This was my childhood dream… all those years of reading manga in my room, watching anime on Cartoon Network’s Toonami and Adult Swim, and playing Final Fantasy on my brother’s playstation were all prepping me for my eventual trip to Tokyo where I would finally geek out and live my best life!
Adult reality… 13 hour flight and major jet lag…
Though getting there is a whole other battle (tips on long haul flights coming soon), there were a few things I learned while I was there that I wish I knew before going.
No visa needed
This is something I learned before I went, but thank god! No need to send out a passport or go wait in line at an embassy; the US and Japan have an agreement to allow visitation for tourists for up to 90 days, so just remember to bring your passport.
Uber is super expensive, take the train
Though it’s become the norm to use apps like Uber and Lyft to get around in big cities this is one place I suggest not using them. They’re great, don’t get me wrong, and just as trust worthy as in the states, but they are super expensive! The best way to get around Tokyo is by Metro. You would think with such a language gap it would be difficult, but it’s the absolute opposite! All the stops are numbered and most will have an english translation to go with it. The trains are also well labeled and color coded with which is express and which is local so that you won’t end up in Ginza when you want to be in Shibuya.
English, a second language
Learning Japanese may not be the first thing on your to do list before you go and it’s ok, most people there will know at least a few phrases to point you in the right direction. With Japan being full of ex-pats and businessmen traveling for work, English has become quite prevalent among the locals…
But you should download Google Translate…
Not all menus (or street signs for that matter) will give you an English translation and google translate was a huge help. Like most translating apps, you can write down the phrase to be translated into english, but what’s great about google translate is that you can take a photo of the text, highlight the portion you would like translated, and it will tell you what it says (super helpful if it’s only in characters). This is perfect for if you need to go to a pharmacy and pick up some antacids or cold medicine and there’s no one there to help.
If you go in the summer, pack an umbrella
No, not for the rain, but for the sun. If you’re doing a lot of walking, which most sightseeing requires, the sun and heat are very unforgiving. You’ll notice the locals will all have their parasols or umbrellas handy as well as a sweat rag (for those blisteringly hot days) packed in their cute backpacks. The Japanese always look put together and you should as well, don’t let that sun bring you down! This is a super cute umbrella from HAPPYSWEEDS.
Don’t be rude
No one likes to be rude, especially when out to dinner, so brushing up on a few customs from their culture is very helpful. This site gives you a low down on how you should act in certain situations so you don’t feel like a total outsider.
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