Why go to Tokyo (Yokohama)?
Spotlessly clean, incredibly ordered and unfailingly polite, Tokyo is great for foodies, shoppers and tech geeks
Can be overwhelming for the first timer; English not widely spoken and can be pricy
This vast metropolis is one of the most exhilarating cities on earth, an all-round sensory bombardment of sights, sounds and tastes
Tokyo (Yokohama) Cruise Port Facilities?
The vast majority of cruise ships dock at Osanbashi Pier in Yokohama approximately 20 miles southwest of Tokyo. The nearest train station is the Nihon-Odori station on the Minato Mirai line, about a 10-minute walk from the port. Yokohama Port opened in 1850 as Japan's first modern, international trading port. Yokohama easily accommodates larger ships that can't make it under Tokyo's Rainbow Bridge -- which is why your ship calls here. Facilities at the port include an information desk, bathrooms, luggage lockers, a shop, cafe, restaurant and taxis.
Small cruise ships that can fit under the Rainbow Bridge dock at Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal on Harumi Island. The Tokyo port is in an isolated part of the city; the nearest train station is Kachidoki Station on the Toei Oedo subway line, about a 30-minute walk away from the port. Inside the terminal, you'll find vending machines with drinks and snacks; free Wi-Fi also is available.
Good to Know?
Very few people in Tokyo speak English, so it's important to have a translating app on your phone, or at the very least a map that has both Japanese and English on it. That way, if you get lost you can point to where you want to go to get, at the very least, basic directions.
Also worth noting: Japanese stand on the left and walk on the right of the escalators. They are also extremely observant of lines --take your turn and no cutting in!
By Foot (In Yokohama): It's best to set out on foot from the Osanbashi terminal. At the end of the pier, pop into the Silk Museum, to check out gorgeous kimonos and historic costumes. Rent your own kimono at Yokohama Kimono Station, in the same complex, then stroll the waterfront park, snapping memorable selfies. Head for the historic redbrick customs warehouses (to your right as you exit the pier), where Building No. 2 hosts a slew of shops and eateries. Still got time? Continue to the giant Ferris wheel, Cosmo Clock 21, so called because it holds a Guinness World Record for being the largest Ferris wheel with a clock) and take a spin -- or go a bit further to the interactive Cupnoodles Museum, where you can create your own custom cup of instant ramen.
By Foot (In Tokyo): Strolling around Tokyo is a great way to see the city, but bear in mind that it is vast and sprawling, so it's best to plan out your route, or at least have an idea of what sites you want to see. The city is spotlessly clean, completely safe (there is virtually no petty crime) with many pedestrianised areas.
By Rail: Yokohama's Osanbashi Cruise Terminal is about a 40-minute train ride from central Tokyo, therefore some passengers choose to spend the night before the cruise in Yokohama. If you're catching a shinkansen bullet train, you'll leave from the Shin-Yokohama station, which is different (and further from the port) than the regular train station.
Rail is the best way to get around Tokyo, and surrounding suburbs like Yokohama; Japan's mass transit rail system is one of the most comprehensive in the world. It can be confusing, though, because there are several distinct rail companies operating within Tokyo. The main three services are the color-coded JR East network and the Metro and Toei subway systems. There also are numerous private networks.
For tourists, the most important rail line is the JR Yamanote Line, which runs in a loop around central Tokyo. Many of the city's major sites are within this loop, and almost every other rail line, regardless of operator, intersects with a station along this route. Within the loop, in what is considered central Tokyo, the nine Metro lines and four Toei lines are your best bet for getting around. All signs (and announcements in touristy areas) are in Japanese and English (and there are also very smartly-dressed, white-gloved information officers at every station, all of whom speak English).
Important to note: Rail tickets must be purchased from automated vending machines, all of which offer English instructions. Fares are based on the distance you travel; one way to make traveling the rails a bit easier is to estimate how much money you think you'll be spending on the train and then purchase a prepaid fare card (called "Suica") so you don't have to pay each time you get on the train. Try not to overload your card; you can't get back any unused money.
By Taxi: Taxis are not your least expensive option for getting around Tokyo; fares are high and congestion can be a problem. But there are some 50,000 taxis in Tokyo, which can be picked up at taxi stations at most train stations or flagged down by raising your hand when you see a vacant car (look for the red lamp on the top of the car - green means it is occupied). Many taxis do not accept credit cards so check before you get in. Also note that most taxi drivers do not speak English, so you're best chance is to have the name of your destination written down or on Google maps.
Rideshare: Uber exists in Tokyo, and as is in other major cities, it's significantly cheaper than taxis. The experience is somewhat different from what you might be used to elsewhere: cars are spotless and new, and you're driver will be wearing a uniform and white gloves.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The yen is the official currency of Japan; coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500, while bank notes come in 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen. You're best off getting your cash before you leave, but if you run out you'll need to exchange money at an official currency office, or withdraw cash from an ATM in a post office or at a 7-Eleven store. ATMs at Japanese banks do not accept foreign country ATM or debit cards.
Credit cards are not widely accepted for payments except for major restaurants, major chain stores, and mini marts -- and even many of these do not accept Amex. If you plan on going to any small noodle bar, or a stand up bar in Shibuya or Shinjuku take cash. It's the same with taxis, some accept credit cards, many do not -- always ask before you get in.