24 Hours In Tokyo, Japan

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From futuristic skyscrapers to ancient temples, and karaoke bars to sushi joints, Tokyo has it all and it’s wrapped up in a manic energy which is both energising and exhausting at the same time. On a first visit, this sprawling hyper-urban metropolis can be overwhelming but if you have a brief stopover, you’re joining a cruise, or Tokyo is one of several Japanese destinations you’re planning to visit in one trip, it’s possible to get out and about and see three or four major sights in a day. If you’re loyal to Virgin Australia, the airline commences new flights from Brisbane to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport starting on March 29, 2020 using an Airbus 330-200. Haneda is one of the Tokyo’s two international airports – with the other being Narita – but conveniently for visitors Haneda is closer to downtown Tokyo. The new route also comes online in time for the annual cherry blossom season, and the 2020 Olympic Games.

Toyosu Fish Market:

If it comes from the ocean, then you’ll find it here at Tokyo’s new central fish market. Toyosu threw open its doors in late 2018 after relocating from Tsukiji, near Ginza, after 83 years of operations. Much of Tokyo’s fish and seafood transits this huge space, with thousands of retailers converging daily to sell their wares. The new Toyosu market covers 407,000 square meters - making it 1.8 times larger than Tsukiji - and it’s a colourful, noisy, chaotic and a real-life workplace where workers yell, chop blocks of ice, make sushi, smoke, chatter, bone an eel, and then yell some more. Entry into Toyosu market is free, and if you want to see it its liveliest aim to get there before 8am. The famous early morning tuna auctions begin at 4:30am but it is held separate from the general public, with tourists and spectators only allowed to watch from a viewing platform on the second floor. The closest subway station is Shijo-mae Station, located on the Yurikamome Line, and the station connects directly to the market, so don't worry about getting lost.


Ginza is one of the most famous downtown areas in Japan and the main drag of Ginza-dori is famed for being the “Fifth Avenue of Tokyo” with some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, and an impressive line-up of upmarket designer boutiques. On weekends Ginza-dori is closed off to traffic and transformed into a pedestrian’s haven. This elegant boulevard is lined with designer boutiques such as Prada, Chanel and Louis Vuitton and the ladies that prance along the street are desperately keen to show off their newly-purchased labels. But it’s not all fashion and flouncing. There are some contemporary art galleries, excellent restaurants, traditional Japanese pubs or izakaya, traditional tea houses, and interesting architecture.


Here, the feeling of “Old Edo” prevails among its winding backstreets, but the main draw cards are the colourful market of Nakamise Dori and Tokyo’s oldest temple, Asakusa Kannon Temple which is also known as Senso-ji Temple. Nakamise-dori is a street that approaches the Senso-ji Temple and is the place to stock up on souvenirs such as Japanese fans, paper lanterns, solar powered money cats, and Japanese doll key rings. Asakusa is place of contrasts and on a Saturday afternoon it’s teeming with locals offering prayers or buying “ema” which are small wooden plaques on which people write wishes for luck in exams, health and love. The original temple was built in 645, but like much of Tokyo, was reconstructed to the original design after being damaged in the second world war.  


The world-famous Akihabara or “Electric Town” is a technophile’s fantasy come true. From a small group of electrical shops selling radios in the 1940‘s, this area has evolved into an amazing complex of retail shops selling every electronic gadget that’s been invented. If you can handle the sensory overload, this is the place to try out the technology of today and tomorrow. From the minute you leave the train station, you are bombarded with flashing signs and a barrage of incessant recorded sales jingles pitching the many wonders of the latest digital camera, mobile phone or laptop computer. Even if you’re just window shopping here, you’ll see what you may be buying in two years time back in Australia. And unlike, Toyosu Fish Market, you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn as the shops open late into the evening.  

The Imperial Palace:

The palace is a short stroll northwest from Ginza, and hidden behind a dense wood of trees. It’s also only open to the public on special occasions, January 2 for the New Year’s Day Holiday and December 23 for the Emperor’s birthday, as it’s the permanent residence of Japan’s Emperor and the imperial family. But you can wander around the moat and gardens that protects the palace for a serene break from the neon and chaos of Tokyo. One of Tokyo’s most famous photo spots is the pretty Niju-bashi Bridge which crosses one of the moats. In the vast Imperial East Garden is a stone wall that’s been there since the time when the Palace was known as Edo Castle, a place where samurai warriors lived from the 17th to 19th centuries.


For more information on Virgin Australia visit www.virginaustralia.com.au.

Ben Hall


  • 5
    Want To Return

    Posted by Cass Michaels on 16th Mar 2020

    I have had a love affair with Tokyo and Japan for years, and while I know it's off limits somewhat right now due to coronoavirus, I do have some tips to share for Tokyo. Definitely use public transport, and trains ideally out of rush hour - they're cheap, safe and clean. Visit the Hotel New Otani in Chiyoda ward which has a 400-year-old Japanese garden with a tea house and the only waterfall in central Tokyo. Walk the alleys of the drinking district Golden Gai at night - it has hundreds of small neon signs and small bars. And if you love jazz blues or soul hit the JBS bar which has thousands of vinyl records on the walls and great music!

  • 5
    Great News

    Posted by Tess 3 on 20th Jan 2020

    Love that Virgin is flying there, shame its only from Brissie

  • 5
    Dream Country

    Posted by Claudia 1111 on 20th Jan 2020

    It's my dream to go to Japan, haven't made it yet we always end up in Thailand for holidays or stopovers LOL

  • 4
    Old Fish Market

    Posted by Kevin Carpenter on 20th Jan 2020

    Went to the old fish market, was up before dawn and thought it was all a bit overrrated, but the sushi breakfast you get from the stalls outside was amazing. So fresh!

  • 5
    Amazing City

    Posted by Neal Perry on 20th Jan 2020

    What can you say about Tokyo that hasn't already been said? Magical city on so many levels. So many favourite things to do but one of mine from years ago is visiting the Cavern Club in Roppongi....if you love the Beatles you'll love this!