I will give you the tools to enjoy this amazing city without getting lost in translation.
Narita International Airport, where most of international flights arrive, is located far away
from the city. Two hours by car/bus and 70 minutes by train (Narita Express or NEX). This one is a no brainier... The train station is right below the airport, you buy the ticket saying: "Tokyo Station", there is only one track, you hop in a modern train and relax on the way to the main train station in Tokyo, that will connect you to the city's amazing subway system. It's affordable and stress free.If you get a bus or taxi, you will be trapped in traffic and the trip will take and cost MUCH more.
Exploring the city, I realized that the best place to stay is close to the Tokyo Station AKA Chyioda neighbourhood. From there, you have easy access to and from the airport, to the subway system to go anywhere in the city without changing trains and getting lost in the process, and to the bullet trains that can take you anywhere in the country. There are 59 hotels in this area to choose from: Hotels in Chyioda, close to Tokyo Station
Now, where do you start exploring this mega city? When I visit a city for the first time, I always like to do a city tour on my first day to get situated. And the best place to find a tour anywhere in the world is http://www.viator.com/
Viator is reliable, they offer the best rates (and you also can find coupons online for additional discounts - http://www.retailmenot.com/view/viator.com) and they work with local tour companies. I have used Viator in Europe and now in Japan, and it was always a great experience.
|Senso-ji Buddhist temple|
After the "orientation day", we decided to explore the city on our own with our Frommer's Japan Guide, and after getting lost a few times on the subway, we were able to get around and get a taste of Tokyo. It's always fun to explore a new place and a different culture.
Like riding the subway in Tokyo. The trains are pristine inside and out, and you can't hear anyone talking.
|In the subway: No eye contact|
Something I've never seen in any other big city.
Everything works on the clock in Tokyo, thousands of people walking up and down the streets, subways, train stations, on a organized orchestration. It's amazing to realize how it's even possible.
And then there is Tokyo's breathtaking architecture. Old and new coexist in a beautiful balance... ancient temples
Something that I learn in Japan: Shrines are part of the Shinto religion and temples are for Buddhists. They are everywhere in Japan (specially Kyoto) and all of them have a beautiful history behind it and Japanese, in general, is very superstitious, so they have different ceremonies to please their gods. It's something beautiful to witness.
Now, regarding food... we are not the biggest fans of soup with noodles and some kind of fish floating around. Due to the language barrier, sometimes we had to order in the dark and most of the time, we didn't enjoy the food. Even sushi, it's much better in America. Or maybe we are used to the American version of sushi and the original just tastes to bland. We survived on Indian food and good buffets breakfasts.
|New York Grill|
If you ever saw the movie "Lost in Translation", you probably remember the bar with an amazing view
where they meet. That is the New York Grill located at the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Yes, it's overpriced, but the food and service are decent and you will pay for the best views of the city. It's a must see in Tokyo if you are not afraid of highs.
There are also several day trips you can do from Tokyo. My favorite is Mt. Fuji & Lake Ashi. It's a quick and unforgettable visit to this iconic dormant volcano.
Overall, I was very impressed with Tokyo and four or five nights in this city is enough time to explore the main attractions and its surroundings. After all, Japan has a lot of beautiful place to visit and we left to Hiroshima on our fifth day in Japan.
Best app for this trip: Japanese-English Translator. This is no joke. In several occasions, I wrote in English what I was trying to say and the app translated and said it in Japanese. It was a life saver during this trip and made me feel like a local!