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Tokyo has one of the most advanced transportation systems, it is no wonder that the metropolis has consistently placed first with TripAdvisor in the category of the city that provides the “best in overall travel experience”.  You will find that people from Tokyo, are a willingly, open and helpful bunch of people who would be happy to point out the way to your destination. The trick is to speak clearly and avoid jargon and usual phrases in English that may confound your friendly local.


Unless you have a personal English speaking guide, you will want to remember that most temple and national shrine tours are only carried out in Japanese. If you happen to find yourself outside of Tokyo, for one reason or another, and you are in need of assistance in English, you may want to jot down the number for the toll-free Travel Phone Information – 106. If you need help to get to a phone, simply write the number down on a piece of paper and ask for a phone as you present the piece of paper with the number. When in Tokyo, the number for the Travel Phone Service is 502-1461. The Travel Phone Service is manned between the hours of 9am to 5pm daily. Once connected, speak slowly and clearly to the person on the other line and say “T.I.C.” which is short for Tourist Information Center. Once you are connected to the TIC, tell them of your location and ask your question. The T.I.C. is part of the Japan National Tourist Organization.

Another option you may also check out, is the unofficial information desk located at the entrances of most major department stores of the city metropolis, where there always seem to be an English-speaking person present and on duty. They will be happy to help you with most things, as long as they know where to point you, but they will largely be concerned about information inside the complex. One bit of information you may want to keep in mind is that, it is easier to encash the traveller’s cheques at the information desk of a major retail complex than it is at a bank, as long as you have your passport with you.

Nihongo Basics

Sign language, if employed clearly enough, can certainly be an acceptable form of communication. For all intents and purposes, memorizing a few lines in Nihongo can help you go a long way.

  • dozo (DOH-zo) – Please, after you
  • sumimasen (soo-MEE-mah-sehn) – Pardon me
  • domo arigato (DOH-moh-ah-REE-gah-toh) – Thank you
  • do itashi mashite (doh-ee TAH-shee-mahsh-teh) – You’re welcome
  • hajime mahite (hah-JEE-meh-mahsh-teh) How do you do?
  • ohayo gozaimasu (oh-HAH-yoh goh-ZAH-ee-mahs)
  • kon nichi wa (KOHN-nee-chee-wah) Good afternoon
  • komban wa (KOHN-bahn-wah) – Good evening
  • hai (HAH-eh) – Yes
  • iie (ee-EH) – No

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