Traveling to Tokyo, need advice/tips

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by adk, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stuck in the middle with you
    #1
    I'm headed to Tokyo next month, and since I know there are quite a few people here who are in or have been in Japan I thought I'd ask for any tips I can get. Some specifics:

    I've heard that Credit Cards / ATMs are not too widely used in japan. Am I going to need a ton of cash?

    Also, I'd love to take a day trip skiing while I'm there. Firstly, would this even be possible from Tokyo, and if it is, does anybody have any recommendations for a resort that's readily accessible by train?

    We'd like to see some sumo, but as far as I can tell there aren't going to be any matches (games? meets? I don't know what to call them) in Ryogoko while we're there (Mar 1-8).

    When does baseball season run in Japan?


    And of course, any and all tips, anecdotes, warnings etc. will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    Location:
    CA
    #2
    It's general practice to carry a lot of cash in Japan, so it's a great place to do some mugging in your spare time.

    Nagano, where they held the 1998 Winter Olympics, is only an hour away by bullet train. It will be over $100 each way, though. I believe you'll be looking for a village called Hakuba right outside Nagano.

    Sumo is frightfully boring. You should go to one of those crazy festivals, like the Naked Man Festival!

    http://ducts.org/06_01/memoirs/naked.html

    Or the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival. Nozawa-mura(or machi) is also a great ski resort.

    http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cach...stival&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=safari

    My friend's village only had a festival once every 7 years but the village mayor died from trying to balance himself on a huge log in a river. You know, like a cartoon.

    Read Dave Barry's Dave Barry Does Japan. Some major changes have taken place since publication but it is relatively spot on.
     
  3. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    sitting on your shoulder
    #3
    I love watching sumo when they show it on ESPN.


    Also, make sure you beer from a vending machine. (not panties)
     
  4. Zwhaler macrumors 603

    Zwhaler

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    #4
    I'm actually in Tokyo right now, and there really isn't much warning that is needed to be given. Most STORES in Tokyo take credit cards, but for resturants (particularly the traditional ones) you will want cash. Hmm what else... everyone is very nice here so you won't have a problem if you need help with something. Hotels here get booked very very quickly, so I suggest you get a reservation as soon as possible as to avoid spending the night on the street :eek: you will do fine :)
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #5
    Yeah, was in Nagano like 3 weeks ago. I didn't go skiing, but it was a wonderful time. This winter is supposed to be particularly snowy, so you're in luck! There's absolutely no shortage of snow.

    Anyway, I don't really have any tips regarding Tokyo. It really depends on what you want to do.

    You can't use your bank card in Japan except for at a post office. The Japanese post office is the largest bank in Japan, I believe. They'll accept many foreign bank cards (ie: with Maestro, Cirris, Plus, or other symbols on the back of your bank card). Otherwise, you're out of luck. They may accept your credit card, but it may be a lot of trouble if you're purchasing something semi-expensive with it. I bought a digital camera in Osaka using my camera, and it was quite a bit of trouble. They had to go through a lot of trouble, and were on the phone trying to sort out my purchase.
    They're very very polite about things though, so you don't really feel annoyed, as you know they're trying hard. :)

    Anyway, here are some photos from Nagano.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Roger1 macrumors 65816

    Roger1

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Location:
    Michigan
    #6
    WHAT?!? All this advice about Japan, and nobody told him to look out for giant monsters??? What's wrong with you people?


    :D
     
  7. eric55lv Guest

    eric55lv

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Las Vegas,NV
    #7
    Tokyo is REALLY crowded and you'll get lost quick other than that Tokyo is a grat place and my favorite place there was the Apple Ginza store:D
     
  8. asxtb macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    #8
    Any advice? Enjoy while you're here!! :D

    As mentioned before, Japan is still a cash based society. It's not uncommon to see someone pull out a wad 10,000 yen bills. Credit cards can be tricky here. Especially foreign cards. I always have a lot of trouble using mine here. They seem to have problems with the 3 or 4 digit security code on the back. (Tip: Make sure you let your credit card company you'll be in Japan so they don't red flag your card and freeze it.)

    As for skiing, Hakuba would probably be your best bet. There is an indoor ski hill just outside of Tokyo, but it's not any good. If you really want to know about it let me know. But I doubt you will.

    And baseball season is the same as in America. It won't start until end of March.

    Japan is a fairly safe country but don't let your guard down. There are still crime here.

    My advice would be to try to avoid Roppongi. Too many foreigners. Also, be careful of the Kabukicho district in Shinjuku late at night. There is a lot of gang activity there. It's not too bad during they day though.

    Edit: And if you want an anecdote about Japan being a safe/honest country...
    My first night in Japan, my friends and I got lost and missed the last train. We were walking about the Shibuya area until 2 in the morning and never felt in danger. A couple nights later we missed the last train again, and we spent the night in a park. Again we felt completely safe and we weren't the only ones spending the night in the park either. :)

    And finally, a couple months ago my girlfriend and I were at a bar with some friends. My girlfriend had a little too much to drink and threw up. (All over my lap. :mad: ) This was right as we were getting ready to leave so I had my wallet out and about 10,000 yen on the table. In the drunken rush to get my girlfriend to the bathroom and get me cleaned up we all left my wallet and money sitting in the open on the table. 20 minutes later when we got everything cleaned up, my wallet and money were still on the table. :cool:
     
  9. mduser63 macrumors 68040

    mduser63

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #9
    I never had trouble using my US Debit Card at the post office machine when I lived in Japan, but I did have a Japanese bank account so mostly I just used that and I don't think I ever paid for anything with a card, always with cash. So anyway, if you absolutely need cash from your ATM card you can probably get it at a Post Office ATM but it's still a good idea to have plenty of cash.

    As for things to do, I was never in Tokyo so I don't have many specific recommendations, other than to enjoy your time there. Japan is a wonderful place.
     
  10. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    totally cool
    #10
    You can use credit cards most everywhere in tokyo, but yes cash does come in handy now and again. Vending machines, small convenience shops in the train station, and other misc things. But Credit cards are widely accepted. I know the previous poster said that Tokyo is still a cash based society, and thats true for the most part, but I've been there six times now and I've never had much of a problem using my Visa.

    The bullet train to Yuzawa is about 45 minutes to go skiing. Or you could try the indoor Snow Dome near tokyo.

    There is a season for sumo in different cities in japan. I don't really know where or when but in Tokyo its held at Kokugikan.

    I don't know much about this, but I think baseball plays in the summer like it is here in the states.

    Food is one of my favorite things about Japan. Next to San Francisco and Paris, to me, Tokyo is one of the best culinary cities in the world.

    If you're there in March, you may be too early to see the cherry blossoms, they're usually around April 1st.

    Otherwise, I love exploring around Shibuya, and Ginza. Tokyo Disney is fun too if you're at a loss for anything else.

    Otherwise have fun and dress warm. :)
     
  11. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    Location:
    CA
    #11
    Are you kidding? He definitely has to go to Roppongi and Kabukicho! I guess this says a lot about the difference in our personalities. haha
     
  12. asxtb macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    #12
    Definitely different. You're the one that doesn't like sumo! ;)

    As a visitor, I'd say go see Roppongi but don't spend a lot of time there. If you come to Japan do you want to see Japan or the foreign district of Japan? IMO there's not much to do there anyway. Just a few good foreign restaurants and Tokyo Tower.

    And Kabukicho isn't bad during the day. If you miss last train, Kabukicho isn't the place you want to spend the night though. And actually, I think it is only bad near 3 chome.
     
  13. Zwhaler macrumors 603

    Zwhaler

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    #13
    Totally agree with you about the Apple store, I was there about an hour ago. Magnificent!
     
  14. irmongoose macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    #14
    Nowadays most convenience stores have ATM machines, and as long as you're in the city there are banks around every corner, so you should be fine. But yes, do try to carry around some cash while you're there. ¥10,000 should be more than enough if you aren't planning to do much shopping - if you are, think accordingly, but most proper stores in Tokyo accept VISA or MasterCard so don't fret if you find yourself low on cash.

    Naeba is one of the best ski slopes in the country. It's an hour and some ride from Tokyo station using the bullet train - it's three stops on the JR Shinkansen MAX, the fare is ¥6,500. Here is an English site on Naeba.

    In terms of Sumo, you're just going to miss the March tournament - it starts on the 9th. The January tournament was awesome, with the long-time champion Asashouryu back from his two-time ban, up against the new champion Hakuho - and the final battle between the two with Hakuho finally throwing Asa down... man that was an exciting match! ... but I digress...

    Baseball season starts in late March, so you're out of luck there again.

    One question: Where will you be staying? This relates to my first tip...

    Tips of my own:

    Take the subway/local trains. They'll take you everywhere. And get a Suica. These are basically prepaid subway cards, but with the über-cool convenience of wireless IC chips embedded in them.

    suica_top.jpg

    So basically you don't even have to get these cards out of your wallet to use - as you go through the ticket wicket, you just "touch" your card on to the Suica pad, and the gate opens. No hassle with tickets, no hassle with taking stuff out from your wallet (as long as the card isn't hidden deep between other things in your wallet, you can just "touch" your wallet and it should be able to read it). Best of all - you don't have to worry about how much the train fare is going to be. Since the Tokyo train system's fares change after every 5 or 6 stations you pass and/or every line you change, standing in front of the ticket machines, figuring out how much you have to pay ends up wasting a lot of tourists' time. With the Suica, as long as you have enough money on the card, you can get off and on trains without need to worry. - Now, where can you buy a Suica? These can be purchased at a Suica vending machine at any station that has Suica - but this is why I ask where you're going to stay...

    As for knowing where to go on the train lines... this is one English site where you can enter the name of the station you want to start from and where you want to end, and it will find the best route to take you there. Tokyo Transfer Guide. It's kinda shoddy, and it's not what I usually use, but it's the only decent one in English that I found. It has most major stations, so see how it works out for you.

    Walk. See the city. It's one of those places.

    Don't be afraid to ask people for help. While Japanese people might seem rude at first, that is just their shyness, no ill will (for the most part). Ask around and you'll find someone willing to interpret your English and/or hand movements and help you out.

    Stay away from Kabukicho - it is the shadiest part of the city. If you're in the mood for clubbing, wanting to meet other foreigners, then going to Roppongi isn't a bad idea. But seeing that you're only in Tokyo for a week, I'm sure you won't be feeling homesick so soon.

    And as obeygiant mentioned: enjoy the food. The best from around the world can be found in Tokyo, so if there's a day you want to have something other than Japanese food, don't be afraid to look around. Roppongi has evolved into a great culinary town, with the Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown complexes that have opened in recent years. Try Ginza if you want to go for even more upper-class stuff.

    Oh, and if you're ever in the mood for Indian food (Indian food in Japan?), go to Samrat. The best in Tokyo. My family business. :p

    Roppongi Hills' Mori Art Museum and Tokyo City View are also great pastimes if you're in the mood.

    Any more questions, you are more than welcome to ask.



    irmongoose
     
  15. asxtb macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    #15
    Screw Suica! Go with Pasmo!!! :p (Not to confuse the OP, they are basically the same thing. You can use both in the same places.) In Tokyo, it's Suica. You can also buy the the Suica cards at the convenient stores around/in the station. Just a warning, the cards have a 500 yen deposit on them. They cost 2000 yen but only get 1500 yen to use. Of course you can refill them. When you are finished and if you want your 500 yen back you must zero them out before you can exchange them.

    And Irmongoose, Samrat is your family restaurant? I'll have to go sometime soon. I see the ads all the time, and I love Indian food. Just thinking about it makes me want some :D
     
  16. adk thread starter macrumors 68000

    adk

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stuck in the middle with you
    #16


    Right near the tokyo tower. I don't remember the name of the hotel off hand...
     
  17. irmongoose macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    #17
    asxtb: Indeed. Please do!

    adk: Perhaps the Tokyo Prince or the Park Tower? Either way, that's good. You're very close to Roppongi - a five minute taxi drive, or the subway station closest is Akabane-bashi on the Oedo line, which is two stations away from Roppongi.

    You could get a Pasmo as asxtb mentioned - in the city the two work hand-in-hand.

    Oh - must also mention that if you take a cab, the back door opens and closes automatically, so don't try to open it by hand.


    irmongoose
     
  18. adk thread starter macrumors 68000

    adk

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stuck in the middle with you
    #18
    It's definitely the Tokyo Prince. Is Roppongi close enough to walk to (or drunkenly stroll back from) or will that be to much of a challenge with Tokyo's Unnamed streets?

    Also, I've been looking into the Japan Rail pass. For Y28,000 or so foreigners can get a 7 day pass good for travel on all JR trains except the fastest ones between Tokyo and Osaka (Can't get on the one that takes 2.25 hours (Nozomi I think?), but the trains that take 2.75 hours or so are included). I'm having trouble finding Shinkansen fares. How much travelling on individual tickets would it take to add up to Y28,000?
     
  19. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #19
    That is good general travel advice not just for Japan, seriously you can have problems anywhere, though they don't always block your card when you leave the country.

    Check out seat61.com they have provided excellent advice for travel in Vietnam, and seem to have good information on Japan.

    Btw what would you consider a reasonable budget for travelling to Japan?
     
  20. irmongoose macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    #20
    It's a good 20 minute walk from Roppongi to the Tokyo Prince. Catch a cab - it'll only take the minimum fare (which is at ¥710 now), and you can catch a cab at any time of the day on the streets in Tokyo. That said, if you choose to walk, just head for the Tokyo Tower, then keep going straight, up and down a couple of hills, but you'll get there eventually. If you get lost, just ask for Roppongi kousaten (Roppongi crossing).

    Here is a list of JR shinkansen charges. How much traveling outside of Tokyo do you plan to do? ¥28,000 sounds like a lot if you're only planning to go to one or two places outside Tokyo. Even if you can use the pass within Tokyo, you probably will use non-JR trains in the city as much as JR trains, so I don't know how much sense it would make for you.



    irmongoose
     
  21. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #21
    How I handled money:
    • I told my credit card company I would be in Japan, so they wouldn't think charges were suspicious. I know they watch for such things, because I've gotten phone calls double-checking what turned out to be unusual but correct charges in the past.
    • I got a Japan Rail Pass, buying it in the U.S., picking it up in Japan, and activating it the first day I wanted to use it (which was just as I left Tokyo).
    • I used JR transportation (trains, busses) wherever possible so I could use the JR Pass.
    • I paid for meals, non-JR transportation, and almost everything else in cash, except for hotels, where I used the credit card.
    • I kept 2 to 3 days worth of spending cash on me at all times.
    • Before (not when) my cash got low, I'd go to a Post Office, where I could always find an ATM compatible with my debit card, and replenish my cash supply. ATMs elsewhere usually didn't work with my card.
    I got really good at spotting the sign for a post office!
     

    Attached Files:

Share This Page