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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Tokyo

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Tokyo each year.
The main ones are listed below.

January 1: New Year's Day (Ganjitsu, national holiday)

January 6: New Year's Parade of Fire Brigades (Dezome-shiki, celebrated nationwide)

Dating back to the 17th century, for this event firefighters demonstrate both ancient and modern techniques used to fight fires. They also perform acrobatic stunts atop tall ladders. This is one of the most popular parades of the year in Tokyo and throughout Japan.

January: Grand Sumo Tournament (local event)

The first of six annual sumo wrestling tournaments, each lasting for 15 days. Japan's top wrestlers face off at Kokugikan, the sumo stadium in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo. An experience not to be missed under any circumstances by all lovers of this ancient martial art.

February 11 : National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinenbi, national holiday)

On this day, the Japanese commemorate the founding of Japan and the birth of the nation. Celebrations and cultural events are organized, all with the aim of reinforcing ties between Japanese citizens and their country.

8 avril : Flower Festival (Hana Matsuri, celebrated nationwide)

Buddha's birthday is celebrated at all of Tokyo's Buddhist temples with processions and prayers. Small figurines of Buddha on display in the temples are sprinkled with sweet tea to express devotion.

July 15: Obon Festival (celebrated nationwide)

For 500 years on this day, Japanese Buddhists have honoured the spirits of their ancestors. Over the centuries, what was once only a religious observance has evolved into a celebration of family ties. At this time of the year, Tokyo residents now tend to return to their native regions, when family spirits are also believed to return. Bon Odori, a three-day festival of traditional dance, is held during the same period.

October : Tokyo International Film Festival (local event)

A major event on Tokyo's cultural calendar, this ten-day festival presents films from nearly 100 countries and regions. Venues include the cinema complex in the Mori Arts Centre at the Roppongi Hills Tower in Minato Ward as well as theatres, halls and other facilities throughout the Tokyo metropolitan area.

December 23 : Emperor's Birthday (Tenno Tanjobi, national holiday)

On this day, one of the most important holidays for Japanese citizens, a public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace. Emperor Akihito appears on a balcony accompanied by Empress Michiko to acknowledge the adulation of festive well-wishes waving small Japanese flags, exceptionally permitted to enter the inner grounds of the palace. Parades and fireworks also mark the occasion.

December 25 : Christmas (celebrated nationwide)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Tokyo

Tokyo has a humid, subtropical climate, with four distinct seasons, but with relatively moderate temperatures throughout the year. Winters are dry and mild, with little or no snow. Summers are hot and, above all, very humid. The peak of the typhoon season is in August and September. Days can be brisk in the early spring, but starting in May, temperatures are relatively mild, with low humidity.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 2/36 10/50 52/2.0 Not the best period to go
February 3/37 10/50 56/2.2 Not the best period to go
March 6/43 13/55 117/4.6 Not the best period to go
April 11/52 18/64 124/4.9 Not the best period to go
May 15/59 23/77 137/5.4 Not the best period to go
June 19/66 25/77 168/6.6 Good period to go Good period to go
July 23/73 29/84 153/6.0 Good period to go Good period to go
August 24/75 31/88 168/6.6 Not the best period to go
September 21/70 27/81 209/8.2 Good period to go Good period to go
October 15/59 22/72 198/7.8 Good period to go Good period to go
November 10/50 17/63 92/3.6 Not the best period to go
December 5/41 12/54 51/2.0 Not the best period to go
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Tokyo International Airports

Tokyo Narita International Airport

Tokyo Narita International Airport is located about 65 kilometres (40 miles) east of the city centre.
  • Two terminals :
    • Terminal 1 (Air France)
    • Terminal 2
  • Getting from the airport to Tokyo and back
    • By car
      • Accessible via the Higashi-Kanto and Shin-Kuko expressways.
      • Short- and long-term parking facilities are located opposite the terminals.
      • Several car rental companies have counters in Terminal 1.
    • By rail
      • The Skyliner, operated by Keisei Electric Railway, is the fastest rail connection to central Tokyo. At Nippori Station, change to the Yamanote line for access to Shinjuku or Ikebukuro, for example. Total travel time is about 50 minutes. The fare for the Skyliner is JPY 2,470 per person, with an additional fare of between JPY 160 and JPY 200 for the Yamanote line, depending on the destination.
    • By bus
      • Keisei Bus operates several routes to central and outer Tokyo. The Tokyo Shuttle connects the airport to Tokyo Station in about 90 minutes and the fare is JPY 900 per person.
      • Limousine Bus offers shuttle bus service between the airport and the city's main hotels. A one-way ticket costs JPY 3,000.
    • By taxi
      • Taxis are available outside both terminals on the upper level. Travel time to central Tokyo is about 90 minutes and the average fare is JPY 25,000.
  • Services : shops, bars and restaurants, Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport.
  • Telephone : +81 (0)476 34 8000
  • Website : http://www.narita-airport.jp

Tokyo Haneda International Airport


Tokyo Haneda International Airport is located about 30 kilometres (19 miles) south-west of the city centre.
  • Three terminals:
    • Terminal 1
    • Terminal 2
    • International Terminal (Air France)
  • Getting from the airport to Tokyo and back
    • By car
      • Accessible via Route 1 of the Shuto Expressway, also known as the Haneda Route.
      • The parking lot outside the airport offers 3,000 spaces and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (JPY 150 for 30 minutes and JPY 2,100 for 24 hours).
      • Several car rental companies have counters at 2F Arrivals Lobby in the International Terminal.
    • By rail
      • The Keikyu Line connects the airport to central Tokyo and operates weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends and public holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with fares starting at JPY 410.
      • Another option is the Monorail Line, which operates weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends and public holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with trains running about every 5 minutes and fares ranging from JPY 160 to JPY 490, depending on the destination.
    • By bus
      • There are several bus lines connecting the airport to Tokyo, with 11 loading zones outside the airport, each serving a different list of destinations. Automatic ticket dispensing machines are located near each bus stop.

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GETTING AROUND Tokyo

Although Tokyo is a very dense city covering a massive area, it is relatively easy to get around. The city offers a range of ultra-modern public transport options. Nevertheless, certain modes of transport, such as rapid transit, are to be preferred, due to their convenience and efficiency.

By rail

The Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines are certainly one of the best ways to get around in Tokyo. The system is perfectly workable for those who do not understand Japanese. However, be sure to carry a map with you.

Special unlimited passes for visitors are sold at Narita and Haneda airports for use on the Tokyo Metro, priced at JPY 600 for the 1-day version and JPY 980 for the 2-day version. A similar pass valid for all Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines, the Tokyo Subway Ticket, is also sold at Narita and Haneda airports in 1-, 2- and 3-day versions for JPY 800, JPY 1,200 and JPY 1,500, respectively.

By bus

Using buses in Tokyo can be intimidating, unless you have some understanding of Japanese, because signs and other information are rarely provided in English.

By taxi

If you are travelling on a small budget, you will want to avoid using taxis. Tokyo is a sprawling metropolis, making travel by vehicle challenging. In addition, taxis in Tokyo are among the most expensive in the world: the initial fare is JPY 730.

By car

Standard driving licences issued by other countries are not recognized in Japan. However, international driving permits, based on the 1949 Geneva Convention, can often be obtained by travellers in their home countries in advance. Certain countries, notably Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan, do not issue permits based on the 1949 Geneva Convention, but instead have signed separate agreements with Japan allowing visiting drivers to drive in Japan provided they have obtained an official Japanese translation of their driver's licence, available through these countries' embassies or consulates in Japan.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in Tokyo, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Japan National Tourism Organization – Tokyo Tourist Information Centre (TIC Tokyo)

Offers practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

  • Address : ShinTokyo Building, 1F 3-3-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • Telephone : +81 (0)3 3201 3331
  • Website : http://www.gotokyo.org

Additional TICs

At various locations throughout the city, these other Tourist Information Centres offer information and recommendations for your stay in Tokyo and its surrounding area. Listed below are the main addresses for other TICs in Tokyo:

  • TIC DiverCityTokyo Plaza : 1-1-10 Aomi, Koto-ku
  • TIC Super Hotel LOHAS : 2-2-7yaesu Chuo-ku
  • TIC Ginza Station : 4-1-2, Ginza, Chuo-ku
  • TIC Tokyo Midtown : 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku

Further information available online for visitors to Japan

The official website of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) provides a wealth of information on Tokyo.

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in Japan is the yen (¥).

1 RUB = 2 JPY

1 JPY = 0.50 RUB

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

See your doctor before you travel.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to Japan, except for those arriving from risk areas, in particular countries where yellow fever has been reported.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

Water

Tap water is safe to drink in Tokyo.

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Administrative formalities

Japan has entered into visa exemption agreements with a number of countries.

To find out whether you need a visa to visit Japan, see the list of countries benefiting from exemptions on the website of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs: http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/novisa.html

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Essential phrases

Here are a few basic Japanese phrases that will make your stay in Tokyo a little easier:

Hello / Good morning / Good afternoon: Konnichiwa

Good evening: Kombanwa

Good-bye: Sayonara

Yes: Hai

No: Iie

No, thank you: Kekko desu

Thank you very much: Arigato gozaimas[u]

I don't understand: Wakarimasen.

Could you repeat that: Moo ichido itte kudasai?

Please: Onegai shimas[u]

What time is it: Ima nanji desuka?

Excuse me: Sumimasen.

Airport: Kuko

Train station: Eki

Taxi: Takushi

Hotel: Hoteru

Hospital: Byoin

Bank: Ginko

Telephone: Denwa

I'm (…): Watashi wa (…).

I'm looking for (…): (…) o sagash[i]te imas[u]

How much is that: Ikura des[u] ka?

Do you have (…): (…) wa arimas[u] ka?

Where can I find (…): (…) wa doko ni arimas[u] ka?

Where can I buy (…): (…) wa doko de kaemas[u] ka?

I'd like (…): (…) o kudasai.

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Good to know

00 81
+ phone number without the 0 (calls to Tokyo)
6 : 00
of time difference with
Moscow

Banks

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Government offices

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
100 V / 50 Hz

And what about tipping?
Leaving tips is not recommended in Tokyo, and this is true throughout Japan. Apart from the fact that tipping is not customary, it may also be perceived as an insult, because it is considered equivalent to giving alms. Furthermore, at restaurants and bars a service charge is always included in the bill.