How to do the right thing at shrines and temples in Japan

Shrines and temples aren’t just for snapping nice pix – there’s serious specialized goodness to be gotten from throwing a coin to the proper powers-that-be! Here’s how to take advantage of the local supernatural beings’ odd specialties, and do it right: First: Wash your hands It’s polite to ritually purify yourself at the spring nearContinue reading “How to do the right thing at shrines and temples in Japan”

How to find public restrooms in Tokyo

Finding bathrooms in Tokyo is a lot easier than finding them in America, that’s for sure! Here are three surefire places to find them, wherever the urge makes itself known. Train Stations Scan the overhead signs for the bathroom icons (in internationally recognizable pink/red and blue) and follow them to the nice, clean, modern facilities.Continue reading “How to find public restrooms in Tokyo”

How to do all the fun Tokyo stuff if you can’t speak Japanese

An interview with Mac of Maction Planet bespoke tours I know. The whole reason you’re on The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had is to figure out how to have fun in Tokyo without someone showing you around. And don’t get me wrong, you absolutely can! (If you haven’t explored the site yet, have a lookContinue reading “How to do all the fun Tokyo stuff if you can’t speak Japanese”

Kabuki: How to get tickets and see a performance

If you’re not convinced you need to see this only-in-Japan entertainment while you’re here, get thee over to Should I see a Kabuki performance? I think you’ll be back. There are three options for getting your kabuki fix: 1: Visit the Kabuki-za Gallery and see three minutes of the current live show, plus a 30-minute audioContinue reading “Kabuki: How to get tickets and see a performance”

How to travel in Japan with food allergies

How do you deal with allergies when traveling in a country where information about food ingredients is written in characters most Westerners can’t read? The first time I lived in Japan, I had a friend who was deathly allergic – and I mean Epi-pen allergic – to shellfish. She was so allergic, she’d get aContinue reading “How to travel in Japan with food allergies”

How to use your phone in Japan without breaking the bank

How to use your phone in Japan without forking over all your savings We’ve all heard the horror stories about crippling phone bills after accidentally using a phone overseas. But if you want to be able to find that great ramen restaurant with your GPS, upload envy-inducing snaps of yourself with the giant Godzilla head, andContinue reading “How to use your phone in Japan without breaking the bank”

Navigating: How to get where you’re going in Japan

If you have a smartphone, the easiest and fastest way to plot your routes anywhere in Japan is with a train finder app You can get the train app before you go, or download it once you arrive. It’s less than $5.00, and worth every yen. I use one called Navitime Japan Travel, and itContinue reading “Navigating: How to get where you’re going in Japan”

How to buy tickets for the bullet train if you don’t speak Japanese

Here’s how I buy bullet train tickets: There are lots of sites that will tell you how to buy a long-distance train ticket in detail (this is a good one) but here’s how I do it: • Decide on your dates and times of arrival and departure • Figure out what trains you’ll need toContinue reading “How to buy tickets for the bullet train if you don’t speak Japanese”

How to take a taxi in Tokyo if you don’t speak Japanese

Some drivers speak English, but don’t count on it. Here’s how to be sure you get where you’re going Your best bet is to hand the driver a written copy of the address you’re going to (or show them on your phone). It’s better if it’s written in Japanese, but it can be written withContinue reading “How to take a taxi in Tokyo if you don’t speak Japanese”

How to get into Tokyo from Narita airport

Narita airport must get the worldwide prize for being farthest from the city it serves. Seriously, what the heckin’ heck were they thinking? But sadly, there’s no time to move it before you come. Depending on how much luggage you have, where you’re staying, and how much you want to spend, here are the optionsContinue reading “How to get into Tokyo from Narita airport”

How & where to get cash in Japan

Nothing is more mortifying than hearing that the restaurant where you just ate the best lunch ever doesn’t take credit cards… Credit card use is spreading, but outside the big cities (and also in more traditional Tokyo neighborhoods), many small stores and restaurants are still cash only, so it’s a good idea to carry enoughContinue reading “How & where to get cash in Japan”

How to buy & use a train card

You can go anywhere in Tokyo with only a short walk at either end. Subways and trains are used by everyone from schoolchildren to corporate bosses because they’re by far the best way to get around Tokyo. Taking a taxi is expensive and slow because Tokyo is huge and the streets are usually choked with traffic.Continue reading “How to buy & use a train card”