20 Quick Rules for Traveling in Tokyo

  1. Never rent a car. The cost of parking is incredible and the streets are utterly confusing. The public transit system is the way to get anywhere and everywhere!
  2. Always fly into Haneda instead of Narita. Haneda is newer, nicer and way closer to the city.
  3. Always take an extra suitcase just for purchases! Shopping in Tokyo rules! 
  4. Don’t neglect the “tourist” spots. There are amazing discoveries even in the touristy sites.
  5. Check out the drink vending machines – there are some amazing drinks in those things! Don’t worry that you can’t read the labels, it’s all good.
  6. Always check the weather report before trekking out to Mt. Fuji. Even though it’s an enormous mountain, it can be clouded in so much that you can literally stand in front of it and not be able to see a thing. I know this from experience. You really want to see Mt. Fuji, it is beyond words.
  7. Take a chance on eating spots that don’t have menus in english, just order the special set. There are almost always lunch or dinner prix fixe menus for the day. I’ve had some amazing meals even though I don’t know what I’ve eaten exactly. 
  8. Learn a few words in Japanese – hello, please, thank you, and sorry; it’s just nice.
  9. Realize that you will get lost, Japanese streets are very confusing.
  10. If you ask for the non-smoking section in a restaurant, 1) be prepared to wait and 2) know that its right next to the smoking section. Very small places might not even have a non-smoking section.
  11. It is very unclear who has the right of way in a cross walk without a signal – be careful & don’t expect cars to stop for you.
  12. Public bathrooms abound and most are very nice. Paper towels, however, are not so popular. Many Japanese carry a small hand towel with them. This is very wise.
  13. People in Japan are very lovely, patient, and kind. Return the favor and don’t be pushy, loud, or obnoxious.
  14. The sale or discount price is the “happy” price and the best sales are on Sunday – but be prepared for MAJOR crowds.
  15. Inexpensive shoes come in S, M, & L. If you don’t have tiny feet, don’t despair simply point out that you are American, British, Brazilian, etc. and watch them break out the LL or extra large sizes.
  16. Take a fully stocked dance bag; there are tons of drop in ballet classes  (I recommend Chacott Miyamasuzaka Ballet Studio or Architanz). The classes are, however, expensive (about 3000 yen for a single drop in class) so if you are going to take multiple classes during your stay see about getting a class card.
  17. Shinagawa is the “main” train station (JR Line); you can get to and from anywhere from here. 
  18. Truck stops are wicked cool – they have shopping, food, and awesome bathrooms.
  19. Take and wear sunscreen. I’m hispanic and from LA and I have sun burned in Tokyo!
  20. Try out all the buttons on the toilets. Enough said. 

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