Tokyo with its world’s largest metropolitan economy is also among one of the three major world finance command centres after New York City and London. Many of the world’s leading insurance companies and largest investment banks have their headquarters in Tokyo. The city briefly suffered a tremendous setback with the disastrous 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but has over the years recovered and attained its position once again as an Asian hotspot for business travel. The city is now attracting millions of tourists and business visitors every year.
If you are planning to embark on a trip to Tokyo for tourism or business purposes, here are some of the important things you need to know so that your visit becomes hassle free and easier.
Tipping is prohibited and unacceptable
It is quite normal that one offers money in tips for services sought at the hotels, bars or other places. But in Japan, tipping is prohibited and unacceptable. Alternative service, better known as omotenashi, is considered to be part of a cultural dedication and is a norm in the country. You shouldn’t even think about tipping the bartenders, doormen, at hai salons, or in taxis. This isn’t expected at all and neither anyone would accept it. When you try to leave money behind as a matter of courtesy, you server might even chase you and return the money.
Here are some basic things that smokers need to take care of. You will be permitted to smoke only within enclosed spaces. The more enclosed a space, the better it will be. You will also find smaller bars or restaurants to be smoker-friendly. There are many bullet trains in Tokyo which have exclusive smoking cars. If you are on sidewalks try to look out for stencilled signs because on many sidewalks smoking is prohibited. However, it is allowed only on those sidewalks where public ashtrays are available. If you are engaging in aruki-tabako, or "walking-smoking", there are street patrols that are likely to confront and stop you from doing so. Drinking in the open is though a cherished tradition here. You can open a beer can or a can of fruity, boozy chu-hai on the train or while walking.
Free Wi-Fi access is rare
There are many places in Japan where free and simple Wi-Fi has increased. However, you shouldn’t count on free access. You will see signs everywhere announcing free Wi-Fi, but this is possible only when you are already into some kind of arrangement with your provider. If you are visiting places like Starbucks where free Wi-Fi access is available, you will be required to create an account in advance. The best thing for those on trip to Tokyo is to avoid renting a SIM card and instead rent a pocket Wi-Fi at the airport so that you may easily use it with your smartphones and get online.
Keep to the left when walking
Greater Tokyo with its 35 million residents is one of the world’s most densely populated urban centers. You will however be surprised to find the crowds quite orderly. Everyone would be seen waiting to cross the street until the light changes. You will find the pedestrians following the unspoken rule of staying to the left when walking on wide sidewalks. The cars here also stay on the left. There’s an exception while boarding Tokyo escalators. Make it a point to always stand on the left and walk on the right. This etiquette is however reversed in case of boarding escalators in Osaka.