Tokyo, Japan’s bustling and ultra-modern capital, is a city like no other on earth. Visiting tokyo is a dream for a lot of people.
With more than 37 million residents in the city and the neighboring prefectures, Tokyo is the most populated metropolitan area on the planet. This is a city with a population bigger than many countries, which means you can find just about anything here.
And in Tokyo, the modern world rubs shoulders with ancient Japanese culture in an unforgettable way. A single visit to a city like this is never enough, and you could spend a lifetime here without exhausting all there is to see and do.
Still, you have to start somewhere.
Before visiting Tokyo, especially if it’s the first time, there are a few things you should know to make your trip easier and more enjoyable.
First of all, don’t forget to drop off your bags at a convenient Bounce luggage storage. With locations throughout this sprawling city, Bounce can keep your bags safe while you explore this unique metropolis.
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Table of Contents
Mastering Tokyo’s public transportation system
In a city as big as this, getting around can be its own kind of adventure. That’s why it’s so important to travel light and leave any unnecessary bags behind at a convenient luggage storage.
The Tokyo subway system is expansive, with 13 different lines serving more than 250 stations. While there are maps in every station, it’s never a bad idea to bring your own map with you, whether on paper or as an app on your phone.
Note that the Tokyo subway system does not connect to Narita Airport. Instead, the Skyliner train serves the airport, which runs from Tokyo to its airport in around 41 minutes. If you’re arriving in the city by plane, it’s possible to buy a combination ticket for both this train and the subway system.
If you plan to use the subway a lot, it’s a good idea to get a travel pass. This will help you avoid having to use ticket machines in the stations every time you want to jump on a train.
Passes are available for 24 hours, 40 hours, or 72 hours, and they cover all lines of the Tokyo Metro and the smaller Toei subway system.
Cultural immersion and etiquette
Part of the whole point of traveling somewhere new is to experience a different culture. And Japanese culture is truly unique. Especially if you’re from a Western country and have never traveled in Asia.
Japanese etiquette is highly refined, and you could spend a lifetime trying to master its intricacies. Luckily, Japanese etiquette also forbids Japanese people from pointing out when you’ve made a mistake. Nobody expects you to have flawless Japanese manners as an outsider. However, you will find people open up to much more if you practice a few basic tips:
· Take off your shoes. As with many Asian cultures, the Japanese have a horror of wearing shoes indoors. You should never wear your shoes inside a Japanese person’s house, and the same rules apply in temples, restaurants, and hotels. If you see a shoe rack, get those shoes off and use it.
· Learn to bow. Bowing is how the Japanese greet one another. The more formal the occasion, the deeper the bow. You’re sure to get it wrong, but that’s no reason not to try.
· Don’t tip.
Things to do
Honestly, we could write 10,000 words on all there is to do in Tokyo. And the best things to do are going to depend on your own preferences.
However, Tokyo is home to some can’t-miss tourist attractions that everyone should see at least once. Check out this list for some sightseeing inspiration:
· Enjoy the view from the Tokyo Skytree
· See the country’s spiritual side at the Temple of Senso-ji
· Visit a tea ceremony for a crash course in Japanese ritual
· Soak at an onsen to experience Japanese bathing culture
· Let yourself be overwhelmed by the crowds at Shibuya Crossing
· Recharge your batteries in nature at Yoyogi Park
Food in Tokyo
Japanese food belongs to that select group of cuisines that enjoy enormous popularity around the world. Along with Italian, American, Chinese, Indian, and Korean food, Japanese food can be found in just about every major city around the world.
Therefore, you would expect Tokyo to have an incredible food scene. And it does.
Entire books have been written about the best places to eat in Tokyo. But really, the best thing to do is dive in and find your own favorites. You can take a food tour of the capital city to get the inside track on some of the best restaurants around or rely on online reviews and recommendations from friends to find the perfect place to eat.
Here’s an overview of the different kinds of restaurants you’ll find in the city:
· Sushi-ya: These restaurants are, unsurprisingly, the best place to find perhaps Japan’s most internationally famous style of food, sushi. Often, these restaurants serve sushi on a conveyor belt so you can pick and choose whatever you want to eat. Sushi restaurants run the full range from cheap and cheerful to incredibly luxurious, so make sure you choose one that matches your budget.
· Ryotei: These traditional Japanese restaurants are not as well known to tourists as they are to locals. Generally, you’ll need a reservation to get into a ryotei, but if you do, you’ll be in for a treat.
· Sukiyaki-ya: Sukiyaki is a one-pot dish of meat, vegetables, and noodles with ancient origins in Japanese culture. These ubiquitous restaurants provide a great place to try traditional Japanese food, with options to suit every budget.
· Soba-ya: Looking for a bargain? These cheap noodle houses are popular with students and working people, providing a great way to sample Japanese food without spending much money.
· Yakitori-ya: Often found in Tokyo’s entertainment districts, these restaurants provide alcoholic drinks and finger food as the Japanese version of bar snacks.
· Okonomiyaki-ya: One of the most popular styles of restaurant in Tokyo, the okonomiyaki serves Japanese-style pizza, and you’ll find them absolutely everywhere.
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Visiting Tokyo: Last words
No matter how many times you visit, Tokyo is always an adventure. After all, what else would you expect from a city this size?
Hopefully, this guide has given you some useful information to make your trip go more smoothly. Now it’s up to you to relax, explore, and get to know this incredible place for yourself.