Tokyo, Japan’s capital has to be among the most interesting places on earth. The city is a busy metropolis covering over 13,000 square kilometers.
Due to its enormous size, the city has been divided into 23 separate wards to make it easier to govern. It is also the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 30 million residents.
But despite its crowded nature, the city is always kept immaculately clean and most orderly. This tidiness is largely maintained as a result of the strict rules that govern movement of people and litter disposal.
Tokyo is the top destinations for tourists visiting Japan.
And it’s easy to see why.
The city’s landscape is filled with hundreds of dazzling skyscrapers towering above the skyline.
Among these lofty buildings is the second tallest structure in the world – the Tokyo Skytree.
The city becomes even more fascinating at night when the neon lights come on, enveloping the entire metropolis in a vibrant glow of red and yellow.
Tokyo is also a technological haven where you are sure to find an extensive array of the latest gadgets and state of the art innovations.
And above all, Tokyo ranks among the safest cities in the world where criminal activity is almost non-existent, with the inhabitants being remarkably cordial and welcoming to visitors.
If you plan to visit Tokyo to experience this city’s countless attractions and unique culture, this article will provide you with all the information you need to make your trip as memorable as possible.
GETTING READY FOR THE TRIP
Before you embark on your journey, there are a few guidelines which might prove useful, especially if you are a first-time tourist.
1. Learn a little Japanese – Not many Japanese people speak English, and communication might be a challenge. Learning basic Japanese pleasantries like how to say hi and thank you will help you get by with ease.
2. Gather some knowledge on Japanese laws – Japan is a country that upholds a strict adherence to the law. Although the laws are plenty, they are not draconian in any way. Most of the laws aim to maintain a calm sense of civility around the country. Driving under the influence of alcohol for example will lead to an immediate revocation of a person’s driving license. Smoking in public and littering is also strictly prohibited.
3. Learn to use chopsticks – Japanese people hold their traditions in high regard. Using chopsticks is one of the traditions that have been maintained for centuries. In most establishments, you will be provided with chopsticks to eat with, and not knowing how to use them will make your dining experiences very uncomfortable.
4. Carry enough cash to make purchases – Tokyo has thousands of shopping outlets. However, few are equipped to accept credit cards for payments. You will therefore need to ensure that you have enough hard cash with you anytime you want to buy anything to avoid any inconveniences and minor embarrassments.
5. Dress to impress – Tokyo is one of the most fashion-conscious cities on earth. Flamboyance rules the streets. Vibrant outfits, designer wear, fabulously dyed hair and make-up can be found on every corner. So don’t be too modest.
GETTING TO TOKYO
1. Travel documents
To be able to travel to Tokyo or any other destination in Japan as a tourist, you are required to obtain a tourist visa and have a valid passport.
Tourist visas can be obtained from the Japanese embassy in the country you reside. This visa will be valid for 90 days upon entry into the country, after which you will need to re-apply for a new tourist visa.
Your passport also has to be valid for the entire period of your stay. This means that if your passport is less than 90 days from expiry, you will not be allowed into the country until you renew it.
Japan however offers exemptions for citizens from several countries who are allowed to enter the country for a period of 90 days without the need for a visa.
Tourists allowed to travel visa-free include citizens of U.S.A, Canada, Australia, Spain and 64 other countries.
The full list of visa-exempt countries can be found on Japan’s immigration department website.
2. Traveling to Tokyo
The most convenient way of getting to Tokyo is through air travel. There are several airlines offering direct flights to Tokyo from major cities around the world.
These include Japan airlines, Turkish airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar airlines and many more. Depending on the country you are coming from, you can check with the top airline companies that operate there to find out if they offer flights to Tokyo.
Though direct flights will get you there faster, boarding connecting flights may be less grueling, especially if you have children since you will get an opportunity to rest between flights.
You therefore need to consult your airline on the duration of the whole journey before making your plans.
GETTING AROUND IN TOKYO
With the city’s huge population and vast size, you might imagine that transportation is a major headache. This is however not the case.
Tokyo boasts a highly developed transportation network which is perhaps the most orderly in the world. The most easily accessible mode of transport is the subway which reliably transports over 8 million people daily.
To be able to use these trains, you will need to get a Japan Rail Pass card which you can load any amount of fare you intend to use. These cards can be purchased at all train stations and will give you access to a vast network of trains traveling to all parts of the city.
Taxis are also available to take you anywhere around Tokyo. They are however more expensive than subway trains.
All train stations and airports have taxi ranks where you can easily find one to board. If you are in the city center, you can flag a taxi by simply waving your hand towards an oncoming one.
Taxis are easy to spot since they all have green number plates and the drivers are all dressed in uniform. Uber taxis are also available but they are even more expensive than normal taxis.
The beauty of using a taxi in Tokyo however is that the drivers are always honest and you don’t have to tip them.
THINGS TO DO IN TOKYO
Tokyo is a city with several interesting attractions and there are plenty of fascinating activities to engage in.
1. Sample some delicious Japanese cuisine – Restaurants can be found in almost all streets in Tokyo. Depending on whether you are in search of a quick bite or a fine dining experience, a good eatery is never far away. You can take some time to enjoy some traditional oriental dishes including the famous Japanese sushi and soba to the nutritious hot-pot recipes. The Ginza district of Tokyo is an ideal location for anyone with an appetite for Japanese food thanks to its several top-class hotels and restaurants.
2. Visit the Tokyo Disney Resort – This resort contains a theme park where you can enjoy staged performances, exciting adventure rides and meet your favorite Disney characters in costume. It is a beautiful place to visit especially if you have children.
3. Visit the Tokyo Skytree – This is the second tallest man-made structure in the world. There is an observation deck at the top that offers an unrestricted view of the whole city below from over 400 meters. On a clear sky, you might even be able to view the majestic Mt. Fujiyama from here.
WHERE TO STAY
If you are in search of a decent place to stay in Tokyo, the Shinjiku district or Roppongi might be the right place to look for accommodation.
There are plenty of options for travelers on a tight budget to those willing to spend big on top-class facilities.
Cheap hotels and hostels are available offering limited amenities but with enough security and access to transportation.
More high-end hotels like the Park Hyatt in western Shinjiku offer high-class services and lavishly furnished suites, but at a steep price.
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