You may consider some necessary steps before residing in the city where the traditional and modern culture mix to help you integrate into the new environment. For example, learning the Japanese language in advance, or study their unique culture, or you may do some research about Tokyo’s way of living. To help you out in facing these new changes in your life and making the most of your living in Tokyo, here are some practical tips for living in Tokyo. These tips focus on the best ways to survive city life.
1. Commute using Pasmo and Suica Cards
Commuting in the most crowded city of Japan can be so complicated, much more if you are not yet familiar with the streets, stations, and the system of transportation. So, our first tip is to use Suica and Pasmo cards when traveling around the city.
What are these cards? These are IC cards- rechargeable cards used to pay for all your train, subway, and bus rides whenever you are moving within the city or even going outside the city.
With the help of these best-prepaid cards, you won’t have to calculate your fare and fishing back and forth in your wallet per destination because with just a tap, it can automatically open the ticket gate. You will not also fear losing your ticket when riding trains.
The new technology can able you to use Suica through mobile phones and smartwatches. Wallet apps, such as Google Pay for Android users and Apple Pay for IOS users allow you to add Suica. With this app on your phone can able you to check the current balance of your Suica anytime and anywhere. Also, entering and exiting can be so easy by just simply holding the top of your mobile devices within a few centimeters of the ticket gate scanner.
How to purchase them? You can purchase Suica at any station in Tokyo or Narita/Haneda train stations, which are issued by JR EAST. And you can purchase Pasmo at subway stations in Tokyo or Narita/Haneda airport train stations. Both cards are interchangeable with other prepaid cards in Japan. Whenever you need to reload or top-up them, you can do it directly at vending machines, JR train stations, and subway stations in Tokyo.
Suica and Pasmo can be also used to shop online, as well as purchasing stuff in a convenience store or kiosk.
2. Survive a Train Ride
It is common in Tokyo during rush hours when people go to work or school, and when traveling back home, trains jammed with numerous commuters. To avoid encountering this stressful train ride, you should not commute during rush hours.
However, it is hard to avoid such situations as Tokyo is surrounded by train lines and subways. This means that the main transportation is by train, so you will most likely commute using rail transport rather than paying on expensive taxi rides. Besides, during the “Golden Week” celebration, the overcrowding situation got worsen. It is a one-week holiday, so expect long queues, delays, and congestion. To survive on the unpleasant train rides, here are the practical tips.
- First, stay in line before entering, but if you are not in a hurry, you can wait for the next train.
- It is better to be the first place in line to get a seat quickly. However, if all seats are occupied, you have to deal with it by just standing still.
- The best spot to stand and wait for your station is near the train door, to get off the train easily.
- Standing passengers need to grab the train handles called “Tsurikawa” in Japanese.
- When you’re leaving the train, you can say “Sumimasen,” meaning excuse me.
3. Pay cash or the cashless payment method.
Carrying cash is very common in Japan, but it might be uncommon for you because you are getting used to credit cards. Most stores, shops, and restaurants in Japan, including Tokyo, do not accept payment through credit cards, although, there are few. Therefore, you should practice bringing cash especially, when you dine in ramen or sushi restaurants because these places only accept cash payments.
However, nowadays the Japanese government promotes cashless methods such as credit cards, electronic payments, mobile payments due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission by handling cash. Since the cashless method is way safer during this time of the pandemic, we highly recommend the top 10 mobile payment services that have been widely used by foreign and local residents in Tokyo.
- LINE Pay
- Pixiv PAY
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Rakuten Pay (楽天ペイ）
- Origami Pay
- D-barai （D払い）
The mobile payment technology is using either NFC (Near-Field Communication) or QR code.
4. Shop online with Amazon Japan.
Amazon is considered one of the Big Four technology companies worldwide. It is considered the largest online marketplace in the world and a provider of several products and services. Japan, along with the nine countries covered under the Amazon Global Program. Because of this program of Amazon, international shipping is made very easy. Typically, customers can get the item within 2 or 3 days without any extra charge.
Joining the Amazon Prime Membership can make you enjoy amazingly great benefits, such as “Same-Day Expedited Shipping,” in which you can receive your orders within 24 hours. Expedited Shipping is also unlimited free. Enjoy the unlimited playback of millions of songs, unlimited streaming of thousands of shows, unlimited reading over hundreds of books, Manga, and Zasshi, and unlimited photo storage.
Other than that, products offered by Amazon are cheaper than at the physical stores. Therefore, we recommend Amazon Japan to make your living in Tokyo easier.
5. Purchase at the Cheapest Supermarkets
Tokyo ranked 22nd out of 499 cities in the world’s leading cost of living. This information explains why the living cost in this city is quite expensive. Managing your budget, including the expenses for the grocery, is a big help when living in Tokyo. And finding the cheapest supermarkets around the city will help you purchase your basic commodities without spending a lot. Here are the three (3) cheapest supermarkets in Tokyo that are also available online.
This grocery store offers a wide range of products for daily essentials, such as perishable and nonperishable foods, toiletries, home cleaning products, and more.
Although it is one of the largest grocery stores in Japan, the products they offered are surprisingly cheap. You will be surprised by their ice cream cost. Compared to some supermarkets, which is almost 300 JPY per box, but in SEIYU, they sell it for only 200 JPY. Also, deli items will be half-price after 9:00 pm. And you can enjoy the 3% discount off on your purchases when you hold a Walmart credit card.
Aeon-affiliated store “My Basket” is not as huge as SEIYU but offers a great selection of products. If you are looking for halal foods, then My Basket could be the best stop. Also, their packed meals are not only delicious but affordable as well.
We recommend this grocery store because their items are generally low price. Some products are 30% off occasionally. So this will help you stay within your budget while you live in an expensive city like Tokyo.
The store looks amazingly spacious and clean, and you will be surprised by how low the prices are. For example, some food items will be 20% off before closing. Different choices of sushi bento and other ready-to-eat packed meals are also affordable. Apart from that, vegetables, meat, cheese, and bread are very cheap on Mondays.
LIFE offers a lot of essential needs, and purchasing at this grocery store is another way to save money.
5 Tips for Living in Tokyo
Living in the busiest and expensive city could be challenging at first, but you can manage it along the way by considering some of those mentioned practical tips. The helpful tips on how to survive the train rides, cashless payment method by using any from the top 10 mobile services, and the three affordable supermarkets in Tokyo to purchase your goods are just a few tips but will help you to survive city life. May you enjoy your living in Tokyo.
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