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Tokyo, a bustling metropolis aglow with neon lights, is an image of the throughly modern Japan. With 31 million people living in Tokyo and the surrounding towns, the Greater Tokyo Area is the largest metropolitan areas in the world. While these large number of inhabitants can be overwhelming for the traveller at first, especially if trying to take a train at rush hour, Tokyo is one of the safest large cities to travel in. And while Tokyo may seem all glass, steel and neon at first, digging deep can reveal treasures from Japan's historic past.
The Tokyo metropolis consists of 23 city wards (ku), 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages, including the outlying Izu and Ogasawara Islands. Listed below are some of the most popular neighbourhoods for travellers.
The original boomtown in Tokyo, Shinjuku has some of Tokyo's earliest skyscrapers, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. A centre for shopping, the area boasts many major department stores and electronics stores, and on the east side of Shinjuku Station, the golden gai has many bars and nightclubs, though a number of places are private clubs or don’t allow foreigners inside. Shinjuku Station moves an estimated three million passengers a day, making it the busiest in the world.
Where Tokyo's youth go to shop and show off, offering travellers a chance to people watch and the wild fashions of the Japan's hipster. The scramble crossing outside of the Shibuya station Hachiko exist is the world's busiest street crossing, and nearby is the statue of Hachiko, a dog who met his owner every day at the train station, even after his masters death. The devotion of the dog, who returned every day to the station to wait for 11 years after his masters death inspired the Japanese, and also provides a common meeting place.
Akasaka offers many hotels and restaurants close to the active night life in Roppongi.
Where Japan's high end consumers come to do their shopping, Ginza offers department stores, upscale shops selling brand-name goods and some of city's finest and most expense restaurants.
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If you want to see bright lights, Akihabara is the place to go. This part of the city is most famous for its numerous electronics stores selling all kinds of gadgets and gizmos. More recently, however, it has become known as the 'otaku' centre of Tokyo. 'Otaku' is basically a sub culture of society made up of both young and old anime and manga lovers. Add to that the maid cafes where gents can go for a cup of coffee while being treated like a king and it's safe to say that Akihabara has firmly placed itself as the capital for animation and electronic fans in Tokyo.
Harajuku is the centre of teenage culture in Japan.
Odaiba is a futuristic shopping and entertainment district.
The Asakusa district is a good place to get a feel for the "old Tokyo". The main attraction is Sensoji, a 7th century Buddhist temple.
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In a big city, it’s often 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. For a free view of the city, 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 due to either overcast skies or hazy smog it is becoming increasing rare to see.
Tokyo lies in a humid subtropical climate zone, with hot humid summers and generally mild winters with cool spells. Summers are wetter than winters, most rain falls in September and October. Snowfall is only sporadic, but does occur each year. Average temperatures are between 25 °C and 30 °C from June to September with warm nights, around 20 °C. Winters from December to February are around 10 degrees or a little more during the day, and slightly above zero at night, but sometimes daytime temperatures can stay around zero and snow stays on the ground for some days. In general, March-May and October-November are good times for a visit, but also busy as this is when all the flowers bloom (Spring) or the trees show their beautiful foliage (Autumn).
|Avg Max||9.9 °C||10.4 °C||13.3 °C||18.8 °C||22.8 °C||25.5 °C||29.4 °C||31.1 °C||27.2 °C||21.8 °C||16.9 °C||12.4 °C|
|Avg Min||2.5 °C||2.9 °C||5.6 °C||10.7 °C||15.4 °C||19.1 °C||23 °C||24.5 °C||21.1 °C||15.4 °C||9.9 °C||5.1 °C|
|Rainfall||52.3 mm||56.1 mm||117.5 mm||124.5 mm||137.8 mm||167.7 mm||153.5 mm||168.2 mm||209.9 mm||197.8 mm||92.5 mm||51 mm|
There are two main airports: Narita International Airport (code NRT) and Haneda Airport (code: HND). Haneda (officially Tokyo International Airport) offers mainly domestic flights but a growing number of international routes are added. Narita International Airport, in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, is the major gateway for international travelers. Some of the main links with Tokyo Narita include those to/from London, Los Angeles, New York City, Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, Auckland, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City, Moscow, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Mumbai, Bangkok, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Dubai, Frankfurt, Cairo, Istanbul, Perth, Copenhagen, Zürich and Hanoi.
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Shinkansen service arrives at Tokyo station, located near the Imperial Palace grounds and the Ginza commercial district. From this station, Central Japan Railway Company operates the Tōkaidō Shinkansen service to Osaka, and East Japan Railway Company operates Shinkansen services to Akita, Nagano, Niigata, Hachinohe and Shinjo.
In addition to JR Rail, the following companies operate services in Tokyo: Keikyu operates 5 lines, Keio 6, Keisei 7, Odakyu 3, Seibu 13, Tobu 12, Tokyu 8, and 5 additional companies operate one line.
Check Hyperdia for more details about schedules and prices to many cities in the country
Tokyo has one of the best train systems in the world. Looking at a metro map can be a bit daunting at first because of the number of lines but after while it is quite easy to navigate the city by it. Remember that on JR lines you can actually use a Japan Rail card for free rides! One thing that is a bit confusing is that most train stops will only have one, maybe two signs in Romanize text, making it difficult to spot your stops. So pay very close attention or count the number of stops you need to go.
Tokyo is massive therefore walking one part to another is a bit time consuming. It is best to take the train to one area then walk around.
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Though you can easily run up tabs of ¥10,000 per person in the nicer restaurants, it’s possible to eat really well for a decent price. There are many places offering really good meals with lots of variety for ¥500 and ¥1,000 a meal, often with quite large portions.
The Tsukiji fish market is a great place to get a cheap breakfast. As the workers are winding up their work day in the early morning, there are numerous stales selling either fresh sushi or soba noodles. The Tsukiji fish market is located near the Tsukiji Shijou Station on the Oedo subway line and Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya subway line.
Near Tokyo Station are a number of yakitori restaurants, offering numerous small dishes, usually on skewers and cooked over an open fire, and big beers.
In summer, many department stores host “beer gardens” on their roof tops. They often have “all you can drink and eat” specials (timed for 60 or 90 minutes), and provide you with good beer and a do it yourself grill to cook your food on a hot plate.
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.
Accommodation in Tokyo is expensive! Even budget hostels can cost upwards of 4,000 yen a night for a dorm room and is most likely located far from everything. That being said a trip to Japan is not complete without a day or two in Tokyo, so budget wisely. One option is to leave your bags in the lockers in the train station stay up all night and sleep in a 24 hour McDonalds. The salary men do it!
|Ace Inn Shinjuku||5-2 Katamachi Shinjuku-ku||Hostel||81|
|Aizuya Inn||2-17-2 Kiyokawa, Taito-ku,||Hostel||83|
|Anne Hostel Asakusabashi||2-21-14, Yanagibashi Taito-ku||Hostel||84|
|Asakusa Central Hotel||1-5-3 Asakusa Taitou-ku||Hotel||83|
|Hotel Fukudaya (Asakusa)||1-35-11 Kiyokawa Taito-ku||Hostel||77|
|Asakusa Hostel Toukaisou||2-16-12 Nishiasakusa Taito-ku Tokyo||Hostel||85|
|Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou||2-16-12 Nishi Asakusa Taito-ku||Hostel||87|
|Asakusa Smile||2-20-10 Higashi Komagata Sumida-ku||Hostel||68|
|Backpackers Hostel Ks House Tokyo||20-10, Kuramae 3-chome, Taitou-ku,||Hostel||90|
|Tokyo Hostel||3-12-5 Ryusen Taito-Ku||Hostel||80|
|Capsule Hotel Asakusa River Side||2-20-4-B Kaminarimon Taito-ku||Hostel||78|
|Capsule Inn Kanda B||1-8-9 Uchikanda chiyoda-ku||Hostel||-|
|Capsule Inn Kinshichou||2-6-3 Kinshi Sumida-ku||Hostel||76|
|Hotel MyStays Kanda||1-2-2 Iwamoto-cho Chiyoda-ku||HOTEL||-|
|Green Plaza Shinjuku Capsule||1-29-2 Kabukichyo Shinjuku-ku||Hostel||80|
|Guest House Shinagawa-shuku Tokyo||1-22-16 Kitashinagawa Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo||Hostel||85|
|Homeikan||10-5 Hongo 5-Chome, Bunkyo-Ku||Hostel||86|
|Hotel Yanagibashi||1-3-12 Yanagibashi, Taito-ku||HOTEL||84|
|Hotel Asakusa and Capsule||4-14-9 Kotobuki, Taito-ku||Hostel||-|
|Hotel Asakusa Mikawaya||2-7-11 Hanakawado Taito-ku||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Kawase Tokyo and capsule||2-19-14 Kaminarimon Taito-ku||Hostel||75|
|Hotel Kazusaya||4-7-15 Honcho Nihonbashi Chuo-ku||Hotel||-|
|Hostel Komatsu Ueno Station||7-2-21Ueno Taito-Ku||Hostel||79|
|Hotel Meigetsu||7-21-10 Minami-Senju, Arakawa||Hotel||85|
|Hotel Mystays Ochanomizu||2-10-6, Kanda Awaji-cho Chiyoda-ku||HOTEL||87|
|Hotel New Azuma||2-38-3,Kiyokawa,Taitoku,||Hostel||-|
|Hotel New Gyominso||2-20-4-A Kaminarimon Taito-ku||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Tateshina (Shinjuku)||Shinjuku 5-8-6 Shinjuku-ward||Hotel||84|
|Hotel Wing International Ikebukuro||3-10-7 Higashi-Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Ikebukuro||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Wing International Korakuen||1-25-11 hongo bunnkyo-ku tokyo||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Wing International Meguro||1-3-14, Meguro Meguro-ku||Hotel||-|
|Iriya Station Hotel||1-25-1 Iriya Taito-ku||Hostel||-|
|JGH Tokyo||2-11-11 Nishi-Kawaguchi,kawaguchi-shi, Saitama Prefecture||Hostel||80|
|Jimbocho Sakura Hotel||2-21-4 Kanda-Jimbocho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo,101-0051||Hostel||84|
|Juyoh Hotel||2-15-3 Kiyokawa Taito-ku||Hostel||82|
|Khaosan Tokyo Asakusa Annex||2-2-5 Higashikomagata Sumida-ku||Hostel||-|
|Khaosan Tokyo Ninja||2-5-1 Bakurocho Nihonbashi Chuo-ku||Hostel||87|
|Khaosan Tokyo Original||2-1-5 Kaminarimon Taito-ku, 111-0034||Hostel||84|
|Khaosan Tokyo Samurai||1-18-3 Higashi Komagata||Hostel||84|
|Khaosan Tokyo Smile||2-2-6 Higashikomagata Sumida-ku||Hostel||-|
|Marks Inn Nishi Kawaguchi||3-18-5, Namiki, Kawaguchi-shi Saitama Prefecture||Hotel||-|
|Hotel MyStays Asakusa-bashi||1-5-5, Asakusabashi Taito-ku||HOTEL||86|
|Hotel MyStays Kamata||5-46-5 Kamata,Otaku Kamata||HOTEL||83|
|Ueno New Izu Hotel||3-13-1 Higashiueno Taito-ku||HOSTEL||86|
|Okachimachi Station Hotel||3-15-3 Taito Taito-ku||Hostel||-|
|Otsuka Station Hotel||2-12-9 Kita-Otsuka Toshima-ku||Hotel||-|
|Quality Hostel K's House Tokyo Oasis||14-10, Asakusa 2-Chome, Taito-ku||Hostel||90|
|Ryokan Kamogawa Asakusa||1-30-10, Asakusa||Hostel||84|
|Sakura Hostel Asakusa||2-24-2 Asakusa Taito-ku||Hostel||81|
|Sakura Hostel Hatagaya||1-32-3 Hatagaya Shibuyaku||Hostel||83|
|Sakura Hostel Ikebukuro||2-40-7 Ikebukuro Toshima-ku||Hostel||87|
|Sakura Ryokan ( Ueno Asakusa Iriya )||2-6-2, Iriya||Hostel||83|
|Shinjuku City Hotel N.U.T.S TOKYO||1-16-5 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku||Hostel||81|
|SOHO Asakusa||4-28-11 Senzoku, Taito-ku||Hotel||-|
|Sukeroku-no-Yado Sadachiyo||2-20-1 Asakusa Taito||Hostel||83|
|Sumisho Hotel||9-14 Nihonbashi-kobunacho Chuo-Ku||Hotel||80|
|Tokyo Inn||2-31-6 Kitamagome Ohta-ku||Hotel||81|
|Touganeya Hotel||3-17-5 Higashi-Ueno Taito-ku||Hotel||85|
|Tourist Hotel Ueno||3-18-11 Higashiueno Taito-ku||Hotel||-|
|Tsukuba Hotel||2-7-8 Motoasakusa Taito-ku||Hotel||-|
|Ueno first city hotel Akihabara||1-14-8 Ueno, Taito-ku||Hotel||-|
|Hotel MyStays Akasaka||2-17-54 Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Mystays Asakusa||1-21-11, Honjo Sumida-ku||HOTEL||81|
|Flexstay Inn Ekoda||8-6, Sakae-cho Nerima-ku, Tokyo, Japan||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel MyStays Higashi-Ikebukuro||4-39-13, Higashi Ikebukuro Toshima-ku||HOTEL||-|
|Flexstay Inn Higashi-Jujo||2-10-2, Naka-jujo Kita-ku||HOTEL||-|
|Flexstay Inn Higashi-Ueno||5-5-13 Higashi Ueno Taito-ku||HOTEL||89|
|Flexstay Inn Iidabashi||3-26, Shin-ogawa-cho Shinjuku-ku||HOTEL||83|
|Hotel MyStays Kameido||6-32-1, Kameido Koto-ku||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel MyStays Nihonbashi||11-19, Tomizawa-cho, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku||HOTEL||83|
|Hotel MyStays Nippori||5-43-7, Higashi-Nippori Arakawa-ku||HOTEL||85|
|Flexstay Inn Sugamo||3-6-16, Sugamo Toshima-ku||HOTEL||-|
|Flexstay Inn Tokiwadai||1-52-5, Tokiwadai Itabashi-ku||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel MyStays Ueno||1-5-7, Matsugaya Taito-ku||HOTEL||84|
|Hotel Vista Kamata||8-20-11 Nishi-Kamata Ota-ku||Hotel||-|
|Ryokan Fuji||6-8-3, Higashi-Koiwa, Edogawa-Ku||Guesthouse||-|
|Mayflower House Tokyo||4-1-2 roppongi Minato-ku||Hostel||-|
|Shibuya cozy House||2-5-6,Jingumae||Guesthouse||-|
|Hotel Hanamiya||2-37-6 Ikebukuro Toshima-ku||Hotel||-|
|Sunlite Shinjuku Hotel||5-15-8 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku||Hotel||84|
|Ryokan Asakusa Mikawaya Honten||1-30-12,Asakusa,Taito-ku,Tokyo,||Hostel||84|
|Hotel Kadoya (Shinjuku)||Tokyo, Shinjuku, Nishi-Shinjuku 1-23-1||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Kaminarimon Asakusa Sensoji Temple||1-18-2, Asakusa, Taito-ku||Hostel||84|
|Hotel Fukudaya (Shibuya)||4-5-9 Aobadai Meguro-ku||Hostel||83|
|Family Resort Fifty's Tokyo||4-1-3 Minamikasai, Edogawa||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Wing International Shinjuku||1-21-7 Kabukicho,Shinjuku-ku||Hotel||-|
|Tokyo-Backpackers||2-2-2 Nihonzutsumi, Taito-ku||Hostel||81|
|Toco Tokyo Heritage Hostel||2-13-21 Shitaya Taitouku||Hostel||90|
|Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki||1-17-2 Asakusa Taitou-ku||Hostel||94|
|YADOYA Guesthouse for Backpackers||2-18-6 Nakano Nakano-ku||Hostel||82|
|Asakusa house||2-10-11, Nishi-Asakusa Taito||Guesthouse||71|
|Hotel Changtee||2-32-4 Ikebukuro Toshima-ku||Hotel||-|
|Shin-Okubo International Hotel||1-1-10 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku||HOTEL||-|
|Oak Hostel||6-1-2 Higashiueno Taito-ku||Hostel||87|
|Chiyoda Inn||5-33-9 Minamisenju Arakawa-ku||Hostel||84|
|Hoshi Kai Kan||Chuoku Nihonbashi Yokoyamacho 5-8 5F||HOSTEL||83|
|Tokyo Sumidagawa Youth Hostel||2-21-4, Yanagibashi Taito-ku||HOSTEL||83|
|Capsule Hotel & Sauna Ikebukuro Plaza||2-12-3, Ikebukuro Toshima-ku||HOSTEL||83|
|Capsule Hotel & Sauna Cosmo Plaza Akabane||1-39-3, Akabane, Kita-ku||HOSTEL||83|
|Tokyo Central Youth Hostel||18th Floor, Central Plaza 1-1 Kagurakashi, Shinjuku-ku||HOSTEL||83|
|Hotel Continental Fuchu||1-5-1 Fuchu-cho Fuchu-shi||HOTEL||-|
|Ryokan Maizuru||3-18 Senju, Adachi-ku||HOSTEL||-|
|Shin-Okubo Sekitei||2-15-10 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0073,||HOSTEL||83|
|Retrometro Backpackers||2-19-1 Nishiasakusa, Taito-ku||HOSTEL||87|
|Capsule Value Kanda||1-4-5 Kajicho, Chiyoda-ku,||HOSTEL||-|
|Nui. Hostel & Bar Lounge||2-14-13, Kuramae, Taito-ku||HOSTEL||89|
|Hotel L Kamata||7-30-5 Nishi-Kamata Oda-ku||HOTEL||-|
|Shinjuku Kuyakusyomae Capsule Hotel||1-2-5, Kabuki-cho Shinjuku-ku||HOSTEL||-|
|Imperial Mansion Tokyo||145-0066 Tokyo-to Ota-ku, Minami Yukigaya 2-7-1||Guesthouse||-|
|Hotel Graphy Nezu||Ikenohata 4-5-10 Taito–ku||HOTEL||-|
|Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory||2-1-4 Nishi-Asakusa Taito-ku||HOSTEL||86|
|Tokyo Ueno Youth Hostel||4F, 1-13-6, Ueno Taito-ku||HOSTEL||82|
Manga cafes are dotted along the streets of almost every city in Japan. For a very reasonable price (about ¥100 per 15 minutes), you receive a private cubicle with a PC with internet access at blistering Japanese internet speeds. The chairs are incredibly comfortable (making them an excellent place to sleep for the cash-deprived), and you can even order snacks and drinks from the staff.
A number of business hotels have Internet access available if you have your own device, sometimes for free. It is also possible to find Wi-Fi "hot spots" around many large cities in Japan, especially near tech-related businesses and large corporate buildings with unsecured wireless networks. 3G Wireless Data and Pocket Wifi are other options.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Payphones (公衆電話 kōshū denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards. Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone.
Modern Japanese mobile phones (携帯電話 keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. For a longer trip, you can also purchase a phone, but doing this legally requires an Alien Registration Card (or an obliging Japanese friend willing to front for you).
The easier way is to get a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones are sold in most SoftBank and AU stores. If you already have a 3G phone, go with Softbank as it can sell SIMs as opposed to au whose prepaid service is phone-based like most CDMA carriers. Prepaid phones use a "card" with a pass key to "charge" a phone with minutes. These prepaid calling cards, unlike the phone itself, can be found in most convenience stores. A prepaid cell phone is available for as little as ¥5000 plus ¥3000 for a 60-90 day call time package, which will get drained at a rate of ¥100 per minute (¥10 per 6 seconds for AU's prepaid service). Both SoftBank and AU offer prepaid phones.
The Japanese postal service is excellent! Domestic and international mail service is very quick and reliable. The prices for sending letters, postcards and parcels vary depending on where you send if from and to which country you send it too, and of course depends on weight as well, so check this calculation page of Japan Post for more details. Post offices generally are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, closing at weekends and also on national holidays, though a few open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Central post offices are sometimes open until 7:00pm, open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 9:00am to 12:30pm. There are post offices in every major city and minor town. Another thing to remember is that the post office is one of the few places in Japan that is guaranteed to have ATMs that take international cards.
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