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Hints for first time visitors to Japan

Hints for first time visitors to Japan

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Old Apr 16, 18, 10:24 pm
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What is fiarly far"

What is "fairly far"? Weeks or months? Also do you know if you can arrange for 1/2 day (eg afternoon) or only whole day?

Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
The guides generally need to be set up fairly far in advance so that they're able to match you with a volunteer.

IIRC there's even a service based at NRT airport, maybe if you want to see Narita village.
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Old Apr 17, 18, 4:05 am
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Originally Posted by estnet View Post
What is fiarly far"

What is "fairly far"? Weeks or months? Also do you know if you can arrange for 1/2 day (eg afternoon) or only whole day?
you can do half days (at least in Nara that was possible).

not sure about how long in advance but the request period opens 2 or 3 month before the requested date (so that is when you can start asking for a volunteer )
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Old Apr 17, 18, 3:18 pm
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Thanks so much - this whole concept of free tour guides is exciting and sounds like a great way to meet a local
I also noticed that there are options on the website for selecting age and gender - makes it better so an older person doesn't have to worry about being paired with an energetic 20 something

Originally Posted by blitzen View Post


you can do half days (at least in Nara that was possible).

not sure about how long in advance but the request period opens 2 or 3 month before the requested date (so that is when you can start asking for a volunteer )
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Old Apr 17, 18, 3:50 pm
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Originally Posted by estnet View Post
Thanks so much - this whole concept of free tour guides is exciting and sounds like a great way to meet a local
I also noticed that there are options on the website for selecting age and gender - makes it better so an older person doesn't have to worry about being paired with an energetic 20 something
we walked 15-25k steps most of the days and the older guides were in their 70s they are well exercised
the asked us about walking (no problem for us ) and we found common ground on speed/energy/..... pretty quickly
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Old May 5, 18, 2:50 pm
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Hyperdia web site

When I started this thread I wrote :
There is a free online website called Hyperdia, a rail planning application that is easy to use and right up to date. It provides not only train times and connections but also the exact cost of each ticket in whatever class you travel, including seat reservation costs. It even gives you all the arrival and departure platform numbers for your trains. If you print out your selected option the JR ticketing office can work from it with no language problems arising. Using Hyperdia you can easily calculate your exact rail costs and decide if the JR Rail Pass would be a better deal or if you will find a combination of rail and air ticketing is more advantageous. When you purchase individual tickets you can vary the class of travel to suit the circumstances and control the cost. Some of our Shinkansen sectors were very short, twenty to thirty minutes, and we chose standard seats while for the longer sectors we moved up to seats in Green Car (First) class. Standard seating is three plus three across and is a bit on the tight side for a well-built westerner. In the Green Car the seating is two plus two.
Hyperdia is even better and is an excellent tool for researching flights. It will point you to budget low cost carriers that sites like Skyscanner, Expedia etc do not bring up and will line up the relevant bus and train connections to link into those flights.
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Old May 30, 18, 1:10 am
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One word: prepaid transport card (either Suica or Pasmo). I couldn't imagine having to buy each individual ticket when re-charging the card is so easy. Plus, you don't have to worry whether you bought the correct ticket (not always so easy): just have enough credit on the card and you are good to go.
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Old Jun 16, 18, 6:18 pm
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Originally Posted by gbs1112 View Post
Standard [Shinkansen] seating is three plus three across and is a bit on the tight side for a well-built westerner. In the Green Car the seating is two plus two.
One small correction - in my experience, seating in the regular Shinkansen cars is 3 x 2 (not 3 x 3). Although the seats are perhaps similar to a standard airline economy seat, they have much, much better legroom. Even when the two of us (and we probably qualify as well-built westerners) have been in a 3 seater with a stranger, we're never felt particularly crowded.
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Old Jun 16, 18, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Ksenia Klykova View Post
One word: prepaid transport card (either Suica or Pasmo). I couldn't imagine having to buy each individual ticket when re-charging the card is so easy.
+1. Also use it to pay at Lawson / Family Mart / 7 Eleven etc., as well as vending machines.

If you have an iPhone 8 / 8 Plus / X, you can add a Suica card (but not Pasmo) to Apple Wallet and top it up using any debit or credit card you have in your Apple Wallet ...... Apple Pay Suica
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Old Jun 17, 18, 5:08 am
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Not 100% sure, but I believe the iphone needs to be set to Japan country to load the Suica card. (You could always change it back, I guess)

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207155
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Old Jun 17, 18, 6:17 am
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Originally Posted by wysiwyg View Post
Not 100% sure, but I believe the iphone needs to be set to Japan country to load the Suica card. (You could always change it back, I guess)


Correct. If you open Apple Wallet and tap the “+” sign to add a card, it will say “Add credit, debit or store cards ....” (assuming your region is not set to Japan). Change your region setting to Japan (Settlings/General/Language & Region/Japan) and open Apple Wallet and it will say “Add Suica, credit, debit ....). After you’ve added the Suica card, change the Region setting back to whereever you are....
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Old Jun 17, 18, 6:29 am
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If you were going to spend a week in Tokyo roaming around using transit whenever possible, how much would you guess you should initially pre-load on to the Suica card? 5K Yen? 10K Yen?
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Old Jun 17, 18, 6:36 am
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Originally Posted by bitterproffit View Post
If you were going to spend a week in Tokyo roaming around using transit whenever possible, how much would you guess you should initially pre-load on to the Suica card? 5K Yen? 10K Yen?
Hi,

My mother and I were in Tokyo for around 6 days ( plus 4 in Disneyland) so we had a suica card for the six days and we loaded around 6k yen in total ( 2 k each time) and we had about 1ky to spend in the convenience store at the end ( and we were using the card every day)

I would probably load 5k to start with and see how it goes ( we had water from the hotel so we did not need to use the convenience store) . If you were going to frequent the convenience stores then maybe 10k.

Regards

TBS
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Old Jul 2, 18, 6:16 pm
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On top of all above given information:

1) Simcard: Yes, you can have wifi in most areas in TYO, but most prefer to have it everywhere (especially for SNS/google maps/google translate).
Most cards in NRT or HND are rip-offs. When you into the city, you can go to Big camera and get much better value.

2) Have a quick look about Japanese etiquette: no tips, bowing, etc

3) Don’t book your hotel nights last minute. I like to do that in some countries so that I can bargain the price. Simply doesn’t work here. Book in advance!

4) Although many learned English, they are better at reading it. It helps when you choose to talk to younger people (Google translate is far from being perfect)
You might expect them just to bring you to the nearest Koban (police station)

5) It’s fairly difficult to book workshops, lessons and some experiences last minute. Do search and book in advance what you want to see/do on top of museums (Studio Ghibli, Zazen mediation, making Japanese paper, knife making, making tofu, etc). Some activities like sumo matches are mostly seasonal.

6) Go out the beaten path if it’s your comfortable with it. If you’re not and haven’t got a clue what to visit, just visit all the tour websites and copy their programs. I’m raging when I see tours above 6000USD for 1 week.

7) Do not expect to make special orders at the restaurant. Most of the time they will bring you the dish you ordered just like the picture (even if you asked without that topping/vegetable because you are allergic). Just accept and keep to the menu.

8) Go with an open mind and just enjoy!
You might be late on your packed schedule and missed something you planned, but just relax and enjoy.
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Old Jul 3, 18, 10:49 pm
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Originally Posted by The _Banking_Scot View Post
Hi,

My mother and I were in Tokyo for around 6 days ( plus 4 in Disneyland) so we had a suica card for the six days and we loaded around 6k yen in total ( 2 k each time) and we had about 1ky to spend in the convenience store at the end ( and we were using the card every day)

I would probably load 5k to start with and see how it goes ( we had water from the hotel so we did not need to use the convenience store) . If you were going to frequent the convenience stores then maybe 10k.

Regards

TBS
Thank you...came to this thread to ask the exact same question and (as always), FT'rs are way ahead of me..THANK YOU to all for the helpful tips and especially the one above.

One question - does each person need their OWN Suica card or can I pay for my daughter's trains, snacks etc with mine?
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Old Jul 4, 18, 12:24 am
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Originally Posted by susanita3333 View Post
One question - does each person need their OWN Suica card or can I pay for my daughter's trains, snacks etc with mine?
You can pay for your daughter's snacks with your card, but each person needs to have his/her own card for trains.
If you're familiar with HKG, it works just like Octopus card.
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