As the athletes approach their final training and preparation for the 2020 Olympics, thousands of travelers also count down their days to arrival at the Land of the Rising Sun. For many, this will be their first time visiting Japan, and this can create some problems. While Japan is one of the safest and best-connected countries in the world, it can also be notoriously alien to foreigners.
So what should you do when you’re not at the games? We take a look.
The first things you’re going to need to get used to are the train and subway systems. These can be initially intimidating, but English language options on ticket machines and the ability to preload cards with cash can turn a stressful experience into a streamlined one. Just try to avoid rush-hours if you can.
Enjoy the Food
Chances are you already love sushi, and in that, you’ve come to the right place. However, visitors to Japan also tend to vastly underestimate the other varieties and strengths of food which the nation can offer.
The first of the opportunities you’re not going to want to miss out on are the casual restaurants located everywhere you go. From the side of the road to the inside of department store food courts known as depachika, you’re almost guaranteed to be overwhelmed. Luckily, in almost all cases this food will come with images or models, so you know exactly what you’re getting into. Just remember; there is no tipping in Japan!
Another alternative, which you should notice if you are the type to stack your hotel room with a few culinary necessities, is the ready-made meal packs available at Japanese convenience stores and supermarkets. Incredibly cheap and diverse, these are made fresh every day, with some meals going on special after 6pm to shift stock. This was one of the most surprising aspects for us the first time we visited Japan, as an aspect which puts our home stores to shame.
Anime and Manga
If you want to get a taste of Japan’s modern colorful manga, gaming, and tech culture, look no further than Akihabara. With the Akihabara train station to bring you right there, this is an easy choice for those who want to take a cheap and easy look at one of Japan’s most influential exports.
For anyone unaware, Japanese manga, and it’s associated artistic styles, play a huge part in the modern film and gaming world.
Blockbusters like Pacific Rim, or any film following enormous piloted robots, owe a lot to ideas popularised from manga. A lot of this was born from how heavily many of these stories lean on science-fiction. As great as these stories often are, up until now the cost and technical difficulty of bringing similar stories to the silver-screen had been unrealistic, but not anymore.
Similarly, the world of gaming has also been heavily influenced by manga. This isn’t just for traditional video games either, as the likes of online slots have also seen significant manga-based attention. Many of those from VegasSlotsOnline like Dragon Ball and Shogun’s Land use this style to great effect, remaining at the height of popularity for months or years.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface of what Tokyo and Japan have to offer. Depending on your time and budget, you also might consider checking out festivals or traveling the country using Japan’s incredible rail system. Just be sure to bring your camera and your appetite, and you might be surprised at just how often you want to come back.