The fact of the matter is
that if you’re coming to Japan,
you’ll probably be arriving at
one of Tokyo’s two international airports,
Narita or Haneda.
And in 2015,
Haneda had 13 million international passengers
while Narita had 28 million.
Now, even though Narita is the big one,
I’m dedicated to my craft.
So I went to both.
So, you’ve arrived safely and made it through customs.
Welcome! Isn’t it exciting?
Actually I find the arrival gates to be
the most underwhelming part of either airport.
But you know what is exciting?
Being on Japanese TV.
If you’re so inclined,
just talk with these fine folks.
I wasn’t so inclined.
Now the first thing you’ll need to get sorted is cash.
Because in Japan, cash is king.
From restaurants to the old cons to vending machines.
You’ll often need cash to get by.
And yes. I know this machine accepts IC cards.
And I’ll show you how to get one.
But first let’s get that sweet sweet yen.
Now, this is an instance
where I did much more research for you, dear viewer,
than I’ve ever done for any of my family who have visited.
Although I did act as their personal currency exchange bank,
so don’t feel too sad for them.
So the simplest and safest suggestion
I can give you is to use an international ATM.
Luckily, the airport has plenty of these.
And they’re well marked.
Outside of the airport,
7-eleven has 24-hour ATMs that’ll do the trick.
Since they’re virtually everywhere in Japan,
you should have no issue.
When using an ATM,
you’ll probably get dinked two fees.
One is the transaction charge
which is charged by your bank, not the ATM.
For major Canadian banks, this is $5.
But I know not everyone is from Canada.
So, definitely double check with your bank.
Then there’s the exchange rate,
which is generally 2.5 percent above mid market rates.
Mid market rate is what you’ll find
if you google your currency letters,
like CAD to JPY.
So if I were to exchange 1000 Canadian,
I would expect to get charged $5 for the transaction fee
and lose $25 on the exchange
for a total loss of 3%.
你可能会问 Greg 那些外汇兑换点呢？
But Greg you say what about those currency exchange outlets?
Look, they’re very hit and miss.
And you can only easily find them at the airport.
How hit and miss?
Look at the mid market rates on Google for USD to JPY,
and look at how much this outlet will give you.
好吧 还行 大概损失3%
Okay, not bad. You only lose roughly 3%.
But then check out this one,
not so great.
And that’s with USD which is
the closest the world has to a global currency.
Look at these Canadian rates.
I, I don’t even know what to say.
These rates are just horrible.
You shouldn’t be paying more than 3% above
the mid market rate at any exchange counter.
If you are, use the ATM with your debit card if you can.
I looked into the credit card option for you.
But if you use it at an ATM and get a cash advance,
you’ll be paying interest right away.
Even if you overpay your credit card and have credit on it,
that being said,
using your credit card to buy stuff at stores
will give you an okay exchange rate
around that 2.5 percent mark.
One thing to note about the ATMs is
that the 7-eleven one says you can only get 100,000 yen at a time
which is probably a daily limit.
This is roughly equivalent to 1,000 u.s. dollars.
And to be clear,
you will get again out of the ATM,
not your own currency.
They do have English menus.
So don’t worry about having to know Japanese in order to get your money.
post offices have ATMs
and are located all over the country.
I’m not going to be 24 hours like 7-11.
So, do keep that in mind.
One last thing before you travel,
it wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact your bank.
and let them know you’re traveling overseas.
Some have automatic fraud protection
which is usually a good thing.
But not when it’s activated when you’re trying to withdraw the cash you need.
While you’re in touch with them,
you can also ask about any withdrawal limits
or issues using an international ATM.
When you first get off the plane,
you can use the free airport Wi-Fi,
which is always being solid for me.
Once you step out of the airport,
you’ll see free Wi-Fi signs all over the train systems
as well as around shops and other places.
But don’t rely on it.
For example, train systems that do provide free Wi-Fi.
Only do so at the stations themselves.
So if you’re actively riding a train,
the only chance you’ll have to connect
to the Wi-Fi is that the stops.
But the stops are so short
that by the time you connect,
you’ll be disconnected.
If you’re one of those people
who are relying on your phone as a lifeline,
then you’ll want to rent some mobile pocket Wi-Fi.
Now, like with the ATMs,
I’ve gone and done you a favor
and I put way more research into this
than I have for any of my visiting family so far.
My tried-and-true trusted source of mobile Wi-Fi
is global advanced communications.
Catchy name, right?
This is what my family and I have personally used
for over five years without any issues.
That being said,
some nice internet person has made a complete comparison site,
which I’ve linked to in the description.
Actually, everything I’ll talk about will be in the description.
So make sure to check it out.
Here’s a few pointers.
Unlimited data is not really unlimited.
Isn’t that a shocker? Yeah, right.
Depending on the plan you use,
this could mean a generous max of
five gigabytes a day are could mean less.
Make sure to check.
After that max, you have data.
But the speeds are throttled and throttled hard.
So hard that even looking up directions in Google Maps can timeout.
So it’s fairly unusable except for perhaps text messaging.
Even with a super premium Wi-Fi packages,
try and save your video watching
to when you’re at non metered free Wi-Fi
like at your accommodation.
If you’re going to really rural, or mountainous areas,
you may need to go with the plan that has wider coverage.
But for example, I used the standard Wi-Fi package
of global advanced communications
travel for two weeks around Japan with my little brother,
even down to the little island of Amami Oshima.
And I didn’t have any connection issues.
So, it’s probably only a problem
if you’re really going off the beaten path
or maybe going to some northern ski resorts.
Last thing. Notice that I recommend
mobile Wi-Fi and not the SIM card.
Mobile Wi-Fi is a virtually dummy proof way of doing things.
There will be no compatibility issues.
But more importantly,
you can share your data with travel companions.
If you know what you’re doing
and want the phone SIM card,
then ignore what I just said.
Now if you find yourself without Wi-Fi on the go
and you’re absolutely in need,
convenience stores are the best places to get free access.
So, keep that as your backup plan.
Close by to the Wi-Fi rental places in the airport,
are also luggage services
expect to pay around 2,000 yen
to get a suitcase ship to your accommodation.
This might be handy
if you’re trying to do some sightseeing
before checking in.
Now that you have your cash an internet situation worked out,
there’s a good chance you’ll have some basic
bodily functions to take care of.
And no. I’m not going to explain
how to use squat toilets.
Because for the most part,
most washrooms have at least one western-style toilet.
No, what I wanted to say was to
enjoy the soap and dry hands.
Because it may be the last time you enjoy either
until you return back to the airport.
好啦 开玩笑的 不是这样的
Okay. I’m joking. But kind of not.
At your hotel, a restaurant or the mall,
you’ll be able to both clean and dry your hands.
But if you’re out and about
at a train station or some public washrooms,
I wouldn’t count on it.
That’s why I recommend going to the convenience store
to buy some alcohol wipes or gel
and a little hand towel.
Here’s what it all looks like.
If you can’t locate them,
and I was able to find them in
all the convenience stores I went to.
Just show them these words and
the staff will be able to help you.
Actually, in the description,
I’ll put a link to where you can get a cheat sheet
that can help you through the situations I depicted in this video.
And while you’re at the convenience store,
you can also feel free to stock up on food.
Even a relatively healthy dinner,
something I’d like to point out is
that Japan has a fantastic variety of drinks.
both hot and cold,
sweet and unsweetened, ready to go.
For basic survival though,
you can rely on the water in Tokyo
which is excellent.
So, don’t hesitate for a second to
fill up a water bottle if you have one.
Haneda Airport even offers hot water on tap.
What? Yeah, I was surprised.
But it was great for the winter time.
And as an avid Park goer,
the water from fountains is of equally good quality.
So if you’re out and about and love water,
feel safe filling up on this free source of H2O.
Alright, now you’re eager to get out of the airport.
I don’t blame you, there’s so much to see.
Did you get your Japan Rail Pass?
The name says Japan Rail?
But it’s the name of the company
and as such it’s not a pass that will work on all rail lines.
But if you’re traveling out of the city.
It’s almost always worthwhile to get this.
The only catch is that you need to buy
before you enter the country.
So make sure to arrange for it before you land.
If you have, you’d go to this store to pick it up.
Regardless of whether you have the Japan Rail Pass or not,
you’ll need to travel on some
local lines for which I’d recommend
using a pasmo or Suika IC card.
While Suika and pasmo are public transit tap and pay cards
for Tokyo’s transportation networks,
they actually work on most trains and buses
all around the country.
So don’t fret if you’re leaving the mega city.
There are some notable exceptions.
That’s why you bring cash as a backup.
So getting the card is very easy.
All you do is go to the automated machine
and follow the English instructions.
Luckily, I found a rarely used one.
So here’s the ultra exciting footage
of me pretending to order one.
And no. I didn’t buy it.
I’m making YouTube money.
What kind of budget do you think I have?
As you may have noticed the screen
prompts you to pay a 500 yen deposit.
But you can get it back.
Plus whatever balance you have left
when you’re leaving the country.
So I wouldn’t worry too much about trying
to put the exact amount you think you’ll need on it.
If you’re only going to ride the trains a few times,
you might think getting individual tickets is simpler.
But I’d say you’re wrong.
Do you see this map?
Well, every time you want to go anywhere,
with tickets, you’re going to have to calculate the cost of the trip,
then enter the cash into a machine.
It’s time-consuming and confusing.
Why worry? When you can simply tap away,
you sometimes even get a small discount.
Just to not freak you out.
If you enter the wrong amount on your ticket
or run out of funds on your IC card,
just go to the ticket attendant and
they’ll help you sort it out.
And that’s a person you also want to talk to
when you’re done your trip in Japan.
Remember that deposit?
Well, you can get it back by talking to this person.
To test out how much Japanese you need to know
are not to accomplish this.
I went up to the attendant and muttered return.
— 蓝色的门 蓝色的— 哦哦
Blue-blue gate, blue one, blue one, oh.
Oops, wrong booth.
I was trying to return the pasmo card at JR,
which issues Suika cards, not pasmo cards.
Not a problem though, because at Narita airport
both lines are right next to each other.
So I popped on over to the case they signed in.
It was that easy to get my money back.
No Japanese required.
I would like to point out that I do at least know
enough Japanese to fumble my way through.
But it really was trying to test and see
if some with no Japanese would have any trouble.
At least at the airport where I’m sure
returning IC cards is very common.
You should have no trouble whatsoever.
Back to my advise against buying tickets,
while I do recommend against it
if you know that you’ll be doing a lot of
travelling in a specific area.
There are some special passes
that could save you a lot.
For example, when we went to Hakone,
we got the free pass,
which was not free,
but instead enabled you to freely
enjoy all the various modes of transportation available in that area.
All right. How do you get out of the airport
and by which transportation method?
There are taxis, buses, special trains.
But I recommend catching normal old train.
You can use your newly acquired IC card to ride on them.
There are no special tickets required.
But how do you know which train to catch?
There are a lot of options and it can be quite confusing.
There are booths for transportation tickets everywhere.
Well. I’ll assume you’re going on the local trains.
So if you’re at Haneda Airport,
go to the Keiyu line.
If you’re at Narita, go to B1
to find the KC or JR lines,
which are right beside each other.
But even then, you’ll still need to figure out
when your train comes and when to transfer.
This is where Google Maps is your friend.
It works really well.
Is it 100% perfect? No.
But it’s miles ahead of Google Translate.
I’m gorgeous, thank you.
I use it all the time
and I’ve never had a major issue.
So let’s say you’re going to a super sento.
You copy and paste the address in
and let it work its magic.
It’ll tell you exactly how to get there.
In general, the challenge won’t be
knowing the train lines to take.
But actually finding the line.
Because Tokyo is a massive city
with an equally massive rail network.
At some stations, there can be 20 plus
lines and multiple operators.
Sometimes you’ll also have a station
that’s run by Tokyo Metro
which is a block away from another station run by JR.
So make sure you’re not only getting the station name right,
but also the operator.
But back to Google Maps
while the fairs and train times are quite accurate and
Japan’s trains are on time.
So don’t be late.
Google Maps doesn’t account for
bumbling around like a tourist.
So it may recommend connections that
you can hit if you know exactly where you’re going
and what you’re doing.
But if you make the smallest mistake,
it’s easy to miss a transfer to another train.
Just keep that in mind.
Even the Japanese living in Tokyo all their life
get messed up when navigating the absolutely gigantic train network.
Okay. So we’re on the train.
Finally where do we go?
You’re probably a bit wound up from all the travel.
So I’d say let’s relax a bit.
How about going to my favourite type of place in Japan?
On Zenzen Sentos, hot springs and public baths.
And my family agrees.
I’ve had a few brothers visit me.
When one of them visited,
I didn’t take him to a sento on his first date.
After he discovered the joy of them,
he was quite upset.
So when another brother came to visit,
that’s where he went a few hours after arrival.
And he said it was the perfect thing after a long flight.
So go to a super sento,
or onsen take a soaks and grab a bite to eat.
If you’re coming from Narita,
I’ll even recommend this one along the way.
And just because I’m committed to this video,
I not only physically went to the onsen.
But I also bought the tickets and went in just for you.
Since this is Japan,
you need to take off your shoes and put it in this locker
securing it with your hundred yen coin
that you will get back.
What I quickly notice is that there is
absolutely no English in this joint.
They have automated ticket machines,
which I’ll show you how to get through.
The first is asking whether you’re a member or not.
So while you usually want to say hi,
which is yes in Japanese
when mashing your way through things.
In this case, hit the E-yen button.
It takes a solid press.
Don’t judge me.
Then you have to pick what service you want.
Pick the one in dead-center which is entering a bath ticket.
And no. You’re not done.
Now you need to pick what kind of bather you are.
I got the adult ticket
and then I put the money in,
and then I confirmed,
out pop my ticket and change.
Oh, no. I forgot the towels.
Most places don’t come with them.
So then you go and get the towel
and pick up the ticket.
This is where you’d take the ticket to
the staff at the counter and go in.
By the way, if you have luggage,
the staff can hold it behind the counter for you.
They do have storage lockers in the changing room.
But it’s only big enough for a regular-sized backpack.
Now what do you do once in the change room?
That’s for another video. Your hour is up.
But if you search the YouTubes,
there are a lot of people
who will show you this step-by-step.
Everything I’ve presented so far,
you can kind of get by without any Japanese.
If there is one word I’ll teach you though,
it’s suimasen or suimasen.
It can mean “Excuse me,
sorry and thanks.”
depending on the context.
Okay. If you’re wondering about
how to survive the next 23 hours,
please let me know what kind of things
you’d like to try and survive.
I have my own ideas.
But I’m curious as to what your
biggest concerns maybe.
Thanks for watching!
See you next time, bye!