The complete guide to: Tokyo travel

The complete guide to: Tokyo travel

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So you’re travelling to Tokyo — smart choice! This guide will give you everything you need to know about visiting Tokyo, from getting to and from the airport, to the cool local spots you should check out.

couple walking over bridge in Tokyo park

Getting to and from NRT

Public transit is the best option for getting to and from the airport. The JR Narita Express (N’EX) connects to major stations; a ride to Tokyo Station takes 53 minutes and costs JPY 3,000 (about USD 25). N’EX is also covered by the Japan Rail Pass, but seats must be reserved.

You can also take the Keisei Skyliner (again, reserved seats), which takes about 45 minutes to reach Nippori or Ueno stations and costs JPY 2,500 (about USD 21).

Alternately, there is a limousine bus you can take for JPY 3,000 (USD 25) that takes just over an hour and a half to get to the city.

You can hire a taxi to take you to and from the airport, but we wouldn’t recommend it — you’ll pay 10 times more than by train, and the ride will still take you about an hour (so no faster than via public transit). If you do opt for a taxi, expect to be pay about JPY 24,000 (USD 200).

bullet train in Tokyo

Getting around Tokyo

Public transit: This is the best way to get to know the city! Tokyo is safe, clean, and well connected by trains and metros. Just try to avoid peak times (especially from 7am to 9am), especially if you don’t like crowds. The rate varies with distance travelled, starting at about JPY 170 (USD 1.50).

Be warned, however, that there are about 30 different train and subway operators in Tokyo, which can be quite confusing. Your best option is to purchase prepaid rechargeable cards (IC cards like PASMO or SUICA). This way you don’t have to worry about how much each trip will cost or deal with buying different tickets for different companies on the same trip. These cards can be purchased in the station ticket machines (there’s an English option on the machines), and can be used on almost all trains, subways, and buses in Tokyo as well as in many other major cities. The system has pretty extensive hours, too, with early lines starting around 4:30am and lines stopping at about 12:30am.

Taxi: Metered taxis are easily available (although you can usually agree on a price ahead of time, especially for longer distances). Expect to pay about JPY 710 (USD 6) for the first two kilometres, and then JPY 320 (USD 2.75) for every additional kilometre. A 20-minute ride should work out to about JPY 1,500 (USD 12.50). Note that taxis charge an extra 20% between 10pm and 5am.

lights at night in downtown Tokyo

Things to do in Tokyo

Of course, you can’t go to Japan and not take in some Sumo! More than just a sport, Sumo carries 2,000 years of history melded with Shinto traditions, and is something that you can only watch in Japan. The Grand Sumo Tournaments last for two weeks and happen in Tokyo every January, May, and September. Or, you can travel to watch the tournament in Osaka in March, Nagoya in July, or Fukuoka in November. If you want to score the cheapest tickets, buy them on the day directly at Kokugikan, which is where the tournament takes place in Tokyo. Ticket prices start at JPY 2,100 (USD 17.50).

Tokyo’s got a fantastic museum scene, so you should also make sure to spend some time exploring the dozens of museums and galleries, covering all kinds of subjects. Pretty much any day is a good day to check out the local galleries, but note that several places are closed on Mondays.

Into festivals? Then you’ll likely want to check out one of the many matsuris (free local festivals) that happen throughout the country, linked to local shrines — almost every shrine celebrates its own event. Expect parades and processions, and lots of street vendors selling local snacks. In Tokyo, the most famous festival is the Sanja Matsuri, which happens on the third weekend in May in Asakusa.

Tokyo day tours

Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers tours in Tokyo, all led by local experts that will give you a taste for local life in the city:

Tokyo After 5
Forget wasting your precious time getting stuck in awkward ‘Lost In Translation’ moments. Join a local guide on this Tokyo tour to experience the capital’s busy, but oh so friendly and compact charms by night.

Tokyo Private Tour
Put our team of local experts to work to build the perfect itinerary just for you. This is your tour — so make it your own! If you’re not sure, we’ve got plenty of ideas for what you might want to include. If you let our team of expert locals know your interests, they will come up with all kinds of things.

 

Tokyo on the big screen

An absolute classic for travellers around the globe, but especially for those Tokyo-bound is Lost in Translation. The bright lights, the culture shock, the language barrier — all that you will find in Tokyo is right there in that movie. Of course, if you’re in the city by choice rather than obligation, we’re sure you’ll enjoy Tokyo way more than Bob and Charlotte did.

counter of sushi plates in Tokyo

Tokyo on record

The video for Read My Mind by The Killers shows off a playful, cool downtown Tokyo. After you’ve watched it once, you’ll think about the city every time you hear the song.

Tokyo in books

Really, anything by Haruki Murakami is a must-read if you’re headed to Japan. A controversial, experimental, and award-winning writer, he’s also one of Japan’s most popular novelists. For a taste of Tokyo, check out After Dark, which paints a gritty and otherworldly picture of the city. Want more ideas? We love this list.

What’s on in Tokyo

To keep on top of what’s happening in Tokyo, your best bet is to go straight to the experts: the Go Tokyo travel guide lists attractions, cool events, and other must-know tidbits.

row of sake bottles

Get in touch with us

If you have any questions about your trip, give us a call at +81 80 3012 9269, or email us at info@tokyourbanadventures.com.

Get social with us

Wanna be friends? You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re always around town posting about our adventures, so if you want to know what’s happening in real time, we’re your people!

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Comments
  • Hauser#1

    February 11, 2017

    Thanks for the dates on the sumo wrestling. Btw, the Tokyo taxi fares have reduced just last week, ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Look it up.

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