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I have two layovers in Tokyo in April, and it will be just me and my daughter.

The first leg out we have a 13 hour layover during the night, from 10:30 PM until 11:45 AM. I'm not sure if I should just sleep at a cheap hotel or brave the night and see what Tokyo has to offer during the midnight hours (if any).

The on the way back, my layover is from 8:50 AM to 12:30 AM (almost 16 hours). This is where we can spend a day of exploration.

I do not need to change airports, so that is a good thing.

We are looking for something fun to do within those time frames. We both love sushi so any place near Haneda that is authentic Japanese sushi would be great.

She loves to shop, so any nearby markets that we can go to? We also love temples and culture, so anything that would be safe (time wise) to visit would be awesome.

Any other information to help this long layover would be very helpful.

Thanks!

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    "she loves to shop". Well that leaves you about 25 minutes of time to explore, good luck! – easymoden00b Dec 17 '14 at 19:09
  • Your comment made me smile! – TravelLikeBeaker Dec 17 '14 at 19:12
  • Are you flying into/from Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND)? If your time is limited, this can make a difference. – jpatokal Dec 17 '14 at 22:57
  • Haneda both times. – TravelLikeBeaker Dec 17 '14 at 23:41
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On your daytime layover, will most likely take the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho. This will cost you only 490 Yen and only takes about 20 minutes from one end to the other. From there you have a quite wide variety of trains and subway lines to take you around Tokyo. Since you land in Haneda early and the Airport is relatively small and efficient, you can expect to be boarding the train 1 hour after the landing already. Since most stores do not open before 10:00am, you have plenty of time to get downtown. Since shops close around 8:00pm, you would have the time to then still have dinner afterwards downtown and take a train so as to arrive in Haneda around 10:00.

The night layover is a bit tricky. You would have to essentially pull an all-nighter since the last train downtown is at midnight. While there are plenty of taxis going downtown, it's much more costly and you will have issues to really find something to do. While there are plenty of bars and night entertainment in Tokyo, it's not that easy to just land there, step on a train and find places right away. You would have to know exactly where to go and be ready to stay there until at least 5:00am or again, pay a taxi back to the Airport.

A better chance would be stay in a hotel at the airport and then to take the earliest train downtown and spend some hours before going back. A good thing to visit would be to Tsukiji Fishmarket. It's very conveniently located near the Hamamatsucho station and opens at 5:00, so pretty much when the first train arrives. It's 2-3 kilometers from the station to the market and while walking would be possible, I would not recommend it since it's convoluted, along highways and streets not really made for walking. In this case a taxi might be convenient, or take one train to Shimbashi and walk from there. Please be aware that the whole area is not open every day and that the auctions are very popular recently - you might not get into the auctions since you cannot even book it. However: Even if you cannot get into the auctions, the shops and restaurants around are something really amazing to see and also great for souvenir shopping. You can spend a couple of hours there and then make sure you are in time back to the airport.

Note: This all is only valid if you have a layover in Haneda Airport. If you use Narita airport, traveling times are considerably longer, not only because of the longer distance from Narita to Tokyo, but also because Narita is a much larger airport with much longer distances to walk etc.

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    +1. Two notes though: the Keikyu train to Shinagawa is cheaper, faster and offers better onward connections, although it's less scenic. Also, Tsukiji market & the surrounding shops (eat sushi!) are always open to the public, it's just the tuna auction that's tough to get into. – jpatokal Dec 18 '14 at 3:43
  • @jpatokal true regarding the train, regarding the shops, I thought that was explained above? Would you change something? – uncovery Dec 18 '14 at 3:53
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    "the market ... you might not get in" sounds like this applies to the whole market, but AFAIK it's only the tuna auctions that have any limits? shijou.metro.tokyo.jp/english/market/tsukiji.html – jpatokal Dec 18 '14 at 5:14
  • true let me reword that. – uncovery Dec 18 '14 at 5:42
  • Thank you for the very detailed answer. This gives me a lot of ideas for when we arrive. Arigato! – TravelLikeBeaker Dec 18 '14 at 13:12
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For sushi, head to the Tsukiji fish market and just find a place. The small shops there are typically all excellent and the fish is about as fresh as you can get. To get there, take the subway to Higashi-Ginza Station and its a couple minutes walk.

Also, something worth noting, my personal favorite thing about Haneda Airport is that after a long cross-pacific flight, I can freshen up upon arrival. Its really amazing. When you come out of baggage claim and you're facing the information desk, to your left there is a pay shower facility where, for about the price of a cup of coffee, you can get a hot shower, shave, brush your teeth, etc. Its all very clean and professional and literally my entire reason for ALWAYS flying into Haneda over Narita, even if I have to pay a couple bucks more for the privilege. Starting my city explorations after a hot shower and shave just puts me in a better mood and starts my trip out on the right foot!

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I did this in July - I had 10 pm day 1 to 6 am day 3 (so about 32 hours) in Haneda, and wanted to get out. I'll describe what I found and hopefully it'll benefit.

I arrived at 10 pm, went through customs relatively painlessly, although I did get pulled aside briefly when I declared some medicines. They asked how long I was going to be in the country, I said just some hours, and they didn't blink - it's fairly common.

I then went downstairs to the ground floor, where there's a convenience store, got some food, went back up to departures on 3F where there are some benches, and slept.

In the morning, I used their showers - you get 30 min and they provide you with towels, toiletries and slippers. Just to the left of them is the luggage storage - you may find this useful. I took mine all the way to Shinjuku station, and nearly forgot where the lockers were.

To get out, just hop on the monorail towards hamamatsucho (check the direction on the platform, the trains in the other direction go to the domestic terminal) - as others have said, it takes you into town pretty easily.

In terms of the fish market - I tried and it was actually closed that day. So check that first before you go all the way there. I then went to Akihabara - great electronics shopping and just mad to see the tech stuff around there.

I also went to the Tokyo museum - great for a bit of history, and an amazing building. If the timing is right, there's a sumo arena right next door.

In hindsight, when I went back a few weeks later - Asakusa is actually a pretty great area for culture - food, temples etc, but it's also fairly touristy.

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For the flight arriving at 10:30PM I think taking the train in to Shinjuku or Shibuya if you can get through customs fast enough. As for a place to stay I would consider staying at a love hotel. You don’t need reservations, and they are affordable. Most of them are smoking so the room might smell smokey. Most of them are also cash only. You either pay at the window, or pay via a vending machine.

A block from Hamamatsucho is a sake place where you can try flights of sake and have some snacks before your flight. http://nihonshu.com/

The 8:50am I would say go to Ueno park. Lots of museums, and cultural exhibits. For a little discount shopping there is Ameyoko market just to the south. For a more relaxing shopping experience I would recommend going to Yanaka Ginza street 2 stops north of Ueno in Nippori. It’s a classic Japanese shopping street, and very laid back. The Asakura Museum of sculpture is amazing, and the garden in the home is beautiful. Another thing to consider is that love hotels have special rates during the day ~$40 for 2-3 hours. My wife and I took advantage of this to shower and get cleaned up when we had an overnight flight. It was well worth it.

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