Whether you’re just visiting Japan or you’ve been here for a while, here are a few tips that will help you on your travels in Tokyo and beyond.
Get to Grips with the No-name Streets
Trying to figure out a Japanese address? It starts with prefecture, then the city or the ward, and then the neighborhood. After this, the subdivisions are districts, blocks, and building numbers. Districts and blocks are usually numbered by how close they are to the center of a neighborhood or ward. Finally the building number comes next. This number is assigned either in clockwise order around a block, or according to the order in which the buildings were built. Confused yet? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
App It Up
For good information about locations and directions in Japan, Google Maps still beats out Apple Maps if you’re on an iPhone. If you really want detailed information about train and bus routes while you’re traveling, apps like and Hyperdia and Navitime are your best bet.
Charge a Card
Buy a Suica or Pasmo card as soon as you can. It’ll save you money, it’s easy to charge, and it’ll get you through the turnstiles faster. Now, more and more cities will let you use a Suica or Pasmo card on their public transportation. You can buy them at any train station, and all machines offer English service.
If you’re getting loaded down with souvenirs or have an extra bag you won’t need until you’re back at the airport, Japanese companies like Yamato offer a great service: you can just ship your bags or packages to hotels or to the airport. You’ll need to plan ahead though, as it can take a day or two for your package to arrive. You can find out more about Yamato TA-Q-BIN service at www.kuronekoyamato.co.jp/en/tourist/.
Don’t Dismiss the Buses
Limousine buses take you to and from the airports, are cheaper than trains, and go directly to some hotels. Even if you’re not staying at one of the larger hotels, they can get you closer to where you need to go, without having to lug bags through crowded train stations. You can get information about bus lines at the arrivals terminal at Narita and Haneda. More info at www.limousinebus.co.jp/en/.
Pick Up Mobile WiFi
No matter where your travels take you, you don’t want to miss out on uploading your pictures and posts, finding your way around, and staying in touch with your friends while you’re on the go. With Pocket WiFi from SoftBank offered through Global Mobile, you can be online all the time, with blazing fast LTE. Service is available for as little as ¥200 a day. For more details, visit www.gmobile.biz/softbank/.