If you read the previous blog, you know my husband is away on business. It has been kind of a lonely couple of days, and he still has a few more days away. But, tomorrow our daughter and son-in-law… and his parents… arrive for a visit.
We enjoy having friends and family visit. It is fun to show everyone around Tokyo… and we enjoy sharing the sites and the culture of our adopted country. We love Tokyo, and we love living here. We want to show our visitors what is so special about Japan.
But… It is important for our visitors to understand that we are NOT tour guides. Anyone who comes to visit needs to be sure to do their homework before coming here. Japan is an amazing place, and there is so much to see and learn. Make sure to research and decide what is important for YOU to see and do. Don’t just rely on us to decide what we want to show you. Everyone has their own interests, and our interests may not be the same as yours.
Also… be brave. Be willing to go out on your own to see and do the things you want. The train system in Tokyo is amazing! Convenient, inexpensive, and multilingual! Most of the ticket machines have an English option, so it is easy to buy tickets, or recharge the convenient IC prepaid cards (Suica and Pasmo cards in Tokyo.) Learning to navigate the transit system in Tokyo is part of the fun of being here. Google maps will give you all the information you need to navigate the trains… lines, times, platform numbers and even cost! If you don’t have a phone plan that will allow you to use your smartphone here, mobile hotspots and cell phones are available for rental at the airport.
Be adventurous. Be willing to experience the culture! Be open minded about the food options. Japanese food is wonderful. Yes… it is different from your home country… Of course it is! But try it! If, however… you absolutely can’t stand the thought of eating raw fish, or lots of rice, or grilled meats and veggies… there are American fast food options available. But why not try the local food? Why come here if you don’t want to experience something different?
There is so much to see here, but if it is your first trip to Japan, I would suggest exploring close to Tokyo. There is a lot to see in the city itself, and also many short day trips outside of Tokyo. If you have been to Tokyo before, maybe consider buying a JR Pass for the Shinkansen, and travel to some other parts of Japan. The bullet trains (Shinkansen) are a lot of fun, and can take you to all four of the major islands of Japan. But to really get your money’s worth from the JR Pass, you really need to take at least a couple of trips outside of Tokyo. A trip to Kyoto is a must. Going farther to Hiroshima or Nagasaki or to the island of Shikoku, or north to Hokkaido are all wonderful options on the Shinkansen. The JR Pass is only available for tourists. You can buy it online from home before you come to Japan, and activate it once you are here. Easy.
We look forward to having visitors to share our experience with. But understand… this is YOUR vacation, not ours. We LIVE here. It is (at least for now) our home. Share it with us, enjoy it with us… but make your trip to Japan YOUR own unforgettable experience.