Last Day In Tokyo � Some Thoughts
I’m in my last day here in Tokyo, having a coffee and tomato foccacia at Starbucks.
There’s so much I want to say about this place that makes it completely and utterly fascinating. I <3 Tokyo, plain and simple. Even at someplace as mundane as Starbucks, the experience is really relaxing. Christmas music is playing, and everything else is quiet, relaxing chairs… Ahh, this is the life.
So, some more observations…. there’s so many that I really need to put it in bullet format:
— Tokyo is easy to get around. Stops are listed in both Japanese and English, and the maps are dual language as well. So don’t worry about getting around.
— In general, walk to the left. When on an escalator, people pass on the right, not on the left… so don’t stand there. People will attempt to walk by you.
— Like in many Asian countries, they don’t really say excuse me if passing you by here. They do, however, attempt to move out of the way as best they can. If you’re too big or your items are too bulky, you’ll hit them; there’s no avoiding it. Then it might be ok to say “sumimasen” because contact has been made. But don’t expect any acknowledgement.
— Japanese don’t really blow their noses in public space, so expect to hear lots of sniffling. It is a source of much annoyance.
— Yen notes are rather convenient for use, but they start at a 1:1 equivalent of $10. Everything else is in coin form, and man that’s a pain. You tend to spend more money without realizing it because of this, so be careful!!
— Stores generally open at 11am and close between 8 and 9pm. Not a lot of open time. You can find food places open at any hour, but look out for LO (last order) times; that’s the latest time you can order food.
— Avoid maid cafes! They are straight robbery! Girls are just there to look cute and the covers are upwards of $100 USD. NOT WORTH IT.
— Don’t eat out on the street… just don’t. First, there are no trash bins on corners or similar. Japanese eat where they got the food, so they’ll stand by a cart or little shop to eat and chuck the trash there. Yeah, and it’s rude too.
— Don’t be surprised if you see boobies on prominent display. The female form, however distorted through comics or augmentation, is revered here. Guys will read H manga in the train and not think of it.
— Fashion is big here. Shibuya and Harajuku are the big areas for high fashion, but if you don’t conform to Japanese sizes, don’t even bother. At the same time, as chic as most folks can be here, it is a clear age divide on it. Young folks generally get the high end stuff – with what money who knows. Mid-range (25 to 40) can be a mixed bag. Lots in the 40 to 55 range can look trendy too, but at this point, they do whatever they want. 😉
— Older men basically so whatever they want too. Eating on the train, sure! Walk however they want on the street, absolutely! Yeah, nobody cares.
— The sucky part about Japan: smoking is still quite big. Lots of restaurants allow smoking, but more and more are restricting it. It will be a while before anything like a full out ban is in place. Smoke in your face is not cute. Cough, cough.
— There is no tipping in Japan. None. Although in Roppongi maybe some restaurants might be slick and try to take advantage of foreigner habits… But otherwise, what you ordered is the price; tips are not expected or accepted.
— Get a Suica card. It is the most useful thing to have getting around. It is accepted anywhere it says Suica or Pasmo (the Tokyo Metro version). It is used in other cities around Japan as well. Refilling the card is easy too; most machines have an English option, just follow the instructions.
— Big thing: Japan still heavily uses cash, so don’t expect to be able to use your credit card anywhere other than large department stores or similar. Cash is king here. For me, it’s a drawback — I hate walking around with cash. It’s totally common to walk around with the equivalent of $200 USD or more.
— Functional Japanese really constitutes the ability to order food and ask standard questions like where something is and how to get there. Someone with no Japanese ability will start to understand some of these standards rather quickly. At least I’d like to think so!
— Recycling is mandatory, so don’t just throw your stuff in the trash willy-nilly. If you see ??, that’s for plastics. Some have little example signs so just pay attention.
That’s a lot! But it’s all totally useful info. Okay! It’s after 11am so time to hit the shops!