Snaking queues at the ticket booths
The queue to ride the "Western River Railroad"
"Dumbo the flying elephant" ride during sunset
"Haunted Mansion" ride
Ok, Singaporeans should all be familiar with this concept?! It's not unlike our Sakae Sushi, Sushi-Tei where you've all the sushi placed on different colored plates (different colors to indicate different prices) rotating around on a conveyor belt...and you just pick up from the belt whatever catches your eye to eat. When you're done, the waiter will count the number of plates and write you a bill.
There are many such kaiten-zushi places in Tokyo. The cheapest one that I had been to was only JPY99 per plate (SGD1.60). The average price is probably between JPY100-150 which is still cheap as compared to Singapore? Of course the premium plates can be up to JPY500. Ocha is free and free-flow unlike in Singapore where I have to pay SGD0.99 at Sakae Sushi!
Although snobs will frown on kaiten-zushi and say that the food are bad....of the many that I've tried in Tokyo, I must say that they were all much better in terms of food quality than our local Sakae Sushi! And instead of manually counting the plates, some of the shops have installed RFID chips on the plates such that the waiters need only to scan the stack of plates with a barcode reader and the bill will be totalled up in a matter of seconds!
You'll find the regular giant chains like McDonald's, Wendy's and KFC in Tokyo. Personally, I find that the fast food from these chains in Japan taste better than in most other countries - including Singapore...probably 'cos of the stringent quality controls standards by the Japanese. But seriously...do you want to be eating at McDonald's when there are so many other interesting things to try when you are in Tokyo?! If you want the affordability of fast food without appearing like a loser eating at Mac's while in Tokyo, you can consider the more "japanese" burger options such as MOS Burger http://www.mos.co.jp/english/, Freshness Burger http://www.freshnessburger.co.jp/, Lotteria http://www.lotteria.jp/index.html, First Kitchen http://www.first-kitchen.co.jp/index.html . For most of these fast food restaurants, you'll be able to get a very decent meal (burger+fries+drink) for around JPY500.
If you'd prefer rice meals i.e. Gyudon instead of burgers, you can also visit fast food chains like Matsuya http://www.matsuyafoods.co.jp/index.pl5, Yoshinoya http://www.yoshinoya.com/ or Ootoya http://www.ootoya.com/ and Sukiya http://www.zensho.com/menu/. Similarly for around JPY500, you'll be able to fill your stomach with a big bowl of rice topped with beef slices and some veg & egg. And water/ocha is usually available for free.
There are also restaurants that serve curry rice & tempura in fast food style like Coco Ichibanya http://www.ichibanya.co.jp/index.html and Tenya http://www.tenya.co.jp/index.htm . For these joints, a satisfying meal will probably cost you JPY600-1000.
Well I'm not exactly a big eater but if you are one, there are many eat-all-you-can restaurants in Tokyo. The prices aren't exactly easy on your pockets as they usually range between JPY1000-3000 (lunch prices are normally much cheaper)...however, the fact that you can eat/drink all you want for a single price would render them reasonably good deals especially if you can eat A LOT! Such eat-all-you-can offers can be found in all kinds of restaurants i.e. indian, iranian, asian, nepalese, israeli etc. If you want to try the more authentic japanese food, there are 2 such joints that might be worth your consideration.
Mo Mo Paradise http://www.wondertable.com/doc/whatsnew/y232/232.html offers eat-all-you-can shabu shabu (similar to our local steamboat) for about JPY2,000/pax (inclusive of free flow of drinks/rice). If I'm not wrong, the lunch buffet is at half price. Unlike our local buffet places, there's usually a time limit, which in the case of Mo Mo, is 90min. So eat fast! Can't really recall the exact locations but there are 2 Mo-Mos near Sunshine City @ Ikebukuro
If you like deep fried food, then Kushiya Monogatari http://www.kushi-ya.com/ might just be your cup of tea. If you were to ignore the after-meal greasy smell on your clothes/hair/skin (that I totally hate!), it can be kinda fun. You get to pick what you like to eat, dip the skewered fish, meat and vegetables in batter and flour and then use the deep-fryer on each table to fry your own meal. Eat-all-you-can in two hours for about JPY2,500 (not inclusive of free flow of drinks). Everything is deep-fried so watch those calories. The meal goes best with ice cold japanese beer! I think you can find Kushiya in quite a few areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Shimbashi...but don't ask me where exactly as I'm not a foodie...I eat only what I chance upon.
Contrary to popular belief that Tokyo is a VERY expensive city to travel in or live in, there are actually many budget options for cheapo travellers like me. In Tokyo, I have stayed in the very best hotels as well as the budget accommodations. Of course, there are the hotels that'd cost over SGD400/night but there are also many that are in the range of less than SGD200/night.
And unlike poor quality budget accommodations that you often find in some asian countries, even the "star-less" inns/motels in Tokyo are extremely well-kept, clean and thoughtfully & tastefully furnished.
While there are some cheap hostels or budget ryokans that'd cost less than JPY4000 (~SGD68), or even cheaper capsule hotels, I'd usually stick to the mid-range western style budget inns/motels with ensuite and my budget is normally around JPY7,000-8,000/night (SGD119-136).
Here are some photos of the budget motel rooms that I had stayed in...although tiny (most of the normal rooms in 3-4* hotels are not very much bigger though), they are usually very cosy and comfortable.
A few things to note, first, double beds are tiny (just slightly broader than a single bed) and really not meant for 2 persons unless you don't mind suffering many sleepless nights! Second, if you are uncomfortable stripping in front of others and bathing at the public bath, you might want to avoid accommodations without ensuite. The bath area is often without cubicles/doors. It is probably just a row of showerheads and taps fixed on the wall and you have nothing but a tiny stool to sit your naked butt on to bathe!
This is a single-bed room in Toyocho Vista Hotel which is just less than 50m walk to the Toyocho Stn. Think I only paid around JPY7,000/night Yes, it's tiny. This is the other end of the bed.
This is another motel with double bed. Think I only paid around JPY6,000/night.
Most of the ensuite are small but as you can see, still very well equipped.
Below is a list of some budget accommodations as well as budget hotel portals if you are travelling on a shoestring:
Tokyo Inn http://www.tokyo-inn.co.jp/en/index.html
TOYOKO Inn http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/
Japan Hotel Net http://www.japanhotel.net/
The Budget Hotels In Japan http://www.e-otomari.jp/~english/
Sakura Hotel http://www.sakura-hotel.co.jp/
Nishi-Shinjuku Hotel http://www.nshotel.com/
Super Hotel http://www.superhotel.co.jp/
Rakuten Travel Hotel Bookings
Tokyo Capsule Hotel Listing http://gojapan.about.com/cs/accommod...yocapsule1.htm
Japanese Guest Houses
Kimi Ryokan (Ikebukuro - Tokyo) http://www.kimi-ryokan.jp/index.html
Andon Ryokan (Tokyo) http://www.andon.co.jp/
- Airport Limousine bus
- Narita Express (NEX)
- Keisei Skyliner
- JR Sobu (Rapid)
- Keisei Ltd Express http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/keisei_us/html/o_express.html
If you don't mind travelling on a normal commuter train that makes numerous stops (hence taking a longer time to reach Tokyo)....and probably having to stand with your luggages in tow....choosing the JR Rapid or Keisei Ltd over NEX/limo bus will save you around JPY1700+ (approx. SGD29+).
I'd normally use NEX or the limo bus as I'd be feeling very tired after the long flight. Only on a few occasions that I used the Keisei Ltd. However, this cheapo has found out that there are ways to save on NEX or the limo bus!
Usual fare on NEX to Tokyo is approx JPY3,000. If you were to buy the NEX+Suica package for JPY3,500, your NEX fare will only be JPY1,500 as the stored value for your Suica card is already JPY2,000!
Usual fare on the limo bus is approx JPY3,000. The limo bus+metropass package will cost JPY3,100. Original price of a 1day open metropass is JPY600. So you already save JPY500. The 1day metropass will allow you unlimited rides on the Tokyo metro for a day.
Normal price for skyliner+1day metropass is JPY2,520 and JPY2,900 for a 2-day metropass. The promotional prices are JPY2,100 & JPY2,480 respectively. So your savings are JPY420 for both.
Traveling within Tokyo
1 or 2 day Metropass http://www.tokyometro.jp/global/en/ticket/narita.html
If you think you'll be travelling on the Tokyo Metro a lot, you can purchase the 1 or 2 day Metropass at Narita Airport (the passes are ONLY AVAILABLE at Narita Airport). 1 day pass is JPY600 and 2 day pass is JPY980.
This is like the mother of all passes! It allows you unlimited ride on all JR Group Railways - limited express trains, express trains, rapid or local trains, including NEX and the Shinkasen (except on "NOZOMI" trains). It even allows you to ride on certain JR buses and ferries. This pass can only be purchased by foreign tourists under the entry status of "temporary visitor" and available only outside of Japan from an authorized sales office or agent in your home country. Refer to this website for a listing of the authorized sales offices in Singapore http://www.jnto.org.sg/jprailpass.html
The JR pass ain't cheap at JPY28,300 (~SGD480+) for a 7-day Ordinary pass and JPY45,100 (SGD767+) for a 14-day pass (green passes are more expensive). If you are mostly just travelling within a particular city i.e. Tokyo, then there's no need for the JR pass. But say if you are making long distance rail trips i.e. Tokyo <--> Kyoto, then the JR pass is worth the investment because a normal return fare on the shinkasen for such long distance travel would already cost more than the fare of the JR pass.
Depending on where you are planning to travel to, there are also other regional passes that you can purchase http://www.japanrail.com/JR_regionalrailpass.html. If you are travelling during the school holidays, you can also consider buying the Seishun 18 pass http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/seishun18.html
One very useful online tool that I swear by is the HYPERDIA digital time-table. If you were to type in your starting point and destination, select your travel date/time/type of seat/train type...it will be able to generate a list of all the possible rail courses that you can take and it will also list down all the connections if any http://www.hyperdia.com/cgi-english/hyperWeb.cgi
If you need maps to plan for your Japan trip, do visit the Japan National Tourism Organization (Singapore Office) @ 16 Raffles Quay, #15-09, Hong Leong Building, Singapore 048581 http://www.jnto.org.sg/default.asp