ARRIVAL IN TOKYO JAPAN – Suggestions For A Smooth Trip

japan polar route

{Your Flight from the US to Japan will likely fly over Polar Ice}

 

For most travelers to Japan, Tokyo is the front door to this fascinating country.  And Tokyo really makes quite an impression.  In fact, at first it can almost be overwhelming.   Tokyo now has two international airports -Narita and Haneda. And each is a very busy place.  On arrival in Tokyo Japan,  the new visitor is immediately struck by the pace of the city.  Lots of people and lots of action.  Everything seems a bit chaotic and crowded.  There’s a quality of hustle and bustle everywhere. To help ease your entrance into Japan I thought I would share my Suggestions for Arrival in Tokyo Japan.

My first suggestion about how to ease your arrival in Tokyo Japan is to do a bit of advanced preparation and research before you leave home.

  • Get Information from the Internet: Learn about the layout of your arrival airport. Get information train and subway routes, fares, etc.  You will find that frequently Japanese Train lines have special pricing options available only to international visitors.  And some of them must be purchased before you arrive in Japan. For example, check out the the JR Rail Pass which offers a great price for unlimited long distance travel in Japan. Japan-Guide.com provides a very good introduction to various ticketing and travel options for travel in Tokyo including information about packages which include airport transportation as well as travel within Tokyo.  I used the Suica & NEX package and found it saved me time and hassles. Pre-travel research will save you time and stress (and maybe a little money?) in the long run.  Print out a few pages of items or maps which you might want or need when you first arrive in Tokyo.  You might also consider using internet sites to learn a few basic words of Japanese – you know – the “hello”, “thank you”, “how much is it?”, and “where is it?” kind of stuff.
  • Download Some Helpful Apps: Get a currency converter app for your smartphone so you can do Yen to Dollar conversions (or your own currency) simply without difficulty. My own selection is Globe Convert.  Download a map application for the City of Tokyo so that you will be able to find your way around. I’ve used CityMaps2Go and have been generally pleased.  A bonus for this app is that a one time purchase gets you access to a large number maps for cities all over the world. And it works offline so you don’t run up all those overseas roaming charges. It will also be very hand to have an app showing the various train/subway routes in Tokyo. Again, there are a number available such  as Tokyo Metro.
  • Select Your Tokyo Hotel or Residence: This is purely my preference but I suggest you select your hotel prior to leaving home.  And I strongly suggest you select a hotel or residence which gives you easy access to one of the major train / subway stations in Tokyo.  Train and subway travel in Tokyo is easy, quick, and inexpensive.(just avoid travel at rush hour as much as possible) Having a well located hotel will make your stay in Tokyo much more enjoyable.  And knowing your  hotel’s location in advance of your arrival in Tokyo Japan will allow you to also select and know in advance which bus or train line route will work best to take you from the airport to your hotel.

 

To avoid being overstressed when you first arrive in Tokyo it will probably be best for you to  take it slow and easy.  After all, you have just finished a long and probably tiring international flight.  Your native time zone is far behind you and you are now stepping into a very different culture.  So don’t rush.  Don’t get immediately swept up in the hustle and bustle of Japan and try to do and see everything at once. Instead, slow down a moment or two. Take a deep breath, find your luggage, get through arrivals and immigration,  and ask for assistance to find your transportation to get to your hotel or lodgings.

japan airport1

 

You’ll be happy to learn that airports (as above), and most other venues in Japan,use multi-language signage. Finding your way through airports on arrival in Tokyo Japan is actually much  easier than you might think.

Many visitors to Japan find it frequently best to use the bus or train or metro systems. Be aware, different bus companies and train companies provide service along different routes. So it helps to know where your hotel is located and which bus or train route will take you there.   As I mentioned, it’s always easiest to do this type of planning before you leave home. You can find this information on their individual web sites as well as the airport website.  If you wait until you arrive in Tokyo – head to the airport information booth and be ready to take notes. Have your hotel information written down so  they can help you select the transportation that provides you with the easiest, most convenient, and most cost-effective travel.

japan airport food

 

If you want, you can also pick up some good old American Fast Food in the airport such as this Subway Shop.  A first chance to work with the Japanese Yen (you might want to add a currency converter to your smartphone – I use the Globe Convert Pro on my iPhone – a lifesaver!)

 

Depending on your arrival airport, here is information about airport to city transportation:

 

Narita International Airport ( check their website for information, details, maps, locations, etc) has long been the primary arrival point for international flights to Tokyo. Narita is located about 35 miles (57 km) East of Tokyo. So your first challenge will be getting into the city. You have a variety of options.

  • TAXI:  A taxi is easy, but sometimes slow in Tokyo traffic. The trip will take around 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  And the taxi fare is not for the budget minded.  A Narita -Tokyo ride is a set flat fare of around ¥19,000 to ¥21,000.  Currently the Japanese Yen is valued at approximately 100 Yen to $1.00. ( that current rate makes the math easy – but this is an always changing exchange rate).  So that means that taxi ride to Tokyo will set you back around $190.00!  Not surprisingly, many travelers seek other means of transportation.
  • BUS: There is an Airport Limousine Bus (telephone: 03/3665-7220) which takes arrivals to around forty major hotels in Tokyo but you can also ride the bus to the hotel nearest to where your own hotel is located – just ask at the bus information stand.  Buses depart every hour and the ride will take about two hours.  Adult fare is ¥3,000.
  • TRAIN: My own preference by far, the train is the quickest way to reach Tokyo from Narita. Trains and subways are a great way to travel in Japan and the ride into Tokyo will be a good introduction. Departing from two underground terminals at Narita, The Narita Express , or N’EX of the JR Train Line ( you will learn there are several train and subway lines in Japan) departs ever hour taking passengers to Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Station, Shibuya Station, and Shinjuku Station. The trip takes about one hour with a fare of ¥2,940 to Tokyo Station.  It’s important to note that at Tokyo Station the train then splits with the forward cars continuing on to Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro while the rearward cars go to Shinagawa. So pick your car according to your destination.  If you are traveling from the airport to these stations beyond Tokyo Station the fare is ¥3,110.

japan train

 

Trains in Japan are fast, clean, and efficient.  I love ’em. This is the interior of the Narita Express from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station.

 

 

 

Haneda International Airport is located about 9 miles from Tokyo. In the past it handled domestic flights within Japan but in 2010, with the completion of a new runway and international terminal building,it initiated increased international service.  With it’s close to Tokyo location, it has increasing appeal for the international traveler. A variety of travel options are offered. Again, it really helps to know where your hotel or destination is located in Tokyo so that you can select the transportation that provides you with the easiest, most convenient, and most cost-effective travel.

  • TAXI  A taxi from Haneda to the Tokyo Station area of Tokyo will cost around ¥6,000 to ¥8,000 and will take roughly 30 minutes.
  • BUS:  The bus to Tokyo Station typically costs ¥900 and takes about as long as a taxi – it all depends on traffic conditions.
  • TRAIN:   The Keikyu Airport Line Train travels from the airport to Shinagawa Station.  The trip takes only 10 minutes with a fare of ¥160.  From Shinagawa you can transfer to other lines depending on your final destination.
  • MONORAIL:  The Haneda Airport to Tokyo Monorail travels to Hamamatsucho Station in 20 minutes for a fare of ¥400. From there you can transfer to other trains or subways to your final destination.

 

 

Once you arrive at your hotel –  check in, relax, and get your bearings. Adjust your thinking, eating, sleeping and activity to local Tokyo time.  (In fact, I recommend that you do this during your flight to Tokyo if not before.) Go slow but resist the temptation to “take a short nap”.  Why?  Because that short nap often becomes a long one and can really mess up your ability to adjust to local time.  Decompress from what was probably a very long international flight.  Let your body and your mind adjust to being in Tokyo,the  world’s largest city with a current population of 37,126,00.  Take your time and watch the people and the activity.   On first view everything will appear chaotic. But as you observe you will be interested by what you discover.  Even though Tokyo is very crowded and active (in fact perhaps because of this) the residents maintain a sense of respect for themselves and others that is quite different than seen in other major cities of the world.  For example in China there seems to alway be  a rush and a crush to get to the head of a line – an “every man for himself” type of thing.  In Tokyo, on the contrary,  there is a sense of decorum as people politely and patiently wait on line for example. While there are, of course the exceptions, overall the situation is really quite amazing.

So – bottom line. Take it easy for your first day in Tokyo.  Go slow and observe.  Pace yourself as you enter into this fascinating culture.  You can pick up the pace of your explorations after you have “settled in” a bit.

Tokyo is truly  an amazing city.  I’ll be sharing more about Tokyo as well as other locations in Japan in future articles.  To get the most enjoyment out of your Japanese Adventure – do some planning before your arrival in Tokyo Japan.  And then slow down and give yourself some time to observe and adjust.  You’ll be glad you did

Travel Japan ……….. And Enjoy The Adventure!

Dr.B, The Photo Trekker

 Brand Balloon 2

 

 

 

 

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