What to Bring to Tokyo Olympics 2021

Who will take home the most gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics 2021? Who knows.
YOU will be the winner and enjoy your Tokyo Olympics trip the most…IF you pack 8 essential items. 

1. Plastic Bags - Little ones you can tuck in your purse or pocket. Even when there are no big events in town, trash cans - especially in touristy areas -  may be hard to find.

2. Hankies - Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto restrooms are catering more and more to Western crowds. However, it is not uncommon - even when using local trains in Tokyo -  to find facilities without paper or machines to dry your hands.

3. Pocket Wi-Fi Receipt for Pick-Up at the Airport – Japan travel ads often tout the accessibility of free wi-fi. It is not reliable. Unless you are planning on staying in Starbucks all day. (I promise I’m not getting paid for the following promotion.) Pupuru 
Pocket Wi-Fi has easy-to-use English instructions. Pupuru also has convenient pick up at the airports. (Plus, you will not pay for an enormous AT & T bill when you get home.)

4. PB - Peanut Butter is a must pack item. The Japanese are genius at improving on everything from cars to TVs to pancakes. However, when it comes to peanut butter…let’s just say it’s different than what we have in the US.

Athletes will not be the only ones competing during the Tokyo Olympics 2021. Visitors will also be vying for tables at restaurants. A PBJ on heavenly Japanese bread and jam purchased in the basement of a department store can save time and money.

5. Japan Rail Pass - Technically you can now purchase Japan Rail Passes upon arrival into Japan. Still, I recommend streamlining the process so even if you are jetlagged, you’ll get your Japan Rail Pass faster than your sleepy cohorts who have to fill out the paper work.

Note 1: A Japan Rail Pass is a must if A. You are planning on any trips outside of Tokyo. B. You are not Bill Gates and not worried about your mortgage payments, kids’ college education, etc.

The Japan Rail Pass is a special present from the Japanese government to promote tourism. Foreigners living in Japan are not eligible for the Japan Rail Pass which allows for first class travel on the bullet train to any destination. FYI There are many third party sellers of the pass online. If you are going the third party route, go with established travel agencies such as JTB and HIS Travel.

Note 2: IF you are truly planning on staying only in Tokyo, you might want to consider purchasing a Suica card or downloading the Suica app on your iPhone or Android. Essentially, it’s a debit card (with no cash back) which you use instead of a train or bus ticket. The Suica avoids the hassle of correct change at markets, convenience and department stores. It also works for vending machines.

Suica cards are easily obtained at JR (Japan Railway) train stations. (Read at almost any train station within walking distance in Tokyo.)

6. International Driver's LicenseA rental car in Japan can save tons of time and money. Especially if you are exploring pristine sights outside of city perimeters. 

An International Driver's License needs to be obtained before you board your Japan bound flight.

In the USA, AAA is your best bet.

In the UK,  your postal services will help.

This site details all venues for obtaining an International Driver's License in Australia.

7. Google Maps - Don’t leave home without it. The app instructs you on every single detail needed to get from your starting point to your destination in English. The instructions include which place on the train platform is the best for finding your exit.

The app is brilliant but may be biased. Non-scientific research has found that “Recommended Routes” may not always be the most expedient.

Note: If you are using a Japan Rail Pass, look for JR trains so you don’t need to worry about buying a ticket. 

8. Japanese Yen Bills – Post pandemic, stores even in the outlying areas may start accepting more plastic. Still, tradition dies hard in Japan and Mom-and-Pop shops may stick to cash only. As you go farther away from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and other major cities, you are probably better off carrying Japanese 1000, 5000 and 10000 yen notes in your wallet.

IF you are a vegan or need gluten-free meals, please see:
Traveling Vegan in Japan
Traveling Gluten-Free in Japan

Both posts contain print out cards which communicate food restrictions in Japanese.

Wishing you many wins and much joy on your Japan trip!

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.



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