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Some common tourist misconceptions about Tokyo


#1

What do you guys think are common misconceptions or overrated attractions in Tokyo?
Here’s some ideas to get the topic started:

You can use the jr pass for getting around Tokyo
The JR pass isn’t so useful in Tokyo as it’s only valid on JR lines. Whilst the Narita Express from Nartia to Tokyo is JR, pretty much any other journey around Tokyo will involve using non-JR lines, plus it’s not very good value using any of your JR pass days to make short journeys across Tokyo - best to activate your JR pass when you are making Shinkansen journeys between cities.

Also note - there’s no useful day pass ticket for Tokyo. Whilst each train company sells a day pass, they are all but useless because you’ll inevitably need to cross to a different line and pay extra anyway. The only thing you need to know about train tickets in Tokyo is buy a Suica (or Pasmo) IC card and use that - more on transport around Tokyo here.

Tsukiji is the best place to eat sushi
Looking for the best sushi in Japan is a bit like looking for the best espresso in Italy, or best pad thai in Thailand - it’s something that’s good almost everywhere in the country. If you’ve not eaten sushi in Japan before, then you’ll probably find even the cheapest kaiten sushi will taste amazing compared to your experience so far, so don’t worry too much about getting the “best sushi” experience. Moreover fresh fish from Tsukiji is delivered all across the city every day, and most of the highest regarded restaurants aren’t in Tsukiji itself anyway (a lot of them are in near by Ginza).

That being said, Tsukiji market is an interesting destination in itself (plus it’s going to be permanently closed soon) so it’s certainly a good place to visit. Bonus idea - try buying some tuna and have a DIY or Make your own breakfast, see our very own Greg Lane doing this here.

Jiro Sukiyabashi is the best place to eat sushi
Similar to above, there’s plenty of really exceptional options and the one place that made it on to Western cinema screens is just one of dozens of high-end sushi eateries in Ginza alone (for example the popular food rating site tabelog lists Jiro at #9 for Ginza). Plus you’re unlikely to easily get a reservation (unless like many people on trip advisor you end up going to his son’s place in Roppongi and thinking it’s the world famous Jiro dreams of Sushi).

It’s expensive
Obviously the whole point of Tokyo Cheapo is to show the world Tokyo is not nearly as expensive as its (outdated) reputation. It really isn’t pricey especially if you find some cheaper accomodation, don’t use taxis for anything more than 2-3km, eat local food and do some of the numerous cheap/free activities.

And some common "tourist traps"
Mount Fuji - Mount Fuji is the tallest and most striking mountain in Japan, however it’s so popular climbing has become more of a queue than a hike. Plus the climbing season is just a few weeks in Summer and you can’t see how amazing Fuji looks when you’re on it, instead for the spectacular view climb a near by mountain (or indeed one of the many other thousands of mountains in Japan).

Robot Restaurant - whilst everyone I know who’s been has enjoyed it, make no mistake it’s a recently built attraction purely for tourists - there’s nothing authentic about it and you won’t find many Japanese people in the audience (that aren’t accompanying foreign visitors).

Tokyo Skytree - It’s a super tall tower with an amazing view, and also amazing queues. There’s some (albeit not as high) view points that are cheaper or free with less queuing involved, namely the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Tower in Shinjuku, and the Mori tower (Roppongi Hills).


#2

That trains run all night
Unlike most big cities, trains and subways stop around 12/1am and don’t start again until 5am, so check ahead to avoid getting stranded.


#3

Good point, and we should clarify there’s not even night buses - you are
literally stranded (or facing a >$50 cab fare) if you miss your last train.


#4

The windows from the rooms in the Park Hyatt do not overlook Shibuya crossing, no matter how many times you watch “Lost in Translation.” In order to do that, the hotel would need to be around 10 kilometers long and even Mayor Yoshizumi wouldn’t allow planning for that.

Ginza station crossing is larger and has far more “old style” adverts as well as looking far more “Blade Runner-y” as that is what people are clearly looking for; yet, Shibuya is the crossing that gets all the selfie sticks/slow walkers/periscopers. GO FIGURE, NON?

HUB is only a place where expats and tourists go to.
Yeah, maybe in Ebisu/Shibuya/Shinjuku (and even the one in Seibu-Shinjuku is hardly popular being slightly out of the way), but outside of those places it’s quite the opposite - it’s an uber cheap bar, so it’s full of all sorts. In the daytime, it’s highly likely not to see any tourists at all. It’s popular with 外国人 because it’s got an English menu.

Everyone’s so polite
Yeah, maybe at that branch of Loft you went to; try hanging out at Yurakucho with your quasi racist boss at 22:00 and watch the conversation flow. You’ll realise that it’s just like any other city full of humans.


#5

I lol’d at this - Lost in Translation is still probably the single most influential event over western perceptions of Japan


#6

Indeed.

Another one thats been grinding me down a bit recently is that not everyone eats ramen for every meal of every day, so don’t be surprised if we haven’t been to the super expensive place you found on TripAdvisor. In fact, our very own Tokyo Cheapo has better recommendations!

PS. In the spirit of trying to not turn this into the spirit of a certain troll-like subreddit, let me just say, I have very few issues with tourists here, but before coming, don’t assume everything on TripAdvisor etc is true, k?


#7

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