Country: Japan
Currency: Yen (JPY)
Peak Season: February-May, September-November
Shoulder Season: December-January
Median Temperature: 15.10 C / 59.18 F
Main Languages: Japanese, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: JR Yamanote Train Line, subway, bus, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 3 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $200.00/day
Tourist Passes: Japan Rail (JR) Pass
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Japan prides itself in having heavily-resounding monikers: “The Land of the Rising Sun,” “Origin of the Sun,“ and once having called itself “Great Empire of Japan.” Bold statements as anyone would concur. Being backed by one of the most interesting cities in the world—Tokyo—is one of the key reasons why the country receives a generous amount of fanfare and tourism, particularly from a younger population. But there’s more to Tokyo than just the animation and eccentricities. The city is cumulatively renowned for having an effective confluence of both modern and classical artistry and architecture, technological superiority, an outright expensive cost of living and a rich history of warfare and artisanship that begs praises for the accomplishments of the Japanese people.

The Japanese are extremely industrious, known for their no-nonsense attitude and interest for anything out of the ordinary. That’s precisely the reason why Tokyoites will surprise you with their disregard for com. Groomed with all the fun, excitement and clandestine activities brought about by the cosmopolitan culture, Tokyo becomes one of the hardest cities to administer. It’s also quite impossible to comprehend how such a technologically-advanced city is brimming with culture at every corner, with young people promoting the wardrobe and traditions of their ancestors amid all the temptations of materialism. Tea ceremonies, origami, kimono, tatami, katana, ofuros (sauna baths)—we don’t see these niceties being ringed out any time soon.

Packing List

  • Essential medication and toiletries; deodorants, tissue paper, bottled water, contraceptive, as well as tampons are rarities in the country; the government heavily regulates ingestible imports as well
  • A map, a guidebook, and a brief understanding of Japanese culture and norms; remember that Tokyoites, while exhibitory of courtesy to tourists, are really mindful of time
  • Fashionable clothing you can’t dare wear in your country, but be informed of seasonal trends to avoid faux pas; Tokyoites, while eccentric, prefer to dress in their age category
  • Slip-on shoes and plenty of socks, since it’s customary to take off shoes when entering homes, restaurants and other entertainment venues
  • A decent camera, plenty of memory/film and batteries; bring a credit card or extra pocket money to shop for the world’s cutting-edge electronics, that aren’t sold anywhere other than Akibahara

Things to Do

  • Visiting historic temples (Gokuku-ji, Tsukiji Hongan-ji, Zojoji) and the infamous Meiji Jingu Shrine; Shinto shrines are sacred and are considered to be the sanctuary of kami or “gods”
  • Techno-gazing at Akibahara Electric Town, which showcases many advanced gadgets found nowhere else than Tokyo; Akibahara also has a rich selection of otaku or “subculture” merchandise
  • Techno-gazing at Akibahara Electric Town, which showcases many advanced gadgets found nowhere else than Tokyo; Akibahara also has a rich selection of otaku or “subculture” merchandise
  • Cosplay viewing at Harajuku, where one can meet and greet young adults dressed up as anime characters, ghosts, dolls and anything out of the blue—there’s even a horde of Elvis impersonators here
  • Eating sushi and drinking sake inside any of the pubs in Roponggi, but be wary of Yakuza presence, though; the prefecture is known for its tourist population and active nightlife circuits

DON'T

  • Forget to have your currency converted to yen at the airport; credit cards and foreign currency are not widely honored—Tokyoites are nationalistic even though they somehow look westernized
  • Forget to observe proper decorum and apparel while in select districts, venues and homes; prepare to get jostled during rush hour—locals tend to get a bit scruffy inside commuter trains
  • Splurge on restaurant dishes; instead, delight yourself on Japanese street food found almost everywhere; also, never count the change given to you, since that is considered mistrust
  • Waste time on a single location—plan ahead and map out your itineraries, since staying a day longer in Tokyo may get you broke; socialize, befriend and get contact details for your next visit
  • Forget to bow in the right manner (not jokingly, it’s considered an insult); always smile and remember to acquaint with everyone—no Tokyoite wants to be ignored in a social gathering