A Word About Japan

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ShinkansenIf you are a Disney theme park fan from the United States planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort, you will be doing yourself a tremendous disservice if you do not spend part of your trip exploring at least Tokyo and the surrounding area, if not other areas of Japan as well. Japan is a country of tremendous cultural and historical richness, and Tokyo is one of the most remarkable cities on earth.

You may be intimidated at the thought of trying to explore a big city in a foreign country on your own. There are several qualities of Tokyo that make this easier than you might think.

Tokyo has to be the cleanest and safest big city in the world. Crime is remarkably low, and even the busiest train stations and other public facilities are sparkling clean. Speaking of which, the public transportation in Tokyo is nothing short of phenomenal. You can take either an elevated or subway train anywhere you want to go and never have to walk more than a few blocks to and from a station. Trains are meticulously on schedule. The only nuisance with the public transportation is that the trains stop running around midnight.

There is a language barrier, but it's not difficult to overcome. Japanese students are required to take at least 8 years of English, so it's never difficult to find someone that speaks at least some English. All of Tokyo's public transportation systems have signs in both Japanese and English. Even restaurants that don't have English-language menus are little problem; most restaurants have plastic models of the food they serve in display windows in front of the restaurants, and all you need to do is point out what you want to the waitress and you're set.

I have come across many stories describing the high levels of service and courtesy you'll encounter in Japan; I have never heard one that was overstated. Read as much as you want, you will still be amazed at how hotel, restaurant, department store employees will go out of their way to accommodate you and make sure you are happy. You will feel like you are being treated like a celebrity; the more time you spend in Japan, the more you will realize that everyone is treated that way. What's even more amazing is that there is no tipping in Japan. The few times that I did try to tip someone, it was flatly refused.

Tokyo Disney Resort is a fantastic place and well worth the visit if you're a Disney fan, but if you don't sample some of the other wonderful things Japan has to offer you'll be missing a great deal. Spend two or three days at the Resort, but get out and experience the rich culture of Japan.