10 Essential Tokyo Travel Tips
1. People are so polite, but not all are
Japanese people are known to be friendly, and a lot of them do live up to their stereotype. I remember when I dropped my sunglasses and the guy in front of me stopped to check if it was his fault!
2. Free for all cycling
With cities like Berlin and Amsterdam having a comprehensive cycling system, it surprised me when cyclists crawl all over the pavements and roads in Tokyo. It seems to be a free-for-all situation. Electric bikes and bikes with baskets are common, too, so you need to be vigilant and dodge out of the way.
3. Single tickets only valid from the stop you buy from
The metro systems in Tokyo, though efficient, has a different single ticket system compare to others in the world. We had purchased two single tickets from Harajuku, only to realize that you can only use the ticket purchased at a station from that station. And you would preferably need to know how far you need to go, too. But you can add or get the price back if you end up not traveling for the full fare through the manned exit counters or a machine. You can read more about how to get around Tokyo as well as a 7-day itinerary here.
4. No rubbish bin
5. Oh and split your rubbish up in categories
6. AirBnBs aren’t the cleanest, really
7. Hotels are all really nice
8. Learning a few words of Japanese is key
Japanese as a nation doesn’t speak much English, and it’s good to learn a few basic words to communicate. If I hadn’t gone with a friend who knows a few words of Japanese, it took her skills and the help of a train staff to get us on the right bus to the beautiful town of Sawara. Alternatively, there are things are voice translation and mobile apps online.
9. Pharmacies are everywhere, but prices vary
Many people visit pharmacies in Japan to buy souvenirs and medicines to bring back, and you can find pharmacies all over Tokyo. However, their prices vary and you should shop around to find the best offer. It also pays to buy it all in one place to get a tax reduction. One of the easiest places I went to was Donki, which sells both food, medicine, and make-up from Japan.
10. Shops advertise their sale by shouting, a lot.
We were visiting Shibuya 101, we found many of the stores try to attract customers by shouting about their promotions. Often times they have the aid of cardboard signs or even a loudspeaker to aid their effort. The same happened on the streets of Harajuku. They are not easy to get used to if you haven’t encountered them before.
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