A foreigner’s guide to Tokyo

When visiting Japan, it can be a journey filled with personal growth and many opportunities. Navigating through cities like Tokyo is very accessible and allows for tourists to have an adventure traveling to temples, shrines or to monumental destinations like Mount Fuji!

Immersing fully into the land and culture in Japan is what being a tourist is all about. Before departing to these places, there are major notes to take and remember about the culture of Japan to make sure that the locals and country are respected. 

Prepaid Transit Cards

The easiest way to get around the city of Tokyo is by using the subway and train stations. To get on and off the train you must tap a Suica or PASMO card to pass to the subway platform.

The inside of a subway train

Suica and PASMO cards allow access to public transite options in Japan such as trains, subways and buses. Tickets for each train stop can be purchased without using a transit card.

Suica cards can be reloaded at specific machines using an international credit card or the Suica card can be added to Google and Apple wallets electronically to be reloaded through your connected bank. Word of warning, however: recent visitors had trouble reloading their Suica cards that had been transferred to their phones if they tried using a Visa credit card to add more value. Train station workers said it was a problem between Visa and the Japanese banking network. However, MasterCard did not appear to have this issue.

Quiet atmosphere

Riding the subway or walking along the street may require the skill of lowering voices to a minimum.

Japan is well-known for minimal talking on public transportation and in general while being in public. Some exceptions would be dining in restaurants or while walking in shopping centers.

Japanese locals have learned the cultural value of keeping to themselves to be able to be respectful of everyone’s space and time. 

Keeping to yourself

Most of the sidewalks and walkways have designated sides for people either direction. These split sections will be marked by a yellow line or with green arrows that determine the direction.

It is not always a strict rule if only one person is walking in the wrong lane, but walking in a large group may cause some problems of being in the way of someone’s path. 

One more thing

Overall, Japan is a very effective and easily walkable country. The residents are often friendly and will not be upset if tourists do not know these rules.

Another good tip would be not to walk while eating. Instead, customers should eat their food where they got it (even if it means standing in front of the food stand or restaurant) instead of eating while walking. Many of the locals feel as if dining is a sacred experience to give thanks for the meal.

Keep in mind that it is important to remember these practices and act accordingly to ensure a good and smooth experience.

It will be hard to manage the change arriving from a foreign country. However, these will be daily occurrences and will start to gradually stick as time goes on. 

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