I love Japan. But as awesome as Japan is it can be confusing and strange. So what stated as tips to a friend has turned into a page on my website.
DANS TOKYO SURVIVAL GUIDE.
These are the basic things you will need to learn. Knowing these will get you through most simple situations.
Yes – Hai
No – Iie
Thank you – Arigato
Thank you very much – Arigato Gozaimasu
Excuse me – Sumimasen
Hello – Kon-nichiwa
Goodbye – Sayounara
Beer – Nama
Cheers – Kanpai
Make sure you get your phone unlocked before you leave your country. I did this by just ringing up my carrier and asking them to do it. If you don’t unlock it the pre-paid sim card wont work.
You will need a mobile phone with a pre-paid sim card. I only use my phone for the internet in Japan as you can now use apps like LINE or VIBER to make free calls and texts.
You have to get a pre-paid sim card at the airport when you arrive because they have tourist ones that you cant get once you are out the airport.
The biggest mobile carrier in Japan is Softbank. The airport will have a Softbank store. Most people that work at the airport Softbank stores speak english.
Last time I was there instead of just getting a Pre-paid sim card I got a portable router (a phone sized wireless modem in your pocket). This meant I could connect all my devices to the internet (iPhone, Ipad, Galaxy) for one price. It cost about 1,000 yen ($11 AUD) a day with a 40,000 yen ($430 AUD) deposit that you get back when you return it. Thats a good move if you have multiple devices.
You really need a phone with a working internet connection to use google maps.
Here is a really good link that has info on all companies and options for the internet in Japan.
Google Maps is an amazing thing to have in an overseas country. In any country you can just choose a destination and it tell you what trains to catch, how many stops it will be, how much it will cost and what station to get off at. Without Google Maps I would have been so lost.
The train system can be confusing in Japan. First thing you need to do is get an english version of the train route maps for Tokyo and surrounding cities. There are a bunch of train companies in Japan but if you are just exploring Tokyo the JR line should get you most places.
THINGS TO DO
CONVENIENCE STORES (konbini)
Japanese convenience stores are rad! You will really notice the differences from your home country when you go to them. They have awesome range of foods, books and cheap booze that will blow your mind. They also have microwave meals that are perfect for a late night snack. You will start to rely on then, maybe even start loving them.
Harijuku is a city devoted to Fashion. It’s worth going there just to look at all the ridiculous fashion people. Go to Takeshita Dori and soak up all the fashion and restaurants. Its a great experience and you can get clothe there you can’t get anywhere else.
Yoyogi Park (Yoyogi Kōen)
Yoyogo Koen is a massive park walking distance from Harijuku and Shinjuku where it seems people go to practise stuff. You will see people practising sports, dancing, stand up comedy, kendo, instruments and bands. If you can practise it, people will be doing it in this park. Go to a convenience store, buy some food and some beers and go there to chill out and watch everyone. The best day is on Sunday as the awesome Rock n’ Roll dancers will be there.
Meiji Shrine is right next to Harijuku Station and Yoyogo Koen. It’s a cool temple in awesome lush surroundings. Its totes worth having a look at in between shopping at Harijuku and drinking beers in Yoyogo Koen.
In Japan people love cats, but not everyone can own a cat for one reason or another so the Cat Cafes were born. These are places where you can have a drink and a nuble while hanging out with a bunch of cats. If you love cats this is a given.
If you haven’t gone to Disneyland before why not go to it in the best country in the world!
– Go on a weekday. Lines for rides are redick on weekends.
– Get there as soon as it opens and get prebook tickets for rides some you can come back later in the day and go in the express lines.
Shibuya is a city devoted to Shopping and entertainment. It has the world famous Shibuya Crossing that has been in every movie that every had Japan in it. It’s just a great city to walk around and explore.
Ichiran is a raman restaurant. They take raman very serious, so serious that when you go there you get your own single booth so no one can distract you for you eating experience. You choose what you want in your raman by filling out a card. Then a hand will take your card from behind a curtain in your booth. soon your raman will be placed in front of you by hands from behind the curtain. I never see the staff, just the raman.
Shinjuku is just a big awesome city. It’s got shit to do everywhere. It has the biggest train station in the whole world. At night all the bars and Izakayas open and it’s rad. This city has something to offer everyone. Go there.
ROCK MOTHER BAR
If you like bands like Metal and Indy rock this is the place for you. It’s a tiny bar in Shinjuku, and I mean tiny. Each time you order a drink you get given a massive booklet with every rock band in the world listed in it. You choose a band and the girl behind the bar will go get all the CD’s of that band for you where you will get to pick three songs which they will play. It’s awesome when your favourite track comes on that you have chosen and the Japanese man next to you starts singing it out loud, from that moment you two will be drinking buddies.
Izakayas are basically a place where you go to eat and drink. Its different from a restaurant and a bar or pub. I loved these places. You tell an Izakaya because they have red lanterns out the front of them. Most of the ones I went to specialise in Yakatori sticks but you can order heaps of other eats there as well. All of the food can be eaten with your hands. It’s always a good vibe in a Izakaya and I can’t recommend them enough. Heaps of the best Izakayas that I went to were in Shinjuku but they are everywhere in Japan.
Akihabara is a city devoted to video games and anime. If you are not into video games and anime I would steer clear of this city. For those of you that are into it it is heaven. Next-gen games, retro games, cosplay, maid cafes, DVDs, game arcades, electronics. You can nerd out as much as you want. Make sure your girlfriend brings a book to read.