Japanese maintain traditional class-orientation, and it’s evident in the way they communicate. They are generally quiet, orderly and friendly when approached. Tokyo is especially clean; public trash cans are sparse because you’re expected to throw away garbage at home. Clean up your act!
Put your best foot forward.
Most inner-city Japanese speak English, and Westerners are common in Tokyo. Locals know you are foreign and don’t expect perfect cultural adherence. But it’s always nice to demonstrate a little effort to assimilate! Upon meeting, slightly bow your head. Your new friend will likely offer a hand simultaneously; mimic his/her lead. Take the business card with both hands and study it before placing it neatly in your card case.
Ins and outs of getting around:
Tokyo is relatively expensive and it’s a good idea to take some yen in cash. Get a prepaid Pasmo card
at Tokyo station if you plan to take public transportation. Walk and drive on the left, and let the taxi door close automatically. Tipping isn’t expected and many menus display meal choices with photos. Jet-lag got you down? Need a caffeine jolt? No worries! Starbucks and 7-Eleven are there to save the day!
The only used bookstore in TYO? We found it, of course!
Shrines are found throughout the city.
Although crowded, underground rail is the best way to traverse the city.
Many locals wear masks to avoid germs and breathing pollution. Umbrellas shield them from the heat.
I thought the freshest bread was in France – wrong!
Vending machines are found on every block.
High-end department stores have an entire floor dedicated to fine treats. Meals here average $50/lunch, $100/dinner.
Like a nice bottle of wine. fruit gifts are common and can cost $160+.
Commercialism in the Ginza neighborhood rivals NYC shopping.
Sidewalk cafes are a real delight, but sparse.
Lodging in a traditional home-stay means leaving your shoes at the door and sleeping on floor mats.
Best way to wander in Tokyo: bicycle.