Lots of Random Questions

kbmartin

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 20, 2014
Our trip is getting a lot closer, and I'm starting to have some questions that I hope others may be able to answer! I apologize in advance if any of these are "dumb questions!" (I hope they aren't!!!)

1. I read that rush hour in Japan is typically 7-9 am and 5-7 pm. After watching a video of people literally being pushed onto trains, I am now 100% terrified of rush hour and will avoid it at all costs. I can't imagine that these insane crowds completely vanish by 9 am, for example, though... During which hours could I expect a "normal" or optimal train situation? For reference, we're staying in Shinjuku, which I know probably won't make things easy!

2. Can anyone recommend a pocket Wi-fi service (NOT a Sim card)? It's just my DH and I going on this trip. We will not separate at all and aren't crazy wi-fi users but don't want the wi-fi battery to run out while we're out and about. I would estimate that we would typically leave our hotel between 9-10 am each day and wouldn't be out later than 9 pm for the most part. I only know some Japanese words and phrases and will need lots of translating help, directions, etc. every day.

3. Can anyone recommend a good travel insurance company/policy?

4. My credit card/debit card should be accepted around Japan, but for ATMS... I feel like I read at some point that you actually use your credit card to pull money from ATMs with a special pin. Did anyone straight up use their debit card with their normal pin to pull money from an ATM? I am quite confused on this matter... I am so sorry if this is a "dumb" question but I am scared of getting there and finding out I can't get money.

5. My DH is considering getting a credit card that can be used internationally just so we have a back-up. Can anyone recommend one that has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees?

6. If we are just hanging at Disney and then Tokyo (we aren't going anywhere else) for about 10 days, how much should I load on a Suica card? Can you use Suica for the monorail at Disney?

7. Ghibli Museum - I read that everything there is only in Japanese - there are no English translations for any exhibits. Does that really damper one's enjoyment? For reference, I am a huge Ghibli fan and at one time loved drawing so much that I considered animation as a career.

8. What are the most important apps to have on your phone for a trip to Tokyo? Again, I don't know very much Japanese (lots of random words but not enough to put together a conversation).


Thank you for any information you can provide!
 

nono

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 30, 2005
Don't have all the answers, but can get this thread going...

We used Japan Wireless for wi-fi, and as technologists, were quite happy with the coverage and "shelf life" of the unit. They also are quite good with email communication and photos of how to find the pick up location at Haneda. :goodvibes

For trip insurance I used Amex. I liked that I could tailor the coverage to pretty much exactly what I wanted.

We did a lot of afternoon trips into Tokyo from TDL, so we used $50+ a piece easily, but if you aren't going to be zipping around town, you'll not need that much.

My regular bank debit card worked fine with all international ATMs. I did bring a decent amount of yen with me into the country to start with, so that may work to keep your worry down a bit.
 


bibbidibobbidibecky

The Fairy Godblogger
Joined
May 12, 2009
I can answer some!

4. We used an American debit card with no issues at ATMs. Just be sure to let your bank know ahead of time!

5. Capitol One all the way.

8. Google translate's camera feature is a lifesaver. It translates signs and menus in real time. Super cool. Uber is great in Japan, too. And maps.me is essential. If you get it now, you can pin all your hotels, metro stops, tourist spots, etc. I don't go anywhere without it.

Also several of our hotels gave us pocket wifis to use, so make sure yours don't before renting one.
 
  • Agent 86

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2013
    I'll respond to some queries ...

    1. "Rush hour" can be crazy, but it's hard to avoid. We've ridden some very packed trains at 9pm at night. And some very full trains to popular tourist destinations (for locals and international visitors) at any time of the day. The good thing about Tokyo is that another train is usually never far away. So, you can wait for a later, hopefully less busy train if the first one which arrives which is at 100% capacity. Or you can just embrace the craziness and allow yourself to be squeezed inside! Just remember to say "sumimasen" ("excuse me") loudly and repeatedly to exit at your stop.

    6. It's very easy to top-up your Suica card at train stations, 7-11s and other convenience stores. We normally just topped-up each day so that we could ensure we didn't leave with anything left on the card at the end of our vacation. Even if you put "too much" on the card, you can "spend it" on snacks, etc at 7-11s and other convenience stores.

    7. It didn't really dampen our enjoyment. There might have been a couple of things which we would have enjoyed more if we could understand what the signage said, but the main appeal of the museum is the design and all of the visual exhibits.

    8. The only apps which we install are ones for Tokyo Disney Resort. Something which tells you the wait times is an absolute requirement as you don't want to be trekking to the "entry" of each park every time you want to figure out what rides have short(er) wait times.

    We usually have Google and Apple Maps installed, but if you don't - you definitely want one or both of them for planning your daily train trips, etc.

    As for the language, we only know basic words and that's always been enough for us. A lot of people in Japan can understand English, but they're reticent to "speak it" unless they believe they can do it perfectly.
     

    marjorieeeee

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 20, 2014
    I bought a plane ticket to Japan yesterday! I’ve never been, so I don’t have a lot of answers.

    2. In my brief research of wi-fi devices, it seems like I would be spending something close to the $10/day at&t would charge me for international data. Don’t know who your cell phone provider is, but this seems much more convenient than picking up a device.

    5. I have a friend who’s always raving about his credit union. No foreign transaction fees. My Bank of America Cash Rewards visa has a 3% foreign transaction fee, but then you get 1-3% cash back depending on category, so if it’s in the right category it’s like nothing. Exchange rates can fluctuate a percent or two from day to day, so I don’t worry too much about the fee.
     

    wishing4PA

    Wants to be in Pennsylvania or WDW or PA or WDW or
    Joined
    Nov 20, 2008
    I am in the planning stages myself (have been for a while since our original planned trip had to get pushed back) but imho #4 is far from a "dumb" question! That's the one that was keeping me up at night! Well, that and how to navigate what to do about DD's daily meds. I think I don't need the form for them since it's less than a 30 day supply, but I've got to double-check.
    I am going to bring my debit card (that normally I don't take on trips) for cash, and some credit cards that will be more for emergencies, and I've already asked the one card to send me my PIN. Because I never ever have used a credit card in an ATM! I don't really want to, since I think my cards have the foreign transaction fees that the debit card I plan to take doesn't. But just in case!
    Then there's coronavirus, so I'm checking news on that one a lot these days. Wish I could see into the future to know if it fizzles out or gets a lot worse.
     

    LovesTimone

    Christmas Day 2017
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2009
    Our trip is getting a lot closer, and I'm starting to have some questions that I hope others may be able to answer! I apologize in advance if any of these are "dumb questions!" (I hope they aren't!!!)

    1. I read that rush hour in Japan is typically 7-9 am and 5-7 pm. After watching a video of people literally being pushed onto trains, I am now 100% terrified of rush hour and will avoid it at all costs. I can't imagine that these insane crowds completely vanish by 9 am, for example, though... During which hours could I expect a "normal" or optimal train situation? For reference, we're staying in Shinjuku, which I know probably won't make things easy!

    2. Can anyone recommend a pocket Wi-fi service (NOT a Sim card)? It's just my DH and I going on this trip. We will not separate at all and aren't crazy wi-fi users but don't want the wi-fi battery to run out while we're out and about. I would estimate that we would typically leave our hotel between 9-10 am each day and wouldn't be out later than 9 pm for the most part. I only know some Japanese words and phrases and will need lots of translating help, directions, etc. every day.

    3. Can anyone recommend a good travel insurance company/policy?

    4. My credit card/debit card should be accepted around Japan, but for ATMS... I feel like I read at some point that you actually use your credit card to pull money from ATMs with a special pin. Did anyone straight up use their debit card with their normal pin to pull money from an ATM? I am quite confused on this matter... I am so sorry if this is a "dumb" question but I am scared of getting there and finding out I can't get money.

    5. My DH is considering getting a credit card that can be used internationally just so we have a back-up. Can anyone recommend one that has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees?

    6. If we are just hanging at Disney and then Tokyo (we aren't going anywhere else) for about 10 days, how much should I load on a Suica card? Can you use Suica for the monorail at Disney?

    7. Ghibli Museum - I read that everything there is only in Japanese - there are no English translations for any exhibits. Does that really damper one's enjoyment? For reference, I am a huge Ghibli fan and at one time loved drawing so much that I considered animation as a career.

    8. What are the most important apps to have on your phone for a trip to Tokyo? Again, I don't know very much Japanese (lots of random words but not enough to put together a conversation).


    Thank you for any information you can provide!

    Hi... while I haven't been yet, I have done a ton of planning, and researching, for our upcoming trip November 2020... Plane tickets bought...Stalking hotel prices...

    1) Rush hour worry's me to, as I have some claustrophobia issue's... so we are going to handle it like we normally do whenever things like this pop up, at WDW with the buses.. If a bus is to packed, DH and I just wait for the next one... many time being on the next bus with only half the seat full... Over crowded elevators, we just wait for the next one...

    2) Travel insurance... American Express is a pretty common one, We normally take the travel insurance with the airfare we normally fly with Delta... and we have needed to use it before so it was totally worth it...

    4 & 5) DH and I will bring one of our ATM cards... but we never luckily have had to use it... We use our Amex, or Capital one... both offer, no international transaction fees... and this is what we use for payment or getting cash... Make sure to have this all set up in advance before you leave, and double check everything, I suggest actually using your cc for cash just to double check...
    *DH is a numbers guy... so a couple of times a day he will check the Bank and CC accounts... on line to make sure everything is okay... and to make sure the right amount was charged, and no false charges...
    *Ask for a print out of your bill, DH and I do it at least every other day... In Paris our room was charge for room service 140.00 euro's, which we did not order... So DH went downstairs to the desk, and they took it off right away. We have had other instance's where we caught charges added to the room that we did not make.... at AKL, pool drinks that we did not get, I had our receipt for what we did order. Out in Vegas, several times, additional tips, or charge made to the room... It is so much easier to deal with it in person right then..instead of trying to deal with it once you get home, or you are trying to get checked out, and you realize, why is the bill so much and you need to head to the airport...
    *As well I think that in some other trip reports, I have read that you can only get cash out in 24 hours cycles... so make sure to get enough out at a time to last until the waiting period is over...
    *We are planning on taking Yen with us, We do not like arriving in a foreign country without any cash...Especially when traveling, so many things can pop up... delays, missed connections due to weather or whatever, or flights delays, or late planes... so we always start with a good amount of whatever currency we will need at our destination... you never know... you might have to change plans at the last minute... and knowing you have some cash makes things alot easier... as well make sure to spend or change out you foreign currency before leaving the airport... and have some US currency for your return trip back home... like you land late and everything air-side is closed and vending machine's are your only option for getting something to drink, or you need tip money for Uber or Taxi, or whom-ever might need tipping...

    8) Google Maps, and Google Translate with the camera...

    As well I for the amount on the Sucia card... You can spend sometime with google maps, and plot out your course, and it will pretty much tell you how much you are going to spend on trips... per person, and what the round trip cost will be...





     
  • MKTokyo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 24, 2018
    1. In Shinjuku especially, you are potentially going to get pushed, and shoved, and squished, at all hours of the day. Same thing with elevators... where there are elevators (& there aren’t always), they are very small and you are virtually never going to see them empty. If you try to wait for an empty elevator or train car, the people behind you are just going to go ahead & push on anyway. There are a lot of people who need to get where they need to go & nobody has the relative luxury of personal space. That concept does not exist in central Tokyo. Not saying this to scare you, but so that you can be prepared.

    2. Don’t know

    3. We use travel insurance provided by a CC but you can try getting quotes on a website like Insure My Trip, which should have better rates & better coverage than what you would get booking directly with your travel provider.

    4. Notify your US bank that you will be traveling. You can use your debit card just like you do at home. Do not pull cash with a CC. It will code as a cash advance & you will start paying totally unnecessary interest & fees from day one.

    5. Don’t know. I’m sure there are good ones. “No AF” just makes it hard for me to personally recommend something.

    6. This is going to be so different for everyone’s individual needs. You can start with around 5K yen & adjust from there.

    7. Can’t give a fair assessment as a tourist

    8. Navitime
     

    trainingupmy4princes

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2008
    So I can without a doubt say if you're either a Ghibli or Myazaki fan, the museum is absolutely worth the stress getting tickets. Now I am not the fan but my DS (21) is so it was never an option to skip, lol. We ended up staying longer than planned even waiting in line to eat in the Straw-hat Cafe. He absolutely loved it. We did use some google translate but it's a very visual museum so language wasn't an issue.

    As far as the trains, I also like my space but after waiting 15 minutes for 2 packed trains to go through, I just had to push in as my family was getting impatient. Be prepared for this as I don't know any way to avoid it.
     

    Mechelle Walker

    SkysDLimit32k
    Joined
    May 29, 2017
    Our trip is getting a lot closer, and I'm starting to have some questions that I hope others may be able to answer! I apologize in advance if any of these are "dumb questions!" (I hope they aren't!!!)

    1. I read that rush hour in Japan is typically 7-9 am and 5-7 pm. After watching a video of people literally being pushed onto trains, I am now 100% terrified of rush hour and will avoid it at all costs. I can't imagine that these insane crowds completely vanish by 9 am, for example, though... During which hours could I expect a "normal" or optimal train situation? For reference, we're staying in Shinjuku, which I know probably won't make things easy!

    2. Can anyone recommend a pocket Wi-fi service (NOT a Sim card)? It's just my DH and I going on this trip. We will not separate at all and aren't crazy wi-fi users but don't want the wi-fi battery to run out while we're out and about. I would estimate that we would typically leave our hotel between 9-10 am each day and wouldn't be out later than 9 pm for the most part. I only know some Japanese words and phrases and will need lots of translating help, directions, etc. every day.

    3. Can anyone recommend a good travel insurance company/policy?

    4. My credit card/debit card should be accepted around Japan, but for ATMS... I feel like I read at some point that you actually use your credit card to pull money from ATMs with a special pin. Did anyone straight up use their debit card with their normal pin to pull money from an ATM? I am quite confused on this matter... I am so sorry if this is a "dumb" question but I am scared of getting there and finding out I can't get money.

    5. My DH is considering getting a credit card that can be used internationally just so we have a back-up. Can anyone recommend one that has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees?

    6. If we are just hanging at Disney and then Tokyo (we aren't going anywhere else) for about 10 days, how much should I load on a Suica card? Can you use Suica for the monorail at Disney?

    7. Ghibli Museum - I read that everything there is only in Japanese - there are no English translations for any exhibits. Does that really damper one's enjoyment? For reference, I am a huge Ghibli fan and at one time loved drawing so much that I considered animation as a career.

    8. What are the most important apps to have on your phone for a trip to Tokyo? Again, I don't know very much Japanese (lots of random words but not enough to put together a conversation).


    Thank you for any information you can provide!
    1) We really found the rush hour train traffic dried up by 0900.
    2) Our rental provided a free pocket wifi and tbh...the company was written in Japanese so I'm not help there. Sorry!
    3) We used Alliance. However, what ever company you go with.. make sure to really read the contract. A lot of companies are betting that you won't take the time and they will try to weasel out of their end of the contract.
    4) Again, not much help here. We tried to use our cc for the majority of all charges because our cc didn't charge international transaction fees. We did bring a modest amount of cash and exchange for Yen whilst still stateside so we could pay for any vendor who didn't accept cc.
    5) Delta Amex Skymiles Blue: www.deltaoffer.com/085409100
    Discover card
    6) No experience with Suica card...sorry!
    7) No experience with the Ghibli museum
    8) We downloaded google maps to be used offline when wifi isn't present. Also the Tokyo rail system maps. Not required...but helpful to study your transit.
    Enjoy!!
     

    trainingupmy4princes

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2008
    We loved the Suica card as you could use those at 7-11, Family Marts the vending machines at the train stations, etc. It really helped so we didn't have to use up our cash every time we needed a drink/snack etc. I just made sure to remind DH to turn them back in for the deposit and any remaining money the day before we left. We kept ours on a lanyard so easy to keep track of and swipe.
     
  • tcufrog

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 18, 2012
    Just so you know. it's very easy to get separated entering and exiting a crowded subway car especially if you aren't used to it. Have a plan for if you both get separated on the subway. I've never been to Japan ( unfortunately) but I've been on subways all over the world.
     

    trainingupmy4princes

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2008
    Just so you know. it's very easy to get separated entering and exiting a crowded subway car especially if you aren't used to it. Have a plan for if you both get separated on the subway. I've never been to Japan ( unfortunately) but I've been on subways all over the world.
    This is true, I was so stressed when I lost sight of DH who had DD on the Subway in Tokyo. We didn't have a plan but I started texting the minute I got off at our exit.
     

    nono

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2005
    Oh, and my phone decided to switch to Japanese while I was there, as though I was bi-lingual, so having google maps on another device was super useful. I would take a photo of planned route in English before we left. After a couple days, it wasn't such a big deal. It definitely upped my Japanese game. Though Wordscapes was beyond my grasp, for sure.
     

    trainingupmy4princes

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2008
    Oh, and my phone decided to switch to Japanese while I was there, as though I was bi-lingual, so having google maps on another device was super useful. I would take a photo of planned route in English before we left. After a couple days, it wasn't such a big deal. It definitely upped my Japanese game. Though Wordscapes was beyond my grasp, for sure.
    LOL I definitely don't think I could play Wordscapes in Japanese.
     

    TeAh4

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 18, 2020
    1. I was terrified too and luckily never had a bad experience. I think it is only certain stops/lines. I went to Kamakura from Tokyo during rush hour and there was no shoving people in, more like NYC busy.

    2. I used Ninja Wifi and was able to get a small power brick for free. I also carried a large power brick for my phone, the battery in my phone is horrible.

    4. I used my debit card with pin it was fine, I only really used it at 7-11s to take out money. The rest of the time I used my credit card, TDR is good about accepting credit cards.

    5. REI, and Nordstrom cards. I have a friend that said he had a debit card that didn't charge foreign fees either but I can't remember what it was. It didn't charge fees for using ATMs outside the US either.

    6. Yes you can use the suica card on the monorail. I put 10000 to start with, I knew I would be using it for travel and buying things at stores outside if Disney. You can easily add more. You need yen to add money to the suica card that is a tricky part that I didn't realize when I arrived. (Or it could be that I just couldn't figure out how to use the kioski 🤷‍♀️)

    8. Google translate, Google maps I actually used it to figure out how to get to rides in the park 😂, TDR app, Google Docs or Sheets if you have written out a plan for the day. I also used a website in English that provided wait times and the FP availability.

    Enjoy, I just returned a week ago, it was amazing!
     
    Last edited:

    kbmartin

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 20, 2014
    2. I used Ninja Wifi and was able to get a small power brick for free. I also carried a large power brick for my phone, the battery in my phone is horrible.
    I was eyeing Ninja Wifi. Did it ever suddenly "slow down" for you once you hit a certain amount of data?

    To everyone, thank you so very much for the info. I always know I can count on this forum for help!!!
     

    cisobe

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2013
    We used Global Advanced Communications all three times we went. We opted for the 75mbps premium service. The first time we went we only got one wifi hotspot. The second time we got one and our Airbnb provided one for free. The last time we went, we rented two because it allowed a little more freedom as my wife kept one I her purse and I kept one in my backpack. We could split up and keep in contact and also use the internet for google maps and split up. Less worrying if we got separated too. I think we paid less than $10 a day for each wifi hotspot with unlimited data.
     

    Haley R

    With all the strength of a raging fire
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2017
    I was eyeing Ninja Wifi. Did it ever suddenly "slow down" for you once you hit a certain amount of data?

    To everyone, thank you so very much for the info. I always know I can count on this forum for help!!!
    We used Japan Wifi Buddy and it worked very well. I don't remember ever having any issues with it.
     

    corgi_monster

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 10, 2007
    There's a lot of good information here, so I don't have much to add. Just this:

    Crowds - I've heard people say that crowds in Japan are very different than crowds in the US. Japanese people are very polite and I agree 100%. You may be stuffed together in a train car and it may be uncomfortable, but people will do their best to make their bodies as small as possible. The crowd will try to do their best to make room so you can get off the train. There's a certain comfort in knowing that people will try their best to provide you these little considerations. It's one of the intangible things that make Japan such a special place to visit.

    Wireless Service - I've used various services over the last decade and all have been good. My husband is in IT and has not seen any difference in service. Our T-mobile plan offers free international data, but it's worthless for anything other than texting.

    I usually start with 10,000 yen (about US$100) on my Suica/Pasmo card and will find that I reload at least a couple of times during a two week trip because I use it to make store purchases.

    Visit Ghibli, art transcends language boundaries.

    I've never had a problem using my debit cards and have been able to do back-to-back transactions. You shouldn't have a problem at any of the Chase, Post Office, or 7-11 ATM's.
     



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