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Japanese. English is spoken by many people in Tokyo and is considered a language
necessary for international business. Most people in the hotel and travel
industry will speak some English. Very few taxi drivers or people working in
restaurants and stores will understand it. Many signs in the Tokyo area also
list the roman spelling (romaji) of Japanese place names as a courtesy to
Buddhist, Christian, Shinto.
9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+9 GMT). 14 hours ahead of Eastern
Standard time. When it is 12:00 noon EST in New York City, it is 2:00 in the
afternoon of the following day in Tokyo. Daylight Saving Time is not
The temperate climate brings dry and mild to cold winters, warm and humid
summers and pleasant springs and autumns. Rainfall is common March-October. The
best times to visit are April-May, for the blooming cherry blossoms and pleasant
weather, and October-November for changing leaves and similarly enjoyable
weather. It can get hot and muggy in August. Winter seldom brings snow, but
temperatures usually drop below freezing for a few days.
What to Wear
Very few places have a dress code. When visiting a shrine or temple, it's best
to dress in a respectful manner. T-shirts are OK, but don't go in cutoff jeans
or shorts. Take along warm socks in winter, because shoes are removed when
visiting many places, and central heating is not common. Hotels may provide
slippers, but they're tailored for smaller people, so you may be more
comfortable if you bring your own.
- New Year's day and the first few days of the New Year are the most important
Holidays of the year. They are filled with customs and traditions to make sure
that the year ahead will be a good one.
days at the end of April and/or the beginning of May which include observed
holidays and other celebration days that together make up a full week of
- the Buddhist summer festival to honor the dead or welcome the spirits of the
dead on their annual visits to the earthly world (July 13-16 in Tokyo and parts
of eastern Japan). O-Bon can also coincide with
the annual summer gift-giving time.
New Years Day
- January 1st.
Coming Of Age Day
- January 15th, in honour of all those who have their 20th birthday in the new
year. All 'new adults' are legally allowed to smoke, drink and vote after this
National Foundation Day
- February 11th, in commemoration of the founding of the Japanese nation. Said
to be the day the first Emperor ascended the throne.
- March 20th or 21st, an important period in the Buddhist calendar for paying
respect to one's ancestors.
- April 29th. The late Emperor Showa's birthday was left as a national holiday.
- May 3rd. Commemorating the establishment of Japan's present constitution in
1947, based on democratic principles and peaceful provisions outlawing the
possession of armed forces or military power.
- May 5th, in celebration of the children of Japan. Huge carp streamers are hung
from flagpoles outside of houses and appear to be forging their way upstream.
The fish represent the courage and perseverance that young boys should have in
Respect For The Aged Day
- September 15th. To honour the elderly and pay respect to their knowledge and
- September 23rd or 24th and similar to the Spring Equinox in its festivities.
Health - Sports Day
- October 10th. To promote health and physical development. Also in
commemoration of the 1964 Olympics which were held in Tokyo.
- November 3rd, established in 1948 as a day for appreciating peace and freedom
and to promote culture.
Labour Thanksgiving Day
- November 23rd. A day to appreciate and thank all those who support society by
their work. Originally, it was a thanksgiving for the harvest.
Emperor Akihito's Birthday
- December 23rd, the birthday of the present Emperor.
It should be noted that
holidays may not be observed on the actual date, and for example, if the holiday
falls on a Sunday, it may be observed on the Monday following.
100 volts AC, 50 cycles. Outlets require the type of plug used in the U.S.
Appliances designed for use in North America usually can be used with no
adapter; however, the difference in cycles means that they'll run about 15%
slower. Many of the larger hotels have a choice of electrical outlets or can
81, country code; 3, city code (dial 03 within Japan).
Japanese Money is called Okane.
is the basic coin in Japan just as the
is the basic coin in America.
The 5 Yen coin has a hole in
the middle of it as does the 50 Yen coin.
[In times past, men carried these coins with a hole in the middle of them around
their necks tied together with a string]
There is also a 10 yen, a 100 yen, and a 500 yen coin. Japanese paper money
usually comes in 1,000 yen and 10,000 yen amounts. urrency
Although foreign currency can be used for some transactions at shops and
restaurants that cater to foreign tourists, the yen is preferred. The most
convenient place to exchange money is at the exchange desk in your hotel. The
next easiest place is at a bank displaying the "Authorized Foreign Exchange
Bank" sign. Most banks in Tokyo can exchange your currency quickly and with
minimum hassle. Many of the larger stores have their own foreign-exchange
counters offering competitive rates. Passports usually are required when
You can extract yen at the
going rate of exchange, using either a bank or credit card, at an ATM. All of
Citibank's ATMs are tied into the CIRRUS network. They have English-language
menus and operate 24 hours a day.
Remember to choose a
numerical PIN: There are no English alphabet keys on Japanese cash machines.
There is a consumption tax of 5% on all purchases. Technically, foreigners are
exempt from the tax, but if you're not dealing with a shop that has a rebate
counter for foreign tourists or you don't have your passport with you, you' will
have to pay the tax.
Tipping isn't practiced. However, restaurants add on a 10%-15% service charge.
Porters aren't as common as they once were, but expect to pay a few hundred yen
per bag. Taxi drivers don't charge extra for handling baggage.
Public telephones are common, and you'll see many that have data ports. Some
will only accept coins, but newer models take prepaid phone cards, too. Buy
phone cards at vending machines or kiosks.
If you're calling a number
in Tokyo from inside Japan but outside the city, add the Tokyo area code (03) to
the number. If you're calling Tokyo from outside Japan, you'll need to dial the
country code (81) and the area code (3) without the leading zero. Toll-free
numbers begin with 0120 or 0088.
Surfing the Internet is expensive because of high telephone charges. For that
reason, Internet cafes aren't that common in Tokyo. You'll notice special phone
booths on the city streets that provide high-speed data lines: You plug your
laptop directly into them.Mail
and Package Services
Japan has an extensive and efficient postal system, and all hotels will provide
mail and package service
The subway and surface train system is the most efficient way to get around
Tokyo. It is a much better option than taxis, which are very expensive and get
caught in traffic. The secret to the rail system is knowing the color code of
the line that stops nearest your destination. Just point out your
destination on an English- and Japanese-language map or show fellow
passengers your destination (written out in Japanese by your hotel staff). They'
will almost always help you buy your ticket and direct you to the right
All international flights to Tokyo, except those of China Airlines, land at New
Tokyo International Airport (NRT) in Narita. Narita is located some 41 miles
east of Tokyo, but because of the heavy and unpredictable traffic, it takes
about 90 minutes to get into the city. During heavy traffica drive to or from
the airport can take three or more hours. Always plan four to four-and-a-half
hours between the city and Narita to ensure catching an international flight, or
book a room near the airport for your last night. Most domestic flights and
China Airlines' international flights land at Tokyo International Airport (HND)
in Haneda. Haneda is conveniently located between Tokyo and Yokohama, about a
half-hour bus or monorail ride from downtown Tokyo.
between Tokyo and Narita is using the commercial shuttle buses (called
limousines). The Limousine Bus Service counter is in the arrivals lobby, and the
staff speaks English. Destinations to all major hotels, train stations and the
Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT) and Yokohama City Air Terminal (Y-CAT)â€”actually
bus terminalsâ€”are displayed prominently.
Driving is not convenient in
Tokyo. Traffic jams that back up 20-30 miles, lasting an entire day, are not
uncommon, especially during peak travel seasons.
travelers use the intercity buses in Japan. Tokyo can be reached by bus from
most major cities on Japan Railways (JR) highway buses. These leave distant
cities in the evening or late at night, arriving at Tokyo station and a few
other locations around the city early in the morning. For information in
English, phone 3423-0111.Public
Tokyo's public transportation is fast, clean, safe and convenient to use. Most
of the yellow and black directional signs are in both English and Japanese.
Start with good maps of the rail and subway systems. You can pick them up from
the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) or in most subway and train
Taxis are clean, safe and readily available everywhere in Tokyo. Most hotels and
all train stations have a taxi stand. You also can flag down a taxi by holding
out your hand. However, the taxis may pass you by to pick up Japanese
peopleâ€”most drivers do not speak English, and they're afraid of communication
problems with foreigners. Because traffic moves on the left-hand side of the
street, enter and leave the taxi using the left-hand door. But don't open it
yourselfâ€”it's operated automatically by the driver.
Japan has some of the best train networks in the worldâ€”fast, safe, efficient and
clean. The main network is operated by Japan Railways (JR), and there are many
other privately operated lines. Stations in the city include Tokyo, Ueno,
Shinjuku, Shibuya and Yurakucho.