Top Tokyo Hints

By: Stuart Cheese

In my capacity as the UK Director of Operations for One World Tours Limited, every time we add a new destination, the questions come flooding in and so when Japan came on line the questions, especially about Tokyo, was no exception. So here are my top hints for your first trip to Tokyo.

You are going to do a lot of walking. So wear comfortable shoes. Tokyo has more than its fair share of trains, subways, monorails, taxies and buses. But depending upon where you are staying, once any of these modes of transport get you to roughly were you are going, then it's time to let your feet do the rest. Tokyo is an amazing and vibrant city and without doubt the best way to see and experience it, is on foot

Drink lots of liquids. There are almost no diet fizzy / soda drinks on sale in Japan. This is apparently because the Japanese are generally very fit people and just do not drink them. To every rule there is of course an exception and in this case it is Coke Light (aka Diet Coke). The problem this can cause is if you are a diet drink drinker, you may find yourself simply not taking enough liquids on board. If you are a calorie counter, you may find yourself saying no to drinks when normally you would say yes. So just try to make a mental note and be sure to top up your body with a bottle or two of water or maybe a fruit juice.

If you like to eat, Tokyo is gastronomic heaven! Tokyo proudly boasts over 60,000 restaurants. Fortunately in most of them, language is not an issue as wisely most of their menus carry pictures of the food too, so as a last resort you can just point at what you are trying to order. A lot of restaurants all have plastic mock up display items, so you can often just point a what you fancy.

Tokyo can be expensive when it comes to food, but this is more only the case in hotels and high class restaurants. Locals keep eating out costs down by eating in local restaurants. As in most big cities the other way to eat cheaply, depending upon your personal preference is fast / junk food. Tokyo has all the worldwide standards including 7-11, Subway, Burger King, Wendys, KFC and of course McDonalds. Even if you are not a fast food fan, some of the above are worth a look, as unlike in so many other countries, these restaurants do have a uniquely Japanese feel to them.

A camera is a must. Tokyo is an amazing place to take photos, be it the landscape, the architecture or the people and as you would expect, even if you want them there and then, getting your photos printed out is not an issue. Tokyo is technology capital of the world and theres plenty of places offering a while you wait service for photographs and of course, assuming you are using digital cameras, there no problem in picking up an extra memory card or 2 if you are running out of room for all those pics.

Taxis are the last resort. As mentioned previously, there's lots of ways to get around Tokyo and if going on foot is the best, then taking taxis is probably the worst. The only reason for this is the traffic means the journeys are long, not the end of the world, but they are expensive and like with many big cities, with taxis charging (in this case) a lot for standing time, then unless you have money to burn, then Taxis really should be the last resort.

Most Japanese don't speak English. so its not a bad idea to take a phrase book. Even if you do not get understood with your attempts to massacre the Japanese language, you can at least point out the phrase (in Japanese of course) and they can read it for you. If you make sure you get a English - Japanese / Japanese - English phrase book, this is good as even if they cannot answer you, they will at least in theory be able to find the answer in the book and point it out to you.

Sunscreen can be a factor !. A lot of people think of Japan as being a cold place and although it can at times be overcast, Japan is actually on the about the same latitude as the middle of California; and you would not go there without packing your sunscreen.
Pack or buy an Umbrella or raincoat during the rainy season The middle of June to the middle July is the rainy season in Japan and whilst it does not rain everyday, there is every chance that if you are out and about in Tokyo during these months, it could rain at any moment.

Keeping Connected. If you are looking for internet access in Tokyo and in the unlikely event your hotel does not have it, there are plenty of internet Cafes dotted around the city and more and more wifi / ireless internet access is available (sometimes for free but usually at a charge)

And Finally

Mini bars cost the earth. This is true all over the world but especially in Tokyo (and the rest of Japan for that matter). Anything from the minibar is going to be very expensive, so pick up any snacks and drinks you may need before returning to your hotel. Your wallet will love you for it.

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