Tokyo Basic Information
Here are some things to note about Tokyo. On trains it’s really, really quiet. People don’t talk and they definitely don’t chatter on their mobiles. When you’re wandering about town, you won’t find many rubbish bins. Or seats. Tokyoites are always on the move and they generally won’t walk along carrying drinks. You’ll find bins mainly outside convenience stores. Oh, while we’re on the topic of garbage, they have a very special sorting system here. Get a local to explain it to you when you arrive. For more must-know info before you go, here’s our tips.
Australian passport holders can enter Japan and stay for up to 90 days without a visa. Just be sure to have a return ticket, accommodation booked and enough cash for your holiday. If you don’t, you could just get turned away. The Japanese Visa Waiver program is kind of strict like that. If you’d like to find out the latest on entry requirements to Japan, get in touch with your local Japanese consulate or embassy before you leave Australia.
Japan uses the Japanese Yen. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and Japanese Yen fluctuates according to the market, so it’s a good idea to monitor the exchange rate and purchase your Yen when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while travelling in Japan, consider using a credit card or debit card.
In Tokyo, eating is half the fun! On top of your favourites like sushi, tempura and teppanyaki, there’s much more to discover. If you’re a noodle-lover, get excited. There’s ramen - noodle soup with toppings like sliced pork, spouts and leek and soba and udon are popular noodles too, in both soups and stir fries. Other traditional favourites are sukiyaki and shabu-shabu – an incredible dish you essentially cook yourself. You’ll be served thin slices of raw Kobe beef, which you dip into a soup broth with vegetables. For sukiyaki, you dip the beef in raw egg after it’s cooked. There are loads of restaurants specialising in shabu-shabu in Tokyo, many of which offer 2-hour drink packages. Cheers! Oh and a little environmental tip, buy your own plastic chopsticks and take them with you everywhere – most restaurants will use disposable chopsticks.
You may not speak the same language, but that doesn’t mean you won’t make friends in Japan. With a sake in hand, a Tokyo local is a friend to the world. One place to meet some colourful locals is Golden Gai in Shinjuku. This bar district is like nowhere else in the city – it’s how Tokyo looked prior to the devastation of World War II. Made up of 6 narrow laneways, there’s over 200 tiny bars, many of which only fit between 5 to 10 people. Most play music, but some even show slasher horror movies. It’s not to be missed. There’s also some pretty epic concert halls all over the city, known as ‘live houses’. Head to Shibuya for hip-hop, electronic, pop and rock music. Most of these venues in Shibuya are in the Love Hotel Hill area. Some sweet venues are Club Asia (electronic) and Vuenos (hip-hop). Shinjuku is packed with all kinds of live houses and also jazz clubs and punk bars too. Just remember, concerts start early in Tokyo – generally around 7pm. If you want to go where the other tourists will be, head to Roppongi where there’s loads of clubs, bars and some pretty incredible karaoke clubs too, particularly Lovenet. There’s all kinds of suites and private lounges at Lovenet and you can even croon away in a jacuzzi!