Traveling So Easy a Gingerbread Can Do It!
- Take the metro. The Tokyo Metro is an inexpensive, easy way to get anywhere in Tokyo. The signs have both Japanese and English and are color coded by line. The metro map can be downloaded here.
- Consider an alternative to hotels. The Shinjuku-Okubu Station was only a couple blocks from our Airbnb, allowing us to easily get anywhere in Tokyo. Our host was a great resource. She recommended nearby restaurants, step by step directions, and provided us with pocket WiFi to use the duration of our stay. Although our room was small, it was clean and met our needs at a fraction of the cost of a hotel in the same location.
- Download a translation app. We used the Google Translate app every day to read menus, tickets, signs, and labels.
- Book tours in advance. We booked our tours months in advance using Viator. Many of the tours we were interested in sold out or had very limited availability closer to our departure date. The tours were lead by a variety of companies and each exceed our expectations.
- Major credit cards are accepted. We were able to use credit cards at most locations, but paid with Yen at smaller shops and restaurants.
- Know the exchange rate. We used the Iphone XE Currency App to check the current exchange rate before converting our cash.
- Learn a few Japanese phrases. Wanting to be respectful of the local language, we learned to say several phrases in Japanese before our trip. We always received an excited smile and nod of the head when we said thank you, delicious, nice to meet you, or thank you in Japanese.
- Take advantage of airport public railways. We took the Skyliner from Narita Airport. The train was air conditioned, comfortable, and offered free Wi-Fi. We arrived in Nippori Station 36 minutes later where we transferred to the JR Line and reached Shinjuku-Okubu Station in 19 minutes. The total ticket cost was 2640 Yen and total time was 60 minutes.
- Book a tour guide to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market. We were informed when booking and beginning the tour, guides are prohibited from entering the inner market. Reaching this point of the tour, any identifiers of being a guide were removed and our tour continued inside. Without a knowledgeable guide, we would not have been able to see many areas of the market and sample a perfect $30 USD pear.
- Most streets are unmarked. Blocks are numbered, but the streets in between have no signs. Using the map from our DK Eyewitness Travel Guide, we were able to compare landmarks in the city with those labeled on the map to determine our location.
- Research unique attractions. Japan has some crazy, kawaii places, but aren’t in plain sight. With five or more stories of restaurants and shops, it’s impossible to see everything. Some of the most unique places are off the main path or not widely advertised.