🇯🇵 Japan | Tokyo -- Which area to stay in Tokyo?

So we messed up. I didn’t realize Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar during the Meiji restoration and has since celebrated new years in line with it instead of the lunar calendar.

Nothing is open where we are. Maybe need to head back to Tokyo instead

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Well depending where you are, some temple area will have booths with winter drinks and New Years foods, I know in Fukuoka and Sapporo (even with the heavy snow there is a lot of people) and lots going on at midnight if you have free time and want to stay up.

Its the major holiday of the year, many are at home eating special foods so all offices closed and many shops and cafes.

So I’m back in Japan for a few days again before leaving. I have to say, I’m very mixed about how I feel about Japan.

The food was good of course and there’s a lot of culture to see. They really protect their cultural sites. Unlike Europe where next to major cultural sites you get migrants bothering you and trying to scam you. Tourism sites are at least controlled.

I also felt very safe. It’s very clean so a nice contrast coming from Europe.

However, it’s just not a friendly place for none Japanese travelers. I’m leaving feeling underwhelmed. They do seem to try to make an effort for Korean and Chinese speakers but not so much others.

  1. It was difficult to book at restaurants. Especially if you’re looking for something particularly unless you’re just in an area with lots of restaurants and you just walk until you find one. Booking system is lacking and often if you call they don’t speak English and just hang up. I also have a feeling they pretend it’s fully booked just to not to try to communicate.

We did experience the notorious Japanese only turn away. And I have a feeling there were some that said they’re fully booked just as a polite way to not deal with none Japanese speaking people.

  1. Tokyo and Japan is a bit overwhelming if you don’t speak Japanese. I felt at least somewhat ok because I can read Chinese so I could figure out some of it by reading Chinese characters.

  2. We went off the path with a car and it just didn’t feel like people welcomed us too much.

I just don’t understand. For a country that experienced a 1% average growth over 30 years you’d think tourism would be something they would try to get to boost their economy. Their tourism numbers are shockingly low if you look at it.

I saw Japanese government try to make an effort but their campaigns featured Japanese celebrities….which makes no sense to get foreigners to come. Japan has so much to offer for tourists but they just don’t seem to know or want to make the most of their opportunities in tourism.

For east Asia. I’d do Taiwan and Korea. Or just cheaper in SE Asia.

Would I come again for tourism. Probably not. Just for business. Very sorry to say.


An insane number of people were visiting Japan before the pandemic hit. Since this was your first visit, perhaps you didn’t experience this tsunami of people? It was definitely a mixed bag, with overloaded tourist sites in places like Kyoto and twits with selfie sticks doing all manner of rude things in Tokyo (source for the latter: my own eyes).

And now, in early 2023, Japan has just reopened. I’d expect there to be hiccups as the machine gets rolling again. One example I experienced: when I transferred in Haneda in early January, heaps of shops were still closed. Labour shortages are apparently part of the issue here.

All this is to say: give them a chance to get back on track. Based on what I’ve experienced, some parts are not quite there yet (especially airport services) but the hospitality and superb service remain intact, at least in Tokyo.


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I agree! Festivals like Gion Matsuri or the momiji season made small cities like Kyoto a living nightmare, so the locals were quite fed up. Honestly, I felt very lucky that I could see Japan now, but with way less people. My wife and I cycled around Ginkakuji and the Higashiyama and Kitayama areas, and it was extremely peaceful and silent.

Though, as @Andrew0409 mentioned, bookings and getting around can be quite daunting if you cannot speak Japanese, my wife had the same complaint. (I wanted to practise my speaking, so I actually enjoyed that people didn’t switch to English when I couldn’t express myself clearly :sweat_smile:)

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