Tokyo night + questions answered
I made this video while in Tokyo for 2 weeks. Its on youtube & I keep receiving a lot questions about it & Japan, so instead of keep answering the emails individually, here are the questions answered. Hope it helps.
1. Is Japan expensive? I didn’t think so. It can be, if you walk into a high end steak house/sushi bar, but if you look at the menu prior to going in, you can eat cheaply. I found the prices to be very close to California prices. I don’t know why everyone I talk to about my trip thinks that Tokyo is so expensive. I didn’t find that to be the case. Its just like your home- if you walk into Mortons, expect to pay a lot. If you find a small/oishi place, you tend to eat cheaply. I don’t eat Mortons every night at home, so why would I on vacation?
The yen was/is pretty strong, so the difference is paying about 20% more per purchase. $10 x 20% = $2.40. Not a deal killer, by any means.
2. Do you need to speak Japanese? No. At the time, my Japanese was below kindergarten level. I could say thank you, excuse me & oishi katta. I was 2 steps away from being a mime. But I had no problems talking. Not every Japanese person will speak English- but I found the majority of them do, they are just initially shy to try it because they don’t want to make a mistake. I understand that completely as I’m taking a Japanese language school class and who wants to make a mistake? But they appreciate the effort. I would try out my Japanese, completely say something wrong & they seemed to appreciate that & would try their English. We would both laugh & figure out what the other was saying.
3. How hard is it to navigate the Tokyo subway? Easy as pie. See my post about the Metro App & how I did it. 99% of the signs in Tokyo are in Romanji & with assistance from an Iphone/Android/etc app, it takes away the need to stare at the subway map in sheer horror.
Also I want to note to get a Suica card. You can charge it and zip through the gate without having to stop- it will automatically deduct from your card & you charge it when it gets low. Very simple & makes going through the gates very convenient.
4. Aren’t Tokyo hotels expensive? Yes, they can be. They are also very small. I had a friend who was in Tokyo the same time as me & he stayed in a very small room for $320 a night. They are great alternatives tho. I stayed at a Shinjuku apartment from Tokyoapartments81.com. You can see my room here. I think my apartment was roughly $75 a night. Very safe area, very conveniently located (about a 8 minute walk to the Shinjuku station) & more room than I needed (also came with a clothes washer). Exceptional company as well!
5. I’m worried about safety. Japan has to be one of the safest countries around. I never once had an issue & I was walking around with my Canon 5d Mark 2 with 3 lenses. In fact, when I met my friend out in Tokyo, he placed his bogu bag outside a bar where went drinking. I thought he was insane for doing it as I was sure it was going to be gone when we came out. 3 hours later after some amazing yakitori, his bogu bag was still there. Could I do that in California? Heck no. But he did it and he says he does it all the time in Tokyo. That’s Tokyo for you!
6. Can you use your cell phone in Tokyo? I could, but it would be very expensive. You can read horror stories about people using their phones & racking up $7000 bills. Pretty brutal. The 2 sane ways around that are: 1.) rent a Japanese cell phone at the airport (I think the cost is $10 a day, but I might not be correct) or 2.) use WIFI only on your Iphone (Settings: Airplane Mode: On. Turn on WIFI). The challenge is to find a free WIFI provider while there, but a lot of coffee places allow you to connect. There are also some good WIFI locator apps to help with the hunt.
I hope all this info helps. Feel free to email if you have more.