with beef steak, chicken cutlets, grilled chicken and more. The meal starts at ¥950.
- Halal status: The kitchen is certified halal by MUIS
Chasing cherry blossoms in Tokyo while covering famous landmarks in 5 days and 4 nights might be difficult to plan but we've shown you that it can be done. If you decide to extend your stay in Japan, we recommend booking the JR Pass in advance on Klook which allows you to travel fuss-free around the country. So, start planning that bucket list trip for your ultimate cherry blossom chase in Tokyo!
This article was brought to you by Klook.