Going to Tokyo on April 16th

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I'm going to be in Tokyo from 4/17 through 4/23.

A little too early for the Celebration Japan event
but I was wondering if anyone has any helpful tips for a first time visit to Tokyo.

I'm really excited to go but just found out about it today so I'm overwhelmed that I have nothing planned!

Here are some of my questions -

What are the must see places?

When is the best time to go to Akihabara?

Are there any special shows or museum exhibits running that a geek would enjoy?

Are there any unique Star Wars themed establishments?

How do I get all my new toys back to the US?


What are the best non-seafood restaurants (my wife won't touch the stuff and is worried about the lack of options outside our hotel)?
 

GBH

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OK, for starters,youre going to have a great time! July will be my 3rd visit in the last 18 months and i still cant get enough of the place!!!

based on what i ve seen and done,i'll try to answer as many of your questions as i can


must see places:
youve only got 6 days but tokyo has a great rail system and worse case scenario,just jump on the yamanote line.it is a green striped train that does a loop line of the city and includes such popular stops as shibuya,harajuku,shinjuku,central,from memory i think akihabara is on this line? if not the keihin tohoku (light blue stripe) will get you there. from central station you can walk to the imperial palace or ginza which i would recommend at night when it is all lit up.

tokyo tower is near roppongi,it looks similar to the eiffel tower and has an amazing view of the city.

from shinagawa station,you can transfer to the monorail and head out to odaiba,again its very pretty here at night with a view of the city from the bay.you can get some great shots of the cityscape with the rainbow bridge and tokyo tower lit up at night.

for fashion shopping you cant go past shibuya,harajuku and omoetesando.they are all very close to one another,its about a 5-10 min walk from shibuya to harajuku and omoetesando is right next door to harajuku. also if you get off the yamanote line at harajuku,when you exit the station,look straight across the street and you will see a colourful overhead sign saying takeshi dori (street) walk down here as its the funkiest fashion in harajuku.if the wife loves this stuff she'll think she's died and gone to heaven!

asakusa is home to one of the most famous (and popular) shrines in the country,i only ever went by subway from shibuya (ginza line,orange colour) but its very beautiful and has great markets.

another option is to hop on the Hato bus,its a tour bus that will take you around the city,i havent used it but my wife said its great for people who havent been to tokyo before.

the train stations and other places have information centres and help kiosks with staff that speak english (my friend works at the ueno station centre) so if you do get lost or need help,dont hesitate to go see them. a lot of japanese people speak varying degrees of english and some love an opportunity to try their skills so dont be affraid to ask!
Best time to go to Akihabara:

ANYTIME!!!
most shops open between 10-11am and stay open late (8-10pm) every night.make sure you visit yodobashi camera,its the opposite side to the akihabara electric town exit,but spend some time and wander around,its a fun place. the kotobukiya shop is outside the electric town entrane,just up he street a little on the left hand side. the weekend is a lot busier so i'd stay away,even though there are more cosplayers and performers out and about,its crazy busy!!!!!!

so far as museums or exhibits,i didnt visit many in tokyo,akihabara has an anime museum but its not overly interesting.if you had time i'd recommend the samurai museum in hakone prefecture,you can get suited up in full armour and sword for $10
but its way,way out in the mountains and would be really hard to get to without a bit of local help (my wife's japanese so we have family that take us everywhere
)

I didnt find a single star wars based establishment,even in akihabara.its just not that big of a market over there comparitive to other hobbies.oh yeah,if you do go to the kotobukiya shop in akihabara,the SW stuff is on the second floor.

as far as getting your toys back,if you can,i'd recommend shipping whatever you cant fit in your suitcases back home,just remember to write it up as personal belongings on the custom decleration


food:

japan has a reputation as being a big seafood based country diet wise,and to a certain degree this is true.my first time over,the wife's family wanted to give me the full experience and i had so much seafood (some of which downright frightened me!) it was insane. last time around though,i went exploring on my own a lot more (we were there for 7 weeks) and you can get around seafood quite easily. ramen noodle shops are quite cheap and are everywhere. there are the fast food places (mcdonalds,KFC) and some nice japanese chains like yoshinoya,mosburger (my favourite) and freshness burger which has arguably the smallest burgers known to mankind! the bakeries are amazing and you can get great stuff to eat from them too. the train station platforms have kiosks selling cheap sandwhiches that are REALLY good quality,and the convenience stores (of which there are billions) have excellent food also,unlike the convenience stores back home

another chain called saizeriya has a good selection of western food at good prices also.Bamiyan is a chinese style restaurant chain that is cost effective with decent food. there are italian restaurants,thai,basically everything.so dont worry to much about food.once you get there you'll understand,its a lot different to the pre-conceived ideas you probably have,it was for me!! but in a good way.


hope that's helped you out,if i think of anything else i'll add it and if youve got anymore questions dont hesitate to ask and if i can help im glad to


most importantly though,have a great time
 
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Holy jeez! What a fast reply and chock full of great information! I really appreciate it. Especially the subway lines. That's going to come in huge once we get there.

We're staying in the Shinjuku district which is on the opposite side f the subway loop from the Imperial Palace, Ginza & Akihabara.

I'm think I'll hit the Akihabara district twice - first when it's normal so I can take it in and geek out and then on the weekend to witness the craziness.


I really can't tell you how much I appreciate your fast response. I can't wait to get there!
 

GBH

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you're welcome mate,glad to help!

the yamanote loop isnt a subway line though,just thought i'd mention that before you started wandering around the subways thinking "where the hell is this thing!"

shinjuku is a busy place and has a huge station with a lot of lines and access to different areas of tokyo,so its a good spot to base yourself,just dont wander over to kabuki-cho while in shinkuku, its a seedy district full of strip clubs,streetwalkers, bj bars...well you get the idea


there's a small yodobashi camera in shinjuku,but the one's in akihabara and yokohama are way better so check akihabara's instead. another electronics chain is bic camera,they too are everywhere and have cool toy sections (especially the one in ginza)

you'll get a laugh out of the cosplayers and street performers in akihabara,some are cross dressing cosplayers too,which in my mind is just wrong


ahh,now youve got me all fired up for my trip in july WOOHOO!!!
 
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Thanks for all the great tips, they were incredibly helpful. I had an awesome time with no problems at all (except the trip was too short!).

One afternoon I took a train to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Any fan of animation should take this trip. It was easy to get to and was one of the most fun places we visited!

Thanks again!
 

GBH

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im glad to hear you had a great time,its certainly the city for it! also nice to know that my info helped out.

i havent been to the ghibli museum yet,im actually planning to (time permitting) this time around.im a big fan of japanese anime and of miyazaki's work in particular so am looking forward to it.

a friend who i am staying with while over there has told me about a 'ninja bar' and said she will take me there.that one has got me interested!
 
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