Getting to Tokyo
Most travellers arrive in Tokyo by air. Narita International
Airport has long been the primary gateway, but Haneda
Airport, with its new international terminal, now sees more
and more long-haul flights. Both airports require train or
bus rides to get to the capital’s downtown area.
Transpacific flights take at least nine hours from North America’s west coast, or 12 to 13 hours from the east coast. From Australia, it's a nine- to 10-hour journey. Flights from western Europe can take 12 hours to Tokyo.
Note that non-Japanese visitors are fingerprinted and photographed on arrival. A neat appearance will speed your passage through passport control and customs.
From elsewhere in Japan, Tokyo can be reached by shinkansen (bullet train) and by air (often cheaper and faster than the train); all domestic flights go to Haneda Airport.
Getting around Tokyo
Hyperefficient, sparkling clean and virtually crime-free, Tokyo's public transport system is the envy of the world. Of most use to travellers is the train and subway system, which is easy to navigate thanks to English signage. Make sure to get a Suica or Pasmo card which makes transferring between the two a breeze. The only downside is that the whole system shuts down between midnight and 5am, when the city's fleet of taxis picks up the slack.
Citizens of 66 countries, including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, USA, UK and almost all European nations will be automatically issued a tanki-taizai (temporary visitor visa) on arrival. Typically this visa is good for 90 days. For a complete list of visa-exempt countries, consult www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/novisa.html#list.
Citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK are able to extend this visa once, for another 90 days. To do so, you need to apply at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau before the initial visa expires.