Japan, the world of extreme efficiency, if you know how to get
around. Absolute number one rule when visiting any country different
from your own:
Learn the language. Number two: understand the
country's government. Number three: understand the travel
system. Simple, huh?
Comic Market 60
One of the first things you'll see upon your
arrival after exiting the airport customs gate. If it's your first
time to Japan, welcome to chaos. But don't panic. Take a
deep breath, relax, and think about getting from point A to point
B. As the sign says, this is the road and traffic information
array for freeway traffic. Unless you're getting a ride on a bus
or getting picked up by a driver, it may not concern you since most
travelers go by train.
And by train is what pretty much all of Japan
uses, so tickets are available immediately outside the gates. LLNN
arrived at Narita Airport, about 1 hour away from Tokyo by train or
car. All kinds of tickets can be bought here in advance or for
immediate use. With all kinds of lines available for use, it's
difficult to figure out which one to use unless one already has a
planned trip in mind. We had a place in Tokyo to stay already, so
that helped a lot.
We bought a one-way Narita Express ticket for 3300
yen = $30 that would provide an hour-long ride to Tokyo at 80km/h.
Along the way towards Tokyo, you'll be able to
spot several train lines along the way, most notably the JR Rail which
you'll use most often in between major cities and prefectures.
Water! And plenty of it! These are the
absolute necessities to have when in Japan: water, money, your passport,
tissues, and a facecloth. Water because the humid atmosphere sucks
you dry of it. Money, because you'll end up spending oodles of it
no matter where you go. Keep loose change for those vending
machines! Tissues because if you have to use the public
restrooms... they are not the same as western toilets!
Always have your passport on you, and don't let it out of your sight at
all costs. A facecloth is needed to wipe sweat away after a couple
of hours in the humidity. After having all these items, prepare
for a lot of walking! Hint: painkillers at the nearby convenience
store (Lawson's, SunKis, or 7 Eleven).
Additional handy things to have, of course, are
the telephone cards and more rail passes. You may need a telephone
card if you need to contact a friend at home or on a celphone at a
meeting place. Rail passes are an utmost necessity if you are
going to be moving around a lot, especially for the shoppers.
Worthy of note: rail stations often have locker for you to store luggage
and store-bought items in for 500 yen = $4 one-time keyed use.
Prices may differ from station to station. Don't worry too much
about money conversion, even if the rates are different, you can pretty
much stick with 100 yen = $1 for ease of mind. Or just think of it
as 100 yen = 100 cents. In the end, you'll have peace of mind that
you saved a lot of US money.
a little bit of regional information, Japan is divided up into 47
prefectures, kind of like the 50 states in the USA. Tokyo is the
capital prefecture and contains 23 wards (remember Megazone 23?), and
each ward is divided up into regional towns. This regional
structure is similar to New York City, which consists of 5 burrows
(Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, etc). The place LLNN planned to stay was
in Udenji town in the Megaro Ward of Tokyo Prefecture. So with
NYC, it was kind of like staying in Brooklyn burrow of New York City in
the state of New York.
[Traveling in Japan Lesson 1] [Traveling in Japan Lesson 2] [Traveling in Japan Lesson 3]