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A Complete Travel Guide of Japan’s Capital

By Brentyn, published on 30/06/2019 Blog > Languages > Japanese > Tokyo 101: Things to Know Before Travelling to the World’s Largest City
“If I had to agree to live in one country, or even one city, for the rest of my life, never leaving it, I’d pick Tokyo in a second.” -Anthony Bourdain 
Preparing your first trip to Japan is no easy task, especially when you are unfamiliar with Japanese culture and the geography of the land of the rising sun.
The capital of Japan, Tokyo, is one of the most exciting places in this world and guarantees a memorable stay.
To discover Japan as a whole and especially Tokyo without any trouble, the experts at Superprof have prepared a straightforward educational article with information that all need to know before embarking on an adventure of a lifetime in Japan’s capital city.
Whether you have the goal of visiting Buddhist and Shinto temples, sampling Japanese cuisine, or enjoying the excitement of thrilling neighbourhoods such as Shibuya or Akihabara on a trip to Japan, your holiday will be a smashing success if you heed the advice in our well-written and researched travel guides.
Nihon He Yokoso!

Japanese Tourism: Tokyo’s Best Neighbourhoods

If you’re going on a trip to Tokyo, you’ll have to be ready to experience some of the most eclectic neighbourhoods on the planet. However, many may be confused as to Tokyo’s size and be unsure of which districts are the best. Thankfully the experts at Superprof genuinely care about their readers and always want to direct them in the right way.

Therefore, without further ado, we will consider some of the most highly recommended districts to visit while in Tokyo.

Akihabara

The so-called “Electric City” district owes its name to the number of electronic stores that are available on practically every corner. From multi-level stores to privately owned small shops, you’ll be spoiled for choice when shopping for electronics in Akihabara.

Akihabara is also known as being a mecca for otakus (young people obsessed with computers) since there is a wide variety of arcades, manga stores, and comics shops.

Asakusa

On the banks of the Sumida River, the district of Asakusa contains an enormous shrine dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of Kannon. The sanctuary has been named Senso-Ji and is one of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks.

Since the Senso-Ji is an essential tourist destination, there are many little shops on the adjoining streets to buy souvenirs to bring back home; shopping and enjoying peaceful temples, the best of both worlds!

Also, it is essential to mention that the district of Asakusa also has an Asahi beer museum, a Golden Flame sculpture, and Sumida Park which is an ideal place to wander through during springtime to observe the sakura blossoms.

Shinjuku

Although Shinjuku has the busiest station in the world, it is a district that has much more to offer than one might think. The neighbourhood of Shinjuku is well known and adored for the following aspects:

  • Business meetings from offices that observe spectacular skylines,
  • Shopping in many distinct shops and streets,
  • Fantastic nightlife at favourite bars and clubs,
  • Resting in the garden of Shinjuku-gyoen.

The previously mentioned points make the Shinjuku district a must-visit when travelling to Tokyo.

Yanaka

Yanaka is a district in the north-east of Tokyo that is often known as “old Tokyo.” For what reasons? Mainly because it recalls past generations of the nostalgic charm of old Japan.

Between temples and shrines, little shops and typical buildings, tourists plunge into another century of Japanese living. 

The district of Yanaka allows visitors, in a short time, to envision what Tokyo was like in the past.

Being a Tourist in Japan: Tips for Finding the Best Accommodations in Tokyo

lodging options in Tokyo Hotels, Airbnbs, hostels, Ryokens, and more; finding a place to stay in Tokyo is quite easy due to all the options available. (Source: Unsplash)

While Tokyo is so beautiful and exciting, you’ll want to spend as little time as possible inside your hotel room or rented apartment, it still is essential to find a place that you feel comfortable and can get a good night’s sleep to be ready for the next days of travelling.

Therefore, without further ado, Superprof will provide essential tips to choose a comfortable lodging spot that doesn’t break the bank.

Choosing Between Local Accommodations or Places That Cater to Tourists

First, it is the utmost importance to select the type of accommodation you want: hotel, Airbnb, hostels, Ryokens; Tokyo has no shortage of lodging options available for tourists.

For the adventurous backpackers, capsule hotels are quite cheap and create a unique experience that will never be forgotten. 

The best location that helps tourists maximise their amount of time sightseeing and reduce their amount of time travelling from one place to the next is the north-east of the city. The true spirit and traditional atmosphere that visitors will love can be found in the districts of Asakusa, Ueno, and Yanaka; everything is nearby, and everything looks typically Japanese.

For a more typical stay that is not recommended in tourist guides, visitors should venture off to the west of Japan’s capital to live among the locals for a few days.

The neighbourhoods of Shibuya and Shinjuku are the most popular among tourists, perhaps resulting from the fact that train lines from these districts go directly to Mount Fuji. 

To find a place of lodging that is a little less crowded and more typical, visitors may enjoy the local areas of Ebisu, Daikanyama, and Meguro; these districts offer cute cafés, restaurants, and parks. In the same genre but a more modern setting is the districts of Roppongi and Odaiba which allow travellers to experience the bright lights and nightlife of Tokyo; the latter two neighbourhoods aren’t that far from Disneyland either!

Finally, Ikebukuro has the merit of being known as a traditional, local, and convenient place to find lodging that is also lively and better for those with low-budgets.

Tips About Mistakes to Avoid

The first piece of advice we offer to travellers is not to book your accommodations last minute. Tokyo is a vast city that accepts millions of visitors per year; therefore, the best lodging is often booked far in advance, and last minute planners only seem to find uncomfortable hostels if anything at all!

Whether booking a hotel room or plane tickets to travel to the land of the rising, planning is of the utmost importance to save money and guarantee a successful trip without any hiccups. 

Also, we highly recommend purchasing a paper map or downloading one on an app such as Google Maps or Maps Me. It is best to download an offline map on your cellphone to avoid getting lost when you don’t have any internet connection.

Why is a map important at all times? 

Since the majority of Tokyoites do not speak much English, asking for directions can be frustrating for both parties because of the language barrier. 

Recent statistics have shown that Japan is the fourth most popular country in the world; therefore, it should come as no surprise that there is a steady influx of tourists at all times filling the streets. Thus, if one prefers to have tranquillity and peace while visiting Tokyo, it is suggested to find a quiet place outside the city where there isn’t too much jostling around.

With all of the tips provided in this subheading, we guarantee that all trips to Japan’s capital will be a success!

using maps Downloading an offline map of Tokyo on a trustworthy app is a brilliant way of avoiding getting lost in the world’s largest city. (Source: Unsplash)

“To stay is to exist, but to travel, is to exist.” -Gustave Nadaud

A trip to Japan’s capital is a beautiful idea for those who love to travel and experience new cultures and customs. To fully take advantage of all that Tokyo has to offer, it is essential to do your research beforehand and plan which typical points of interest you wish to see while in Tokyo.

To effectively guide first-time travellers to Tokyo, we will consider some of the must-see places and must-do things.

Traditional Places Not To Miss

Japan is known by many as an empire; therefore, it is not shocking to find an Imperial Palace in its capital city. The beautiful and traditional Imperial Palace is located in the heart of Tokyo and houses the current emperor of Japan, Naruhito. Surrounding by a beautiful garden, the Imperial Palace is not visitable year round.

The Asakusa district is very traditional and offers visitors a taste of Buddhist traditions. For example, visiting the Senso-Ji temple, dedicated to the goddess of Kannon, is a unique experience. Similarly, the Shinto shrine named after Emperor Meiji is a must-see when in Tokyo.

Finally, the Tsukiji Market cannot be missed. Although recently relocated to Toysosu since October 2018, the stalls and typical sushi restaurants around Tsukiji can still be visited by all tourists. Seeing the once largest fish market in the world is a must in Tokyo.

Modern Sites in Tokyo

Finding a new and futuristic site in Tokyo is no difficult task!

The most famous district and a prime example of modernity is the neighbourhood of Shibuya. Massive billboards, flashing lights, and crowds of people make anyone feel like they just stepped into a new planet!

Other neighbourhoods that may appeal to those looking for modern urbanism include the following:

  • Akihabara,
  • Roppongi,
  • Shinjuku,
  • Ikebukuro,
  • Odaiba.
Also, for those who like to see things from above to get a better perspective, the Tokyo Tower is a landmark symbol of Japan’s capital that merits special attention; it is a taller replica of the Eiffel Tower that was originally built in 1961. Visitors touring the observation deck can see Mount Fuji on bright days!

Mastering Japanese Language Skills Before Travelling to Japan

speaking Japanese Knowing a few Japanese words and phrases makes travel more accessible in Japan. (Source: Unsplash)

Speaking Japanese is an asset when travelling to the land of the rising sun; nevertheless, it is a choice, and it is not mandatory. The experience of visiting major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Kyoto is heightened with the ability to speak Japanese, and the language truly is the glue that holds the nation of Japan together.

By mastering Japanese, foreigners can freely discover Japan without any limitations and perhaps consider the possibility of moving there. 

However, if you do not speak the language of emperors and samurais, there is no need to fret since Superprof is here to save the day and offer advice about how to be understood across the Japanese archipelago with or without a command of the Japanese language.

Speaking a Little Japanese is a Great Idea

The Japanese culture is so rich and satisfying that it would be almost criminal to deprive yourself of what Japan has to offer. The main reasons to learn Japanese on a trip to Tokyo may include: asking for directions to navigate the city, take public transport and understand announcements on the metro, make yourself understood in case of emergency, ordering food at a restaurant, etc.

The English language can be used everywhere; however, it is a common fact that the majority of Tokyo natives do not has a grasp of the English language. 

Therefore, to avoid awkward situations and frustration, learning a few key phrases in Japanese is a brilliant idea.

Where’s the bathroom? How much? How far is it? What time is it?

Many questions can be learnt in Japanese to enjoy your trip more fully. Some examples of Japanese words and phrases include the following:

  • Konnichiwa or Ohayou Gozaimasu: Hello,
  • Onegaishimasu: please,
  • Gomen: sorry or excuse me,
  • Arigato: thanks,
  • Sayonara: Goodbye.

Having the previously mentioned tools in your language toolbox will help you start conversations with the Japanese people!

Is it wrong to travel to Japan without any Japanese language skills? 

Speaking a foreign language is tough and almost impossible for some individuals. However, there is no need to worry if you do not speak a few Japanese phrases before visiting Tokyo since it is not a requirement to have a good time.

The Tokyoites are some of the most friendly, polite, and kind people in the world and they will generally try their best to help struggling visitors even if there is a language barrier.

Knowing a bit of Japanese helps travellers bargain and avoid losing too much yen! 

In short, it is possible to learn Japanese; nothing is impossible! However, having a few phrases is enough to communicate and impress Tokyo natives.

Becoming an English and Japanese speaking bilingual is feasible and hands down the best way to thoroughly enjoy a trip to the land of the rising sun. Having a grasp of the Japanese language allows foreigners to locate their embassy in case of emergency, order the best food items, and correctly pronounce crazy words such as Kyushu, Yokohama, Hokkaido, and Fukuoka.

For what are you waiting? Plan your trip to Japan today!

What about public transportation in Tokyo?

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