Visiting Tokyo was my second international destination, and this trip pushed my limits of exploring the world. I was in a large city in an island nation where the culture and language were like nothing I had ever experienced before. Tokyo’s central business district and city center resemble New York City; tall skyscrapers, people everywhere, lots of (tiny) cars and the most exciting food, ever!
At every street corner, there are hundreds of people hurrying to get to their destination — each city block filled with retail stores, restaurants, and vending machines that have interesting things to buy.
Exploring Tokyo without any local help was challenging as the Japanese language is primarily symbol-based and impossible to figure out. Since my first trip, apps like Google Translate can solve simple translations, but it is easy to feel alone in this vast, sophisticated city.
Having a conversation with locals can be tough due to the language barrier. I’ve found that if you try to translate your question using Google Translate the locals are more willing to have a conversation in English.
Tokyo’s food choices and vendors are unlimited. I’d suggest to indulge in sushi from a local vendor or find some of the best noodles and stir fry in existence. I am a 6′ guy who doesn’t skip a meal; the traditional portion size in Japan is very different from western society. Be prepared to order a few servings to fill you up.
If you stay at a traditional (non-western) hotel, their meals may be comical; My continental breakfast was the size of my cell phone.