Need To Know
Currency: Japanese Yen Conversion LINK
Language: Japanese - but I didn't have a problem speaking English to everyone
Visa: US citizens can stay for 90 days or less without a visa. Same goes for citizens of most European nations, Canada, Australia, Korea, New Zealand and the UK.
Electricity: 100V and two flat pins (Like the US!)
Tipping: Do not tip in Japan. Ever. Top end restaurants will automatically add 10% service to your bill.
Words To Know Before You Go
There are all written out phonetically. Practice before you go so you fit in a little better!
- Hello = Kon - knee - che - wah
- Goodbye = Sigh - yo - na - ra
- Thank you = Ar -ree - ga - toe
- Excuse me = Sue - me - ma - sen
- Yes = Hi (Written Hai)
How To Get There
International: Tokyo is generally the cheapest place to fly into. There are two airports: Narita and Haneda. I flew into Haneda and found it easy to get to Tokyo from there.
Here is a full article on how to get from the airport (both of them) to Tokyo.
Domestic: Bullet trains are awesome to take around Japan and into Tokyo. Shinkansen (Bullet Train) are also included in the JR Pass - an excellent way to save money while in Japan.
Read the full article on everything you need to know about JR Pass.
How To Get Around
Quick Tip: Google maps is the perfect app to use for help getting around. It gives clear instructions including JR Trains, subways, and buses.
There are 13 Subway lines serviced by two different companies, they will take you pretty much anywhere you need to go. The trains DO NOT RUN between midnight and 5 am. All the trains have English signs everywhere and are color coded.
Pro Tip: Buy a Pasmo or Suica pass to get around easily.
Full article on Tokyo Subway systems here.
Trains in Japan are easy to navigate. There are two types of trains. Local trains, known as the JR Trains and bullet trains known as Shinkansen. A JR pass is accepted for travel on both.
Expensive. Take them if you are in a group of 4 or more. Taxi Drivers rarely speak English. Pretty much your only option after midnight.
Totally a thing and pretty awesome since most taxi drivers - and uber drivers - don't speak English. It is very expensive.
Tsukiji Fish Market
- Sumo at Ryogoku Kokugikan
- You can watch a tournament or morning practice at the national stadium.
- Watch a traditional Kabuki performance including the incredible makeup and insane costumes
- Robot Restaurant
- Part sexy girls, part dancing, part video game come to life you can't miss this insane experience. Everything you need to know here.
- Kawaii Moster Cafe
- Crazy colors in Harajuku (of course). There is a cover (200 yen) and food is expensive. Remember, you are there for the atmosphere.
- Top of the Tokyo Sky Tree
- Newly opened in May 2012 stands 634 meters. Two observation decks - go up with good visibility. 2000-3000 yen.
Top Day Trips From Tokyo
A great park not to far away from Tokyo that has gorgeous hiking trails.
Oedo Onsen Monogatari
A public bathhouse/theme park. Basically the most Japan you can get.
Go for the show, not really the food.
Kawaii Monster Cafe
Go for the experience and colorful food.
Afternoon tea is definitely worth it! Live music and amazing food and teas.
Great selection of Sake and the best sashimi I had in Tokyo.
Awesome ramen and a great place if you're looking for Vegan Ramen!
Don't be too overwhelmed. I know planning for Japan can feel like a lot but once you are there it is actually quite easy to get around and choose things to do. Enjoy it!
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
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