Accessible Travel

Tokyo is making steps to improve universal access – or bariafurī (barrier free; バリアフリー) in Japanese. It is a slow process, though one that has gotten a boost from the 2020 Olympics preparations. Newer buildings have wheelchair-access ramps, and more and more subway stations have elevators (look for signs on the platform, as not all exits have elevators); train station staff will help you on and off the train with a temporary slope.

A fair number of hotels, from the higher end of midrange and above, offer a barrier-free room or two (book well in advance); note that what constitutes barrier free is not always consistent, so check the details carefully. Larger attractions, train stations, department stores and shopping malls have wheelchair-accessible restrooms. Should you decide upon arrival that a wheelchair (車いす; kuruma isu) is necessary, hotel staff can help you rent one.

Accessible Japan (www.accessible-japan.com) is the best resource; they also produce an ebook with lots of detail.

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Bargaining

Bargaining is not common practice in Japan; flea markets are an exception, but a hard approach would still be considered rude.

Climate

Hot and humid summers present a real risk of heat stroke. Typhoon season runs from July to October, though it may hit earlier or later. Severe typhoons can cause transportation delays or even shutdowns.

Small earthquakes are common in Tokyo; the risk of a big one hitting in or near the capital within the next 25 years is very high. Sophisticated early warning systems and strict building codes should mitigate impact, but are not foolproof.

For a primer on what to do in the event of an earthquake (or any natural disaster) see JNTO's Safety Tips (www.jnto.go.jp/safety-tips).

Dangers & Annoyances

The biggest threat to travellers in Tokyo is the city's general aura of safety; keep up the same level of caution and common sense that you would back home.

  • Drink-spiking continues to be a problem in Roppongi (resulting in robbery, extortion and, in extreme cases, physical assault). This is most often the case when touts are involved; never follow a tout into a bar, anywhere.
  • Men are likely to be solicited in Roppongi and neighbourhoods that are considered red-light districts, including Kabukichō (in Shinjuku) and Dōgenzaka (in Shibuya). Women – particularly solo women – are likely to be harassed in these districts.

Police Boxes

Twenty-four-hour staffed kōban (交番; police boxes) are located near major train stations and intersections and also within commercial and entertainment districts. You can report crimes here – in which case they'll call in the nearest police station – and also fill out forms for lost items. Kōban officers rarely speak English, but are generally friendly and will try to help.

Discount Cards

Grutto Pass (¥2200; www.rekibun.or.jp/grutto) Free or discounted admission to 90+ Tokyo attractions (mostly museums). This usually pays for itself after a few museum visits. All participating venues sell them.

International Student Identity Card (https://www.isic.org) Student discounts are common, but the International Student Identity Card is recognised inconsistently in Japan; a Japanese-university-issued student card will always work.

Seniors Many Tokyo attractions offer discounted admission to seniors (typically 65 years of age and over) – a passport is usually enough to prove eligibility.

Electricity

The Japanese electricity supply is an unusual 100V AC. Appliances with a two-pin plug made for use in North America will work without an adaptor, but may be a bit sluggish.

Embassies & Consulates

Emergency & Important Numbers

Emergency operators typically won't speak English, but will immediately loop in a third-party translator.

Ambulance & Fire119
Police110
Japan's country code81
International access code010

Information Hotlines

  • Japan Helpline (0570-000-911; 24 hours) All purpose, English-language information hotline; for data users, contact them via the web form online at jhelp.com.
  • Police Consultation Hotline (03-3501-0110; 24 hours; translation services available 8.30am to 5.15pm Monday to Friday) To report or ask for guidance on non-emergency, but nonetheless distressing situations.
  • Tokyo Medical Info Hotline (03-5285-8181; 9am to 8pm) English-speaking staff can recommend English-speaking doctors for specific ailments at municipal hospitals.

Entry & Exit Formalities

Customs Regulations

Japan has typical customs allowances for duty-free items; see Visit Japan Customs (www.customs.go.jp) for more information.

Stimulant drugs, which include ADHD medication Adderall, are strictly prohibited in Japan. Narcotics (such as codeine) are controlled substances; in order to bring them for personal medical use you need to prepare a yakkan shōmei – an import certificate for pharmaceuticals. See the Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare's website (www.mhlw.go.jp/english/policy/health-medical/pharmaceuticals/01.html) for more details or contact the Tokyo office directly at tokyoncd@mhlw.go.jp.

Visas

Visas are generally not required for stays of up to 90 days.

Temporary Visas

Citizens of 68 countries/regions, including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, USA, UK and almost all European nations, will be automatically issued a tanki-taizai (temporary visitor visa) on arrival. Typically this visa is good for 90 days. For a complete list of visa-exempt countries and durations, consult www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/novisa.html#list.

Citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK are able to extend this visa once, for another 90 days. To do so, you need to apply at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau before the initial visa expires.

Resident Card

Anyone entering Japan on a visa for longer than the standard 90 days for tourists will be issued a resident card (在留カード; zairyū kādo); these are given out at Narita or Haneda airports (show your visa to airport staff to be directed to the correct counter). The resident card works in lieu of a passport for identification and must be carried at all times.

Work Visas

It is difficult these days to find jobs, even English-teaching ones, that offer visa sponsorship. If you do find one, know that the sponsorship process can be a lengthy one – typically taking at least three months.

The first step is to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility, which requires handing over any number of documents (depending on the desired visa status), at your nearest Japanese immigration office. Once this certificate has been issued, you can then apply for a visa. Some companies may handle some or all of this process for you.

Given the high cost of living in Tokyo, it makes sense to secure employment and, at the very least, the Certificate of Eligibility while still in your home country.

Working-Holiday Visas

Citizens of 20 countries/regions are eligible for working-holiday visas: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan and the UK.

To qualify you must be between the ages of 18 and 30 (or 18 and 25 for Australians, Canadians and Koreans) with no accompanying dependants. With few exceptions, the visa is valid for one year and you must apply from a Japanese embassy or consulate abroad.

The visa is designed to enable young people to travel during their stay, and there are legal restrictions about how long and where you can work; you may also be required to show proof of adequate funds.

For more details, see www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/w_holiday.

Etiquette

Japan is famous for its etiquette, though it's not as strict (or consistent) as you may think.

  • Greetings Japanese typically greet each other with a slight bow, but may greet foreigners with a handshake; hugging and cheek-kissing would be considered alarming.
  • Queueing Tokyoites are famous queuers, forming neat lines in front of subway doors, ramen shops and more.
  • Eating & Drinking Japanese frown upon eating and drinking on streets and on public transport; beverages in resealable containers are an exception.
  • Shoes Off Many lodgings and restaurants request you leave your shoes at the door. Take a quick look around for a sign – or slippers in the foyer – to see if this rule applies. Shoes should never be worn on tatami mats.
  • Escalators Stand to the left on escalators.
  • Religious Sites There is no dress code for visiting a shrine or temple, but it's polite to keep your voice down.

Insurance

Basic emergency coverage is adequate. Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

Decent wi-fi is standard in Tokyo accommodations (though exceptions exist). The city has an increasing number of free hot spots, which can be found on subway platforms, on the streets of some districts and at many convenience stores, major attractions and shopping centres. Look for the sticker that says 'Japan Wi-Fi'.

This doesn't, however, mean staying connected while out and about is easy: public signals may be weak (and sometimes just non-existent) or they might entail a clunky login process (requiring personal information, such as an email address) to access. The Japan Connected (www.ntt-bp.net/jcfw/en.html) app simplifies the latter by allowing access to all partner networks without having to login to each one individually. Though travellers report hit or miss experiences with it.

If staying connected is a priority (and it can be very useful to have online-access navigation apps), consider renting a pocket internet device, which can be shared among multiple devices. Japan Wireless (www.japan-wireless.com) has reasonable prices and reliable service; pre-order online.

LGBT Travellers

Gay and lesbian travellers are unlikely to encounter problems in Tokyo. There are no legal restraints on same-sex sexual activities in Japan, apart from the usual age restrictions.

Outright discrimination is unusual; however, travellers have reported being turned away or grossly overcharged when checking into love hotels with a partner of the same sex. Such discrimination is illegal, but is rarely litigated.

One thing to keep in mind: Japanese people, regardless of their sexual orientation, do not typically engage in public displays of affection.

Tokyo has made great strides in the past couple of years towards openness and acceptance; still, many LGBT people remain fearful of the potential social and economic ramifications of living publicly out – outside of safe spaces like Shinjuku-nichōme ('Nichōme' for short), the city's largest and liveliest gay quarter.

To keep up to date with issues concerning Tokyo's LGBT community, and to learn about events and meet-ups, follow the Nichōme Community Project (@NichomeComProj) and Nijiro News (@nijinews) on twitter.

Akta Community Centre advocates for the health and safety of Tokyo's LGBT community. From the heart of Shinjuku Ni-chōme, Akta offers free AIDS tests, counselling and any other information you might need.

Utopia Asia (www.utopia-asia.com) Lots of resources and recommendations for LGBT travellers.

Media

  • Asia & Japan Watch (www.asahi.com/ajw) Select news and commentary in English from Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun.
  • Inter FM (76.1FM; www.interfm.co.jp) News broadcasts and public-service announcements in English.
  • Japan Times (www.japantimes.co.jp) Long-running, independent English-language daily and old-school expat lifeline.
  • NHK World (www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld) The English-language version of Japan's national broadcaster NHK has lots of shows on travel and food, in addition to local news.
  • Free Magazines By and for the expat community, Metropolis (https://metropolisjapan.com), Time Out Tokyo (www.timeout.com/tokyo) and Tokyo Weekender (www.tokyoweekender.com/) – all in English – are good sources of events listings and dining and drinking recommendations; look for them at TICs and popular expat hangouts.

Money

Convenience stores and post offices have international ATMs. Credit cards are widely accepted, though it’s still best to keep some cash on hand.

ATMs

Only a few branches of major Japanese banks – the big two are Sumitomo Mitsui (SMBC) and Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG) – have ATMs that accept foreign-issued cards; there will be a sign in the window if the bank has an international ATM. Otherwise, even bank ATMs that display Visa and MasterCard logos only work with Japan-issued versions of these cards.

The easiest place to get cash in Tokyo is at one of the city's ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores. Their Seven Bank (www.sevenbank.co.jp/english) ATMs consistently work with foreign-issued Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Plus, Cirrus, Maestro and Union Pay cards; have instructions in English; and are available 24 hours.

Other convenience store chains have international ATMs, but Seven Bank is the most user-friendly.

Japan Post Bank (ゆうちょ銀行; www.jp-bank.japanpost.jp/en/ias/en_ias_index.html) ATMs, found inside post offices and sometimes at train stations, also accept most foreign-issued cards and have English instructions. The downside is that they have opening hours that are only slightly longer than regular post-office hours.

There is a withdrawal limit of ¥100,000 per transaction at Seven Bank ATMs (and ¥50,000 at Japan Post Bank ATMs). Bear in mind that your bank or card company may impose an even stricter limit; if your card is rejected, this might be the reason why.

Cash

The currency in Japan is the yen (¥), and banknotes and coins are easily distinguishable. There are ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥500 coins; and ¥1000, ¥2000 (rare), ¥5000 and ¥10,000 banknotes. The ¥5 coin – bronze-coloured with a hole punched in the middle – is the only piece of currency not marked with Arabic numerals.

Note that prices are usually noted in Latin numerals, but sometimes may be handwritten using the traditional kanji for numerals; you may also see the kanji for yen (円) used.

It's a good idea to keep at least several thousand yen on hand at all times (or more, to avoid ATM fees), to cover the odd shop that doesn't take cards.

Debit cards are just starting to become popular in Japan, but locals still tend to use cash for daily, sundry purchases. As such, many place require a minimum purchase to use a card. Some shops, and most convenience stores, allow you to pay with your Suica or Pasmo train pass.

Changing Money

Major banks and post office main branches can usually exchange US, Canadian and Australian dollars, pounds sterling, euros, Swiss francs, Chinese yuan and Korean won. MUFG also operates World Currency Shop (www.tokyo-card.co.jp/wcs/wcs-shop-e.php) foreign-exchange counters near major shopping centres that can handle a broader range of currencies, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand dollars. In all cases, you'll need to show your passport. Note that you receive a better exchange rate when withdrawing cash from ATMs than when exchanging cash or travellers cheques in Tokyo.

Credit Cards

Once uncommon in Japan, most businesses in Tokyo now accept credit cards, usually displaying the logo for the cards they accept on the cash register. If a restaurant, bar or shop is particularly small or old-looking (and you don't see any signage) it's wise to ask upfront.

Visa is the most widely accepted, followed by MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club. Foreign-issued cards should work fine. The standard in Japan is a chip card that requires a PIN for verification. Cards that require swiping and signing may confuse staff, but should still work; miming the required action usually does the trick.

Tipping

  • Tipping There is no custom of tipping in Japan – though you may see opportunistic tip jars at cafes popular with foreign travellers.
  • Service fee In lieu of a tip, high-end restaurants, bars and hotels often add a 10% to 15% service fee to the bill.
  • Groups Some restaurants, no matter the price point, may levy a service charge on larger groups; a party as small as six may be deemed large, but it varies.

Opening Hours

Note that some outdoor attractions (such as gardens) may close earlier in the winter. Standard opening hours:

Banks 9am to 3pm (some to 5pm) Monday to Friday

Bars 6pm to late, with no fixed closing hours

Boutiques noon to 8pm, irregularly closed

Cafes vary enormously; chains 7am to 10pm

Department stores 10am to 8pm

Museums 9am or 10am to 5pm; often closed Monday

Post offices 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Restaurants lunch 11.30am to 2pm, dinner 6pm to 10pm; last orders taken about half an hour before closing

Post

Japan Post (JP) is reliable and efficient. Every Tokyo neighbourhood has a small post office (郵便局; yūbinkyoku). Every ward has a central office with extended hours; some of these have 24-hour 'Yu-Yu Madoguchi' (ゆうゆう窓口) that offer limited services – like mailing letters and small parcels, and purchasing stamps. For current rates, see www.post.japanpost.jp.

Post Offices

Public Holidays

If a national holiday falls on a Monday, most museums and restaurants that normally close on Mondays will remain open and close the next day instead.

New Year’s Day (Ganjitsu) 1 January

Coming-of-Age Day (Seijin-no-hi) Second Monday in January

National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinen-bi) 11 February

Spring Equinox (Shumbun-no-hi) 20 or 21 March

Shōwa Day (Shōwa-no-hi) 29 April

Constitution Day (Kempō Kinem-bi) 3 May

Green Day (Midori-no-hi) 4 May

Children’s Day (Kodomo-no-hi) 5 May

Marine Day (Umi-no-hi) Third Monday in July

Mountain Day (Yama-no-hi) 11 August

Respect-for-the-Aged Day (Keirō-no-hi) Third Monday in September

Autumn Equinox (Shūbun-no-hi) 23 or 24 September

Health & Sports Day (Taiiku-no-hi) Second Monday in October

Culture Day (Bunka-no-hi) 3 November

Labour Thanksgiving Day (Kinrō Kansha-no-hi) 23 November

Emperor’s Birthday (Tennō-no-Tanjōbi) 23 December

Feature: Holiday Periods

Technically only New Year's Day is a holiday in Japan, but the traditional celebration of the new year – Shōgatsu – lasts until 3 January and most businesses will be closed or have limited hours. Smaller, owner-run shops may take closer to a week off, finishing for the year around 29 December or staying closed through to 6 January.

Four national holidays fall in close succession between 29 April (Shōwa Day) and 5 May (Children’s Day), creating what's known as 'Golden Week'. Company workers like to take off the days in between – to maximise their paid holidays – making this a very popular travel time. Many Tokyoites skip town, while domestic tourists pour in for special events. Expect accommodations to be at a premium during this period and attractions to be crowded.

Not on the official calendar at all is the O-bon festival, celebrated from August 13th to 15th. Again, smaller, owner-run shops may close, sometimes for the full week.

While both O-shōgatsu and O-bon are supposed to be family time spent at home, some do use it as an excuse to travel, so accommodation prices may rise during this period and it is wise to book well in advance.

Smoking

  • Smoking From October 2019, smoking in Tokyo will be banned inside all bars and restaurants that employ staff (other than family) unless they can provide an air-tight smoking area – the strictest regulations in the country to date. For some time now, smoking has been banned in public spaces, including city streets and train stations, except for within designated smoking areas.

Taxes & Refunds

Japan’s consumption tax is 8% (with a planned rise to 10% in October 2019). Many retailers (often noted by a sticker in English on the window) offer duty-free shopping for purchases of more than ¥5000. Only visitors on tourist visas are eligible; you'll need to show your passport.

More Information

Some shops will simply not charge you consumption tax at the point of sale. Others – particularly department stores – will charge you and then require you to go to the store's tax refund counter to get the money back; a small service fee may be deducted for this process.

Airports in Japan do not handle tax refunds so you do need to sort it out at the time of purchase. A form will be affixed to your passport then, which you'll simply hand over to customs officials at the airport when you depart.

For details, see https://tax-freeshop.jnto.go.jp.

Telephone

Mobile Phones

Prepaid data-only SIM cards (for unlocked smartphones only) are widely available at the airport or electronics stores. Many hotels now offer Handy phone service.

More Information

Japan operates on the 3G network, so compatible phones should work in Tokyo.

Prepaid data-only SIM cards for unlocked smartphones are widely available and can be purchased at kiosks in the arrival halls at both Narita and Haneda airports and also from dedicated desks at major electronics retailers like Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera.

Getting the SIM to work may require some fiddling with settings, so make sure you've got a connection before you leave the counter. Staff usually speak some English.

Currently only Mobal (www.mobal.com) offers SIMs that give you an actual phone number from which to make and receive calls; they offer English language support and can ship to your accommodation. Otherwise, the variety is huge, and which one to go with depends on the length of your stay and how much data you need.

Many mid- to high-end hotels in Tokyo offer complementary Handy phones, which you can use free of charge for data and calls. For a list of properties that provide this service, see www.handy.travel.

Phone Codes

Tokyo’s area code is 03, although some outer suburbs have different area codes. Mobile phone numbers start with 090, 080 or 070; IP phone numbers with 050; and toll-free numbers with 0120, 0070, 0077, 0088 and 0800.

When dialling Tokyo from abroad, drop the first 0; dial 81-3 or 81-90.

Public Phones

Tokyo still has many public phones – a crucial lifeline when disasters wipe out the mobile network. Ordinary public phones are green; those that allow you to call abroad are grey and are usually marked ‘International & Domestic Card/Coin Phone’. Public phones are most commonly located around train stations.

Local calls cost ¥10 per minute; note that you won't get change on a ¥100 coin. The minimum charge for international calls is ¥100, which buys you a fraction of a minute – good for a quick check-in but not economical for much more. Dial 001 010 (KDDI), 0061 010 (SoftBank Telecom) or 0033 010 (NTT), followed by the country code, area code and local number. There’s very little difference in the rates from the different providers; all offer better rates at night. Reverse-charge (collect) international calls can be made by dialling 0051.

Time

Tokyo local time is nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Japan does not observe daylight saving time.

Toilets

  • The word for toilet in Japanese is toire (トイレ, pronounced 'to-ee-rey') but many prefer to use the more politely evasive o-te-arai (お手洗い; wash room) or keshōshitsu (化粧室; powder room).
  • Tokyo has few actual public toilets; most people prefer the privately maintained ones provided by train stations, tourist attractions, department stores and malls, which tend to be nicer. Some convenience stores have toilets, too.
  • Toilets are typically marked with generic gendered pictograms; but just in case, note the characters for female (女) and male (男).
  • Newer or recently redeveloped buildings may have ’multi-functional' (多機能; takinō) restrooms; these large, separate rooms are wheelchair accessible, may have nappy changing or ostomate facilities, and are gender-neutral.
  • Most of Tokyo's old-style squat toilets (called washiki; 和式) have been phased out in favour of western-style toilets (yōshiki; 洋式), often with fancy bidet features (these are called washlets). If you do use a squat toilet, the correct position is facing the hood.
  • Toilet paper is usually present, but it's still a good idea to have a packet of tissues on hand.
  • Paper towels and hand dryers may or may not be present; most Japanese carry a handkerchief for use after washing their hands.
  • Separate toilet slippers will be provided in establishments where you take off your shoes at the entrance; they are typically just inside the toilet door. These are for use in the toilet area only, so remember to shuffle out of them when you leave.

Tourist Information

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Tourist Information Center has English-language information and publications. There are additional branches in Keisei Ueno Station, Haneda Airport and Shinjuku Bus Terminal.

More Information

JNTO Tourist Information Center Run by the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), this TIC has information on Tokyo and beyond. Staff speak English.

In addition to the nationally- and municipally-run Tourist Information Centres (TICs), there are many others around the city, run by individual wards, neighbourhood revitalisation NPOs and private enterprises.

Beyond general information in English, some offer luggage storage and shipping services, neighbourhood tours and cultural activities. Note that TICs cannot make accommodation bookings.

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, a ward-run TIC, has lots of info on Asakusa and Ueno, and a Pia ticket counter (for purchasing tickets to concerts and shows), near the entrance to Sensō-ji.

JR EAST Travel Service Centers

At all JR East Travel Service Centres, located at both airports and at JR Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Ueno and Hamamatsuchō Stations, you can book shinkansen (bullet train) tickets, purchase rail passes or exchange rail-pass vouchers and get tourist information in English. The main branch, at Tokyo Station, also offers currency exchange, same-day baggage storage (¥600), luggage forwarding and booking services for ski and onsen getaways that are accessed via JR lines (and with lodgings at partner hotels); bookings can also be made at the Shinjuku branch.

Travel With Children

Tokyo is a parent’s dream: clean, safe and with every mod con. Though crowds can be overwhelming and many top attractions won't appeal to younger ones, there are plenty of sights and activities that will. Odaiba and Tokyo Dome City (in Kōrakuen) are two areas designed especially for families.

Pop Culture

Kids (and kids at heart) will get a kick out of Tokyo's pop culture.

  • Unicorn Gundam

This robotic suit from a popular anime is truly an only-in-Tokyo sight.

  • Godzilla

Don't miss your chance to take a photo with Godzilla, the famous monster of Japanese cinema.

  • Ghibli Museum

A highlight for visitors of all ages (parents included) is the Ghibli Museum, a portal to the magical world of famed animator Miyazaki Hayao (Ponyo, Spirited Away).

  • NI-Tele Really Big Clock

Check out this animated timepiece designed in collaboration with Miyazaki in the middle of downtown.

Amusement Parks

  • Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort is an obvious kid-pleaser, but be prepared for long lines.

  • Tokyo Dome City

In the city centre, Tokyo Dome City has thrill rides (plus more sedate rides for little ones), a Ferris Wheel with karaoke-equipped gondolas and a baseball stadium.

Hands-on Culture

  • Woodblock prints

Young artists can learn the Japanese art of making woodblock prints at Mokuhankan.

  • Ink-wash paintings

Get a taster of sumie, the delicate art of ink painting on washi (Japanese paper) at Toyokuni Atelier Gallery.

Outdoors

  • Explore parks

Book a cycling or kayaking tour, or just enjoy one of Tokyo's great parks: Inokashira-kōen and Yoyogi-kōen are two family favourites.

  • Robot playground

Small neighbourhood park Sakurazaka-kōen has robot-themed play equipment.

Interactive Museums

  • teamLab Borderless

At teamLab Borderless kids can interact with digital artworks and even create their own.

  • National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation (Miraikan)

At this museum in Odaiba they can see humanoid robot ASIMO in action.

  • TenQ

TenQ, part of Tokyo Dome City, is all about outer space.

Rainy Day Ideas

  • Arcades

Tokyo has some fun indoor attractions like the arcade Tokyo Joypolis, with virtually enhanced video games and rides.

  • Virtual reality attractions

At Sky Circus you get 'shot' out of a cannon; it's part of a large mall complex with easy eating options.

  • Karaoke

Another great way to spend a rainy day: a few hours singing at a karaoke parlour. Ubiquitous chains offer great daytime rates.

Need to Know

  • Nappy changing and nursing Department stores and shopping malls always have nappy-changing facilities; newer ones have nursing rooms.
  • Transport Avoid trains during the morning rush (7am to 9.30am); prams won't fit and small children may feel overwhelmed. Major stations (and many smaller ones, too) have elevators.

Volunteering

Meaningful volunteer work in Tokyo requires Japanese language ability or, if not that, at least an ongoing commitment.

Second Harvest Japan (https://2hj.org/english) is a notable exception. They accept non-Japanese-speaking volunteers, 12 years of age or over, on a rolling basis to serve at their weekly Saturday soup kitchen for the homeless in Ueno-kōen. Register in advance through the website to sign up for shifts.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The metric system is used along with some traditional Japanese measurements, especially for area (eg is the size of a tatami mat).