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johnnypd
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Anyone been? Disco? Mojo? Shak?

 

Going off to the Japanese capital in a few weeks and shitting myself a bit - don't know how to speak the language, not done any research etc. got a few things lined up and travelling the country for a bit staying for a month or so.

 

So anyone got any tips for getting around? Things to do/don't do? Any tips for understand katakana and ingratiating yourself w/ locals? Hear they're big on etiquette and what not so don't want to cause a diplomatic incident by doing something stupid like asking for a fork.

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I've been about six times, although my most recent trip was about 4 years ago.

 

Most of the signage for public transportation is in English so you shouldn't have any trouble getting around. Stick to subways for the most part, taxis are extortionately expensive and buses might be risky if you don't speak the language. Do note that some subway lines have "rapid" or "express" trains that don't stop at certain stops. They're very clearly marked in both Japanese and English so you shouldn't have any problems.

 

It helps immensely if you at least know Katakana, but it can be a bitch to learn. As for the locals, you needn't really worry at all because they're mostly nice to a fault and are extremely understanding towards westerners. They tend to be very deferential towards anyone who speaks English and might actually treat you better if you just blurt on in English instead of making some abortive attempt at speaking Japanese. (That mostly comes from personal experience. People tended to be much nicer when they thought I was American instead of a Korean guy with a shit Japanese accent) In any case, they're big on etiquette but for the most part won't hold you to the same standards so you don't need to worry.

 

Otherwise it's pretty much your bog-standard ridiculously large city. Not much in the way of sights to see other than the large population centers and a bunch of nice restaurants/cafes/bakeries. I'd suggest checking out Akihabara if you're even remotely into gaming or electronics, just for the sheer weirdness of it all.

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There is lot's to see in Tokyo, don't know what your on about Oldtype. I agree the metro is the best way of getting around, because of the traffic, it's faster and cheaper of course. Lot's of good restaurants, best Chinese restaurants in world there. If you can check out the Love Hotels,do it! you can't miss them, they stick out like sore thumbs. I have to admit it's an expensive country but a great country to get around, even if you don't speak the language they are really helpful people and polite.

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Not been to Tokyo, but was in Japan last week in Kyoto (which is an anagram of Tokyo, and therefore must be pretty similar!) and it was fucking class.

 

I'd advise picking up a Lonely Planet, that'll give you some key phrases for surviving on a day to day basis as well as telling you all the tourist stuff that you can do. I don't like to follow the LP too closely personally, but it's very handy to have.

 

I did find that the level of English was pretty good, and generally I felt that as a people the Japanese were very helpful with people who didn't speak the language. Didn't have any issues with improper ettiquette either, there are some places that are very traditional about things but they basically don't let foreigners into those places so there's little opportunity to cause an incident. :lol:

 

I'd strongly recommend Kyoto if you're planning on heading away from Tokyo for an extended period of time. It's the former capital and just a fantastic little city that is easy to get around. Place to go to see Geisha's too, I gave a few the eyes but they were a tough nut to crack.

 

It's very close to Osaka too which I was only in for one night but it certainly seemed cool.

 

Let me know if you're going to be in Kyoto and I'll recommend a few places closer to the time.

 

Oh, and eat the sushi (or sashimi, preferably), it's mint.

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There is lot's to see in Tokyo, don't know what your on about Oldtype. I agree the metro is the best way of getting around, because of the traffic, it's faster and cheaper of course. Lot's of good restaurants, best Chinese restaurants in world there. If you can check out the Love Hotels,do it! you can't miss them, they stick out like sore thumbs. I have to admit it's an expensive country but a great country to get around, even if you don't speak the language they are really helpful people and polite.

 

I suppose there's a bit to see if you're not used to large Asian metropolitan centers. It gets a bit dull for me given that I live in a city that's pretty similar. That and having been there a half-dozen times I suppose.

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aye i've been, and oldtype has nailed it all i'd say, we went for a massive pissup for 4 days or something so didn't really try to see or do too much...echo what he said about public transport, taxis are very expensive

 

people are sound, polite and helpful, for the large part don't mind you speaking in english and will try to help - lasses love it when you try to throw in a bit of japanese mind

 

personally didn't have enough time to really explore but i loved the place

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If you're travelling about Japan buy a JR pass for x amount of days. It's way cheaper than general train costs and easy enough to use. You have to buy it over here though and then exchange the paper work in Japan for your pass at one or the stations. We went for 2 weeks (1 week in Tokyo) and barely scratched the surface, I absolutely lived it. It's as different as you can get in my experience without losing your first world standard of things. Places we went that I'd recommend are Kyoto (old v new Japan and loads of temples, culture etc.), Nara (nr Kyoto and loads of old stuff), Inari (has thousands of those Japanese gate things-look it up), Hiroshima and Miyajima down the south west, the a bomb Park and museum are particularly moving.

 

Tokyo is massive like, familiarise yourself with the Metro - there are 2 but we found the main Tokyo metro one fine although we stopped in Asakusa where the orange line ended so we couldn't miss our stop. When you're there go to Harajuku on a Sunday and people watch. This is wear all the kids dress up in mad shit and hang around looking ridiculous. Go to the fish Market too.

 

We didn't speak or know any Japanese and got by fine, Japanese people are friendly as out but if you can knock about with someone who speaks Japanese or knows whats going n a bit more I reckon it would make a difference to what you get out of it as a lot of the time we didn't have a clue what's going on. As mentioned it is expensive, drinking especially.

 

One of my favourite cities in the world. Enjoy.

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We didn't speak or know any Japanese and got by fine, Japanese people are friendly as out but if you can knock about with someone who speaks Japanese or knows whats going n a bit more I reckon it would make a difference to what you get out of it as a lot of the time we didn't have a clue what's going on. As mentioned it is expensive, drinking especially.

 

yeah this due to the size of the place, language, and sometimes the fact that what you might want to do or the place you might want to go isn't really foreigner friendly (i'm talking about on the drink here, clearly)

 

remember a few places we went we just wandered around gawping for a cool place we'd like to sit in and bevvy, in the end we always invariably chose somewhere totally shit simply 'cause we had no idea how to identify what the type of place we'd want to be in would look like in japan, if you see what i mean

 

my advice, when you decide on your first digs have a scout about on some expat websites, ESL sites etc. see if you can identify somewhere expats will drink in...get yourself in there and start asking the expats who live there the crack, they'll sort you out with what you want fastest and then you'll probably end up meeting english speaking japanese people too

 

you'll have filter through some absolute wankers mind if korea is anything to go by (not you shak :lol:) but if you're staying as long as a month i'd do that from the off personally

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Guest icemanblue

Amazing city/metropolis, I've been a couple of times now and still haven't seen everything I want to. We just gave ourselves a day to explore each of the major 'areas' on my latest trip.

 

Make sure you visit Shibuya (busiest street crossing in the world, you'll have seen it on TV), Harajuku/Omotesando (Upmarket shopping meets teeny culture, and the Meiji shrine), Ginza (Massive upmarket department stores), Shinjuku (Worlds busiest train station, red light district (Kabukicho)), Asakusa ('Old Tokyo', Sensoji shrine), Marunouchi (Imperial Palace, government/financial area. Not far from Tsukiji Fish Market - you have to go here!).

 

If you have time, make sure you take a few trips outside of Tokyo, too. Nikko is a couple of hours on the train away, in the mountains, and has to be seen. Kamakura is a nice little seaside town an hour outside Tokyo, home of the Daibutsu (Giant Buddha). It's well worth getting yourself a 'Japan Rail Pass', if you're planning on going over to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka etc. The cost of it (~£200) is paid back by one Bullet train journey, and it can also be used on the JR Metro lines, including the Yamanote Line (circular line through the heart of the major areas).

 

Eat as much as you can, you'll miss it when you get back. The sushi is a different gravy to here. Also try as many kinds of ramen bars as you can.

 

I could go on and on and on. If you need any info, just drop me a PM and I'll do my best to help out. A great website for ideas on where to visit is http://www.japan-guide.com/, and make sure you get a Lonely Planet Tokyo Guide.

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Just another note on eating and drinking, we found a lot of the better value (& arguably more authentic places) were in and around the train stations as people in Tokyo are reluctant to go back to their inevitably tiny flats so just eat/booze here instead. Found some great Yakitori bars I think it was near Ueno, which has a nice park too, there is a zoo here n all which is pretty cheap. If you do go to Hiroshima make sure to try some okonomiyaki - it's a Japanese pizza/pancake thing, absolutely amazing and the chef cooks on the hot plate in front of you. There is a building which houses loads of solely these type of restaurants near the main covered shopping street in Hshima.

 

Also most menus (although we didn't go anywhere overly posh) had pictures on them or the model food in the window so you could just point at what you want which is handy.

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Thanks for the answers so far! relieving to know english is so widely spoken and used in metro stations etc.

 

If you have time, make sure you take a few trips outside of Tokyo, too. Nikko is a couple of hours on the train away, in the mountains, and has to be seen. Kamakura is a nice little seaside town an hour outside Tokyo, home of the Daibutsu (Giant Buddha). It's well worth getting yourself a 'Japan Rail Pass', if you're planning on going over to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka etc. The cost of it (~£200) is paid back by one Bullet train journey, and it can also be used on the JR Metro lines, including the Yamanote Line (circular line through the heart of the major areas).

 

i'm heading up near Nagano and staying with some people for a couple of weeks, but the journey is on a local train and is supposed to be pretty cheap. Not sure if i'll explore too much more other than that, otherwise i would definitely take the shinkansen.

 

Eat as much as you can, you'll miss it when you get back. The sushi is a different gravy to here. Also try as many kinds of ramen bars as you can.

 

 

from what ive seen izakayas and small places serving karaage, curries, unagi etc seem pretty reasonable. Alcohol looks quite pricey tho, i suppose that's how they make their money.

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