Here are a few ideas for a novice traveller and first-time visitor to Tokyo.

  • Always carry on you the full address (in Japanese) of the hotel that you are staying in.  Copy of your passport
  • Wear a security wallet under your clothes in any city worldwide.  Do not wear visible money belts, because they pretty much a ''big neon sign' saying "money and valuables right here"
  • Get out and walk around the local area. Observe the street signage and neon signs. 
  • Explore any department stores or shopping arcade.
  • Try a Ramen shop.  There are vending machines in the front  of the shop where you can choose your flavors (many have English descriptions on them).  Take your ticket to the attendant or counter and your soup will be brought to you. 
  • Tokyo subway and trains are efficient and super punctual to the minutes (if the train schedule says the train will come at 12:34, it will come at 12:34). If you intend to use the subway extensively for 1 day, there are day passes that can be purchased at the attended kiosks or vending machines (which have an English option).  Please note that there are at least 2 independent subway companies (Metro and Toei) and you can get a joint pass if you are at a station that has both lines. Otherwise, you may need to purchase separate passes.
  • Buy a Suica Card to avoid the hassle of constantly buying ticket. Keep a map of the routes handy. The maps are available at the manned kiosks (in English).  Understanding the Tokyo subway and trains system can be complex, due to different timings and different platforms. For first timers, ensure you get the Train Schedules and Platform Numbers correct. They have trains that travel on different routes stopping at the same platform, but different timings. Catching their timings can be a challenge for those who are not familiar with Japanese words. If you board the wrong train on the correct platform, it will be a hassle because the next stop may be very far.
  • If you are taking trains and you are holding a Japan Rail Pass, as much as possible, try to get Reserved Seats. For more information about Japan Train / Transportations information, please visit http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g29....
  • The Tourist Information Center located in the Shin Tokyo Building (Tokyo Metropolitan Building), Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku is very useful for all tourist information.  They are open daily 9AM - 5PM and sit on top of the Toei Hibuya Station.  http://www.jnto.go.jp.  You can pick up a map and a guide to the various prefectures in Tokyo with descriptions of all attractions there.  The guide also includes a subway map and other cultural information. 
  • Take a guided tour, even if it is a short one.  You learn so much with a tour guide.  Volunteer tour guides are provided by the Tourist Information Center, starting point is at the Tokyo Metropolitan Building (there is a cost associated with the tours).
  • Book early for a Mt Fuji tour. They sell out quickly, especially the English speaking tours. 
  • Bring a map. However, chances are good that you're going to get lost anyway. If you are carrying an iPhone or Android Phone, download Google Maps and ensure that you get all the Street Names and Addresses in Japanese.
  • Learn a bit of the language, especially numbers. There is not much English language in Japan, most signs and names are in Japanese. Learn some Chinese language (kanji) if you can. It helps. Learn about numbering in Japanese Language and Japanese Phrases like "Ikura desuka?" (for How much is it) will be helpful. If not, download a voice translator from iTunes or Google Play that helps you to speak Japanese language on your behalf.
  • In restaurants, cross your forefingers like an 'X'  to signify you want to pay the bill. They also will recognize if you raise your hand as if you are holding a pen.
  • Point with an open hand.  Pointing with your forefinger is considered rude.
  • Most Japanese bank ATM's do not accept foreign credit and bank cards. Use Post Office ATM's, Citibank ATM's or bring lots of cash.  You can exchange in the Narita terminal 1 as soon as you exit from baggage claim.  Alternatively, some of the 7-11 do have ATMs that accept International cards that you can withdraw money from.  Currently (April 2013) Mastercard is not accepted but Visa is at the 7-11 ATM's
  • Tipping is usually refused, except in the Roppongi district.
  • Talking loudly is considered extremely rude on public transportation.  Most people sit quietly or use sms phone messaging.
  • Public transportation service at Midnight. If you're still out on the town, either wait for 5am for it to start again or take a really expensive taxi ride. (Depending on distance)
  • A taxi from Narita Airport to the city will cost about 30,000 Yen ($300). Alternatively,  there are plenty of airport buses and trains to the city that cost no more than 2,000 Yen ($20).   The Airport Limo is 3000 yen pp (April 2013).  You can look up drop off spots on line to plan.
  • Watch out for drunken off-duty American Soldiers and African street hustlers in Roppongi.
  • Shibuya Bars that are more frequented by Japanese will sometimes charge 'gaijin' a cover charge in the realm of 500 Yen.
  • Go shopping in Ginza.
  • Don't jaywalk.
  • The Japan Rail Pass ...essential for travel throughout Japan.
  • Many of the public restrooms do not have paper towels or hand dryers.  Carry a small wash cloth to dry your hands.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.  It's a lot of walking and a lot of climbing stairs.
  • Suica Card can also be used at the Narita airport for purchasing last minute souvenirs.  This is a great way to make use of the unused balance on the card.  Only one card can be used per transaction.  
  • Department stores (especially in Ginza) are worth exploring.  Check out the food section on the lower floor.  Restaurants on the top floors are also great.
  • In Tokyo especially, there are Bento Shops where you can grab a nice and plentiful bento for around 500-600 yen as your meal.