Air New Zealand to begin operating flights to Haneda Airport in Tokyo
The Haneda services will depart Auckland on the state of the art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
A home to 13 million people and round-the-clock action, but with a culture of exquisite politeness. A place where neon-lit cityscapes tower over quiet alleys packed with yakitori bars. A culture that adores blossoming cherry trees and futuristic robots at the same time, with no sense of contradiction.
If you’re visiting for the first time it can seem a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry – you’re quite safe here. The Economist magazine voted Tokyo the world’s safest city in 2015, and the extraordinary etiquette of everyday life means you’ll find people uniformly pleasant and helpful.
In a city this size it’s madness to try and see it all. Instead, focus your attention on a few neighbourhoods and spend a day or two getting to know them.
Begin with the upscale shopping district of Marounouchi in front of Tokyo Station, making sure to check out the incredible food hall of the Daimaru department store. Then you might walk to the world-famous Ginza district, home of boutiques, bars and fine dining.
If you’re up for an early start, begin the day at Tsujiki fish market. You’ll have the best sushi you’ve ever tasted near the back of the market, at the sushi counters with the longest queues. A little further west, visit Shibuya for the Konno Hachimangu and Meiji Jingu shrines, and to see the famous intersection outside the station. Grab a coffee in the second story of Starbucks on the north side and enjoy a ringside seat watching the impressively organised chaos.
Harajuku is hipster heaven, with its alternative shopping, cool cafés and pedestrian-only Takeshita Street. This is where you’ll find young people dressed as Gothic Lolitas and other fantastic characters as they promenade down the street and hang out around the Harajuku Bridge. Nearby Yoyogi Park attracts tribes of hip-hop dancers and rockabillies, especially on Sundays.
So much to see – and we’ve only scratched the surface. If you’ve never experienced Tokyo before, you’re in for a treat.
Best time to go
March and April are popular as the plum and cherry blossoms come out. Mid-June to mid-July is the hot and damp rainy season. From September to November, the trees put on an autumnal display, and during winter the days are generally clear and cold.
How much will it cost
Japan is not a bargain destination but you can live cheaply off tasty local foods such as the ubiquitous noodles. Hotel bargains can be had outside the peak summer and winter holiday seasons. If you’re planning lots of sightseeing, a prepaid IC Card lets you ride almost any train or bus in the Greater Tokyo area.
Japan has a modern health infrastructure with clinics and hospitals around the country. A good medical insurance policy is recommended in case of accidents or illness.
New Zealand passport holders do not need a visa for non-work visits up to 90 days.