Tanabata Season

TanabataProbably you see a lot of these in Japan now.

These are for Tanabata – the Star Festival.

It’s based on a Chinese story.

One couple is separated by Milky Way and they are allowed to meet only once a year on July 7th.

We observe the day as star festival.

Usually we write our wish on a slip of paper and hang it on a bamboo branch.

There are kept for a while and burn at the end of the festival.

So if you are offered to write a wish, please go for it.



Multi-day subway pass

It’s usually not a good idea to buy a day pass in Tokyo unless you make a very organized itinerary.

Each train and subway company sells their own day pass and they are about 700JPY.

If you can stay in one company all day, maybe a day pass is worth buying.

So you need to make a good plan beforehand.

There is a 1000JPY day pass good for Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway.

It’s also maybe a good choice.

However, Tokyo Metoro and Toei Subway recently started to sell discounted day passes for tourists coming outside Tokyo metropolitan area.

So the passes are not purchasable in the metropolitan area. You can get them at Narita and Haneda airports.

A day pass: 800JPY

A two-day pass: 1200JPY

A three-day pass: 1500JPY

Each ride is about 200JPY so they have a great value. Please don’t miss them.


Buying a SIM without a contract is not common in Japan.

There were prepaid cell phones before but they were used criminal activities and the goverment baned.

Now some companes started to sell a prepaid SIM in Japan.

But they are not for foreign tourists and only has Japanease instrustions.

Anyway, you can buy them at BIC CAMERA stores.

It’s about 4000JPY and good for 500MB.

You cannnot recharge it. If you would like to use it more, you need to move to a contract.

So it seems like a service to give customers a chance to test their SIM.

For activation, you need to make a call and resister your phone number.

Configuration on your device is also necessary.

So in Japan, still renting SIM or a mobile Wi-Fi router is more popular.




Trains and subways are useful when you travel in Tokyo.
But you may feel awkward to buy ticket each time.
First you have to check the fair chart and buy a ticket at the vending machine.
Although the machines display in English, the chard is not written in English.
You may want to buy a day pass to avoid this hustle.
If you make a plan in advance, you can save some money by using day pass.
Without a plan, day pass is not always the best choice.

Today I’m going to explain about IC prepaid cards called SUICA and PASMO.
SUICA and PASMO are the same thing.
Just JR sells SUICA and other train and subway companies sell PASMO.
Functions are exactly the same and they are compatible, so you just need to buy one.

You can buy them at vending machines at any stations.
Minimum price should be 2000 yen which is including 500 yen deposit and 1500 yen of charge.
If you want to buy one for your child (under 12), you have to go to ticket office with your children’s ID.

Now, you just need to touch the automatic gate twice, when you get in and out.
Your balance will be subtracted from the balance.
You can add more money at the vending machines.

When you don’t need them anymore, you can ask for refund.
You can get whole 500 yen back.
However the balance is treated as “ticket”, so if you still have some balance you may have to pay handling charge maximum of 210 yen.
These are examples,

Balance Handling Charge Deposit Refund Total
1000 210 500 1290
150 150 500 500
0 0 500 500

You can use the balance for buying another ticket at the vending machines or even for shopping.

One last tip, when you leave Tokyo area, you’d better ask for refund because different area has different IC cards and they are not always compatible.

Free Wi-Fi in Tokyo

It’s hard to find good Wi-Fi access in Japan. Why? Please read this.
Japan Times
Simple answer is we don’t need it and we think we should pay for that. If you pay, you can find Wi-Fi everywhere.

However, there are some companies providing free Wi-Fi these days. The list has only major ones.
Seven Eleven shops
Need registration. It seems much easier to resister it at the shops. Just connect their Wi-Fi network in a shop and follow instruction.

This one has good English instruction.

Wired Cafe
Ok, they don’t have English website. Don’t need registration for this one.

I will add links when I find good ones.