Andre's Travel Guide to Tokyo

This is a work in progress, so updates will happen over time. Please note that Tokyo is a highly dynamic city with changes all the time. Verify any information presented below before making any plans.

General Guidance and Tips

Getting Into Tokyo

Unless you're coming from another city within Japan, you'll be flying into either Narita or Haneda Airport.

Lodging

Hotels in Japan are tend towards being small, and have are broken up broadly into two groups: Western and Traditional.

General Advice for Lodging

Hotels I've stayed at

Dormy Inn Akihabara

Their direct website is in Japanese, so I recommend booking via Expedia or some other intermediary website.

I really like this hotel. It's less than 10 minutes walk from Akihabara Station, and right next to Suehirocho station. Small rooms, suitable for 1-2 people.

What really makes me love this place is that it has a hot bath on the top floor, half of it inside and the other outside. Super hot water, and it's open most of the day except for 10am-3pm for cleaning. There are high walls on the outside, so while you're in the open, you can't be spied on. Really something special when it rains, you can sit in the hot bath and let the cold rain fall on you. Has separate baths for male/female guests, and women are given a special code by the front desk to ensure no one else enters.

Remm Akihabara

Decent hotel located right next to Akihabara Station. Western style with small rooms. Offers location and basic comfort, but not much else.

Sakura Hotel

This is a chain that is geared towards travelers and younger people. Western style with private room and shared hostel style rooms. If you're the kind of person who likes to talk and meet strangers this might be right up your alley. Has several locations.

Hyatt Regency Shinjuku

Nice Western Style hotel located next to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building. 10-15 minute walk from Shinjuku Station, but has a regular shuttle to/from the station to the hotel. Direct booking can be expensive but deals can be found via travel websites. Rooms tend to be larger than average for Japan. Has a 7-11 next to it in the basement. Lobby decor can be a little dated (check out the chandeliers) but the rooms have been undergoing refresh for several years. Refreshed rooms are modern and comfortable.

Grand Hyatt Roppongi

Expensive Western Style hotel in Roppongi. Rooms tend towards being on the smaller side of Japan. Not on or near JR line, instead off the Metro. Located in the Mori complex, it has direct access to lots of shopping, dining and nightlife.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Very expensive Western Style hotel in Shinjuku, but service top notch. Very comfortable rooms. Made famous by Lost in Translation. My favorite hotel in the world.

Getting Around Tokyo

The rail and subway systems in Tokyo are second to none in the entire world. They are almost always on time, and if they aren't they'll give you a note to give to your boss to explain why you're late.

In Tokyo there are three main transit systems:

Try to avoid changing between systems as the tickets aren't interchangeable and you'll have to buy a new fare each time you switch.

All three of those systems take PASMO and SUICA cards, which are rechargeable transit and commerce cards. You can save a small amount of money by using these cards as their fares are slightly cheaper than paper ticket fares. The card works from inside most wallets and cases, so you just press and go through the turnstile. When you press it will tell you your current balance. If you don't have enough, it will deny you entry and you'll need to go to a fare adjustment machine to reload your card.

Most stations have english options and maps for getting around. The map will list the price getting to a specific station, so you can buy that price ticket at the machine. The machines have an English option as many stations have staff to help you. Alternatively, you can buy the cheapest ticket to get past the gateway, then find the fare adjustment machine once you get to your destination and pay the difference.

There are lots of Apps, as well as Google and Apple transit. The following is an excellent site for figuring out the best way to get from point to point in Tokyo. If you can, bookmark it on your smart phone: http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/norikae/

Resources

Things to do and see in Tokyo

No list or site could possibly hope to cover everything. Below is a list of things I've done, seen and enjoyed over the years

Akihabara

This gets its own section. It developed as a black market area after WW2 and evolved into an electronics district and later became a nexus for Anime and Gaming. While it's title of main Anime Nexus is debatable by Nakano, it's still a good place for getting merchandise. Among locals and more seasoned shoppers, Akihabara is known as being overpriced but has more selection than almost anywhere else.

Akihabara is home to several arcades, including Hirose Entertainment Yard, or Taito Station HEY. Residing in floors 2-4F with small front and rear entrances, HEY has divided its floors into specific groups. 2F is all Shmups, side scrollers, beat-em-ups and music games. 3F is all about fighting games, new and old. 4F is larger machines, including card based games and pod based games. There is also a manga/anime/doujinshi store in the basement.

For more information on arcades, I recommend visiting MadMan's Cafe Arcade Guide.

Akihabara is a good resource for older electronics and games. Super Potato is well known as a place to purchase Retro games, but be aware it tends to be on the expensive side when compared to other stores in Akihabara. You need to shop around and see what the costs are across a few stores to know what's reasonable.

Akihabara is within walking distance of Ueno. You can follow the JR train tracks north to Ueno. There are some interesting shops along that route.

Other Parts of Tokyo

Food

Tokyo is a town unlike any other for food. More Michelin stars than any other city. Budgets of all sorts are viable in Tokyo.

General Information

Food I recommend

Drinking Establishments