1. Facts about Tokyo
3. Price level
4. What to see and do
5. Useful books
6. Safety in Tokyo
7. Where to stay in Tokyo
10. Tokyo Transport – Travel guide
12. Tokyo history & facts
1. Facts about Tokyo
Currency: Japanese Yen
Population: Metropolis: 14 million, Greater Tokyo Area: 38 million
Density in Tokyo metropolis: 6,350 per square kilometre (16,440 per square mile)
Divisions of Tokyo: 23 special wards
Driving side: Left
Climate: Humid subtropical climate
Religion in Japan: Buddhism and Shintoism. It is common to believe in both Buddhism and Shinto gods.
Electricity: Standard 100 V, 50 Hz. Plugs and sockets are generally of type A and B.
Measures: The metric system (but for room size: number of tatami mats).
Japanese writing system: Kana (using the syllabic systems hiragana and katakana) and kanji (a logographic system of adopted Chinese characters).
Visa: Check if you need a Visa
Order your Rail Pass and Pocket WiFi here: Japan Rail Pass
Tokyo is the world-class capital where traditional Japan meets modernity in the fashionable, contemporary world. Although the contrasts are seemingly stark, Tokyo has found a natural balance between old and new in a unique way. Historic temples and shrines sit side by side with brand-new high-tech stores. Gift-giving, ikebana (flower arranging), calligraphy workshops, painting classes and other traditional disciplines of arts still thrive amid the hustle and bustle of modern Tokyo. A Shinto wedding at the Meiji Jingu Shrine follows ancient traditions, and the next day, the couple returns to their modern lifestyle in the vibrant city.
Akihabara is the district to visit for anime and manga. This district, known as the electric city, abounding in electronic goods and other gadgets, is a bright neon-lit part of the city. You will discover many shops related to the otaku culture and cosplaying industry. Massive, sparkling facades decorated with trendsetting anime characters dominate the streets. Here and there, the popular gachapon vending machines, full of collectable figures, can be spotted.
Nowhere else is the infrastructure as reliable and efficient as in Tokyo. Convenience stores are open 24/7. The public transport in Tokyo and the Shinkansen trains are super punctual, and it is a rare occurrence that the trains are even a couple of seconds late. Japanese people are impeccably polite and always helpful. Considerate staff will go to great lengths to provide you with the best! Politeness and respect are part of Japanese etiquette and heritage.
3. Price level in Tokyo
Tokyo is generally one of the more expensive cities in the world, at least when it comes to housing prices, with Tokyo known for being high-end.
Convert Currency: Convert prices in Japanese Yen into your own currency (or vice versa).
You can get an idea of the price level by comparing the latest update of our cost of living indices in Japan with the costs in your own country:
Beer: Compare the price of a beer in Japan with the price of a beer in your own country.
McMeal: Compare the price of a McMeal in Japan with the price of a McMeal in your own country.
Taxi: Compare the price of going by taxi in Japan with the price of going by taxi in your own country.
Tipping is neither common nor expected in Japan – even if you are satisfied with the service you receive. It may well be rejected or even considered rude. However, if you choose to leave a small tip, place the money in an envelope before handing it over with both hands, following Japanese etiquette!
4. What to see and do in Tokyo – ideas
- Walk across Shibuya Crossing. The famous intersection is said to be the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. Experience the daily, massive migration of the people who work in Tokyo. At its busiest times, it is a multitude of people, who become entangled and then, again, each miraculously escapes the crowd on the other side. The best spot to observe the crowd in the Shibuya Crossing right outside the station is from the second floor of the Starbucks coffee shop. Don’t miss the famous Hachiko dog statue.
- Go up Shibuya Sky. Combine the experience of seeing Shibuya Crossing with going up to the Shibuya Sky – the open-air rooftop observation deck 230 metres above ground at Shibuya Scramble Square that provides a 360° view over Tokyo (fees apply).
- Explore anime, manga, and electronics in Akihabara, the district of Tokyo famous for its many electronics shops, otaku stores of subcultures, maids cafés and anime-oriented stores. Visit Mandarake, Gachapon Kaikan, Don Quijote or Animate. Tokyo is a paradise for the anime and manga addict!
- Enjoy Tokyo’s cityscape from above. Head to one of the Tokyo Tower decks for an extraordinary view of Tokyo.
- Drive a go-kart – Mario Kart in the streets of Tokyo. Drive a go-kart dressed as a Mario character.
- Explore teamLab Borderless. Discover a borderless world in a museum. Interact in this three-dimensional world with no boundaries – beyond anything you’ve seen before!
- Explore teamLab Planets. Explore a world where you walk (barefoot) through water in impressive works of art!
- Head up to the observation decks on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings in Shinjuku for a free view of the Tokyo skyline. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji. Alternatively, go to the 25th deck of Bunkyo Civic Centre for another free 360-degree view of Tokyo (and, with a little luck, Mt. Fuji), an otherwise Tokyo Skytree (fee applies) or Shibuya Sky (fee applies).
- Buy plastic sushi samples in Kappabashi Street. The famous Kitchenware Street is packed with shops selling all kinds of kitchenware, everything needed for restaurants, such as pots, pans, ceramics, kitchen utensils, and high-quality Japanese knives. You will find appealing plastic and wax food samples, which are used in the restaurant windows.
- Unwind in the large Yoyogi Park. If you come on a Sunday, you might be lucky enough to see a group of leather-jacketed dancers in 1950s attire performing old music hits in front of the crowd.
- Visit a museum to get behind the culture and history of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japanese culture and offers many museums of Japanese art and cultural heritage. Visit the Tokyo National Museum for Japanese and Asian culture and history, the Japan Folk Crafts Museum for hand-crafted art, the Ghibli Museum for the history of anime or the Edo-Tokyo Tatemono En for historical buildings.
- Follow your science interests at the top-rated Natural Museum of Nature and Science located in a corner of Ueno Park. The collections of flora and fossils are huge! Moreover, the museum shows technological development and history through a multitude of tools and fascinating objects.
- Visit in spring to experience the spectacular cherry blossoms at temple grounds, parks and various other locations throughout Tokyo. Ueno Park is one of the popular spots for sakura (cherry blossoms) and hanami (flower viewing with a picnic under the trees in blossom). Yanaka Cemetery is another option. Alternatively, if you arrive before Tokyo cherry blossom season, you can experience the traditional plum blossom festival at the Yushima Tenjin Shrine in Bunkyo, near Ueno Park.
- Shop at the Ameyoko bazaar-style market under the tracks between Ueno Station and Okachimachi Station, the old World War II black market with American products. Today, you can get all kinds of products here.
- Get up early to watch the sumo morning training in one of the sumo stables. The morning training is an easy way to experience Japanese sumo.
- Walk through the distinctive Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder Gate) of Sensoji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. It has a huge red traditional chochin lantern. It is Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple from the year 645. According to the legend, two brothers fished a statue of the goddess Kannon out of the Sumida River, and although they put it back, it kept returning to them. The temple was then built for the goddess.
- Shop for Japanese souvenirs in the historic 200 m (650 ft) long Nakamise Street at the foot of Sensoji Temple.
- Buy local products at Yanaka Ginza, the old shopping street in the Yanaka district just off Nippori Station. Here you still find a unique timeless Shitamachi atmosphere, with a vibe and reminiscence of old Tokyo. Locals shop here and pass by on their way to do their daily chores. Groceries, snacks, food, ceramics, tea, and other necessities are sold from small shops squeezed in next to each other.
- Take a walk at the old Yanaka Cemetery where the last shogun of the Edo period, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, is buried.
- Cross the bridge to the Chiyoda Imperial Palace East Gardens which are open to the public. The gardens are the former location of Edo Castle, the residence of the Tokugawa shogun of Japan 1603-1867.
- Watch a wedding at the Meiji Jingu shinto shrine near Harajuku Station. The shrine is dedicated to the former Emperor Meiji, who ascended the throne in 1867. With him, Japan underwent radical changes to modern society, and the feudal era in the country came to an end. The shrine is frequently used for weddings.
Try sushi for breakfast at Tsukiji Outer Market, which abounds with seafood restaurants.
Take a night out at a chic nightclub in the entertainment district of Roppongi.
Visit the Robot Restaurant. It is a popular and bizarre show with dragons, ninja warriors, and robot dancers in a setting with neon lights and loud music.
Explore the waterways – take the Tokyo Water Bus on the Sumida River from Asakusa to Odaiba.
Try an onsen / public hot bath. For example, you can stay at a Tokyo onsen hotel which has a traditional hot bath.
Shop with all the Tokyo teenagers on Takeshita Street in Harajuku and see the latest pop culture trends.
Get lost inside Shinjuku Station – and try to find your way out. It is the busiest train station in Tokyo and the world, with around 3.5 million people passing daily – pure facts! The station has both Shinkansen trains, JR and other lines. It is served by 5 railway companies, has 36 platforms, and 200 exits!
Have a drink in Golden Gai, the old post-war neighbourhood near Shinjuku Station. Six narrow alleys and 200 tiny, shanty-style bars together make up Golden Gai. Most of the bars seat just 4-10 people!
Do you need a 3-day itinerary for Tokyo that includes the major attractions? Then click on the travel guide:
If you only have 2 days in Tokyo, consider this 2-day travel guide: Best Things to Do in Tokyo – Itinerary 2 Days
5. Useful books about Tokyo
Find inspiration for more things to see & do in Tokyo in a handy travel guide.
6. Facts about travel safety in Tokyo
Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world and has an extremely low crime rate. See facts about the crime level in Japan:
Crime: Compare the crime rate in Japan with the crime rate in your own country: Crime Rate
In Japan, as in any other country, it is always a good idea to take appropriate safety precautions and follow travel safety advice.
The corruption level in Japan is also ultra-low.
Corruption: Compare the corruption index in Japan with the corruption index in your own country: Corruption Index
Finally, check if you need a travel insurance for your trip – in the unlikely event that something unexpected happens!
7. Where to stay in Tokyo
Hotel Emit Shibuya is a conveniently located hotel within 10 minutes’ walk of Shibuya Center Town and the impressive Meiji Jingu Shrine, one of Tokyo’s most significant shrines. All rooms have free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, air conditioning and refrigerator, and a continental breakfast is served every morning.
Shibuya Hotel En is a hotel located 7 minutes in walking distance from Shibuya Station and the renowned Hachiko dog statue. It is close to countless trendy shops and the famous vibrant Shibuya Scramble Crossing. The rooms have air conditioning, an electric kettle, a flat-screen TV, en suite bathroom, and a seating area.
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel is located close to Shibuya Crossing and Shibuya’s plentiful stores. The hotel offers breathtaking city views, spacious rooms and a wide range of dining options. Rooms have air conditioning, flat-screen TV and minibar. There is also access to a sauna, hot tub, and beauty salon. On the top floor you will find the Garden Lounge and the Jazz Club.
THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku offers city views and is located within walking distance of the Meiji Jingu Shrine. The hotel is central to Shinjuku’s many shopping and restaurant options. Rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, kettle, fridge, desk, and private bathroom.
Hotel Gracery Shinjuku is an excellently located hotel with only a few minutes’ walk to Shinjuku Station. The hotel offers comfortable rooms with a flat-screen TV, kettle, free WiFi, bathtub, shower, and slippers. A Japanese-style and western buffet is served for breakfast. It is close to Shinjuku’s shopping options, Golden Gai, and Gyoen National Garden.
Hyatt Regency Tokyo is a 4-star hotel with an indoor pool, 7 dining options, free WiFi, and free Shinjuku Station shuttle. Rooms offer great city views and en suite bathrooms. Guests can enjoy the Joule Spa and Wellness, a fitness centre, and a convenience store on the ground floor.
Hotel Edoya is a budget-friendly hotel / ryokan in the quiet neighbourhood Bunkyo near Ueno Station. The hotel offers Japanese style rooms with tatami floors, futons and low chairs. A great feature is the ofuro / onsen section which has both indoor and outdoor hot baths. The hotel offers a Japanese (and Western) breakfast buffet.
Hotel Gracery Asakusa has a top location in Asakusa near the lively and popular streets around the old Sensoji Temple and is also near the kitchenware street, Kappabashi Street. Ueno Station is within 20 minutes walking distance, as is Tokyo Skytree. All rooms are equipped with a kettle, air conditioning, and a flat-screen TV.
The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon by Hulic is excellently located in the historic neighbourhood of Asakusa within minutes’ walk from Asakusa Subway Station and close to Sensoji Temple and the iconic Kaminarimon Gate. The hotel offers a restaurant and bar, as well as an outdoor terrace with views of Tokyo Skytree.
HOTEL HILLARYS Akasaka is a centrally located hotel in Minato-ku, south-west of the Chiyoda Imperial Palace. The hotel has a 24-hour front desk service and free luggage storage. The draw is the traditional public hot bath on site. There are many dining options in the neighbourhood and 3 different stations near the hotel.
the square hotel GINZA is located in Ginza / Chuo in a lively neighbourhood and offers a restaurant/café on site, a common hot bath – and has a spectacular design. It is located close to the Antique Mall Ginza and the Wakayama Art Museum.
The Gate Hotel Tokyo by Hulic is located in the vibrant city with easy access to public transport and only a 15 minutes’ walk from Tsukiji Fish Market and 1.5 km from Japan Imperial Palace. The hotel offers spacious rooms, a terrace, fitness centre, and free WiFi.
Tokyo Japan Facts – Travel Guide
The facts are that Tokyo is a very clean city and that there are far from as many health risks in Tokyo as you hear about in many other Asian countries.
As a precaution you can follow up on potential health problems and recommended vaccinations before you go: Recommended vaccinations
The pollution level in Tokyo is generally not that bad compared to some other Asian cities, and the environment is clean. A real-time pollution index for Tokyo and surrounding areas can be found here: Real-time Pollution Index.
9. Facts about the Tokyo climate
The climate is humid subtropical. Summers are hot and humid, whereas winters are drier, relatively sunny and mild. From May until October, temperatures are most likely above 20 degrees centigrade (above 70 degrees Fahrenheit). These are also the months with the highest risk of precipitations. Temperatures may well reach 35 degrees centigrade (95 degrees Fahrenheit) during the warmest summer months, and combined with the rain, it can feel quite oppressive.
Therefore, the best time to visit Tokyo is often considered outside the summer months. Both spring and autumn are popular seasons to visit Japan.
Tokyo is also a typhoon-exposed area, and, generally, the typhoon season is between May and October. Typhoons are large low-pressure systems created over the Northwest Pacific Ocean. During strong typhoons, expressways are sometimes closed, and public transport is stopped.
Due to being located in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Tokyo is also in a tsunami risk zone, and the Japan Meteorological Agency has a tsunami warning system to notify the population in case of incidents. Warnings can be found here: Tsunami warnings
Tokyo Facts and History – Travel Guide
10. Tokyo transport – Travel guide
Public transport in Tokyo is easy. The city has an extensive urban railway network and a considerable number of railway lines and operators. According to statistics, there are well over 150 distinct lines and about 50 operators. Although there are also buses and trams in Tokyo, the rail services are, by far, the most common public transport used to travel within the Greater Tokyo Area.
The Tokyo rails serve about 40 million passengers every day. That includes both passengers going by underground and by other local, regional and national trains. Tokyo sets a record with more than 2,000 stations to travel between (if you count one station for each operator)!
There are two interlinked subway systems in Tokyo, the Tokyo Metro and the Toei Subways.
In addition to the subway lines in Tokyo, there are also the JR trains. One of the useful JR lines is the Yamanote Line, a loop line around central Tokyo. It connects Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Ueno, and Tokyo Station. The inner circle works in a counter-clockwise direction, while the adjacent outer circle works in a clockwise direction. The Yamanote Line is 34,5 km (21,44 miles) long, and the wait is usually short: between 2,5 minutes and 4 minutes.
The busiest station in Tokyo is Shinjuku Station, with 3.5 million daily passengers using both the Shinkansen trains, the JR lines, and other train lines. It has 36 platforms and 200 distinct exits! The second and third busiest stations in Tokyo and the world are Shibuya Station and Ikebukuro Station, on either side of Shinjuku Station. Surprisingly enough, the facts are that out of the 51 busiest stations in the world, 45 are in Japan – and about half of them are inside the Greater Tokyo Area!
There are many types of day passes available to travel within the Greater Tokyo Area. The Suica cards (at JR stations) and the Pasmo cards (at other stations) are frequently used – and a recommended option to get around.
The Japanese bullet train Shinkansen is the fastest train. It can reach a speed of 320 km/h (199 miles/hour). There are 7 Shinkansen lines (Tokaido, Sanyo, Tohoku, Hokkaido, Joetsu, Hokuriku, and Kyushu Shinkansen). The trains offer several classes, as well as both reserved and non-reserved seats. Some trains require an additional supplement (the Nozomi, Mizuho, Hayabusa, and Komachi trains). Read more: Hop on the Shinkansen train
It might be worth buying a Japan Rail Pass if you are planning to travel around Japan. The rail pass covers all JR trains (and even some buses!), including the metropolitan Yamanote Line, the Chuo Line, the Keihin-Tohoku Line, the Sobu Line, the Saikyo Line in Tokyo, and the Narita Express. A Japan Rail Pass gives access to free seat reservations and can be used on all trains except on the Nozomi and Mizohu Shinkansen trains – for 7, 14 or 21 days.
The website Japan Route Finder is an excellent website to get information about departures!
Finally, you can also take one of the plentiful taxis. Compare the taxi fare in Japan with the one in your own country: Taxi Price
Japan is located between 3 seas: the Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Philippine Sea. It is an island country consisting of 6,852 islands of which the main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and the partly tropical, partly subtropical Okinawa.
The capital, Tokyo, is located in the southern coastal area of the biggest island, Honshu. Honshu has both mountainous areas, fertile volcanic slopes, and lowlands.
Tokyo, like the rest of Japan, is also located on several tectonic plates in the Ring of Fire. That is accurately where four plates, the North American, the Pacific, the Eurasian, and the Philippine plates come together. Therefore, Tokyo is extremely exposed to earthquakes, and minor tremors occur almost daily. Around 1,500 earthquakes strike the country every year.
12. Facts about Tokyo history
Read about Tokyo’s history.
Facts about Tokyo Japan – Travel Guide:
Travel In Culture