Tokyo buzzes with so much energy that it's contagious--you feel lazy if you're just sitting around. It's a work-oriented city, but the tradition of entertainment that includes Kabuki, Sumo wrestling, and the culture of the geishas is alive and kicking. The sheer size of this metropolis means that not even the natives can see everything, and you shouldn't even try. Since Tokyo is one of the world's safest big cities, the best way to spend a day is to pick one area and wander around.
The hectic Shinjuku area, with its screaming neon signs and lurid Kabukicho nightlife, is a good start. It's a short train ride from there to fashionable Harajuku and artsy Aoyama, both within walking distance of the Shibuya, the youth center of the city. There are plenty of hot techno clubs, hip bars, trendy boutiques, and delicious noodle bars there.
Old culture fans will prefer Asakusa, in North Tokyo, which capitalizes on its claim to the last remnants of Meiji-era society. Visit the Senso-ji Temple, one of the most important Buddhist shrines in the country, and checkout the Tokyo National Museum, which houses the largest collection of Japanese art in the country. Ueno-Koen Park in the northern part of the city is a lovely place to stroll. In this city of contrasts, a short train ride will bring you to the world's most frenetic electronic goods district, Akihabara. Eventually, all tourists' roads lead to the central, but overpriced Ginza shopping district and its neighbors--the somber, business-oriented Marunouchi and the raucous fishmarket at Tsukiji.
Wherever you wander and whatever you happen upon in Tokyo, you're sure to find something intriguing and amusing. This swirling metropolis with its enormous crowds, bizarre English signs, secluded Buddhist altars, and ancient traditions is packed with contrasting delights that awaken the senses.
Australia Citizens of Australia must have a valid passport and apply for a visa before visiting.
Citizens of Australia must have a valid passport and apply for a visa before visiting.
Canada Citizens of Canada must have a valid passport and can stay for up to three months.
Citizens of Canada must have a valid passport and can stay for up to three months.
France Citizens of France may stay for up to three months with a valid passport.
Citizens of France may stay for up to three months with a valid passport.
Germany Citizens of Germany may stay for up to six months with a valid passport.
Citizens of Germany may stay for up to six months with a valid passport.
Ireland Citizens of Ireland may stay for up to six months with a valid passport.
Citizens of Ireland may stay for up to six months with a valid passport.
United Kingdom Citizens of the U.K. may stay for up to six months with a valid passport.
Citizens of the U.K. may stay for up to six months with a valid passport.
United States Citizens of the U.S. may stay for up to 90 days with a valid passport.
Citizens of the U.S. may stay for up to 90 days with a valid passport.
The local language is Japanese. Most Tokyo residents can read some written English, but few speak it well outside of those employed by major Western hotels. If you need to communicate, you may find it helpful to write down what you're trying to say. A Japanese phrasebook will be useful in enabling you to make the polite comments that are essential for the culture, but when in doubt, "Please" and "Thank you" in English are universally understood. Japanese characters and grammar are difficult to master, but thankfully pronunciation is easy. All vowel sounds are standard.
In fact, if you master the way the Japanese pronounce English words (i.e., "doe-koo-tah" for "doctor"), you will find it much easier to communicate.
How are you?
Welcome! (often shouted by store workers when a customer enters)
Do you speak English?
I don't understand
Is there someone who can speak English?
How much is it?
Where is it?
What time is it?
Where is the restroom?
What is your name?
I would like a reserved seat please.
I would like a non-smoking seat.
I'd like to make a reservation.
This is delicious.
I will partake of this meal now (always said before every meal)
Thank you for the meal (always said after a meal)
Do you have a room available?
The currency in Japan is called a Japanese yen (JPY). Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500. Bills come in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000. As a rule, the Japanese yen is the only currency accepted, and it is illegal for public transport, stores, and restaurants to accept foreign currencies.
You can exchange money at international airports as well as any bank displaying an "Authorized Foreign Exchange" sign. Most major national banks such as Mitsubishi and Sumitomo and foreign banks such as Citibank or Barclays will be able to exchange currencies. If there are no convenient banks or it is outside of banking hours, try inquiring at one of the larger hotels in major cities; they may convert money for you for a handling fee. If you are carrying currency other than U.S. dollars, consider changing them into yen at the airport because many bank tellers, even at leading banks, are unaccustomed to handling foreign bank notes, and it can save you a lot of trouble.
Cash access with your credit card or ATM will be difficult in most cities in Japan. There are some Japanese bank ATMs that accept credit cards, but you will find them uncommon. The Sumitomo banks handle most Visa cards; Union Credit offices in Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka handle MasterCards; and American Express offices can be found in Tokyo and Osaka. If you want to use your ATM card in Japan, check out the list of banks that accept Plus and Cirrus cards at Plus Global ATM Locator and Cirrus Global ATM Locator.
Travelers' checks are undoubtedly the most convenient way to obtain cash in Japan. It also eliminates the frustration of trying to find a cash machine that accepts your credit or ATM card. Most banks and major hotels can cash travelers' checks quickly, but note that few stores and restaurants accept them. If you are planning to visit remote locations, take plenty of yen because you may have difficulty finding a bank with exchange services.
The most commonly accepted credit cards in Japan are American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and JCB (Japan Credit Bank). Some popular tourist facilities accept Diner's Club cards, but note that Discover cards are not accepted in Japan. You can tell which credit cards a store accepts by the logo stickers posted by the entrance.
More and more Japanese pay regularly with a credit card, but they limit its use to major purchases. You can expect to be able to use a credit card for expensive meals, hotel accommodations, and large purchases in department stores; keep in mind that credit cards are not as readily accepted in Japan as it is elsewhere. Smaller restaurants and stores do not accept them, so make sure you have plenty of cash handy. It is generally safe to carry cash around in Japan. The Japanese regularly carry a few JPY10,000 bills (equivalent of a few hundred U.S. dollars) in their wallets.
The voltage and current is 100V 50 Hz in Eastern Japan including Tokyo. It is 60 Hz in Western Japan including Kyoto and Osaka. Many major hotels provide 110V and 220V for electric razors, hair dryers, and travel irons.
The plugs in Japan have two flat prongs (no third prong) with flat-sided prongs. If your appliances have a different plug make sure to pack a plug adapter.
Adapters and converters are sold at travel/luggage stores and electronic stores. Airports and duty-free shops may also have them, but before buying one, make sure you need it. Many travel-size appliances are dual-voltage and laptop computers may come with worldwide power supply. When purchasing a converter, take note that there are different types of converters for different purposes, so you may want to consult with a salesperson first.
The country code for Japan is 81. There are several local area codes within the expansive city limits of Tokyo, but the main one for the center of the city is 03, or 3 from outside the country.
For local calls, dial the eight-digit number. For long distance calls within Japan, including to distant parts of Tokyo, dial the area code provided (which starts with 0) and the number.
To call outside Japan, you have a choice of service providers, but the rate varies very little.
Some foreign phone companies provide local access numbers for collect or credit card calls.
Dial 104 for directory assistance within Japan, but be warned that they are not particularly helpful, especially if you don't have the full, proper Japanese name and address.
Some public telephones have modem hookups, but these don't always work. If you need access from your Tokyo hotel room, be sure to arrange in advance for a room with a modem connection. Your hotel will usually send faxes for you. Many convenience stores also send faxes.
Despite its size, all of Japan is in the same time zone, nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Japan does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Thus Japan is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. during summer.
Hours vary tremendously depending on the business. Office workers stay famously late, and can often be found at their desks from 9am until after 8pm. However, stores close surprisingly early; most are open from 10am until 7pm, and some close even earlier. Moreover, many stores close one day per week, and not uniformly the same day. When in doubt, call ahead. Banks are generally open from 9am to 3pm on weekdays only.
Other than January 1, few Japanese holidays actually signify anything, though office workers are glad to have the day off. Many were originally set aside to mark birthdays of previous emperors, and have since undergone an identity change. The three key vacation periods are January 1; Golden Week (the "week" starts on April 29, a national holiday that used to be celebrated as the birthday of Emperor Showa, who passed away in 1989. It is now celebrated as Greenery Day, a day for nature appreciation); and O-Bon, held to pray for the repose of the souls of one's ancestors, which is celebrated by almost everyone on August 15 (even though it's not an official public holiday). Travel out of, or within, Japan is extremely crowded during these times; reserve well in advance for both train and plane tickets.
When a holiday falls on Sunday, the following Monday is treated as a holiday. Also, New Year's Day is Japan's largest holiday of the year, so most businesses and shops are closed through the three-day celebration from January 1 to 3. In addition, when Constitution Day and Children's Day fall on weekdays, May 4 is also considered a holiday.
Every tourist is delighted to learn there is absolutely no culture of tipping in Japan. If you try to tip a cab driver, bellboy or waitress, they will most likely become embarrassed and refuse to accept it. In some expensive hotels and restaurants, a service charge may be added to your bill. Porters charge fees of JPY250 and 300 per bag at train stations and JPY200 per bag at airport.
When to Go
Japanese people are inordinately proud of the fact that their country has four seasons, but it's really more like six, including the depressing month of rainy season in early summer and the onslaught of monsoon season at the beginning of fall. Moreover, the weather in Japan is notoriously unpredictable, both day-to-day and year-to-year. It's best to prepare for deviations no matter when you come.
The nicest season in Tokyo, and in much of the country, is autumn, from mid-October through the end of November. Temperatures are crisp, with average highs between 60 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees to 20 degrees Celcius), and rain is less common than the rest of the year. Winter, from December through March, is cold but relatively mild and dry, with temperatures rarely below freezing. Spring is usually cool but pleasant, with temperatures similar to autumn and a higher chance of rain.
Rainy season generally starts in mid-June and lasts about five weeks. During that time, light rain will fall almost constantly, which can put a damper on day trips, but mild temperatures between 60 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees to 25 degrees Celcius) make it bearable.
After rainy season, from late July through August, comes most Tokyo natives' least favorite season, summer, with temperatures often above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celcius) and unpleasantly high humidity. Just when the temperature starts to drop in September, the monsoons begin. Unlike rainy season, they pour sheets of rain down for a couple of days, and are best contemplated from indoors.
For events, there is always so much going on in Tokyo that no particular time stands out, but the city is never prettier than during the days at the end of March and beginning of April when the cherry blossom trees are in flower. Naturally, this season also varies unpredictably from year to year.
What to Take
Pack for all contingencies. You will certainly want rain gear, no matter what season it is, and keep in mind that temperatures can change as much as 36 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celcius) from one day to the next.
Business travelers will be expected to wear formal suits in all business situations. Casual dress is acceptable in other situations, but women will attract stares if their neckline plunges excessively. Also, Japanese men do not generally wear shorts in the city. Finally, since public transportation is the main way of getting around town, comfortable shoes are a must.
No inoculations are necessary to enter Japan.
For health emergencies, find a Japanese speaker who understands you immediately, and make your problem known as quickly as possible. Many Japanese doctors understand some English, but few other health-care workers do, so you will need someone to speak for you to hospital administrators and nurses.
The Tokyo English Lifeline (03-3968-4099) and Japan Helpline (0120-461-997) are emergency phone numbers; the latter is operated 24 hours a day. Do not call them unless you really have an emergency; sometimes one volunteer is taking care of calls for the entire country. For non-emergencies, the Tokyo Medical Information Center (03-5285-8181) will help you find an English-speaking doctor who specializes in your condition.
Most Japanese hospitals will expect payment in cash, even if you have travel insurance, and will be reluctant to let you leave without payment in full. Health care is much less expensive than in the U.S., but foreign-run clinics and English-speaking doctors charge far more than domestic facilities.
If you need certain prescription or non-prescription drugs, bring them with you. Japan does not allow most Western drugs into the country, and most familiar medicines are not available. Allergy medications are particularly hard to find, and Japan has a very high pollen count in spring. However, all allergy medications containing psuedoephedrine are illegal, and will be confiscated if found in your luggage.
Pharmacists dispense most drugs without need of a doctor's prescription, so if you just need some cold capsules, try visiting a pharmacist and describing your symptoms. The American Pharmacy (03-3271-4034) in Yurakucho is very popular with tourists because of its English-speaking pharmacists, but they have no special import permit and their selection is not much different from other pharmacies.
If you need condoms, bring them with you; the Japanese variety are often inadequate for foreign travelers. If necessary, visit Condomania in Harajuku.
Except for the occasional earthquake, fire, or nerve-gas incident, Japan is an extremely safe country. Violence against foreign travelers is almost unheard of--in fact, other travelers probably pose a greater risk of theft than Japanese.
Of course, you should exercise an appropriate amount of caution in any travel situation, particularly in crowded train stations where pickpockets operate. They generally prey on Japanese, and you shouldn't give them any reason to change their target.
Women travelers are much safer in Japan than in most countries, even walking home alone at night, but all women should still exercise reasonable caution. Tokyo has people on the street in most places at all hours of the night, and the chances of running into a problem are quite slim.
Australian Embassy 2-1-14 Mita, Tokyo, Japan; Tel.: +81 03-5232-4111
French Embassy 4-11-44 Minami-Azabu, Tokyo, Japan; Tel.: +81 03-5420-8800
German Embassy 4-5-10 Minami-Azabu, Tokyo, Japan; Tel.: +81 03-3473-0151
Irish Embassy 2-10-7 Kojimachi, Tokyo, Japan; Tel.: +81 03-3263-0695
U.K. Embassy 1 Ichiban-cho, Tokyo, Japan; Tel.: +81 03-3265-5511
U.S. Embassy 10-5 Akasaka 1-Chome, Tokyo, Japan, 107-8420; Tel.: +81 03-3224-5000, Fax: +81 03-3224-5856
For More Information
Accessible Tokyo/The Japanese Red Cross Society 1-3, Shiba Daimon 1-Chome, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 3-3438-1311; http://accessible.jp.org/
Japan Travel Updates/Japan National Tourist Organization/Tourist Information Center B1 fl., Tokyo International Forum, 3-5-1, Marunouchi Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3201-3331; http://www.jnto.go.jp/
Going By Air
Almost every international traveler arrives at Narita Airport, which is about 40 miles east of central Tokyo. There are a wide variety of ways to get to and from Narita, and contrary to what some travel agents will tell you, you do not need a reservation for most of them.
It is possible to rent a car at Narita and drive into Tokyo. Three words of advice: Don't do it.
If you want to take a taxi, be advised that the fare will be more than JPN25,000, and that this may actually be the slowest way to go.
The JR Narita Express train runs to Tokyo, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Yokohama stations. It's the fastest way to get to town, taking about an hour, and it also costs about JPN3,000. You may need a reservation for this train, especially if you want to take it from Tokyo to Narita.
The Keisei limited express train is the cheapest option, running to Ueno station in 70 minutes for JPN1,000. Keisei also operates a more plush Skyliner train that's 15 minutes faster to Ueno for twice the price.
If your hotel has limousine bus service, this will be the most convenient option, particularly if you have heavy baggage. Most buses take about 90 minutes and cost about JPN3,000. Check with the limousine bus ticket counter in the Narita arrival lobby to see if your hotel is on the route.
When leaving Japan via Narita, it's very convenient to check in at the Tokyo City Air Terminal. You can check your bags and go through immigration and customs, so there's no need to wait in line at Narita. The bus from the terminal to Narita costs only a few thousand yen and takes about an hour (since you're already checked in, it's a relaxing hour). You must check in earlier at TCAT, and not every airline offers this service, so call your airline's Tokyo office beforehand.
Going By Car
Travelers are discouraged from driving in Japan if they are unfamiliar with or do not understand the language. Most of the road signs are written solely in Japanese characters and there are very few road signs in English, or even Japanese written in Roman letters. In addition, traffic in Tokyo is frequently very congested and drives on the left, which may be tricky for some to master.
Going By Bus
Tokyo has an extensive bus system, but it's not useful for tourists as the drivers don't speak English and all the stop names are in Japanese. Moreover, the buses get caught in traffic, while the trains and subways don't. If you need to take a bus for some reason, such as to reach a distant factory or office building, get very detailed instructions from your contact and be sure to tell the driver the name of your stop.
Going By Rail
The Shinkansen bullet trains traverse the country linking Tokyo with most of Japan's major cities. Its a fast, efficient, if not somewhat pricey way to travel Japan. Passengers arrive at Tokyo Station (note that some of the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines terminate at Ueno Station). Tokyo Station is well connected to the rest of the city via JR commuter trains and the huge subway system. More assistance or information on Tokyo can be obtained by contacting the Tokyo Tourist Information Center (dubbed "Tokyo i") on the first floor of the the Tokyo International Forum. It is located a block away from Tokyo Station at 3-5-1 Marunouchi.
The Information Bureau of Tokyo (run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) is another resource for travelers to Tokyo. It is located in Tokyo Station in the JR View Plaza, near the Yaesu Central Exit (open Monday through Saturday 9am to 6pm; closed Sunday and holidays).
Getting Around By Car
Tokyo abounds in transportation options, so much so that a rental car is more than unnecessary--it's a nuisance. In fact, many lifelong Tokyo residents never learn to drive.
Getting Around By Taxi
Taxis are very expensive in Tokyo, starting at JPN660 for the first two kilometers with an additional JPN80 for each 274 meters. The fares used to be standard, but in 1997 the regulations were relaxed, and there is now some variation. Nobody shops around though, and despite the cost, taxis are quite popular, so you may have a long wait if you wave one away.
Taxis can be hailed easily on most major streets most times of the day, except the one time when everybody wants one--just after midnight when the trains stop running. At that hour, it may be worth going to a taxi stand outside a train station or major hotel.
Also, some taxis will be reluctant to pick up foreigners at that hour, because intoxicated Japanese businessmen are more likely to offer a large fare to a distant suburb. If you're out with Japanese people, let them hail the cab.
It's very important to have the name and address of the place you're going written out, preferably in Japanese. Almost no taxi drivers speak English; if you can't make them understand where you're going, they won't take you. For some locations you may also need to give them directions, though not to major tourist spots. In Japan, the ancient system of addresses is not easy, even for experts. If a taxi driver says he's lost, he's not trying to cheat you--he's really lost.
Getting Around By Bus
Tokyo has an extensive bus system, but it's not useful for tourists since the drivers don't speak English and all the stop names are in Japanese. Moreover, the buses get caught in traffic, while the trains and subways don't. If you need to take a bus for some reason, such as to reach a distant factory or office building, get very detailed instructions from your contact and be sure to tell the driver the name of your stop.
Getting Around By Rail
The best option in Tokyo is the subway, which is extensive, efficient, and safe. Times are posted on the wall, and 99 percent of the trains are always on schedule. You rarely have to wait 10 minutes for a train, and the stations have enough English signs to keep you from getting lost. Pick up a color-coded English subway map from the Tourist Information Center at the airport.
For all Japanese trains, you buy a ticket beforehand from a vending machine. Be sure to keep this ticket, because you need it to exit. If you're unsure how much to pay, you can always buy the cheapest ticket and pay the difference when you get off. Look for the fare adjustment machine just before the exits; insert your ticket and the screen will show you how much you owe. Humans at a window beside the exit gates do this job in the few places with no machines. It's better to underpay than overpay, because you can't get a refund once you enter the ticket gates.
In addition to the city-owned subway lines, there are several privately owned subways, a network of JR trains, and several privately owned commuter trains as well. Sometimes you will need to transfer from one company's line to another, and thus pay more money. The system may seem confusing, but fortunately, Japanese train company employees are scrupulously honest; tell them where you need to go and they will tell you how to get there and how much it will cost.
Most trains and subways run from about 5am to midnight. Beware of missing the last train, because taxi fares increase at that hour.
For more subway information, call 03-3502-1461. JR is the national railway, and runs both intercity and local trains. They have an English-language information line at (03) 3423-0111.
Attractions and Where to Stay
A great place to take kids of any age, this showcase for Fujita's technology offers free interactive exhibitions and games.4-6-15 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 43-3796-2486; Family-Friendly
The wildest youth fashions in the country can be bought or observed on this shopping street, which is most lively and crowded on weekends. For a good contrast, walk from here about five minutes to the city's largest shrine, Meiji Jingu.Takeshita Street; Family-Friendly
Naturally a city of fish lovers boasts an aquarium that claims to be the world's largest, with more than 20,000 fish and animals, including some really weird-looking ones.3-1-3 Higashi Ikebukuro, Sunshine City, 10th Floor; Tel.: +81 43-3989-3466; Family-Friendly
National Children's Castle
A government-built facility dedicated to giving kids educational things to play with, from musical instruments to origami.5-53-1 Jingumae; Tel.: +81 3-3797-5666; Family-Friendly
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office
Tourists in the know visit here for the view from the 45th-floor observatory, which is not quite as high as Tokyo Tower, but is free. On a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji.2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku; Tel.: +81 3-5321-1111; Family-Friendly
Modeled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris, this is the symbol of Tokyo to Japanese people. The 825-foot-high top observatory allows you to confirm that Tokyo sprawls farther than the eye can see.4-2-8 Shiba-koen; Tel.: +81 3-3433-5111; Family-Friendly
Tsukiji Fish Market
Get up early for this, perhaps on your first day,
when you're still jet-lagged, because the action starts at 5am and is
mostly over by 8am. Fishing boats from around the world unload their catch
here to be auctioned. Giant frozen tuna command the most frenetic
attention. Admission is free, and you can wander around and snap photos as
you like, but don't wear your best clothes or shoes. Afterward, join the
fishermen in a breakfast of very fresh sushi at Sushi Dai right inside the
market for about
Kabuki, a form of Japanese drama, dates back to the
17th century. Performances at the Kabukiza run for most of the year, with
a matinee from about 11am to 4pm and a different evening performance from
about 5pm to 9pm. Tickets range from
If you don't have a chance to visit Kyoto or Nara, this is the best place near Tokyo to get a sense of its religious past. The small village, once a capital, has 65 Buddhist temples and 19 Shinto shrines. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine (0467-22-0315), dedicated to the Shinto god of war, has a 1,000-year-old ginkgo tree that was supposedly the site of the ambush and beheading of the shrine builder's son in 1219. The seven-foot, 93-ton Daibutsu, or Great Buddha, is the second-largest bronze image in Japan; it was cast in 1252. (Call 0467-22-0703 for further info.) Nearby at Hase Kannon Temple (0467-22-6300) is a 30-foot high wood image of Kannon reportedly made in the eighth century as a duplicate of the one in Hase and thrown into the sea to find its own home. There are fine photo opportunities here.Family-Friendly
This traditional doll store has been at this location since 1711, selling expensive dolls dressed in real silk kimonos that mimic imperial costumes down to minute detail.1-9-14 Asakusabashi, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 3 3863-4419
Like most buildings in Japan, this is not the original. The first Edo Castle was the seat of power for the country during the nearly 300 years of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was rebuilt and modernized in 1888 during the Meiji Restoration, destroyed in 1945 by air raids, and rebuilt again in 1968. Most of the palace complex is off-limits, but strolling (or running around) the perimeter is still a peaceful way to pass time in the hectic center of the city. Don't miss the East Garden, which is hardly ever crowded, and is as good a place as you'll find for quiet contemplation for many miles.Family-Friendly
Meiji Jingu Shrine
This impressive Shinto shrine, which opened in 1920 in honor of the Emperor Meiji, hosts crowds of up to two million people on New Year's Eve. The rest of the year offers a peaceful, tree-lined 10-minute walk from the first torii (entry gate) to the dignified main building.1-1 Kamizono-cho, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 3-3379-5111; Family-Friendly
Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple is today probably the single most popular tourist spot in the city. According to legend, it was opened in 628 when two brothers fishing in the nearby Sumida River caught a tiny golden statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Sensoji was rebuilt after being destroyed in 1945. A colorful street of shops selling souvenirs leads to the temple; try some of the many varieties of "sembei" (rice crackers) for sale. It's said that the Asakusa area retains more of the flavor of old Tokyo than any other place in the city.2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 3-3482-0181; Family-Friendly
Arts, Culture, and Science
If you read Japanese, or have a patient guide, this is one of the best museums in the country, showing the way of life in the city from 1590, at the beginning of the shogun era, to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Worthwhile even if you don't read Japanese, but far better with explanations. The Edo-Tokyo Museum is closed on Mondays.1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3272-8600
Fukugawa Edo Museum
This fun museum reproduces a local neighborhood of the shitamachi (Low City) in the mid-1800s, with full-scale replicas of homes and businesses that you can enter. Fukugawa Edo is a 15-minute walk from the train station.1-3-28 Shirakawa, Koto-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3630-8625
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
A Bauhaus-style art deco home holds a collection of mostly Western paintings and sculptures from the 1950s and '60s. Ask to see the secret room with the seductive photos of Nobuyoshi Araki. There's also a nice greenhouse-style cafe. This museum is a 15-minute walk from the station; closed Monday and during changes of exhibitions.4-7-25 Kita-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3445-0651
This is probably the one can't-miss cultural
attraction of Tokyo. Kabuki, a form of Japanese drama, dates back to the
17th century. Performances at the Kabukiza run for most of the year, with
a matinee from about 11am to 4pm and a different evening performance from
about 5pm to 9pm. Tickets range from
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
If you're more interested in modern art than artifacts, this is the best museum in the city. Important temporary exhibits of worldwide artists share this large structure--built during Japan's economic bubble--with a fine permanent collection of Japanese postwar avant-garde. The museum is a 15-minute walk from the train station; closed Monday.4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5245-4111
National Museum of Modern Art Opened in 1952 to showcase Japanese art from the Meiji period to present, it features painting, prints, drawings, and sculpture; closed Monday 3 Kitanomaru Koen Park, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3214-2561
National Noh Theater
Unlike kabuki, which was meant as mass entertainment, Noh was stylized drama for the upper class in the Edo period, and seems slow and mannered today. Call ahead for a performance schedule. There are no English translations.4-18-1 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3423-1331
National Science Museum
Totaling four buildings, this complex has precious little information in English, but there are plenty of visually oriented exhibits geared toward children, including a display of dinosaurs. Note that the museum is closed every Monday.Ueno Park, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3822-0111
Nezu Institute of Fine Arts
Perhaps Tokyo's best private museum, the Nezu Institute houses art from around Asia, with an emphasis on Buddhist sculptures and paintings. While there, visit the small garden with a pond or one of the teahouses. The Nezu Institute is closed on Mondays and in August.6-5-1 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3400-2536
Ota Memorial Museum of Art
Fans of ukiyo-e (floating world pictures) will not want to miss the private collection of the late Seizo Ota, who dedicated his life to preserving an art form that some Japanese, in the early 1900s, considered outdated. A small collection, but worthy of a visit. The museum, which is closed Mondays, provides explanations in English.1-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3403-0880
The National Theater of Japan
This theater holds kabuki for most of the year, but in May, September and December, you can see bunraku, plays staged by giant puppets that have recently found favor with the Western avant-garde. Call ahead for a schedule. English translations on earphones are usually available.4-1 Hayabusacho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3265-7411
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
Naturally the country that supplies cameras to the world has a museum with more than 16,000 pieces, although only a percentage are on display at any given time. This building opened in 1995 in Ebisu Garden Place, a shopping plaza of no particular interest to foreigners but one that inspires Japanese to have their pictures taken with the name of the complex in the background. The museum is closed on Mondays.Ebisu Garden Place, 1-13-3 Mita, Meguro-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3280-0031
Tokyo National Museum
The largest and oldest museum in Japan houses the largest collection of Japanese art in the world, everything from samurai armor to ukiyo-e prints. For nonscholars, the main gallery is the best of the three buildings, with its collection of swords, kimonos, paintings, Buddhist sculptures, and other items. Two other buildings house archaeological relics and art and artifacts from other Asian countries. The Tokyo National Museum is closed on Mondays.Ueno Park, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3822-1111
Tokyo Takarazuka Gekijo
The all-women Takarazuka musical theater troupe, formed near Osaka in 1912, is an interesting Japanese phenomenon with thousands of loyal fans, almost all female. Definitely call ahead for tickets. There are no English translations.1-1-3 Yurakucho, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3201-7777
Parks and Beaches
Hama Rikyu Garden
Japanese garden connoisseurs consider this the best traditional-style garden in Tokyo. It was preserved as duck-hunting grounds for the shogun 300 years ago, and still maintains an Edo flavor. You can catch a ferry from here to Asakusa.1-1 Hamarikyuteien, Chuo-ku; Tel.: 03-3541-0200
Imperial Palace East Garden
A beautiful, quiet oasis in the middle of the city's business district, this traditional Japanese-style garden was once the main grounds of Edo castle.1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: 03-3213-1111
With 144 acres of planted gardens in styles ranging from French and English to traditional Japanese, this park is a fine contrast to the endless clatter of surrounding Shinjuku.11 Naitocho, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: 03-3350-0151
Though it's one of the largest parks in Tokyo, there's not actually much green space here. The park holds several museums, Ueno Zoo, a bird sanctuary, a temple, and a shrine. During cherry blossom season, it's packed to the limit with groups of office workers drinking heavily and noisily to celebrate the falling pink petals, an experience worth seeing at least once.
Tokyo is not blessed with much green space. This one-time military parade ground adjacent to Meiji Shrine is not huge by Western standards, but is the best place in the city to actually walk on grass. Though it may have no special attraction for tourists, it's very popular with foreign Tokyo residents--a reminder of home, perhaps.
Theme Parks and Zoos
Shinjuku Joypolis Sega
One of the most sophisticated entertainment arcades in a country that specializes in them. Enjoy virtual snowboarding or flying, or take part in a laser gun battle.Takashimaya Times Square, 10th and 11th Floors; Tel.: 03-5361-3040; Family-Friendly
This is the most popular domestic tourist spot in all of Japan. It is also more crowded than the Disney parks in other locales.1-1 Maihama, Urayasu-shi, Chiba; Tel.: 047-354-0001; Family-Friendly
The Ueno Zoo has a good collection of mammals including giant pandas donated by the Chinese government, but like all Tokyo residents, they're housed in depressingly small spaces.Ueno Park, Taito-ku; Tel.: 03-3828-5171; Family-Friendly
Recreational and Spectator Sports
Three of the six sumo tournaments are held each year at the Kokugikan in Tokyo: in January, May, and September. Each lasts 15 days, beginning at about 8:30am and ending at 6pm. The main matches begin after 4pm. Tickets for the last three rows are available on the day of the event from 8am. Arrive as early as possible to buy the ticket, especially on weekends or holidays when it's likely to sell out fast, and then return later. Only one ticket is sold per person, so everybody who wants to go has to get up early to buy the tickets together. Advance tickets are sometimes available from Playguide ticket outlets or at ticket counters in department stores. If you can't get tickets, all matches are televised on NHK from about 4pm.Martial Arts/Boxing; Asakusa; Tel.: +81 03-3623-5111; Family-Friendly
Nippon Ham Fighters and Yomiuri Giants
Two baseball teams share the Tokyo Dome (nicknamed the Big Egg) and are a tremendous contrast. The Giants, in the Central League, are easily the most popular sports team in the country, while the Pacific League's Ham Fighters have the smallest following of any of the Tokyo teams. Of course, this means it's easier and cheaper to get tickets for the Ham Fighters. For tickets contact Playguide or go to a ticket counter in a major Tokyo department store.Baseball; Tokyo Dome; Tel.: +81 03-3811-2111, +81 03-3257-9999; Family-Friendly
The Lions have been the best team in the Pacific League for more than 10 years. Though this stadium is about 90 minutes away from Shinjuku station, it's the most pleasant of the Tokyo-area stadiums, with a picnic area behind center field and pleasant breezes on a nice day. For tickets call Playguide or go to a Seibu department store in Ginza, Shibuya, or Ikebukuro.Baseball; Tel.: +81 04-2925-1151, +81 03-3257-9999; Family-Friendly
While the Giants are popular with older fans, many young Tokyoites prefer the Swallows, who also play in the Central League. Their games in outdoor Jingu Stadium have a much livelier atmosphere. For tickets contact Playguide or go to a department store ticket counter.Baseball; Jingu Stadium; Tel.: +81 03-3257-9999; Family-Friendly
Japan Sake Information Pavillion
A great place to enjoy learning a bit about sakeAnybody in the pavillion can sample the sake on displaySpecialty Foods/Candies/Tea and Coffee; 1-1-21 Nish-Shimbashi, Shuzo Kaikan 14F; Tel.: +81 03-3519-2091
Located in the basement of the Hibiya Park Building, Asahi Shoten has a good selection of Japanese pearls at relatively moderate prices.Jewelry; Hibiya Park Building, B1; Tel.: +81 03-3271-9336
Bingoya is a small (for Japan) six-story building selling folk arts and crafts from all over the country, including tops, dolls, handmade paper products, lacquer ware, and chopsticks.Arts and Crafts, Children's Items, Houseware; 10-6 Wakamatsucho, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3202-8778
Camera Doi is a large discount electronics shop with a good selection. Prices are as good as in Akihabara - although you may want to concentrate on battery-operated products because this shop is strictly domestic-oriented.Electronics; 1-15-4 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3344-2310
Camera No Kimura
A must-visit for professional photographers, this store has a small but good selection of used cameras and lenses.Specialty Items; 1-18-8 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3981-8437
Comme des Garcons
For men or women, Comme des Garcons is Rei Kawakubo's showcase for her much-in-demand fashions. It is the most noticeable of the many designer shops on Aoyama Dori, which is Japan's most famous fashion street.Men's Wear, Women's Wear; 2-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3406-3951
A good place to look for kimonos, either ancient or modern, as well as cotton yukatas, which make excellent summer loungewear.Men's Wear, Women's Wear, Antiques; International Arcade, 2-1-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3501-4012
This is a large store with a giant selection of electronics. Be sure to bargain. You can usually get 10 percent off on more expensive items just by asking.Electronics; 10-5 Sotokanda 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3255-2211
A bit daring for a Tokyo department store, Isetan is a good place for either traditional kimonos or modern designer clothes. Visit the New Creator's Space on the ground floor, which showcases clothing by young Japanese designers.Department Store; 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3352-1111
Look no further for a samurai sword, whether a souvenir copy or the deadly sharp real thing. This sword store is worth visiting, if just for a look around.Specialty Items, Collectibles; 3-8-1 Toranomon, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3434-4321
Japan Traditional Craft Center
Top-quality crafts from around Japan are on sale here at high prices. The craft center works like an art gallery, with sale items organized around exhibitions. It is a fine introduction to Japanese craftsmanship.Art Gallery, Arts and Crafts; Plaza 246 Building, 3-1-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3403-2460
Kiddy land has a great selection of toys and games, both Western and Japanese. Visitors almost always find some compelling electronic gadget. If you bring your own kids, bring money.Children's Items, Electronics; 6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3409-3431
This spacious store on the famous Kanda bookstore street has an outstanding selection of books in English about Japan.Rare Books/Books; 2-5 Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3263-0011
Kokkusai Kanko Kaikan
This is a great place to buy regional products from around Japan. The first four floors of this building and the ninth floor of neighboring Daimaru department store offer 49 little shops selling local crafts from bamboo ware to sake.Specialty Items, Arts and Crafts, Department Store; 1-8-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3215-1181
This 140-year-old store sells traditional Japanese paper products, including kites, papier-mbchi, masks, and other items.Specialty Items, Arts and Crafts; 1-2-5 Asakusa, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3844-7511
Stored and displayed in a large house, Kurofune has high-quality Japanese antique furniture. It all makes for a unique and interesting visit.Antiques; 7-7-4 Roppongi; Tel.: +81 03-3479-1552
Laox is one of the better places to find duty-free electronics (all can be set for the wattage of your home country). Be sure to bargain.Electronics; 1-2-9 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3253-7111
Japan's oldest bookstore, founded in 1869, Maruzen has a large English-language section, albeit at prices higher than back home.Rare Books/Books; 2-3-10 Nihombashi, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3272-7211
In addition to the usual department store lineup, Matsuya features a selection on the seventh floor of foreign products deemed worthy by the Japan Design Committee. If you need, visit Matsuya's restroom for "The Toilet of Ginza," a toilet with a four-page brochure (not on every floor).Department Store; 3-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3567-1211
Matsuzakaya Camera has an impressive selection of used Japanese and foreign cameras.Specialty Items; 1-27-34 Takanawa, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3443-1311
The main store of the most famous cultured pearl company in the world offers understated, exquisite pieces. Don't expect discount prices.Jewelry; 4-5-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3535-4611
A crucial determiner of Tokyo trends since the 17th century, Mitsukoshi is still considered one of the finest department stores in the country, with many famous European brand-name boutiques. Don't miss the basement food section, with samples galore on offer.Department Store, Specialty Foods/Candies/Tea and Coffee; 1-4-1 Nihombashi-muromachi, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3241-3311
Nishikawa Musen is a grand store with a selection of all types of electronics, including duty-free and export-oriented goods. Be sure to bargain here.Electronics; 16-10 Sotokanda 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3251-9405
No English books, but this bookstore claims the world's largest stock of 18th- and 19th-century Japanese illustrated books and woodblock prints. Be sure to view the way the world appeared on Edo-period maps.Rare Books/Books, Art Gallery; 1-1 Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3291-0062
Probably the single best one-stop shopping spot for crafts and souvenirs, this store offers four floors of kimonos, yukatas, chinaware, and woodblock prints, just to name a few, all at reasonable prices. This is also a good place for Western souvenirs like T-shirts. Oriental Bazaar will ship goods home for you.Arts and Crafts, Gifts, Men's Wear, Women's Wear, Art Gallery, Houseware; 5-9-13 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3400-3933
Parco has three buildings of contemporary fashions for both adults and children.Men's Wear, Women's Wear; 15-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3464-5111
Sakai Kokodo Gallery
Four generations of the Sakai family have tended what they claim is the oldest woodblock print shop in Tokyo.Art Gallery; 1-2-14 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3591-4678
Seed has five small floors with fashions by some of the youngest and hottest designers, both Japanese and international.Men's Wear, Women's Wear; 21-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3462-0111
Seibu, a gigantic, always-crowded 12-floor department store, has everything from foodstuffs in the basement to CDs to modern art. Size World on the fourth floor is a reliable place to look for larger woman's sizes of designer clothing.Department Store, Art Gallery, Music; 1-28-1 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3981-0111
A fine selection of boutiques by famous European and Japanese designers graces this high-class department store.Department Store; 2-4-1 Nihombashi, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3211-4111
Takashimaya Times Square
This sprawling 14-floor megacomplex, opened in 1996, houses an amusement park and an IMAX theatre in addition to all kinds of shops for clothing, books, and housewares. On weekends it's usually packed full of young suburbanites who shop 'til they drop.Mall, Men's Wear, Women's Wear, Rare Books/Books, Houseware; 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5361-1122
Since its remodeling in 1993, this is Japan's largest department store, serving 180,000 customers a day. Here you'll find the best basement food selection in the city. There's also a fine art museum.Art Gallery, Department Store; 1-1-25 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3981-2211
Tokyo Antique Hall
With more than 30 separate antique dealers under one roof, this is the best place in Tokyo for antique shopping. Unlike most of Japan, you can sometimes bargain here.Antiques; 3-9-5 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3982-3433
A huge home and handicraft store with a comprehensive selection of equipment and materials, Tokyu Hands is great for supplies for Japanese hobbies.Arts and Crafts, Specialty Items; 12-18 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5489-5111
Tower Records and Books
Although the selection is not as large as at dedicated bookstores, this is where local English-language speakers buy books and magazines at prices well below other stores. This is also a good store to buy Japanese pop CDs.Rare Books/Books, Music; 1-22-14 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3496-3661
Tuttle Book Shop
Tuttle Book Shop is a Kanda shop with a wide selection of English books on Japan and Asia.Rare Books/Books; 1-11 Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3291-7071
Comparatively small and sedate for a department store, this is where many very wealthy Japanese shop. Wako is extremely expensive.Department Store; 4-5-11 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3562-2111
This stylish store, a Roppongi landmark, is the place in Tokyo to buy offbeat or obscure Japanese music.Music; 6-2-27 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3408-0111
Yamagiwa offers a good selection of electronics for domestic and export use. Don't forget to bargain here.Electronics; 4-1-1Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3253-2111
One of the largest discount camera shops in the world, Yodobashi boasts sales of about 500 cameras a day. It's also a great place to buy film, batteries, and small personal electronic devices like stereos or watches. As in Akihabara, before paying the price marked, ask for "your best price" - you might get a small discount.Specialty Items; 1-11-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3346-1010
This traditional doll store has been at its location since 1711, selling expensive dolls dressed in real silk kimonos that mimic imperial costumes down to minute detail.Specialty Items, Collectibles; 1-9-14 Asakusabashi, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3863-4419
Carmine's This cozy Italian restaurant serves great food at reasonable prices. Reservation is strongly recommended, since it has a small one-room dining hall. 1-19-Saiku-cho, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3260-5066; $$-$$$; Italian
Atariya is a good, cheap yakitori restaurant with an English menu. You can either sit at the counter or a table on the first floor, or take off your shoes to sit on tatami mats on the second floor. Try the tsukune (ground chicken meatballs).3-5-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3564-0045; $$; Yakitori, Japanese
Reasonably priced for the quality, this Northern Italian restaurant is popular with both tourists and business people. Try the buckwheat flour gnocchi.Hotel Seiyo Ginza 1-11-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3535-1111; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$; Italian
You may think you're hallucinating when you see this authentic French sidewalk cafe, complete with fashionable young things in sunglasses with bored expressions. It also has authentic brasserie food.1-6-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5474-0076; AE, MC, V; $$; French
This authentic Thai cuisine restaurant has a large menu and many dishes hard to find outside of Thailand. Try the tom ka gai (chicken coconut soup). Portions are small, so your bill can climb in a hurry.1-23-14 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3207-0068; AE, MC, V; $$$; Thai
This neighborly restaurant has been serving tasty and reasonably priced Indonesian food since 1957.7-8-13 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3408-5698; AE, MC, V; $$; Indonesian
Bikkuri Sushi does not offer the highest quality conveyor-belt sushi in Tokyo, but it is one of the most interesting places to eat due to the constant flow of tourists who are uneasy about sushi and unfamiliar with the serving concept. You'll be sure to see a few amused and confused faces.3-14-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3403-1489; $; Sushi, Japanese
Bistro de la Cite
For many years, Bistro de la Cite has been one of Tokyo's finest French bistros. Try the salade de la cite, a group of meat and vegetable salads wheeled to your table on a cart, from which you take as much as you like. The bistro has an excellent (though not cheap) wine list.4-2-10 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3406-5475; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$; French
Brendan, the owner, decided Tokyo was lacking in good, cheap places to sit down and eat a pizza, so he decided to open his own. This is a popular pre-clubbing stop.3-1-19 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3479-8383; $$; Pizza
Cafe des Pres
This Parisian-style cafe offers simple sandwiches and a good spot for people-watching.5-1-27 Minami-Azabu; Tel.: +81 03-3448-0039; None; $; French
Japanese tourists come to Asakusa to eat tempura, a popular Tokyo spot dating back to 1887.1-27-5 Kabuki-cho; Tel.: +81 03-3202-7272; $$; Tempura, Japanese
Crowded and noisy, Edogin offers very fresh fish at reasonable prices. There is no English menu, so order a set or bring along a bilingual fish field guide.4-5-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3543-4401; AE, DC, MC, V; $$; Sushi, Japanese
With good roasted chicken and American wines at reasonable prices, Farm Grill is also one of the most spacious restaurants in the Ginza district (and very popular with ex-patriots).Ginza Nine Building 3 8-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5568-6156; AE, MC, V; $$; American
Fukuzushi is a superior sushi bar with a slick, modern interior. To be safe from shock when the bill arrives, order one of the set meals.5-7-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3402-4116; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; Sushi, Japanese
A true Japanese experience, this is a flagship store for a national chain of conveyor-belt sushi shops. Grab whatever looks tasty; when you're ready to leave, they calculate your bill by how many plates you have stacked in front of you.5-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3498-3968; $; Sushi, Japanese
This restaurant is a 60-year-old tempura specialist. Try the Fukiyose-zen set, a three-course meal with different tempura served in an edible basket. English menus are available.6-9-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3571-3584; DC, MC, V; $$$; Tempura, Japanese
Hayashi is a rustic place with three seasonal menus, some of which you grill yourself over a small hibachi. Go early, because the smoke builds up over time. Reservations are recommended.2-14-1 Akasaka, 4F, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3582-4078; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; Japanese Grill
Hiroba is an oasis for health food fans. It's self-service, so simply pick up what you want, and pay when you're done eating. Ask for the brown rice to complement the fish and organic vegetable dishes.Crayon House 3-8-15 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3406-6409; $$; Japanese, Health Food
Ichioku is a very casual place with delicious and simple Japanese cooking, though so different from traditional Japanese food that they call themselves "stateless cuisine." Try the tofu steak.4-4-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3405-9891; $$; Japanese
Tourist-oriented and fun, Inakaya lets you sit at a counter and point to what you want from heaps of fresh vegetables, meat, and seafood. Two chefs then grill your choice in front of you.7-8-4 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3405-9866; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; Japanese Grill
Here you can sit at a single large counter and watch expert chefs prepare the teppanyaki of Japanese steak and fresh seafood. Reservations are recommended for this dining spectacle.Imperial Hotel, 17th Floor 1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3504-1111; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; Teppanyaki, Japanese
The Japanese brother and sister who own Kana Uni
love foreign guests; call them from Akasaka-Mitsuke station and they'll
meet you and show you the way to the restaurant. Much of their menu, such
as grilled meats and fish, is similar to American food. Most evenings
there's soft live jazz (a
Kisso is an interesting marriage between an expensive ceramic shop and a kaiseki-style restaurant. Lunch is a good bargain here.Axis Bldg., 5-17-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3582-4191; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; Japanese
Owner Yuko Kobayashi is a food fanatic, traveling to a different country each summer in search of new recipes. Every day she produces a huge variety of delicious dishes from both north and south of the Mediterranean.4-2-15 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3409-8835; $$$; Mediterranean
Kuremutsu is a tiny farmhouse near Sensoji temple that offers fresh grilled fish and sashimi platters, as well as a kaiseki (fish) course. There is no English menu.2-2-13 Asakusa, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3842-0906; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; Seafood, Japanese
L'Orangerie de Paris
This is a branch of a Parisian restaurant, and offers similar French nouvelle cuisine. Their Sunday brunch is quite popular. Reservations are required.Hanae Mori Bldg. 5F 3-6-1 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3407-7461; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; French
La Tour d'Argent
This branch of the famous Parisian restaurant opened in 1984. The specialty is young duckling. Reservations are required and, if possible, bring someone else's expense account.Hotel New Otani 4-1 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3239-3111; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; French
Lunchan is a spacious, contemporary American restaurant. Expatriots love the Sunday brunch.1-2-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5466-1398; AE, DC, MC, V; $$; American, Fusion
Moti is perhaps the best Indian restaurant in town, with spicy cuisine and excellent curries that aren't as heavy on ghee as other places. If this location is full, ask for directions to the nearby Moti Darbar.6-2-35 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3479-1939; AE, DC, MC, V; $$; Indian
Located in a four-story building, Mulberry is a branch of famous family of pizzerias that includes New York's Lombardi's, Berkeley's Zachary's Pizza, and San Diego's Sammy's California Woodfired Pizza. Also on site is a Japanese restaurant with a unique garlic-infused cuisine.1-17-5 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5457-7753; AE, DC, MC, V; $; Pizza
Although the full-priced kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) meals at dinnertime are very expensive, the lunchtime mini-course is a good bargain introduction to kaiseki. English menus are available.Mitsui Urban Hotel basement 8-6-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3574-9356; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; Kaiseki, Japanese
Namiki is the name of this famous and popular noodle shop that cordially provides an English menu.2-11-9 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3841-1340; $; Noodles, Japanese
New York Grill
Enjoy superb American-style grilled meats and fish with a view from the 52nd floor. Live jazz music is played in the evening, and on Sundays, a fine brunch is served. Reservations are required.Park Hyatt Hotel 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5322-1234; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; Steakhouse, Seafood
Farmhouse-style food and service in decor from a 17th-century samurai house is what to expect at Ohmatsuya. You grill your own food--including fish, and skewered meats and vegetables--over a hibachi, and drink sake from bamboo cups. Reservations are required.6-5-8 Ginza, 2nd floor, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3571-7053; AE, DC, V; $$$$; Japanese Grill
Open 24 hours, this American cafe has a great gimmick at lunchtime--a set meal of steak and side dishes for about the equivalent of US$10, depending on the daily yen/dollar exchange rate.Akasaka Prince Hotel 1-2 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3234-1111; AE, DC, MC, V; $$; Steakhouse
Raj Palace has decent Indian food, with video songs from Indian movies playing in the restaurant background. Try their lunch specials.26-11 Udagawacho, 4F, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3780-6531; $$; Indian
Ristorante Il Bianco
Ristorante Il Bianco is a truly amazing deal for
wine drinkers. With your meal, you can have all the house wine you can
drink for just
This is one of a popular local chain of Indian restaurants that serves quality food at reasonable prices.18-4 Shinjuku Chome, 7F, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3355-1788; $$; Indian
Good vegetarian restaurants are lacking in Tokyo; this quiet health-food store serves macrobiotic vegetarian meals at reasonable prices. Shizenkan II closes at 7:30pm.3-9-2 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3486-0281; AE, DC, MC, V; $; Japanese, Vegetarian
This branch of Wolfgang Puck's California-cuisine restaurant costs more than its U.S. cousin, but leaves diners well pleased. Reservations are required.5-7-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3423-4025; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$$; American, Fusion
Sushi Dai is a great place for a sushi lunch--or breakfast, because it caters to the people who work early mornings in the fish market. Sushi Dai closes at 2pm.Tsukiji Fish Market, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3542-1111; $$; Sushi, Japanese
This is the type of sushi place you've read about: an austere bar, with no written menu, at which you're at the mercy of the chef. The fourth generation owner will provide an experience (and a bill) that should be memorable. Reservations are required.6-3-8 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3571-1968; AE, MC, V; $$$$; Sushi, Japanese
If you've been dying to try fugu (blowfish), this is a good spot. It's reasonably priced and popular with the Tsukiji workers. Try the fugu sashimi, which will leave your lips slightly numb. There is no English menu.6-16-6 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3541-3881; $$-$$$$; Blowfish, Japanese
The second floor of this department store and video arcade hosts an American mall-type food court of fast-food restaurants, both Japanese and Western.2-29-5 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3770-0111; $; International
The Siam has a decent selection of Thai food at dinner, but this place is popular mostly for its lunch buffet, which is of surprisingly high quality. Try the pad Thai.World Town Building 8F 5-8-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3572-4101; $$; Thai
Tokyo Dai Hanten
Chinese food is expensive in Japan, but the prices here are justified with good quality. Try Tokyo Dai Hanten on the weekends for the dim sum.Oriental Wave Bldg. 3F 5-17-13 Shinjuku; Tel.: +81 03-3202-0121; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$; Chinese, Dim Sum
Tokyo Kaisen Market
There are two different affiliated restaurants in this two-story building, and both serve fish fresh from the tanks on the ground floor. A popular selection is the Chinese-style seafood dishes.2-36-1 Kabukicho; Tel.: +81 03-5273-8301; AE, DC, MC, V; $$$; Seafood
Three Italian brothers, who also operate an expensive Italian restaurant in the same building, own this establishment. This is a good spot for reasonably priced pizza.2-13-5 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3402-2027; AE, DC, MC, V; $$; Italian
This main arm of a favorite nationwide chain of tempura restaurants has an English menu.3-31-8 Shinjuku; Tel.: +81 03-3352-1012; AE, V; $$; Tempura
Victoria Station is one of the few places in Tokyo that has a salad bar.4-9-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3479-4601; AE, DC, MC, V; $$; Steakhouse, American
Acaraje Tropicana is a friendly Brazilian bar filled with regulars, particularly some of the many South American residents of Tokyo.1-1-1 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3479-4690
A rock club owned and operated by the house band, which plays half the time and serves drinks the other half.Reine Roppongi, 2F, 5-3-4 Roppongi; Tel.: +81 03-3403-0092
This nearly exact replica of the famous Manhattan club consistently features big names in jazz, albeit at high prices and often past their prime.6-3-16 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5485-0088
Cave is a techno bar in an out-of-the-way spot that at times offers intriguing acts and notable DJ performances.34-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3780-0715
One of the few geisha bars that is open to
foreigners, Club Maiko offers a special package deal including entrance,
snacks, and drinks for
A popular live-music house that mostly books rock acts, Crocodile sometimes branches out into other forms of pop music. This night spot draws a young crowd.6-18-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3499-5205
Gas Panic is cheap, noisy and crowded with young revelers. If you're 30, you'll feel ancient here.3-15-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3405-0633
Kingyo has a high-energy dance show with mostly male dancers in traditional kimono performing to loud modern music. Reservations are advised.3-14-17 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3478-3000
This disco is the king of see-and-be-seen
nightspots, and the most likely place for any touring celebrity from Keanu
Reeves to Rod Stewart to make a sudden appearance. Cover is generally
Loft is a showcase for alternative rock that alternates between edgy imported acts and local favorites.7-5-10 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3365-0698
This popular expatriate bar shows two foreign films nightly, though you won't hear them very well over the music. Oh God also has pool tables.6-7-18 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3406-3206
Piga Piga Africa
Outstanding live African pop from bands brought over for three-month shifts. A great place to dance, but beware that the bill adds up quickly.1-8-1 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3715-3431
Roppongi Pit Inn
Depending on who's playing, the cover charge can be pricey at this live jazz house that balances international and domestic acts.3-17-7 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3585-1063
Shinjuku Pit Inn
This jazz and blues club often has a matinee show with a lower cover for budget-conscious music lovers.2-12-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3354-2024
Tokyo's largest and most popular disco, Velfarre attracts a stylish young crowd.7-14-22 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3402-8000
What the Dickens
This popular British-style pub offers live music nightly, though largely by mediocre resident foreign bands. A good place to meet Japanese who want to meet you.1-13-3 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3780-2099
Yellow is probably the most progressive club in the city, offering events such as gay techno nights. Look for the blank yellow neon sign.1-10-11 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3479-0690
Where to Stay
Akasaka Prince Hotel
Kenzo Tange's design of this 40-story white skyscraper is still controversial. Some consider it cold; for others, it's a logical extension of the simplicity inherent in Japanese design. Regardless, the single rooms are among the most bright and pleasant in Tokyo. Many weddings are conducted here, so you get free glimpses of wedding kimonos.1-2 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3234-1111, Fax: +81 03-3262-5163; $$$; Family-Friendly
Akasaka Yoko Hotel
Claustrophobes should avoid this business hotel, but it does offer good prices on its 245 miniscule rooms. The hotel is within a 15-minute walk of lively Roppongi.6-14-12 Akasaka, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3586-4050, Fax: +81 03-3586-5944; $$
ANA Hotel Tokyo
This 876-room hotel, operated by the airline ANA, is the most luxurious in the Roppongi area. The 34th floor offers its own concierge, free continental breakfast, and an evening cocktail hour.1-12-33 Akasaka, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3505-1111, Fax: +81 03-3505-1155; $$$
Asakusa View Hotel
The nicest modern hotel in the area looks out of place rising above the area's old buildings, but the 342 rooms are comfortable. Ask for a room facing Sensoji temple.3-17-1 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3847-1111, Fax: +81 03-3842-2117; $$$
Asia Center of Japan
So close to Roppongi, it's hard to beat this dormitory-style place for cheap rooms, which is why it's often booked up months in advance. There's an inexpensive cafeteria on site, but don't expect any amenities in the room--even the TV is coin-operated!8-10-32 Akasaka, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3402-6111, Fax: +81 03-3402-0738; $
Capitol Tokyu Hotel
If you want traditional Japanese service in a 459-room hotel, this is the place. With more than 600 full-time employees, there's always somebody around to attend to your needs. All rooms have traditional shoji screens and on-demand movies; some overlook the adjacent Hie Shrine.2-10-3 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3581-4511, Fax: +81 03-3581-5822; $$$$
Century Hyatt Tokyo
Prices for the 786 recently refurbished rooms are based on size, so guests can decide how much space they're willing to pay for. Service is excellent, and the three Regency Club restaurants offer free breakfast and evening cocktails. There are three non-smoking floors. Joggers and walkers will appreciate the adjacent Shinjuku Central Park.2-7-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3349-0111, Fax: +81 03-3344-5575; $$$$
Hotel Ginza Daiei
Located directly behind the Kabukiza theater, this business hotel offers tiny but well-equipped rooms, including satellite TV with English-language programs.3-12-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3545-1111, Fax: +81 03-3545-1177; $$
Hotel Ibis is the closest hotel to the nightlife of Roppongi - exactly in the center, in fact - and attractive to many people for just that reason. The 182 rooms are small but comfortable. Just like the district's clubs and restaurants, the hotel room service is "open late" - until 3am.7-14-4 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3403-4411, Fax: +81 03-3479-0609; $$
Hotel New Otani
This mammoth 1,612-room hotel, with 35 restaurants and bars, and a 120-store shopping arcade, is almost a city by itself. Ask for a room facing the splendid 400-year-old garden that once belonged to a feudal lord. There are 300 non-smoking rooms, and one floor for women only.4-1 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3265-1111, Fax: +81 03-3221-2619; $$$$; Family-Friendly
Located across from the U.S. Embassy, this is perhaps the most Japanese-feeling of the city's large hotels, and often hosts visiting dignitaries. Service is excellent, and the 864 rooms are comfortable and well equipped, with on-demand videos, fax machines, and data ports. Ask for a room facing the beautiful traditional garden.2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3582-0111, Fax: +81 03-3582-3707; $$$$
Hotel Seiyo Ginza
With only 79 rooms, this hotel offers top-quality service to celebrities, royalties, and top executives. For greater privacy, only hotel guests or diners with reservations at one of the three restaurants are allowed in the main entrance. No two rooms are exactly alike, and most of the large bathrooms have mini-TVs.1-11-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3535-1111, Fax: +81 03-3535-1110; $$$$
Hotel Sunroute Tokyo
This no-frills 538-room business hotel close to Shinjuku station is popular with foreign business travelers.2-3-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3375-3211, Fax: +81 03-3379-3040; $$
This is Tokyo's most historic hotel. The last version of the building was considered one of Frank Lloyd Wright's best works, but it was replaced in 1970 by the current nondescript structure. There are 1,059 rooms in two buildings; the main building has larger rooms, but the tower rooms have good views of the city. The atmosphere is stately and dignified, and service is impeccable. There are 12 restaurants and four bars, as well as 24-hour room service. Two floors are non-smoking.1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3504-1111, Fax: +81 03-3581-9146; $$$$; Family-Friendly
Although called a ryokan, this feels more like a business hotel. Some rooms have their own baths and refrigerators. Guests are asked to leave during cleaning time from 10:30am to 3pm.2-18-9 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3841-4051, Fax: +81 03-3841-6404; $
This 41-room Japanese-style inn is so popular that there is often a waiting list to get in, so call well in advance. Rooms are small but clean, and there are no private baths. Free tea is available all day; if you stay to sip, you can exchange information with travelers coming from everywhere throughout Japan and Asia. The proprietors operate a nearby business center that can take care of many of your problems if you're planning to move to Japan. When you arrive at Ikebukuro Station, say "Kimi Ryokan?" at the police box outside and they'll give you a map.2-36-8 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3971-3766; $
Le Meridien Pacific Tokyo
This hotel occupies land once belonging to the imperial family, and still has a traditional garden behind the lobby. Room rates vary for many reasons from view to bed size, so ask what you're getting.3-13-3 Takanawa, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3445-6711, Fax: +81 03-3445-5733; $$$
Mitsui Urban Hotel Ginza
The bright and modern guestrooms are small, but they offer larger bathrooms than most Japanese business hotels, including a tub large enough for Westerners. The hotel staff at the Mitsui are very kind and helpful.8-6-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3572-4131, Fax: +81 03-3572-4254; $$$
Half the guests at this 391-room hotel (located across the street from the Imperial Palace) are foreign business people. All rooms have fax and computer hookups, and there are two non-smoking floors. Joggers will want to do the three-mile circuit around the moat.1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3211-5211, Fax: +81 03-3211-6987; $$$
Park Hyatt Tokyo
A favorite of Bill Gates, this is the most sophisticated high-tech hotel in Tokyo, and the current pick of those who can afford it. The 178 rooms average 50 square meters, the largest in the city, and are equipped with original artwork as well as two phone lines, a data port, fax machines, and voice mail. For relaxation, there are deep tubs with separate showers, and CD and laser disc players with free rentals, as well as VCR and wide-screen TV. There are several top-caliber restaurants and there is 24-hour room service. The 47th floor has an indoor swimming pool, gym, and aerobics studio. For those sans limousine or wishing to rest their legs, there is a free shuttle bus to save you the 13-minute walk to the train station.3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5322-1234, Fax: +81 03-5322-1288; $$$$; Family-Friendly
Radisson Miyako Hotel Tokyo
The Radisson Miyako Hotel Tokyo is a very peaceful 498-room hotel with excellent service and two floors for women only. However, it is off the beaten path, and not particularly convenient to anywhere. He hotel offers frequent free shuttles to Meguro Station.1-1-50 Shiroganedai, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3447-3111, Fax: +81 03-3447-3133; $$$; Family-Friendly
Renaissance Tokyo Hotel Ginza Tobu
This 209-room hotel has a large number of English-speaking foreign staff. Rooms on the 10th and 11th floors include continental breakfast. There are five restaurants and bars, including a cafe that stays open until 2am.6-14-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3546-0111, Fax: +81 03-3546-8990; $$$
Roppongi Prince Hotel
Oriented toward 20-something Japanese who come to town to party, this hotel, with 216 rooms, features Tokyo's only year-round heated outdoor pool. Rooms have empty refrigerators, or you can call room service until 2am.3-2-7 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3587-1111, Fax: +81 03-3587-0770; $$$
Royal Park Hotel
Located directly above the Tokyo City Air Terminal, this is easily the most convenient hotel to Narita Airport. The 450 rooms are high-tech friendly, with two data- ports, a 60-channel TV providing stock market quotes and currency exchange rates, and free fax machines on request. Three executive floors offer free breakfast and cocktails, as well as free use of the fitness club. There is one non-smoking floor.2-1-1 Nihombashi-Kakigara-cho, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3667-1111, Fax: +81 03-3667-1115; $$$
This is one of the few Japanese-style inns in Tokyo that welcomes foreigners. Their English isn't very good, so it's better to reserve by fax. Be advised that some rooms have Japanese toilets - basically a hole that you squat over. There is a midnight curfew at this inn.2-9-5 Higashi-Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3441-7475, Fax: +81 03-3449-1944; $
Ryokan Shigetsu is one of the best places in Tokyo to experience a traditional Japanese-style ryokan. Located just off the shopping street in front of Sensoji temple, it has two Japanese-style public baths and a restaurant that serves good Japanese breakfasts. As a concession to foreign guests, the Japanese-style rooms (ask for one, or you'll get a Western room) have chairs.1-31-11 Asakusa, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3843-2345, Fax: +81 03-3843-2348; $$
Sakura Ryokan is a modern, concrete business hotel. Clean and cheap, some of its 16 rooms are in Japanese style. Private baths are only available in the Western-style rooms.2-6-2 Iriya, Taito-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3876-8118, Fax: +81 03-3873-9456; $
Shinagawa Prince Hotel
Very popular with Japanese tourists, this 3,008-room hotel - the largest in Japan - may be too busy and crowded for some, but it does have good rates and a good location.4-10-30 Takanawa, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3440-1111, Fax: +81 03-3441-7092; $$; Family-Friendly
Shinjuku Prince Hotel
This is a convenient hotel for vicariously experiencing the animated nightlife of the surrounding Kabuki-cho red-light area. Some of the 571 rooms are small, but most have great views of the area with double-paned windows to shut out noise, and all have refrigerators you stock yourself. Free English newspapers are available upon request.1-30-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3205-1111, Fax: +81 03-3205-1952; $$$
Shinjuku Washington Hotel
This 1,300-room hotel originally offered automated check in and checkout, but now there are humans to help you with this process. Once you get your card key, though, you're on your own: no bellhops, no room service. A good choice for those travelers who like to be left alone.3-2-9 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3343-3111, Fax: +81 03-3342-2575; $$$
There are 197 clean but tiny rooms in this basic business hotel. The doors are locked between 2am and 5:30 am.5-15-8 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3356-0391, Fax: +81 03-3356-1223; $$
Tokyo City Hotel
The 266 small, no-frills rooms in this business hotel offer two advantages: price and location.1-5-4 Nihombashi-Honcho, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3270-7671, Fax: +81 03-3270-8930; $$
When it opened in 1984, this 38-story, 807-room hotel was the largest Hilton in Asia. Today, it is more subdued than its newer top-class rivals, but also less expensive. The top five floors provide free continental breakfast and evening cocktails.6-6-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3344-5111, Fax: +81 03-3342-6094; $$$; Family-Friendly
Tokyo YWCA Sadowara Hostel
Only female travelers are accepted at this dormitory-like hostel that is one of the cheapest places in the Shinjuku area. Two of the 21 rooms have a private bath; all have a sink and toilet. Curfew is at 11pm.3-1-1 Ichigaya Sadowara-cho, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3268-7313, Fax: +81 03-3268-4452; $$
For Business Travelers
Business Style and Etiquette
In Japan, business style is more important than price or product quality. There are many do's and don'ts, and they matter. If you're heading to Japan on business, you really should do more than just read a short section like this--buy a book and read the entire thing. "Doing Business with Japanese Men: A Woman's Handbook" by Christalyn Brannen and Tracey Wilson (Stone Bridge Press, 1993) is probably the best and easiest-to-read cultural guide available, for men or women. Other choices include "Doing Business in Japan," by Jonathan Rice (Penguin Books, 1995) and "The Intelligent Businessman's Guide to Japan" by Jon P. Alston (Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1990).
That said, don't get too hung up on acting like a perfect Japanese--your hosts won't expect you to. The books above are most valuable in helping you interpret your host's responses. For example, Japanese tend to laugh when nervous, and when somebody says, "We'll give it thorough consideration," that probably means no.
Here are a few quick tips. Business dress is always formal: men should wear suits at all times, and women should dress conservatively. You will need a huge stack of business cards, and will be expected to present one upon first meeting any new business contact. When you receive their business card, examine it briefly and make a comment, any comment, such as, "So your office is in Hibiya?" It shows you care about the card.
When you visit an office, it's a good idea to bring a small gift that everyone there can share--most international airports sell boxes of chocolates specifically for that purpose.
If you receive a gift, make a couple half-hearted attempts at refusal before accepting. Gifts are an important part of business in Japan, and gifts received should be reciprocated. Fortunately, gifts do not have to be expensive, but they do have to be wrapped (this is very important). All stores will wrap a purchase if it's a gift--even most convenience stores, which carry boxes of cookies and rice crackers in view behind the counter for this quick gift purchasing.
Meetings in Japan tend to be long and generally fruitless. Much important business is decided afterward, over drinks, so if you're invited out with your contacts, don't beg off. Never pour into your own glass while drinking with someone; keep their glass full instead. If you've had enough, simply stop drinking, because they will keep refilling every time you empty it.
Women face many special hurdles in doing business with a society that is still extremely sexist. Many Western women operate successfully in Japan, although most can relate a litany of anecdotes, some amusing and some annoying. The No. 1 piece of advice is don't lose your cool. Japanese men are still not exactly sure how to deal with women in business, and you can use that to your advantage. Be firm, but not overly aggressive, and steel yourself to tolerate sexist behavior you would not tolerate back home--as long as it's not directed at you. If you complain, you may shut yourself off from the informal social network of contacts necessary for success.
Perhaps most important to realize is that business in Japan still runs on personal relationships. Don't necessarily consider a trip finished without a signed contract as a failure. Especially when you're selling something, you may need to make several visits before establishing the contacts you need.
Office Japan Co., Ltd. 3-1-3 Takaban, Meguro-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3792-6666
Servcorp AIG Building 3F, 1-1-3 Marunouchi; Tel.: +81 03-5288-5100, Fax: +81 03-5288-5111
Servcorp Aoyama Palacio Tower 3-6-7 Kita-Aoyama; Tel.: +81 03-5778-7600, Fax: +81 03-5778-7676
Servcorp Shinjuku Nomura Building 32F, 1-26-2 Nishi-Shinjuku; Tel.: +81 03-5322-2900, Fax: +81 03-5322-2929
Photocopying And Printing
Ito-Hobundo & Printing Co. Shin-Tokyo Building 1F, 3-3-1 Marunouchi; Tel.: +81 03-3211-4671
Kinko's Nishi Shimbashi Yasuda Union Building 7F, 2-4-2 Nishi-Shimbashi; Tel.: +81 03-3507-0009
PostNet Svax TT Building 1F, 3-11-15 Toranomon; Tel.: +81 03-5405-7788
Creer Corporation 4-1 Kita-Aoyama 1-Chome 3F, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3470-1777, Fax: +81 03-3470-8633
Honyaku Corporation Hongo MF Building 1-24-1 Hongo 3F, Bunkyo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5802-1971, Fax: +81 03-5802-1981
KDDI Teleserve Inc. KDDI Building 2-3-3 Nishi-Shinjuku, ANNEX 5F, Shinjuku-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3347-9243, Fax: +81 03-3347-9248
Sunny Art Co., Ltd. Imai Building 5-15-10 Nishi-Nippori 3F, Arakawa-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3891-1541, Fax: +81-3-3891-1543
DHC Corporation Landic Roppongi Building 2-4F, 4-11-13 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3478-2061, Fax: +81 03-3478-3808
Japan Translation Center, Ltd. 7 Kanda Mitoshirocho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3291-0655
DHL Japan Inc. 1-37-8 Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku; Tel.: +81 3 5479-2580
Federal Express Kyodo Bldg., 16 Ichibancho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 3 3261-4301
UPS Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. Yamato Transport ANNEX 1-6-26 Ariake 2F, Koto-ku; Toll-Free Tel.: +81 0120-27-1040, Fax: +81 03-3520-0082
C.A.I. Research Co., Ltd. 3-16-17 Uchi Kanda, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3252-3204
Earthguide (Japan) Co., Ltd. 3-8-18 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5411-5461
International Videoworks Inc. 2-20-8 Nishiogi-Minami, Suginami-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3333-5335
JCR Corp. Nihonbashi-Kayabacho, Chuo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5701-9200, Fax: +81 03-5701-9400
GSC Limited Roppongi International Building 1-C, 7-3-12 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3403-0956
Hitachi Leasing, Ltd. 3-21 Koishikawa 1-chome, Bunkyo-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3818-8190
Telecom Square Goban-Cho Grand Building 9F, Goban Cho 301, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3239-2333, Fax: +81 03-3239-2444
Tokyo Big Sight 3-21-1 Airake, Koto-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5530-1113, Fax: +81 03-5530-1222
Tokyo International Forum 5-1 Marunouchi 3-Chome, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-5221-9050, Fax: +81 03-5221-9022
Japan Convention Services, Inc. 2-2-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku; Tel.: +81 03-3508-1211
Makuhari Messe 2-1 Nakase, Mihama-ku; Tel.: +81 04-3296-0001
Nomura Building Management Co., Ltd. 134 Godo-cho, Hodogaya-ku; Tel.: +81 04-5336-5900
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