This past December, we spent eight full days in Tokyo. We did a lot of things right, but we could have done a few things better.
Before leaving for Tokyo
Tip #1: Rent a Wi-Fi router. We ordered the “Premium Wi-Fi by Southbank LTE (187Mbps)” through Japan Wireless. The router was delivered to the post office at Terminal 1 of Narita airport, which is open from 8:30am to 8:00pm daily. The cost was $64 for ten days and worth every penny. It even came with an external battery charger. The package also included a prepaid and addressed return envelope. We just dropped the router in the mail the night before we left Japan!
Tip #2: Bring PLENTY of cash. Cash is by far the most commonly used form of tender. We were shocked at how many places were cash-only.
Tip #3: Download the Tokyo Metro App (a MUST) and Google Translate. Google Translate can even take pictures of Japanese characters and translate it into English.
Tip #4: If you want to experience the hipster/blogger’s Tokyo, buy the Tokyo guide by Hello Sandwich. She occasionally accepts orders for her ‘zine’ on her website. When I was researching our trip, her website was sold out of guides. However, I found one through My Cuppa Tea in Australia for $32 AUD.
Once you have arrived in Tokyo
Tip #5: Take the Narita Express to the station closest to your hotel. Instead of finagling a subway transfer with your luggage, take a cab directly to your hotel. A cab ride from Shinjuku Station to our hotel was $15.
Tip #6: Use a Suica card for the subway! It’s a reloadable card (cash only). We initially thought the day passes would be the most cost effective option for us, but we quickly realized that many of our destinations were outside of Tokyo Metro. Suica is used in a much larger area- AND you don’t have to worry if the subway is a JR, Toei, or Metro line. You can use them all and the fare will automatically be deducted. We saw a place to buy the Suica card when we bought our tickets for the Narita Express into town.
Tip #7: Always look at the maps before exiting the subway station! Look for your intended destination and the map will dictate the best exit for you. Your feet will thank you later.
Tip #8: Unless it’s the fish market or temples, don’t plan on an early start. Many of the local shops don’t open until 11am or noon.
Tip #9: Be careful with Local versus Express trains. If you’re worried about missing your stop, stay safe and wait for the local train.
Tip #10: Bring a handkerchief for drying your hands in the bathrooms!