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Tokyo in April - any suggestions? and some Qs. Newbie :)

Travel Forums Asia Tokyo in April - any suggestions? and some Qs. Newbie :)

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1. Posted by gracev (Budding Member 6 posts) 7y

Hi :)

I'm a F/20s/Texas

Going to Tokyo for 2 weeks in early April with my bestfriend, another 20s/F.

Any suggestions on places we must visit?

Shrines, temples, museums, quirky shops, manga cafes, day trips to outlying areas, clubs, restaurants, etc?

Directions, cost estimates, subway lines, etc, are very appreciated!

Any tips on the best way to carry money? I've heard cash is best, but I don't really want to carry all my money in cash. I'm scared I'll lose it when I'm out boozing at night

Any idea how to find out what concerts are going on and where I can purchase tickets?

Any info on how best to visit Mt. Fuji?

Jsyk, we don't speak Japanese. We've been using some learning tools and have some of the basics down, but nothing impressive

Thanks!

2. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 768 posts) 7y

For gigs in Japan try this great website that has all of Japans best underground bands on it. it is at myspace and followed by /japanfiles
Check out bo-peep, they are one of my faves!

3. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

Are you just planning on staying in Tokyo, or going elsewhere. Kyoto is only a few hours away by train, and they have some really nice temples there.

Here's some advice from my trip to Japan.

Tokyo

In Tokyo, I mostly just wandered around and saw the city. It’s an amazingly large place and always crowded, but it can be a lot of fun. I was staying in Ginza, which is a high-end shopping district to the south-east of Tokyo train station, but I don’t think it really matters where you stay as all areas are pretty accessible by Tokyo metro.

In a big city, it’s always a good idea to get yourself up high to get a view of the place. The Tokyo Tower (Eiffel tower look-a-like) or Tokyo City View, both close to the Akasaka / Roppongi area both offer views, but both cost money. Instead, head to the Municipal Building to the west of Shinjuku station, where you can get up high and get a view of Tokyo for no cost. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see Mount Fuji, though I never did due to either overcast skies or hazy smog.

Also to the west of Shinjuku is the Shinjuku NS building with it’s amazing 30 story atrium and the Park Hyatt hotel, which is a good place to go for some expensive drinks with a great view. It’s the same hotel featured in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.

To the east of Shinjuku is some great discount shopping, as well as the red light district and the area called the Golden Gai. The Golden Gai is a number of really small alleys filled with bars that many Japanese hit after work. However, a number of places are private clubs or don’t allow foreigners inside. Those that do allow foreigners usually charge a cover charge and pricey drinks. It’s interesting to see, but may not be a great place to drink every night.

Money

The Japanese use the Yen (¥). There are both notes and coins. Most likely, you’ll see 1000, 5000 and 10000 yen notes. ATMs (see below), mostly give out 10000 yen notes. Coins come in denominations of 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. All notes and coins are marked with the denomination of the bill or coin with the exception of the 5 Yen coin, which is bronze with a hole in the middle.

ATMs are plentiful, but most are not hooked up to the International networks, meaning that you can’t get money. For international travellers, the best choice is to find an international bank. Citibank was the most common. Also, the postal service has ATMs that are hooked into the international network, though those are only open during the postal office hours. Look for ATMs with English instructions, or ask at the TIC or your hotel where the nearest international ATM is.

Credit cards are not widely used, and even most hotels expect cash payments.

Getting Around

For subways, the price of your ride depends on how far you are going. There will be a map indicating the cost from the current station to all the stations in the system. Carry your city map with you, as it includes an English subway map and could come in handy if the station’s map isn’t in English. When you enter the subway, you put your ticket in the gate and retrieve it. When you exit the subway at your destination, the gate will accept your ticket and keep it. Don’t worry if you didn’t put enough on your ticket. All subway exits will have a place to add additional value to your ticket so you can exit.

There are day passes and stored value cards that could be of value if you are travelling a lot on the subways.

I took the bus in Kyoto and the tram in Hiroshima, and they had a similar system. You purchase a ticket and get on the bus or tram. Upon exiting, you present your ticket at a machine by the driver and exit.

If you want to read some other advice, you can check out my trip report on my blog by following this link.

4. Posted by gracev (Budding Member 6 posts) 7y

thanks, both of you! :)

5. Posted by zachary (Respected Member 471 posts) 7y

Hey there, I just stayed in Tokyo for 5 days, I ended up spending about $4000 USD (not including the flight)

Some notes:
- I went out wandering the streets everyday, little bit shopping, etc
- I took taxi's 100% of the time (taxi meter starts at approx $7.50 USD)
- Every night I went out to the bars in Kabuki-cho and Roppongi, out drinking til like 5-6am each night
- My hotel was about $125/night (new city hotel, kinda sucked)

Also, my only suggestions to you is:

1. research everything, where you want to go, what you'd like to do (ur doing this now I guess hehe)
2. maybe even hire a local guide
3. EAT the sushi!!!! It's far better than anywhere else (of course)
4. Try stick with trains, those taxi's got so expensive, I sometimes spent $100+/day in just taxi fee's alone
5. Maybe even try to learn a few common Japanese language terms

Good luck and ENJOY!!!!! I was there alone also so that was a huge downfall for me, I met a Japanese girl and her exbf on my last night there in Tokyo that live there and ended up really could've improved my trip if I'd found them early on during my trip

6. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

Wow, that's a lot of money!

I ended up spending about $100 - $120 a day for the time I was in Japan (in 2006).

A few cost saving tips:

  • Book accommodations through the TIC, and you can find stuff in your price range. I generally spent about $40 a day on hotels, capsule hotel, ryokans, etc.
  • I ate cheaper at breakfast and lunch. I would often get food from stalls, counter restaurants or convenience stores, and then have a nice dinner. I did do Sushi at the Tsukiji fish market for breakfast one day as a splash out, though.
  • If you are travelling outside of Tokyo, check out a JR rail pass. They can be a great deal. The JR rail pass allows unlimited travel on any Japan Rail service for a period of time (either 7, 14 or 21 day). It is only available to international travellers on a tourist visa, and must be purchased overseas.
  • Drinking is EXPENSIVE there, especially in bars and clubs. I would often grab a few drinks at a store, drink a few in my room and then not have many when I was out.

Cheers,
Greg

7. Posted by gracev (Budding Member 6 posts) 7y

wow zach, big spender! i want to stretch 4k over 2 weeks! so, I'll probably avoid taxis for the most part... but the info you shared is very helpful. thanks.

Greg - thanks for the good tips! Did you find a hotel when you arrived in Tokyo? I was thinking I'd book it in advance, b/c the last thing I want is to arrive in Tokyo and not have a place to go... or book a hotel that ends up being shady. So, JRail passes are not available to US tourists? B/c we don't have tourist visas...

8. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

I did book a hotel for my arrival in Tokyo. If you want to book one, there are a number of places to do so (I booked hotels from travellerspoint.com for Osaka and Marriott for Tokyo (a splash-out)), but a good place to check is International Tourist Center of Japan, which runs the Tourist Information Centers. I booked a couple of hotels through the TICs, and they are really useful.

JR rail passes are available for US tourists, but you need to get in the USA before you leave. You will be visiting on a tourist visa, you just don't need to get it ahead of time. For JR rail pass info, check out JR Rail Pass. There are a number of places to pick them up. I picked up mine in New Jersey, even though I am a Canadian.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Jan-2009, at 16:15 by GregW ]

9. Posted by gracev (Budding Member 6 posts) 7y

thanks, Greg. You're awesome.

10. Posted by weeleeann (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

Hi!!

My husband and i went to Japan on honeymoon in September and had the best time!!

Where do I start??

Places to visit.

Ginza District
Full of designer shops (as is most of Tokyo) but great to window shop!!
You must visit the Sapporo beer hall for the experience!! The staff are fantastic and it's so amazing how the staff all work!

Ropongi District
This is amazing during the day for a visit and their is a tower at Ropongi Hills with an indoor viewing platform which looks over the whole of Tokyo. There is also an aquarium at the top!
Just be careful in this district at night especially with 2 girls as i found that there were a lot of non Japanese men who were quite sleazy trying to get you into the clubs/ strip bars.

Asakusa
You really have to experience a traditional Japanese Ryokan. It's set up as a traditional inn and you can have breakfast and dinner for extra cost which is worth it! Also traditional tea set etc set up in the room. Unfortunately i cannot recall the name of it but if i remember i will let you know!!

Tsukiji fish market
This was more my husbands cup of tea but really great to see. We had jet lag and ended up here on our first morning at 6.00am!! We had our breakfast (if you could call it that!) i had Chicken Yakitori as i don't eat fish but it came with all the trimmings and Colin had raw fish!!

Shibuya
Take a seat at the starbucks on the 1st floor opposite the station (Best service i've ever had in a Starbucks!) and watch the busiest crossings!! It's amazing!! Also right next to that is the 109 shopping centre which is about 10 floors of boutiques!!

Oh there is so much and i am jealous that you are going and I am not!

There is loads more which i can't think of at the moment but you'll have the best time!

Cash

I would recommend travellers cheques and cash as until you find one and stick to it - it's difficult to find an ATM. That was with my UK card anyway. Most of the major hotels will cash your cheques for you.

Mount Fuji

If you plan just to visit and not climb then check the weather forecast otherwise you could be wasting your time.

We passed it on the Shinkansen to Osaka and the inspector could tell us to the minute when we were passing although hardly seen a thing as it was cloudy.

Finally with the Japanese. Learn a few words such as please, thank you, good morning - the usual.

The japanese people are really happy if you can at least try!

Sorry if this is a bit long winded but hopefully it has been helpful!