Discover new hidden gems, try a new sport, and satisfy your inner Ghibli fan in this Tokyo itinerary, perfect for solo travellers.

Shinjuku Street - Featured

We love Tokyo. It’s fast-paced, busy, and exciting. But after hitting all the obvious must-sees in Tokyo, I’ve discovered that it also has a quieter, more contemplative side that often gets overlooked.

In this Tokyo itinerary, join me in exploring the city’s hidden gems — from quaint back alleys to off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods, and even a trip to the nearby picturesque town of Karuizawa.

Day 1: Hidden gems in the city

Shimokitazawa hipster neighbourhood

Shimokitazawa - Solo Travel

Starting off in Shimokitazawa — a neighbourhood with laid-back vibes, trendy cafes, indie cinemas, and quirky street art. You could say it’s the alternative youth culture of Tokyo.

Disk Union Interior at Shimokitazawa, Tokyo - Tokyo Itinerary

Its narrow streets are filled with trendy and affordable shopping from vinyl records at Disk Union to vintage finds at Chicago.

How to get there: From Shinjuku station, take the Odakyu Line to Shimokitazawa Station

Read more: 7D6N Japan Itinerary Under S$1.5k — Road Trip from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji and Beyond

Seafood Bar Ermitage

Ermitage Seafood Bar - Solo Travel in Tokyo

Nestled in a quiet street in Yoyogi district, Seafood Bar Ermitage is an Italian restaurant with a unique specialty — salmon sashimi katsu!

The katsu is perfectly crispy outside with raw sashimi on the inside (how?!). And it came with a generous serving of ikura to pour over the salmon which made it extra umami 🤩

Opening hours: 11:30AM – 11PM, opens at 11AM on weekends
How to get there: From Minami-Shinjuku and Yoyogo Station walk 5min

Tokyo Dome City

Ride 5 Ticket Tokyo Dome City Attractions - Solo Travel in Tokyo

One of the best theme parks for a solo itinerary is Tokyo Dome City!

This lesser-known theme park is close to the city but it’s far from crowded. It has all the classic rides like the tea cups, a wild roller coaster, and even a water ride.

Big O Karoke Ferris Wheel Tokyo Dome City Attractions - Solo Travel

My absolute fave was Big O, a centreless Ferris wheel with karaoke! Each ride was 15 minutes, allowing me to sing my heart out in the privacy of my pod for three songs! You can bet I covered the staples like I Want It That Way, Baby and If I Ain’t Got You 🎤

The queues weren’t too long and moved pretty quickly, so you could hop back in for another round or two.

What’s cool about Tokyo Dome City is that the attractions are built around a mall. So when you’ve had your fill of adrenaline, easily grab some food or unwind with some shopping!

Entrance fee: From ¥2,800 (~S$25)
Opening hours: Varies
How to get there: Take the JR Chūō-Sōbu Line to Suidōbashi Station

Read more: Universal Studios Japan vs. Tokyo Disney Parks — Which Japan Theme Park to Visit?

Day 2: Ghibli-esque Attractions

Tokyo is home to the Ghibli Museum, but if you didn’t manage to get tickets in time (like me), here are some Ghibli-esque attractions to fill your itinerary instead!

Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

Edo Tokyo Architectural Museum Ghibli-esque Area - Solo Travel

As a huge Spirited Away fan, I love finding similar bathhouses around the world — there’s the original one in Matsuyama City and a replicate in Taiwan!


So when I saw the Edo-Tokyo Architectural Museum had an old town that looked like the movie, I had to see it for myself.

This unique open-air museum showcases a mix of Edo and Tokyo’s historical buildings. It was so interesting to see how Tokyo’s architecture evolved through the years, from traditional farmhouses to Victorian-inspired homes.

Edo Tokyo Architectural Museum Grocer - Tokyo Itinerary

The area that felt most like the town in Spirited Away was the reconstructed downtown area. It had everything from a flower shop to a stationary shop and even a grocer! No detail was spared in the recreation of each store — the props and signages really transported me back to the early 1900s.

Edo-Tokyo Architectural Museum Public Bath House with Girl - Solo Travel in Tokyo

The cherry on top for me was the Kodakara-yu — a replicate of a typical Tokyo public bath found at the end of the street. It had deep tubs and gorgeous mountain murals, I could imagine how relaxing the place must’ve been for folks back then.

Edo Tokyo Architectural Museum Public Bath House - Tokyo Itinerary

Although it isn’t as massive as the iconic bathhouse from Spirited Away, the magical ambiance was enough to get a glimpse of how it might have inspired Hayao Miyazaki.

Entrance fee: ¥400 (~S$4)
Opening hours: 9:30AM – 4:30PM (Oct – Mar), 9:30AM – 5:30PM (Apr – Sep), closed on Mon
How to get there: Take the JR Chuo Line to Musashi-Koganei Station, then take the bus 15 or 21 to Koganei-koen-nishiguchi, walk 6min

Meikyoku Kissa Lion (Music Coffee House)

Meikyoku Kissa Lion Entrace - Solo Travel in Tokyo

Stepping into Meikyoku Kissa Lion felt like I was entering my own Ghibli film. This music cafe features a similar whimsical look to Ghibli films like Howl’s Moving Castle and The Secret World of Arrietty, giving off the same enchantment from watching the films.

Meikyoku Kissa Lion Speaker Centre with Vinyl Collection - Solo Travel

Withstanding the test of time, since the 1920s — the vintage interior felt like a movie set. Upon entering, there’s a warm, crackling sounds of classical vinyl, my Ghibli soundtrack 😌

The two-story cafe was rather empty, except for some older folks, who all sat facing the towering wall of speakers and extensive collection of vinyl records.

Meikyoku Kissa Lion Seat with Drinks - Solo Travel

I’d never experienced a space like this before and honestly felt a bit lost. I saw an older gentleman close his eyes to enjoy the music and decided to do the same. Such a lovely way to dedicate time to your itinerary to unwind in the middle of bustling Tokyo!

The day’s music is mostly decided by the staff but guests are welcome to put in song requests.

Opening hours: 1PM – 8PM
How to get there: Take a train to Shibuya Station, walk 5min

Nitelle Tower

Ghibli Clock Nitelle Tower - Tokyo Itinerary

Ghibli Park isn’t the only place to see Howl’s Moving Castle in real life.

Right on Nitelle Tower is a giant clock designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself. It’s not exactly Howl’s Moving Castle, but it definitely carries the same vibe and aesthetic. Especially when it lights up and comes to life!

Ghibli Clock Nitelle Tower Blacksmiths - Solo Travel

Time itself stands still during its show times as you watch different parts of the clock spin and dance like a tin toy from the 19th century. My favourite bit is when the flame descends upon the two blacksmiths as they get to work — the little flame is Calcifer, don’t convince me otherwise!

The clock comes to life at 12PM, 3PM, 6PM and 8PM daily, and once more at 10AM on weekends.

How to get there: Take a train to Shimbashi Station, walk 3min

Read more: 13 Iconic Anime Locations to Add to Your Japan Itinerary


Onigiri Shop Manma - Solo Travel in Tokyo

One of my favourite scenes in Spirited Away was when Haku offered Chihiro onigiri to comfort her. It was a moment that gave Chihiro hope and ignited the friendship between the two. I had a similar welcoming experience with the Japanese staple when I visited Onigirimamma.

Onigiri Shop Manma Chef Making Onigiri Wide - Solo Travel in Tokyo

I arrived an hour before closing when they only do takeaway orders. However, the chef cheerfully let me in and told me to take a seat. This small diner has an old-school vibe with only counter spots, and I loved sitting in front of the chef, watching him skillfully craft each onigiri!

Onigiri Shop Manma Egg and Sweet Beef and Salmon Mayo - Tokyo Itinerary

I ordered the salmon with mayo (¥350) and their recommendation — egg yolk with sweetened ground meat (¥550). The onigiri is huge with just as much tasty filling as there is rice 🤩 You can bet I scuffed it down the same way Chihiro did.

It’s the sister shop of the famous Onigiri Bongo in Toshima City, but the crowds are less and the food is just as good 🍙

Opening hours: 11:30AM – 8PM
How to get there: Take a train to Shinjuku-sanchome Station, walk 1min

Day 3-4: Karuizawa

Next up on our itinerary is a popular holiday destination locals love, just an hour’s train ride from Tokyo!

Where to Stay in Karuizawa

Hoshinoko Lodge - Solo Travel

I took a morning train into Karuizawa and checked into a cosy little cabin called Hoshinoko Lodge (¥11,157/night). There are many lodges in Karuizawa, but I enjoyed how homely and quiet this one was.

Hosinoko Lodge Cabin - Solo Travel in Tokyo

I stayed in the cottage room which was spacious with a small kitchenette and dining area. There were also amenities like a stove and microwave.

It’s close to Nakakaruizawa Station and is about a 15-minute walk.


Kawakamian Soba Tempura Set Karuizawa - Tokyo Itinerary

Karuizawa is well-known for its soba. Some locals told me the best place to go is Kawakamian. When I arrived and saw the long queue, the Singaporean in me got very excited — the longer the queue, the better the food, am I right?

I ordered the standard Tempura Soba (¥2,100) which came with hot soba noodle soup and a side of prawn and vegetable tempura! The tempura was light and overall a comforting meal.

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM
How to get there: From Karuizawa Station North Exit take bus 1 or 8 to Kyu-Karuizawa

Old Karuizawa Shopping Street

Old Karuizawa Shopping Street Ginza - Solo Travel

Just a 5-minute walk from the restaurant was Old Karuizawa Shopping Street. This long shopping stretch had many little honey shops, boutiques, and cafes.

Studio Ghibli Shop Old Karuizawa Shopping Street - Solo Travel

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of character shops it had too, from the Miffy bakery to Peter Rabbit, Snoopy Village, and even the Ghibli store!

Kumoba Pond

Girl at Kumoba Pond - Tokyo Itinerary

Once you’re done at the shops, unwind at the serene Kumoba Pond. Being there at the peak of autumn meant seeing the whole area gleaming in vibrant hues of red and orange 🍁

The space isn’t huge but a leisurely stroll round the pond takes about half an hour. Don’t be shy to ask strangers to help you snap a pic!

Opening hours: 24 hours
How to get there: Take bus (Seibu Kanko Bus) to Roppontsuji/Kumobaike, walk 8min

Mikuriya (かまど炊きご飯 御厨) 

Girl Eating Mikuriya Breakfast Set - Solo Travel in Tokyo

In Japan, they take breakfast very seriously — truly their most important meal of the day! Many locals who travel to Karuizawa make it a point to get the breakfast bento sets at Mikuriya.

Sticky Yam Mikuriya - Solo Travel

The most popular set is the Tororo (sticky grated yam) with grilled salmon. The Tororo here is apparently one of Japan’s best as it’s mixed with miso paste, giving it a lot more flavour than it would otherwise. It’s served chilled (super refreshing) and goes so well with rice 🍠

Cost: From ¥1,470 (~S$13)
Opening hours: 7:15AM – 2:15PM
How to get there: From Karuizawa Station (Karuizawa Eki) take a bus (Naka Karuizawa Keiyu New Town Homen) to Shimo Hotchi, walk 5min

Onioshidashi Park (鬼押出し園)

Onioshidashi Park Girl Sitting By The Volcanic Rocks - Tokyo Itinerary

Onioshidashi Park is a hidden gem slightly out of Karuizawa. Its jagged landscape is shaped by volcanic rocks from Mount Asama’s big eruption in 1783. I loved how the black rocky terrain contrasts against the fiery autumn leaves — felt like another world!

Entrance fee: ¥700 (~S$6)
Opening hours: 8AM – 5PM
How to get there: From Karuizawa Station take a Seibu bus (¥1,230, operates hourly) — check with the bus caption that the bus goes all the way to Onioshidashi Park.

Karuizawa Ice Park 

Karuizawa Ice Park Entrance - Tokyo Itinerary

One of the best things to do on a solo trip is to pick up a new sport. Karuizawa is known for its comprehensive sports facility Karuizawa Ice Park, which makes sense since it’s the only town in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics in 1998!

The space is dedicated to Curling — something I had a go at on a previous trip in Scotland so I was excited to try my hand at it again.

Karuizawa Ice Park Curling Class Learning From Instructor - Solo Travel in Tokyo

Most of our first impressions of Curling are that it’s a low-impact sport that involves a broom. However, in my 90-minute session, we dove deep into posture, strength control, and the game’s strategies. Safe to say, it’s a lot more than just scrubbing ice 🧹

Just like any sport, gear is extremely important — we wore slider and gripper shoes, gloves, and a beanie to protect our heads.

Karuizawa Ice Rink Curling Shoes Only In Curling Hall - Solo Travel

The curling shoes had rubber soles that gripped the ice, and one side was removable for sliding on the ice. It was super slippery without the rubber sole but our instructor made sure we practised how to move and stand up safely on the ice 🧊

Karuizawa Curling Instructor - Solo Travel

Once we got comfortable on the ice, we moved on to practice rounds of throwing stones into the House (the four-ring target at the end of the ice sheet) and taking stones out of the House.

Karuizawa Ice Park Curling Class - Solo Travel

The real lesson started once we had our mini-match. The class was split into two groups and the game was intense. It was a lot of strategising because we had to try and knock our opponents’ stones out while keeping as many of our stones within the House (the closer to the centre the better).

The toughest part for me was knowing how much force to use when throwing the stone — too hard and it goes past the House, too little and it won’t even make it across 🫠 But the most satisfying part is sweeping, especially when we manage to sweep our opponent’s stones out of the ring! Not to mention making new friends along the way 💯

Cost: ¥2,420 (60min session), ¥3,410 (90min session), ¥4540 (120min session), book on website or email [email protected]
Opening hours: 9AM – 10PM
How to get there: From Karuizawa Station (Karuizawa Eki) take a bus (Minami Karuizawa Keiyu New Town Homen) to Kazekoshi Koen, walk 3min

Day 5: Tokyo at a slower pace

Set aside some time in your itinerary to slow down and appreciate the quieter side of Tokyo.

Hekkelun (50 puddings cafe)

Hekkelun Pudding - Tokyo Itinerary

Tucked away in an alley in Shinbashi for over 50 years, Hekkelun is known for one thing — pudding 🍮 This classic coffee shop only serves 50 puddings a day, so you best be early before any queue even starts to form.

*Pro-tip: Be there an hour before opening or you’d have to wait almost two hours to get in.

Hekkelun Old Man Brewing Coffee - Solo Travel

To manage the sheer volume of people, they take in guests in batches of 21. Everyone’s order is taken at one go, then served at one go, before paying and clearing out for the next group. Although this leaves people queuing for hours, it’s a lot more manageable for the elderly owners — they are so adorable and hard-working, you can’t even be mad!

And don’t worry, pudding isn’t the only thing on the menu. Hekkelun also has a variety of sandwiches and toasts that are super yummy too — I ordered a Coffee Pudding Set (¥900) and a honey toast (¥450).

Opening hours: 9AM – 5PM
How to get there: Take train to Uchisaiwaicho Station, walk 5min

Rikugien Gardens (六義園)

rikugien gardens - Solo Travel

Photo credit: Japan Guide

Easily one of Tokyo’s most beautiful Japanese landscape gardens, the Rikugien Gardens is the perfect place to unwind and reflect on the trip. Located in the northern part of Tokyo, the gardens are beautiful in every season — from weeping cherry blossoms in Spring to the warm hues of Autumn. Stroll along the large central pond or explore the winding paths through forests and open lawns.

The gardens also have three teahouses, where you can stop for a traditional cup of matcha tea and a sweet treat 🍵

If you’re there in Autumn, stay after sunset and witness the park illuminate the night!

Entrance fee: ¥300 (~S$3)
Opening hours: 9AM – 5PM
How to get there: Take the JR Yamanote Line or Tokyo Metro Namboku Line to Komagome Station, walk 7min

Tokyo Pre-trip essentials

SIM card: Get a free 500MB SIM card from WAmazing — simply download the WAmazing app and request for the free SIM card before departure! Japan offers free wifi on most of its transport systems, so 500MB is enough for any use in between. And if you need more, just purchase via the app.

Transport: Avoid the hassle of constantly purchasing tickets with the JR Tokyo Wide Pass. This 3-day rail pass is perfect for this itinerary, giving you unlimited rides on trains and the Shinkansen* around Tokyo and its surroundings.

Girl Using WAmazing Machine - Tokyo Itinerary

Pre-purchase your JR Tokyo Wide Pass via WAmzaing and easily redeem it from their machines at the airport!

Karuizawa Free Pass: This gets you unlimited rides all over Karuizawa. It includes rides on the Shinano Railway between Karuizawa and Komoro stations too. You can get either a 1-day pass (¥2500) or a 2-day pass (¥3600) from Karuizawa station.

*Arrive early to secure a non-reservation seat, or reserve your seats ahead of time at the ticket vending machine, JR EAST Travel Service Center or JR Ticket Office. You can also reserve seats online up to a month in advance.

Where To Stay in Tokyo 

Keio Presso Inn - Solo Travel in Tokyo

Keio Presso Inn: Located in the heart of Tokyo, the hotel is conveniently located near JR Tokyo station. The rooms are basic but clean and quiet, even with the hustle and bustle of the highway nearby.

Cost: From ¥13,800/night (~S$123.50)

Solo Travelling Tips in Tokyo

Edo Tokyo Museum Cable Car - Solo Travel

Know the basics of the language

Having Japanese basic phrases in your pocket helps a lot while travelling in Tokyo. Not only will it make communication easier, but it also shows respect and appreciation for the local culture. Some useful phrases to know include:

Konnichiwa (こんにちは)Hello
Arigato gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) Thank you
Sumimasen (すみません)Excuse me
Nihongo ga wakarimasen (にほんごがわかりません)I don’t understand Japanese
Itadakimasu (いただきます)To show appreciation before a meal
Gochisou sama deshita (御馳走様 でした)Thank you for the delicious meal

Download translation apps like Google Translate or Binko Chat too! They’re extra handy when you’re stuck.

Safety Precautions 

Safety should always be a top priority when travelling solo. Airtagging your belongings is a great way to keep track of them especially when they get lost or stolen.

Another thing I find keeps me safe is having my folks back home track me. I use Find My Friends on iPhone, but there’s also AirDroid for Android!

Taking Your Own Photos

Edo Tokyo Architectural Museum Garden - Solo Travel

Here are my tips for scoring IG-worthy photos without asking for help:

1) Take photos with a self-timer
Invest in a good-quality tripod to prop your phone up or use existing surfaces — I placed my camera on an electrical box for the photo above ✌🏻

2) Play around with different angles and perspectives for a unique shot
Some ideas include: Putting your phone on the ground for a low-angle shot, using reflective surfaces, or placing your phone on the table in front of you with the wide (0.5x) at cafes. Don’t worry, no one is judging. And even if they are, you’ll probably never see them again 😆

Most of all — have fun! Solo travelling is so liberating and I love the flexibility. Don’t be afraid to stray from your itinerary to explore Tokyo off the beaten path. You just might discover more hidden gems you wouldn’t have otherwise found 💎

What are you most excited about in this Tokyo itinerary? Share in the comments below!


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