Sharing some of our experience during our five night stay in Tokyo with hopes it alleviates some concerns you may have…
– No tipping allowed ; any change or credit card will be placed directly in your hands. Tipping is considered offensive and as this is one of the few countries that doesn’t accept tips, enjoy not having to figure out how much to give or whether service justifies a good or bad tip.
– People are polite ; culture emphasizes politeness and being respectful thus you will see people bow often, as well as salute and bid you goodbye.
– When shopping, you will not be injected with people trying to sell you something or ask you if you need help. Simply approach when you have question and they will gladly assist you.
– When taking the train, there is an information booth next to the terminals. Ask them questions and they will show you on the map. The train system is relatively simple, take the map and look for the color and stop number. For example, if you need to take yellow stop 10, follow the numerous signs that indicate yellow 1-5 to the left and yellow 6-12 to the right.
– If you get lost, just ask someone for directions. Do ask with simple phrases, “Tokyo station direction” rather than “do you know directions I need to take to Tokyo station”. At times, they will walk you to where you need to go or they will help search on their phones or find someone who can assist. They are very friendly and extremely helpful.
– At pharmacies and department stores, you will see boxes with pictures of ice packs on kids forehead. Get a few of them as it is generally warm inside the trains or in some stores. The ice packs help cool you down for several hours. They are inexpensive and one of the items we purchase a lot of, for the hot and humid days back home. You will also see bandages for the feet, legs, etc….a good substitute to putting the hot-n-cold cream.
– Cash…make sure you carry cash as there are restaurants and attractions whereby credit cards are not allowed. ATM machines we used charged ten dollars per transaction thus we just took more money out than make numerous trips and incurring the fee multiple times.
– Passport…carry it with you as you can get tax free when spending a certain amount (generally 50 dollars) ; savings of 8 percent. However if there are items you will be using, separate them as the tax free items will be placed in a seal tight bag.
– Stairs…there are stairs everywhere thus be prepared for them. Train stations have some escalators but some will be stairs only ; even walk paths will have stairs
– To the left….stay to the left when you walk and walk in an orderly fashion. Staying left helps the flow of traffic and helps you stay safe from cyclists who bike on the sidewalks and will pass on the right.
– Seats….are not easy to find when needing a break from all the walking and shopping. Look for coffee houses as your best spots to take a rest.
– Trash…take a bag with you and store your trash. Trash bins are rare and it’s actually a good thing as it forces people to be responsible for their own garbage thus keeping the streets clean. Separate bottles (glass and plastic) from the other garbage as they are recycled but do make sure you finish all the liquids.
– Fruits….if you like fruits, eat lots of them before you venture to Japan. Fruits are incredibly expensive, combination of supply-n-demand and also how fruits are grown. If you have to try, opt for those you can’t get back home, for example, grapes.
– Shop Hours…be cognizant of shop opening and closing times as some stores don’t open until 10 or 11am and stores closes around 6 – 8pm….