Going to Japan

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  • Ror 25 Aug 2018 12:08:35 18,480 posts
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    Couldn't find a relevant thread through search, so thought I'd start a new one.

    I'll be heading to Tokyo soon, staying for 9 nights. It'll be the first time I've been, so I was wondering if anyone has any good tips for someone who has never been and knows maybe a dozen words of Japanese - things like travelling around the city (I will probably be grabbing a Suica card, but anything you can share will be helpful) as well as things to do that I may not have thought of, and ways to save money.

    I'm just staying in an air bnb, so accommodation is already sorted. I don't know anything about the area itself though, so if anyone knows how I can find what's around locally (I checked Google Maps, but it didn't really show much) - is there a local equivalent that I could look at in English? I'm staying somewhere (?) in Ota-ku (seems apt), not far from Haneda airport.


    I've watched a fair bit on YouTube, from channels like Abroad in Japan, but would like to hear as many opinions/ideas as I can.

    All help appreciated, cheers!
  • Ror 25 Aug 2018 12:23:01 18,480 posts
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    I should probably mention the things I'm actually going to do out there. I'll be doing all the obvious things like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Harajuku, etc. I'll probably give the Tokyo Tower a swerve as I expect it to be much like the Eiffel Tower and involve hours of queuing. I will probably pay Noctis' house a visit for the free observation deck though.

    Having glanced at a (very involved) metro map, I think most of the things I want to do are on the Yamanote Line.
  • RyanDS 25 Aug 2018 12:29:34 12,745 posts
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    Get a JR pass. Do the Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima circuit.

    And do one night in a capsule hotel.
  • Ror 25 Aug 2018 12:35:47 18,480 posts
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    Cheers, Ryan. I did look into the JR pass and heading out to other cities, but I can't really afford it this time. Plus, staying in a capsule hotel means 'wasting' a night I've paid for in the Airbnb.

    I'm supposed to be heading back there with a group of friends next year some time, and the plan for that trip is to do the route you mentioned. Hopefully I'll be able to afford it then!
  • uiruki 25 Aug 2018 12:43:22 4,816 posts
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    Last time I was there the Tokyo Tower wasn't too bad - it's the Skytree that has the massive queues now. Better view at the Tower though!

    If you don't want to go too far outside Tokyo, Yokohama's good for a day away. Kawagoe's coming up too as an 'old Edo' type town with a lot of older buildings that you won't see in Tokyo.

    If you don't mind auto translation, for food recommendations you can look at Tabelog. Anything over 3.0 is acceptable, 3.5/5 is excellent. If you want to buy electronics etc, Kakaku is a good price comparison site.

    Make sure you get a Suica/Pasmo card for a cheap souvenir if nothing else, consider the JR pass (they're only 7 and 14 nights though - and if you're not leaving Tokyo I don't think you'd save enough to give up being able to just swipe through the ticket gates). Do you have an iPhone 8 or higher? If so then you can just load it up on your phone, which is useful as you can use foreign cards to Apple Pay a charge without any currency conversion (depending on your credit card). As they're also usable in convenience stores (and as far as I know they still don't take Visa/Mastercard Apple Pay there) then it's a good way to reduce the amount of cash you go there as card usage is still limited.

    It'll still be pretty hot out there; are you going to be there for TGS? If so, try and get there early. I've not been for about 10 years but there's lots of queueing.

    When I'm there I like walking between Shibuya and Shinjuku via Yoyogi Park (Meiji Jingu etc). Good coffee in the area; if you want any direct food/drink tips send me a PM and I can give you some recommendations. Otherwise check out the Roastery on Cat Street and Streamer Coffee just outside the main drag of Harajuku (crazy lattes!).

    The main thing with communication is just to try your best; people will more often than not try their best to meet you halfway. I think there's a certain image of people in Tokyo being cold and I don't think that's true at all.

    edit: Sorry, that ended up being a bit jumbled. Hopefully you can get something from it!

    Edited by uiruki at 12:47:18 25-08-2018
  • Navi 25 Aug 2018 12:47:00 279 posts
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    Sounds like you've got a good plan. The Yamanote line is a classic way to enjoy Tokyo, so getting a Suica and just getting off at the big places works very well.

    If you want to mix it up a little bit, taking the train out to Yokohama and Kamakura is easy to do, plus there is nice countryside, the giant Buddha and a nice temple that way without having to go to far.

    Google maps is generally good enough to planning stuff, although for train times, use www.hyperdia.com/en/

    Is there anything specific you're looking to do? Tech, Anime/Manga, Food, Culture, e.t.c
  • Nazo 25 Aug 2018 12:51:39 978 posts
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    Asakusa is worth a visit, Sky Tree is nearby as well, which has superseded Tokyo tower.
    Odaiba has some theme park attractions and my wife wants to go to a very cool looking digital exhibition there when we go in October. Not sure if that's on all the time or just while we're there though.
    Capsule hotels make for a better story than experience, I wouldn't waste one of your nights if you've already paid for it.
    Definitely try out the washlet toilets.
  • Ror 25 Aug 2018 17:43:51 18,480 posts
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    Cheers for the suggestions, all. I'm out at the minute, but will reply to everything when I get back in :)
  • KnuttinAtoll 25 Aug 2018 19:52:00 7,134 posts
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    Odaiba (going across Rainbow Bridge) where the Ferris wheel is is worth a walkabout. Toyota showroom is worth it if you're into cars and it's free.

    Park Hyatt hotel bar - not cheap at all but so worth it for them Lost in Translation vibes. For fun time make it Santory time!
  • One_Vurfed_Gwrx 25 Aug 2018 20:16:46 3,482 posts
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    I wonder if Kawasaki Warehouse is still open. Used to be a cool arcade modelled around the Kowloon walled city and had some cool retro stuff but was worth it for the vibe. The nearby temples are rather 'colourful' too, particularly if you happen to be there for the festival...
  • wobbly_Bob 26 Aug 2018 08:32:13 5,086 posts
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    No expert on Japan nor have I ever been. You may have read that, I too, will be in Japan soon. some things that maybe helpful that I found out on researching my trip to Tokyo.

    Most ATMs don't accept foreign cards. The ones in the post office, 7-11, lawsons, major train stations and airports will though. Something to bear in mind if you are planning to withdraw money from cash machines. list of places where foreign cards work

    A few helpful websites!

    Japan Guide for general advice about Japan. It coveres a wide base of things from etiquette, travel, places to vist, and lots more.

    Still on the subject of money, despite the love of technology Japan is still a cash based society. A lot of the things you will do will be pain in case.

    Tokyo Cheapo As you can imagine this is a guide for the budget minded in Tokyo.

    Have a great trip!

    Edited by wobbly_Bob at 08:33:33 26-08-2018
  • Nielzor 26 Aug 2018 09:22:37 478 posts
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    If you are into mythology and countrysidey stuff, Mount Takao is easily accessible from Tokyo via the Keio line and an amazing place famous supposedly for tengu. There are a variety of routes up the mountain and a cable car if you can't be arsed. Lots of lovely temples on the way up. You can see Mount Fuji from the peak on a clear day. I used to go all the time when I lived there.
  • Dirtbox 26 Aug 2018 10:25:36 91,097 posts
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    I have a lot of friends who live there, the general consensus is fuck Tokyo, go to Osaka or Kyoto instead.
  • splosh 26 Aug 2018 11:15:29 296 posts
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    If you want to try some Japanese craft beers iíd ĎRecommendí Pump in Ikebukuro. Theyíve got quite a nice selection of beer from around Japan. The owners a really nice guy too.

    Asakusa is a good shout, Yokohama too. Iíd get some mosquito repellant over there, you could be lucky and avoid them but theyíre annoying buggers.

    Try some Yakitori when youíre there, Torikizoku is quite good, cheap too. Also look out for nomihodai (all you can drink) or tabehodai ( all you can eat ) restaurants.

    Iíd recommend the horror themed izakaya in Kichijoji if you want cute girls dressed as ghosts to serve you beer and stuff. Also Kichijoji has quite a few cool bars and itís close to Mitaka where the Ghibli museum is. Thereís a nice mountain near there too.

    I lived in Tokyo for two years so if you need a hand with anything send me on a message.
  • Dizzy 26 Aug 2018 11:30:09 3,709 posts
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    Dirtbox wrote:
    I have a lot of friends who live there, the general consensus is fuck Tokyo, go to Osaka or Kyoto instead.
    Indeed... Osaka much much more interested place. Been there so many times. I am always bored in Tokyo.
  • KnuttinAtoll 26 Aug 2018 11:31:52 7,134 posts
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    Dirtbox wrote:
    I have a lot of friends who live there, the general consensus is fuck Tokyo, go to Osaka or Kyoto instead.
    That's a bit like travelling to the UK and skipping on London. Tokyo is still a great city to visit, lots of stuff to do and see. Kyoto is nice if you can ignore the tourist hordes but can be done in a day or two. Never been to Osaka (been in JP 4 times since 2003) and never felt the need to go to be honest as it seems quite industrial. Maybe a contender if you've done the other cities already, for successive trips.
  • Load_2.0 26 Aug 2018 11:32:00 29,324 posts
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    Be careful on public transport! I have seen a lot of documentaries about groping school girls and secretaries. It all gets very messy.
  • Not-a-reviewer 26 Aug 2018 11:40:53 5,700 posts
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    If you go to Tokyo tower on a weekday fairly large there are no queues. The view is decent but probably no better than going to the top of a tall hotel.

    Tokyo is great but you'll see pretty much everything in about 4 days, you can get to mount fuji and back in a day which is worth doing.
  • aaron0288 26 Aug 2018 11:57:45 636 posts
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    Dirtbox wrote:
    I have a lot of friends who live there, the general consensus is fuck Tokyo, go to Osaka or Kyoto instead.
    Agree to an extent. While Iím sure there were many other interesting things to do, we found a couple of days were plenty in Tokyo, more so because of how busy it was and it felt the least ďJapaneseĒ place we visited, if you get what I mean.

    Shibuya and Shinjuku are where we based ourselves from. Did the capsule hotel. Definitely agree itís a better story to tell than experience haha! Robot restaurant was a laugh but very expensive. Toho cinema was a cool place to go see a film. The Godzilla statue lights up and roars at night. Was interesting to walk round the red light district. Lots of African guys trying to get you to go into places that will charge you an arm and a leg once youíre in and charge you to leave! So avoid at all costs. Fun having a bit of banter with them though.

    Osaka and Kyoto are great. Lots of temples in Kyoto and youíve got the bamboo forest too in Arashiyama, although pretty busy most of the time. Still worth a visit though. Boat ride down the river there is relaxing and thereís also the climb up to see the monkeys.

    Osaka aquarium is a must visit, as is Universal Studios Japan. Especially when they have their Halloween horror nights on. Street food in city of Osaka is great too.

    If you are going to just stay in Tokyo for this trip though, donít bother with a JR rail pass. Only worth it if you do venture to Kyoto/Osaka/Hiroshima on the bullet trains.

    People over there keep to themselves mostly but are only too happy to help if you need it. Outside of Tokyo, but then saying that, even in Tokyo, not many people speak a great deal of English, but we got by just fine by being a bit animated or just pointing at pictures of things!

    And yeah, weather will be hot and humid out there still, day and night. Itís a great country to visit though and Iím jealous. I want to go back!
  • uiruki 26 Aug 2018 12:01:43 4,816 posts
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    As someone who has lived in Japan for a few years, I recommend that you check the weather before going to Kyoto. Itís an absolute fucker in the summer with both high heat and humidity - the high today is 35 degrees. In Tokyo there are plenty of places to hide from the heat and there are still plenty of day trips you can do. The walk from Kamakura station to the big Buddha is a good one.

    I liked Osaka, the food is good, thereís less of a veneer to everything if that bothers you and itís not a bad walking city (though there are more stretches of nothingness than I expected). If you like the Yakuza series then checking out both Doutonbori and Shinsekai is recommended as theyíre quite close to one another, with Den Den Town just down the road.

    You might want to consider the north too, I spent a day in Nikko last time I was in Japan, albeit off season, and though there was a fair bit of stuff closed off it was still worth the time and energy.
  • wobbly_Bob 26 Aug 2018 13:22:31 5,086 posts
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    Great thread for me! Getting some good ideas. kawagoe looks amazing. That's a definite day trip while I am in Tokyo!!!
  • Deleted user 26 August 2018 13:55:24
    @uiruki there are... other reasons to go to Dōtonbori ;)
  • Navi 26 Aug 2018 13:59:53 279 posts
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    I'm the other way around, been to Osaka enough times, doesn't really offer much to me now, but Tokyo always has more to do.
  • Ror 26 Aug 2018 14:00:33 18,480 posts
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    Right, last night turned into a bit of a session so I didn't get home 'til late. I'm just going through the thread now and will reply to everything, thanks everyone!
  • Ror 26 Aug 2018 15:15:48 18,480 posts
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    Ok. Let's go.

    Uiruki:

    Ah, thanks. I think it was actually Sky Tree I was thinking of, and got confused between that and Tokyo Tower. I might check that out then. Have you been to the observation Deck in the Metropolitan Government Building? I'm looking to go there for a couple of reasons; one being that it's free, the other being that the Citadel from FFXV was based on it and I am obviously a massive FF nerd.

    As for Yokohama or Kawagoe, I might look into those a bit more - I hadn't really considered heading out of Tokyo on this trip, as it was all a bit last minute anyway. I'm probably going to be a bit money constrained as well, so I'll have to see if it's possible. And thanks for the Tabelog and Kakaku tips, that's really helpful. I'm just taking a look at the former now.

    As for TGS, I had completely forgotten that it's on in September! Unfortunately, having checked the dates, I return before it starts. A friend of mine that used to live out there went a few times and said it was always absolutely crazy with people.

    Yoyogi Park was actually on my to-do list, so walking through from Shibuya to Shinjuku sounds like a good idea. Ideally, I want to spend as little time on the metro as possible, though I know Tokyo is obviously a huge place. I don't suppose there's any kind of daily limit on the Suica card like there is on Oyster Card, is there? I'm wondering how much to top it up with daily - I think I'll start off with a few thousand yen and just see how I go. Also, I don't have an iPhone, so Apple Pay is out the window!

    As for giving it a go wrt communicating, that's the plan. I always at least try when I go abroad, and to be honest, I probably know a bit more Japanese than I do, say, Spanish :D I certainly wouldn't be able to hold a conversation, but hopefully I should be able to get by.

    And thanks for the food/drink tips offer. I will likely take you up on that, especially if you know of anything that can help me keep the cost down.
  • Ror 26 Aug 2018 15:15:56 18,480 posts
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    Navi:

    Thanks! I've been looking on Google Maps this afternoon, checking out routes etc. Nearest station to where I'm staying is Rokugodote, so it looks like I'll be jumping on the Keikyu Main Line to Shinagawa, then changing to the Yamanote there. I think most of the places I want to hit are on that line, but I'm always open to more suggestions that aren't served by the Yamanote.

    Honestly, this is kind of a trip of a lifetime kind of thing. I've wanted to go to Tokyo for about 25 years and it's actually happening now! I was supposed to go back in March 2010 but had to cancel at pretty much the last minute due to ill health, so now I'm finally making it out there. My flight was actually booked for the day the Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami happened, as well. Was kind of crazy waking up to see that on the news.

    Anyway, rambled a bit there, sorry :D Thanks for the hyperdia link, that looks like it'll come in very handy!

    Nazo:

    Asakusa was actually where I was looking at staying first of all, but I ended up just grabbing a cheaper air bnb close-ish to Haneda. I'd like to at least see Sky Tree, even if I don't go in due to queues. I'd quite like to go to Sensoji though, and I might head to Ueno as well.

    I was thinking much the same about capsule hotels - I wouldn't mind doing it just to say I have, but I'm not going to pay for a night I've already paid for somewhere else. I'd rather spend the money on something else. Might be something to do when I go back next year, as I'll be with a group and it'll be a bit less structured in terms of accommodation.

    KnuttinAtol:

    I've never heard of the rainbow bridge, but now I'm thinking of the Bifrost :D I will have to look this up.

    Ok, that looks pretty cool! I'll add Odaiba to the list to have a closer look at. And I love the Lost in Translation-style suggestion, haha. I'll have to see how I'm doing for money :D

    Damn it, now I'm probably going to watch Lost in Translation again tonight.

    One_Vurfed_Gwrx

    Kawasaki Warehouse sounds very cool, I'll look into that.
  • Ror 26 Aug 2018 15:15:59 18,480 posts
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    wobbly_Bob:

    Cheers Bob, a lot of useful information there. I knew about the foreign cards thing - I was actually looking on Street View to see where my nearest 7-11 is earlier :D I'm going to take mainly cash anyway, as I've previously heard most places won't accept card payment, but I'll have it with me just in case. I don't really want to keep getting stung for transaction fees either.

    Japan Guide and Tokyo Cheapo sound very useful, so thanks for those! I'm going to be looking at them this evening.

    And cheers, hope you have a great trip too! When are you going? And I assume you are going strictly to explore the likes of Mos Burger, Lotteria and Freshness Burger? ;)

    Nielzor:

    That sounds great, I'm definitely going to look into Mt Takao. I'd really like to experience something like that while I'm out there, if time/money permits. Thanks!


    Dirtbox:

    A mate of mine says the same. I'll be going to Osaka and Kyoto next year when I return with a group of friends - one of them being the aforementioned mate. His sister lived in Tokyo for about five years, so he went out there a few times. He's only been to Osaka the once, but said he preferred it to Tokyo. Looking forward to checking both out next year.

    As above though, heading out to Tokyo has been pretty much a lifelong dream, and I can't wait.

    Load_2.0

    Luckily I am neither a secretary or schoolgirl, so I reckon I'll be alright. I'll keep my eyes open though!

    aaron0288:

    One of my mates that I'll be going with next year really wants to go to the robot restaurant, so I guess I'll see that then. As for the red light district, I guess you mean Kabukicho? I am going to avoid it this time, but wouldn't mind checking it out when I go back with a group, even just to walk through it - mainly because Yakuza's Kamurocho is based on it :D

    And yeah, I've been keeping an eye on the weather out there at the moment, and I expect it to be pretty hot. Can't be helped though, and this was all booked pretty last minute. I'll just have to deal with it!

    ______


    Ok, I think that's everything so far. Thanks again for all the replies, there's some really useful stuff here for me to look into. And thanks also for the recommendations/info for things to do outside of Tokyo, I'll definitely come back to that stuff for next year's trip.
  • fontgeeksogood 26 Aug 2018 15:25:37 6,052 posts
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    Apparently it's nigh on impossible for us honkeys to get laid in Kabukicho. But a really ugly person told me that
  • IMO 26 Aug 2018 15:47:17 6,949 posts
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    fontgeeksogood wrote:
    Apparently it's nigh on impossible for us honkeys to get laid in Kabukicho. But a really ugly person told me that
    Pretty sure at least one poster here has some interesting stories to the contrary...

    Still, probably for the best to be honest. Not a massive fan of the Yakuza.
  • wobbly_Bob 26 Aug 2018 15:57:38 5,086 posts
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    Ror wrote:
    wobbly_Bob:

    Cheers Bob, a lot of useful information there. I knew about the foreign cards thing - I was actually looking on Street View to see where my nearest 7-11 is earlier :D I'm going to take mainly cash anyway, as I've previously heard most places won't accept card payment, but I'll have it with me just in case. I don't really want to keep getting stung for transaction fees either.

    Japan Guide and Tokyo Cheapo sound very useful, so thanks for those! I'm going to be looking at them this evening.

    And cheers, hope you have a great trip too! When are you going? And I assume you are going strictly to explore the likes of Mos Burger, Lotteria and Freshness Burger? ;)
    Glad the suggestions were useful! Obviously I have looked at one or two buger places :D I would really like to try a wagu burger. Although I'm torn because there's so much great Japanese food that I want to try and I can get a burger here anytime... maybe just one!

    I was looking at the trip to Kawagoe and it's cheap. It's costs only between £4.13*Ė£4.69! To get there it's between 30 mins to an hr to get there. I think whatever you end up doing you should get out of the city at least once. Just like London where I live isn't really representative of the UK because it's very different. That's probably true of most big cities in the world. Some of the best things I have seen and done are outside London.

    Looking on the Tokyo Cheapo website today they have a list of 25 day trips from Tokyo. The trouble is I now want to do about 20 of them.

    Here's the link https://tokyocheapo.com/entertainment/easy-day-trips-from-tokyo/

    Another good YouTube channel is "Only in Japan" If I see any other cool thing that I think you may like I'll post it up.
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