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Apartment or Hotel in Tokyo - First visit to Japan

Posted by sunbell79 on 4/3/2014 at 22:50

We're headed to Japan next month and are seeking advice on accommodation. Our first three nights will be spent in Tokyo and we currently have an apartment and a hotel room booked in the Shinjuku area. The apartment is slightly less expensive, but we're concerned about wanting the help of hotel staff, given the fact that we don't speak Japanese.

We're generally not the types to need help from a concierge, nor do we book with organized tours. We might want help booking a dining reservation, or with explaining how to better understand the complicated address system. But, beyond that, we're pretty self sufficient in our travels to countries where we don't speak the language. Is Japan that drastically different?

Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

#1 sunbell79 has been a member since 25/1/2012. Posts: 6
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Posted by Thomas922 on 23/3/2014 at 04:15

I would go with the apartment. Hell if you check airbnb you might even get a cheaper one! The address system isn't that hard. Most of the places you want to see are well known places. The area of each locality is on any smart phone map. Maps are so common in Japan even among locals. In Tokyo for instance any well known place is referenced by the nearest train station. Go to that train station first and from there get basic info from the train station or someone there. That is part of the fun. Most people can say left /right/ straight etc. Hidari/Migi/Massugu. I swear to you the TIME OUT Tokyo city guide will help you get almost anywhere. You can do it!!!!!! I can give you good links to get around Tokyo if needed just post back. The Yamanote loop is EASY. Shinjuku station itself is confusing though haha!!! I personally don't like pulling up an app all the time. I really loved my guide books and the one I mentioned is small. I lived there for six years though, but for newbies I suggest sending an email to the Japan National Tourism Organization and you will get some brochures and maps and simple translations. There was a number service started a few years back for cheap translation services by phone if needed. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

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Posted by Thomas922 on 23/3/2014 at 04:19

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Posted by exacto on 23/3/2014 at 13:33

It is difficult to say without knowing more about the hotel and the apartment. But I agree with Thomas that Tokyo is pretty easy to navigate for Gaijin. I've stopped in Tokyo on my way to/from Bangkok two different times for three days each, and thought it was surprisingly easy to get around and figure things out. It seems there is always a sign in English somewhere - you just might need to look a bit harder for it. We also found quite a few English-speaking locals who offered to assist us - usually without even asking.

My wife and I stay in vacation rental apartments fairly often now. Usually the owner or manager is available to offer advice and suggestions both before and after we arrive. The rental apartments also usually have a book or folder with ideas and recommendations for places to see, where to eat, and the like.

Good luck and no matter what you decide, let us know how it goes. Cheers.

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Posted by MercyB on 25/3/2014 at 22:34

Hi all!

I'm considering going to Japan in October this year. I heard around April and around October is cherry blossom time. Correct me if I'm wrong tho... The replies in this thread are very helpful because I'm actually wondering which type of accommodation is best in terms of budget. I might just look for apartments on airbnb. For a week-long stay just in Tokyo, how much budget should I bring? Just plan to explore and eat my way through Japan :) No shopping really.

#5 MercyB has been a member since 24/3/2014. Posts: 7

Posted by Thomas922 on 29/3/2014 at 06:29

Sakura viewing is in the spring. Each year is slightly different from north to south from mid march to early April or so. After your accommodations are paid for you have local travel. as a guest you should buy a JR rail pass. Get the info from the same link I gave earlier. If not I would say budget about 1000 to 2000 yen a day if you move around a lot by train for example. If you stay in can walk to Omotesando/Harajuku Meiji shrine and several other local shops and eateries and spend little on transport. But if you go across town and back to say, could spend 300 to 400 yen depending on route. Use this route finder once you are more familiar.

Eating depends. You could eat at a fast food place like Matsuya or Yoshinoya and have beef bowls or pork and rice or ramen and spend 400 to 800 yen. Many ramen shops from 600 to 1000 yen depending on toppings etc. You could have Mcdonalds and spend 300 to 700 yen with a coffee or you could snack on conbini food. An izakaya meal could set you back 1500 yen or less or more depending. I would personally plan on 4000 yen a day for food. you may spend more or less but I am giving you a mid range. I know of an all you can eat Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki place for 2000 yen for example. After that you won't eat more than another snack and drinks for the day.

Breakfast won't be much....lunch more..but dinner can be a great social occasion to meet people and learn things. Ask locals to help you even if you speak no Japanese and trust me..someone will come out of the woodwork in many places and you could be sharing space at an eatery with a group with broken English all around and laughs. Usually someone who speaks more joins in. Happened to me a lot...

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