Planning a day out to the land of the rising fun? Listed below are a number of precious pointers.
[This feature originally ran in 2016, so I’ve made a few changes to ensure it’s as relevant as possible in 2019. Enjoy!]
While you grew up playing video games, chances are high it’s likely you’ll well be feeling some more or much less connection to Japan. So loads of the lengthy-lasting games we all played – and the consoles we played them on – came from this densely-populated island nation. Perchance you’re even planning a day out over there for the cherry blossoms in April, or to hit up Tokyo Game Expose in September.
This characteristic desires to be vital if a day out is on the cards and you win got no longer spent well-known time in Japan earlier than. You would possibly perchance well almost definitely also merely moreover buy to set up out my profiles of two of Tokyo’s most legendary sport arcades – Taito Howdy! in Akihabara and Game Heart Mikado in Takadanobaba.
Right here we hunch…
1) Suica is your buddy
The first thing it’s most sensible to have whenever you occur to arrive in Japan is win both a Suica card or a Pasmo card. It makes no precise disagreement which one you want – they’re functionally the identical, real sold by varied corporations, but be warned: you will be making a Horde vs. Alliance-style resolution, so have the supreme thing and have the one with the penguin.
Both manner, these pre-paid spin cards form public transport a hunch. A median day getting spherical Tokyo, as an instance, sees you swapping between the subway systems and JR trains as you navigate the metropolis’s complex rail community, and these cards work across all the pieces, together with buses. It’s no longer real Tokyo, both, but most areas of Japan.
Suica/Pasmo moreover characteristic as a digital wallet, so that it’s likely you’ll well also exhaust the credit to have interaction drinks or snacks at merchandising machines, or pay for purchases at convenience retail outlets and in masses of varied outlets. They can’t be ragged for particular trains, bullet trains and lengthy distance buses, but some sport arcades lift pre-paid cards as have some cabs. Recharging them is easy, too, and can also be accomplished at value machines in educate stations.
Look, real win one.
2) Konbinis are your buddy
Consolation retail outlets, AKA konbinis, are abundant in Japan. Very very abundant, and besides they’re in actuality a dependable resource. Your moderate konbini is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so whether you’re on the hunch and wish a snack, or you’re heading back to your resort at the discontinuance of the night and craving something hot… or delectable and wintry, the local konbini is the snort to hunch.
Japan is a rustic where satisfaction is taken in the positive of food, no subject where or no longer it’s sold, so that it’s likely you’ll well also feel trusty counting on konbinis.
There are onigiri (rice balls) with a limiteless possibility of fillings, sandwiches, salads, fruit and some varied hot food options, from instantaneous noodles and fried rooster to oden (issues love daikon radish, fish cakes, tofu and onerous boiled eggs in a delicate-weight soy broth), with some seasonal variation. And because or no longer it’s Japan – a rustic where satisfaction is taken in the positive of food, no subject where or no longer it’s sold – it’s likely you’ll well also feel trusty counting on konbinis. They’re re-stocked each day, too.
Plus, it’s likely you’ll well also pay for all the pieces with your Suica or Pasmo card. Many offer varied services and products love procuring tickets for occasions and ATMs, but the ragged can be subsequent to no longer likely to navigate without encourage, while the latter brings us to our subsequent tip…
3) Some ATMs aren’t your buddy
Pretty loads of ATMs in Japan obtained’t win foreign cards, but increasingly, there are a heap that have. Indubitably, the topic has improved tremendously in the 20+ years I’ve been travelling to Japan, to the level where it’s never onerous to win money whenever you occur to’re in a metropolitan home.
The most principal locations to scrutinize for are 7-Elevens, Citibank ATMs or put up locations of work – all of these win foreigner-honorable ATMs. Many Family Mart and Lawson convenience retail outlets win love minded machines now too. The exhaust of a 7-Eleven is the most easy, and besides they’re rather frequent, so it’s real a subject of finding one shut to your resort/nearest snort and having enough cash that you don’t win caught attempting an ATM at the rotten time.
Indubitably, while cards are broadly permitted (and it’s likely you’ll have issues love pay for garments on a Suica card), Japan is silent something of a cash society, so be obvious it’s likely you’ll win got masses on you always. It’s moreover a extraordinarily trusty snort, so that you in actuality don’t wish to alarm about carrying spherical cash.
four) The trains are unbelievable
Japan’s public transport device is suited, and it must be. The Higher Tokyo Location has something love 38 million people residing in and spherical it, and a hub love Shinjuku snort has a million people passing by it each day. You would possibly perchance well almost definitely also win almost wherever in Tokyo the utilization of a aggregate of the subway systems and JR strains, and trains assuredly attain every brief time.
No longer sure how to win somewhere? Are attempting to set up when particular trains creep? There are several ultimate apps it’s likely you’ll well also exhaust. I’ve ragged Hyperdia (it’s on iPhone and Android) for years and fancy the manner it presentations a bunch of varied options in your chosen route, besides because the truth that it factors in strolling time when or no longer it would possibly perchance be wanted to transition from, articulate, a JR line to a subway line. It would possibly perchance well appear a slight bit finicky at the initiating – and does cost a small subscription price to spark off for the time you’re in Japan – but I’ve came upon it precious. As I said, though, there are varied apps available, so obtain the one who’s ultimate for you!
Traveling between cities is customarily easy too, as a result of the shinkansen (bullet educate) community. Tickets aren’t low cost, but the trains are immediate, traditional and oh so punctual. You would possibly perchance well almost definitely also e book them as early as you love and there is consistently somebody who speaks English in the pricetag locations of work. (You would possibly perchance well almost definitely also even e book by the Sparkling EX app whenever you occur to’re planning on travelling in central and western Honshu – i.e. between Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and so forth.) While you’re going to spin to a number of varied cities within Japan, it’s worth attempting into getting a Japan Rail Cross for limitless spin on the shinkansen. It desires to be bought earlier than you win to Japan, nevertheless.
5) The trains are unbelievable (until spherical dead night)
So yeah, the immediate, atmosphere honorable machine that is Japan’s public transport device stops needless spherical dead night, and doesn’t initiating up as soon as more until 5am. Right here’s something to take be conscious of whenever you occur to’re planning on being out unhurried. Both be obvious you’re within strolling distance of your accommodation, are ready to pay for a taxi (which aren’t in actuality that costly and are rather convenient whenever you occur to’re in a metropolitan centre) or win some varied more or much less contingency conception. You would possibly perchance well almost definitely also are trying and pull by, as an instance, at a membership or a karaoke joint (in a deepest room). Or it’s likely you’ll well also wreck at an recordsdata superhighway café, rather a number of that are open 24 hours and win particular particular person cubicles with reclining chairs. Some even win showers, which brings us to our subsequent level…
6) You don’t wish to entire in a resort
You don’t wish to entire in a Western-style resort in Japan. While you’re planning well forward, staying at a ryokan (or ryokan resort) is worth attempting into, as they offer very mature accommodation – tatami mat rooms, rice paper walls, futons on the bottom, basic bathing areas and so forth. – which is a dependable manner to win a style of Jap culture. There are a number of ultimate options to acquire the ryokan that’s ultimate for you – sites love Reserving.com, Japanican and Tripadvisor win a “ryokan” checkbox when procuring for accommodation, while Jap Guesthouses is a ryokan specialist.
Airbnb is worth investigating too, although the likelihood of listings has dropped tremendously since new laws came into make in 2018 requiring hosts to jump by a possibility of correct hoops.
There’s moreover that quintessentially Jap possibility, the tablet resort. These are quite basic in main metropolitan areas and are for sure cheap. It’s worth reading up quite earlier than you commit, nevertheless, as there are some solutions and devices of recordsdata to be responsive to. Some are for men supreme, as an instance, while others win separate floors for males and females. Exposed tattoos are a no-no so be obvious to retain them covered whenever you occur to will win got them, or risk being ejected. Pill resorts assuredly don’t win trusty storage for large bags both.
Pill resorts are quite basic… and are for sure cheap.
One last merchandise. You don’t wish to finish in a resort, but whenever you occur to have, it’s likely you’ll well also and not using a doubt have it on a budget – in particular in Japan’s increased cities. There’s a complete class of resort is named “industry resorts” that are there to cater to the many businessmen (and women) travelling within Japan. These resorts are continuously basic, with small rooms and no principal views, but they’re all over the set the snort, and it’s no longer onerous to acquire one wherever you wish to pray to entire. At any time after I spin to Japan, I’m on the full in Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto, so I have the basic district I wish to entire in (in step with where in the metropolis I wish to hunch), then see resorts in that home on a diagram love Tripadvisor with the “value” slider diagram to between USD $50 and USD $eighty. Your budget can also merely fluctuate, obviously, but I on the full feel love I win ultimate cost.
7) Discovering out a number of basic phrases will lift you a lengthy manner
You desires to be ready to win by quite without wretchedness in Japan’s supreme cities without well-known Jap, but making an effort is for sure liked, and moreover fun.
Be taught to issue yes (hai), hi there (konnichiwa), thanks (arigatou gozaimasu), excuse me/sorry (sumimasen), I don’t realize/I don’t know (wakarimasen) and delectable (oishii). You would possibly perchance well almost definitely besides learn inviting (kawaii) and unbelievable (sugoi) for ultimate measure too – you’ll be hearing those words loads.
8) Don’t be timid to inquire of for encourage
Jap people will regularly hunch out of their manner to permit you to whenever you occur to inquire of. In most cases they’ll offer to encourage whenever you occur to’re real standing spherical attempting misplaced. Many Jap people – in particular in huge cities – moreover win at the least a slight bit English (although they are able to also merely no longer feel assured the utilization of it), as it’s lengthy been section of the college curriculum. It’s easy to win misplaced in Japan – in particular given the manner addresses work, which we’ll win to in quite, so are trying soliciting for encourage.
9) Web the arcade that’s ultimate for you!
No longer supreme does Japan silent win video sport arcades, but they attain in all shapes and sizes. Unsurprisingly, there are rather a number of in Tokyo’s main geek district Akihabara, together with my favorite – Taito Howdy – a retro sport-stuffed gem of an arcade that is an improbable snort to play shoot ‘em ups (aka shmups), combating games both fresh and classic, and a complete fluctuate of obscure and iconic titles. This isn’t real a dependable snort to play – it’s a dependable snort to witness, as here’s home for masses of incredibly educated gamers.
There are arcades all over the set Japan though, and undoubtedly one of the most explanations they’re silent well-liked is that they’ve numerous. Your moderate Membership SEGA, as an instance, has a bunch of varied floors, all catering to particular audiences and demographics. There can be UFO Catchers on the bottom ground, then a ground for rhythm games, one for combating games, one for medal games and card-essentially based draw games, and one for purikura (photo booths).
There are real so many issues to set up out within these arcades, from multiplayer mech games to arcade variations of well-liked cell titles. And all these floors and sub-genres charm to varied kinds of people, making sure that even supposing one home of the arcade loses reputation, varied areas can encourage retain money coming in.
It’s and not using a doubt worth going to undoubtedly one of the most huge mainstream arcades, and these aren’t onerous to acquire. In Tokyo on my own it’s likely you’ll well also obtain Membership Segas, Taito Stations and the love in Akihabara, Shinjuku, Takadanobaba, Nakano and Ikebukuro, to identify a number of well-liked suburbs. It’s most sensible to moreover hunch to a specialist, whether that’s Taito Howdy! or something love Game Heart Mikado.
And whenever you occur to would possibly perchance well be feeling love venturing to Kawasaki – a temporary educate bolt in opposition to Yokohama from central Tokyo – I’d fully indicate the Kawasaki Warehouse. This insane five storey arcade is themed after the Kowloon Walled Metropolis, with a distressed, rusty, climate-overwhelmed exterior, subterranean tunnels leading into and out of the arcade, and outdated-authentic structures, storefronts and pipes internal. The theming is awesome, but the sport possibility is inviting good too.
At closing, there are arcades that are more love amusement parks. While you’re heading to Odaiba (a well-liked vacationer hunch space and the positioning of the huge Gundam statue) it’s likely you’ll well also take into myth going to Sega Joypolis, which is more of an arcade-centric theme park, with games on mechanical rigs and so forth. And whenever you occur to’re in Shinjuku, VR Zone is worth interested by – it has VR “experiences” in step with Mario Kart, Evangelion, Dragon Ball and more.
After which there’s pachinko and pachislot. Factual success with that!
10) Akihabara isn’t the supreme otaku possibility
Akihabara is well-known for being the otaku hub of Tokyo, and whenever you occur to’ve never been there it’s most sensible to and not using a doubt take a look at it out, as it’s crammed with games and manga retail outlets, electronics retail outlets large and small, arcades, themed cafes (it’s maid café central) and, well, the rest an otaku would possibly perchance well obsess over. There are, nevertheless, masses of varied options.
In Tokyo, as an instance, it’s likely you’ll well also head to Nakano Broadway, a five ground indoor mall that’s crammed with retail outlets selling geeky collectible figurines and collectables. Ikebukuro moreover has some frigid retail outlets – chains love Mandarake and Animate – and caters to female otaku, making for an actual level of disagreement.
Game and manga/anime-centered areas can also even be describe in loads of the predominant cities. In Osaka, as an instance, the Akihabara equivalent is named Nipponbashi (aka Den-Den Metropolis), so have some reading in step with your hunch space. Oh, and while we’re speaking about browsing…
Eleven) Streak browsing for retro games and consoles
Huge Potato in Akihabara is per chance the supreme-known 2nd hand sport store for Western vacationers, selling a limiteless possibility of classic consoles, from NES and Neo Geo by to Dreamcast, alongside games for customarily every extinct platform. Huge Potato, nevertheless, can be a chain that started in Osaka, so there are a pair of in that metropolis, besides as a 2nd Tokyo store in Ikebukuro and one in Nagoya. The Akihabara space’s reputation has ended in a noticeable carve value in stock over the years, but there are masses of varied chains that stock retro consoles and games equivalent to Laborious Off/E-book Off and Tsutaya, besides as masses of single space retail outlets at some level of the geek districts.
While you’re in actuality diagram on selecting up some extinct gem stones, it’s likely you’ll win regarded as attempting to take be conscious of going to more regional retail outlets. I.e. are trying and scope out Laborious Off locations that aren’t in the course of no subject metropolis you’re in.
12) Have recordsdata at your fingertips
Travelling in Japan is correct SO MUCH EASIER than it as soon as used to be, and the reason is easy – telephones, pills and ubiquitous recordsdata superhighway. Being ready to reproduction and paste an tackle – in Jap – into Google Maps, as an instance, is an absolute godsend. In snort of bumbling spherical attempting to form sense of an tackle (Japan makes exhaust of an fully varied device to what you’re seemingly conversant in) and hoping to bump into what you’re procuring for, it’s likely you’ll well also merely hunch there. And whenever you occur to’re no longer sure which educate strains to lift? The solutions superhighway/educate apps form brief work of such trifles.
Prolonged memoir brief – search in case your cell provider has an large (or at the least beneficiant) recordsdata spin conception earlier than you hunch. If no longer, rent a wi-fi router, SIM card or phone in your day out so that it’s likely you’ll win got limitless recordsdata wherever you hunch. I ragged to make exhaust of Global Evolved Communications and it used to be consistently easy – the tool would be looking ahead to me at an airport have-up level or my resort, then I’d real pop it in the put up the utilization of the win that’s equipped on my manner in one other country. For the time being, I real exhaust my phone’s roaming conception.
13) Set locations in Google Maps earlier than you hunch
Allotment of the fun of going abroad is researching the full frigid stuff you’re going to have whenever you occur to win there, and with the encourage of Google Maps, this means it’s likely you’ll well also land with maps plump of bookmarked locations – restaurants, retail outlets, arcades, vacationer attractions, and so forth. While you bump into a legit advice, real punch the Jap tackle into Google Maps and exhaust the keep functionality (“favorite,” “wish to hunch,” “starred locations” or have a brand new checklist) so this can appear in your plan.
While you bump into a legit advice, real punch the Jap tackle into Google Maps and exhaust the keep functionality so this can appear in your plan.
A observe of warning, Google Maps isn’t foolproof and you obviously wish to retain far off from being directed to the rotten snort while you’re on the bottom, so it’s good attempting to ghastly-take a look at each space or together with notes. As an instance, it’s likely you’ll well also fall into Boulevard Scrutinize to form sure a store is where Google is announcing it is, or it’s likely you’ll well also enter in linked data alongside the bookmark, love “this store is on the basement degree, scrutinize out for a impress with this kanji.” To have that – and to alternate the title if it’s in Jap or an tackle, head to your bookmarks web page.
Having bookmarks will permit you to heaps in dense areas, supplying you with some orientation as to where the retail outlets or arcades you for sure wish to hit are. It’s moreover precious for food, as it manner it’s likely you’ll well also real ship up your digital plan to search what suggested options it’s likely you’ll win got shut by.
14) If doubtful print it out
For a further security accumulate, print out the plump tackle of your resort or hunch space in Jap earlier than you hunch. This can also even be in particular precious in smaller cities and cities, and ensures you’ll win where you’re going… even supposing your phone and/or pill runs out of juice.
15) Spend the Google Translate app!
This app is huge vital in a unfold of scenarios. State you look your self in a restaurant and not using a English menu or English-speaking employees – this will well also be your supreme possibility to figure out what’s in actuality on said menu.
You would possibly perchance well almost definitely also exhaust the digicam possibility to win augmented actuality-style translations of the textual stammer on the menu in precise-time, but this would now not consistently work in particular well, so that it’s likely you’ll well also merely buy to lift a photograph of the menu then highlight textual stammer line by line (as in the photo). It’s unbelievable what a disagreement it makes even being ready to prefer broadly what each menu merchandise is.
Google Translate can moreover permit you to translate what a local speaker is announcing, now to now not articulate letting you are trying and win a conversation by moreover translating into Jap.
16) Let plastic food be your manual
That plastic food in the entrance window of restaurants isn’t real vital for getting a technique of what the restaurant is all about – it’s likely you’ll well also moreover merely dispute what you wish to win whenever you occur to’re having a onerous time.
It be honestly onerous to win a ghastly meal in Japan, so don’t have any longer be timid to lift a punt on a small gap-in-the-wall joint…
Japan has many, many kinds of cuisine so plastic food will and not using a doubt encourage. It’s moreover a rustic of experts. Rather than izakayas – the Jap equivalent of pubs, serving a limiteless possibility of snacks and meals, and kaiseki – multi-direction haute cuisine, Jap restaurants tend to focal level on doing one particular thing incredibly well. So whenever you occur to pray to win ramen you hunch to a ramen restaurant. Need in actuality good eel? Streak to the eel snort. Same with sushi, kushikatsu, tonkatsu, okonomiyaki, yakiniku, curry, and so forth.
It’s most sensible to are trying and suss out some ultimate options for the food you wish to pray to lift a scrutinize at earlier than you hunch, but you don’t have any longer wish to lock your self into those. It be honestly onerous to win a ghastly meal in Japan, so don’t have any longer be timid to lift a punt on a small gap-in-the-wall joint, or browse random restaurants the utilization of the plastic indicate food to permit you to seem something that appears to be appetising. Oh, and don’t have any longer be intimidated by locations with merchandising machines out the entrance, both – Google Translate must form brief work of those.
17) Levels, Jerry, phases
This goes for many huge cities, but in Japan in particular, there’s regularly an huge quantity of stuff hidden out of scrutinize. The large subway systems of Tokyo and Osaka are home to masses of restaurants and retail outlets, as an instance, while retail outlets regularly win food courts on their basement degree, or several floors of restaurants above. (These are absolute most sensible, by the manner, as they form it easy to browse for the restaurant you wish to win.) Districts love Shinjuku and Akihabara moreover win rather a number of stuff tucked away in back alleys or underground, so a limiteless section of the fun is exploring! That said, there’s going to be rather a number of stuff that’s inaccessible unless you’re with a local – the density of a number of of the bar districts, as an instance, where there are five or six storeys of miniature bars on avenue after avenue, can also even be both mind-boggling and impenetrable.
18) E-book tickets earlier than you hunch
It’s and not using a doubt worth interested by reserving a number of of the stuff you wish to pray to have earlier than you hunch – partly to be sure a cost and partly to form sure what you’re getting.
This goes for occasions that are well-most well-liked by vacationers (equivalent to sumo – where it’s likely you’ll well also hear to English language commentary by headset) almost besides-known as it does for more Jap-centric stuff (love going to a baseball sport) and there are third birthday party services and products that specialise in in actuality going and procuring tickets for you, then sending them to your resort. I’ve ragged these for both sumo and baseball and it’s worked out good.
You would possibly perchance well almost definitely besides have interaction your Robot Restaurant tickets early too, because that dispute – while the supreme vacationer attraction in Kabukicho – is loads of of fun.
It’s moreover worth declaring that the supreme manner you’re getting tickets to the Ghibli Museum is sooner than time, and you’ll wish to trusty them months in arrive. Even issues love the Yamazaki distillery tour desires to be booked well sooner than time.
19) Don’t finish in Chiba whenever you occur to’re going to TGS
Are you planning on going to the Tokyo Game Expose while you’re in Japan? If that is the case, frigid – real don’t form the mistake of staying out where the dispute is in Chiba. Chiba in actuality isn’t that far from the centre of Tokyo whenever you occur to win an particular educate, and there’s real no longer that well-known occurring available. You’re manner higher off staying somewhere frigid love Shibuya or Shinjuku and commuting in. That manner it’s likely you’ll well also lift ultimate thing about the nightlife and no longer wish to sweat getting back to your resort. I assuredly finish on the eastern aspect of the metropolis – i.e. attain Akihabara – to minimise the bother.
20) Take into account of cultural variations
Right here’s quite of a no-brainer, but it absolutely’s worth environment aside a while earlier than you hunch to learn a slight bit about ability faux pas it’s likely you’ll well also form, or belongings you desires to be responsive to. As an instance, it’s most sensible to bow in a well mannered manner (or incline your head if the topic isn’t formal) whenever you occur to fulfill somebody and return a bow if one is despatched your manner, it’s most sensible to lift off your sneakers when required (and whenever you occur to’re then the utilization of slippers lift those off earlier than stepping onto tatami), don’t level with your chopsticks, don’t have any longer stand them moral in a bowl of rice or exhaust them to hunch food to at least one other particular person’s chopsticks, have slurp your noodles, don’t pour your possess drink – pour for others in your birthday party and articulate ‘kanpai’ earlier than drinking, don’t tip, don’t talk loudly on public transport or form calls in your phone, blow your nostril in restrooms barely than in public whenever you occur to can also, and retain far off from strolling and drinking when that it’s likely you’ll well also comprise. Oh, and take a look at up on to be well mannered always, cos, y’know, it’s Japan.
I am hoping this has been vital – win a dependable day out!
Cam Shea is Editor in Chief for IGN’s Australian stammer crew and tries to exhaust besides-known time as that it’s likely you’ll well also comprise in Japan. He’s on Twitter.