General Tips For Japan
Before You Go:
If you’re traveling by train a bunch, I highly recommend getting a JR Rail Pass. Especially if you are planning on going to Sapporo or south to Osaka or Kyoto. Our family has been buying passes from the travel agency linked for a long time. They typically have the best price.
Place an order for a Pocket Wifi. Free WiFi is not as common in Japan. I hate waiting for Google Maps to load.
Bring a coin purse! $1 and $5 equivalent are coins. Cash is still king.
Bring a small hand towel/handkerchief. Some public restrooms don’t have any way to dry your hands.
Speaking of public bathrooms, most train stations don’t have hand soap. Bring those paper soaps or hand sanitizer.
Apps to Download:
Hyperdia - Train schedule easily filtered if you have a rail pass. It’s $3 for a month. WORTH IT. Get it.
Google Translate - No brainer. You can use it to take photos of things and translate. It’s pretty funny sometimes.
When You’re There:
If you're flying into Narita and don't get a rail pass, a NEX roundtrip ticket could save you some money. They offer it for tourists.
Speaking of NEX, Tokyo Station is huge. Follow the red bold line (pic below).
Buy a Suica or Pasmo card for the train if you’ll be doing a lot of city traveling. Load it up and beep through instead of paying for each train trip. If you have a JR Rail Pass, note that this is ONLY for JR trains! Tokyo has private lines that are not JR. Bonus is that you can use your Suica or Pasmo at some vending machines and most convenience store.
Bring or pull out some cash. Smaller places don’t take card.
Ordering at a restaurant: To get the server to come over and take your order, you can say, "O-ne-gai-shimasu!" Or waving at them will also do the trick. PS No tipping!
Draft beer: “Nama biru” (obv v important)
To get your check: “O-kai-kei onegai shimasu”.
Foodies rejoice! Tabelog is the Yelp of Japan. They offer an English language version!
Things to See - Time Out Tokyo is nice because it lists current events, art galleries, etc.
Weird/Neat Stuff - Atlas Obscura has user collected places of unusual sights. I live for fruit shaped bus stops and weird alleyways. I have one I need to add later.