Discovering Tokyo

So you want to visit Tokyo: It’s the city I love most! I love how gorgeous the buildings are, the abundance of lush trees that surrounds the city, the freshness of the food, the amazing things I can get from its stores and the cool things I can find at every turn. To show my love to the city, I’ve been visiting it 10 times for the past 5 years and now, I’m even studying in the city!

Anyway. Since I’ve a lot of people visiting this blog for ideas on visiting Tokyo, I’ve also receive requests that I make it easier to read because there are just too many posts. So lo and behold,discovering Tokyo in a nutshell!

Briefly Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan, a bustling metropolis with a population of 1.3 million (the most populous in the world). A village, then castle town that became the nation’s political and cultural center. Over years it faced earthquakes, fires and air raids and survived, continuously evolving to become the Tokyo we know today — city of bright lights and skyscrapers, technologically advanced and highly developed, yet still deeply rooted in its culture.

OMGGG there’s so much that this city can offer you, I don’t know where to begin!

Just to make it clear, this blog records my point of view and experiences, so it’s not exactly a comprehensive traveling guide. It’s impossible to feed you with every info, like the temperatures during a certain time or the list of train lines that you can use to get to one place or help you craft an itinerary (if you pay me I may just do that) 😆

I recommend that you get yourself a Tokyo travel guide from Kinokuniya to read about the city before coming, to better prepare yourself and so you’d appreciate your trip more. If not, read the many sources on traveling to Tokyo online.

Places to go

Oooh this is a long one. Check out this page.

Things to do

Here are the things you can do in Tokyo. I’ll refine on them more later ok!

  • Dining
  • Fun
  • Museum-hopping
  • Sightseeing
  • Shopping

Accommodations

Where should you stay in Tokyo? It’s always tricky to answer. It really depends on your preferences. There are a couple of things you might want to consider, like the cost (highly dependent on the area), accessibility and its surroundings or attractions.

Tokyo is generally a safe city, so wherever you land, you’ll be in good hands. To get an idea on where to stay, look up the booking websites like Expedia and Booking.com, as well as Airbnb and narrow your choices to the areas that you think you’d visit more. Consider:

  • Its distance to the nearest train station and the line
    • Pick those near the JR Yamanote line if you’re planning to use the JR Rail Pass
    • Pick those near the Tokyo Metro subway lines if you’re planning to use the Tokyo Metro pass
  • Its distance to the attractions that you want to visit
  • The number of times you have to change lines to get to airport

Just so you know, hotels in Tokyo are relatively small (because land is scarce in the city) and generally, they charge per person instead of per night.

Read my posts on the places I’ve stayed in Tokyo here.

Commuting

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In Tokyo, you take the public transportation. There are cabs, buses and trains, but the most convenient yet cost-efficient, IMO, is traveling on the train. Because the rail network is so vast, going from one place to another is very easy, although it can also be very confusing at first. Read Japan Guide’s brief post and Tsunagu Japan’s concise post for an orientation of Tokyo’s public transportation system.

To make traveling easier with the train easier, you can also:

  • Study JR Yamanote Line (because it’s the easiest to live by) and the Tokyo Metro network
  • Get a JR Rail pass (if you’re planning to also travel outside of Tokyo) or Tokyo Metro pass to travel
  • Learn how to navigate from one place to another on Hyperdia and install its app
  • Get yourself a Suica or Pasmo card (read about it here)
  • Travel during non-peak hours
  • Leave your luggages inside the lockers at the train station (read about it here)

Psst. If you’re taking AirAsia to Tokyo and scheduled to arrived at Haneda International Airport late read here.

Going online

Though being hi-tech and all… it’s not easy to find free wifi hotspots in Tokyo (in some ways KL is cooler). The airports and metro stations provide free wifi, but don’t expect any other Starbucks to have it. So if you want to keep connected, you’ve to think about ways for it.

Options:

  • Purchase prepaid sim cards at major electronics store
  • Rent pocket wifi from KL

I can travel without mobile line, but not data. Who can live without internet these days?! Assuming that you’re the same, I say what you need most to keep connected in Japan is just a pocket wifi, so that you can go online wherever whenever, connecting multiple devices at top speed. The post on the service that I recommend with all details are here.

Things to take note

Walking around

  • Walk on the left side, wherever you are and especially when you’re not is a rush
  • Queue properly
  • Keep your rubbish and dispose them at your accommodation since chances of finding a rubbish bins in public is slim (you’ll just see recycling bins)

Commuting

  • Be on time, else you’ll miss the bus and train since everything here is on time
  • Leave priority seats for those who need it
  • Refrain from talking loudly when you’re commuting on public transportation
  • Refrain from talking on the phone, too
  • Make sure your kids behave

Shopping

  • Refrain from haggling or asking for discounts, just… don’t

Dining

  • When you’re eating at chain restaurants, clean up the table and return the tray to the designated counter
  • Place your bags on the shelf or baskets provided, refrain from putting it on the seat next to you, especially when it’s a shared table

Suggestions to make this better? Email me.