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Tokyo 2018 Highlights

My husband and i just returned from 8 days in Tokyo and since I had such a hard time finding any good guide books on Tokyo prior to our visit, i wanted to share some of our experiences on this forum for anyone else who plans to go there.

We stayed in the Asakusa, and it was great!!! I know people talk about being near the JR Yamanote line and staying in Shibuya or Shinjuku for convenience, but after having visited those parts of Tokyo, I'm so glad we didn't stay there. Those areas feel like any other big city in the world, but Asakusa actually felt like it was a neighborhood with people who made their homes and lives nearby-- not just a district filled with business men, tourist, and shoppers.

The subway is VERY easy to use. If you don't typically use a subway you'll likely feel overwhelmed; but don't be discouraged, the various lines a color coded and numbered too, the stops are listed in English and after one or two rides you'll have it down. I would highly recommend buying a 72 hour metro pass. You can pick it up at the tourist office(you have to show your passport) - and it's 15 USD. The pass doesn't work on the Yamanote line, but that was fine because you can easily navigate the city without using that line.

We saw a baseball game while we were there-- it was the Tokyo Yakut Swallows vs the Hiroshima Carp and it was awesome! The fans cheered from start to finish, the level of enthusiasm was like no U.S. game i've ever seen. Even if you're not a baseball fan, you should see a game, it's a great experience.

We planned our visit during Golden Week and really feared it might be a mistake because of holiday business closures. Our fear was totally unfounded. The city didn't feel "shutdown" at all-- in fact it was the total opposite. There were so many festivals and special events that occurred during our stay, i think we actually had a richer experience than travelers during other times of year.

Traditional Japanese foods are reasonably priced and the portions are what you'd expect. But, when you stray from Japanese fare, the portions get small and the prices get high. Waiters take your order, bring your food, and then you don't see them again until you ask for the check. Don't expect anyone to ask if everything is to your liking or if you want a drink refill-- it's just not how they do things.

Finding specific places can be very challenging -- the addresses are confusing and many of the street are unmarked -- we rented a pocket wifi during our stay and used the google maps app. Without a doubt, this is the only reason we found some of the things we wanted to see.

The website www.japan-guide.com is extremely helpful. It breaks the city down by sections and provides the highlights in each area. Some of my favorite things were: Koishikawa Korakuen, Meji Shrine, Shibuya Crossing, Center Gai, Ueno Park, and Ameyoko.

Lastly, the Japanese people seemed kind and eager to help. Even when there was a language barrier people tried their best to assist and make you feel welcomed.

Posted by
5403 posts

Good info. I agree wholeheartedly, especially on:

  1. Renting a pocket wifi - it makes everything so much easier, especially navigating.
  2. Japanese pro baseball is a hoot - well worth the experience even if you're not a die-hard baseball fan at home. We attended a game of the Nippon Ham Fighters (Fight That Ham!!!) in Sapporo and it was amazing!
  3. The japan-guide.com website is awesome and an endless source of wonderful info - don't leave home for Japan without spending a lot of time there.
Posted by
3284 posts

I’ll add that the art museum in Ueno Park is not to be missed. I forget its exact name - - - National Museum of Japanese Art? - - - , but it is magnificent. Also, the food hall in the Seibu department store is truly amazing.

Posted by
346 posts

So glad you saw a baseball game. We saw the same teams play in 2008. It was a highlight for us. We loved Japan.