Tokyo Guide: How to Travel to Japan and Tokyo on Your Own | Elena Kazantseva's Blog


This article forms a short travel guide to Tokyo that covers my experience of travelling to Japan and getting ready to this trip.


In this article I will tell you about:
Visa and insurance for Japan
Mainlines voltage and sockets in Japan
How to get to Tokyo
How to get from the Tokyo airport to the city
JR Pass travel ticket
Tourist attractions in Tokyo
Hotels in Tokyo
Prices in Tokyo and Japan
Food in Japan
Souvenirs to bring from Japan
Mobile connection in Japan
Guided tours in Tokyo
Where to travel to from Tokyo

Visa and Insurance for Japan

visa and insurance to japan


To travel to Tokyo and Japan, you will need a visa. A simplified scheme is applicable to citizens of the Russian Federation. The visa is free.

You don’t need any insurance to get the visa. However, medical services are expensive in Japan and even a common cold can cost you much. Therefore, I highly recommend that you should have a tourist insurance certificate whenever you travel.

Mainlines voltage and sockets in Japan

When travelling to Japan, don’t forget that the mainlines voltage is 100V. Not in all hotels adapters are available at the reception; therefore, you should either buy an adapter in advance from AliExpress (an example of a multifunctional travel adapter) or upon arrival in Tokyo go to Akihabara district and buy it at an electronic store. An adapter costs about $5.

How to get to Tokyo

The most popular option is by plane, of course.


How to buy air tickets to Japan and save


You can find the price of tickets from your city in this low price calendar:

How to get from the Tokyo airport to the city

Tokyo is served by 2 airports – Haneda and Narita. We will talk about the second one. It is about 75 km from Narita airport to Tokyo. The most comfortable way to get from Narita to Tokyo is by taxi or by transfer. The price starts from $280. I recommend booking a transfer in advance, for example, via this service.

The fastest way is by train. There are several trains – they differ in price and travel time. Some of them are covered by travel ticket JR Pass, some are not. The fare starts from $13.

It takes from 1.5 hours to get to the center by bus, the price starts from $10.


Narita airport: how to get to Tokyo


JR PASS travel ticket

If you plan to travel around the country, the most convenient way is to use trains. High-speed trains – shinkansens – run between major cities, which moves at a speed of up to 250-300 km/h and can get you from Tokyo to Kyoto in just 3 hours.

Trains in Japan are expensive – travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto will cost from $130.

In 90% of cases, it is advisably to buy JR Pass travel ticket, which makes it possible for you to use JR trains any number of times. The price of weekly travel pass starts from $276 Here, I have written in considerable detail about calculating whether the travel ticket will pay off, as well as how to buy it:


JR Pass travel ticket: how to buy and how to use


Tourist attractions in Tokyo

sights of Tokyo


You will need at least 2 days to see places of tourist attraction in Tokyo. I recommend reading the article “TOP 10 places of attraction in Tokyo”; I have marked all the popular attractions on the map.

Among the most popular attractions in Tokyo I would mention the Imperial Palace, Tsukiji fish market (be sure to visit it!), Tokyo parks (especially when sakura is blossoming) and 2 TV towers. You can climb both TV towers and see the Tokyo panorama from the viewing deck.

Also be sure to read my article about Tokyo districts. Every Tokyo district is a kind of tourist attraction. In which of them you should look for slot machines, which are perfect for getting a taste of Japan, and which are comfortable to live in – you will find answers to all these questions in the above-mentioned article.

Hotels in Tokyo

There are numerous hotels in Tokyo to choose from. If you have already decided which district you want to live in (if not, read the above-mentioned article about Tokyo districts), then all you need is to decide whether you want to live in a classic hotel, in a capsule one or maybe in a traditional ryokan.

I suggest leaving the traditional style for Kyoto and choosing a classic hotel or a capsule hostel in Tokyo (here you can read about capsule hotels).

Beside a capsule hotel, we managed to stay in two of Tokyo hotels:

Tosei Hotel Cocone Kanda

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Ginza Sanchome


Both hotels are quite affordable (for Japan) and cozy. They are located next to JR stations as well.

Prices in Tokyo and Japan

When traveling to Japan, the main expenditure items are air tickets and transport costs. You can save on the rest if you want. You can find the accommodation you can afford; food is cheap in Japan. And of very high quality. Everywhere: in cafes, restaurants, and even in stores. You can buy ready-made food at 7-Eleven and Family Mart stores. It is cheap. You can have it warmed up on the spot. By the way, sushi are always fresh in these stores as well. And delicious.

You can find detailed information about prices in Japan here.

Food in Japan

food in japan


Definitely, you can’t feel the country without trying the local cuisine. The most popular food in Japan is, of course, rice, sushi, and seafood, as well as meat. I found Japanese dishes utmost plain, but delicious. However, desserts can sometimes surprise. You can try the most striking instagramable desserts in Tokyo in Harajuku district. I have written a separate article about this district. Also, you can read about the TOP 20 Japanese dishes:


TOP-20 Japanese dishes: must-try


Souvenirs to bring from Japan

If you need phones, cameras, etc. – you should shop around Japanese electronics. It is quite expensive, but much better than Chinese, Vietnamese, or Thai analogues. If you are traveling by a tourist visa, you can save when buying electronics. First of all, you won’t have to pay taxes (8-10%), and secondly, many stores offer a 5% discount if you pay with VISA. Keep this in mind. You can bring Japanese sweets as souvenirs to your family and friends – various sweets, KitKat with unusual tastes, etc. And toys for children. There is a huge variety of toys in Japan – it makes you dizzy. What else can you buy in Japan, read the article:


Shopping in Tokyo: what to buy in Japan


Mobile connection in Japan

In Europe, I often make shift with Wi-Fi and offline maps, but in Japan, especially when going on the first trip, I recommend buying a local SIM card/renting a Wi-Fi router or connecting any Internet services to your SIM card. It will make it easier for you to travel around the country. First of all, you will always have online maps; secondly, you will always be able to find the relevant train schedule, including shinkansens. This will save you a lot of time and, perhaps, your nerves.

You can buy a SIM card with tourist mobile connection right upon arrival at the airport. We bought it at Narita airport. The connection is by no way cheap, but it really helps. In 2018, our SIM card cost 7,100 yen for 2 weeks with unlimited access to the Internet (it is probably more expensive now). For 12 days, we spent about 5 GB consuming the Internet from two smartphones almost without connecting to the hotel Wi-Fi. There was also a 3GB tariff, which cost about 5,000 yen. This may be enough if you spare it and use a single device.

Almost all the cards in Japan are of nano type; an adapter for micro and regular format costs 100 yen. To activate a SIM card, you will need only your passport.

You can rent a router at the airport or book it in advance. Service specializes in providing the Internet to tourists (even Lonely Planet recommends them); you can rent a router with the unlimited Internet access (up to 10 connected devices) for as long as you need (for example, 7 days – 5380 yen, 12 days – 7630 yen, 2 weeks – 8290 yen). [mkdf_highlight background_color = “pink” color = “”] With a JW2B coupon, it will be 10% cheaper. [/ mkdf_highlight]

Guided tours in Tokyo

If you come to Tokyo for 1-2 days only, you’d better book a guided tour – it will save your time. A personal sightseeing tour will cost $150-250 per group.

Where to travel to from tokyo

In fact, where to go is a matter of your personal interest and budget. I don’t recommend going for a day to places further than 150-200 km; it will be tiresome. From Tokyo, we visited two places:

  1. Wisteria park Ashikaga Flower Park. The one-way takes about 2 hours. The trip is fully covered by JR Pass. The most perfect time to visit the Park is late April – early May, when Wisteria is at the peak of its blossoming.

where to go from Tokyo


  1. Kawaguchiko Lake and Fuji Mountain. The lake offers a splendid view of Fuji. The one way takes about 3 hours. Part of the way is not covered by the travel ticket. The best time for the trip is a sunny clear day. By the way, here you can see our route around Japan, maybe, you’ll have some ideas where to go from Tokyo.

excursions from Tokyo

If you have any questions or something to add, you are welcome to leave your comments.

Have a nice trip to Japan!

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