Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Point Cards, among other details

Japan seems to love "point cards". They come in all colors, but basically the same deal, buy enough of our stuff and get a small reward. I see them EVERYWHERE, including:
  • Haggen Daaz
  • Bars (TGI Fridays, The Cantina, etc.)
  • Tokyu Department Stores (the rip-off places run by the Tokyu Corporation)
  • Electronics Stores
  • Tokyu Hands (the crafty/everything Fred Meyer look-alike)
  • Santoku (a grocery store)
  • Pharmacy/Drug stores
And the list goes on. It is quite curious how ubiquitous they are...

Tam's Tokyo Tips:
If you need to use the restroom, DON'T LEAVE THE STATION! There are almost always bathrooms inside train stations, and you can't use them once you pass through the ticket gate. And using a bathroom outside the station is going to cost you at least the price of a coffee, unless you find a department store or a fancy hotel you can pretend to patronize.

Use the phrase, "waru-in des kehdo" 「わるいんですけど。。。」. It means "sorry to bother you but..." and makes people way more responsive in helping you. Especially if you can pull a sad-lost-gaijin look while saying it. I usually pair it after "summimasen" (excuse me), and then continue with my question.

When going somewhere, know the Japanese pronunciation and writing of the place. For example, if you are going to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, no one will know where that is. Instead, ask for the "To-cho", which is what Japanese people call it. Also, you will want to know it when you see it, and usually the kanji are printed on buildings/signs, so if you take a piece of paper with 東京都庁舎 written on it, you can reference when you get lost.

Traveling on a budget- buy breakfast at a convenience store (juice, yogurt, etc) or a bread store パン屋 and bring it back to your hotel to eat. The convenience store can also give you a mini-spoon.

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