Transport while on holiday
Before traveling to Japan Part 2, Part 1 can be found here. We have mostly traveled within Tokyo and we normally use a Suica card. It’s a bit like the Oyster card that they have in London. You can charge it up with money and you just tap in and tap out via the barriers at the train/underground station. There are two cards that can be used in Tokyo, Suica and Pasmo. Both do for most part the same job while traveling in Tokyo the cards can be brought direct from the ticket machines at the train stations you can get the Suica from the JR green ticket machines and the Pasmo from the pink ticket machines. When buying the cards you have to charge it with a certain amount of yen to get you started and a deposit fee of 500 yen is also included, which can be refunded if you decide to return the cards when you leave Japan. Links for both Suica: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html and Pasmo: http://www.pasmo.co.jp/en/. On our first trip we did buy a sort of travel as much you want ticket for x amount of days, but that would only work on the Tokyo metro. See their site for more info: http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/
Traveling out from Tokyo
If you are thinking of traveling to different parts of Japan, maybe like Kyoto, then it might well be worth buying a Japan rail pass. The card gives you 7, 14 or 21 days of travel on all of JR trains across the country to a heavily discounted price. You need to purchase the ticket before you travel to Japan, either from you local travel agent that deals with Japan travel or sites like japan-rail-pass.com. Just google “japan rail pass” for more info.
We have always rented a 3G and now 4G wifi router while in Tokyo. It lets us use our smart phones on the go in Japan, which can be of great help if you need to look up something on the go, or just check where you are on Google Maps. The company we normally go with is Globaladvancedcomm.com. You can read our review about their service from a previous posts via think link: whysojapan.com/internet-while-on-holiday-in-japan/ or just search for “internet” in the search box on the right hand side of the site.
You will need to get money exchanged before traveling over to Japan. Of couse, you could do it once you get to Japan, but it saves time doing it before hand. How much money to take is a difficult question to answer. I don’t know really, it all depends how much you are going to spend, which most times it’s impossible to know. I almost always end up coming home with some yen’s over, which I normally will exchange back (sometimes to a loss). I’ve also saved it till our next trip, because I know we keep returning. You can find ATM machines to use your MasterCard / Visa card in, but not evey machine works with them. Your best bet is to find a 7-Elven store, which normally has an ATM that will work with those cards.
As we get all more tech savvy we like to take our electrical devices with us on holiday. Now you most probably will need to check if your device will work on the lower voltage in Japan, and in that case you will also need a plug adapter for your device. Check out this post which explains a bit about it all: whysojapan.com/electric-and-gadgets-while-in-japan/
What we do each time before we leave for Japan, we make sort of our own guide book to things to see and do and thisis where a lot of our research time goes into. We look up things to see and do. We always have certain things we want to see, so looking up addresses, opening times and all important info beforehand, saves you a lot of time and less time getting lost and stressed and more time enjoying your holiday. Another fun thing is to just walk around. It’s normally when you’re not looking for anything special you end up finding a gem of a place. A couple sites which are a good place to start with are: japan-guide.com, japantravelinfo.com/top/index.php, and tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g294232-Japan-Vacations.html. Of course there are tons of sites, so your best bet is to use Google as a good starting point.