City Overview, Tokyo
Please note that all information written here is valid for September 2011. Due to the events of the major Earthquake roughly 200-300km north of Tokyo and the problems with the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant 240km north of Tokyo, Tokyo had experienced several effects. This is a 5th and hopefully final revision. I will probably remove this page by the end of the year.
All information is for September 2011. Things should only get better.
JR Lines: All lines are running normally. There are occasional strong aftershocks that still affect the east cost, but that is between Fukushima and Iwate. Tokyo has had no disruptions due to any aftershocks. The Shinkansen may be affected, but they are short disruptions that will cause only minor affects.
General Train Info: Virtually all trains have returned to regular service (September 9). Due to the summer energy saving efforts, train service was reduced in the summer, but that has been suspended. There shouldn't be any problems with regular train service.
While there was a huge power saving campaign in Japan during the hot summer months, the supply of power has returned to a stable rate. No one should be affected by power saving measures, although some areas may still be a little dark at night.
There were problems with food supply problems immediately after the earthquake, however that has stopped. There has been concerns with radiation in the food supply. Meat from northern Japan had been suspended, however they have resumed that supply. There can be concerns with food however the government has said that they are testing the food and continue to monitor the food supply for any changes. It is up to the individual to decide if they feel the food supply is safe or not.
Shopping has returned to normal. No shops are affected by power problems or infrastructure problems. (Note: There may be a few exceptions, but it is very rare)
Nightlife is normal. All shops are back to their regular operating hours
Having lived in Tokyo since the earthquake, I have to say that I feel safe here. I still have concerns over the food supply but I choose to trust the government.
To specifically answer the question of, is Tokyo safe? In terms of radiation, that is a personal choice. In terms of being able to get around and enjoy yourself, yes. Tokyo is no longer experiencing any problems related to the earthquake.
unlike in beijing where you have to pay 5 remimbi for an english city map, here in tokyo, the english city maps are free and are available everywhere, in englih speaking kobans (police boxes) and in japanese tourism offices and even in the offices of the travel agencies and tours like Sunrise or JTB or Hato Bus or Grayline Tokyo. thge maps are detailed as you can see in the pictures below and has a separate map of the subway system and the Railway system in and around the tokyo area and more importantly it has the corresponding japanese language equivalent of the english language word written in the maps so that if you feel lost, you can still ask any japanese for directions using these maps.
Fondest memory: get a free tokyo map whenever you can, it is also available at the lobbies of the big hotels in tokyo.
gas stations in the tokyo area are very small and are far in between. Must be some strict zoning plan by the tokyo metropolitan government on why there are few gas stations. The gas pumps are mostly overhead instead of being at ground level and maybe because this saves space and due to to the fact that land prices in tokyo are sky high! A liter of regular unleaded gasoline here costs 130 yen, a liter of premium unleaded gasoline cost about 160 yen! talk about being very expensive! that's why most people are using the very efficient mass transport system to cut on costs!
Fondest memory: very expensive gasoline! way too expensive!
most houses in the tokyo metropolitan area are condominiums as prices of land in tokyo is one of the most expensive in the world with most people living in the suburbs and commuting 1 to 2 hours to tokyo for work as parking costs and gasoline cost again is one of the most expensive in the world! pictures you see here are examples of condominiums in the tokyo area and they say that renting a one bedroom unit here cost around 150,000 yen a month (about 1,550 US Dollars). really expensive again that is why lost locals own homes or rent homes at the susburbs in Chiba prefecture or Shizouka Prefecture.
Fondest memory: i can't imagine to live in the downtown tokyo area because of the sky high rent! hehehehe
Let me confuse you a little bit with regards to finding an address in Tokyo. If you venture out anywhere from the city's main district, don't count on finding an address from the address given. This is the main reason, that directions given by the extremely helpful Japanese people, are very difficult to follow..
Addresses have their own system. First is the name of the "ward". There are 23 wards in Tokyo. In the ward there are many "districts". The district name would be next. Lots of them have the same name so they add a number. Then to find a "block" within the district. This can be difficult. Many of them have no name at all. And if this was not confusing enough, - if you actually find the block, then you have to find the house/building. They are not numbered like you are used to. They are numbered according to when they were built. So number 1 can be in the middle of a block, number 2 down on the corner and 3, up the block three quartes of the way in the other direction.
Do not let this discourage you. Rest assured you will have a great time finding your way around.....d;o)
Fondest memory: I once got on a train in Tokyo, with the intent of getting lost. I stayed on the train for 40 minutes and then simply got off. I was working in the Entertainment Staff on a cruise ship for Chandris Lines at the time. It took me two wonderful days to find my way back. The gentle and enthusiastic helpulness of the Japanese people was astounding. I asked one person for help, who would then ask another person, and pretty soon I had 20 people, all talking at the same time, trying to direct me. A family insisted I spend the night at their house, which was wonderful in it self. It was surreal and exhilerating at the same time. Needless to say, I missed the ship, and had to take the Bullet Train to Osaka to catch up. The experience was worth all the yelling I received from the Captain of my ship.
A vending machine is around every corner of Tokyo selling just about everything you need!
It was very convenient when you are sight seeing to grab a drink from the vending machine. Saved going into a shop! The coffee from the vending machines was actually nice!
I found Tokyo to be an amazing city, clean, friendly, and at the same time ultramodern with ancient temples & palaces. While driving would be a real challenge, with the language & sign problems, the transportation system is great & the roads are good, - though the best way to get around is probably by subway & bullet trains as the roads are crowded.
The outlying cities, Nagoya, Nikko, & Kyoto especially are 'fantastic' for their ancient temples & scenery, though Tokyo does have the Emeror's palace right in the center of the city and is great as well. From atop the Tokyo Tower, you get a great 360 degree panorama view of the city & also of Mt. Fuji in the distance - there are telescopes to provide 'close-up' views.
Springtime is probably the best time to visit - around Easter when the cherry trees are in full bloom, though I can imagine the Fall colours must be spectacular as well.
Fondest memory: My favorite memory of Japan is of the Temples & park-like region of Kyoto.
The fish markets by far and surviving the trains.
The large buddha at Kamakura.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Fondest memory: I'm amazed at how it can be so peaceful, clean, and organized though it's so crowded. I loved that the bicycles were not chained. I really enjoyed their embrace of modernism, while still holding on to ancient customs.
Tokyo has over 12 million people or 10% of Japan population.
Many of the buildings are low in height due to the seismic consideration. There are several more stable parts of Tokyo which allow skyscrappers to be built.
Tokyo has over 23 wards each run as a small municipality. Together with other neigboring towns in the Kanto plain, Greater Tokyo is the unrivalled place of choice of place to live for many young Japanese professionals. The commute hours can be as long as 2-3 hours one way by a combination of train, bus, bicycles or walking.
Tokyo is the place to be.
Odaiba-meaning 'fort', a man-made island at the eastern end of the Rainbow Bridge being construct to protect against attacks from the sea in history. Among the attractions of Odaiba are several shopping and entertainment centers, theme parks and museums.To get there, walk across the Rainbow bridge, take a water bus from Hinode Pier, or ride the Yurikamome monorail and get off at the Daiba stop.
Fondest memory: Odaiba Seaside Park – This park has a real beach where kids can play in the water or build their own shogun sand castles.
Favorite thing: Tokyo is not only the high skyscrapers of Shinjuku. It is a picture you often see when it is about Tokyo, high skyscrapers. But even though the ones in Shinjuku are impressive, we preferred the areas where the buildings are a little lower. The small and winding streets with the colorfull lights, or the hidden temples.
Favorite thing: Contrary to popular belief it is possible to see a lot of Tokyo and not spend much money. I spent a whole day in Tokyo and didn't spend a dime on any attractions. I found the free things and soaked up the atmosphere! You will probably have to pay for train fares but these are pretty inexpensive compared to the rest of Japan. Be careful about where you go to eat also. Buying a bento at the convenience store will fill you up and save money. One of the more interesting places I discovered on my trek around the city was Harajuku (pictured)... go and see for yourself!
Favorite thing: Unlike in the US, the Japanese do not have the concept of personal space. Bumping while in busy places like Shinjuku and Shibuya is common and not an "Act of war". If you are accidentally bumped, a simple "Sumimasen" will do and just go about your business. Just be prepared for a lot of bumping.
Stay a few weeks! This megalopolis is bigger then big and not for nothing the largest city in the world. It's agglomerations counts 30 million people and according to the landmass that it's one, the people must be packed in boxes (which sometimes indeed is like that. Still the business of Tokyo makes it's littel secrets even more special. The parks, the temples and some other places where you can find a miracelous peacefullness. The city kept it's balance, which on it's own can be considered to be a miracle.
Fondest memory: A drive over rainbowbridge at night gives you a breathtaking view of the million lights of Tokyo.
See Shinjuku, the bright lights, its so futuristic, its unbelievable!!! all the shops, and the electronic shops are filled to the brim in latest state of the art goods
Imperial Palace is excellent, walking through the Park area, but u cant go in!! u can only see it!!
Fondest memory: My best memory has to be meeting a person from San Fran in the hostel and going to a japanese restaraunt down a sidestreet in lidabashi, nothing was in english, and i was using my quidebook to help order the food. And of course we met some locals who had a little bit to drink, but when they get drunk they dont get violent so this is no concern. In fact the japanese open up out of their shyness and are really funny when they are drunk