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Old 02-22-2018, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Queens THE REAL international city
2,386 posts, read 5,456,256 times
Reputation: 2826

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This coming middle of May or beginning of June of this year (2018) I am FINALLY getting to accomplish my life long dream of venturing to Japan. I am beyond excited about this and as you imagine, I can't wait. I'll be staying in Tokyo but will branch out to the outskirts for some nature exploration as well. I do have some questions of course. Some I know, some I'm not sure of, some I don't know at all. Any help you can provide would be of great help.

1) How walkable and bikeable is Tokyo? I know its known as the worlds biggest metropolis but I get conflicting reports on how walkable it is. Personally, I don't think this should be a big deal since I walk a ton being from and living in NYC all my life.

2) How easy would it be for me to reach the more rural areas outside of Tokyo? I want to visit Nikko National park and possibly Hakone during my (2 week) stay. And would I be able to return to Tokyo if I make it a very early day?

3)My Japanese is pretty limited though I find that I can speak it well when I practice. Reading Japanese, NOT GOOD. How hard would it be for me to get around?

4) How convenient is the metro system? Besides the rush hour chaos, I hear nothing but great things about the system.

5) Are cabs and taxi's expensive? Is there any Uber or Lyft in Tokyo? Not that I really plan on getting around by cab much but just in case, it's good to know.

6)How hard are easy is it to get used to the currency of Japan being from the states? Should I carry around Yen mostly as an American? Or there any American banks in Japan (Chase, Bank Of America etc) where it would be easier to transfer money and use my card?

7) How are the people of Tokyo and Japan? From my experience meeting them in other parts of the world they usually tend to be quite friendly, respectful and more social then I expect. Sometimes I have noticed that they can be friendly, polite but a little reclusive.

8)Anyone know anything of the Sanja Matsuri festival that takes place in May 18th-20th? Can foreigners participate in the event?

These are the questions I have for now but I may add more if any I forgot to ask come to mind. Thank you all!

Last edited by Lital_The_Best; 02-22-2018 at 08:20 AM..
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Tulsa
1,806 posts, read 810,049 times
Reputation: 1845
1. Tokyo isn't as walkable as NYC in the sense that you'll probably need to ride the metro to get somewhere, then walk to your final destination. But it's unlikely that you can walk to points of interest from your hotel like you can in midtown Manhattan.

2. Personally I didn't do it, but my parents who visited Japan multiple times told me it's pretty easy. Can't answer the schedule question.

3. I speak zero Japanese. I had no problem getting around in Tokyo, no experience with rural areas though. You may depend on your Apps, Google Map, etc.

4. It's pretty convenient in the sense that it gets you everywhere. But you need to learn how to use it. There are more than one metro system that operate pretty much independently. I'm no expert, but you need to do your homework. Also, I'm not sure how old you are. Some really old metro stations in Tokyo don't have elevator, hopefully you are okay with stairs.

5. Sort of expensive, not sure about Uber.

6. Maybe you should ask your bank directly, it's probably easier to get Yen before you leave. There are a lot of Citibank branches in Tokyo, but I suspect they operate independently? I really don't know. For major purchases, you can use credit card.

7.Quite friendly to tourists. They are not big fans of small talk, but they are genuinely willing to help when you ask. Language barrier can be problematic.
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:18 AM
 
Location: In the heights
22,172 posts, read 23,691,169 times
Reputation: 11633
1) How walkable and bikeable is Tokyo? I know its known as the worlds biggest metropolis but I get conflicting reports on how walkable it is. Personally, I don't think this should be a big deal since I walk a ton being from and living in NYC all my life.

Tokyo is very walkable and bikeable, more so than NYC. The thing is that the walkable / bikeable section extends out to a massive area as the urban core is so massive that walking and biking can only cover a small percentage of the area.

2) How easy would it be for me to reach the more rural areas outside of Tokyo? I want to visit Nikko National park and possibly Hakone during my (2 week) stay. And would I be able to return to Tokyo if I make it a very early day?

Hakone is a great day trip and you can certainly make it back in a single day though you might want to stay a night anyhow. There's quite a bit within reach via train, but the system is a bit hard to navigate due to its extensiveness.

3)My Japanese is pretty limited though I find that I can speak it well when I practice. Reading Japanese, NOT GOOD. How hard would it be for me to get around?

Definitely have Google Translate downloaded with an offline Japanese language package installed. There is a pretty decent amount of English language signage within Tokyo and there are usually a lot of service counters that even if they can't speak English very well, can do at least a modicum and earnestly try to help. I understood a lot of kanji from knowing Chinese and I can sound out everything in the kanas, but didn't necessarily know what everything meant, and I found apps quite helpful. Generally though, context gives the meaning away for most things.

4) How convenient is the metro system? Besides the rush hour chaos, I hear nothing but great things about the system.

IT IS PRETTY GREAT. Extensive, timely, well-maintained, clean.

5) Are cabs and taxi's expensive? Is there any Uber or Lyft in Tokyo? Not that I really plan on getting around by cab much but just in case, it's good to know.

They are a bit pricey, and get pricier during late night as there's an extra surcharge. There is Uber, but I never used it.

6)How hard are easy is it to get used to the currency of Japan being from the states? Should I carry around Yen mostly as an American? Or there any American banks in Japan (Chase, Bank Of America etc) where it would be easier to transfer money and use my card?

Decently easy, but you should always carry a good amount of yen on you. Robberies (or crime in general) is very uncommon so caring a decent wad and making that exchange before you leave isn't a bad idea at all. If you are going to use your credit card at all, call your bank beforehand to tell them the dates you'll be gone and to where otherwise you might abruptly have your charges declined.

7) How are the people of Tokyo and Japan? From my experience meeting them in other parts of the world they usually tend to be quite friendly, respectful and more social then I expect. Sometimes I have noticed that they can be friendly, polite but a little reclusive.

People are very polite and friendly. I mean, it's not like every stranger is going to go out of their way to be your best friend, because that's weird in pretty much every culture. However, my experience has been people are affable especially people working in the service industry and fellow patrons at bars.
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:22 AM
 
Location: Queens THE REAL international city
2,386 posts, read 5,456,256 times
Reputation: 2826
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodHombre View Post
1. Tokyo isn't as walkable as NYC in the sense that you'll probably need to ride the metro to get somewhere, then walk to your final destination. But it's unlikely that you can walk to points of interest from your hotel like you can in midtown Manhattan.

2. Personally I didn't do it, but my parents who visited Japan multiple times told me it's pretty easy. Can't answer the schedule question.

3. I speak zero Japanese. I had no problem getting around in Tokyo, no experience with rural areas though. You may depend on your Apps, Google Map, etc.

4. It's pretty convenient in the sense that it gets you everywhere. But you need to learn how to use it. There are more than one metro system that operate pretty much independently. I'm no expert, but you need to do your homework. Also, I'm not sure how old you are. Some really old metro stations in Tokyo don't have elevator, hopefully you are okay with stairs.

5. Sort of expensive, not sure about Uber.

6. Maybe you should ask your bank directly, it's probably easier to get Yen before you leave. There are a lot of Citibank branches in Tokyo, but I suspect they operate independently? I really don't know. For major purchases, you can use credit card.

7.Quite friendly to tourists. They are not big fans of small talk, but they are genuinely willing to help when you ask. Language barrier can be problematic.
Thanks for this.

As for question 4, stairs aren't an issue. In fact, I welcome it.
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Tulsa
1,806 posts, read 810,049 times
Reputation: 1845
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
Thanks for this.

As for question 4, stairs aren't an issue. In fact, I welcome it.
Well, I'd like to clarify on the walkability aspect.

Tokyo is huge, points of interest are sparsely located.

Any neighborhood in Tokyo is very walkable, but you really can't walk to all your destinations. Tokyo walkability and midtown Manhattan walkability are just different.

Hate to be negative, but Tokyo isn't as interesting as NYC. Tokyo doesn't have too much to offer for tourists, for a city of its class. That's why Kyoto seems to be a more popular destination for tourists.
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Old 02-22-2018, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Queens THE REAL international city
2,386 posts, read 5,456,256 times
Reputation: 2826
Quote:
Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post
1) How walkable and bikeable is Tokyo? I know its known as the worlds biggest metropolis but I get conflicting reports on how walkable it is. Personally, I don't think this should be a big deal since I walk a ton being from and living in NYC all my life.

Tokyo is very walkable and bikeable, more so than NYC. The thing is that the walkable / bikeable section extends out to a massive area as the urban core is so massive that walking and biking can only cover a small percentage of the area.

2) How easy would it be for me to reach the more rural areas outside of Tokyo? I want to visit Nikko National park and possibly Hakone during my (2 week) stay. And would I be able to return to Tokyo if I make it a very early day?

Hakone is a great day trip and you can certainly make it back in a single day though you might want to stay a night anyhow. There's quite a bit within reach via train, but the system is a bit hard to navigate due to its extensiveness.

3)My Japanese is pretty limited though I find that I can speak it well when I practice. Reading Japanese, NOT GOOD. How hard would it be for me to get around?

Definitely have Google Translate downloaded with an offline Japanese language package installed. There is a pretty decent amount of English language signage within Tokyo and there are usually a lot of service counters that even if they can't speak English very well, can do at least a modicum and earnestly try to help. I understood a lot of kanji from knowing Chinese and I can sound out everything in the kanas, but didn't necessarily know what everything meant, and I found apps quite helpful. Generally though, context gives the meaning away for most things.

4) How convenient is the metro system? Besides the rush hour chaos, I hear nothing but great things about the system.

IT IS PRETTY GREAT. Extensive, timely, well-maintained, clean.

5) Are cabs and taxi's expensive? Is there any Uber or Lyft in Tokyo? Not that I really plan on getting around by cab much but just in case, it's good to know.

They are a bit pricey, and get pricier during late night as there's an extra surcharge. There is Uber, but I never used it.

6)How hard are easy is it to get used to the currency of Japan being from the states? Should I carry around Yen mostly as an American? Or there any American banks in Japan (Chase, Bank Of America etc) where it would be easier to transfer money and use my card?

Decently easy, but you should always carry a good amount of yen on you. Robberies (or crime in general) is very uncommon so caring a decent wad and making that exchange before you leave isn't a bad idea at all. If you are going to use your credit card at all, call your bank beforehand to tell them the dates you'll be gone and to where otherwise you might abruptly have your charges declined.

7) How are the people of Tokyo and Japan? From my experience meeting them in other parts of the world they usually tend to be quite friendly, respectful and more social then I expect. Sometimes I have noticed that they can be friendly, polite but a little reclusive.

People are very polite and friendly. I mean, it's not like every stranger is going to go out of their way to be your best friend, because that's weird in pretty much every culture. However, my experience has been people are affable especially people working in the service industry and fellow patrons at bars.


Thanks!!
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Old 02-22-2018, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Queens THE REAL international city
2,386 posts, read 5,456,256 times
Reputation: 2826
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodHombre View Post
Well, I'd like to clarify on the walkability aspect.

Tokyo is huge, points of interest are sparsely located.

Any neighborhood in Tokyo is very walkable, but you really can't walk to all your destinations. Tokyo walkability and midtown Manhattan walkability are just different.

Hate to be negative, but Tokyo isn't as interesting as NYC. Tokyo doesn't have too much to offer for tourists, for a city of its class. That's why Kyoto seems to be a more popular destination for tourists.

I may agree or I may disagree but that's part of the adventure! I'll just have to see for myself.

Also, you're just touching on Manhattan when NYC encompasses the outer boroughs which make it that much more dynamic.
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Old 02-22-2018, 10:07 AM
 
Location: In the heights
22,172 posts, read 23,691,169 times
Reputation: 11633
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodHombre View Post
Well, I'd like to clarify on the walkability aspect.

Tokyo is huge, points of interest are sparsely located.

Any neighborhood in Tokyo is very walkable, but you really can't walk to all your destinations. Tokyo walkability and midtown Manhattan walkability are just different.

Hate to be negative, but Tokyo isn't as interesting as NYC. Tokyo doesn't have too much to offer for tourists, for a city of its class. That's why Kyoto seems to be a more popular destination for tourists.
Tokyo doesn't offer as much sight-seeing as NYC or London, but if you're looking at interesting day-to-day things, then I think Tokyo is fantastic. This is stuff like small temples and shrines everywhere, small bars and lounges tucked in different places, a large variety of interesting stores and eateries, etc.

To the OP, if you're looking to sightsee as much as possible in your two week stay, then I'd suggest you look into the Japan Rail Pass (either the one week or two week option) which you need to get *before* you go to Japan. If you look into it, then you can use that to help plan your itinerary. Keep in mind that some of what seems analogous to commuter rail in NYC actually operates more like the subway in NYC but are not part of the Tokyo subway system, with the Yamanote Line being the best example of what seems like a commuter or regional rail line that takes the JR Rail Pass but actually works with the frequency of rapid transit. Depending on what you plan to do, it may actually be much more economical to get the JR Rail Pass as it may cover the cost of both getting to and from cities and transit within the city itself.
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Old 02-22-2018, 10:32 AM
 
3,680 posts, read 8,849,821 times
Reputation: 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
1) How walkable and bikeable is Tokyo? I know its known as the worlds biggest metropolis but I get conflicting reports on how walkable it is. Personally, I don't think this should be a big deal since I walk a ton being from and living in NYC all my life.
It's pretty walkable and pedestrian friendly. Not sure if it has bike lanes though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
2) How easy would it be for me to reach the more rural areas outside of Tokyo? I want to visit Nikko National park and possibly Hakone during my (2 week) stay. And would I be able to return to Tokyo if I make it a very early day?
It's pretty easy with the bullet train system. But Nikko and Hakone are within the Tokyo metro area (exurbs) so you'll be taking other type of express trains. Not as fast but still nice. For both places, you'll want to get the passes for unlimited travel within. Here are the links:

Hakone Freepass | Economical Excursion Tickets | Odakyu Electric Railway

NIKKO ALL AREA PASS | Discount Ticket Information | TOBU RAILWAY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
3)My Japanese is pretty limited though I find that I can speak it well when I practice. Reading Japanese, NOT GOOD. How hard would it be for me to get around?
It's pretty easy since most places in the tourist areas have signs in English. I can't really read Kanji.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
4) How convenient is the metro system? Besides the rush hour chaos, I hear nothing but great things about the system.
It's the best in the world. Doesn't run all night though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
5) Are cabs and taxi's expensive? Is there any Uber or Lyft in Tokyo? Not that I really plan on getting around by cab much but just in case, it's good to know.
I used Uber there. As mentioned above, I was out drinking late and missed the last train. It was approximately $20 USD for the trip about 5 km. More expensive than stateside but cheaper than taxis (which runs about $40 for the same trip)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
6)How hard are easy is it to get used to the currency of Japan being from the states? Should I carry around Yen mostly as an American? Or there any American banks in Japan (Chase, Bank Of America etc) where it would be easier to transfer money and use my card?
Your best bet is the 7 Eleven ATMs, and those are all over. You can also use Citibank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
7) How are the people of Tokyo and Japan? From my experience meeting them in other parts of the world they usually tend to be quite friendly, respectful and more social then I expect. Sometimes I have noticed that they can be friendly, polite but a little reclusive.
Yes, they are very polite, friendly, and respectful. Especially if you are also respectful to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lital_The_Best View Post
8)Anyone know anything of the Sanja Matsuri festival that takes place in May 18th-20th? Can foreigners participate in the event?
Not sure about that festival, but most festivals are open to the public and a good experience.

Hopefully that helps. Feel free to ask any questions you have.
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Old 02-22-2018, 03:52 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
4,444 posts, read 1,686,490 times
Reputation: 8107
As for access to non-urban areas, here is a surprising factoid that may be of interest. 67% of Japan's area is covered by forest, which ranks third among developed countries, after Finland and Sweden.

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl...&iact=c&ictx=1

Last edited by cebuan; 02-22-2018 at 04:01 PM..
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