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If you go... you had better know some Japanese

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4-49-6 Numabukuro, Tokyo, Japan

If you go... you had better know some Japanese Tokyo Reviews

hollibrewster hollibre…
1 reviews
Jul 01, 2007
Everyone says, "Oh, Tokyo, it's soooo expensive." So much for those people. I've been living in Tokyo for about a month now, and I have to say it's quite cheap. First of all, you just have to know where to look. Places like Sukiya, Yoshinoya and the like will save your budget. The food is pretty yummy and the price and convenience cannot be beat. Sukiya has an automatic ordering machine.. you don't even have to speak to anyone except to say if you prefer soba or udon noodles. I'm still going to be in Tokyo for another month, so I'm sure I'll have more updates to offer, but so far, it's not nearly as expensive as people say. I am staying at a small station outside of Takadanobaba called Numabukuro. The trains are efficient, pretty easily understood..(though you had better carry a pocket sized map of the trains with you EVERYWHERE) The average Japanese that you might confront will not be able to speak English, honestly, so knowing just basic phrases won't help you much. I mean, think about it, you know how to say "where is the train station?" right? But then they go spouting off these directions to it in Japanese and you can't understand ANYTHING!!! How is this helpful?? Not at all. So don't let those people who say you don't need the language fool you. You absolutely either need to know it or have a friend along who does. There's no getting by it.

Another way to avoid the language barrier and the money barrier is to find a homestay. This might seem inconvenient and a little non private but I promise it will be one of the best experiences of your life. This person will undoubtedly be honored you are staying with them, it will be cheap, they will show you around, and you will make a great friend that will always welcome you back.. assuming neither of you are bad people or hard to get along with. I completely recommend this option for several reasons: Money- they won't charge you nearly as much as a hotel and you will have a private room with meals often included. Sightseeing- these people will know where is best to go and often times they will join you and make it much easier for you go get by. Food- a homestay will often offer food included in the costs of living. They will give you insight into what Japanese homecooking is like.. and I promise you.. it's delicious.

If you should elect to stay in a hotel, do heavy checking before you leave. Many hotels will charge per person and nothing will be included.. for instance, the TV will be pay TV. Even international chains, such as the Holiday Inn Tobu Narita, only offer pay television. Of course, I'm sure this won't bother you too badly because you haven't come to Japan to watch TV. Still, the inconvenience is that you can't check the weather or just wind down and watch the news. You see the point. Check first.. and guarantee arrival or they WILL sell your room at exactly 6:00.

Also, if you elect to stay in hotels.. I completely 100% recommend a Ryokan, or traditional Japanese Inn. It will be the best experience in Japan that you will have. The prices vary, but of course, so does the quality. I firmly recommend a Ryokan in Chichibu called Yokotei.. The food is superb, the views are beautiful, and the prices aren't so bad. And be sure to check out the onsen in these Ryokan.. many will have them, of course, without charges. If you stay in the Ryokan, they will be open to you 24 hours a day, and if you're a shy person.. or just don't like being seen naked or seeing others naked.. I recommend going REALLY late at night.. When I say really late, I mean past 1:00 am. At midnight, there is likely to be a cleaning period, so going afterwards is your best bet. Just be sure to follow all the rules. Leave your clothes in the locker room. Wash and rinse yourself thoroughly before entering the onsen because everyone shares the same water, and they obviously can't clean it after every person. I recommend smaller, more intimate places because you are more likely to be treated specially by these places. The owner of the inn, always a woman, will be sure to welcome you! If you don't speak Japanese, many of these inns will cater to you. Definately check beforehand. Most don't cater to english speakers and you will need to bring along a japanese person to help you get things in order. But it's worth the trouble!! Also, at these Ryokan, the prices include a sumptuous dinner with upwards of 20 dishes per person!! This will DEFINATELY be the highlight of your stay, and I recommend you to NOT SKIP this no matter what!!! You will NOT be sorry that you paid 3000 yen extra for it.. I promise.

Because I am not inherently a "tourist," I don't enjoy places like Nikko or Asakusa as much as places like Chichibu or Narita. If you like seeing a lot of Americans and being catered to like a lousy tourist.. then I wholeheartedly recommend those places. If it drives you up the wall to be crammed around with other foreigners and herded into places like animals.. stay away. Asakusa is definately the most tourist infested place in Tokyo.. and the things to see aren't worth the trouble to me. I mean, there are shrines like those everywhere.. with many less people. I also recommend that you forgoe that 2 month reservation for the Ghibli museum.. It's not worth it.. The museum is small and utterly unimpressive. A complete letdown, if you ask me. And I am a huge fan of everything Ghibli. So don't waste your time or money on the Ghibli museum.

If you have any specific questions, I am in Japan as we speak, so please feel free to ask!!

Keep traveling! But don't be a tourist...
Jackie and I on the train to Mt. F…
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
edithd says:
also what do u recommend - do we avail of the Japan rail pass for 7 days? or just pay each time?
what do u suggest to take from tokyo to kyoto?
Posted on: Jun 30, 2012
dream_on says:
your blog is very helpful! so do you speak japanese then? how fluent? also how did you find a homestay?
Posted on: May 13, 2012
CaseyVan says:
Very helpful, thank you :)
Posted on: Mar 21, 2012
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