Tokyo travel: 11 things to know before you go – In 2015, 19.7 million tourists visited Japan. Tokyo's winning bid for the 2020 Olympics is expected to keep that ball rolling.
Shinto remains important – Sanja Matsuri (shrine maidens perform here) is considered one of the wildest and largest of Tokyo's three great Shinto festivals.
If you can't go in fall, consider spring – In fall, autumn colors bring life to Tokyo's many parks and hearty, seasonal foods are the order of the day. The other quintessential time to visit is spring, when cherry blossoms, or "sakura," bloom from late March to early April.
The sushi really is that good – Visit Tokyo and you, too, will be one of those insufferable diners who can't eat sushi back home without saying, "It's good, but it's nothing like the maguro I had in Japan." Don't worry, we understand.
One card is good for all trains and buses – As of March 2013, paying fares got even easier; a single card became usable for trains and buses throughout the country. You can get one as soon as you arrive in Tokyo from almost any ticket machine.
That word you keep hearing is 'welcome' – Whether it's sweaty, aproned guys shouting in unison as you walk into a lively restaurant or one perfectly coiffed woman murmuring as you enter the hush of a small boutique, they're saying the same thing: "Irasshaimase." It's a polite way of saying "welcome."
There are pockets of quiet everywhere – From temples hidden between office buildings to the tree-lined canal that runs the length of Nakameguro, you're never far from an oasis of calm in the frantic city.
Smoke inside, drink outside – The smaller and homier a bar or restaurant, the more likely it is to be smoker-friendly. Street patrols, however, stop people who engage in aruki-tabako, or "walking-smoking." Meanwhile, cracking open a beer or can of boozy chu-hai on the walk or train home is a cherished tradition.
It's not an easy city for vegetarians – For a quick veggie meal, you usually have to be vigilant. A "vegetable sandwich" may have a sneaky slice of ham in it, and pasta with "no meat" could be studded with chunks of bacon. "Meat" tends to mean "beef."
Walk right -- on the left – Pedestrians on wide sidewalks follow the unspoken rule of staying to the left almost as strictly as cars (also on the left) do.
Clear umbrellas are the best umbrellas – Convenience stores will put their stock by the door. The clerk will offer to unwrap it for you if you're using it right away. Hold on tightly, but let go lightly; umbrellas are the one item that's frequently stolen in Tokyo.