Tokyo Travel Guide
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Listen in, because we have the scoop on Tokyo's newest tourist attraction. Tokyo Skytree may already be two years old but, in the grand scheme of things for Tokyo, it's still the hottest attraction for both locals and tourists to enjoy a birds-eye view of the planet's largest capital.
This addition to the expansive skyline serves a purpose higher than being a popular selfie spot; it's also a broadcast tower and the holder of the title of "World's Tallest Tower." Located on the east side of the Sumida River in a neighborhood that went by the name of Musashi, the Skytree revived the district and is now drawing tourists to discover beyond the usual centers of Harajuku and Ginza.
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Tokyo consistently tops the lists of "must-visit" metropoli for tourism, and the first-time visit is one you're not likely to forget.
It just so happens that this Jaunted contributor recently had the experience of landing in Tokyo for the first time, and learning all the little bits of etiquette and excellence which makes Tokyo so desirable and so influential for travelers. Coming off this beginner's journey, here are our top 10 tips for first-timers to Tokyo:
If donuts are your 'thing', then a quick stop to Mister Donut should be on your itinerary. This bakery chain actually hails from our own shores, but has practically become a cult icon in Japan. If you're unfamiliar with the brand, know that it's similar to a Dunkin Donuts, but one step up. Basically, after you grab a tray and tongs, you choose from any number of glazed, sugared or iced donuts and pay at the counters. Don't forget a a coffee!
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Confession: we're extremely heavy users of data on our smartphones, since those phones connect us to social media, work, maps, and pretty much everything else while on foreign soil. We're not ones to "power down" on a trip, unless the destination is completely off the grid. Thus, one of our largest concerns is being smacked with a ridiculously large international data roaming bill upon return home.
To prevent against big bills, we search for SIM card packages offering unlimited data usage, and recently had a great experience with one in Japan, a country with such advanced cell phone technology that it can be challenging to use anything but the latest handset. And, unfortunately, Japan doesn't make it easy for foreigners to purchase a SIM card; one must be rented.
We’ve all been there: you’re running around town all day, making phone calls, sending emails, taking full advantage of the mobility smartphones have given us. But with more features and ever-larger screens comes ever-decreasing battery life, and sooner rather than later you’re looking at a thin red sliver that’s left of what was a fully-charged device just hours ago.
Seeking refuge in a coffee shop, a hotel lobby, or crouching next to a random socket is one option, but this taxi we rode in Tokyo recently will literally keep you on the move, offering free charging for both iPhone and Android with a little Lichtenstein pop art-inspired imagery to go along with the despair you feel when “Please connect your charger” appears on your screen.
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As is well known and widely acknowledged, Japan is a land of crazy. The plain assertion doesn't really require any proof, but if it did there are entire websites devoted to the insanity that pervades the Land of the Rising Sun. Even their zoos and aquariums are batshit, allowing you to do everything from shake hands with otters to watch Santa Claus play with dolphins.
Somewhere in between shaking otters hands and Santa Claud on a dolphin, there's this very cute bit of travel advertising from Japan's Sunshine Aquarium. The tourist attraction is kind of a hike from the nearest station, and aquarium officials wanted to make sure people could find it. The solution? An augmented reality app where penguins guide tourists along the right path. Because Japan, of course.
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In the famously busy "Shibuya Scramble" intersection
So you may have already heard that Tokyo beat out both Madrid and Istanbul in its bid to host the XXXII Olympics in 2020. Granted that's still quite some time away, but a seven-year advance notice means plenty of time to come to love Japan if you don't already.
Save Friday, 24 July – Sunday 9 August 2020 to your iCal for the actual Olympic Games, and get psyched along with us as we brainstorm what the 2020 Olympics will mean for an already awesome metropolis:
· The cutest Olympic mascots yet!
London's "Wenlock and Mandeville" mascots were disappointing, not to mention vaguely sperm-y, and Sochi's look like long-lost Disney rough drafts. Beijing's 2008 Olympic mascots came closest to the concept of cute, but surely Tokyo in 2020 will make us forget all about decades of creepy characters. Kawaii!
The value of the Japanese Yen to the US Dollar has recently slipped so far that it's nearing its lowest point in four years. Plus, the currency exchange rate has never been easier to do in your head: 100 JPY is just about 1 USD.
All of this means that if you've been planning to head to Tokyo but "Japan is so expensive," now's the time to impulse-buy an airline ticket and head on up the Tokyo Sky Tree, the broadcasting/observation/restaurant tower which only opened at this time last year.
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This hasn’t really caught on here at home, but overseas it seems that airports are seriously considering building airport terminals fully dedicated to budget and low-cost carriers. We already heard about the plan to do so over in Singapore, and, now it sounds like Tokyo-Narita is the latest to jump on the budget terminal bandwagon.
Airport officials see the writing on the wall, as new cheap flights are scheduled to do their thing to and from the metropolis thanks to carriers like Jetstar Japan and AirAsia Japan. All the bulldozers and construction crews will start doing their thing sooner than later at NRT as the plan Is to get things up and running by around 2015 or so.
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It's hard to believe there's a movie that could even have Anthony Bourdain singing it's praises, calling it "thrilling and beautiful."
The movie that has foodies and travelers around the world talking is the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, from first-time director David Gelb.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of Jiro Ono, who is considered the world's greatest sushi chef, and his restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro.
There’s a new tourist trap set to debut in Tokyo before too long, as the city’s Sky Tree has recently been completed. It’s a couple months late, but we kind of consider that to be expected as this sucker is the world’s tallest communication tower. There’s all kinds of criteria about tallest this and tallest that, so we’re not going to argue semantics—it’s a pretty big building and the Tokyo Sky Tree is a neat addition to the city’s skyline.
The final bits and pieces were put into place at the end of February, and now the thing rises to like 634 meters—that’s like 2,080 feet—towards the sky. If you’re looking to build something similar in your backyard you can expect to need close to a billion dollars to do so, as the construction costs for this build were just around $800 million bucks.
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Everybody's talking Tokyo, and with good reason. The country is psyched to begin restarting tourism, autumn over there is magical, and the ANA 787 Dreamliner just completed her maiden revenue flight out of the city. So when you do take that dive and head to Japan, you'll likely spend some time in Narita International Airport. If you're flying United and holding a Business Class, ticket or Star Alliance status, then you'll want to know about the United Business Lounge.
We recently spent some time here after bumping ourselves up to Biz, and gave the sizeable lounge a good once-over: