By Chris Greenaway
Getting around the futuristic wonderland that is Tokyo can be among the single most intimidating and frustrating things you will ever do in your life. That said, it can also be the most exciting time of your life. However, if you arrive at Narita without any prep or anything else, you won’t last long, nor will you actually make it to Tokyo, (you’re in Narita at that point and Tokyo is still a train ride away.)
The logical solution is to buy a travel book about Japan. Fedor’s and Lonely Planet both have excellent books with every angle covered for a fun trip to Japan. There are literally hundreds of these kinds of books to choose from to boot aside from the two previously mentioned. One good online guide is www.japan-guide.com . This is a site devoted to tourists and people who plan on living in Japan. The best part is that it isn’t a big, bulky book that you have to carry around.
If you don’t want to buy a big heavy book with more info you don’t need or want than not, your best bet is to make your own book. My OWN book? You may ask. However, it isn’t all that hard, nor do you need to do write-ups on anything. For this all you need is a notebook, some glue, and a lot of research. The internet is your friend here and most Guest Houses, Companies, Bars and Restaurants, internet cafes and even hostess clubs have maps for tourists to use when they get off the trains. These maps have where the station is and the exact point where the place is. These are dandy little maps that you can use together with your subway map. You will have a ton of scrap paper cluttering your backpack and pockets if you keep them all separate so why not glue them into your own travel book? Also mark down any other info you may want or need about said places into this book and you will have a light, one stop reference guide to finding everyplace you want to see. Also be sure to tape or glue a color subway map of Tokyo into the book as well so you can get your bearings. You can get one of those on the official Tokyo Metro website at www.tokyometro.jp.
Now this isn’t to say that the travel books from Lonely Planet and the likes are bad. They are great reference guides to all things to do and see in Japan. You can get a lot out of reading these books but for directions, they don’t do people whom have never been to Tokyo much good by themselves. Always be sure to do more research on everything and anything that interests you in these books and make your own reference guide of numbers, names, maps and website URL’s. The most valuable travel tool you bring to Tokyo could be the one you make yourself. It will take a lot of research and work but it will be worth it!
Featured image in this article by Tzong-Lin Tsai CC 2.0