Before landing in Tokyo, one of the most exciting cities in the world, here’s a collection of random Tokyo facts and things to know before jumping off the plane and stepping into this amazing metropolis.
You’ll find Tokyo very different from your other traveling destinations. Sophisticated, modern, stylish, and intense, often all at once.
And at the same time very traditional. With unique customs and traditions and cultural life which have a time and pace from another world.
Don’t try to see everything in Tokyo
Don’t get too hung up on reaching all the right places to see on your Tokyo trip.
The most exciting and memorable part of a Tokyo holiday can be just wandering around and absorbing the atmosphere, ordering at restaurants where you can’t recognize a single thing on the menu, or stumbling into a small neighborhood Shinto shrine.
It’s the best way to get to know this fascinating city.
Tokyo is a very safe city
Tokyo is perfectly safe, and crimes against visitors are virtually unheard of. One of the most surprising and pleasant Tokyo facts is that personal belongings accidentally left behind are generally turned in to the local police station. Pickpockets are very rare.
People Are Honest With Money
One of the relaxing things about traveling in Tokyo and Japan, in general, is that people are honest with Japanese money, and you won’t have to worry about getting short-changed.
If you have a problem figuring out how much Japanese yen you need to pay for a particular item or service during your Tokyo stay, just hand it over to the store clerk, the taxi driver, or the waiter.
You can expect them to be honest and return the exact amount of change. If you inadvertently leave a few cents worth of yen behind, expect a store clerk to come bolting out of the shop and chase you down to return your minuscule amount of change.
Locals will go out of their way to help
Locals will often go out of their way to help you when you ask for information. In fact, when you ask for directions, they will probably stop walking to where ever they were heading and lead you all the way to your wanted destination or at least to a nearby place from where you can see it.
Enjoy Waking Around Tokyo
In the giant metropolis of Tokyo, with such an efficient public transportation system, walking to get from point A to point B could seem like a foolish piece of advice, especially if you’re only in Tokyo for a short time.
However, walking around in Tokyo will be one of the greatest pleasures of your trip. You will find unique sights around every corner.
A City Without A Center
The area near the Imperial Palace is accepted as the center of the city, but the fact is that Tokyo doesn’t really have a center. It’s divided into 23 self-governed wards. Each of these wards has a distinct shopping, business, and entertainment center.
Fun Fact: During the Edo Period, the Nihon Bashi Bridge was regarded as the dead center of the entire country of Japan. The bridge is now in the shade of giant expressways and just a shadow of its former self.
Embrace The Tokyo Subway System
The subway is an integral part of modern Tokyo life. And For a city of its size and wealth, automobile ownership in Tokyo is very low.
Tokyo has many narrow streets with no posted names, slow-moving traffic, and extremely limited and expensive parking. Combine this with an excellent public transit system, and it’s a no-brainer to use the train and subway network for getting around town.
So you need a very good reason to want to drive a car here. Visitors usually find the subway the best way to get around during their Tokyo holiday, although the complexity of the underground network can be intimidating.
As someone with a long-standing aversion to the subway back home, I can assure you that hitching a ride on the Tokyo subway system is, in fact, much easier than in some of the most traveled cities in the world!
Taxis Are Useful For Short Trips
Tokyo Taxis can be very pricey if you travel a long distance, but are good to use for short trips of a few km. The minimum price is usually about 700 yen, but if you try to go too far (don’t be the guy who gets a Taxi from the airport to downtown), the fare can become extortionate rapidly.
but they are a cultural experience due to their lacy seats and gloved drivers. Do not count on your taxi drivers to speak English or have more information than you on the way to your destination.
This sounds strange, but it is one of those strange Tokyo facts of life because streets have no names. The best thing to do is get ready before getting in a taxi.
Your hotel can provide you with a map. If possible, get a business card, or print out the address in Japanese of any specific place you wish to visit. Most taxis have a GPS nowadays, so things are improving.
Japan Taxi Door Manners
It’s often the small or weird things that make a trip memorable. And the automatic door opening ability of Japanese taxis falls right into that category.
You see, Japanese taxis have a built-in leaver next to the driver’s seat that automatically opens the rear passenger side door of the cab.
So you don’t need to open or close the taxi door – something you are sure to constantly forget.
It takes some training before your taxi “muscle memory” adjusts to this new order of the universe, and in the meantime, you are sure to get a few sideways glances from drivers who don’t like their doors being opened or closed by anyone but them.
There’s No Need To Tip In Japan
One of the things that makes a holiday in Tokyo so much easier is that tips are not expected in taxis, restaurants, or elsewhere. Individual tipping is not common in Japan, not even among waitresses or bellboys.
Finding a specific address in Tokyo can be a struggle
One of the most frustrating Tokyo facts is that Streets have no names, and the buildings are numbered in the order they were constructed.
Given the amount of destruction and aggressive development that Tokyo has gone through over the past 75 years, it’s extremely unlikely that any two buildings in a given street will have the following numbers.
If you are lost, don’t hesitate to ask a policeman at one of the many neighborhood police stations for information. It is part of their job, and they are more than willing to do so.
Wear The Right Shoes
Perhaps the most crucial information-wear comfortable walking shoes! You’re going to need them on this trip.
Shoes and socks are a big thing in planning for Tokyo, so I’ll address this issue at length in the Tokyo packing list.
Shoes are never worn inside private homes or Japanese inns. Some restaurants, temples, and shrines also require you to remove your shoes. Slippers are usually provided, but even those should be removed before walking on the tatami (straw mats).
Special restroom slippers are provided. You should leave these slippers in the restroom, though you won’t be the first one to forget to do that.
What’s The Best Time Of Year To Visit Tokyo?
Now that you’ve decided to visit Tokyo, you’ll probably need some Tokyo information best time of the year for planning your Tokyo trip.
Tokyo’s climate has four distinct seasons. The seasons in Tokyo are extreme, summers are very hot and humid, and winters can be freezing.
So, the best time for most people to travel to Tokyo is during the milder months of autumn or spring. Spring and autumn also allow you to participate in one of the major Japanese festivals- the cherry blossom (sakura) festival and the fall-foliage celebration.
Always Carry Some Yen In Cash
In Tokyo- cash is king. Japanese people tend to use cash. Most department stores, hotels, and major restaurants do take credit cards, but there are still many places that don’t. There are very few ATM spots in the city. So, planning for Tokyo should include adequate cash. The yen is the Japanese currency unit. Here you’ll find a currency converter courtesy of Yahoo Finance.
How To Use A Mobile Phone In Japan
Mobile phones-The local mobile phone operators use technology that is not always compatible with international networks.
If you want to be on the safe side during your trip, the best piece of Tokyo information and advice is – to rent a phone.
Renting is the most economical way for the average traveler to get a phone and is a very simple procedure that requires a picture ID and a credit card.
Earthquakes are monthly occurrences in Tokyo and are usually nothing to worry about. Ten percent of the world’s active volcanoes– are found in Japan. As many as 1,500 earthquakes are recorded yearly, and magnitudes of four to six on the Richter scale are not uncommon.
Minor tremors occur almost daily in one part of the country or another, causing slight shaking of buildings. Major earthquakes occur infrequently. The most famous in the twentieth century was the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, in which 130,000 people died.
Japan has become a world leader in research and information on the causes and prediction of earthquakes. The development of advanced technology has permitted the construction of skyscrapers. In a major earthquake, it’s wise to take earthquake precautions.
First, turn off anything that might cause a fire. Next, as a means of escape, open a door or window. Then, if a pillow is available, use it to protect your head.
Crouch under a table or something solid. Do not use the elevator. Always use emergency exit stairs. If you are outside, try to find an open space, away from falling glass, walls or trees. Protect your head with your handbag.
Read More: 7 things to do in case of a Tokyo Earthquake
Welcome To The Wonderful World Of Heated toilet seats
I’ve promised to send you to Tokyo well prepared, so there’s no skipping this piece of Tokyo information. Forget all you know about toilet seats.
Toilet seats in Tokyo will make you never want to go back home. You can find these seats at hotels, restaurants, and even public toilets at certain malls, such as Roppongi hills.
They’re heated to your preferred temperature, produce “white noise” to mask embarrassing noises, and wash and dry. Remember the automatic car wash machines? Well, it’s a bit like that, only here you operate it yourself with a set of buttons.
Read More:50 Things To Do in Tokyo
If you are literally just about to step off the plane, Here’s our guide on getting from Narita to Tokyo.