Questions about Tokyo

Fodor’s “Tokyo” guidebook, which we bought yesterday, is very informative.  However, we still have unanswered questions.  If you have recently traveled to Tokyo, please help us out.  Do you agree with these opinions:

1. How much money should we take per person per day?  The book says Tokyo is as expensive as New York City.  Is it possible to charge on Visa most of the time?

2. Should we exchange dollars for yen BEFORE we leave Hawaii?  We will have to pay the airport shuttle $30, and I don’t want to waste time changing currency at the airport.  Also the banks will be closed during the weekend we will be in Tokyo.

3. Should we take travelers checks?  Although most places don’t accept travelers checks, we can (hopefully) exchange them for yen at the  hotel and if they are lost or stolen, we can get replacement checks.  I don’t know if the American Express office in Tokyo is open over the weekend, though.

P.S.  David and I have just returned from our trip.  The Hotel Pacific is a BEAUTIFUL hotel and looks like it was recently renovated, because everything looked brand new.  Our room was quite large, clean, and nicely decorated.  The lobby was spacious and elegant with a huge chandelier and plants.  We loved the restaurants, too, which included a Japanese restaurant, a French one, and a continental one.  To see pictures of the hotel, please click on this link:

9 Responses to “Questions about Tokyo”

  1. Masako Says:

    Hi Gigi Tokyo can be very expensive, it depends on what you plan to do and eat. I”ve seen 120.00 watermelons and had bowls of ramen for 5 bucks. Shopping at the department stores is expensive but they are bargains to be found at the markets and certain shopping areas, oh and the 100 yen stores have good stuff. Charge cards are accepted mostly at the department stores but some shops will accept them too. Most people don’t understand english but they will do the best they can to help. If the restaurant does not have pictures it can take long to order sometimes. The best part about eating out in Japan is no tipping!
    I think its best to exchange your money in Hawaii. From what I hear the best place to exchange currency is at Duty Free in Waikiki. The first time I went thru the bank, it took a few days and they charged a fee. The second time I went to Duty Free and this time our travel agent did it for us for no charge. The dollar has been weakening but you still have a couple months so hopefully it will improve.
    Personally I carry travelers check just in case I run out of yen, it hasn’t happened yet (im coming close on this trip). It gives me peace of mind knowing i won’t be stuck in Japan without money. The rates of exchanging a travelers checks at the front desk are junk.
    I think most hotels will have AC, It does get warm and humid in June. All the rooms I have been in have nice toilets, it must be a Japan thing.

    Let me know if you have anymore questions.

  2. gigihawaii Says:

    Hi Masako, thanks for the info about Duty Free in Waikiki. What denominations of yen should we request? Ones, tens, hundreds?

  3. SDE Says:

    When my parents go to Japan they budget about 40,000 yen a day for hotels, food, transportation etc. I’m also going to Japan in June but on a tour so I’m figuring on 15,000-20,000 a day for my girlfriend and I since hotels will be paid up front. Yen notes come in 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000. Smaller denominations come in coins. Theres also a place across the street from Duty-Free that will offer a good rate on exchanges. I have been reading on various websites that the best exchange rates would be obtained at post offices or post offices in Japan, but I’m not sure if its worth the trouble.

    One dining tip that my Mom has is to go to the grocery department at the big department stores and purchase the ready made foods there and find somewhere to make a picnic out of it. That way you can sample a lot of different foods at a relatively cheap price.

    BTW, I post occasionally on warrior beat, thats how I found your blog.

  4. Teddy Says:

    Aloha Gigi,

    Let me introduce myself, my name is Teddy and I lived and worked in Japan for 10 years with the Federal Government, and just moved and relocated back home in April of last year. Yes, by all means, change all the money you plan on spending in Japan to Yen, and yes they accept major credit cards, travelers checks at department stores, restaurants, etc. If your plans are to stay in the Tokyo area only and visit the surrounding cities and sites, than you have the subway train system that can take you where ever you need to go. You can purchase a “rail pass” for the days you and David will be in Japan and take the train or subway to outskirts or country-side of Tokyo. Yes, Tokyo is expensive but not more than what Hawaii has to offer. Take a good walking shoes. Go and see the shrines, temples, Onsens, hole-in-the-shops noodle shops that sells ramen, and other shops that sells fresh Japanese food daily like katsus, or go to any sushiya’s or izakaya’s and order to your likings. Japanese makes their food from scratch everyday, so the freshness is out of this world. But, if you’re on a tight budget in Japan, do a lot of window shopping in the high district areas like the Ginza and eat from the street vendors and Izakaya’s. The food is cheap and awesome, so spend and drink like the Japanese and enjoy life to the fulliest. Still today, I really miss Japan and the friends I made over the years. Most of the Japnese will go out of their way to help you if you’re lost or need directions or wanting to know what to eat. Just remember, Japanese will eat anything that moves and lives in the ocean and seas, plus off the land. The Japanese rice is the best in the world like no where else, so if you eat at a sushiya or a restaurant, savor the rice with your menu!. Buy a train/subway guide book with both English and Japanese translation. Take the bus, Japan also has the best bus system, you just have to know where you’re going and translate that into English or Japanes. You can have a lot of fun in Japan if you respect their ways, their culture and elderly, and for you growing up in Hawaii shouldn’t be a problem. My recommendation and/or suggestion is to take the train/subway to each station in the Tokyo district and get out and walk around the areas and see what Tokyo is all about. While you’re there, drink (sake and beer) and eat only Japanese because when you return home you can eat/drink what ever you want. Look for festivals in in the Tokyo areas. If you love fresh fish, ask the hotel reception for directions to “Tsukiji Fish Market”, they sell the most fish in the world, but you have to get up pretty early to see this place in action, but it’s a must see!. Adventure Tokyo and at the same time, always be caution of your surroundings at all time, and the both of you shouldn’t have a problem. If you do run into trouble with the “Bozo’s” punk rich kids or kids of the Yakuza, just go or find the nearest police station and they will take care of you. Okay den, hope the both of you have a safe and joyous trip in Japan, and Kampai (cheers) one or two Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo or your favorite sake for me!!

    Here are attractions in the Tokyo city districts and shopping areas: Please don’t hesitate to ask your hotel front desk receptionist for directions and how much it’s going to cost, how-by train or bus or walking to any of the places listed below.
    Shibuya – Popular district among younger generations.
    Shinjuku – District around Japan’s busiest station.
    Asakusa – District with an atmosphere of old Tokyo.
    Harajuku – Center of teenage fashion and cosplay culture.
    Odaiba – Futuristic architecture on a man made island.
    Akihabara – District for electronic and otaku goods.
    Ginza – Japan’s premier shopping district.
    Roppongi – Site of Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills.
    Kappabashi Street – Shopping street for restaurant owners.
    Shiodome – Recently redeveloped commercial district.
    Ameyoko – Colorful market street in Ueno.
    Ikebukuro – Commercial district around busy train station.
    Yebisu Garden Place – Commercial complex with beer museum.
    Marunouchi – Business district in front of Tokyo Station.
    Nihonbashi – Commercial district in central Tokyo.

    Temples and Shrines
    Sensoji Temple – Large temple in the Asakusa district.
    Meiji Shrine – Dedicated to the deity of Emperor Meiji.
    Sengakuji Temple – Site of the 47 ronin’s graveyard.
    Zojoji Temple – Buddhist temple at the base of Tokyo Tower.
    Yasukuni Shrine – Dedicated to the deities of Japan’s war dead.

    Gardens, Parks and Nature
    Takaosan – Temple mountain near central Tokyo.
    Rikugien – Beautiful Japanese style landscape garden.
    Koishikawa Korakuen – Landscape garden next to Tokyo Dome.
    Imperial East Gardens – Park on the former grounds of Edo Castle.
    Ueno Park – City park with multiple museums and a zoo.
    Hama Rikyu – Landscape garden next to Shiodome.
    Mount Mitake – Wooded mountain with shrine.
    Kiyosumi Garden – Japanese landscape garden.
    Shinjuku Gyoen – Spacious city park in Shinjuku.
    Yoyogi Park – Spacious city park in Shibuya.
    Kyu Shiba Rikyu – Japanese landscape garden.
    Todoroki Valley – Short wooded valley with temple.
    Kasai Rinkai Koen – Large park at the shores of Tokyo Bay.
    Mt Fuji – Largest mountain in Japan.

    Other Attractions
    Tsukiji Fish Market – Japan’s largest and busiest fish market.
    Tokyo Imperial Palace – Main residence of the Imperial Family.
    Ghibli Museum – Museum of the Ghibli animation film studio.
    Ryogoku – Center of the sumo wrestling world.
    Tokyo Tower – 333 meter tall symbol of Tokyo.
    Tokyo Dome City – Entertainment district around Tokyo Dome.
    NHK Studiopark – Visit Japan’s public television network.
    Tsukishima – Man made island known for monjayaki.

    Side Trips from Tokyo
    Nikko Site of Nikko Toshogu, Ieyasu’s mausoleum.
    Kamakura Small city full of historic treasures.
    Izu Peninsula Hot springs and natural scenery.
    Kawagoe Former castle town known as the Little Edo.
    Hakone National park with views of Mount Fuji.
    Fuji Five Lakes Resort at the foot of Mount Fuji.
    Yokohama Japan’s second largest city.
    Naritasan Temple Popular temple, not far from Narita Airport.
    Kusatsu Onsen One of Japan’s best hot spring resorts.

    Aloha Ke Akua!



  5. gigihawaii Says:

    Thanks for all your suggestions, people!

  6. Kaimuki boy Says:

    Hey gigi,

    Checking out your site for the first time. I thought I would answer your questions. I go to Tokyo to visit my in-laws 1x to 2x a year.

    1. Japan takes Visa. I use visa almost exclusively in big department stores (akibahara), and shopping centers. But local shops prefer yen. I spend about $100 a day. You spend less if you bargain hunting. If go for the good stuff one meal will be over $100. With the exchange rate, things will be more expensive that a few years ago. Remember to call the Visa company before you leave to inform them that you are going on a trip. Otherwise, the visa will not work.

    2. Exhange as much as you need in Waikiki, or at the airport. If you get a travelers check, then you still need to exchange it at the bank.

    3. I just take yen. It was a hassle to exchange my traveler’s checks when I took them once.

    June can be really hot and humid. It’s the monsoon season, so you might get a lot of rain. It could be 60’s one day and 90’s the next day. Expect to get wet from sweat or rain.

    They also have package deals for rooms and airfare. You might want to look into it. Rooms are really small in Japan.

    Because I’m ignorant and my Japanese sucks, I speak primary English and use broken Japnese. Usually, people understand what I’m talking about. Look for young people (20’s) to help out for translation. Quite a few young people can speak English. Some good phrases are: “Go men na sai, watashi wa Gai jing.” (sorry, I’m a foreigner) “Go men na sai, wakadi ma sen” (sorry, I don’t understand”) “Yukudi hana su ku da sai” (please speak slower). There are several handbooks on customs, and learning the language. If you can pick them up it will help.

  7. Masako Says:

    Hi Gigi, Its been awhile since i’ve had internet access. To answer your question about denominations they will usually give you bigger bills which are 10,000, 5000 and 1000. They do not give you coins at the exchange. Also when you trade in your Yen for cash at the end of the trip they will not accept the coins. I always seem to end up with a bunch of coins, I get rid of them at the vending machines and train stations.

  8. gigihawaii Says:

    Good to know!

  9. order flowers now Says:

    order flowers now

    Questions about Tokyo | gigi-hawaii

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