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.
Khaosan Tokyo Guesthouse
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.
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.
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.
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
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. firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
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
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):
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, email@example.com
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
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.
Japan Rent-A-Car 03-3468-7126
Nippon Rent-A-Car 03-3469-0919
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
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
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.
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.
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
Advisory Center 03-5320-7744
Japan Helpline (nationwide
emergency assistance) 0570-000-911
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Though tipping is not done in Japan, some restaurants charge a service fee for groups.
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.
British Airways 03-3593-8811
Cathay Pacific 03-5159-1700
China Airlines 03-5520-0333
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
A’cross Travel Shinjuku Head Office
JTB SUNRISE TOURS
Four Seasons Hotel and Resort OHARUKANOYU
Good Luck Tours & Travel Service
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com to inquire and book. Tel: 03-5321-7887. Nearest stn: Shinjuku station, west exit. www.odakyu.jp/english