How to Plan a Staycation in Tokyo: 5 Tips for an At-Home Holiday

You don't need to go very far to disconnect and recharge

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It’s easy to forget to take a break, to stop and smell the roses — especially when the world is figuratively (and literally) on fire. Overseas travel is not in anybody’s foreseeable future, but this doesn’t mean that taking time off is completely off the table. It’s important to disconnect, recharge and de-stress to avoid going completely crazy.

This leaves us with the staycation. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity; an effective staycation can take just as much thought and plan as a conventional trip, and this is even more true considering the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Japan. Even when traveling, social distancing is of utmost importance, which means cities and popular tourist destinations are best avoided until 2021. So where can or should you go? The answer is maybe a little underwhelming: The closer to home, the better.

1. Break Away From Routine

The key to even the simplest of staycations is to create a clear cut from your everyday home or work life. Tokyoites are lucky to be surrounded by dozens of accommodations, making it easy to create even a small sense of escapism by booking a night or two at a hotel. Even if you don’t end up in a new and exciting neighborhood, a hotel room that’s new to you helps break away from your routine. Even if you end up spending the entire day indoors, at least you can do so lounging in a queen-sized bed.

All this said, a hotel reservation is not necessary, and there are more ways to make sure you go back to reality replenished and energized. Instead, think about how you can transform your home to suit your favorite holiday activities. Perhaps this is turning your small balcony into a tropical retreat, or setting up a projector for a scary movie marathon.

2. Take the Time to Wander

Explore the neighborhood, no matter what neighborhood that is. Even suburban residential areas have some hidden gems to be discovered. Think about all those hole-in-the-wall cafés that always caught your eye on your way from work. Maybe there was a restaurant that you’ve always to try? See what they’re doing to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and reserve a table. Better (and safer) yet, order takeaway and create a restaurant-like atmosphere at home however possible.

If cooking a soothing activity for you, you might want to try your hand at a dish you never cook for yourself and splurge on premium ingredients. Then digest with a walk in one of the least-explored areas of your neighborhood and maybe pick up an iced coffee on the way.


For some inspiration, check out one of our neighborhood guides.

3. Set Out on a Day Trip

You might be thinking: “With the pandemic, it doesn’t feel safe to stay anywhere but my own home.” And, it’s absolutely normal to feel that way. If a hotel is not in the cards for you, then consider spreading out your holiday into single-day trips.

Though ideal for Tokyoites with a car, van or bicycle, there are a few places you can travel to if only for a change in scenery. Yokohama, KamakuraUtsunomiya and even Chiba all make for fantastic escapes and are home to wide, open spaces to make the most of the summer weather. Make sure you plan ahead to avoid the crowds and don’t forget to wear a mask.

4. Unplug

It can be pretty terrifying to stay on social media all day long. Instead, consider leaving your phone at home, if you’re staying somewhere else or turning it off completely if you’re staying home. The peak of any vacation is, after all, when it all comes crashing down and it’s time to unwind. Worrying about a work email is not exactly vacationing now, is it? Indulge in a long bath, light up some incense and maybe even throw a few bath salts in the tub. If you’re feeling extra fancy, throw on a facemask.

If soaking isn’t your jam, give yourself some slack and pick up a video game or book you’ve been feeling too guilty to start. This staycation is about you, and nobody else!

5. Move Your Body

Okutama hiking trail

Yes to sleeping in and yes to afternoon siestas but it’s equally important to move your body. Whether it’s a walk to the convenience store or just some simple evening yoga, make sure you factor in some time to wake up from all that relaxation. We’ve already shared a couple of exercises that can be done in even the smallest of apartments, but with the beautiful weather, hikes — which can double as a day trip — are great. Mount Takao is usually a Tokyoite’s go-to but Hachioji has other less-crowded trails too.

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