Taxis aren't the most efficient way of getting around in Tokyo. Firstly, the traffic can be unpredictable and secondly, they can cost a fortune. Most cars accept credit card, so you can imagine how quickly the fares rack up! Most drivers don't speak English, so unless you have a map or a translator, it might be easier to skip taxis.
Buses aren't the easiest method of transportation for a non-Japanese speaker, but if you're feeling adventurous and fancy a cheap whizz around the city, buses may just fit the bill. Maps of major bus routes are available from Tokyo Tourist Information Centres.
The subway and the JR train are notorious for rush hour crowding. Stations even employ a 'platform pusher' who will literally push people into carriages to make more space for the throngs of people. The trains are very user-friendly, though many stations don't use English signs. Where possible find out which exit you need to take, particularly in Shinjuku where there are more than 60 possible exits.
If you want to see Tokyo from an alternative perspective, a boat trip from Hama Rikyu Garden, Odaiba or Hinode Pier will take you to Asakusa in around 40 minutes.
Japan is one of the safest places you can travel to. Though it's wise to take the usual precautions of avoiding walking alone at night, and keeping hold of your possessions, crime is incredibly low. Health risks are also low, and there are no necessary vaccinations to have before travel.
Japan is very preoccupied with etiquette, so be as respectful as you can. It's hard, if not impossible, to get your head around all the intricacies of appropriate behaviour, but making an effort is always appreciated. Remember to bow whenever you meet someone (the depth of bow depends on their status) and to remove your shoes when entering a house.
On arrival in Japan, you must be able to produce a passport with at least six months left before expiration, onward travel documents and evidence of sufficient funds in your account for the duration of your stay in Japan. Australians don't need a visa to enter Japan if they plan on staying for less than 90 days.
Most well educated Japanese in Tokyo will speak English fairly well. However, if you want to do more than just scratch the surface of the city and the culture, it helps to learn a little of the lingo. Even a few phrases will go a long way and make a big difference in the way locals interact with you.
Air New Zealand offers four weekly flights between Auckland and New Zealand. Flights take over 11 hours.
From Wellington Air New Zealand offers flights between Wellington and Tokyo with stopovers in Narita.
Train stations are located at each of the terminals at the Haneda and Narita airports. The Keikyu Line and Tokyo Monorail service the Haneda Airport, while the Narita SKY ACCESS, Keisei and JR Lines service Narita Airport.
Rail services and bus links are efficient and regular from both Narita and Haneda airport. However, if you want a car transfer, there are several companies offering such services. Prices are a little on the high side, but you can expect a hassle-free and comfortable ride into the city.
Buses from both Narita and Hareda airports travel to destinations across Tokyo. Passengers should purchase tickets at counters inside the terminal, before heading to the bus stops located near the first floor of the arrivals lounge.
When in Japan, it seems foolish not to experience a little of the local culture. And what could be more entertaining than sumo wrestling? Ryogoku Kokugikan is Tokyo's National Sumo Hall and features regular fights. Aim for the weekend fights, which are busier and have more atmosphere. It's wise to book in advance if you want to experience every clinch and every ripple of flesh from close range.
Tourists and worshippers alike flock in their hundreds to Sensoji Temple every day. Undoubtedly Tokyo's most famous, colourful and beautiful temple, it is also the oldest in the city having been built around 645AD.
People-watching is never more fun than when you're in Tokyo. Harajuku is one of the liveliest spots for a few photo opportunities. A favourite hang-out of Tokyo's young, cool and quirky crowd, it's always teeming with Japanese kids dressed in gothic outfits, manga-inspired get-ups, doll-themed costumes, ridiculous wigs and anything else you can imagine.
You'll probably recognise pictures of this stunning green space, even if the name isn't familiar. If you're lucky enough to visit during cherry blossom season, in late March and early April, you will be treated to a spectacular display. When you need a break from the culture, chaos and sheer enormity of Tokyo, you might want to make Shinjuku your spot to regroup. Expect a small entrance charge when you reach the gates.
Tuck into ramen noodles at this cool, fusion restaurant. Expect Japanese dishes with a Thai twist (such as tom yum ramen and green curry ramen). A favourite with the city's foodies, if you're looking for exceptional ramen and reasonable prices, you won't need to look any further.
This popular, high end little venue serves up modern, experimental Japanese cuisine to an appreciative clientele. Regularly named one of the best restaurants in the city, its most famous dishes include yam and yolk with bonito flakes and potato dumplings with a side of scallops and wood-ear crab sauce.
If you're feeling adventurous, Ganko should be your first gastronomic experience. The cult restaurant only has five stools and is known to simply not open if the ramen isn't made to perfection that day. Sure, it may seem a little intimidating from the outside, but any worries will soon melt away when you get your taste buds around its signature soups.
Consistently named one of the best sushi restaurants in the city; Magurobito is also incredibly good value. Order straight from the chef to see your lunch being freshly prepared, or whip it off the conveyor belt if you're in a hurry. The maguro is, unsurprisingly, the signature dish – and for good reason!
Head to the bar where Bill Murray got his karaoke on in Lost in Translation. Rooms are hired out to groups, where drinks are served via an intercom. Crank up the volume, turn the disco lights up and let the fun begin. No trip to Japan would be complete without a little singing silliness, after all.
The revellers at this hipster club haunt in Shibuya are as startling and striking to take in as the Trump Room itself. While its exterior looks slightly rundown, inside, this club is decked out with chandeliers, glitterballs, mirrors and mounted animal heads. Patrons are among Tokyo's most cool, so dress up and head down for some serious people-watching against an electro and house soundtrack.
If you came to Tokyo to experience something new, Lock Up might just be right up your street. Offering a jail experience, punters are handcuffed on arrival and led to cells (while the sound of screaming echoes through the corridors). Once safely locked up, inmates can drink cocktails themed on criminal charges. It's silly, it's gimmicky but it's oh-so fun.
This dimly lit whiskey bar is the perfect place for a low-key nightcap, with a cinematic edge. The interior, which was designed by the famed Japanese film art director Takeo Kimura, features surrealist paintings and film memorabilia, while movie soundtracks and silent film screenings set the mood at night.
Shibuya makes a great base, and the perfect spot in which to begin getting acquainted with Tokyo. The trendy shopping heart of the city, it's the perfect place to spot Harajuku fashions while you shop. There are plenty of dining options in the area too. While you're here, be sure to scramble your way across the world-famous Shibuya crossing and explore the Meiji Jingu shrine. The nightlife here is legendary, so stay on and hit the karaoke bars to round up the evening.
Head to the fashion-lover's first port of call in Tokyo, Ginza, for a day of browsing galleries and boutiques, checking out Tokyo's Champe de Elyse and the Sony Building. If you're not so fashion-inclined, Akihabara is just a few stops away on the Ginza line and makes a great spot for browsing the latest gadgets and gizmos long before they hit our shores.
Explore Tokyo's impressive skyline from above by heading to the observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. On a clear, early morning you may even be able to see Mt Fuji. Next, head to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden where, even if it's not cherry blossom season, you'll be treated to some of the prettiest green space in Tokyo. After an afternoon spent shopping for weird and wonderful clothes, finish your evening by exploring some of the area's mass of ramen restaurants.
Make your fourth and final day a cultural one. Start by taking in some East Asian art and archaeology at the Tokyo National Museum in Taito before enjoying a lunch and wander around the surrounding street markets. Later, head to Ryogoku Kokugikan to see a bout of sumo wrestling and end with a few rounds of beer at the famous Asahi Beer Hall in Sumida, recognisable by the golden flame atop it designed by Philippe Starck back in 1989.
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