Tokyo, Japan is the most populous metropolitan area of the world boasting 36 million people in a very small area. The best part about visiting Tokyo isn’t any particular area, monument, or museum but rather observing the culture and its people. The Japanese people are incredibly well-mannered, respectable, and orderly. I’ve never seen a culture so impressive in terms of respect for one another or such a large group of people who can be so incredibly quiet.
Tokyo is also known for its vibrant city life such as: karaoke establishments where you can reserve a room with you and your friends and sing to your heart’s content, shopping centers galore, casinos where the machines are as bright and colorful as a pinball machine, the brightly-lit streets of Tokyo Time Square, and the beauty of the canals on the east side.
Wifi is really nice to have and easy to obtain! Reserve a pocket wifi online before you depart and pick it up at the airport on the third floor at the post office (Narita).
Where to stay:
We stayed at another AirBnB in Tokyo and we hit the jackpot! David provided specific directions on how to get to his place (4 different ways from the airport) and had a house manual waiting for us so we knew how to run everything in his home. He made us feel incredibly comfortable and showed us around the best parts of Tokyo during our stay!
Food (my favorite subject):
You will be provided with a wet washcloth in most establishments you choose to dine. I loved the little washcloths especially since it prevented the need to go to the bathroom to wash your hands before each meal. Please note, it is considered rude to use it to wipe your face. After washing your hands it’s polite to fold up and put near the side of the table.
Eat With, the latest craze, provided us an amazing opportunity to explore the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest in the world, and eat sushi in a traditional Japanese home. If you haven’t yet tried “Eat With” check it out the next time you’re planning a trip to a major city.
Sushi in Tokyo is not typically “made to order” but instead either comes already made on a conveyer belt or straight off the menu, we found very few places which allowed for substitutions.
Be sure to check out the bakeries and fresh fruit which are tasty and delicious!
It wouldn’t be right to fly all the way to Japan and not order noodles. We found a great place (there are many great places) hidden within a touristy area called Ichirans. Ordering actually takes place just outside the restaurant on a vending machine before you’re shown to your own private dining area. Be sure to slurp your noodles, as it’s considered good etiquette and conveys to the chef you are enjoying them!
Tokyo is mainly comprised of small little diners (watch “Jiro dreams of Sushi” before going to understand the concept) so you’ll likely eat in a “snug” environment amongst locals. If you don’t already feel comfortable using chopsticks be sure to learn before you go as you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fork or knife.
What to know before you go to Tokyo (what a tongue twister)!
- The subway is very orderly and quiet. Be sure to get in line before getting on and don’t eat or drink while on the subway.
- Walk on the left side of the street (instead of the right). The left side of escalators is reserved for standing, the right side for walking up.
- Carry cash. Credit cards aren’t as widely used in Asia so take out more cash than you would elsewhere. Also, it’s considered polite to put money in the tray (located on the counter) when paying for something rather than in the person’s hand. No need to tip, it is not part of their culture.
- Bowing is an engrained piece of the culture in Asia. It is appropriate to bow as a form of showing respect. The depth of the bow should be proportionate to the elevation of the person you are addressing. Therefore if bowing to a waitress who just seated your bow should be less than the waitress since she is doing you a service.
- You will notice Tokyo is very clean compared to most major cities yet finding a trash can is nearly impossible. If you’re looking for a trash can look near the vending machines or just outside a convenience store.
- Drinking outside is allowed and acceptable (Tyler was a big fan).
- It is traditional to shower outside the tub in Japan which means the entire bathroom gets wet. This is supposed to happen, and it’s kind of fun! Also, the toilets have more buttons than a space shuttle and if you push the wrong one your bound to get wet. Good luck.
- Doorways are very short..so watch your head!
- Bring carry-on luggage if at all possible. The subway stations were not meant for large pieces of luggage and many only have stairs, not escalators.
- Try your best not to sneeze or blow your nose in public, it is considered very bad etiquette.
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