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Traveller’s Guide to ICS 2016

Tuesday 15 Mar 2016 {{NI.ViewCount}} Views {{NI.ViewCount}} Views

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With favourable exchange rates and flight deals, its actually a great time to visit the Land of the Rising Sun. However for some, travelling to Japan may seem a daunting experience: will I like the food, how will I read the signs, will people understand me? So the ICS Office has put together a handy guide for travelling to Japan. The Japanese government are offering more duty-free shopping, discounted rail and plane fares making it more attractive to international visitors. Plus there are a wealth of new budget hotels and apartments that you can rent. You can still expect warm days in Tokyo during September so make the most of it, embrace the culture and immerse yourself in this unforgettable city.

Travel Essentials: Visas are generally not required for stays up to 90 days but please double check with your Embassy. Note that non-Japanese visitors are fingerprinted and photographed on arrival. A neat appearance will speed your passage through passport control and customs! Many airlines will fly direct depending on your departure point. However cheaper options are available, if you are happy to make a stop along your route. Why not break up your travel and include a short holiday? Tokyo has two airports, both require with convenient train and bus links to get to the capital’s downtown area. Tokyo’s most convenient airport is Haneda with its new international terminal. Narita airport is a 90 minute train ride from the centre of Tokyo. As ever we recommend that you arrange comprehensive travel insurance before you fly.

Getting Around:
Within Tokyo:
Hyper efficient, sparkling clean and virtually crime-free, Tokyo's public transport system is the envy of the world. The most popular method being the train and subway system. These are set up for tourists and include easy to navigate signage in English. Make sure to get a Suica or Pasmo card which makes transferring between the two a breeze. The only downside is that the whole system shuts down between midnight and 5am, when the city's fleet of taxis pick up the slack. Taxis are clean and safe in Tokyo and whilst drivers' English is limited most will understand basic instructions. Click here to read and article about how to navigate Toyko’s train system.

The convention centre, Tokyo International Forum is in the heart of the city close to the Imperial Palace. Although we recommend that you travel to your hotel first, you can reach the convention centre via a number of options:

Haneda airport-Tokyo International Forum: Take the monorail from Haneda airport to Hamamatsucho Station (23 minutes) and then transfer to JR Hamamatsucho Station to Yurakucho Station (4 minutes) Yurakucho station is then only 1 minute walk away from the convention centre. Alternatively a taxi from Haneda is not too expensive.

Narita airport-Tokyo International Forum: There are two train lines to Tokyo downtown, JR Narita Express or Keisei Skyliner. JR Narita Express takes 53 minutes to Tokyo station and then the convention centre is a 5 minute walk (connected by B1 concourse with Keiyo Line at Tokyo Station). Keisei Skyliner takes 40 minutes to Nippori station, where you can transfer to Yamanote line to Yurakucho station (10 minutes), just 1 minute from the venue.

There are more details of how to get to the convention centre on our handy tips print out.

Around the country:
Frequent, high-speed bullet trains serve most of Japan’s major cities. The Japan Rail Pass (japanrailpass.net) gives you one week of unlimited rides on all bullet trains for Y29,110. This is a big saving compared to individual tickets. There are also an increasing number of regional rail passes that offer better deals for travellers who are moving around in one area. Another option is the bus. The Willer Express Bus (willerexpress.com) offers reclining “cocoon” seats with privacy partitions. A night fare from Tokyo to Kyoto (saving you a nights hotel fee) is Y10,700 (£80) Internal flights are also available, and if you are flying with JAL, ANA or one of their partner airlines you can purchase discounted domestic flights for as low as Y10,800. Click here to read more about travelling by bullet train.

Hotels: As ever the ICS will be providing you with a range of hotel options suited to your budget and you can book now! If you intend to book independently we do however suggest that you book your accommodation early as there are some local holidays around the time of the event. We can also recommend hiring apartments for your stay with for example Airbnb. If you don’t mind sharing and you wish to get together with other delegates and rent a larger apartment then get in contact with the office and we will put you in contact.

Language and Etiquette Tips: In Tokyo most signs are written in alphabet and script and most people can understand basic English. If you need help just ask someone as people are happy to help tourists. Click here for some handy phases and addresses. If you are not sure on when to bow or to remove your shoes click here for a faux-pas free trip.

Food for thought: Tokyo has the world's highest number of Michelin stars (267) but this overshadows just how easy it is to eat on a budget. Noodles are universally delicious and meals cost less than £5. A good way to explore the different food types is to trawl the food halls of department stores such as Isetan (isetan.mistore.jp) which hosts takeaway options from restaurants from around Japan. If you have had enough sushi and need something more Western style click here for some Western style food recommendations or read about alternative Japanese food.

Sightseeing – temples, tea, mountains: We could write endless pages on what to do in Tokyo City, let alone the rest of the country. If you want to sightsee then package trips can offer good value and there are plenty of specialist operators to choose from. The Chair of ICS 2016 recommends taking a bus tour of Tokyo and to book in advance. The best thing is to read some review websites such as Trip Advisor or pick up a travel guide book and start investigating what interests you. And for those of you interested in shopping, Ginza or Nihonbashi are the center of shopping in Tokyo. These areas are within walking distance or within a few kilometres from the Venue, where you will find some nice department stores (Mitsukosi, Takashimaya, or Matsuya) and brand shops. Note you can only climb Mount Fuji in the summer and if you are travelling to remote, rural areas please check whether you need additional vaccinations.

General information about Tokyo For more general information on Tokyo, click here

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