Walking in Tokyo

In her book, Flâneuse – Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo and London, Lauren Elkin recounts her stay in Tokyo back in 2007. Tossed into the metropolis by her then boyfriend who got a job at a bank, she claims “Tokyo is not a walkable city.” While I loved the book, I could not disagree more with her impression of Tokyo. I enjoy walking in Tokyo so much, that I even dedicated a full two weeks to exploring the city by foot back in the summer of 2017.

Walking in Tokyo | KTINKA

How to Discover Tokyo by Foot

While I have to admit that 10 years after Elkin’s stay in Tokyo, Tokyo might have become more accessible, what with apps like Google Maps and translated subway maps, to me it presented itself as a very walkable city that is worth exploring by foot.

1. Plan for enough time in Tokyo

While I loved spending two weeks in Tokyo, I suggest you do visit other places in Japan as well. But, dedicate about 5 days to Tokyo. This will give you enough time to see most tourist hotspots, to maybe do some shopping and to explore some more special neighbourhoods like Yanaka or Tomigaya.

2. Be willing to walk a lot and don’t aim for completeness

Last time I visited Tokyo, I walked about 13km per day and visited many neighbourhoods. Yet obviously, I am a far cry from having explored Tokyo in its entirety. It would take a lifetime to do so.

3. Pick an area to discover each day

Research places you want to see or neighbourhoods that sound intriguing. After breakfast, take the train or subway to that area and start meandering.

4. Bring a map & the address of your accomodation

Download a map of Tokyo to your phone or get a data plan so you can use Google Maps in case you get lost. If all fails take a cab and show the driver the address of your hotel or tell him to take you to the next subway station.

5. Check your travel guide for walking tours

If you need a bit of orientation, most travel guides have a section with walking tours, including cafés, restaurants and shops to worth visiting. I love the tours in the Tokyo Guide by Monocle, but you can also find nice tours in specialized guides like Jane Lawson’s Tokyo Style Guide or Tokyo Precincts by Steve Wide and Michelle Mackintosh.

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  • Jetzt bekomme ich auch wieder große Lust durch diese wunderbare Stadt zu spazieren! (Nächstes Frühjahr hoffentlich wieder) Ich war letzten Herbst 2 Wochen da und bin nur gelaufen. Wunderschön, was es zu entdecken gibt! Verlaufen haben wir uns übrigens nie :)

  • This is my plan for 2 weeks in Tokyo I love discovering cities through walking. London is a perfect example and recently I’ve done the same on Paris, Copenhagen and Madrid. So many things, shops, architecture and just genuine life. Thank you for confirming Tokyo is a possibility too