[Updated: 16 January 2019]
Visiting Japan during cherry blossom season is definitely one of the items to tick off your bucket list and of course, the best place to start would be none other than the Japanese capital, Tokyo 🎌 Cherry blossoms bloom all over Japan during the spring months, so check out our forecast to see when’s the best time to visit!
While you’re busy looking up the prime spots to witness the glorious blooms of the sakura, let’s not forget that there are many landmarks and places of interests worth visiting in Tokyo too.
Yes, we admit, it is overwhelming to plan for a trip. With a city like Tokyo, there’s just so much to see and do that you don’t know where to start. Well, don’t worry cos we’ve planned the only 5D4N itinerary you’ll need for your cherry blossom chase in Tokyo!
Credit: Usodesita on Flickr
P.S. The estimated viewing time for cherry blossoms in Tokyo this year is from 24 March to 8 April. So, plan your trip wisely 😎
Getting to Tokyo from Narita/Haneda Airport
There are a variety of transportation options to get from the airport to your hotel but fret not, we’re here to break it down for you!
You can either opt to take the train or limousine bus to your hotel. 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.
Credit: Klook on Facebook
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, such as Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal, Shinjuku Station West Exit and Shinjuku Washington Hotel.
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. Klook offers this service for travellers arriving from both Haneda and Narita airport!
We know the pain of lugging your bags around public transport and it can especially tough if you arrive during the rush hour. But with Klook’s LuggAgent service from either airport to your accommodation, it’s time to 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. You might want to get the Tokyo Subway Pass for unlimited rides around the city. If you’re planning to explore multiple cities in Japan, you can also get the JR Rail Pass. That way, you can travel on the JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo for free!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re a social media junkie like us, stay connected across Japan with a portable 4G Wi-Fi router! Book on Klook for easy pick up at Narita or Haneda Airport and use it on the go. You can also choose to pick the router up in Singapore or Malaysia.
P.S. If you’re buying your attraction passes and tickets in advance, here’s how you can save if you get them from Klook! Singaporean travellers can use the promo code <CHERRY18> to enjoy $36* off your purchases while Malaysian travellers can get RM116* off when you use the promo code <CHERRY58>. And Indonesian travellers, we’ve got you covered too, use the promo code <CHERRY188> to get RP376RB* off your purchases ☺️
Get your first taste of authentic Japanese food
- Your first taste of authentic Japanese cuisine starts at the airport. Sink your teeth in homemade Udon noodles at Kineyamugimaru or indulge in La Toque’s yummy Japanese curry at Narita Airport. While Haneda Airport does not have Halal-certified Japanese eateries, they have two Halal Kebab stores – Kebab Stand and Mrs Istanbul.
#HHWT Tip: Both Narita and Haneda Airport have prayer rooms too.
Check into 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.
Credit: Shinjuku Washington Hotel
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 (approx. USD1.80).
- 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!
Credit: Natasha Giannone on Facebook
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!
Credit: @ramen.ouka_shinjuku on Instagram
#HHWT Tip: Ramen Ouka has limited seats so do call to reserve your seats if you’re in a large group!
P.S. If you’re looking for a prayer spot in Shinjuku, you can head to LAOX or Takashimaya.
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!
- 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!
Treat yourself to some 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 😝
#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.
Relieve your childhood at Tokyo Disneyland/Disneysea
- Meet your favourite Disney characters at the “happiest place on earth”, hop on thrilling rides and feast your eyes on the parade.
- Book your admission tickets in advance on Klook to avoid the hassle of queuing up at the entrance. You’ll even get instant confirmation of your purchase and simply show your printed voucher at the entrance. Easy right?
#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.
Have a Halal bento lunch set delivered to you
- Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea does not have Halal-certified options 😔
But fret not, Japan Halal Kitchen’s bento set lunch is here to save you. All you need to do is send them a direct message on Facebook or an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and it will be delivered straight to you. This way, you will never go hungry! Remember to quote ‘HHWT’ and get 10% off your total bill 🤗 Make your choice from the extensive menu which includes Teriyaki Beef, Karaage Chicken and even Malaysian food like Satay and Beef Rendang.
- We are sad to note that Japan Halal Kitchen does not seem to be in operation anymore 😔 However, not all hope is lost – 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.
- Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea does not have Halal-certified options 😔
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 🤗
If you need to do your prayers, drop by Main Street House and request for a prayer spot from one of the friendly staff. But do remember to bring your own prayer mat, Qibla compass and prayer garments.
#HHWT Tip: Travelling to Japan during cherry blossom season can be expensive but you can save on Disneyland/Disneysea tickets and transportation (especially if you’re travelling in a group) when you book in advance on Klook! Singaporean travellers can use the promo code <CHERRY18> to enjoy $36* off while Malaysian travellers can get RM116* off when you use the promo code <CHERRY58> and Indonesian travellers, use the promo code <CHERRY188> to get RP376RB* off your purchases!
Enjoy the night view of Tokyo at 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!
Credit: Somyos Sae-Ngow on Facebook
Treat yourself to a delectable variety of soba noodles at Sojibou Diver City for a hearty meal. Don’t forget to try their tasty tempura treats too 😋
Get a glimpse of Tokyo’s past at 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!
Credit: Kigurumi Enthusiasts on Facebook
- 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!
Savour authentic sushi at Sushi Ken
- Finding Halal sushi in Japan is not an easy task but 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: Sushi Ken also has a prayer space so you can conveniently do your prayers after your meal ☺️
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.
Credit: @turnonmymike on Instagram
- 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.
Refuel at Sekai Cafe Oshiage
- If you’re looking to try some interesting and fusion dishes, then Sekai Cafe is the place for you. Be sure to try their famous Teriyaki Bowl set or purchase Halal ramen packs here!
- Located just minutes away from Tokyo Skytree, Sekai Cafe is committed to making sure that people with dietary restrictions are able to eat without any worries. They only use Halal meat and offer vegetarian options.
Credit: Marsita Yunus on Facebook
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! 😀 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 3-4am 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 everyday 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.
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!
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 is something that you won’t want to miss 😍
- The boat rental will cost you 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.
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 🤣
Credit: Jingfang Zhu on Facebook
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 😋
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 instaworthy shot!
Credit: The World on Facebook
A taste of Japan at the airport (Narita)
- It’s time to say sayonara Japan 😭 But before you go, we recommend that you have your last authentic Japanese meal to satiate your cravings. Feast on Tentei’s tempura delights and slurp on its soba noodles for a taste and pray that you won’t be missing Japan so much when you come back.
Credit: Beaut Patcha Phongsattasin on Facebook
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. So, start planning that bucket list trip for your cherry blossom chase in Tokyo!
#HHWT Tip: If you decide to extend your stay in Japan, we recommend getting the JR Pass which allows you to travel fuss-free around the country.
P.S. For a more hassle-free experience on your cherry blossom chase, purchase your attraction passes and tickets in advance from Klook and enjoy some savings! For Singaporean travellers, use the promo code <CHERRY18> to enjoy $36* off your purchases. Malaysian travellers can enjoy RM116* off when you use the promo code <CHERRY58>. Indonesian travellers can enjoy RP376RB* off your purchases too when you use the promo code <CHERRY188> 😎
This article was brought to you by Klook.