Enjoy Japan!

The aim of this article is to introduce efficient methods and other important informations that visitors to Japan should know. I will try to stick on visitors who stay in Japan for more than several weeks; like researchers visiting labs in Japanese universities. The main reason is that published guidebooks are enough for shorttime visitors.

When I link to external web pages, I will directly link to the English version, because it's often difficult to find them.

  1. Useful websites
  2. Japan Rail Pass
  3. Grutt Pass
  4. How to buy tickets for the Ghibli Museum
  5. Where to get Japanese comic books translated to other languages?
  6. What's hot/new in Akihabara? (continually-revised)

Japan Rail Pass (October 1, 2005)

Japan Rail Pass is a discount train ticket for tourists from foriegn countries. Since it is a service for tourists, I won't say much about it. I think you know better than me! If you only travel in the east area of Japan, there's a better ticket called JR East Pass.

Grutt Pass (May 1, 2008)

Grutt Pass is a book of tickets and coupons for art/science museums, zoos, aquariums in Tokyo. It includes 46 61 facilities in total, and good for 2 months from the first day of usage. And it's only 2,000 yen! Wow! Details can be found in the Grutt Pass guide page They also have a list of facilities in English, but maybe difficult to find the link. Find it in the "How to Purchase" section.

For those who don't like the list there, I will give you a another one below. The good thing is that it has more English. I also rated each facility, if it interests foriegn visitors or not. (For example, most visitors from other countries would be more interested with Japanese traditional handcrafts than science museums.) The bad thing is that they don't include all facilities. But don't worry, all recommended facilities are included.

The rate 'A' means that I strongly recommend you to visit there. It's a great idea to visit 'B's if you have time. Of cource, I had good times in other places, too. 'J' is attached additionally, when I think you should go there with a Japanese person.

AreaRatesNameTime to walk throughTime to be satisfied withKeywords
UenoNational Science Museum, Tokyo2 hours4 hoursThe History of Life on Earth
The National Museum of Western Art2 hours4 hours
JShitamachi Museum(Japanese page only)1 hour4 hoursReconstruction of downtown area of Tokyo
BJUeno Zoological Gardens(Japanese page only)0.5 day1 dayGiant panda
ATokyo National Museum (Note: coupon included in the book, not a ticket)0.5 day1 dayNational treasures and important cultural properties, like Japanese swords
Tokyo stationThe National Museum of Modern Art (MOMAT)2 hours4 hoursThe first national art museum in Japan
BMOMAT Craft Gallery1 hour2 hours
MOMAT National Film Center2 hours1 dayAn archive of traditional films in Japan
Science Museum2 hours1 dayFeel science through experiments and experiences
BMitsuo Aida Museum1 hour2.5 hoursWorks of a famous Japanese Calligrapher
Meguro, MinatoTokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
The Institute for Nature Study1 hour2.5 hoursA botanic garden
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography1 hour?
AMori Art Museum (Note: coupon included in the book, not a ticket)??Modern art with a good city view of Tokyo
Ryogoku, FukagawaAEdo-Tokyo Museum3 hours 1 dayLife in the Edo period
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo1.5 hours3 hours
JFukagawa Edo Museum1 hour2 hoursFukawaga used to be an important place for transports during the Edo period
JBasho Museum1 hour3 hoursWorks of a famous Japanese poet
TamaBTama Zoological Park(Japanse page only)0.5 day1 day
Inokashira Shizen Bunka-en Gardens(Japanse page only)
AJEdo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum(Japanse page only)2 hours4 hoursReconstruction of historical buildings which were difficult to be preserved in the original location
Bay areaMuseum of Maritime Science2 hours4 hours
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)0.5 day1 day
BTokyo Sea Life Park(Japanse page only)2 hours0.5 日aquarium

How to buy tickets for the Ghibli Museum (May 1, 2008)

Ghibli Museum is one of the most exciting place to visit around Tokyo. You will feel yourself in the world of Ghibli films.

To enter Ghibli Museum, you have to make a reservation in advance; you have to specify the date of visit when you buy the tickets. You can't enter the museum if you visit there without reserved tickets, and the problem is ... it's difficult to buy tickets without Japanese language. Note that Ghibli Museum is not included in Grutt Pass. There are 2 ways to buy the ticket:

Buy tickets at travel agency counters

If you are not in Japan yet and planning to visit soon, you can buy tickets at some travel agency counters. The lists and instructions are available in the museum's page. It would be easy because they will speak the local language; however, if you are already in Japan, you have to try Lawson.

Buy tickets at Lawson

You can buy tickets at Lawson (a convenience store chain popular in Japan). I believe that you can find several Lawson shops in a minutes of walk. Ask someone if you don't find any. In Lawson, you have to use the machine called "Loppi". I recommend you to read through the instruction in English before you visit Lawson.

Finally, I strongly recommend you to go with a Japanese person, because Loppi only shows Japanese!

Where to get Japanese comic books translated to other languages?

I've found them at ...

but, I guess it is easier to find them in major cities in other countries.

What's hot/new in Akihabara? (continually-revised)

IMPORTANT: You can get a good map of Akihabara in English at the Akihabara station.

© Takeshi Nishida tnishida @ ui.is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp