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Monday, May 16, 2022

TRAVEL: Tokyo at A Glance- Traveling Tips, Do's and Don'ts

Tokyo is a wonderful place with lots of old and modern structure, lots of food choices and shopping destinations. Of course, there's also Disneyland, Disney Sea among others. Going places is also easy, either you take the train (JR Line), subway (Tokyo Metro and Toei), bus, boat, or taxi. In our case, we availed of Tokyo Metro's Tourist Pass (72 Hours) which we bought from the airport (Narita). 

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa

But first thing first especially if this is your first time to visit Tokyo. Find a hotel that is easily accessible from the airport, and from the train/subway stations. There are so many choices that fits every one's budget. 

For us, we chose Tokyo-W-Inn Asakusa. This is a dormitory type of hotel, with a common area for dining, kitchen and recreation. Nice location also since it is walking distance from the two subway line, and airport train. It is a 5-storey hotel that is mostly dormitory type for local transients, and tourists or foreign students, but it also has a private bedroom for long-term lease. 

We made the hotel reservation via We've been using app for years now and I haven't encountered any problem with the booking app, even if I pay online. Other similar hotel app include Agoda, Klook, or AirBnb. Booking directly is also possible. 

So now that you've chosen a hotel, next is finding the location of convenience stores just in case you get hungry at night. Btw, most stores in Tokyo (and some resto) are already closed by 8PM. This is very different if you're in Bangkok or Singapore because they have night markets. But there's the 24 hours Don Quijote, and some izakayas. 

Tokyo-W-Inn Asakusa is located in the residential area of Asakusa District and about a kilometer away from Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Street so knowing where the stores are is important. 

There are many 711s, Family Marts, MiniStops, etc. in Tokyo but I prefer 711 since this is where I withdraw cash. It has an ATM that is linked with Philippine local bank- BDO. Bank charges is also not that high. 

Do keep in mind that you don't hand the money when you buy something. You place it on the small tray in front of you (unless there's really none) and then your change will be placed in the tray also. 

UPDATE: Most establishments now has this machine where you just scan the barcode and pay for the item yourself. Don't worry, there are still staff ready to assist you. Also, you pay for paper bag or plastic bag so be sure to bring your own reusable bag. 

Where to eat? 

Aside from the izakayas and big restaurants, you'll also notice that there's a vendo machine in almost every corner. The most common vendos are for bottled drinks, but there's also ones of ice-cream, chips, and the latest that I've heard is pizza. Even in some restaurants, you go to the vendo machine to order your food. Other vendo not food related are called Gashapon or Gachapon that dispenses toys in capsules. 

Btw, the Japanese frowns upon people who are eating while walking. It is best to finish your food or drink in the store or near the vendo machine (there's usually a bench nearby). And do throw your trash properly. Actually, it is hard to find (next to none) a trash can in public places so just keep it with you until you find one. 

If you're craving for ramen, try to google the popular restos in your area or you can be touristy like us and go to Ichiran. The first time we saw Ichiran, it has a very long waiting line so we opted to explore the area first then go back. 

Here's us, ordering our Ichiran ramen from the vending machine. 

Aside from fastfood and restaurants and convenience store food, you can also buy from konbinis. 

Here's my favorite local delicacy find- dango. These are made from rice flour similar to our bilo-bilo, then can be eaten as a dessert (with sugar or azuki beans) or savory (with soy sauce). Interesting!

Wearing the right clothes is also important especially if you visit Japan during the summer months. Of course, you need some thermals, coats, and puffer jackets if you'll be there during spring, autumn and winter. 

There are also kimono rentals all over Tokyo which can easily be searched via Google or visit the Tourist Office and ask for directions. Or you can book a kimono reservation via Klook app. 

Another important thing to consider is wearing a comfortable footwear because you'll end up walking a lot.

I've already mentioned about the modes of transportation available and I think the train/subway is always the fastest (and cheapest) especially if you plan to visit popular places such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Tsukiji, Ginza, Harajuku, Odaiba, Yokohama, etc. Maps are also free in every train/subway stations. 

When riding public transportation though, it is best to keep voice low (or not talk at all). Making phone calls in loud voices when inside trains or buses is also a no-no. 

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa (see photo below). This is one of the most visited temples in Tokyo and is located in Asakusa District. Aside from the temple, there's also Nakamise Street nearby which is a popular shopping place for souvenirs and local delicacies. Visiting Sensoji Temple in the morning is different when you visit it at night. Do find time to visit it in the morning and evening. You can thank me later. 

Shibuya Crossing is another popular destination in Tokyo. The exact spot on the photo below is the famous Shibuya Crossing. Make sure that someone will take your picture. Also, look for the statue of Hachiko near this area. You do know who Hachiko is, right? 

Must-visit place for me in Shibuya is Tower Records and Shibuya Sky, the 360-degrees observation deck. You do need to pay around Y1500 to enter though. 

Tokyo also has a lot of park, so if you're a nature lover then you must visit one or two. There's also a nice zoo in Ueno. 

Yoyogi Park 

To sum it up, Tokyo is a fascinating place that has a lot of surprises. But it is kinda overwhelming especially for first-timers, so it is best if you can make your own list of places to visit before your trip. And before I forget, you can also make notes about the restaurants you want to visit. Shopping? Will make a separate post about that so stay tuned! 


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