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Your advice for a 1 day visit to Tokyo?

Your advice for a 1 day visit to Tokyo?

Old Jan 10, 11, 7:32 am
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Your advice for a 1 day visit to Tokyo?

I will have a chance to arrive NRT on Fri, 11 Feb, at 9 AM, and depart NRT about 3 PM, Sat, Feb 12. I have previously done the 8 hr layover trip to Narita city, and am thinking Tokyo for 1 nite this time. What is the easiest, most fool-proof way for a non-Japanese-speaking gaijin to get a train ride to a Tokyo station, stay in a hotel within walking distance of that train stop, and have enough neighborhood to walk around in and be entertained? Looking for the least opportunity to get lost, as I am worried it might be easy - I've seen the Tokyo train map. Wow, how does a native, much less me, figure that thing out? Appreciate any advice that will give me the confidence to try it. Thanks.
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Old Jan 10, 11, 7:43 am
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I knew the station I was going to but still got lost. Having a map and pointing to the station name as I asked folks for help was incredibly effective at getting back on track, even if we never actually spoke the same language.

As for what to do, wake up early, go to Tsukiji Market. Have sushi for breakfast. Both the cheap and the upscale places around the market are pretty good, though very different experiences. I actually did both one day just because. Head back to your hotel, grab a shower and head back to the airport.

On that first day, with the 9am arrival, you can probably get to the Imperial Palace and then wander around the Shibuya neighborhood to get a feel for two very different parts of Tokyo culture.

I did my trip in 50 hours, not the ~30 that you'll have but I think that the general plan would still work pretty well.
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Old Jan 10, 11, 9:41 am
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The easiest way is to ride the JR Narita Express to Tokyo station and stay in one of the hotels around the station. Then the following day, ride the Narita Express back to the airport.

There are a number of hotels in the midrange and luxury categories within a few minutes walk of Tokyo station. There is also a fair amount to see without having to get on any other form of public transit, although none of the sites mentioned just above.
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Old Jan 10, 11, 9:48 am
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Buy a city guide and map for Tokyo. For your purposes, the one that concentrates on restaurants and entertainment with a few hotel listings (Time Out Tokyo?) is probably best.

If the subway system intimidates you (it's safe and well-marked in English), stick to the Yamanote (loop) Line, which will take you to Ueno for the National Museum (if that's your thing) or to Shibuya (to see all the trendy young people). If you're willing to try to Oedo Subway Line, take it to Tochomae and view the city from the 45th floor of the Metropolitan Government Building.

But really, it's up to you. Get that guidebook and a map, and see what appeals to you.
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Old Jan 10, 11, 12:51 pm
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Or, take the less expensive Keisei Skyliner to Ueno and stay in a less expensive hotel. The area around Ueno station has some nice sights to see but for nightlife you should ride the Yamanote Line or the subway Ginza Line to a better area. Just be sure to get back to your hotel by midnight or so as the trains stop running around then.

Keisei has a Skyliner + Metro pass that will give you a day pass on the subway. Asakusa is 2 stops away, as is the Tokyo Station area.
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Old Jan 11, 11, 7:09 am
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Originally Posted by ksandness View Post
Buy a city guide and map for Tokyo. For your purposes, the one that concentrates on restaurants and entertainment with a few hotel listings (Time Out Tokyo?) is probably best.

If the subway system intimidates you (it's safe and well-marked in English), stick to the Yamanote (loop) Line, which will take you to Ueno for the National Museum (if that's your thing) or to Shibuya (to see all the trendy young people). If you're willing to try to Oedo Subway Line, take it to Tochomae and view the city from the 45th floor of the Metropolitan Government Building.

But really, it's up to you. Get that guidebook and a map, and see what appeals to you.
appreciate the advice from all. very helpful. but regarding the city guide and map from "Time Out Tokyo", are those 2 items something I can find in the US at bookstores before I go? or is it something I need to look for in-country, upon arrival?
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Old Jan 11, 11, 7:34 am
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Originally Posted by smythe View Post
appreciate the advice from all. very helpful. but regarding the city guide and map from "Time Out Tokyo", are those 2 items something I can find in the US at bookstores before I go? or is it something I need to look for in-country, upon arrival?
I think it's one item - a guidebook that contains a map. Your local bookstore might have it or some other city guide that will do for your short trip. If not, there's always the interwebs:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Tim.../9781846700163
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Old Jan 13, 11, 7:01 pm
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Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
Or, take the less expensive Keisei Skyliner to Ueno and stay in a less expensive hotel. The area around Ueno station has some nice sights to see but for nightlife you should ride the Yamanote Line or the subway Ginza Line to a better area. Just be sure to get back to your hotel by midnight or so as the trains stop running around then.

Keisei has a Skyliner + Metro pass that will give you a day pass on the subway. Asakusa is 2 stops away, as is the Tokyo Station area.
Hi Smythe, I agree with abmj-jr on the train.

You can catch the Keisei limited express right from the airport, just follow the signs to the metro. Than get yourself a pasmo card from the metro ticket machine (don't worry they have an english translation button) and throw a couple thousand • on it for the •1000 into the city and the •1000 back to the airport. There's a •500 deposit for the card but you can use the card on the JR (big circle line) and the metro so it will be your best friend for the day you're there. Keisei limited express is WAY faster than a cab from Narita and really cost effective. A taxi is the most expensive and slowest way into city. If you have money to burn and you travel in style, you could alway to get a MCAS helicopter directly into central Tokyo in about 30 minutes flat... but it costs about $400USD each way.

The subway map looks much more confusing than it actually is, and because you only have one day in the city you'll probably only be using one or two of the lines. They have english signs are pretty easy to navigate once you know where you want to go.

Tokyo has so much to offer so it would be tough to give you any itinerary suggestions for one day without knowing the kind of trip you're looking for (culture, food, shopping, bar hopping etc...) Each neighbourhood in Tokyo has something to offer and some are better suited for shopping, nightlife or food. For example Roppongi works for nightlife but if you are a shopper you would probably want Shinjuku. I also second the Tsukiji fish market if you're a foodie, the sushi was amazing, but it will eat up a big portion of your day. Anything you really want to experience?
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Old Jan 13, 11, 8:29 pm
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You can get a good free Tokyo tourist map from the tourist office in NRT.

The train map (with station names in English) is very easy to use, because all stations have numbers, so it is easy to see how long the distance is even if the line on the map is curved and difficult to follow. All signs and announcements on the subway are duplicated in English. There are two subway systems (Tokyo Metro and Toei), you can buy a daypass valid on both. The ticketing machines have a button to switch to English. Also there is a circular railway line called Yamanote Line, you need a separate ticket for that (sorry I don't know the details as I have only used it with a rail pass). For details on using the subway, I would suggest www.japan-guide.com. In fact navigating the subway is easier than navigating when walking the streets (but many streets have English signs too).

The area around Tokyo Station is easy to navigate, so that if you stay there, you should have no problems finding your way back to the station (and if everything fails, catch a taxi and say "Tokyo Station"). If your budget is tight, you may want to stay near the Ueno station instead - the hotels are cheaper there and it is still relatively easy to navigate. Tokyo Station is walking distance to the Imperial Palace, and the Ginza shopping street. Ueno is close to Ueno Park with some museums and the zoo.

If you are afraid of getting lost, just take a GPS with you. I had one on my first trip to Japan, and while I never had to use it, it was comforting to know I could. Also use Google Street view before departing to get familiar with the areas.

Neighborhoods around either Tokyo Station or Ueno are not that exciting to spend a whole day there, so I would definitely take the subway somewhere else, for example:

* Go to the imperial palace (you will only see the fortifications surrounding the palace grounds, not the palace itself). Visit the palace gardens.

* Take the Hanzomon line to the Omotesando station, walk along the Omotesando boulevard to the Harajuku station and visit the Meiji shrine located there. It is nearly impossible to get lost there.

* Go to Shibuya to see the crowds of young hip Japanese people. The plaza at Shibuya station looks a little like Times Square with the giant screens, only nicer.

* Go to Asakusa to see the temple there

* Go to Tsukiji for sushi, you can also visit the nearby Hamarikyu Gardens.

Avoid going to Shinjuku, as it is easy to get lost there. Make sure you have enough cash with you, as ATMs accepting foreign credit cards are rare and don't work round the clock. Keep in mind that all public transport stops around midnight and taxis are expensive (every subway station has a timetable posted where you can see the last trains).
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Old Jan 13, 11, 10:30 pm
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Well....Citibank ATMs in Japan accept foreign cards and work around the clock. Just aren't that many of them. And what you have listed above is pretty aggressive for just one day!
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Old Jan 14, 11, 4:58 am
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
And what you have listed above is pretty aggressive for just one day!
I didn't mean the OP should do everything I listed, these were just suggestions for things that should be easy to do for a first timer in Tokyo.

In fact I think if you remove any item (except for the short peek at Shibuya which would take 30 minutes at most), you should be able to do the rest in the afternoon on the day of arrival and on the morning after.
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Old Jan 14, 11, 7:22 am
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Friday, 11th February is a public holiday in Japan though as a tourist in central Tokyo the OP should not notice much difference. Tsukiji Fish Market will be closed on 11th but the time to go there is in the (very early) morning so this should not affect the OP either.
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Old Jan 14, 11, 2:51 pm
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Originally Posted by pring View Post
Hi Smythe, I agree with abmj-jr on the train.

Anything you really want to experience?
Appreciate the comments, one and all. Dont know that I have one area of interest I am focused on (shopping, museums, galleries, etc), although maybe foodie is the best primary interest I can come up with. So far, I have been leaning toward train ride to Tokyo Station, hotel in that area, and wandering Imperial Palace, Marunochu, and Ginza on that first day, all on foot. Then up early the next morning to check out the fish market on Sat AM, and back to NRT by mid-day. Although, enough have mentioned Ueno, I will be researching that area a little more. By the way, got the Time Out Tokyo book - looks very good.

Last edited by smythe; Jan 14, 11 at 3:07 pm
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Old Jan 14, 11, 9:21 pm
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Originally Posted by smythe View Post
Appreciate the comments, one and all. Dont know that I have one area of interest I am focused on (shopping, museums, galleries, etc), although maybe foodie is the best primary interest I can come up with. So far, I have been leaning toward train ride to Tokyo Station, hotel in that area, and wandering Imperial Palace, Marunochu, and Ginza on that first day, all on foot. Then up early the next morning to check out the fish market on Sat AM, and back to NRT by mid-day. Although, enough have mentioned Ueno, I will be researching that area a little more. By the way, got the Time Out Tokyo book - looks very good.
Hi Smythe, if food is your thing than you will LOVE Tokyo!
Hit the Tsukiji Market for Sushi and to experience the crazy outer market. If I were you I wouldn't leave it to the last day, especially if you want to eat at one of the famous sushi joints like Sushi Dai. The lines at the really good places can be long, up to 3 hours if you aren't one of the first people there at the crack of dawn. If it doesn't work into your schedule than try one of the other fab sushi places like Standing Sushi, which isn't expensive and they have a few locations in different neighbourhoods. Also the sushi was almost as good as Sushi Dai in the market. For lunch go to Ramen street (located in the complex attached to Tokyo Station). All the ramen restaurants located in the stretch of hallway (called Ramen street) are well know, popular restaurants so you can't go wrong. If there isn't a line up at Rokurinsha go there, it's probably the most popular. There is also tempura, tonkatsu, soba, udon and kabayaki... hope you're hungry

Personally I think some of the can't miss neighbourhoods in Tokyo are Harajuku, Shinjuku and Shibuya. Like cockpitvisit said in the post above, Meiji Shrine is close to Harajuku so you could do the Shrine and than walk Harajuku in a few hours. Shinjuku has really great department stores with crazy food halls in the basements where you can get amazing prepared foods (this could also work for a dinner or lunch) You can get bento boxes, tempura, and the pastries and sweets rival ones in Paris. Isetan Department store in Shinjuku is a great one. Shibuya is great to people watch and wonder around taking in Tokyo.
The Imperial Palace is just ok... I would skip it at this time of year because the gardens won't be very impressive. (sorry if that offends anyone, I just don't think it's fantastic enough during the winter to dedicate a morning if you are ONLY going to be there one day- just my personal opinion)
If I were you I would save the morning of your last day to hit a museum (Edo or Tokyo National Museum are both pretty good... or the Ramen museum if you are a TOTAL foodie lol) That way you won't have to worry about navigating too many neighbourhoods and subways, I think it might be less stressful since you have to get to the airport in the afternoon.
If you have an iphone and internet at your hotel you can plot a destination and get directions (plus you can drop a pin for one more place) I disables my data and was still able to view the map and use the compass and GPS in the phone to navigate around. I looked at getting a GPS but I couldn't find maps at a reasonable price and the ones I did find seemed a little inaccurate. Google maps worked pretty well for me on my phone though. If you get lost in any neighbourhood though you can ask just about anyone to help you get back to the main subway you arrived at, usually someone will be able to point you in the right direction.
I hope that helped a little, Tokyo is amazing you will have fun no matter what you do.
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Old Jan 17, 11, 9:03 am
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if I read my Tokyo guidebook correctly, it says I will not need any type of electrical adapters at all for plugging in laptops and other electrical devices in Tokyo, correct? very pleasant suprise if true. appreciate your confirmation.
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