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Tokyo Lifestyle

Getting Around

While a modern city in every sense of the word, Tokyo does have two crazy characteristics that can cause all sorts of the difficulties -- most of the streets dont have names and the buildings are not necessarily numbered sequentially. Even locals have difficulty locating places. Use a combination of maps, directions written in Japanese by your hotels concierge, local assistance (police boxes spread around the city are very helpful). The TIC provides an excellent map ("The Tourist Map of Tokyo"); however, never pass up the opportunity for a free map -- theyll all come in handy (even those tiny ones printed on the backs of business cards). If you really require more detailed information you can visit our page on the Black Art of Finding a Japanese Address (but proceed with caution, at some point all logic must be suspended . . . youve been warned).

Currency Exchange

The best rates are obtained at banks (generally open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.). Better rates are given for travelers checks than for cash. Some non-Japanese banks have branches in Tokyo -- contact your bank for information. Larger hotels also offer currency exchange service. ATM machines also work (but weve found that many international machines only respond to 4-digit PINs) -- look for machines that display the symbols found on the back of your card or that allow advances from credit cards.

Embassies/Consulates

American Embassy and Consulate -- 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 81-3-3224-5000
British Embassy and Consulate -- 1 Ichibancho, Chiyoda-ku, 81-3-3265-5511
Canadian Embassy -- 7-3-38 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 81-3-3408-2101
Australian Embassy -- 2-1-14 Mita, Minato-ku, 81-3-5232-411
Contact the your embassy for hours.

Medical Care

In non-emergency situations, contact your local embassy for recommendations. The International Clinic, 1-5-9 Azabudai, Minato-ku, 81-3-3582-2646 accepts walk-in patients. Drugstores, or kusuri-ya are located throughout the city. One, The American Pharmacy at the Hibiya Park Building, 1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, 81-3-3271-4034, stocks products from the United States and fills U.S. prescriptions. Its open Mon - Sat, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Sun and holidays, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Note that as with most stores in town, pharmacies close early. For emergencies, dial 119 for ambulances or 110 for police -- the person answering will most likely not speak English or other languages, be as clear and precise as possible. Hotel concierges can also assist in finding a hospital if necessary.

Neighborhoods

Tokyo has 23 ku (neighborhoods or wards). Central Tokyo is ringed by the Yamanote Line, and most points of interest are accessible from this train.

Postal Service

Letters and postcards can be mailed from you hotel or from the bright red mailboxes located around town. The Central Post Office is located at 2-7-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, 81-3-3284-9527.

Police

Police boxes (koban) are scattered throughout the city (look for a red light shining above the door). The emergency number for the police is 110.

Public Transportation - Modes

Buses - Buses are complicated for tourists who dont speak Japanese. The buses operate as they do in any other city of the world, however, you must be extra-cognizant of where you are heading because the drivers dont speak English.

Cars - The absolute worst choice for tourists. Streets are maze-like and parking is all but impossible.

Subways - Subways are generally the best way to travel. Theyre safe, inexpensive, and run frequently. The lines are color-coded (a sign of civilization, Im quite sure) with station names indica