Dining / Drinking, Tokyo
Not quite a trap, its all usually authentic enough, but unless you're happy sitting on the floor on your knees for 4 -four- hours where the prize is a terribly tasting green poridge- like tea, well then you might want to settle for the short cermony version (or simply skip it, if you are stretched for time, as there are too many other things that should not be missed instead!).
We came across some small shops along some small lanes in Shinjuku. Many Japanese eat Yakitori (meat in a stick) and drink saka in these shops. To those who are looking for decent meal, avoid these shops. They are usually very expensive. We went to one of these shops and spent Y2500 per person for 4 sticks of Takitori and a cup of tea.
Unique Suggestions: But I must say, it is worth to walk through the street to have a feel of the Japanese custom. Walking is free... :)
Walking along streets like Roppongi, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, and Shinjuku (Kabukicho) may eventually lead you (especially guys) to be hit by some ponbiki (pimp). They hand out fliers of their clubs. Some are Nigerian and may be intimidating because of their size (these are imported by the yakuza, i believe for these purposes). Asian people may get hit by Chinese or Korean mafia members in these zones. These clubs/bars are generally overpriced and not what they claim.
Unique Suggestions: Bring lots of money (cash) or make sure they accept credit cards. If you wander in these parts and don't want to get involved, ignore their eyes and walk fast. Also, watch taxis as they seem to help usher hapless pedestrians towards these zones.
Fun Alternatives: Talk to locals about foreign friendly bars that aren't going to rip you off. For meeting women, avoid hostess bars and try clubbing. Hostess women are professionals and really have no interest except in money.
I call this the dolphin club because of the big dolphin on the outside, but I'm not sure of its actual name. The staff was very nice there but was a TINY place, barely enough room for two men behind the bar, and little room to move their arms to serve drinks. The bill for a few drinks came up to around $70 CDN, so it was very expensive. However, this part of the trip did let us in that you don't need to leave a tip in Japan, I had forgotten since its custom in the West!
Fun Alternatives: There are many other places to go to get some drinks late at night for cheaper. This places prices were just to high to have much.
This shop is near New Koyo hotel, near the exit of Minowa Subway Station. Ordered Miso Cha Shu Men and paid 950yen for a bowl...!!!!!
Unique Suggestions: Order only from the menu listed on the wall, the couple do not speak a single english.
When going out drinking in Tokyo, stay on the beaten path. You shouldn't just arbitrarily duck into "any"place just because it looks like a bar(with no english writing in front). You could get fleeced just buying a beer. Some of these establishments could be speciality clubs, and that drink will cost you a fortune.
Unique Suggestions: There are some great bars in Roppongi, neon -lit, loud,
fun and affordable (for Japan that is).
Restaurants/coffebars and so on pay much more rent if they are at groundlevel, the prices are usually cheaper if the restaurants/coffeshops are in the celler or at 2-5th floor. So if you want to pay less keep your eye on those who are located some floors up or down.