Going to Tokyo first time

JazzSinatra

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I travel to Tokyo and Japan for first time in my life today. Do any of you have recommendations what I should do or see there?

This was pretty much an extempore idea. I was one day configuring my new FreeBSD server and it hit me. "For this years annual leave, I'll travel to Japan". This happened about week ago.
 

SirDice

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I travel to Tokyo and Japan for first time in my life today.
Nice, I've been there in 2007. Awesome city.

Do any of you have recommendations what I should do or see there?
As a nerd/geek you have to visit Akihabara of course. Also go to Shibuya to see that famous crossover.

Few tips, on escalators, stand on the left, walk on the right side.
Do NOT talk on your phone in public transport, you can use your phone to internet or text but NO conversations. Phone conversations are considered rude and you will get scolded for it.
If somebody gives you a business card, accept it with both hands.
Visit Rappongi, but do not go with any of those guys that invite you to a "club", no matter what kind of "free" drinks they'll offer. You will end up paying a LOT of money and cannot leave until you do.
 
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JazzSinatra

JazzSinatra

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Nice, I've been there in 2007. Awesome city.


As a nerd/geek you have to visit Akihabara of course. Also go to Shibuya to see that famous crossover.

Few tips, on escalators, stand on the left, walk on the right side.
Do NOT talk on your phone in public transport, you can use your phone to internet or text but NO conversations. Phone conversations are considered rude and you will get scolded for it.
Thanks for the tips. I definitely have to go some arcade places. They are not common here in Finland (population of only 5 million people), I know that there is one in our capital city Helsinki.

One funny coincidence is that there are simultaneously three of my friends in Japan. I'll meet two of them in separated days. World is tiny.
 

SirDice

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I definitely have to go some arcade places.
I've been to a few but I can't remember where. I do remember playing an awesome multiplayer Gundam game. The arcade had 6 fully enclosed pods, all linked together and they appeared to be linked to other arcades as well. Massive battles.

You'll also find lots of Pachinko places. You can hear them from far away, most of them play J-Pop at an incredible loud level and rows upon rows of Pachinka machines are ridiculously noisy too. Definitely worth a visit but you might want bring some earplugs.
 

Crivens

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Also no eating while walking and I'll not go into the chopsticks etiquette. Ask a local about that. Avoid bringing presents with 4 somewhere. So no tea set with 4 cups, plates, spoons and 4 forks with 4 pins. That is bad mojo. When attending a tea ceremony, plan for a sleepless night. That stuff is pure wakeness.

SirDice Speaking from experience? ;)

Well, visiting Japan is still on my bucket list.
 
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JazzSinatra

JazzSinatra

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Also no eating while walking and I'll not go into the chopsticks etiquette. Ask a local about that. Avoid bringing presents with 4 somewhere. So no tea set with 4 cups, plates, spoons and 4 forks with 4 pins. That is bad mojo. When attending a tea ceremony, plan for a sleepless night. That stuff is pure wakeness.
Thanks. I have heard that you shouldn't stick chopstick to food to stand because this is a funeral ritual. Also, I have heard that you shouldn't pass food directly to another's chopsticks with your chopsticks. And no rolling chopsticks together, because that signals that chopsticks are cheap.
 

SirDice

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@SirDice Speaking from experience?
No, we were smart enough not to fall for them. Years later I did see a documentary how it worked, I was glad we already had the sense not to fall for it.

I have heard that you shouldn't stick chopstick to food to stand because this is a funeral ritual. Also, I have heard that you shouldn't pass food directly to another's chopsticks with your chopsticks. And no rolling chopsticks together, because that signals that chopsticks are cheap.
Yep. Speaking of food etiquette, don't pour your own drinks, like many things in Japan, it's rude to do so. You pour your drinking buddy's drink and they'll return the favor. If you're at a gathering, wait until everybody has a drink and a collective "Kampai" (cheers) has been done. Then you can drink.
 

Crivens

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Most people are forgiving when a foreigner does not know each detail of etiquette. So better not look like a native.

And when you plan on visiting someone local, bring your own pair of slippers. Even the ambulance medics take off their shoes before entering living quarters.
 

Crivens

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If you ask someone for help and he can't help you, he might want to not waste your time with useless excuses. He may simply walk on.
 

SirDice

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If you ask someone for help and he can't help you, he might want to not waste your time with useless excuses. He may simply walk on.
They much rather send you the wrong way than admitting they don't know. But this seems to be quite common in Asia, not just Japan.

That said, I've found the Japanese to be quite helpful. I remember when we first arrived from the airport and took the train. When we got into Tokyo we had to take a metro. We just stood there staring at this massive colored diagram of metro lines and routes not knowing which metro to take. After a minute or so a Japanese lady came up to us and told us to go to the station manager's office and ask for an English language plan. This helped immensely. The metro is actually quite easy, all lines have specific colors and all stations are numbered. So even if you don't know the actual name you can tell by the numbers where you need to get off.
 

toorski

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I'd recommend "shinkansen" ride to Kyoto's "eki." The only thing that impressed me there. Because, Kyoto's tourist row was too crowded for me. If money is no object and you are into sushi, then Tokyo's "uoichiba" is a must ;)
 

SirDice

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With Nordic blue eyes and blonde hair that probably is not a problem.
If you're also taller than 1.70m (that seemed to be the average height of the Japanese) you're going to stick out like a sore thumb ;)
 

scottro

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I'd say (I don't know where you're from) that they tend to be reserved and polite. In Tokyo, if I remember correctly, there are usually a few foreigners around--in the past 10 years I've only been to the Osaka area, and hardly see any non-Japanese there.
I would say (though this could depend upon your age and every thing else) it's better to be too polite. I'm not quite typical because I speak the language, and once people realize that they expect me to understand the etiquette Generally, in my experience people are helpful, and Tokyo sort of seems to me to be a cleaner, safer, Manhattan though more spread out. While things are, of course, different and all the advice given is good, mainly, simple politeness should get you through most situations. Walking and eating, sticking your chopstick in rice, have been covered, but they will be more forgiving of a foreigner, especially if they see you mean well. Enjoy yourself, don't be a jerk. and all should be fine.
 

Crivens

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I just can't stop suspecting the japanese folks we surely have around to hold back here and let us buutenlanders make fools of ourselves... ;)
 

Crivens

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scottro How did you learn that? My attempts at russian, and japaneese, failed on the writing side so I never got close to speaking it.
 

scottro

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Crivens it was before the Internet and I had a broken heart and nothing to do. Basically, in NYC, it was easy to wind up spending weekends speaking no English, save, ironically at a karate doujou.
Also ironically perhaps, in the end, I married a Japanese woman whose English was (and is) better than my Japanese and my Japanese has gone way downhill. But the short answer is, I wound up, after the broken heart, making a lot of Japanese friends who wanted to learn English and also, having the time to sit there at night going through the boring repetitive exercise like is this a book. Yes it's a book. Is this a book. No it's a house you moron, can't you tell the difference between a house and a book? (I may be remembering the sentences incorrectly). :)
A great deal of it was being able to make a lot of Japanese friends at the time. I would take classes as well, but most of my classmates were just learning it for business, whereas being able to sort of use it in everyday situations and of course, the incentive of trying to fix the broken heart by finding another girlfriend helped too. I was never great at writing--at best, I may have known 500 characters, but did know all the phonetics.

Doing karate at the time, and trying to impress the Japanese instructors also gave me incentive. For writing, I started with the phonetics and was also taking classes at the Japan Society and they were pretty good about integrating the reading and writing with the speaking. Don't want to take this too far off topic, but if you have other questions, feel free to PM me.
 
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