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> Shibuya
> Shinjuku
> Harajuku
> Ginza
> Aoyama
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> Ueno
> Ebisu
> ... and more.

> in Kyoto
> Kyoto, Higashiyama
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Photo: Shibuya Foodshow court. Giving it a deep thought and choosing the right kind of pastry is a national pastime.

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> Japanese Fashion
> Japanese People
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The Shinkansen and the Japan train system

Japanese Architecture
Buddhist Temple, Shinto Shrine


Featured Travel Guide articles:

Japan Guide

Tokyo guide

 

Suggested Itinerary
photo guide by weeks

Week 1 - Tokyo
Week 2 - Tokyo,Kanto
Week 3 - Nikko
Week 4 - Tokyo
Week 5 - Kyoto
Week 6 - Osaka,Nara
Week 7 - Tokyo,Kanto
Week 8 - Hokkaido

Or click here for more detailed info on the tours.

 

 

/ back to the index of the
Tokyo Travel Guide

Tips on cheap Tokyo stores and bargains
just make sure you know where to buy what

The cliché... cost of electronics

If it's a Japanese company it will cost only two thirds than overseas, even if it's brand new. Should you need a hint on just what exactly is made by a Japanese company, look around your room, at your workplace, check what brand you car is, your camera, watch, computer or game collection.

And if you're still hesitating about something because of its price, just head down to Akihabara, and PASS the first twenty shops to find places selling new and used electronics from air-conditioners, security systems, computers to games and home appliances for half, third or even fourth the list price. For things you don't need new of you can ask most stores outside Akihabara as well whether they're selling any used merchandise of, which are always tested and resold with a proper guarantee.

Games, Music, DVDs, Anime, Manga, and related

Well if you're reading this article you may be interested in ways of expanding your collection without paying a fortune for every single copy. Well, first of all, a new release is a new release in Tokyo as well, and will cost just barely below the limit which the most eager will pay for them. This doesn't seem to be a problem from an economic point of view for there's no idol, game, movie, anime or manga that doesn't have a huge amount of people waiting for them, especially with the proper advertising thrown into the media... Based on their popularity the amount released and the places where you can get them will vary, but the prices will be more or less the same everywhere you look. Which is... not cheap.

However...
Probably because of this, or just a well planned countermeasure for piracy... returning and selling used music CDs, DVDs, games, consoles, anime and even manga people got bored of creates a well working, and huge official market for low-price versions of the same ( sometimes even brand new ) stuff you longed for. Most of the time you can get a copy of any new release within a week or so, through these channels... and on the issue of where to look and how official it is... for example Tsutaya has racks and racks selling flawless secondhand merchandise in most of its departments, and even has a CD rental service... from which it usually sells the somewhat tired copies through its own store for one tenth of the price. But many other large electronic and electronic entertainment stores have some similar system. Meaning if you don't ( have to ) jump on the first copy that still has the plastic cover warm from the factory line, you can get anything for much much less without having to wait more than a week or two. The system is well oiled with lots of people on both ends of the bargain and kept alive by all the stores that recognized the possible profits. People with any financial concerns about how to obtain recorded entertainment will learn to like this feature.

Food ingredients...

More expensive than overseas... ( with the exception of Hokkaido where it's even cheaper)
Most cheese, fresh tomato, potatoes, fresh bread and other wheat products, fresh milk and milk products, beef, pork, milk chocolate...

Costs the same, is a little or much cheaper than overseas...
Salmon, tuna and fish in general, crabs, lobster, oyster ( especially in Hokkaido ), squid, octopus, rice and all rice flour based products, all kinds of beans and bean based products, most fruits, chicken, vegetables, mushrooms, and of course special spices, seasonings, sauces...

Food in general
Not counting the "class of the restaurant" parameter... which is probably recognizable to anyone right away, just try to keep the above list in mind and you should be prepared for the differences in cost. Chinese, Korean and of course Japanese cuisine is a given to be much cheaper. Even if you have some experience visiting the least expensive restaurants overseas be prepared to pay only half for some food in most places. Noodles are an exception, they cost about the same, with soba and udon being around two to three hundred yen and a good portion of ramen around four to six hundred. Italian food costs the same as everywhere in the world but the portions are smaller. You can eat a pizza by yourself and still order some pasta. Indian food costs the same as everywhere in the world except India and parts of Britain. Western style food like steak and other meals that generally just give different themes to huge chunks of meat are of course more expensive. Food with ingredients that don't need to be traveling down from Hokkaido or up from Australia will cost the same. Meaning if you order something with more than the gyuudon equivalent of beef in it prepare for the price to skyrocket exponentially.

Transportation

Trains
For information on the Japan Rail Pass ( which may be a good idea if you just know that you'll be using it till you drop ) visit the Tourist discounts part of the Travel Information page.

Buy a daily ticket to say the least. In case you're only visiting a special ticket for the inner districts will allow you to ride the Chuuoo-line and the Yamanote line trains all day long, thus pretty much cover most of the downtown stations, historic sights, attractions and transportation hubs. It will not just replace all the little hundred and fifty yen fares per station, but also be your all-day pass through the gates without the need to stand in line every time you feel like going from one place to another. Also such a ticket will allow you to come and go between the gates of the platforms as many times you want, which can't be said for the single fare version. Unless you're ready to get yourself a monthly pass or let's say a Suica card this is your best option to save on time, money and the nerve you need when in a rush-hour queue.

Taxi
The first thing a visitor will encounter about taxies is that they charge you ten to twenty thousand yens for the trip between Narita Airport and downtown Tokyo as opposed to the two thousand yens the Narita Express tickets cost with the train departing like every ten minutes from the basement. No matter where you're heading the train option will always be cheaper. The flat fare for taxies is about six hundred yen, which includes the first three kilometers at most. Taxies aren't that expensive but other than missing your last train home, there's simply no reason to ride one, for the same trip from Shibuya to the suburbs will cost three thousand yens instead of four hundred with the train. Perhaps it's a more comfortable or elegant way of traveling but then again, for the same cost that you paid as extra you could have sat into a restaurant two classes higher... or could have stayed in a larger room for a day.

Buses
In Tokyo buses will be most useful in case you've found one of the approx. three directions in which the private rails aren't connected yet... or when heading to either of the suburbs or residential areas. They cost a little bit more than trains but will save you the cost of transferring between lines.

Clothing

Fashion is a big time curiosity. The streets are filled with young people always up to date with the latest looks, most of them with a style on their own for which you just have to have some variety in your collection. The actual trends aside, the places to buy the parts you can then combine into an outfit are the same. First of all, you can march into the brand store of any major company or world famous fashion designer - both Japanese and from overseas - and buy the clothes of supposedly highest quality and class... for the associated high class prices. Aoyama, Omotesando and Harajuku feature the highest density of such stores in which it's not at all uncommon to be all alone by yourself with the intent of purchasing anything. Same reason as everywhere... not everyone can afford to have their styles looked after by the biggest.
With brand names you won't be likely to feel lost, as nearly every design house that has international reputation is represented with at least one high-tech saloon in each shopping district.

If you're concerned about money but would want to buy stuff according to the latest trends, you can always opt for the hyped up little stores in Shibuya and Harajuku that sell the fiberglass and polyester version for a much more reasonable price... which will still look the same, if not better, and - unless you have sensitive skin - will function more or less the same for up to one year, until when you're already got bored of them anyway. Trends following jpop idol looks, European and American pop fashion or other, evergreen styles, all have five times as many such stores than of the "pay for the name" showroom kind. And this doesn't mean they're selling copies, rather that they're selling their own originals inspired to some extent by a hyped up design. Although it is a good idea to check whether you can wash these clothes in hot water and whether you'd have to refrain from ironing...
But considering the fact that you can get a good jacket in town for three to six thousand yen, which you have to pay fifteen to sixty-thousand for in a brand store... you'll probably choose the midrange stuff instead. The last few levels in class sell the image of luxury instead of clothing anyway... but isn't fashion like this... anywhere in the world ?

There's another reason why original shops in Harajuku might not be the option for everyone, especially not over the age of twenty-five. Considering how much braver Japanese young are in dressing up, a visitor who at some point has to wear the clothes bought there in other parts of the world might be hesitant to stock up on them. For those who like to dress up in a much more causal style, brands like GAP and MUJI are an option, not mentioning the countless corners in department stores which as opposed to common belief are pretty much like malls without walls in between the stores. Depending on the location of the building you'll find fashion from middle to world class. Seibu, Marui ( OIOI ), Parco, Daimaru and all big chains seems to have the balance set to at LEAST four floors of eight to be fashion related. And these floors are quite large in square meters...

In case you don't like the idea of actual trends but love to look good... and like to look up stuff you can relate to on your own, head for Shimokita, Koenji or for one level higher in class, Daikanyama or Jiyuugaoka. It's not just a whole different kind of atmosphere but also a good source for stylish clothing stores in both new and vintage pieces that are definitely off the main stream. Still in fashion, but not the main stream that is... for over the top cult stuff it's still Takeshita dori in Harajuku. Variety builds up from everything you'd ever think of, or have seen others believe to be looking good, but in general are just a little bit less flashy than of a Harajuku collection. Mix in rows and rows of western-based indie brands and import vintage clothing and you'll get the idea of an entire district being the ideal resource to build up an original collection... from much less and... with a little bit smaller crowd of girls and boys around you, trying to do the same.

Japan Guide

- Japan Visa, border entry, what to bring and be prepared with
- Japanese maps, Navi mobile navigation, easy orientation for travelers
- Convenience stores, the resupply stations that sell everything
- Japanese Vending machines, for drinks, tickets, cigarettes and more
- Japanese Food, and all kinds of food in Japan, restaurants, fast food, cheap food...

Tokyo guide

- Tokyo - as we see it - introduction
- Budget Tokyo apartment rental, accommodation, let go of the concern
- Tokyo Prices, the real cost vs. western legends, how to make most of your budget
- Cheap Tokyo Stores, bargain tips, where to find what, fashion to electronics
- Tokyo Cafe life, a guide to Cafes serving as meeting points, hangouts and life-savers
- Tokyo Parks and Gardens, well maintained icons of tranquility, tradition or having fun
- The Tokyo crowd... escaping from Tokyo to Tokyo, evading downtown rushhours


Photo: Hachiko crossing view in Shibuya, Tokyo
Tokyo Scenes 3
Ultramodern, people oriented city, the young and energetic face of Tokyo

Well, the site may be a little too excessive especially on the issue of Tokyo, but here are some of the most essential photo albums...
Just Click
on any thumbnail to see the pictures of either district or theme

On the picture: Shinjuku, in between the station and Kabukicho
Tokyo Scenes 2
Images on the real downtowns of the city, centers for and of all ages

Photo:  Asakusa, Senso-Ji Buddhist Temple, the Hozo-mon gate
Tokyo Scenes 1
A tour around some of the most famous historic sights in Tokyo

Photo:
Tokyo Scenes 5
A closer look at some of the most unique and atmospheric districts


Tokyo Scenes 6
Finding the right place... whichever it is... from Shimokita to Koenji


Tokyo Scenes 4
Famous town centers in Tokyo, both historic and modern


Tokyo Scenes 7
A quick tour on the harmony of 21st century architecture and everyday life

See a list of all photo albums on Tokyo

 

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