Walking in Tokyo is a great way to experience the city. Instead of just diving into a subway and appearing elsewhere, a really long walk is a great way to get Tokyo to shrink a little bit. You get a little more intimate with the city, you get to see things that you might not otherwise have seen.
Personally, I think it’s one of the most delightful ways to get around the city. But is there anything special you need to think about when you go on a street trip to Tokyo?
A good map
A good map makes things much smoother, there are ways to get around without, but it is clearly more manageable with a map. Two options, one can either have a physical map or mobile broadband. Tips on a good physical map is “Tokyo City Atlas”, it is now in its fourth edition and covers the central parts of Tokyo very well.
A more tech solution is to rent mobile broadband. This means that you have your favourite map application with you in your pocket, which makes life much more comfortable.
Without a map
If you have no maps in neither analogue or digital form, there are ways to navigate in the city anyway. Tokyo has very many trains and metro stations, and outside these, there are usually maps of the local area. If one were to be lost entirely, in the worst case, it would take a train or subway.
A pair of good shoes
A tip that you hardly need to mention, but a couple of good shoes to go in is vital if you want to get those extra kilometres out of Tokyo.
Where to walk in Tokyo
The reason I like to walk in Tokyo is that you do not know what you will encounter, I want to see something new and exciting. Tokyo is a big city, you can walk for a day or two before you get to the city’s outskirts.
My tip is, therefore, to wander inside the Yamanote line. Reason being that the Yamanote line loops around the city and ties the great neighbourhoods together. So if you stay within the confines of the Yamanote line you then you remain in a relatively limited area. Take the Yamanote line train, jump off at one of the stations, face the inside of the loop and get to walking. You obviously need to figure out which side of the loop is the inside. If you don’t have any of the map-options as mentioned above, there should be maps both inside and outside the station.
The distances you can expect to cover if you stay inside the loop will of course vary depending on how you walk. But to give you a rough idea, if you walk across the Yamanote line, it takes about 2-3 hours to go across east to west, and 3-4 hours north to south. Not overwhelmingly long, but it is still quite a respectable distance to walk.
Tips for walking in Tokyo
Start with something simple, stay next to the Yamanote line train track and walk from one station to another. One suggestion is to go from Ueno to Akihabara, it is 2 stops away by train and takes about 20 minutes to walk.
If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can walk from Akihabara and head west towards Ochanomizu. From Ochanomizu you can head towards Jimbocho (the district with a lot of bookshops). Then on to Kanda and Nippon Budokan (big arena for various events such as sumo wrestling etc.), which is part of the Emperor Palace.