Visiting Tokyo for the first time? Here are few tips to keep in mind…

photo by CC user cegoh on pixabay

To say that Japan is a different place than any other country in the west would be a massive understatement: the way life is lived there compared to how it is in America or the United Kingdom is often the exact opposite.

As such, those visiting Tokyo would do well to keep the following tips in mind during their time in one of the most interesting cities in the world…

Stay in accommodation that is authentically Japanese

Want to get your trip to Japan off to a proper start? Arrange to stay in a traditional ryokan in Tokyo for your first few days in this city. If you’re new to the city you may wish to look into where to stay in Tokyo to ensure the area meets your needs. There are plenty of hotels, hostels and serviced apartments in Tokyo to choose from. Azabu Juban is a popular neighbourhood for business travelers while Shinjuku and Shibuya are more suited for tourists.

Featuring floors made of tatami (which is traditionally comprised of rice straw) and a communal bathing area usually fuelled by an onsen, it is the perfect place to recover from your jet lag and immerse yourself in the local culture right from the get go.

Don’t leave tips in cabs, hotels, restaurants, or anywhere else for that matter

You might want to be known as a respectful traveler rather than a thoughtless tourist, and we salute you for this stand.

However, Japan is one of the few places in the world where tipping is not expected, but is also considered to be an insult.

If you make this mistake, expect to be chased down by your server in a desperate bid to return the money left on their table to its rightful owner.

Oops.

If it makes you feel better, many service-based businesses include a service charge in your bill, which is then distributed to the hard working staff that serve you throughout your stay in Tokyo.

Get a Suica or Pasmo card before using the Tokyo subway system

With 13 lines and almost nine million daily riders, the Tokyo subway system in one of the world’s largest and busiest mass transit networks.

While it is unquestionably useful for getting across town to the various attractions that you’ll be visiting during your time here, a fact that complicates your use of this service is that it is operated by three different private companies.

While you used to have to get different fare cards for each of the lines that these companies administered, they finally got together in the past few years and came up with two standardized fare cards: Suica and Pasmo.

Each of these are easily rechargeable and work across the whole transit network, which has ended the frustration of many travelers to the region.

Free wi-fi is a scarce and difficult to access luxury

Think you can take your laptop or smartphone to Japan, power it on, and hop on a wi-fi network within seconds?

Despite Japan’s reputation as a hi-tech utopia, you’d be wrong, as many cafes either don’t offer it all, or you have to have an account through a local telecom company to log on.

This situation is changing as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaches, but for now, it might be prudent to rent a mi-fi device that will deliver internet on the go through cellular networks during your time in Tokyo and Japan.

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