The following Tokyo travel tips will help you feel prepared for your holiday in Japan. Tokyo is a destination with differences that are equally as exciting as they are daunting. Using a unique currency and speaking a different language, as well as having a particular set of implicit customs, Japan is a country very different to those in the Western world.
Get a flu vaccination before you leave and keep the following Tokyo travel advice in mind – you’ll step off the plane feeling at ease and ready for all the city has to offer.
As an Australian, you’re not required to obtain a visa to enter Japan, provided you hold an Australian passport valid for your stay. Note that to enter Tokyo sans visa, you must only stay for up to 90 days. You also can’t undertake any work. Once you’re in the country, you can’t change your visa. You must obtain a working visa from a Japanese diplomatic mission in Australia or a third country if you wish to get a job.
The currency in Japan is the yen. Bills come in 1,000, 2,000 (rare), 5,000 and 10,000 yen denominations. You should always carry ample cash on you in Tokyo, as many places will not accept cards. Many hotels, department stores and some restaurants are exceptions. You’ll find many convenience stores and post offices in Tokyo have international ATMs, so you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of cash. For more on currency, visit the currency page.
Popular dishes in Japan include rice, sushi, tempura, tofu, udon, soba, ramen, yakitori, sashimi, tonkatsu, and okonomiyaki. There are eateries to suit every taste and budget, with everything from international dining and kaiseki (high-level cuisine) to casual department store eateries, izakaya and themed dining available across all wards of Tokyo. Many restaurants provide illustrated menus or have plastic replicas of dishes in the store front, which makes ordering easier if you don’t speak Japanese.
Tipping is not at all common in Japan. If you try to leave a tip, it’s likely the waiter will return it to you, thinking you’ve left it behind. Instead, it’s polite to say gochisosama deshita (thank you for the meal) as you leave. If you insist on leaving a tip while you’re in Tokyo, put the money in an envelope and hand it to the person, using both hands.
Japan uses American-style plugs, electrical plugs with two, non-polarised pins. Voltage in Japan is 100V, which is different to most other regions of the world. This means when travelling to Tokyo, you’ll need to bring not only the right electrical plug but also a voltage converter.
In Japan, just under 99 percent of the population speak Japanese as their first language. Other languages spoken in Japan include Korean, Portuguese and Chinese, but these are not common. Around 12 percent of the Japanese population can speak English.
The main airports in the area are Narita Airport (65km from Tokyo) and Haneda Airport (15km from Tokyo). From Narita Airport, it’s a one-to-two-hour train or highway bus ride to central Tokyo. This will cost around 3,000 yen. Taxis to central Tokyo run around the clock, but the trip will cost around 30,000 yen. A train or bus from Haneda to central Tokyo (operating from 5:30am to midnight) will cost between 400 and 1,200 yen and a taxi will cost 4,000 to 10,000 yen.