Tokyo: Before You Go

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The basics

  • Language: Japanese

  • Currency: Yen (¥)

  • Population: 9.2 million

  • Time Zone: Japan Standard Time (JST)

  • Major Airports: Tokyo International Airport/Haneda Airport (HND), Narita International Airport (NRT)

  • Driving: Left Hand Side

  • Most countries are allowed 90 day visa on arrival


Low Season

Winter: Dec-March

high season

Spring: April-May

Shoulder Season

Summer: June-Aug

High Season

Fall: Sept-Nov

Snowy & Low temps don't bring many tourists except for New Years Eve.

Cherry Blossoms bring the most tourists. Weather is great & sunny.

Summertime is rainy season in Tokyo. Prime time for student travel.

Fall foliage & cooler temps Bring just as many tourist as Spring time. 


Language & Food

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JAPANESE PHRASES TO KNOW

  • Yes = Hai (High)

  • No = Iie (Ee-ye)

  • Hello = Konnichiwa (Ko-ne-che-wa) *Tip your head as you say hello*

  • Thank you = Arigato Gozaimasu (Air-ah-gato Go-Zhi-mahs)

  • Cheers! = Kanpai (Kan-pie)

  • Excuse me = Sumimasen (Sue-me-mah-sen)

  • It’s delicious! = Oishii Desu (Oy-she Desu)

 
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MUST TRY FOODS

  • Ramen- Big, flavorful bowls of noodles, egg & pork

  • Takoyaki- Fried & ball shaped with octopus inside

  • Yakitori- Grilled meat skewers

  • Gyoza- Fried or steamed dumplings

  • Tonkatsu - Breaded deep-fried pork cutlet

  • Shabu-shabu - Thinly sliced meat & vegetables in a DIY soup

  • Okonomiyaki - Savory pancakes

  • Taiyaki- Fish shaped waffle filled with red bean, custard or even ice cream

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Restuarant & Chopstick etiquette

  • No tipping required. It's considered rude.

  • Many restaurants will have you order via vending machine. Use the coin dispensed from the machine, give it to the cook & have a seat.

  • Some restaurants & vending machines accept Pasmo or Suica cards as payment.

  • Place hand your credit card or cash to the cashier, place it in the provided tray.

  • Don't rub your chopsticks together. It conveys to the restaurant staff that you think their chopsticks are cheap.

  • Use the thick end of your chopsticks if you are grabbing food from a shared plate.

  • Don't place your chopsticks in your rice or anywhere other than the resting block.

  • It's customary to pour drinks for others & allow them to pour a drink for you.


Transportation

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HOW TO GET TO TOKYO CENTER From the Airport

1. Uber: Only black cars available for airport pickup. If you become overwhelmed or just plain exhausted, your best bet is to take an Uber. They are easy to call and pick up is by the taxi stand. One way will cost around roughly $80 one way.

2. Taxi: If you're staying at a hotel, taxis are a good option. It's best to have your Hotel name and address written in Japanese just in case your driver doesn't speak English. Be prepared to pay $125+ one way.

3. Limousine Bus: If you're a planner, this option is for you. A coach bus ticket can be purchased in advance and drop you off at select hotels around Tokyo. Check here see if your hotel is on the list (or at least close by). Cost: $60 roundtrip.

4. JR train:  If you're up for the adventure, the train to Tokyo is your cheapest option. Before you leave the airport, purchase a ticket from the JR East counter.

Nartia Airport: JR East / N'ex Counter  //  Haneda Airport: JR East / Tokyo Monorail

It's best to know the JR East stop you'll get getting off at to connect to the Tokyo Metro in able to get to your hotel or Airbnb. The clerks are always helpful & will direct you to the train. Cost: $40 roundtrip.

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Getting around Tokyo

Both Pasmo and Suica cards can be used to pay for metro, bus and taxi rides. Simply tap the card against the automated gates in train stations or on the reader and the cost of your journey is automatically deducted. Having a card takes away added stress of calculating and buying one way tickets on the metro. 

Pasmo and Suica cards are much more than just transportation cards, they are like virtual money. You can pay for coffees at a vending machine, magazines at a station kiosk, drinks at a connivence store and even meals at some restaurants using your cards. 

Purchasing, refilling and even refunding your Pasmo card is possible at almost any Tokyo metro station. Suica cards are only available at JR East stations. To purchase or refill, only cash is accepted. Both cards are wildly accepted and do pretty much the same functions. 

 


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