Short on time? Go to Shinjuku
Shinjuku’s got a little bit of everything. From Shinjuku station, hit the east and north side for neon, crowds and enough energy in the air to recharge your cell phone. Head out the South exit and walk east to Shinjuku Gyoen, a huge park with hundreds of cherry trees - cherry blossoms in early April and Japanese maples and other autumn colors in late November and December.
Hit the west side for Japan’s best selection of camera retailers, and the skyscraper district including the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for views of the city and Mt. Fuji.
If you have an extra bit of time, jump on the Yamanote line (the green one) and head to Harajuku just two quick stops away. There you can feel at one with Gwen Stephanie and the Harajuku Girls and see the cosplay crowd at their home base. Cross the bridge to Meiji Jingu, one of Tokyo’s main shrines, and Yoyogi Park for more blossoms and autumn colors.
Walk softly and carry a light camera
In Tokyo you have to climb stairs just to get to the stairs. Be prepared for a lot of legwork! Tokyo is best explored by train and only the larger stations have escalators or elevators so leave the weight at the hotel. As an added bonus most roads don’t have names so expect to take the long way round, probably more than once.
Don’t come to Tokyo and expect to see Kyoto
Tokyo is a major global metropolis with its own special features and it does the global mega-city scene very well. It’s all about being new, energetic and lots of bright lights. Yes, it has a few good examples of traditional Japan, but it ain’t Kyoto – the soul of Japan. Tokyo has no geisha neighborhoods, nor are there many Japanese gardens, temples or shrines. Align your photography goals to what Tokyo has to offer, or take a side trip out of the city.
Mt. Fuji takes the summer off
In the summer months the haze in the air is usually so thick that to varying degrees distant features (say about 100 yards and beyond) begin to loose their color and other detail to the haze. Objects like Mt. Fuji, or the Chuo Alps, which are more than 60 miles away, cannot even be seen from Tokyo in the summer. Mid-winter, when the air is driest, is your best bet.
Best deals on new gear
Shinjuku West exit. Before you go, check these websites of Japan's two largest big-box camera retailers (Japanese only: Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera). Just type the model name of what you are after into the search bar to get a price in yen. It is fairly intuitive. You can compare against your home currency here. Both offer a 10% discount card, but only Yodobashi seem to wave the requirement for a local address.
Buy The Photographer’s Guide to Tokyo
It is a 75-page PDF e-book that has my full +10-years worth of local knowledge to help you make the most of your short time here. The book highlights dozens of Tokyo's best locations with additional sections on timing, lighting and shopping for equipment. The book includes maps as well as links to Google maps, pin pointing each location discussed. Categories covered are: Cityscapes, Temples/Shrines, Neon, Street, Nature and Architecture.
Check it out here: https://www.travelguidesforphotographers.com/