Tokyo Travel Guide

Tokyo Travel Guide

The city of Tokyo (formerly known as Edo) has been the administrative center of Japan since the 17th century, when the country was united under Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tokyo became the capital of Japan only in 1868, when Emperor Meiji moved to the city when it was renamed. Since then, Tokyo has grown and today has one of the largest urban populations in the world.

Tokyo is very much a modern city. It has suffered from the effects of earthquakes, fires and extensive bombing during World War II. You will soon realize you have come to a city of lights and action where you will find busy people moving about a world-class commercial and financial center.

Shopping and entertainment are specialties within this city. Tokyo is filled with a great many museums and cultural offerings. If you have a love for the arts, you will enjoy the many art galleries throughout the city. While in town, you will not want to miss taking in a theater performance such as a traditional Kabuki or Noh play. Shopping is truly a delight in Tokyo. Wonderful boutiques, huge department stores and numerous specialty shops will draw anyone’s attention whether simply as a browser or as a serious buyer.

Tokyo is a high-energy city, which will delight you with all it has to offer.

LOCAL CUSTOMS

General:

It is customary in Japan upon entering a home to remove your shoes at the door (they can be left on in a Western-style building). Most places will accommodate you with a pair of house slippers. You also remove your slippers before entering a bathroom. You will be provided with a pair of special slippers only for use in the bathroom; when you leave the bathroom, don’t forget to retrieve your house slippers at the bathroom door.

The traditional way to bathe in Japan is not in a bathtub. Instead, you first sit on a low stool facing a pair of hot- and cold-water faucets or a bathpan. While sitting on your stool, you then proceed to pour the bathpan water over yourself, soaking your entire body. After you have completed rinsing yourself off and are soap-free, you go into a deep, hot tub to soak.

When greeting people, always bow before the person, and they will bow to you as well. The other person’s age, status and social connections determine how deeply he or she will bow and for how long. This is the customary meeting procedure and usually is used in place of the (Western) handshake.

The handshake is used sometimes. If you do shake hands, do not do so forcefully – the Japanese do not share the notion that strength of grip is a reflection of one’s character.

When invited to a Japanese home, take a gift such as candy for the hostess. Do not take flowers; they are not considered an appropriate gift.

Business:
Allow plenty of extra travel time when you have an appointment. The Japanese expect punctuality.

When addressing Japanese colleagues, it is best to use their family names with the honorary suffix “san.”

The Japanese do not like an aggressive approach to negotiations, and losing your temper or showing impatience when things are not moving along will invariably ruin your business deal.

Business cards are essential in Japan. It is helpful to have your cards printed in both English and Japanese. The Japanese like to be aware of exactly who they are dealing with. Japanese make a point of reading business cards; in fact, it would be considered impolite simply to put someone’s card inside your jacket pocket.

Gifts play a major role in Japanese business. It is customary to exchange gifts. It is considered good luck to give gifts in pairs, such as a double pen set. Do not give gifts in groups of four, as the Japanese word for four means death. Wrap the gift in pastel colors, but not white, as this color is associated with death.

CURRENCY

The Japanese unit of currency is the yen. There are banknotes for 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 yen and coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500.

THINGS TO KNOW

Population of Tokyo: 27,700,000

Primary Industries: Metallurgy, engineering, electrical and electronic, textiles, chemicals, automobiles, fishing, telecommunications, machine tools and construction equipment

City Code: 03

Shop Hours: Shops are usually open 10am to 6 or 7pm, including weekends and national holidays. Stores are generally closed one day during midweek. This day varies from store to store.

Bank Hours: Banks are open weekdays 9am to 3pm and are closed on national holidays.

Time Zone:Japan is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, 11 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time and 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Tipping: Not recommended unless for a special service.

Restaurants: No tipping is recommended.

Hotel maids: At the best hotels, a 10 to 15 percent service charge is added to the bill in lieu of tipping.

Taxis: Tipping is not practiced. Pay only the metered fare.

WEATHER CONDITIONS

Tokyo tends to have mild temperatures. The winter, though cold, is sunny, with rare instances of snowfall. Average winter daily temperatures are about 40ºF (4.7ºC). Spring brings milder weather, with some showers in March through May. Temperatures at this time reach an average of 57ºF (14ºC). The summer lasts from June to August and is hot and can be very humid. There is a rainy season from mid-June to mid-July. Autumn, September-November, is the most comfortable season, and temperatures are around 63ºF (16ºC).

Please click on the weather icon on your right screen for the current weather condition on Tokyo.

CITY ORIENTATION

Getting around Tokyo can be very confusing to people unfamiliar with big cities. Tokyo is divided into regions or major districts. These districts circle out from the Maranouchi district, where you will find the Imperial Palace (the heart of Tokyo). Addresses do not exist in Japan as we know them. The best way to get from point A to point B is to obtain of a good city map from the tourist center and inquire about the best way to get to your destination.

LOCATION

From Tokyo to:
Beijing – 1,307 miles (2,104km)
Berlin – 5,540 miles (8,920km)
Hong Kong – 1,796 miles (2,892km)
London – 5,940 miles (9,560km)
Los Angeles – 5,470 miles (8,810km)
Kyoto – 319 miles (513km)
Manila – 1,863 miles (2,999km)
Melbourne – 5,090 miles (8,190km)
Montreal – 6,450 miles (10,390km)
Nagoya – 227 miles (366km)
New York – 6,740 miles (10,840km)
Rome – 6,130 miles (9,860km)
Shanghai – 1,100 miles (1,760km)

SIGHTS

Imperial Palace
Formerly Edo Castle, it is surrounded by an inner moat. Nijubashi Bridge is located here as well.

Marunouchi
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
TIC: . (03)35021461

Permission is required to visit the palace. It is recommended that you apply as far in advance as possible and pick up your permit at least one day before your visit. For permission and permits, contact the Imperial Household Agency: . (03)32131111

Meiji Shrine
This shrine was dedicated to the Emperor Meiji (1853-1912), who is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Japan.”

Shibuya-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Nakamise Street
This lively street, leading to Sensoji Temple, offers shops for the entire family that sell wondrous goods and foods. It will give you a good idea of old Tokyo.

Nakamise dori
Asakusa, Tokyo
TIC: . (03)35021461

National Space Tokyo Ginza Axess
This showroom offers a look at the latest in appliances and fixtures for the home. There is also a section for the latest in audiovisual equipment.

Ginza
TIC: . (03)35021461

Sengakuji Temple
This small honorable temple, highly representative of its era, was dedicated to the wronged Lord Asano and his 47 Samurai who committed ritual suicide in 1702. You will find on display the armor and possessions of the Samurai. Incense is still burned in their memory.

Located near Sangakuji Subway Station
Minato-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Tokyo Disneyland
This theme park offers the same type of setting as the U.S. original, including theme “lands” as well as a number of rides.

Buses run directly from Tokyo and Ueno stations as well as Narita Airport.

Chiba
TIC: . (03)35021461

Tokyo Tower
This tower stands 333 meters (1,092ft) tall and is a slightly enlarged copy of the Eiffel Tower. There is an observation lounge at the top, as well as a wax museum and restaurants.

Menato-ku
Tokyo
TIC: . (03)35021461

Toshogu Shrine
This is a memorial shrine to the first Tokugawa Shogun 2, Ieyasu. The shrine dates back to 1627.

Ueno Park
Taito-ku, Tokyo
TIC: . (03)35021461

Ueno Zoo
This zoo is popular for its giant panda bears.
Ueno Park, Taito-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Yasukuni Shrine
This shrine is a perfect representation of Shinto architecture. It has been dedicated to the war dead of the nation.

Chiyoda-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Zojoji Temple
This temple offers many important artifacts, but most outstanding is the rare black Buddha that was once owned by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Located in Shiba Park, Menato-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

PARKS

Hama Rikyu Garden
This park is known for its tidal pond spanned by wisteria-covered trellised bridges.

Chuo-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Hibiya Park
This park, located across from the Imperial Hotel, offers a combination of Western and Japanese styles.

Chiyoda-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Imperial Palace East Garden
Its history goes back 300 years, and it garden receives many visitors every year. The garden is only a small section of the Imperial Palace compound.

Marunouchi
Chiyoda-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Koishikawa Botanical Gardens
This park features a half-moon-shaped bridge, designed to take on the shape of the full moon when spectators looked at its reflection in the pond.

Bunkyo-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Rikugien
A restful garden with landscaped art enclosed by a high brick wall.
Bunkyo-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
This garden, donated to the city by the Imperial family, is famous for quiet walks in which you can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms in spring.
Shinjuku-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Ueno Park
Museums, theaters, restaurants, a zoo, the Toshogu Shrine and gardens are all contained in its 210 acres.

Ueno
Taito-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

Yoyogi Park
Once the site of the Olympic Village, this park attracts active visitors, particularly the younger crowd.

Shibuya-ku
TIC: . (03)35021461

MUSEUMS

Bridgestone Museum of Art
This private museum concentrates mainly on French art and Japanese painting in the Western manner.

2nd Floor, Bridgestone Building
1-10-1, Kyobashi
Chuo-ku
. (03)35630241

Gallery of Horyuji Treasures
This museum contains a rare collection from the ancient Asuka and Nara periods.
Located next to the National Museum In Ueno Park

Ueno
TIC: . (03)35021461

The Japanese Sword Museum
This museum displays a collection of more than 6,000 sword blades, 30 of which are National Treasures.

4-25-10 Yoyogi
Shibuya-ku
. (03)33791386

The National Museum of Modern Art
This museum houses Japanese art since the Meiji period.

3 Kitanomaru-koen
(In Kitanomaru Park)
Chiyoda-ku
. (03)32142561

The National Museum of Western Art
This museum offers an impressive collection of Western art from the Renaissance to the present.

7-7, Ueno-koen
(In Ueno Park)
Taito-ku
. (03)38285131

National Science Museum
This museum explores both international and Japanese achievements in archeology, botany, oceanography and zoology.
7-20, Ueno-koen
(In Ueno Park)
Taito-ku
Tokyo
. (03)38220111

Nezu Institute of Fine Arts
This museum features a superb collection of well-known Japanese art, plus some Chinese art.
6-5-1 Minami-Aoyama
Minato-ku
. (03)34002536

Riccar Art Museum
This museum offers an excellent woodblock print collection, one of the best in Japan.
7th Floor, Riccar Building
6-2-3 Ginza
Chuo-ku
. (03)35713254

Sumo Museum
You will find records and documents related to the history of Sumo since the 18th century.
1-3-28 Yokoami
Sumida-ku
. (06)36220366

The Tokyo National Museum
This is the largest museum in Japan, with the most spectacular collection of Japanese art in the world.
13-9 Ueno-koen
(In Ueno Park)
Taito-ku
. (03)38221111

Safe Nomad

We provide travellers with awesome travel safe products. We have also pride ourselves on providing fellow travellers with tips and guides so they can make the best of their experience.