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My Top 3 Travel Tips for Tokyo, Japan

Updated on September 16, 2011

For a month, I had the privileged to travel to Japan with one of my best buds. During our time, we explored Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka but what really blew our minds was Tokyo, Japan.

It's hard to begin the experiences we had in Tokyo because it's like a complete sensory overload from the sounds, sights, smells and culture.

What I'd like to do is put together three of my top tips for people traveling to Tokyo. Some of these won't be your usual travel tips; just a few things we experienced that I believe others will get a kick out of - let's begin ...

1. Bring LOTS of money

I don't think you realize how expensive Tokyo can be. Sure, there are ways to reduce your travel costs in Tokyo by staying at hostels and eating the 100 yen menu at McDonald's but nearly EVERYTHING is almost twice what you're used to paying.

As you could imagine, you need to bring a LOT of money because even the simple things cost you a fortune. A subway ride back and forth is nearly $5, food (on average) was about $10 for the simplest dishes and any entry into an izakaya is going to run you nearly $50 after you've split it with people.

The good news is that befriending people in Tokyo will open up a wealth of ways to get around paying high prices because they know all the little hot spots and in's and out's about the city that you wouldn't have found on your own.

However, be ready to easily spend $1,000 a week while in Tokyo so don't stay too long if you're on a budget.

2. Pick up the Culture and Language

Take time to at least learn "sorry", "excuse me" and "thank you" while in Tokyo. The people of Tokyo (and Japan) are very quiet and polite; they also don't really take kindly to travelers because they've been isolated for such a long period of time.

You'll find yourself saying "sorry" and "excuse me" dozens of times each day; it's the least you can do so you don't upset the locals.

Likewise, be open to the culture of the Japanese. There are many things people do that may shock you such as fashion and public interactions. Looking people directly in the eyes will make other uncomfortable - same as being loud on the subway - so respect the culture the best you can be be ready to have people give you quick glances and some discomfort from your presence.

I highly recommend going to an izakaya (sit down bar and food) along with karaoke.

3. Get lost

I spent an entire day wandering around Tokyo; it took me nearly 5 hours to go from Asakusa to Shinjuku which is a huge amount of time seeing that Tokyo is relatively small but so overloaded with sky scrapers and people that you almost feel overwhelmed.

Tokyo is so massive that it will take you months just to get the layout down and even begin to explore a fraction of what the city has to offer. After you've done the touristy areas, take entire days just to wander around the city with no real intent. You'll find thousands of things to do down alleys and going 'vertical' in buildings (you'll find a single building will have dozens of shops that you'd never know - since you probably couldn't read the signs).

Don't be afraid if you get lost because you can easily get back to your hotel or hostel with the subway; the police are extremely helpful and will show you around if you're lost, as well.

My Thoughts on Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo has spoiled me in some ways. Ever since returning home, I've found myself with a lot of discomfort because people are extremely loud and sometimes not all polite compared to the people of Japan.

Likewise, the size of Tokyo is so massive (sky scrapers literally everywhere) that even the largest U.S. city seems to be dwarfed by the size of Tokyo so you do get this "small town" feeling.

Overall, Tokyo has been one of the best adventures of my life. I plan to visit the city (and country) once again in the near future and I highly recommend you do so, some day.

If you're interested in traveling, come visit my blog at where I share how to build your own business and find jobs that let you travel the world!

Been to Tokyo or planning on going? Leave a comment.

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    • travelingineurope profile image

      travelingineurope 6 years ago

      cool. I hope to visit Japan, including Tokyo one day.

      Perhaps you'd be interested to read what I have to say about some places in Europe :)

    • thranax profile image

      Andrew 6 years ago from Rep Boston MA

      It also seems like a bad place to go if you dont have a ton of money to spend on other things YOU need like anime items, fancy wall hangings, and authentic calligraphy wall hangings. Oh, forgot the Pocky and other treats!