I visited Tokyo for the second annual Electron Mini-Summit, a convergence of people working on the Electron project. This page is a place for me to take notes about things I've learned about the city.
You can buy a data SIM card for your phone at a vending machine in the airport. These cards come preloaded with a certain allotment of data to be used in a certain time period, typically one month. You won't be able to make phone calls or send text messages with these, but you can use VoiP services like Skype or Google Hangouts if needed.
Before you travel make sure your phone is "unlocked", perhaps not in the jailbreaking sense of the word, but you need to be sure that it can take a custom SIM card. Ask your carrier.
You'll need to know what size your SIM card is: Regular, Micro, or Nano.
Both times I've been to Tokyo, I bought the month-long Verizon international plan, but it didn't really work for me. I could send and receive texts, but the data was spotty and usually didn't work at all.
Taxis and Ubers are very expensive in Tokyo. Unless you're splitting the fare with a group of friends or family, it's probably not worth it.
You can can buy a Suica card at any station (not to be confused with My Suica) which is something different. You can use your Suica card on the subway, on the bus, and even at some convenience stores and vending machines.
docomo-cycle.jp is a bike share program. (Docomo is a mobile phone operator in Japan, and apparently they've invested in exchange for their logo and colors on every bike.) There are stations all over the city where you can pick up a bike, then park it elsewhere. The are options to rent by the hour, day, or month.
The bikes are equipped with battery-powered electric motors that give a nice assist as you ride. The motor kicks in only when you're pedaling, so it feels very natural. Just like riding a bike, but easier.
If you end up renting one of these bikes, here are a few tips:
- Signing up may be easier on your phone than on your computer. - When the kickstand is down, there's a lock that snaps into place. You have to flip the lock open first before the kickstand will go back up. - I'm staying in the Shinagawa area, and have seen unlocked bikes all over the place, so I'm assuming that theft is relatively uncommon. If you end stopping somewhere with no nearby stations, it's probably safe to leave the bike unattended for a time. Use your judgement! - When returning a bike, all you have to do is lock the back wheel.
Here a Google map of all the stations:
A few places I've tried and liked:
T's TanTan Tokyo Station - Clean and delicious vegan ramen. Tokyo station is very busy, and a great place for people-watching.
Kura Sushi Shinagawa Ekimae - Cheap and good conveyor-belt sushi. Grab food off the conveyor belt or order something specific using the tablet at your table. Every five plates enters you in a video lottery with prizes!
I'm saving spotson a Google Map as I go: