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Thread: Travel to Tokyo

  1. #1
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    Question Travel to Tokyo

    Whoopeeee!!!! Im planning a trip to Japan!!!! Im super excited, and also somewhat clueless as to what Im getting myself into. Thinking of going around December 9-23 ish, dates are flexible based on ticket price.

    Im looking for advice, please. Any personal experience, tips, suggestions, stories, dos & donts, etc. , would be really helpful.
    ~ This is the strangest life I've ever known ~

  2. #2

    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Pick a Tokyo neighborhood for your hotel, some area that has many of the things you are interested in. (Shopping? Sightseeing? Nightlife? History?) Find something close to the Yamanote Line, and that train will get you all over town. (We stayed in Ikebukuro, fwiw.)

    Do you want a hotel with fanciness and a lot of amenities? That can get pricey. But if you expect to be out-and-about most of the time and just need a comfortable place to crash overnight, consider a "businessmen's" hotel. They are small but clean, affordable, safe, and will provide you with your basic needs. (And you can always splurge for a night or two someplace fancier, or even at a ryokan.)

    Be adventurous in your eating. When else will you get the chance?

    Test out your Nihongo skills; don't be shy or ashamed, as most Japanese will be pleased at your efforts - and you'll find enough English-language signs and speakers to accommodate you.

    Be prepared for Christmas-display overload. The Japanese LOVE the celebration of Christmas, even though most are not Christians.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Thanks Leo!!

    The major purpose of this trip is for me to be able to practice the Japanese that Ive been learning. Basically, the cheaper I can get lodging for, the longer Ill be able to stay there, and I intend to spend as much time as possible out on the streets listening to and talking to anyone that will let me. No fancy, no amenities.
    ~ This is the strangest life I've ever known ~

  4. #4

    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Quote Originally Posted by turtlegirl View Post
    Im looking for advice, please. Any personal experience, tips, suggestions, stories, dos & donts, etc. , would be really helpful.
    First off, make sure you have the required travel documents (passport), and check with the Embassy for the most current information. Get those needs under control, then work on shopping, etc., as a secondary list to tackle.
    Travel, how fun for you!
    Now run along and play, but don’t get into trouble.

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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Quote Originally Posted by turtlegirl View Post
    Whoopeeee!!!! Im planning a trip to Japan!!!! Im super excited, and also somewhat clueless as to what Im getting myself into. Thinking of going around December 9-23 ish, dates are flexible based on ticket price.

    Im looking for advice, please. Any personal experience, tips, suggestions, stories, dos & donts, etc. , would be really helpful.
    My son is a doctor and works with his g/f who is also a doctor in Kyito (hope I've spelled it write?) They work in an ER, live in a cheap wood house, work the clock around and then go backpacing..

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    one thing I learned when I went to Japan was to not act like an American, a Westerner. I learned very quickly that I was in THEIR country - it was a hard lesson but very worthwhile for while I was there and while continuing on with my life.
    "Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be."
    – Sydney J. Harris

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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Hmm. Don't mule drugs and don't try to use squat toliets while drunk. Yes, I know I'm oh-so-helpful. But seriously, how awesome that you get to go! What an adventure! Are you going alone or is the boyfriend going too? My dad has to go to Tokyo twice a year for business, so I'll ask him if he has any recommendations.

    Can't think of anything creative this time


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    SG is right about the toilets - those can be brutal!

    I got to spend a month there and saw so many beautiful sights. I hope you get the same opportunities that I had. Have a wonderful trip!
    "Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be."
    – Sydney J. Harris

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Call Matt Porth at Discount Air for the best in ticket prices. Really. This is not an ad...he's been helping our family with excellent air travel prices for more than 25 years.
    (808) 591 8261

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Thanks everyone! Im going alone, unless I can convince anyone to come with me.

    Squat toilets? Thats gonna be exactly what it sounds like, isnt it. What happened to those fancy Japanese style bidets with the heated seats?
    ~ This is the strangest life I've ever known ~

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    you will only find those in the very nice hotels! other places - they're often "squat" style, and often UNISEX! Be prepared to have to adjust your reality a bit.
    "Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be."
    – Sydney J. Harris

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    I'm so excited for you! You're going to have the best time, and knowing even elementary Japanese will be helpful. Just be warned, even though you speak Japanese there will be some people who act like you're not speaking their language. They'll either speak English in reply or just act like they don't understand you. When I say "act" I don't mean they're trying to be rude or purposely snub you. But it's sort of an expectation thing -- when you're expecting a person to speak one language, and they speak a different language, it can really throw you off. I wrote about it in this blog entry: http://sophielynette.wordpress.com/2...eview-part-iii

    If you'll be staying in Tokyo, you'll be doing most of your traveling by subway. I didn't have much difficulty navigating the actual subway, but finding the right station can sometimes be tricky. Buy a good Tokyo map and Subway guide and you should be okay. I'd recommend getting a PASMO or SUICA subway card. Can be used on all the subways and above ground trains, and I believe on the busses as well. It doesn't save you any money like a 1-day pass, it just makes it easier than fumbling for correct fare all of the time.

    Keep a record of everything you buy and how much it cost. It'll make it so much easier to fill out the custom forms on your way home if you're not trying to remember prices.

    The squat toilets really aren't that bad. I tried one just for the novelty of it. Just remember to stand as far forward as you can and hold onto the pipe for balance. But really, everywhere I went had at least standard Western-style toilet alongside the squat toilet. Although it's advised to carry your own tissue paper because there might not always be some in the stalls. I also noticed a lot of public restrooms didn't have soap or paper towels, so you might want to bring a little bottle of hand sanitiser or a packet of wet wipes. My hostel had toilets with the fancy heated seats, and it was sooo wonderful in the early mornings!

    I stayed in two different places during my stay:

    The Khaosan Tokyo Annex in Asakusa
    http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/annex/
    Good price, good location, close to restaurants, subway stations, temples and an onsen. The staff were extremely nice and helpful. I stayed in one of the Cabin Beds which was very comfortable. This was the hostel with the heated toilets. Bathrooms and showers are shared. There was a 99 Yen store just a block down where I got my breakfast every morning. I enjoyed it.


    New Koyo
    http://www.newkoyo.com/
    A little more out of the way past Ueno but still near the train station. A single room there was cheaper than the cabin bed at Khaosan and had a television, free wi-fi and a futon bed, although the room was a bit chilly. Bathrooms and showers are shared and they also have their own onsen which was so nice to relax in at night. Staff was also extremely helpful.

    All of my blogs about my trip to Japan can be found here:
    http://sophielynette.wordpress.com/?s=japan

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    I'm so excited for you! You're going to have the best time, and knowing even elementary Japanese will be helpful. Just be warned, even though you speak Japanese there will be some people who act like you're not speaking their language. They'll either speak English in reply or just act like they don't understand you. When I say "act" I don't mean they're trying to be rude or purposely snub you. But it's sort of an expectation thing -- when you're expecting a person to speak one language, and they speak a different language, it can really throw you off. I wrote about it in this blog entry: http://sophielynette.wordpress.com/2...eview-part-iii

    If you'll be staying in Tokyo, you'll be doing most of your traveling by subway. I didn't have much difficulty navigating the actual subway, but finding the right station can sometimes be tricky. Buy a good Tokyo map and Subway guide and you should be okay. I'd recommend getting a PASMO or SUICA subway card. Can be used on all the subways and above ground trains, and I believe on the busses as well. It doesn't save you any money like a 1-day pass, it just makes it easier than fumbling for correct fare all of the time.

    Keep a record of everything you buy and how much it cost. It'll make it so much easier to fill out the custom forms on your way home if you're not trying to remember prices.

    The squat toilets really aren't that bad. I tried one just for the novelty of it. Just remember to stand as far forward as you can and hold onto the pipe for balance. But really, everywhere I went had at least standard Western-style toilet alongside the squat toilet. Although it's advised to carry your own tissue paper because there might not always be some in the stalls. I also noticed a lot of public restrooms didn't have soap or paper towels, so you might want to bring a little bottle of hand sanitiser or a packet of wet wipes. My hostel had toilets with the fancy heated seats, and it was sooo wonderful in the early mornings!

    I stayed in two different places during my stay:

    The Khaosan Tokyo Annex in Asakusa
    http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/annex/
    Good price, good location, close to restaurants, subway stations, temples and an onsen. The staff were extremely nice and helpful. I stayed in one of the Cabin Beds which was very comfortable. This was the hostel with the heated toilets. Bathrooms and showers are shared. There was a 99 Yen store just a block down where I got my breakfast every morning. I enjoyed it.


    New Koyo
    http://www.newkoyo.com/
    A little more out of the way past Ueno but still near the train station. A single room there was cheaper than the cabin bed at Khaosan and had a television, free wi-fi and a futon bed, although the room was a bit chilly. Bathrooms and showers are shared and they also have their own onsen which was so nice to relax in at night. Staff was also extremely helpful.

    All of my blogs about my trip to Japan can be found here:
    http://sophielynette.wordpress.com/?s=japan

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Thank you!! I love your blog! You have to tell me where the neko kissaten (cat cafe) was, because that place is at the top of my *things to see* list. All the guidebooks steer tourists to pretty much the same stuff. meh. And I checked out the places you stayed at online. Of the two, which was your favorite?
    ~ This is the strangest life I've ever known ~

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Back in my college days, I spent a summer travelling all over Japan by train. In large cities, you shouldn't have much problem communicating because many locals speak at least basic English, especially those in the service industry. Out in the country, few people speak English.

    One cost-saving tip is to skip the expensive restaurants in the fancy shopping districts. Duck into a mom-and-pop lunch counter tucked away down a side street or alley and you can find a reasonably priced bowl of udon, etc. Look for the noren curtains in the doorway or the chochin lanterns hanging outside that advertises the specialty of the house.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Quote Originally Posted by turtlegirl View Post
    Thank you!! I love your blog! You have to tell me where the neko kissaten (cat cafe) was, because that place is at the top of my *things to see* list. All the guidebooks steer tourists to pretty much the same stuff. meh. And I checked out the places you stayed at online. Of the two, which was your favorite?
    Not a problem! I hated how all of the guidebooks say the same basic thing. I tried to go to as many offbeat places as possible.

    The Cat Cafe was one of the places I got lost trying to find and had to step aside on the street and fumble with my map for a good ten minutes. If I remember correctly, when you leave Akihabara station, going straight, you'll reach one street, and then you want to turn right, and at the next intersection go left, and then right on the next street. So it's the second street over from the train station, running parallel to the tracks, on the right hand side of the street. You'll have to pay close attention to the buildings because it doesn't have a sign that sticks out or anything, but you'll know it right away because the door handle is shaped like a cat's paw. The Akihabara Wikitravel page gives this information:

    Neko JaLaLa (ねこJaLaLa), 東京都千代田区外神田3-5-5 1F (8 mins from Akihabara station: on the next main road west after Chuo-doori, about 7 or 8 blocks north of the Chuo railway line. Look for a brown sliding door with a cat's foot), ☎ 03-3258-2525 (shop@nekojalala.com), [13]. 11AM-7PM. A recent phenomenon in Tokyo has been the rise of 'cat cafes': you play with the shop's (very clean) cats while drinking tea. You'll be asked to remove your shoes and wash your hands on entry. You'll also be gently pressured to order one of their drinks. It's a different experience. ₯500 for first 30 minutes, then ₯150 for each ten minutes. Drinks are ₯300 to ₯500.

    Speaking of guidebooks, these are the two I took with me to Tokyo and found very useful:

    Tokyo Subway Guidebook


    Tokyo City Atlas



    As far as the places I stayed, they each had their pros and cons:

    Khaosan Tokyo Annex
    Pros:
    Good location -- lots of restaurants, 99 yen store, really beautiful temple and outdoor marketplace, onsen
    Free internet use in lobby with several computers
    Heated toilets
    Some free wi-fi
    Bike rental
    Kitchen w/stove, microwave, fridge, etc
    TV in lobby
    Helpful staff

    Cons:
    Difficult to find the first time
    Certain floors don't have wi-fi
    Private rooms more expensive

    New Koyo
    Pros:
    Easy to find
    Close to train station
    Helpful staff
    Free wi-fi in rooms
    TV in room
    Ofuro
    Futon bed available
    Single rooms affordable
    Kitchen with stove/microwave/sink/free tea!

    Cons:
    Rooms can be chilly
    Not as much around
    Single computer in lobby costs money after 15 min use



    I've always said that if I go back to Tokyo to visit I would stay in the New Koyo, because I like the atmosphere of it, especially the bath and futon, but I'm also really glad I stayed at the Khaosan because Asakusa is a wonderful neighborhood. Honestly, if you're staying more than a few days I recommend splitting your stay between multiple hotels, because that gives you a chance to experience more.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Hey, Sophie, what was the average price per night on those places? Are the prices quoted on their website fairly accurate, or do you have to call and ask about current prices? Both of your hotel recommendations sound really cool, and got me started on researching places to stay. I like your advice about moving around to multiple hotels!
    ~ This is the strangest life I've ever known ~

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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Even if you're on a diet - you MUST try the Japanese pastry shops! There is nothing like them. Those are one of my fondest memories of the food experiences I had there. and yes, try the simple little food places - they are very good. If a place looks clean & neat - try it
    "Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be."
    – Sydney J. Harris

  19. #19

    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Quote Originally Posted by sophielynette View Post
    Buy a good Tokyo map and Subway guide and you should be okay. I'd recommend getting a PASMO or SUICA subway card. Can be used on all the subways and above ground trains, and I believe on the busses as well. It doesn't save you any money like a 1-day pass, it just makes it easier than fumbling for correct fare all of the time.
    Assuming you will be flying into Narita airport, I would recommend spending a little more and taking the Narita Express into Tokyo. You'll save a lot of time and hassle compared to taking the regular train. Plus, they have a Suica & NEX special. I did this the last time and you spend 3500 yen for about 5000 yen's worth of service.

    Suica is basically one of two smart card forms of transit payment. Too bad our The Bus hasn't reached that level of sophistication yet. Not fumbling for change is a godsend when you are lugging baggage around.

    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/suica_nex.html

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    i think you'll find this website to be helpful: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e623.html

    lots of info and links; i think a good hostel is the way to go; u get to meet a lot of interesting travellers...

    of course, keep a detailed journal and take tons of digital pics; i'm sure you'll have a very memorable time
    525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Quote Originally Posted by anapuni808 View Post
    Even if you're on a diet - you MUST try the Japanese pastry shops! [...]
    I think I can safely say TG isn't on a diet and can safely devour all the great Japanese pastries she'd like. I think I'll hate on her for that!

    Have 2 for me, TG!

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Quote Originally Posted by tutusue View Post
    I think I can safely say TG isn't on a diet and can safely devour all the great Japanese pastries she'd like. I think I'll hate on her for that!
    Hahahahaha!! Its okay, hate away. Its not my fault! My parents were a twig and a willow tree! Oh, and I think Im part stork from somewhere in the family tree....
    ~ This is the strangest life I've ever known ~

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Travel to Tokyo

    Here's some info on the toliet situation for ya.

    Can't think of anything creative this time


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