Travel Thursday on Empty Streets: Tokyo, Japan

Posted 1:00 AM by Mezhal Ulao in Labels: , ,
(Tokyo at night)
Tokyo is one of my favorite places in the world and would love to go see what else is new as there are several many new sites to see every time one comes back to visit. Life in Tokyo moves at a well-oiled clip, with an energy that borders on mania and an obsession with newness that seems to make all ideas quickly obsolete. Fashions begin to fade almost as soon as they are plucked from clothes hangers, and keitai (mobile phones) are traded up for each latest technological advancement. But even while throngs of tech-savvy, smartly styled Tokyoites trot through subway stations, there is a traditional side to this hyperurban cosmopolis, which may not be immediately evident.
(Japanese Train)
Getting Around Tokyo by Subway - Train - Bus - Taxi
Tokyo has an excellent subway and rail system. It may appear complicated - and it is - at first glance, but there are many English publications available to help you. The single most important publication for travel in Tokyo and Japan is the Jikokuhyo - A Book of Timetables published every month by Japan Travel Bureau (JTB). Although published in Japanese there is a short schedule published in English.

Go to any English bookstore or any JTB office and ask for the
Eigo no Jikanhyo - literally means book of schedule's in English!

General Information for the Subways: Tokyo Metro and Toei.


Transportation Guides for Tokyo

An Interactive Flash animation of the Tokyo Subway

Japan Railways - JR
The famous JR Yamanote line encircles the central Tokyo. There provide a very detailed map worth downloading and printing: see here for more detail

Japan Rail Pass
A pass can only be bought outside of Japan. Recommended if you are planning frequent trips outside of Tokyo or will be simply be in Tokyo for a long time, using the trains extensively.

How to Read and Understand a Street Address in Japan
Learn about how the very complicated street location and addressing system in Japan. Remember most street addresses for buildings do not follow a chronically number sequence. For example, you could find side by side street addresses that do not follow a logical path, i.e. 1250, 1257, etc.Most buildings have a number associated from how new the building, so you could run into a series of streets address like, 123, 569, etc.

Also, some streets do not have names at all, furthermore, particular intersections of minor streets have names, not the actual streets that create the intersection!!

Be warned that cold hard cash is the way to pay in Tokyo. Although credit cards are becoming more common, cash is still the payment of choice, and travellers cheques are rarely accepted outside of large hotels and department stores. Do not assume that you can pay with a credit card, and always carry sufficient cash.

The currency in Japan is the yen (¥), and banknotes and coins are easily distinguishable. There are ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥500 coins; and ¥1000, ¥2000, ¥5000 and ¥10, 000 banknotes (the ¥2000 note is very rarely seen). The ¥1 coin is an aluminium lightweight coin; the bronze-coloured ¥5 and silver-coloured ¥50 coins both have a hole punched in the middle. Note that some vending machines do not accept older ¥500 coins. Prices may be listed using the kanji for yen ().


ATMs are almost as common as vending machines in Tokyo. Unfortunately, most of these do not accept foreign-issued cards. Even if they display Visa and MasterCard logos, most accept only Japan-issued versions of these cards. Also, 24-hour ATMs are exceedingly rare.

Fortunately, Citibank operates 24-hour international ATMs in major areas including Roppongi, Harajuku, Omote-sandō and Shinjuku. Better still, the Japanese postal system has recently linked all of its ATMs to the international Cirrus and Plus cash networks (and some credit-card networks), making life a breeze for travellers to Tokyo. Most larger post offices (9am-5pm Mon-Fri, 9am-noon Sat) have postal ATMs. Press the handy button marked ‘English Guidance’ for English instructions.

Changing money

In theory, banks and post offices will change all major currencies. In practice, some banks refuse to exchange anything but US-dollar cash and travellers cheques. Note also that the currencies of neighbouring Taiwan (New Taiwan dollar) and Korea (won) are not easy to change, so you should change these into yen or US dollars before arriving in Japan.

With a passport, you can change cash or travellers cheques at any Authorised Foreign Exchange Bank (signs are displayed in English), major post offices, some large hotels and most big department stores. Note that you receive a better exchange rate when withdrawing cash from ATMs than when exchanging cash or travellers cheques in Tokyo. Be aware that many banks place a limit on the amount of cash you can withdraw in one day (often around US$400).

Credit cards

As Japan is very much a cash-based economy, never assume you can pay using a credit card. For businesses which do take credit card, Visa is most widely accepted, followed by MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club. Getting a cash advance using your foreign-issued credit card is nearly impossible, but Sumitomo Mitsui banks (SMBC) give cash advances if you bring your passport with you. The main credit-card companies all have offices in Tokyo.

American Express (0120-02-0120; 24hr)

MasterCard (5728-5200)

Visa (00531-44-0022; 24hr)

Here is our Suggested Itenirary for you:
Tokyo Itinerary - 5 Day

This Tokyo itinerary is a five day tour of Tokyo covering central Tokyo and surrounds including Mt Fuji.

*Harajuku fashion
*Shopping hysteria (Shibuya)
*Meiji Jingu shrine
*Mt Fuji and Hakone
*Ueno Park with its temples, shrines and museums
*Nikko World Heritage Day Tour
*Shinjuku Gyoen major Japanese garden
*Observation Deck in Shinjuku
*Shopping in Ginza
*Maid Cafe and Shopping in Akihabara

Tokyo/Japan Itinerary - 7 Day

This Tokyo itinerary is a seven day tour of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kamakura and Kyoto covering central Tokyo and surrounds including Mt Fuji.

*Same as Tokyo 5 Day itinerary plus
*Day trip to Kamakura including Great Buddha, then Yokohama
*Day trip to Kyoto including the highlights of Kyoto.

Here are more travel tips for those that are visiting Tokyo:

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3 comment(s) to... “Travel Thursday on Empty Streets: Tokyo, Japan”


Mariuca said...

I love TOkyo and I wish to visit this beautiful city every year! :)

Empty Streets said...

Hey Marzie,

yah I love tokyo so much especially those cute kawaii stuff from the vendo machine to the cute coffee shops hehehe. Hope you are having a great weekend :) xoxo

Brochure Printing said...

Oh, I really want to visit Tokyo soon... I'd love to witness the Japanese way of life first hand. And of course, experience their insane pop culture. :D

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