(Harajuku sky, image by tokyotelephone.com)
One: Tokyo streets will eat your shoes, feet and probably your entire lower body if given the chance. Because of the quality of pavement, the high volume of people and general ups and downs, it all has a really degenerative effect on shoes and feet. In no way am I suggesting hiking boots (unless you’re actually hiking), but it’s a good idea to invest in some quality insoles; Tokyu Hands has a great selection if you’re in need.
Two: Never trust the weather forecast. Much like England, there’s always at least a small possibility of rain, so pop an umbrella in your bag! If you’re caught out, one of the millions of convenience stores will have a few, or as we saw in Shinjuku, homeless guys selling stolen umbrellas dirt cheap.
Three: Get a Suica. Suica are JR’s pre-paid travel cards (kind of like London’s oyster cards), and for a deposit of 500yen (£3.70/$5.39) allow you use different rail lines and buses, and even pay for shopping! For ease of use across different means of transportation, they’re worth the relatively small investment, particularly if you intend to return to Japan. Learn more about Suica here.
Four: The recession dining boom. All across Tokyo (and probably other major cities) a new chain of restaurants have sprung up offering everything on their menu for… 270yen! That’s a mere £1.99, or $2.91! Don’t let anyone tell you that eating out in Japan is expensive! Keep an eye out for future articles where we’ll be detailing these restaurants, and writing a recessionista’s guide to Tokyo.
Five: If you’re looking for native Japanese antiques, you’re out of luck. We wanted to go foraging for interesting old things, but sadly Tokyo has seemingly no love for it’s cultural antiques. European stuff, tons; Chinese replicas, hundreds; but Japanese? Unless it’s particularly high-end, you’ve got to look really hard to find anything in Tokyo even twenty years old – making Samuel and I rare and valuable antiquities! Again, look out for future articles on this subject.
What have you learnt from your time spent in Tokyo? Let us know, and we’ll feature the best ones!