One of our readers – Radhika in India – recently enjoyed a trip to Tokyo in Japan. She kindly sent us a summary of her experiences to share with the WhatToWearOnVacation.com community.
My husband and I spent a week in Tokyo from 7-14 July. It was HOT, like, wax-meltingly hot. The nights were a bit pleasant, not cool, just okay. But the days were really humid and hot, and we were frequently dehydrated. So if you are going to Japan in peak summer, a hat/umbrella, sunblock and a 1L water bottle are basic necessities to carry while sightseeing – hence, a backpack or at least a big bag is a must.
Of course you will be able to find lots of convenience shops in every street in Tokyo, so you will not die from thirst, but it is rather a pain to hunt for a store, parched throat… and all those 100 yens add up…
Oh boy. We are Hindus, so we don't eat beef, but in Tokyo, I think we did – because EVERYTHING is in Japanese. The ingredient list on foods are all in Japanese. If you ask the store guy to see if there is beef in a particular project, he just scratches his head and smiles apologetically. In the entire week we spend in Tokyo, we found that the Japanese people truly don't understand the concept of selective choice.
If you have specific allergies, you have to be super SUPER careful and probably learn some Japanese before you go to Japan (or at least install Google translate on your smartphone).
But if you are vegetarian, you may be in better luck, you just need to say Buddist food and they will get it. But if you say words like vegetarian or vegan, all you get is confused smiles. After a point, we gave up and just bought food that looked pleasant… it was an adventurous time, to say the least.
Finding Your Way around Japan
Having a portable WiFi card is a MUST. In spite of being one of the most sophisticated cities on earth, Tokyo does NOT have free WiFi in most obvious places like cafes or malls. Buy a map, buy a guidebook and start the homework before you leave home – trust me, it will be the best thing you do.
Japanese dress sense
Japanese dress very chic. About 95% of the citizens we saw were a size 6 or lower, so whatever they wore, it looked great on them. So tourists need to dress smart, if they don't want to look dull. Your outfits do not have to be new, just well pressed, well co-ordinated and confidently presented. The Japanese are also petite, so anybody above a size 10 will have a hard time shopping at the popular stores. Uniqlo is an exception, but does not have much in terms of style (though delivers in comfort and quality).
I also found a lot of stuff like tops and kimonos in the shopping area around the Asukusa temple. This location is also a great place for souvenir hunting – plan to spend AT LEAST half a day. Tip: The farther you walk on the shopping street, away from the temple, the better the prices get.
Thanks to Radhika for the tips.
On our own trip we had more luck in finding both vegetarian food, and helpful English-speaking locals (though mainly the younger generation). But do you agree? If you've been to Japan and had a different experience, do let us know – email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might also like to read What To Wear To Japan.