Japan's mega-city is crazier than it's anime, buzzing with movement, feet on the sidewalks, cars zooming down the streets, subway trains humming underground, ships coming in and out. Bright lights and loud signs ask you to stay at the altar of consumerism for a second (if that means seconds) and pray.
The technology - savvy locals rush past monuments and urban parks during the cherry blossom season, when all the green spaces are flooded with green spaces. If you want to stop in Tokyo, the city is certainly worth it, and rest assured, the museums and historic sites are world class. Here you can eat sushi, take pictures, shop a lot and be part of a city that feeds on movement and progress.
But it would be better to go a step further and travel to the other side of the world, to Tokyo, the capital of Japan and home to a number of major sporting events.
The best times to visit are March, April, September and November, but spring brings a lot of what you see here. Autumn brings colorful foliage and pleasant temperatures, but instead of bright autumn tones there are cherry blossoms and trees in full bloom.
You won't see the full potential of Tokyo's parks at this time of year, but you can avoid it. Summer is the peak season and you will be faced with the most difficult weather you will experience at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Winter weather is more manageable, as it is cooler, with temperatures ranging from the mid-to-late 60s to low 70s. Even the best sunsets and sunrises can be seen in the summer months, although not as often as in winter.
If you're looking for an ATM, go to 7-Eleven or Citibank, both of which accept foreign cards. Some shops in Tokyo, especially those off the beaten track, take your card even if it's only for a few seconds. ATMs in other countries accept your foreign card as long as it indicates "VISA" or "AMEX." Carry cash with you to avoid going to the ATM often, but if you do, take cash in your pocket to avoid going there often.
There are millions of commuter routes, and there are subway workers whose only job is to keep pushing people into crowded cars when they are blocked by doors that cannot be closed. You get stuffed like a sardine on the train and you don't know what kind of sushi you're going to find in Tokyo's "Japanese culture."
Century - ancient temples rub against modern skyscrapers, and while consumerism rages on the streets, citizens are expected to abide by a strict code of conduct, including in private. Most travelers may have heard of the "Japanese tradition of greeting," but it is easy to overdo the rules. As a Westerner, I do not expect you to be good at the specifics of Japanese culture or even at the nuances of its customs.
In social situations, a weak nod of the head is enough, and you don't have to shake hands before shaking hands with a Japanese man.
Japanese is the spoken language of Japan, and a large proportion of Tokyo's inhabitants speak English, so you may not understand it immediately. Japanese house to which you are invited, take your shoes with you when you enter, especially when you enter a more traditional lodging or restaurant. If you are not sure whether you should take shoes or not, look for a shoe rack in the corner of the room. If you approach a local street, be patient, as you may not immediately understand the local language or even the name of a street or street.
If there is no one near you, enter your keyword for the street name, the number of buildings and even the location of your hotel or restaurant.
It is important to know that gift giving plays an important role in building relationships in Japan, so bring something from your host country and make sure it is packed. If you cannot bring something home, you are welcome to bring it to your host country. Just make it clear that you will receive it by hand when you receive the gift. You can bring a gift from home or outside your country - it is more difficult if you have been invited to a Japanese house without any previous knowledge. Just offer your hand, but make no mistake when you receive your gift, receive with your hands.
The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, from July 4 to 7, 2016 at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Stadium.
Japan will use the yen as its currency for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Please check the current exchange rate, as it varies from US dollar to yen in US dollar.
If you want to get off the beaten track, which does not always accept cards, you must have cash with you. Japanese ATMs, but it is important to know that they only accept Japanese cards at ATMs listed by the provider. Visitors will find a number of ATMs in Tokyo's Olympic and Paralympic Park and other parts of the city.
Americans will be pleased to know that tipping is not common here, but even the smallest tip confuses the servers so much that they try to give you back your money.
If you are in a restaurant serving pasta or soup, you may hear a choir of guests slurping, which is perceived as a polite sign that you have enjoyed your food. Remember: make sure your chopsticks never stand upright in the bowl and avoid playing with them because it is considered offensive. When the Japanese are sick, they are expected to wait until they have had their noses smashed in private places. If the hot noodles make your nose run a little, do not blow out in front of your face.
When you consider that Tokyo, together with the number of prestigious restaurant awards and the fact that there are most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, it is easy to understand why chefs and culinary critics consider Tokyo the gourmet capital of the world. But these numbers hardly reflect what makes Tokyo's restaurant scene so remarkable.
Experts say that the fact that we import goods from Europe every day is one reason why Tokyo has so many outstanding culinary titles. The way Tokyo's food landscape stands out is due to the number of chefs who specialize in just one dish and spend their lives perfecting it. There are also talk of craftsmen who dedicate themselves to mastering their craft, such as the Shokunin, who are dedicated to mastering their craft.
There are restaurants all over Tokyo that specialize in chefs, Jiro Ono is one of them, and to get a typical Tokyo dining experience, look for micro restaurants that have only one or two dishes, or even just one dish, on the menu.
It is important to remember that sushi here at home is very different from it here, nigiri (sushi) are simply pieces of fish that are placed over rice. There is also sushi, which is traditionally rolled in seaweed and has no other frills than vinegar and wasabi. It needs to be hacked, as sushi should be, but it's also a bit more complicated.
If you're looking for something more formal, treat yourself to one of Japan's most famous sushi restaurants, Tokyo Sushi Bar. You will also want to try the charcoal grilled chicken skewer or the grilled Unagi eel, which is grilled, steamed, seasoned and then grilled. No matter what you eat, make sure to go with a beer, it's the perfect accompaniment to sushi and nigiri.
Japan is the world's seventh largest beer consumer, and the largest domestic producers are Asahi and Kirin Sapporo. When it comes to desserts, try everything that is seasoned with matcha, such as chocolate, chocolate biscuits, ice cream and chocolate cake.
Tokyo is pretty safe for a big city, and compared to Europe, it's not exactly a reputation for pickpocketing. Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world, and crime rates are low - be careful.
But if you want to go out, you should always be on your guard and think carefully about where you want to celebrate - always.
The State Department recommends keeping on your toes when celebrating somewhere in Tokyo, so avoid those areas. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that theft and assault are the most common forms of crime in the area of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. For more information, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Olympic venues such as the Olympic Stadium, Tokyo Olympic Park and Tokyo Dome have experienced a significant share of shady activities and crime.
The best way to get around Tokyo is by subway, an extensive and efficient network that will take you anywhere in the city as quickly as possible.
The subways also connect many of the city's most popular tourist areas, such as Shinjuku and the Ginza district. The city is too big to be reached on foot, so you should stroll through the various neighborhoods to enjoy all the action in Tokyo. Taxi rides can be expensive and will be necessary if the subway is closed late at night or early in the morning, but there are no traffic delays. A bus system is even more ubiquitous than a subway, and travelers who do not speak Japanese are usually confused by the large number of buses in Tokyo and the wide variety of routes.
If you don't want to call a taxi in the chaos of Tokyo, Uber offers a wide range of services in Tokyo and other parts of the world.
Japan requires a valid US passport when entering, but you can stay visa-free for up to 90 days. For more information, visit the State Department website or contact your local embassy or consulate.
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