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Subject: going to Tokyo - pre pre-planning rss

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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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It looks like I can get a return trip flight to Tokyo for under £600. Which makes a trip to TGM feasible. Which raises questions...

1. I will be on a budget, so low cost is best (for example, I'm not inclined to jump into a taxi when there's public transport).
2. I will be travelling alone, on foot. (So I need to consider ease of carrying my luggage for example).
3. I can only stay for a few days, a week at most. Staying for two weeks is out of the question.
4. I do not drive, so renting a car is out of the question.
5. This is all very very early planning. Just give me broad answers.

Do I need a visa to travel to Japan?

Do I need shots?

Do I need to bring cash? Is it easier, cheaper to get cash there?

Are there different airports for Tokyo? If so, which are the better ones to aim for, in terms of ease of access to the city?
There are two airports - Narita is further out and is the one for most international flights, various trains into Tokyo station - Haneda is closer in but is mostly domestic flights. So it looks likely to be Narita until I find which international flights go to Haneda.

Obviously, Tokyo is quite large (yes, I know it's a megalopolis). So looking for accommodation, broadly which areas would be best for a tourist? By best, I mean easy to get to from the airport (& return), easy to get to the TGM venue, easy to go to the best parts of Tokyo, easy to visit game shops, Akihabara and similar places. (As a guide, I once went to Paris, but stayed miles outside and rode in by train as a commute. Complete disaster. Never again.)

Apart from capsule hotels (nope) and love hotels (I know I know), and regular 3/4 star hotels and chains, and rental apartments, and couch-surfing, are there other forms of accommodation I should look at? For example, are there equivalents of a UK bed & breakfast, hostels, a European pension? In looking for a place to stay, broadly what are the Japanese types of places?

Is it possible to visit Mt Fuji from Tokyo as a day trip?
Yes, there are tourist coach trips and the like.

Is there an obvious question I've missed?

Cheers,
Jon.
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Goran Topic
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Do I need a visa to travel to Japan?

For people of most countries (and I believe all first-world countries), no - when you show up visaless you get an automatic 3 month tourist visa.
EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Do I need shots?

Not any more than you would if you were going to, say, Germany.
EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Do I need to bring cash? Is it easier, cheaper to get cash there?

Can't tell you. Here is an exchange rate list from a major bank, so compare to one in your own country: http://www.bk.mufg.jp/gdocs/kinri/list_j/kinri/kawase.html
However, Japan is very much a cash society, it is quite normal to carry 300 pounds or so on you at any time. Note that only some ATMs accept foreign credit cards.
EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Obviously, Tokyo is quite large (yes, I know it's a megalopolis). So looking for accommodation, broadly which areas would be best for a tourist? By best, I mean easy to get to from the airport (& return), easy to get to the TGM venue, easy to go to the best parts of Tokyo, easy to visit game shops, Akihabara and similar places. (As a guide, I once went to Paris, but stayed miles outside and rode in by train as a commute. Complete disaster. Never again.)

As you say, everything in Tokyo is miles from everything else. Tokyo Big Sight, where TGM is held, is on a futuristic artificial island, and is far from any reasonable place, I think. However, never having experienced Paris, I don't know what your complaints against commuting are. I love Tokyo's public transit system. Seriously. Use Google Maps to check locations and connections. Walking is not really an option, since it would take multiple hours to most places (for example, 2 - 2.5 hours from Ueno, where most trains from the airport end up, to Tokyo Big Sight, the TGM venue).
EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Apart from capsule hotels (nope) and love hotels (I know I know), and regular 3/4 star hotels and chains, and rental apartments, and couch-surfing, are there other forms of accommodation I should look at? For example, are there equivalents of a UK bed & breakfast, hostels, a European pension? In looking for a place to stay, broadly what are the Japanese types of places?

Japanese types of places? I suppose the ones that are not common in Europe are ryokan (very japanese, usually expensive), internet cafe (where you can stay the night and even shower overnight, but you can't park your suitcases), and the abovementioned love hotels and capsule hotels (ditto). But you can try to find a hostel or airbnb just like you would anywhere else.
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Julien Griffon
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Having lived at the end of the local Paris train line for most of my life, I know exactly what you mean... I hate going to Paris. If you're careful to avoid rush hours in Tokyo, you should be alright wherever you're staying.

As for a hotel, maybe the area around Ueno is your safest bet:
- there are many smaller hotels there,
- it's a direct ride from/to Narita airport as Goran said,
- you can ride the loop line (Yamanote) which goes to Akihabara, many touristic places in Tokyo and connects with the line going to the Tokyo Big Sight,
- and you can even walk to the Kaminarimon and Asakusa temple (20~30 min) if you feel like it.

Spending one night at a Ryokan can be expensive, but it usually is a wonderful experience. On the cheap side, there are youth hostels like anywhere else (actually, I know there's one not too far from Ueno, close to the main street towards the Asakusa temple). Also, Minshuku are usually inexpensive places to stay, but they're normally outside big cities, so I don't know if you can find one in Tokyo.
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Eric Kouris
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:


There are two airports - Narita is further out and is the one for most international flights, various trains into Tokyo station - Haneda is closer in but is mostly domestic flights. So it looks likely to be Narita until I find which international flights go to Haneda.



It depends where your hotel is, but Hanead is closer to Tokyo than Narita (and Haneda is now open for international flight, last April, I landed at Narita and left at Haneda to go to Paris).

Quote:
Is it possible to visit Mt Fuji from Tokyo as a day trip?
Yes, there are tourist coach trips and the like.


Less than two hours but train from Tokyo, you can visit Nikko.
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Luke Morris
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Take cash. The only place that takes foreign cards are 7/11 convenience store cash machines and although there are numerous 7/11s, they're not EVERYWHERE.

Money in Tokyo will flitter through your fingers far faster than you'd expect. When I was living in Nagoya money behaved normally but Tokyo is just freaky for making money vanish.

Eat at ramen places and where the locals eat. You can get a big bowl of ramen (noodle soup) for 700yen or so. You can eat other meals for under 1200yen no problem, especially if you to where the salarymen rush to eat at lunch or in the evenings. Genki sushi is wonderfully cheap though and there are other 100yen sushi places too.

Here's the hotel I stayed in whenever I was in Tokyo. There are a few in Tokyo. Pick the one that suits you best. Prices are very reasonable.

http://www.sakura-hotel.co.jp/

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Keith Ibsen
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Check out the Rakuten website for hotels, they have everything in English and are often quite cheap.

http://travel.rakuten.com/

Look at wikitravel as well, they give plenty of options. I agree with the person above who said Ueno is a good area to look for a place.

http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo#Sleep

I wouldn't discount capsule hotels (unless you have stayed in one and didn't like it). They are often easy to get to, very cheap and surprisingly comfortable.

Carrying cash around is no problem, most people do. You can use cards at some machines but as Luke said they can be difficult to find.

Haneda and Narita are both easy to get into the city from, I would go with the cheapest flight option rather than chose one over the other.

In general, Tokyo is very easy to navigate around. The people are friendly, major stations have tourist information with English speaking staff that can help as well.

Hope that helps.
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Mercedes (Mandy)
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Yah!!! Would love for you to come over and visit us

Here are some additional accommodation suggestions you can check out (and for others who are also interested in visiting):

If you'd like to try something more traditional I can recommend Family Inn Saiko in Ikebukuro (close to Shinjuku). It's a small Ryokan run by a very friendly family, it's like staying at someone's house. When I went to pick up some friends, the "family/owners" were really friendly and the feedback was pretty good.

Another location to check out might be Osaki (13mins from the TGM, 18 mins from Akihabara, 6 mins from Shibuya, 12 mins from Shinjuku, 28 mins from Koenji (Sugorokuya game store), 70mins from Narita-1 transfer). Osaki is a bit of a business area, so not much to see around there, but it's easy train access, but I don't think there are many reasonable hotels there if you're on a budget.

There are some business-style hotels called the Toyoko Inn - the rooms are mega small, but some single rooms are 6800yen a day and I think breakfast is included. I like them because I'm really 'particular' and get anxiety about the cleanliness of hotels, so Toyoko Inn is where I stayed the most while travelling around Japan for work. I like the "sterile" feel hehe. (Toyoko Inn at Oimachi in Shinagawa is close to a lot of locations for gaming access)

Then there's this site for cheap hostels. I haven't tried any of these but the reviews seem pretty good. http://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/Japan
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Do I need a visa to travel to Japan?
No.

Do I need shots?
No.

Do I need to bring cash?
Yes. At least some.

You can get cash from the Postal offices, from VISA cards. THey do take a fee each time you do a withdrawal ($5 or something), so keep the number of withdrawals to a minimum.

Japan's still a cash society. Don't count on being able to pay with cards everywhere. On TGM, it's naturally cash.

So looking for accommodation, broadly which areas would be best for a tourist?

Near the Yamanote line. You can get everywhere from there. Just check a train map, find the light green circle line, note the stations, see if the hotel is close to one.

Actually, if you're going to TGM, I will be there, and you can stay at the place I stay at, for a ridiculously small fee. We'll share the cost. PM me if interested.

are there other forms of accommodation I should look at?

Youth Hostels. Or "Business Hotels". Or cheap Ryokans. You can get a stay for $30 a night if you're lucky.

Is there an obvious question I've missed?
Don't be a vegetarian. It's hell.
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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Thank you everyone. That's enormously helpful. It gives me a good number of things to look at. If I can get a clean room for £40/night, that's a bargain for me!

All the answers above are great for me. I have one more question. Can you please suggest good websites to give me general advice about travelling to Japan, and specific advice about Tokyo? Just to give me more ways of scoping things out. Stuff like PDF maps would help me. I like a lot of the suggestions above. I think if I get a grasp on the local geography, that will help me make decisions.

All this is making me very interested. It might be my only trip to Tokyo, so if I can make it economical, I might push for as many days as I can manage. Not weeks and weeks but maybe more than 10 days. Mind you, 10 might be enough for me.

Clearly I need to work out a daily budget for food, travel and so on. And factor in how much weight I can return with.

Are there things like local travelcards to make hoping on and off transport easier/cheaper? I'm very good at walking, and I especially enjoy walking in cities and looking for curiosities. But being able to jump back on a bus or tube (do they have trams?) at the end of the day would help me.

When is the TGM in Autumn? Is there a date set for next Spring yet?

Thank you thank you. This is very interesting. I can't promise to make it, but it's getting more realistic.
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Robin Breeden
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Here's a good site for the budget conscious visitor or resident. tokyocheapo.com and here's a direct link to the hotel section. http://tokyocheapo.com/accommodation/
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The next gamemarket in Tokyo is on Nov.16
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For train travel in Tokyo you can pick up a Suika or Passmo card. They're rechargeable and can be used for other things besides subway travel... including convince stores. Convenience stores are good place for cheap food and unlike the convince stores in the US the food is quite good. Thought the Passmo card is convenient and will be a good value mist days you might also look at getting a one day open pass on days you'll be spending more than Y750 on traveling. You can find out about the metro here http://www.tokyometro.jp/en.

If you plna on going outside of Tokyo you'll want to look here http://www.jreast.co.jp/E/pass/

and for general Japanese travel I use this site http://www.jreast.co.jp/E/pass/

Hope that helps.
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Can you please suggest good websites to give me general advice about travelling to Japan, and specific advice about Tokyo? Just to give me more ways of scoping things out. Stuff like PDF maps would help me.


Apart from normal maps, just Google subway maps and train maps for Tokyo, I guess.

EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Clearly I need to work out a daily budget for food, travel and so on. And factor in how much weight I can return with.


If you're cheapeast cheap, look at 2000 yen per day. That gives you a bit of a margin, and you won't have angst. Breakfast can go below 500 yen, some rice balls and juice at a convenience store. Lunch can be some 700 or 800, sometimes cheaper. That leaves you with the same budget for evening meal, which usually works.

EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Are there things like local travelcards to make hoping on and off transport easier/cheaper?

Not cheaper, but easier, if you buy a Suica or a Pasmo card (they're the same). They usually cost 500 yen, and then you load them with money, and you bip the card when you enter the station and when you go out. It keeps track of what you have on the card, and the screens will tell you.

A trip on some few stations on a non-sub train costs 140 yen, if you travel for some 30 minutes maybe about 200 yen. Going on a sub costs 160 yen to start with, but doesn't go up that much, really.

Spring date for Game Market isn't set yet. But I will most probably be there, so if you're there then, I could show you around a bit.
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Thank you. This is all very useful for me. I'm roughly dividing everything by 20, seeing amounts in their thousands is disturbing! But yes, the more I hear, the more reasonable it sounds. It's still looking feasible to me.
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zenxacred wrote:
The next gamemarket in Tokyo is on Nov.16


Roughly, what would the weather be like in Tokyo then? Cold, but is it dry or rainy?
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Roughly, what would the weather be like in Tokyo then? Cold, but is it dry or rainy?


I'd say it will be about 10–15°, maybe. Tokyo is pretty humid most of the time, but it's out of the rain-season at least. If it rains, there are umbrellas to have to no money at all.
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Is there one Game Market that is 'better'/larger than the others?

Are certain types of games released at one vs another, the way we might say lighter games are shown at Nurnberg, American games at GenCon, and Euros at Essen?
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grandslam wrote:
Is there one Game Market that is 'better'/larger than the others?


Tokyo Game Market is slightly bigger than Osaka Game Market. Don't know if it's better or not.

grandslam wrote:
Are certain types of games released at one vs another, the way we might say lighter games are shown at Nurnberg, American games at GenCon, and Euros at Essen?


Nope. It's the same clientele. It's more a geographical thing, and a timing thing.
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Are the newest games at the Spring TGM? Do designers aim to release their games in time for the the Spring one or are they just as likely to release them for Autumn?
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Are the newest games at the Spring TGM? Do designers aim to release their games in time for the the Spring one or are they just as likely to release them for Autumn?


The latter. There is no difference between the two. Most designers do 1 new game for every, or every other Game Market. Some come with the same game several Game Markets in a row. Kuro makes 6–8 games for each Game Market -_-;
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One more idea. As for luggage, you can use the Japanese Post Office and other carriers to mail your luggage, even delay when it comes to you. I'm pretty sure you can even mail your luggage (or part of it) this way to the airport (I've always done it from the airport, but I think it works in reverse). I sent one of the biggest luggage bags this way and it was only 2000Yen (this was a couple of years ago).
Good luck!
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So it looks roughly like Ueno, Asakusa, Akihabara, Chiyoda, Shiba, Minato (Tokyo Tower), Roppongi Hills cover the kind of touristy things and central Tokyo. And obviously a foray into Setagaya ninja

But is it worth going into Edogawa or other districts? Are there things in Tokyo to be not missed? I mean, if you go to Venice and don't ride on a gondola, or go to Paris and don't go up the Eiffel Tower or to Sacre Couer, you'd be mad. Is there something bleedin obvious one should do in Tokyo? Bear in mind, it will be May/June, so hitting certain festivals is out.

I'm really not interested in museums or art, or ancient Japan, although things like netsuke interest me. I have no interest in Ghibli but I love Masamune Shirow. What's the really obvious thing I should do in Tokyo? If I got home, and someone said, did you go to X? and I'm like noooo, should I, and they're like Maaaaan you went to Tokyo and you didn't go to X?!?, and I'm like I feel so stupid now, of course I should have gone to X...
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
So it looks roughly like Ueno, Asakusa, Akihabara, Chiyoda, Shiba, Minato (Tokyo Tower), Roppongi Hills cover the kind of touristy things and central Tokyo. And obviously a foray into Setagaya ninja

But is it worth going into Edogawa or other districts? Are there things in Tokyo to be not missed? I mean, if you go to Venice and don't ride on a gondola, or go to Paris and don't go up the Eiffel Tower or to Sacre Couer, you'd be mad.


I'm living in Paris and never visited the Eifel Tower and never entered the Sacre Coeur. Am I mad?

Quote:
Is there something bleedin obvious one should do in Tokyo? Bear in mind, it will be May/June, so hitting certain festivals is out.



If you like walking gardens, maybe Shinjuku garden.

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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
But is it worth going into Edogawa or other districts? Are there things in Tokyo to be not missed? I mean, if you go to Venice and don't ride on a gondola, or go to Paris and don't go up the Eiffel Tower or to Sacre Couer, you'd be mad. Is there something bleedin obvious one should do in Tokyo? Bear in mind, it will be May/June, so hitting certain festivals is out.


Maybe a trip up into Sky Tree, then?

Everyone has his own definition of what is "a must". If you're into Ghibli, then a visit to that museum is of course necessary (but hard to get tickets to, I have experienced!), but if you're into Shirow… not so much.

Maybe if there's some movie airing then that you might want to pre-check.

Obviously, things might have changed in may/june, so some new hot stuff might have popped up.

/Simon

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Hate to say it, but I think going to Venice and going on the gondola itself is pretty mad. You're going to get royally ripped off, but then again some people don't care. I would just ride the water bus up and down the Grand Canel for the view, and it's still quite an experience itself. Sky tree is kinda the same deal. They are both great to look at, but not that necessary to do it yourself.

Problem with sky tree is that you'd probably need to get a reservation if you want to make sure that you can go up on the busy days. Most days in the summer are busy days since it's high travel season. You could risk it (it's not that bad unless it's a weekend), line up to buy a ticket to line up for the lift and line up again for the 2nd lift. Tons of lining up will cost you 3000 yen+.

Since you are on a budget, I recommend the free Shinjuku Metropolitan government building observatory but it's only half as high (220m) compared to the top observatory of sky tree. It's still gives you a great view of Tokyo.


Tokyo tower is probably the worst. It's only slightly higher than Metropolitan government building, like 30m higher, but will cost you like 1600 yen. Just do like what you should for sky tree - go near it, take lots of pictures, done.

Of course, if you don't mind the cost, nothing really beats experiencing it yourself... I just don't find it worthwhile.



Couple other infomation:

Getting around: Tokyo's train/metro system is massive and complicated - but that also means that if you have somewhere to go, very likely you can just hop on one and get there. I personally recommend this website: www.hyperdia.com (also has an android app. No iOS version) as it can plan out all the routes and give you different suggestions for you to pick. There are other apps for smartphones, but most are in Japanese. When in doubt, google map is pretty decent too.

Cheap food: Lots of great suggestions has been out already, but I recommend you watch out for buying drinks from machines/convinence store. First time I was there, my money ran out quickly because I bought too many from the machines (there's just so many to try!) Prices are often different depends where you shop, for example a bottle of coca-cola can range from 100~160 yen, but mostly at the 120-130 range. Factor in a couple drinks a day, for a few days, it can really add up. I recommend going to a supermarket to buy those, sometimes if they are on sale, it can go down to the 80-90 yen range.

Other sights: I like the Shinjuku garden too. It's huge and lots of greenery. Another favorite of mine is Meiji Shrine, and that has Harajuku (young hipster fashion central) and Omotesando (high class hipster central) nearby (walking distance).

Free Wifi
One thing that's not that great in Tokyo is the lack of free wifi. Yes, you can buy day passes, but free is free. There are a couple places that you can get free wifi, but most will require you sign up in advance.

No sign up required
JR/metro stations provide free wifi at the platform. Not sure if it covers every station, as I've been on ones without that free wifi (maybe just weak signal). Major stations definitely has it.

pre-sign up required
7-11, Family Mart, Starbucks. I think there's a limit of 30 mins each access, and 5 times a day. However, since 7-11 and family mart is all over the place, it's good to use as you walk around.
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