Moving to Japan or even just visiting Japan for a few days can be a mindblowing experience. With all the myriad of sights, sounds, and tastes to explore, not to mention all the different places and activities to do, one can so easily get overwhelmed. But fear not! The Tourist Information Center (TIC) is to your rescue!
Sponsored by JTB or the Japan Travel Bureau, these centers are all over Japan – from Narita (成田) to Kyoto (京都), and of course, in Tokyo (東京). A stone’s throw away from the famous Yurakucho Yakitori Alley (有楽町ガード下焼き鳥ストリート) is the Tokyo Tourist Information Center Yurakucho (東京ツーリストインフォメーションセンター有楽町) which just opened last January 2016. It is a one-stop destination for all things related to traveling in Japan and is quite a valuable resource. There are plenty of brochures and information to browse through. When you are ready, there are many travel planning specialists at your disposal. There is an English speaking section and they also support Chinese and Korean languages.
On a recent visit, a friend of mine was able to save literally thousands of dollars on a family trip to Fukuoka (福岡) and Hokkaido (北海道). Because of all the resources they have (they are linked with local travel agencies and tour groups), they are able to bundle deals for packages much easier than what you can do alone. That and they can easily help navigate the paperwork and cut through the language barrier with ease.
The center itself also has a gift shop with reasonably priced goods that are exclusively made in Japan, making it such a convenient place to get your souvenir shopping done. They also have occasional shows and events. On our last visit, they even hosted a geisha (芸者) meet and greet, complete with dance and photo op!
They also provide currency exchange for some foreign currencies which is super convenient given their ability to have some English language translation. Some lesser known tours are locally available as well.
So if you’re looking for something to do in Japan, definitely stop by the TIC nearest to you and have their specialists assist you. Happy trip planning!
(There are many TIC branches, but we will introduce one of them here.)