Before you go
You can do a lot before you actually go! Like renting an internet dongle, grab tickets for the places you want to go or simply place stars on a google map. Its a good idea to plan where you want to go. Everything is huge so you'll wanna plan out before going out. And remember to drink a lot of water!
I cant stress this enough. Get an internet dongle! You can get these all around but look through the internet for cheap dongles. You can get these in the airport but its pretty expensive and the dataplans aint that good.
If you have internet, grab the Google Translate app. Its great for taking photos of text and get it translated. Its also great if you want to talk to locals. Remember to be short and precise.
Get a pasmo card! You can buy one when you arrive at most airports. These cards are great for a lot of things. You use them for trains, metros and even if you want to get a snack from one of the vending machines.
A great and cheap way to stay in Japan is AirBnb. You can get a place to stay for around 200 kr per night. The houses in Japan is very small so dont expect anything fancy. The houses have everything you need though and you're probably not going to be there a hole lot anyway. See if you can get a place close to metro or train if possible.
The language is very hard and most people doesnt speak English. The younger generation is more likely to know English than the elderly. Everybody is happy to try and help you even though they dont speak the language. Generally using hand gestures and pointing and so on gets you far.
Gestures like making an X with your arms means no and making an O with your fingers means yes.
Try and learn a few words. It'll get you far just being polite.
- Hai: Yes
- Iie: No
- Arigato gozaimasu: Thank you very much
- Sumimasen: Excuse me
- Watashi wa Christian: I am Christian
- Hajimemashite: Nice to meet you
- Ohayou Gozaimasu: Good morning
- Konnichiwa: Good afternoon
- Itadakimasu: i gratefully receive (before eating)
You never use San about your own name. San is a title other people give you!
Trains and metros are the easiest way to get around in the cities. But if you want to go far, check out planes. Local flights are pretty cheap. You'll get a ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto for around 200 kr. Its well worth it if you dont want to spend hours in a train. Although Shinkansen is also a great way to travel fast and fairly cheap as well.
If you're planing on traveling around in Japan you should check out Shinkansen. Its a bullet train that goes from Tokyo and Osaka with stops in Kyoto, Yokohama and Nagoya. Its a great and cheap way to go long distinations. You can even buy the tickets before you go and save a lot of money.
Bikes has slowly become a great way of going around locally. The city is huge and you easily end up walking a lot. A bike makes everything small and easy to get around. One big note is that bikes ride on the sidewalks. You can rent a city bike for almost no money.
Some places require you to reserve a ticket beforehand. Places like Studio Ghibli only allow a few people each day so you want to get a ticket. You can get these online or at Lawson. Although the machines at Lawson can be quite hard to figure out.
Tokyo is the only place that have a Disneyland with a water section.
Naoshima is a small island known for its art museums.
- Yoyogi Park
- Ueno Park
- Hamarikyu Gardens
- Shibuya Crossing
- Sky tree
- Roppongi National Art Museum
- Roppongi Hills
Food is all around you. There's a ton of small ramen places at the street level. Most of them might look a bit sketchy but ive never been to a bad ramen place. The more sketchy they look, the better.
There are about 3 different kind of places you can go. Most floor level resturents have a vending machine with picture menus. Most of them even in English. What you do is, put money in the machine and click the thing you want. Next go inside and give it to the guy behind the desk. When your dish is ready he'll call the number on the stub. The great thing about these places is that you can get a full meal for almost nothing.
Second place would be the tablet resturents. These places are a bit more fancy with private booths and service through an tablet. You use the tablet to order what you want and a waiter will come with the food as its ready. These places are a bit more expensive but they also have great service. If you cant figure out the tablet just ask and they'll help you.
If you want to go for a very high end place you should look for the places higher up. Cheap food is mostly at the street level and the higher you go, the more expensive it gets. Say you want to go for a really great piece of meat, you would probably look for resturents on the top floors.
Sushi is what most people associate with Japan and food culture. While these places do exists, it can be hard to find them in the city center. Though if you go outside the city borders you'll find a lot of great places.
You'll get a cup of tea or water whenever you go to a resturent. Its free and goes great with food. You can order other stuff if you want but hey, its free.
Its not really worth it making your own food besides the casual hot water ramen snack here and there.
In general Shinjuku is where you want to go and party. This is where the young people go for drinks and dance. If you want to see a show this would also be the place. We didnt go out a hole lot but I can recommend Marz. Its a tiny place underground. Its mostly local bands playing but its so much fun. It'll cost you around 2500 yen including a drink. Most places you go will cost a fee of some kind. Most of the fee include a drink. Its a great place to meet local people and talk.
Nothing is particularly cheap in Japan. The only thing that'll save you some money is electronics and figurines. Most bigger places will even let you buy electronics and save the VAT. Places like Sofmap will even give you a discount if you pay with creditcards which is worth to note.
A tiny note is that most price tags will show two prices. These are for locals and foreigners. You want to go with the highest prices if nothing else is stated.
Figurines are all over the place in Tokyo. A great place to start is Akihabara.
Places like Sofmap and Yodabashi is great. You'll be able to find everything from phone covers, batteries, consoles, games and everything hardware/software you can think off.
Depending on what kind of games you want to find, Akihabara is a safe bet. For older console games you want to seek out Super Potato and the smaller stores on the main street. Super Potato has gotten pretty expensive but they DO have almost every thing your looking for. Its a 3 floor store with the first one being NES, SNES, N64, SMS, SMD and Gameboy. Next floor starts around the PS1 and up to newer consoles. Last floor is a small arcade with a few machines with classics like Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo.
If you're looking for used games, look up Trader. These are stores like Gamestop filled with used games. They have a few consoles as well so if you're looking for Japanese Xbox or PlayStation, this would be the place.
NOTE: The PlayStation is not region locked so you can easily save money buying one. You only need a small converter for the powercord. The powersupply supports European power. Same goes for PS4 games!
Arcade is still big in Japan and a there are still a few stores selling arcadeboards. The service at these places are amazing. Ask about any weird title you can think off and they'll help you find it.
Harajuku is a very young place. Especially Takeshita Street is famous for being the place where kids will pose and look really fancy just to be spottet by a model agency. This is also the place to grab local branded japanese cloths. The small streets around Harajuku is filled with shops and coffee places. Its a great place to go hang out for a day.
- Shinjuku South exit
- Super Potato
- Try Amusement Tower