Tokyo is a magical place filled with wonders. There’s so much to see and do that it can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning. I’ve listed some top tips for Tokyo and how to navigate this beautiful city to make your trip a little easier.
How to Get Around Tokyo
Subway, Train, or Bus
The most common way of getting around is public transportation via buses, subway, or train. We mostly used subways and trains to get around without much issues.
- A prepaid and reloadable Suica card is best to use on most public transportation, which you can get at a train station
- Pay attention to signage, as there are signs and arrows on where you are supposed to walk, stand, and line up for public transportation
- Proper etiquette on public transportation involves keeping your voices to a minimum, disregarding phone calls, and just overall being respectful of other riders
There are plenty of taxi cabs roaming around the city, although compared to public transportation, they can be on the more expensive side. We only resorted to using cabs when we were traveling with all of our luggage from one hotel to another and didn’t want to experience cramming it on a potentially busy subway car.
Oddly, we had a rather difficult time with cabs as most of them would not be foreigner-friendly. A lot of times, there would be a language barrier, and even showing them a map didn’t help. When this happened, they wouldn’t accept us as customers.
Here are some tips for Tokyo taxi cabs:
- Ask your hotel to grab a cab and translate to your driver on your destination
- Ask your hotel to write down the name and address of your hotel / destination in Japanese
- Show your driver your hotel’s business card
- Only the driver can open your door
- There are designated areas for cabs in certain areas like outside of train stations
- Be prepared to pay in cash
- Use the JapanTaxi app (apple / android)
Japan RAIL Pass
Also known as the JRail Pass, or JR Pass, this pass is the cheapest and quickest way to travel around Japan. It allows you unlimited use of their JR local and national trains and JR buses. To get a pass, you must order it online ahead of time. We asked for the passes to be delivered to our hotel in Japan once we got to the country.
Common Etiquettes in Japan
There is a reason that the people of Japan are considered to be one of the nicest people you’ll ever encounter, and that is because common etiquettes are held to a high standard.
Here are some etiquettes to keep in mind:
- Drinking / eating while walking is frowned upon. Instead, station yourself somewhere (usually by the snack vendor) and enjoy your snack there.
- Throw your trash in a trash can. There aren’t many trash cans in the city, so be prepared to stow your trash in your backpack until you see one. As dense as Tokyo is, it is a clean city because people even keep their public trash cans tidy, even when it’s overflowing. It’s amazing.
- When visiting a temple, be sure to take your shoes off
- Tipping is not required
- When paying, use the small tray by the cashier to “transfer” money contactless from your hands to their hands (versus directly handing cash / card)
Convenience Stores (Konbini)
Compared to the convenience stores in the U.S., those in Japan are just magical places. There are many of them and they are filled with fresh food that actually tastes good.
Some things to keep in mind regarding convenience stores:
- Try some of the snacks that they offer, like Onigiri (rice balls), nikuman (steamed bun with filling), and Kara-age (Japanese fried chicken)
- Their restrooms are always clean
- 7-Eleven is one of the top convenience stores in Japan, and is also an easy way to get access to an ATM using Seven Bank International ATM
- Free wifi, huzzah!
Hope these tips for Tokyo help your future trip! If you have any tips that I didn’t include, comment them down below!