Tokyo observations

Observations from my short 4-day trip in Tokyo.

  • Japanese are very very polite. The waitresses at the Shabu-shabu restaurant that Okazaki-san took me to were suffocatingly (in a good way) polite.
  • It is really difficult to find trash cans in Tokyo but streets are amazingly clean. There were a few occasions when i could not find any trash cans and had to carry the trash back to my hotel room.
  • On escalators, everyone stand on the left side and walk on the right side. No exceptions, other than some dumb tourists.
  • The Common One-day ticket costs 1000 Yen and it allows unlimited rides for the day the ticket is purchased on subways operated by Tokyo Metro and Toei (Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation). Except for day i arrived in Tokyo, i bought the Common One-day ticket every day while i was there and it was worth every penny (or Yen).
  • Trains arrive on time all the time.
  • Trains and stations on the Fukutoshin Line are newer. Most of the stations on this line have unique pleasant musical door closing tone.
  • Trains on the Toei Oedo Line appear older and not as well air-conditioned. I noticed that on some trains, they are labeled on the outside “weak air-conditioner” in Japanese.
  • There’s a station on the Oedo Line called Yoyogi.
  • There are sections on the subway train designated as no cell phone zone called “Priority Seat”. I am guessing you are not supposed to do any voice calls while seated in these zones.
  • One popular tourist brochure instructed visitors going to Tsukiji seafood market to use the Tsukiji station (Hibaya Line). The station closer to the market is actually the Tsukijishijo station (Oedo Line).
  • Softbank (a Japanese mobile carrier) has been featuring a snow white Hokkaido Inu called Otosan (father) in their ads. I wanted to get the keychain with a tiny stuffed Otosan but they refused to give it to me without signing a contract.
  • It is not possible to buy prepaid SIM card in Japan. If you are only spending a few days there and you need your mobile phone working, it may be cheaper to enable roaming with your current mobile carrier than to rent a phone in Japan.
  • For some reason, flip phones are HUGE in Tokyo, and most probably, in Japan. More than 90 percent of the phones i noticed are flip phones. I had only seen one candybar phone other than iPhones.
  • It is next to impossible to find free WiFi hotspots in Tokyo. If WiFi hotspots are available, they are all password-protected, including those provided by mobile carriers.
  • 7-Eleven has ATM that accepts ATM cards issued by US banks. A lot of Japanese banks do not seem to take foreign ATM cards, from what i experienced.
  • Okazaki-san taught me this Japanese phrase Ichi-go, ichi-e to describe our meeting. I think it means once in a lifetime.
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking that sushi at restaurants around Tsukiji fish and seafood market is going to be better than elsewhere. I had better sushi at the sushi restaurant on top of Shibuya 109 than the Tuna-specialty joint in Tsukiji.
  • If you are is still holding on to the antiquated notion that Japanese women are small and short, you really should pay a visit to Tokyo. I have never seen so many tall (and slim) Asian women in one place. Not even in Beijing.

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