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Your Ultimate Planning Guide for Tokyo Japan
Here’s a guide to help you with your itinerary planning to Tokyo, the bustling capital of Japan, where about 250 thousand sushi restaurants can be found, home to the biggest wholesale fish market in the world and where the Kitkat wafer chocolate come in a vast array of flavors including sake.
Check Visa Requirements
Aside from a valid passport, any foreign visitor will need a visa to enter Japan either on a short visit or for a long-term visit. If you are a national of countries that have “Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements” with Japan then you will not need a visa to visit. Since I’m a Philippines passport holder, I need to apply for a visit visa to enter Japan. Usually, visa application takes 3-5 working days and you need to leave your passport with the embassy during these days for them to process your visa application.
To check if you do need a visa and to start processing your visa application, you can visit this website.
Check the Weather
Japan has four distinct seasons.
- Winter (December – February)
- Spring (March – May)
- Summer (June – August)
- Autumn (September – November)
You need to check what would be the season on when you will be travelling. After checking the weather, you will have a clearer picture on what to pack for, how to prepare your activities and what to include in your itinerary.
Here is a great source to check and monitor the weather for Tokyo and surrounding cities for your travel dates on the internet. Also, there’s an app for that. I heavily rely on Yahoo Weather app for weather monitoring. It’s got 5-10 days forecast included plus it features nice images and graphics on your destination. Making you more excited for your upcoming trip.
Check Events and Festivals
It’s a good idea to check if there are events or festivals that you may want to be a part of when coming to Tokyo. For first timers like me, the cherry blossoms in early April tops the list.
But if you are coming to Tokyo around winter season or just after winter season, then it might be a good idea to try ski resorts around Tokyo and make your trip a memorable snowy getaway. There are a number of them actually and just within 3 hours of Tokyo!
If you are travelling to Tokyo around the summer months, then a good thing to add in to your itinerary are the Sanja Matsuri Festival and the Tokyo Minato Matsuri.
Check Day Tours or Daytrips
Tokyo is the capital of and is located in the heart of Japan. Being a major tourist destination, group tours and activities are abundant that caters to every type of tourist. If you want to escape the bustling and loud Tokyo for a day, you can always take day trips and be back at Tokyo at night to enjoy yet another ramen place.
For my trip, I booked a day trip and sightseeing tour to Mt. Fuji and Hakone in advance. This might be a good idea for your trip too. One website that has helped me a lot in planning my activities is https://www.gotokyo.org.
To help you with your packing list for Tokyo, you need to have a clear picture of when are you travelling and what activities do you want to do while you’re there.
From my previous post on what not to pack, make sure to travel light. Don’t forget your reading materials and movies on your tablets for your additional inflight entertainment. If you are on a long haul flight, here is my previous post on what else to bring to help you feel better during your flight.
For reading materials, I love to read short stories. Since I can easily go dip in and out of each short story without having to finish the entire book. A good one that I have just downloaded on my iBook is Walden and Hyde (and Other Short Stories). Oh and it’s free!
Tokyo Travel Apps
Part of your preparation to conquer to Tokyo is to download and prepare on your devices travel apps. Travel apps are a heaven-sent to tourist for its big help on navigation and directions.
A good one that I have right now on my iPhone is GPSmyCity. I love the offline feature so I don’t have to worry if I don’t find a good wifi signal. Another navigation app that I prepared on my device is the Tokyo Subway Navigation. Tokyo has hundreds of multi-linked train stations and I still have no idea how to figure it out. Here’s the Japan Rail pdf and you can give it a try.
You can download more Tokyo travel apps from this website.
Tokyo Itinerary Ideas
Tokyo is so lively day and night and has so much to offer for every age and budget. So if you run out of activities to do during your stay in Tokyo, its your fault. There is so much to see, do, and listen to that you will find your stay short-lived.
I visited Tokyo during the cherry blossom season in the late part of March and early part of April and had a grand time rounding up the parks of Tokyo. I had fun visiting the Meiji Shrine and spent the whole afternoon people watching in its sprawling grounds.
Where to stay
Looking for a place to stay in Tokyo is not really a problem, just roam the busy streets and you will find lots of capsule hotels and manga kissa comic book internet cafe that offers overnight stay too in every corner. Try both alternative accommodations for an authentic Japanese experience!
During my trip, I stayed in the suburbs area of Tokyo, along the Niporri line. Its more quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo plus you get to feel the neighborhood vibe of Tokyo. Another good thing about staying away from the city center where the action is, is that the rates are cheaper too. Travel time may be longer but the tranquility of suburban area may pay it off.
For places to stay with affordable rates around Tokyo, click here. I have sorted the list listing the cheaper hotel rates first for ease of use.