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Tokyo Vacation Help

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
My best friend & I were thinking about a cool place to go on vacation since we both don't really go anywhere & we both agreed that Tokyo would be a sweet place to go. The only problem is that we know nothing about the city except from what we've seen in movies. Does anyone have any suggestions?

When's the best time of year to go there? I went to Orbitz.com & put in Saturday, May 12 to Sunday May 20th just to get an idea about hotel & flight prices & they were between $1650-$2900 each.

Cool places to go where we won't get gouged money-wise?

How much of a problem is the language barrier (using subways, restaurants, etc.)?

Is US currency accepted at most places or maybe Mastercard?

Hotel recommendations?

How long a drive is it from Narita Airport to Downtown Tokyo?

We would like to catch a baseball game or a sumo match. Pricing info & what time of the year are they playing?

Are the taxis expensive or is it cheaper to take the subway? Plus, how much is it to use the subways?
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #2 of 24
There are a couple of people here who may be able to help you out, so givew them some time to read your post.

I live way south of Tokyo and only go up there once or twice a year.

Gotta run back to work, but quickly I will say the Japan is a wonderful place to visit and you will remember the trip forever. Big name hotels can cost a fortune, but there are ways around that; I'll post a few links later.

Eating out (family style restaurants) is cheaper than in the States ($9 will get you more than you can eat, especially if you take advantage of the free refills of rice), but if you go to a better joint you can expect to pay quite a bit more. A good steak dinner (Japanese beef) will set you back 60 bucks or more (maybe a lot more in Tokyo; I live near the farms), but is worth every penny. I cannot eat American beef anymore; it now tastes like the sole of my shoe in comparison.

Gotta fly, but that's a start.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #3 of 24
Part 2...

Tokyo Subway Map in English:

http://www.tokyometro.jp/rosen/rosen.../rosen_eng.pdf

Narita airport is in the upper right corner.

Rates start at about 200 yen for the subway (maybe 120 for short hops) if memory serves and are pretty reasonable. You can pretty much grab a subway line to within a 10 minute walk of anywhere in the main part of the city. If you don't feel like footing it, grab a taxi for the last bit. One warning: the subway gets VERY, repeat VERY crowded at rush hour, so plan your movements accordingly.

Taxis have a first meter rate starting at about $4.60 (at today's rates) and it increases rather quickly in increments of 75 cents (for a small taxi, slightly higher for medium and large taxis - only slightly larger cars make for much higher taxes in Japan). If you move at the wrong time of day, you don't move but pay.

The language barrier can range from non-existant to feeling like you are on Mars, so you may want to get a phrase book. I recommend learning a little of the language; it will get you a long ways if you utter just a few words, however horrible it sounds. The Japanese "study" English in school but very few can actually use it for anything and thus are often very shy about it. They think Japanese is very difficult (it ain't easy to master) so you will impress them with your efforts, however meager.

Haven't tried them but here are two sites that might help:
http://www.japanese-online.com/
http://www.japanesepod101.com/

Or a book and CD (you must have audio to learn the pronunciation)
http://www.amazon.com/Lonely-Planet-...e=UTF8&s=books

Mastercard should be OK; I came over with a Visa card and never had any problems. Visa might be a little more prevelent, but Tokyo is much more civilised and advanced than where I live, so you might be fine. Definitely exchange some money into yen; it will free you up to walk around at will, and will bring you yet another step closer to really being here even if it is just for a week.

Nice hotels, as I said, can cost a fortune. Japanese hotels usually charge per person, not by room, except for certain sleazier places of which there are plenty and a way some people who live here for any length of time stay cheaply while travelling around: a decent sized room can be had for 70 bucks, but might come fully furnished down to the critters you take home unless you know how to choose the good from the bad. A real hotel could cost 150 bucks per person per night or more.

Check out this nice place: single occupancy starts at $300:
http://www.imperialhotel.co.jp

Instead, I would recommend staying at a business hotel. The rooms are a bit spartan, but are fully equipped with tiny bath and internet connection and start at about $65 a night for one person. A good travel agent should be able to get you booked as part of a package, or you can do it yourself; lots of foreign businessmen come to Japan so lots of places cater to them. Have a peek here:
http://www.japanhotel.net/data/pref/...sp?AREAid=kant

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #4 of 24
There are tons of things to do and places to go in Tokyo... what are your interests?

Sumo ticket info is here:
http://www.sumo.or.jp/eng/ticket/kaikata/index.html

Some interesting info on Sumo is found at the Japan Times site:
http://www.japantimes.com/sports/sumo.html


The Kokugikan is in Tokyo and tickets start at $25 but can be hard to get; sumo is wildly popular.

About baseball (a sport I do not follow at all, sorry), I dug up this site:
http://japanesebaseball.com/forum/th...2&thread=29862

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

There are tons of things to do and places to go in Tokyo... what are your interests?

I'm a big videogame fan so this would be the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Mecca.
I saw this huge arcade on TV that had five floors of videogames. I'd like to see that
& maybe a pachinko parlor.

Were both history-buffs so a day tour of historical sites would be cool.

How hard would it be to get audience tickets to a japanese game show? That would
be awesome!


Also are there any cultural no-no's that we should know about (what is considered
rude: taking pictures of people in public, certain hand gestures, etc.)

What are the rules of tipping? Same in the US?
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #6 of 24
There is no tipping in Japan; conversly, it is something the Japanese study when they consider going abroad as the concept is very foreign to them.

Anything electronic: go to Akihabara. All roads lead to Akikhabara. Anything is possible in Akihabara. Are you getting it? Game stores, and indeed electronics stores in general, are huge. Be carful with saying a building has five full floors, though: lots of buildings in Tokyo do not have large footprints due to the cost of land, so they work upwards. Apple has a store in the prime center of the world (Ginza) and I can only dare to dream of how much it cost them.

History: besides the country being a histoy museum, there are few places you should go, which I will list in a later post.

About no-nos: the Japanese are a very quiet and reserved people, so try not to bring undo attention upon yourselves by talking loudly, wearing skimpy clothing. Do not eat while you a re walking, period. Don't stare at people (there are yakuza here, you know) and don't point with your index finger (if done towards a person, it is considered extremely rude, and the wrong guy - yakuza or just a prtotective boyfriend - could really make you pay for it). If you eat noodles (ramen, soba), you should make some slurping sounds; to not do so is rude (recall the burping scene in "Ben Hur"). Bow. Bow. Bow. The depth of a bow can make or break a relationship here, so when in doubt, err deep.

Game show tickets? Hmmm. You got me there.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #7 of 24

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #8 of 24
What do you think about Lost in Translation?

Pfflam had some harsh words about the movie a few years back.
post #9 of 24
Haven't seen it yet, actually. The wife and I are way behind on our movie watching, and with the newly constructed theater down the street, things have gotten worse as now we don't only keep up with things on satellite TV (which is a year or more behind reality). It is on our list, though.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

Good info here

http://www.japanvisitor.com/index.ph...yo-attractions

I thought you were just joking about not pointing because of the chance of pissing off
the yakuza but the japanvisitor website even mentions the yakuza:

"Kabukicho is a red-light district behind and just east of the Studio Alta building with its
huge TV screen at which crowds rendezvous. Kabukicho is the setting for much of Natsuo
Kirinos novel Out. Though yakuza are out and about here, it is safe enough even at
night, and plenty enough restaurants and bars that cater to every taste to keep you from
having to wander for too long."

I'm keeping my friggin' hands in my pockets when I walk around.
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #11 of 24
I don't joke about those things. What the article said is true, though. It is very safe here (less though now than it was just a few years ago), and they won't bug you if you don't bug them. Pretty much the same for anybody anywhere: everybody likes their own elbow room.

Wikipedia has a couple of good articles so go there and surf around if you are interested.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #12 of 24
I wrote a long reply to this thread the other night, but my sign-in timed-out before I clicked send. Anyway, most of what you need to know has since been covered by others, but no one has yet mentioned the cheap rail passes available only to foreign tourists. (I presume they still do them?)

I visited Japan for two weeks in 1996, and travelled by Shinkansen (Bullet Train) from Tokyo to Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and back to Tokyo -- a wonderful experience. At the time, I was living in Britain, so I purchased my rail pass from the Japan Centre in London. There are surely similar centres here in the States. I remember the passes were available at several different levels, from one week up to one month, depending on your travel needs. This is the thing, though: you had to buy the pass in advance, in your own country; you couldn't buy it in Japan.

I strongly recommend looking into it, if you plan on exploring cities other than Tokyo (which you very much should). I don't remember the exact price for my two-week pass, but it was great value, and certainly a lot cheaper than buying individual train tickets.

As far as the communication problem goes, my experience was slightly different from others on the forum. I found -- especially in the smaller cities -- that school kids would come up to me in the street to try out their English. Not always successfully, mind, but they did their best. And adults would also approach me, offering help with directions and such, even when I didn't need it. Super-sweet, generous people, I found.
post #13 of 24
I liked the portrayal of the Japanese in Babel.
post #14 of 24
The rail pass is a great thing for visitors.

http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en001.html

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

The rail pass is a great thing for visitors.

http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en001.html

That's a good thing to know but we were gonna keep our focus on Tokyo. I noticed something
strange when I was checking out prices on Expedia.com. If we would leave from Milwaukee it
would take an extra day to arrive in Tokyo. If we left from Chicago O'Hare which is approx. 1.5
hours away, it would take one day.

Also, it seems like February is the time to go if I wanted it really cheap. I found a deal as low as
$1300 for air & hotel. The only problem with that is that it was a 1 1/2 star hotel & the weather
online lists averages between 35 degrees up to the mid-50's for February. I was thinking more
around May-June.
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mello View Post

That's a good thing to know but we were gonna keep our focus on Tokyo. I noticed something
strange when I was checking out prices on Expedia.com. If we would leave from Milwaukee it
would take an extra day to arrive in Tokyo. If we left from Chicago O'Hare which is approx. 1.5
hours away, it would take one day.

We will probably be using the subway system to get around town. I don't know if we should pick
up passnet cards or sf metro cards though? How are the different from each other?
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #17 of 24
Can't answer that... I usually go up for a day or two and just hop the subway a few times, so I dn't know about passes.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mello View Post

I was thinking more around May-June.

June is the rainy season, is it not? I was there the first two weeks of June, and it rained almost everyday. It didn't stop me doing what I set out to do, but be aware.
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ste View Post

June is the rainy season, is it not? I was there the first two weeks of June, and it rained almost everyday. It didn't stop me doing what I set out to do, but be aware.

I checked online about the weather & found a cool site:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2273.html

Not only does it talk about the weather averages month to month but when it's cheap or
expensive to go, certain times that you may want to avoid, "Golden Week":
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2282.html

Here is a link on that site that lists different tours:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2275.html

I found some interesting tips at:
http://www.japandeluxetour.com/index...in_page=page_3

Note: Not all subway lines are connected. If you have to switch subway lines in the middle
of your journey, you may have to buy a NEW TICKET. Finally, always remember to keep your
subway ticket for the duration of your train ride. You cannot get out of the subway without a
ticket.


Purchasing Subway Tickets -- Most subways are not part of the Japan Rail system, and thus, are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. However, subways are not expensive. Charges are by distance, but the average subway ride in Tokyo is about $1.50 (equivalent to the cost of a subway ride in New York). Signs at most stations are in Japanese and English, except as you go out to the more suburban regions. If you are not sure how much to pay, you can purchase the minimal fee, and then add on fare at the end of your journey. If you need a receipt be advised that you must purchase your ticket from the station attendant's window and ask for a receipt at that time. Say "Re-Sheet-To Kudasai" (Please give me a receipt.) and they should understand what you want.

Buy Dollar Traveler Checks before you go. You will get a better exchange rate when exchanging dollar travelers checks for yen than dollar bills for yen. Plan on exchanging enough for one day each morning before leaving your hotel. Don't plan on bringing travelers checks with you to purchase items or meals at shops or restaurants.

Japan is a CASH SOCIETY, especially in rural areas. Credit cards are fine in large establishments in Tokyo and Kyoto, but even in these cities, small hotels, inns, shops, and restaurants only accept cash. And, you will need cash for buses, taxis, trains, and admission to all museums, sights, temples, and shrines.

DISCOUNT / WELCOME CARDS --There are currently eight cities/regions in Japan that offer a discount "Welcome Card" service. These regions include: Aomori Prefecture (on Northern Honshu), Kagawa Prefecture, Narita City and its surrounding towns, Nagahama City, Fukuoka City, Kitakyushu City, Hokkaido Island, and the Kansai Region (including Nara, Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka). The city of Tokyo offered a trial card which has expired, but expects to issue a permanent card some time in the year 2000 (date TBA). "Welcome Cards" are available free of charge (except for the Kansai card, which costs 700 yen) to foreign travelers when they present their passport at one of the JNTO TIC's or any of the sponsoring local tourist offices. When presenting the "Welcome Card," foreign visitors receive discounts on attraction and museum entrance fees, meals, souvenir shops, and accommodations. Some facilities even offer free gifts to "Welcome Card" holders. Contact JNTO USA offices for more information on "Welcome Card" services.

EATING HABITS -- Soup: Making loud, "sliping" sounds while eating noodle soup is perfectly acceptable. Also you will not eat soup with a spoon. You will use your chopsticks for the noodles, meat and vegetable, and drink the soup by bringing the bowl to your mouth.
Sushi: When eating sushi, try not to soak your rice in the soy sauce. Dip the top portion with the fish into the sauce and put the sushi into your mouth with the fish top facing down upon your tongue, so you can savor the flavor.
Rice: When you have finished eating your rice, put the chopsticks down along the side of your plate. Usually chopstick holders are provided. DO NOT PLACE YOUR CHOPSICKS STRAIGHT UP IN THE RICE. This is how rice is served to the dead.

Etiquette Tips -- Blowing Your Nose: Blowing your nose in public places -- such as restaurants, the theater or on a group tour is considered rude. Try to sniffle until you get to a restroom.
Surgical Masks: When traveling around Japan you may encounter people with their nose and mouth covered by a surgical mask. No, they are not trying to protect themselves from the city air. (Actually, Japan's air quality is the highest in Asia). They are protecting themselves from pollen if they have hay fever and protecting others from their germs if they have a cold. This is especially considerate on crowded subways.
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Are there any websites that list bands that are playing in Tokyo?
Is the Summer Sonic Festival still going on? I went to their website
but it just listed the acts from the Aug. 2006 show. I read that
Daft Punk played there in 2006. I hear that their live shows are
insane. Here's a clip from their performance at Coachella 2006:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6NJCnjlKMk
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #21 of 24
I've been to concerts in Japan (the pretext for my 1996 visit was to see six David Bowie concerts), and it is very different from attending shows in the West. The Japanese are very polite and ordered; they stand by their seats (no pushing and shoving), and do not clap or make any noise until a song is over. That's not to say they are not enthusiastic -- they are -- it's just ... weird.

Obtaining good seats is very difficult. I struck lucky by getting to the venue early and either checking the box office for returns or buying from other fans outside. The scalpers, especially in Tokyo, didn't want to deal with Westerners at all because they knew we didn't have the same kind of money to throw around as the Japanese. They were really quite rude about it, but I guess that's scalpers everywhere.

I got a Japanese friend to draw me a cheat sheet with the symbols for the various ticket sections on it. Alas, I no longer have it, but the blocks are usually labelled North, South, etc. Floor seats are called Arena seats -- those are the ones you want, if you can afford them.

This is all pre-Internet, of course, so you might find it all a lot easier online. It took real guts to go abroad for gigs in the old days!

Oh, and everything starts EARLY. Like 6:30-7pm early. You'll be back out on the street by 9pm.
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
Do you guys know the names of some of the big videogame arcades
& pachinko parlors in Tokyo?
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
If you happen to be fluent in Japanese, can you please translate these phrases for me:

"I am allergic to shellfish."

"Where is the bathroom?"

"Beer please."
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
Brock Samson: You didn't tell me Sasquatch was a... a dude.
Steve Summers: What, you couldn't tell?
Brock Samson: Not until I had to...[shudders] shave him.
Steve Summers: What are you, shy?...
Reply
post #24 of 24
Well, Im 16 and probably getting a job this summer and really want to travel and through this add on face book there was this educational teen tours thing and one that I really liked was this one to china but then it seemed a little expensive does anyone know of any good organizations that do this kind of thing that isn't too expensive. I dont want to be like the only one that young so does anyone know of good sites for educational teen tours to places like china that arent too expensive?
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