Arriving in Tokyo can be both a thrilling and bewildering experience—especially if it is your first time to visit. To help you transition smoothly into the metropolis, familiarize yourself with the following basic information. Find out how to get around the city with ease with a Travel IC card and the easiest way to connect to the internet. Discover money-saving shopping tips, what to do in an emergency, what to pack in each season, and much more.
Standard Japanese is spoken throughout Tokyo and the country as a whole. English is generally understood, especially in the major tourist areas, but don’t expect full fluency everywhere. Even though a language barrier may exist, a combination of clear English and gestures should get you through most situations.
Tokyo is nine hours ahead of GMT, with no daylight-saving time. Days can stay light until around 19:30 during the summer, but the nights draw in around 17:00 in the winter.
Wifi & Connectivity
Free Wifi is becoming increasingly available throughout the city. Many major hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and public facilities offer a free Wifi service. However, for guaranteed internet access wherever you roam, rent a pocket-Wifi from one of the kiosks at the airport or pick up a travel sim to fit into your existing phone.
Power Plug & Electricity
The voltage in Japan is 100V and the frequency is 50-60 Hz. The socket is type A, with two flat holes. Using foreign electric appliances will require a frequency converter and plug adaptor.
Japanese yen is used throughout Tokyo and foreign currency can be exchanged at designated spots throughout the city.
Take advantage of the special measures put in place for tourists from overseas and buy certain products minus the 8% consumption tax. Certain procedures at department stores, home appliance stores, discount stores are necessary.
Visit these shops in Tokyo stocking a host of duty-free products that visitors to Japan's capital can take advantage of.
Tokyo’s distinctive shopping districts offer you everything from high-class department stores to bargain basement electronics. Search the shelves and browse the racks to find that perfect memento for your Tokyo trip.
There is no tipping culture in Tokyo, so the final bill you receive at cafes, bars and restaurants is the final price that you need to pay. In some restaurants, a fixed percentage service charge is added to the bill.
Most major credit cards such as American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, and JCB are accepted at major stores and facilities. When checking in to a hotel, they serve as identification in lieu of a cash deposit. Note, however, that some facilities do not accept credit cards at all, and others may accept only certain types, so carry some cash at all times.
Customs & Manners
As with any country you travel to, understanding and respecting the local culture will ultimately lead to a more fulfilling trip. Learn how to blend in and act like the locals do.
To avoid any vacation-spoiling incidents and frustrating misunderstandings, follow the local laws to the letter.
Weather (When to Visit)
The seasonal weather in Tokyo generally follows the same annual patterns—bright and breezy springs, very hot and humid summers, crisp and cool autumns and cold and clear winters.
Visa & Immigration
Many countries share an ease of access agreement with Japan allowing for relatively simple entry and exit into the country. Make sure you are aware of all necessary visa and immigration procedures.
Travel IC Card
IC transport cards can be used for traveling on major railways and buses in the metropolitan area. You can easily purchase a card from most stations. Charge it up and enjoy easy travel throughout the city. The cards can also be used to purchase small items from registered shops.
Safe Drinking Water
Tokyo’s tap water is completely safe to drink and conforms to strict quality regulations. Bottled water is also available at convenience stores and out of the seemingly endless number of vending machines.
If you find yourself in need of assistance, dial the following numbers— Police 110 / Police calls in English 03-3501-0110 Fire emergency/ Ambulance 119 Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Institution Information 03-5285-8181 (9:00-20:00) The Japan Helpline (24 hour all round emergency assistance) 0570-000-911
Luggage & Storage
Take advantage of luggage delivery services and station storage enabling you to travel hands free and stress free.
Tips for budget travelers
Traveling Tokyo on a shoestring? Make the most of travel, accommodation and recreation deals to help you stretch your yen further.
Download a selection of apps to help you navigate Tokyo smoothly
An increasing number of stations are becoming wheelchair accessible and hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions continue to develop their accessibility for those with disabilities and those traveling with children.
Tokyo is located in a highly geologically active zone, so you should prepare for earthquakes and related natural disasters in the unlikely event that they occur. Make sure to have all relevant emergency contact numbers—including your embassy in Tokyo—to hand.
When you feel ill
If you feel ill or get in an accident during your stay, make sure you know what to do.
Have the contact details of your embassy in Tokyo to hand—it is an important point of contact in emergency situations.
Tourist Information Centers
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government operates the Tokyo Tourist Information Center at five locations in the metropolitan area to provide tourist information to visitors to Tokyo from other areas of Japan as well as overseas. Please feel free to stop by for your travel inquiries.
Special dietary requirements
While it can be a challenge, it is still possible to navigate the Tokyo food scene even with special dietary requirements.
Japanese Prefectural Tourism Promotion Corner
Be more informed about what's going on in local Tokyo and Japan's prefectures nationwide.
Machinaka community tourist information
Machinaka community tourist information is a volunteer service where experienced guides stroll the streets of some of Tokyo’s busiest districts.