SUMMER 2009
HARAJUKU SHIBUYA TRAVEL TIPS
EBISU SHINJUKU GINZA EVENTS
AKIHABARA AKASAKA YOKOHAMA DISTRIBUTION POINTS

Tokyo caters to any and all comers by providing state-of-the-art transportation, communication and other lifestyle services. It’s one of the few cities where trains run exactly to schedule, and policemen spend more time giving directions than catching criminals. It’s also a place that clings to tradition, which means most banks still close at 3pm, few ATMs are internationally compatible and many merchants refuse credit cards. Your best bet is to be prepared with plenty of cash, and phone numbers of your hotel and/or close friends in case you get lost or encounter an emergency.



AccomModation
TOP-eND
Tokyo’s luxury hotel industry is booming, reinvigorated by the arrival of several international five-star chains over the last few years, forcing Japan’s old dames like the Imperial to clean up their acts.

Conrad Tokyo Home to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s Tokyo restaurant. 1-9-1 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6388-8000. Nearest stn: Shinbashi or Shiodome. www.conradtokyo.co.jp

Grand Hyatt Tokyo A convenient location and popular Sunday brunch. 6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-4333-1234. Nearest stn: Roppongi. www.tokyo.grand.hyatt.com

Imperial Hotel Tokyo’s most famous hotel has a suite dedicated to its original architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. 1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3504-1251. Nearest stn: Hibiya. www.imperialhotel.co.jp

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Open since 2005, the Mandarin offers large, luxurious rooms just minutes from Ginza. 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chiyoda-ku.
Tel: 03-3270-8800. Nearest stn: Nihonbashi. www.mandarinoriental.com/tokyo

New Otani HotelThis vast Japanese hotel has a beautiful garden that is worth
a visit. 4-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3265-1111. Nearest stn: Akasaka.
www.newotani.co.jp/en

Hotel OkuraThe epitome of old Japan, with a retro lobby but renovated rooms.
2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3582-0111. Nearest stn: Tameike-Sanno or Kamiyacho. www.okura.com/tokyo

Park Hyatt Tokyo For a decade the only international-standard hotel in Tokyo, the Park Hyatt is still dear to us all. 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5322-1234. Nearest stn: Shinjuku or Hatsudai. www.tokyo.park.hyatt.com

The Peninsula Tokyo Located in the redeveloped Marunouchi district, The Peninsula is the city’s newest five-star hotel. 1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-6270-2888. http://tokyo.peninsula.com

The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
The crown jewel of Roppongi’s sparkling new Midtown complex, the Ritz sits atop Tokyo’s tallest building. 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3423-8000. Nearest stn: Roppongi or Nogizaka. www.ritzcarlton.com

Westin Tokyo The location in vibrant Ebisu makes the Westin worth a look. 1-4-1 Mita, Meguro-ku. Tel: 03-5423-7000. Nearest stn: Ebisu. www.starwoodhotels.com/westin

Also check out The Four Seasons at Chinzanso (03-3943-2222, www.fourseasons.com), with its beautiful gardens, and its cozy sister hotel, The Four Seasons Marunouchi (03-5222-1255, www.fourseasons.com). The Park Hotel in Shiodome (03-6252-1111, www.parkhoteltokyo.com) and The Strings in Shinagawa (03-4562-1203, www.stringshotel.com) are also highly rated
by the design set.


Mid-Range
There are hundreds of faceless, mid-range hotels in Tokyo, most with tiny rooms and barely functional decor. Here are some above-average options.

Claska This “design hotel” located 10 min by taxi from Meguro station has small rooms from ¥10,500, doubles from ¥18,900. Weekly and monthly rates are also available. 1-3-18 Chuocho, Meguro-ku. Tel: 03-3719-8121. www.claska.com

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel The location in the heart of Shibuya is a draw for this hotel, and the rooms are above average. Published rates include doubles from ¥39,270. 26-1 Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3476-3000. www.ceruleantower-hotel.com

Hotel Mets Shibuya Supremely convenient location attached to Tokyo station, but very small rooms from ¥11,000 (single) or ¥18,000 (double). 3-29-17 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3409-0011. www.hotelmets.jp/shibuya

Budget

Khaosan Tokyo Guesthouse
With four locations in the Asakusa area, agreeable prices, and a friendly, laid-back atmosphere, Khaosan is gaining a reputation as one of Tokyo’s best backpacker hostels. Prices start from ¥2,000 per night. Email with questions or to reserve. 2-1-5 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku. Tel: 03-3842-8286. youkoso@khaosan-tokyo.com, www.khaosan-tokyo.com


Sakura Hotel/Sakura Hostel
Recommended by Lonely Planet, Sakura Hotel (www.sakura-hotel.co.jp, 03-3261-3939) offers budget accommodation from just ¥3,150/night in the convenient locations of Jimbocho, Ikebukuro and Hatagaya. Sakura Hostel (www.sakura-hostel.co.jp, 03-3847-8111), meanwhile, provides dormitory beds starting at just ¥2,940/night in the tourist mecca of Asakusa.

Yokohama Hostel Village Budget accommodations in Yokohama starting from ¥2,500/night. www.yokohama.hostelvillage.com

Ryokan Kangetsu Economical accomodations in a traditional setting on the Tokyu Ikegami line 10 stops from Gotanda. www.kangetsu.com

Shrek-Watta House From ¥3,900/night, ¥22,000/week, ¥66,000/month in Nerima-ku, on the Seibu Shinjuku line. www.shrek-watta-house.com

Yadoya Guesthouse A group of several guesthouses in Nakano, a short ride from Shinjuku. Shared rooms start from ¥1,600 per person per night (eight people). www.cheap-accomodation-tokyo.com

Long-Stay

Sakura House
Sometimes the definition of “guesthouse” seems vague in Japan, but at Sakura House, it means furnished monthly accommodation with a private bedroom and shared kitchen, dining and bathroom facilities where you can meet housemates from around the world. Since 1992, when Sakura House opened its first guesthouse in Harajuku, facilitating cross-cultural interaction has always been one of the company’s objectives. Today, following a winning formula, the number of the houses has grown to 183 (with 1,630 rooms) throughout Tokyo, and people from 89 countries have shacked up thus far. Every night, hundreds of Sakura tenants share their experience in Japan. Many residents picked Sakura House initially because it was easy and cheap, but have ended up staying for years for the sense of community. For the latest information about new properties and availability (new rooms open every month) see the multilingual website, or call 03-5330-5250. The office is open until 8pm, so a viewing could be arranged after work or school. 2F Nishi-Shinjuku K-1 Bldg, 7-2-6 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5330-5250. Nearest stn: Shinjuku or Shinjuku-Nishiguchi (Oedo line). Open daily 8:50am-8pm. www.sakura-house.com

BUREAU & B-SITE
Serviced apartments in 17 locations, with 1,400 apartments in Tokyo and Yokohama. The first and still the best serviced apartment provider in Japan, Space Design caters to the needs of the international business traveler and offers flexible living options at many price levels. More than just offering a place to stay, Space Design (parent company of BUREAU and B-SITE) promises total tenant support for living in this vibrant and often confusing city. Rates from around ¥186,000/month (¥6,200/day). 2F Nippon Press Center Bldg, 2-2-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 0120-710-677. www.space-d.co.jp/en

Enplus Long- and short-term apartment rentals (two-week minimum). www.tokyoapartments.jp

Fontana About 800 furnished guesthouses and apartment buildings all over Tokyo. Tel: 03-3382-0151. www.fontana-apt.co.jp

Oakwood Upscale serviced apartments in various locations in central Tokyo. www.oakwood.com

The Mansions Serviced apartments in Roppongi, near Tokyo American Club. www.flexstay.jp

Airports
Narita Airport (0476-34-8000, www.narita-airport.jp/en) is Tokyo’s international hub, regularly voted as the world’s most hated airport because of the time and expense it takes to get between it and the city. A newly renovated and expanded Terminal 1 opened in June 2006, improving things marginally.

Haneda (03-5757-8111), which is closer, is the domestic airport and handles more than twice the traffic of Narita.

Getting from Narita to Tokyo
Narita Express The fastest way to central Tokyo (about an hour to Tokyo station, 80min to Shinjuku), but trains run infrequently (about every hour, or every half hour at peak times). All trains go through Tokyo station (¥2,940), with some going on to Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku (¥3,110), Ikebukuro and Omiya, or to Yokohama. All seats are reserved. JR East Infoline (10am-6pm): 050-2016-1603. www.jreast.co.jp/e

Keisei Skyliner This comfortable express service takes 51min from the airport to Ueno and Nippori stations (¥1,920). Regular express trains on the Keisei line also run to Ueno and Nippori and take around 75min (¥1,000). www.keisei.co.jp

Limousine Buses The buses run more frequently than the trains and go direct to many Tokyo hotels and train stations for about ¥3,000. Check traffic conditions before you buy a ticket. Tel: 03-3665-7220. www.limousinebus.co.jp/e

Taxi Don’t hail a cab to go from Narita to Tokyo unless you’re prepared to pay US$200-$300.

Continental Corporation Ltd
Feeling lost in the busy maze of Tokyo streets? Travel through the city in style, riding in one of Continental Corporation’s luxury sedans. With services including pickup at Narita Airport and sightseeing tours, the foreigner-friendly company is set to handle all your transport needs. 3-4-2-I-103 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5545-1717. www.continental-corp.net/eng, info@continental-corp.ne

Getting to Haneda
Tokyo Monorail From Hamamatsucho station on the Yamanote line the monorail costs ¥470 and takes about 25min to Haneda.

Keikyu Line Direct trains from Shinagawa to Haneda (via Keikyu Haneda station) take 16 min and cost ¥400. Some trains on the Toei Asakusa line also run through on the Keikyu line to Keikyu Haneda.

Limousine Bus Buses run from hundreds of locations and cost ¥900 from Tokyo station, ¥1,000 from Shibuya, ¥1,200 from Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3665-7220. www.limousinebus.co.jp/e

banks
Usually open 9am-3pm. Traveler’s checks can be cashed at most banks, especially if they are in USD denominations. For cash from a machine, Citibank and Shinsei Bank ATMs are easiest, as most are open 24 hours and accept bank cards from non-Japanese accounts. See www.citibank.co.jp/en or www.shinseibank.com/english/atm for locations. To send money internationally, Lloyd’s TSB Bank has a convenient overseas remittance service (www.golloyds.com). Another option is to stop in any of the some 1,600 7-Eleven stores to utilize the multilingual Seven Bank ATMs. The machines operate 24 hours a day, and most cash withdrawals are surcharge-free.

Car Rental
Avis 0120-311-911
Hertz 0120-489-882
Japan Rent-A-Car 03-3468-7126
Nippon Rent-A-Car 03-3469-0919

Computer Rental
Tokyo IT Services Computer and equipment rental and tem­porary IT services for conferences or other events. 3F Hibino Bldg, 5-8-6 Toranomon, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5733-4279. Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm. Nearest stn: Kamiyacho (exit 2). www.tokyo-it.com

Credit Cards
Until recently, Japan was exclusively a cash-based society, but today MasterCard, Visa and American Express (less so) are more widely accepted in bigger establishments and taxis.

American Express 0120-020-120
Diner’s Club 03-3797-7311
MasterCard 03-5728-5200
Visa 00531-44-0022

Currency
It’s easiest to exchange currency or cash traveler’s checks at the airport or in your hotel. If you do go to a bank, where the rates are slightly better, bring your passport. Bills come in denomina­tions of ¥10,000, ¥5,000, ¥2,000 and ¥1,000, and coins in ¥500, ¥100, ¥50, ¥10, ¥5 and ¥1.

Earthquakes and Typhoons
In the event of an earthquake, stay out of elevators and watch for falling objects. Head to open space and avoid collapsible structures and riverbanks. The city is filled with evacuation sites. Citizens are alerted with three 45-second sirens and by US Armed Forces Radio, AFN Eagle 810. Typhoon season peaks between July and September.

Electricity
Standard voltage is 100v AC. You can use many US appliances (110v) without any problem, though high-wattage items such as hair dryers may not run at full power. European devices require an adaptor. Plugs are the flat, two-bladed type.

Emergencies (English-speaking)
Police 110
Ambulance (kyukyu-sha) and fire (kaji) 119
Fire Department (24 hours) 03-3212-2323
Metropolitan Medical and Health Information Center (Mon-Fri 9am-8pm) 03-5285-8181
Emergency interpretation 03-5285-8185
Tokyo English Life Line 03-5774-0992
Foreign Residents Advisory Center 03-5320-7744
Japan Helpline (nationwide emergency assistance) 0570-000-911

Etiquette
Nowhere will you find a more polite culture than Japan’s. Bow and say thank you. Never: put soy sauce on your rice, pour your own drinks, eat while walking, blow your nose in public or wear shoes on tatami mats.

Internet Cafes
The most convenient (and cheapest) places to check email are manga kissa comic book cafes, most open 24 hours, that can be found near major train stations. As well as comics and internet, some also have video games, per-hour DVD rental and shower rooms. Otherwise try:

Kinkos Branches all over, including Odakyu Southern Tower. ¥200/10 minutes. 2-2-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3377-5711. Open 24 hours. Nearest stn: Shinjuku (south exit).

Marunouchi Café Library and lounge with computers and unlimited free internet access. Laptop users can get online using wireless LAN cards. Shin Tokyo Bldg, 3-3-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku. Open Mon-Fri 8am-9pm; Sat, Sun & hols 11am-8pm. Tel: 03-3212-5025. Nearest stn: Yurakucho.

TnT Internet Café About 10-12 computers all lined up for your practical needs. ¥1,000/ hour. 1F Liber­ty Ikebukuro Bldg, 2-18-1 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku. Tel: 03-5950-9983. Open noon-7pm. Nearest stn: Ikebukuro (west or C1 exit).

Interpreters and translators
Inter Language Service System 7F Nihon Seimei Ichibancho Bldg, 23-3, Ichibancho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3230-4731.

Planetworks Telephone interpretation and travel guide services. Tel: 044-850-2730.

Legal Assistance
Human Rights Counseling Center for Foreigners From the Tokyo Regional Legal Affairs Bureau, counseling takes place in Chiyoda-ku and is also available in Chinese and German. 1-1-15 Kudan Minami, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-5213-1370. English service Tue-Thu 1:30-4pm.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police Dept. Foreigners’ Hotline Provides counseling for victims of violence, forced labor and other personal matters. Tel: 03-3503-8484 (English), 03-3501-0110 (other).

Lost and Found
If you lose something, go to the nearest koban (police box) and ask for help. If you’re in a station, contact the station master’s office (usually near the gates). Or use the English services provided by JR (050-2016-1603) or and the police (03-3501-0110).

Magazines and newspapers
English magazines are available at most bookstores, but the best prices are at Tower Records in Shibuya. Metropolis is distributed free every Friday and has Tokyo‘s most up-to-date events, music, movie and other listings, as well as features and dining informa­tion. See www.metropolis.co.jp or ask your concierge. The following English-language newspapers are also sold in Tokyo: The Daily Yomiuri, The Japan Times, Asahi International Herald Tribune and the Asian Wall Street Journal.

Maps
Tokyo is a notoriously difficult city to navigate. Your best bet is to fork out ¥2,100 for the Tokyo Bilingual Atlas, available at most bookstores. (It’ll be the best ¥2,100 you spend.)

Medical Services
Tokyo Medical Clinic 2F, 32 Mori Bldg, 3-4-30 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku. Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat 9am-noon. 24-hour emergency service. Tel: 03-3436-3028. Nearest stn: Kamiyacho.

St. Luke’s International Hospital 9-1 Agashi-cho, Chuo-ku. Mon-Fri 8:30am-11am. 24-hour emergency service. Tel: 03-3541-5151. Nearest stn: Tsukiji.

Y’s Dental Office Mita

This dental clinic accepts any kind of insurance for general dental problems and has English-speaking female dentists, technicians and hygienists. Decayed teeth, periodontitis and teeth whitening are just some of the services available, and cosmetic dentistry is also offered. 4F Sendai Bldg, 5-16-1 Shiba, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3453-9700 or toll-free 0120-297-004. Open Mon-Fri 10am-1pm, 2:30-7:30pm, closed Sat and Sun. Nearest stn: Mita (Asakusa, Mita lines) or Tamachi. www.ysdental.com

Post Offices
Look for the red “T” symbol. Local branches are open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, with larger branches open until 7pm. The Shibuya Central Post Office (1-12-13 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5469-9907) has a limited 24-hour service.

Radio
AFN Eagle 810 is an English-language AM radio station operated by the US military, with news, music, talk shows and some sports coverage. InterFM 76.1 is Tokyo’s token bilingual station.

Telecommunications
Domestic Calls Green or gray public phones take coins or pre-paid telephone cards, available from convenience stores or at phone card dispensers in the booths. Local calls don’t require the “03” Tokyo city code unless made from a mobile phone.

Directory Assistance Dial 104 (toll call), then ask for an English speaker. You must know the location and name to get a number.

Mobile phones Japan’s mobile phone network is largely incompatible with other systems. Rent a phone from GoMobile (www.gomobile.co.jp), or NTT DoCoMo or KDDI, which have booths at Narita Airport.

Rentafone Japan
Convenient short-term cellphone rental service for visitors to Japan. Cheap rates. Free shipping to hotels. Next day delivery OK.2 Tel: 0120-746-487 (toll-free). Operators available daily 9am-6pm. www.rentafonejapan.com

Calling CarD

Brastel
Known for its economical flat rates and customer service in over 20 languages, the Brastel Smart Phonecard can be recharged at Mini Stop, Lawson, Three F and Sunkus convenience stores. Call 0120-659-534 (toll-free) or 03-5637-5904 for info. Mon-Fri 9:30am-10pm, Sat 10am-6pm. www.brastel.com

Tipping
Though tipping is not done in Japan, some restaurants charge a service fee for groups.

Tourist Information
Japan National Tourist Organization Dispenses brochures in English and other languages about Tokyo and every corner of Japan. They can also help book accommodations. 10F Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan Bldg, 2-10-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3201-3331. Open daily 9am-5pm. Nearest stn: Yurakucho.

Tokyo Tourist Information Center Located in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bldg, this expansive office is stocked with maps, pamphlets and information on sightseeing, hotels, tours and more. 1F Tokyo Metropolitan Government No.1 Bldg, 2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5321-3077. Open daily 9:30am-6:30pm. Nearest stn: Tochomae.

Transport
Airlines
ANA 0120-029-222
British Airways 03-3593-8811
Cathay Pacific 03-5159-1700
China Airlines 03-5520-0333
Delta 03-3593-6666/0120-333-742
JAL 0120-255-971
NWA 0476-31-8000/0120-120-747
Qantas 03-3593-7000
Singapore Airlines 03-3213-3431
Thai Airways 03-3503-3311
United Airlines 0120-114-466
Virgin Atlantic 03-3499-8811
For information about getting to and from the airport, see “Airports.”

City Buses Tokyo’s bus network is complicated and short-stay visitors will find it of limited use. One useful route, though, is between Roppongi Hills and the east exit of Shibuya station (look for the signs in English). Most buses in the city center operate on a single fare (usually ¥210).

Night Buses To the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe) fares are about ¥4,800 one way, or ¥9,500 round trip. This is the most economical way to visit the old capitals and Western Japan. Bus leaves from Shinjuku and Tokyo Disney Resort every night. Tel: 03-5643-7006. www.nightbus.info

Taxis Most train stations and hotels have taxi stands, but cabs can be flagged down almost anywhere. The meter starts at ¥660, and some, but not all, take credit cards. Nihon Kotsu offers a 24-hour English dispatch and interpretation service (03-3799-9220).

Trains Tokyo has an extensive train network, with JR (Japan Railways) lines, several private train lines, and the two subway systems (Toei and Tokyo Metro). If you can’t figure out the fare, buy the cheap­est ticket and then use the fare adjust­ment machines (which have English instruc­tions) at your destination. Prepaid Passnet cards (¥1,000, ¥3,000, ¥5,000) are valid for the subway and private train lines, but are not accepted at JR stations. However, you can buy one-touch Suica cards for use on JR lines. Trains run daily from around 5am to midnight. The schedule of first and last trains is usually posted near the gates.

JR East Infoline English-language support 10am-6pm daily. Tel: 050-2016-1603. www.jreast.co.jp/e

Tokyo Metro Maps of the metro system are downloadable in several languages. www.tokyometro.jp/e

Travel Agencies (English-speaking)
No. 1 Travel Shinjuku Head Office
(www.no1-travel.com) 03-3205-6073

A’cross Travel Shinjuku Head Office
(www.across-travel.com) 03-3340-6749

H.I.S. Experience
http://hisexperience.jp/index.php 03-5322-8966

JTB SUNRISE TOURS
www.jtb.co.jp/shop/itdw/info/e/ 075-341-1413

Four Seasons Hotel and Resort OHARUKANOYU
http://oharuka.com/ 03-3379-5997

Good Luck Tours & Travel Service
03-5777-8513

Fun Travel

www.funtravel.jp 03-6661-3951

Can Tour

www.cantour.co.jp 03-3352-5200

Airnet Travel
www.airnetjapan.com 03-5456-5677

HIT TRAVEL
www.hittravel.co.jp 03-3473-9040

Japan-Easy
There is more to Japan than temples and Tokyo. This new English website specializes in booking getaways to the beautiful Japanese countryside, including transportation and accommodation in either a hotel or traditional ryokan inn. The sister company WeLoveSnow.com organizes ski holidays. Call 025-784-3117 or email enquiries@japan-easy.com for more information. www.japan-easy.com

Odakyu Sightseeing Service
Odakyu Sightseeing Service’s English-speaking staff specialize in providing discount transportation packages to foreign tourists from Shinjuku to Mt. Fuji (¥7,200), Hakone (¥5,500) and Kamakura (¥1,430) using the expansive Odakyu railway network. Go to the information booth at the west exit of Shinjuku station or email welcome@odakyu-dentetsu.co.jp to inquire and book. Tel: 03-5321-7887. Nearest stn: Shinjuku station, west exit. www.odakyu.jp/english
EMBASSIES
Argentina 03-5420-7101
Australia 03-5232-4111
Austria 03-3451-8281
Belgium 03-3262-0191
Brazil 03-3404-5211
Canada 03-5412-6200
China 03-3403-3388
Denmark
03-3496-3001
European Union 03-3239-0441
Finland 03-5447-6000
France 03-5420-8800
Germany 03-3473-0151/7
Greece 03-3403-0871/2
Hungary 03-3798-8801/4
India 03-3262-2391/7
Ireland 03-3263-0695
Israel 03-3264-0911
Italy 03-3453-5291
Korea 03-3452-7611/9
Malaysia 03-3476-3840
Mexico 03-3581-1131/35
Netherlands 03-5401-0411
New Zealand 03-3467-2271
Norway 03-3440-2611
Peru 03-3406-4240/3/9
Philippines 03-5562-1600
Poland 03-5794-7020
Portugal 03-5212-7322
Russia 03-3583-4224
Singapore 03-3586-9111/2
South Africa 03-3265-3366
Spain 03-3583-8531/2
Sweden 03-5562-5050
Thailand 03-3441-1386
Turkey 03-3470-5131/5
United Kingdom 03-5211-1100
United States 03-3224-5000

Where to begin?
Tokyo’s urban sprawl seems never-ending, and even the government has problems defining the city. Central Tokyo is made up of 23 wards, or ku (Minato-ku, Shibuya-ku, Shinjuku-ku, etc.), with a population of about 8 million. Officially, Metropolitan Tokyo is the 23 wards plus the 26 cities, or shi, of West Tokyo (Chofu-shi, Musashino-shi, Tama-shi, etc.). When people speak of Greater Tokyo, with its whopping 34 million people, they are generally including the surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, into which the urban sprawl intrudes.

Inside the 23 wards, all the major transport and commercial hubs are linked by the Yamanote “loop line,” with Tokyo station to the east and Shinjuku to the west.

Shinjuku The major transport hub for people arriving from west Tokyo, Shinjuku station is said to be the busiest in the world. The west side of the station is mostly electronics retailers and skyscrapers; the more interesting east side has the vast Kabukicho entertainment district, good shopping along and around Shinjuku Dori (dori means street), the Nichome gay area and the beautiful Shinjuku-Gyoen park.

Harajuku and Aoyama The youth fashion capital of the world, Harajuku is the destination for trend spotters and buyers monitoring the ever-changing madcap creations of Japanese kids. The tree-lined Omotesando Dori links Harajuku with the up-market boutiques of Aoyama, while the pedestrianized Cat Street winds down to Shibuya.

Shibuya Navigating the vast pedestrian crossing in from of Shibuya station, surrounded by advertising hoardings and television screens, is an unforgettable Tokyo experience. The Udagawacho and Jinnan areas are chock full of izakaya, karaoke bars, restaurants, shops and department stores, all competing for the yen of Tokyo’s high-spending youth.

Ebisu One stop south of Shibuya, Ebisu is a more grown-up area overflowing with excellent restaurants and bars. Up the hill, Daikanyama is a premium shopping destination, while Naka-Meguro, on the other side of the hill, is a trendy enclave of designers and artists.

Shinagawa At the southern tip of the Yamanote line, the business are of Shinagawa has undergone something of a makeover in recent years. It’s also a convenient place to jump on the shinkansen (bullet train).

Ginza and Marunouchi Before the war, “The Ginza” was Tokyo’s experiment with Western city planning, and still retains some of its snob appeal. Marunouchi, once the drab commercial heart of Japan Inc., is in the middle of a decade-long revival plan that has brought in shops, restaurants and culture. Tokyo station, to the north, is the terminus for the shinkansen.

Akihabara “Electric Town” now has another role as the capital of otaku (geek) culture.

Ueno The park, zoo and museums are Ueno’s best-known attractions, but walking the alleyways of Ameyokocho is not to be missed. More akin to Kowloon, it has the unmistakable energy of Asia.

Asakusa Northeast of the Yamanote line, Asakusa is the heart of shitamachi (the old side of the city). Senso-ji temple is one of Tokyo’s main tourist traps and Kappabashi is a must for foodies. Boats from here along the Sumida River go as far as Odaiba, on the other side of Tokyo Bay.

Ikebukuro The transport hub serving Saitama and the northwest, Ikebukuro is famous for its huge department stores, but there are also interesting shops and cheap restaurants to be found.

Akasaka Located close to the corridors of power in Nagatacho (the political center), Akasaka was once the playground of Japan’s movers and shakers: politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen brokering deals in smoke-filled private rooms.

Roppongi This infamous entertainment district never sleeps. Roppongi Hills brings a touch of class to the area, as does Tokyo Midtown, which opened in March 2007.

HARAJUKU SHIBUYA TRAVEL TIPS
EBISU SHINJUKU GINZA EVENTS
AKIHABARA AKASAKA YOKOHAMA
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