Tokyo is the capital and most populated prefecture in Japan. Originally founded as a fishing village, the city began to gain prominent influence in 1603 and now is an international hub for all things culture, politics and technology. In the past, Tokyo has held many popular international events, most recently the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Before visiting any town or city make sure you know the basics. General details and important information.
- Emergency Services: 110 for police and 119 for ambulance and fire services
- Language: Japanese
- Currency: Yen
- Country Code: JPN
- Travel Visa: None required up to 90 days.
- Population: 13,960,000
Researching various official sources, we perceive the risk to holiday makers and travellers are as follows;
Top travel advice and interesting tip bits of information from experienced travellers.
- Be aware that Japan is subject to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and volcanic activity.
- The Studio Ghibli museum is a very popular destination to visit. If you plan on going, make sure to book tickets months in advance as they sell out very quickly.
- Spring is a great season to travel in because the cherry blossoms are out, it's warm but not yet humid. Spring can be more expensive however as the long school break is between January and April.
For the Emergency services just dial 110 for police and 112 for fire and ambulance services.
Where can I keep up with local news?
Are there any common crimes in Tokyo?
“Upskirting” is the term given to the act of someone taking a photograph up a girl’s skirt. This is unfortunately a very big problem in Japan, although it does not happen to foreigners any more than locals. In addition, women are sometimes groped on trains, especially during busy times. Many measures have been taken to tackle this problem including having ‘Women Only’ carriages on trains, but it still happens in crowded areas.
Beware of pickpockets as they tend to operate in tourist areas, keep your belongings secure at all times and be careful if strangers try to make conversation or distract you as it could be an attempt to steal your valuables.
Credit card fraud, cloning cards can be an issue be careful where you use your cards. Also if you are withdrawing money from cash machines make sure you cover your pin and be discreet about the amount of cash you withdraw.
The city centre like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Roppongi are probably the most dangerous as a lot of people drink there and there are more clubs there, so take extra care.
Are there any areas that I should avoid?
In Shibuya, under the bridge near the train station, many homeless people live under the bridge. They didn’t talk to me, but it’s quite an uncomfortable place to be in.
Some clubs in the city centre should be avoided. If people target you advertising their club, don’t go in. People have been known to be drugged and robbed.
The Red Light District is relatively safe in the earlier hours and if you’re with a large group of people, but avoid it late at night and if you’re intoxicated and there’s only one or two of you.
There are no real crime hotspots in the city, take extra care in busy tourist areas and apply the usual safety precautions. Watch out for quiet areas after dark and stay in the well lit main streets, and stay within the crowd.
Improve Your Personal Safety
Knowledge – the more you have the better equipped you are.
Awareness – the more you see the safer you become.
Response – the right reaction can change a situation.
Every culture has its customs and traditions, they have been handed down the generations and are always held in high regards by the local residents.
The Tokyo Summer Festival lasts for the full month of July and brings together the summer flavour in the form of musical performances and creative exhibitions held in various venues all over the city. Each year has a different theme and the festival attracts many visitors over the month period, it has a great feel and lovely vibe.
Annual events allow a city come together for some amazing experiences. If visiting at this time, make sure you have your accommodation booked and are always aware of your surroundings when travelling around.
National Foundation Day Parade
National Foundation Day is held on the 11th of February, it was the date when the then Emperor Jinmu ascended in Japan’s first enthronement. A parade is created and winds its way through the streets and the whole city celebrates with dancing, music and parties in to the early hours. It is also a national holiday.
Tokyo International Film Festival
The Tokyo International Film Festival was first held in 1985 and since then has gone from strength to strength, many films enter and there are prestigious prizes for category winners. The festival is one of the largest in Asia and many local and national films are entered, the event is usually held in October of each year.
Minato Matsuri is one of the biggest events of Tokyo Port, celebrated in May to marking the opening of Port in 1941. The port itself is filled with ships and sailboats, it is a very impressive sight, many locals take part in the celebrations. If you are visiting the city make sure you always show respect as it’s a very important day on the city’s calendar.
What are some of Tokyo’s highlights?
The Rainbow Bridge is a suspension bridge in Minato which crosses Tokyo Bay between the Shibaura Pier and the Odaiba waterfront. The towers of the bridge are white to blend with the skyline and have lights using solar energy created during the day. Visit in the evening and take the monorail for a ride over the bridge or walk across on the Rainbow Promenade to admire the Tokyo skyline.
Travel on a water bus along the Sumida River for a totally different view of the city. Being on the river will remind you of the importance of the river systems throughout history. One popular cruise is to take a boat from Asakusa to Hinode Pier as the route includes 12 bridges and allows you to get off at Hamarikyu Garden for a visit to a beautiful Japanese garden.
Rikugien is one of Tokyo’s most beautiful Japanese landscape gardens. Built around 1700 the name Rikugien literally means “six poems garden”. The garden recreates in miniature 88 scenes from famous poems with a large central pond surrounded by man made hills and forested areas connected by a network of paths and trails. Various tea houses are also open to the public so you can pause and take in the atmosphere. Spring is lovely with flowering trees in bloom and in Autumn the maple trees are in all their glory.
What are some of the best places to visit in Tokyo?
The current Imperial Palace in the centre of Tokyo is the home of Japan’s Imperial Family. The large park has two photogenic bridges which form the entrance to the inner palace. The stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) and second bridge behind on two levels is called Nijubashi (Double Bridge).
A beautiful big park near Harajuku where you can rent a bike for 200 yen (About £1.10) for an hour, and there are a few cafes and a river and nice places to walk and hang out.
Tokyo’s fish market is one of the world’s largest fish markets and the Jogai Shijo, or Outer Market, welcomes visitors and makes for a fascinating visit. Apart from seeing the most amazing fish you can take the opportunity to have a super fresh sushi breakfast in one of the many eating places alongside the market. The market also sells professional cooking utensils and tableware which are great for gifts or souvenirs. The long standing market venue will close at some point so check for its location before visiting.