Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is huge, difficult to navigate and expensive, but having said that, it is a city that everyone should make an effort to visit.
Language is a problem for visitors, as few Japanese speak much English. A phrase book printed in Japanese is helpful. Although signs on main streets, and in the subway are in English, anyone not able to read Japanese will have difficulties.
Most international travelers will arrive at Narita Airport. To get downtown takes about 2 hrs. by limousine bus, which costs $35 (one-way). A taxi from the airport will cost over $200 (but most will be reluctant to take you, even at this price).
You should also be aware that taxi drivers don’t speak English. Get a cab at places such as hotels and restaurants, and have an employee explain to the driver where to take you. Obtain a card from your place of accommodation with the address of the hotel and directions printed in Japanese. When you want to come back, give it to the driver. Getting a cab to pick you up on the street can be a problem. Because of language hassles, they are reluctant to take foreign passengers.
Accommodation doesn’t come cheap. Four star hotels run upwards of $300 per night, and $20 to $30 for breakfast isn’t uncommon. Shop around. Decent hotels can be found for under $200, and small neighborhood restaurants, or noodle-houses are an economical alternative to expensive hotel fare. Language isn’t a problem when ordering, as nearly all eateries display plastic models of the food, and all you have to do is point to your selection.
Tokyo has an excellent public transit system, but first time visitors should take one of the many city tours offered. Major hotels are pick-up points for tour buses, providing the convenience of being picked up and dropped of right at your lobby. A full-day tour will cost about $150, and half-day $60 to $80.
Tokyo Tower, is one of the main features of any city tour. It is surrounded by Shiba Park, home to the Zojoji Shrine. Just minutes from the Tower, the surrounding park-lands and temple buildings provide enjoyable walking tours.
Other things to see and do in and around Tokyo (featured in many tours) include:
- A traditional Japanese tea-house.
- The Imperial Palace.
- Tsukigi fish market.
- Ginza shopping district.
- The many shrines and temples.
- Sumida River cruise.
- Tokyo Bay cruise.
- One day trip to Mount Fuji.
Tokyo is clean and safe, and if there is a drawback, it is price. One of the world’s great cities, it should be on everyone’s must see list.