Anything going on in Tokyo in the next few weeks?

Because, you know, I’m gonna be there. :slight_smile:

I’m currently plundering the other threads for things to see (but feel free to make suggestions!) but I’m curious if there are any events – sumo, taiko, winter festivals, that kind of thing – that I should also look into.

Oh, and currency-exchange tips. A poster to one of the other Tokyo threads recommended hitting the ATMs in Tokyo for the best rates. Does BofA have ATMs over there, or will any other American-based bank such as Citibank do, notwithstanding the non-BofA ATM fees? Similarly, would it make sense to use an American Express or Visa, or are the fees and/or exchange rates going to be rapacious?

Go up in the mountains around Nagano and see the monkeys in the hot springs.

Because I was supposed to do that, and now I can’t. At least not this year.

Re: ATMs - go to the post office, that’s the only place (or one of the few) where you can use US debit cards, and the exchange rate is the best. Don’t worry, POs are everywhere. You also get a pretty good rate at the airport, unlike here in the states, but I don’t know if they take anything other than cash. Really, don’t use credit cards for cash, you will pay through the nose.

Dang, that was a quick reply. :slight_smile:

Regarding credit cards, I kinda concatenated two separate things into one thought. Let me give it another shot. We’ll probably just be using our ATM/debit cards for cash. For retail purchases, however, would it be okay to use credit cards, or will we find that we’ve taken for a ride when our monthly statement comes in?

Sumo season is on. Tickets and info in English here.

The national museum has some important cultural artifacts on display; nothing in particular that I know about, but still probably pretty cool to look at.

Other than that, I got nothin’.

Don’t count on credit cards being useful for much beyond your hotel, and some larger restaurants and shops. Most places are cash-only. Don’t count on being able to find an ATM in a convenient location either. Post offices are around all over, but not all of them have ATMs. Some few bank ATMs will have international links, but most don’t. Depending on your CC company, the purchase rates range from reasonable to slightly high. Cash advance rates are probably where they fuck you.

If you’re planning on doing some long-range train travel, a Japan Rail pass is probably worth the trouble of applying for. Take a look at how much you’re going to be moving around though. If you’re going to be mostly local, then it’s not worth it.

But, for those places you are able to use your credit card, you can relax about the exchange rate, you will get the bank rate in effect at the time the transaction is recorded at your bank.

At least, that has been my experience. I have never regretted using a credit card in Japan (except for that whole debt thing, but what the hell).

For events around the city, try checking the listings in Metropolis Magazine.

Yeah, I think Roderick Femm is right, I can’t remember seeing conversion rates that looked unreasonable on my credit card, either when using my US card in Japan, or my Japanese card in the US. I’d have to actually check bank statements and exchange rates to see, but I’d bet the conversion rate for purchases is probably better than what you’d get for exchanging cash at the airport.

And exchanging cash at the Narita airport is — in my experience at least — actually cheaper than many bank rates. My bank here said they would have to request dollars from the central branch, it would take a couple of days, and it would cost x% above the bank exchange rate, which itself is higher than the nominal currency exchange. I don’t know how the rates are at exchange places State-side, though. It’s been years since I had to exchange any significant amounts on that end.

Thanks for all the advice, everyone.

It’s awesome that we’re going during sumo season (thanks, Sleel!) – I grew up in Hawaii when the sumo wrestlers from Hawaii (Akebono, Konishiki, Musashimaru) were doing well, and even though I don’t know any of the current wrestlers, I think it’ll be a blast to see it live. Now let’s see if my new wife feels the same way… :wink:

Well, I will be in Tokyo on the 14th of January, if you choose to associate with a crazy doper and his GF. PM me if the fancy strikes ya.

Heh, thanks for the offer, but I won’t be there until the 19th, myself.

Ah, I’m already back in Aomori. Enjoy Tokyo!