Tokyo plans needed for visit during nation-wide abdication holiday.
April 5, 2019 4:16 PM   Subscribe

My pre-booked vacation to Tokyo ended up falling in the middle of the upcoming abdication/coronation holiday at the end of April / beginning of May. So now I'm looking for tips on what this means for a novice visitor.

- Are things likely to be crowded, empty, closed?
- Is metro and train service going to be changed?
- Should I avoid tourist spots even more than I usually would? What about museums, galleries, parks?

Any and all tips are most welcome!

(Bonus points for advise on how out of place I would be as a middle-aged Canadian at a random local punk show.)
posted by booksarelame to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Stores and restaurants and so on will be open (after all, this is a big tourist season for Japanese). Government buildings, banks, etc will be closed, but I doubt that will affect you as a tourist.

Transit may have slightly different schedules, but I recommend just using Google Maps or whatever for public transit directions, and those should be accurate. Although, if you're riding the subway inside Tokyo, you really don't need to worry about times very much. Most trains stop very frequently, so its just a matter of knowing which line/direction to be on, a train will come soon. (If you're taking a side trip outside Tokyo, schedule might matter more as it might be an hour or more between trains, or something with reservations like Shinkansen).
posted by thefoxgod at 4:49 PM on April 5, 2019

Most non-government and non-banking things will be open. Tourist attractions and restaurants should be fine.

It's already a crowded time of the year in Tokyo and this year a lot of people get 10 days off, which is enough that even the most exhausted will probably be getting out there and doing things, plus I'm willing to bet there will be special sales, events, etc. related to the coronation.

Basically, expect very long lines and heavy crowding in popular places, especially if the weather is good. You couldn't pay me enough to go to Disneyland at that time. I tried to go to the big aquarium in Osaka during a regular Golden Week and the sign at the back of the line to get in estimated a 2 hour wait.

To whatever degree it's reasonable/in accordance with existing plans, I'd focus more on outdoor activities/experiences in open spaces (beaches, big parks) that are less likely to be severely hampered by large numbers of people, and I'd try to eat meals at more off-peak times (not exactly lunchtime or dinner time, but a bit before or after.)
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 10:19 PM on April 5, 2019

Best answer: To add, re: the last bit -- fairly out of place, but most likely in a fun, pleasant sort of way. (Depends on the show, but this has been my experience at small shows and events.) If there's drinking and you're outgoing, you might even make some friends.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 10:21 PM on April 5, 2019

Best answer: I like Golden Week in Tokyo because the trains and buses are far less crowded than usual. This year should be even better - there are far more Tokyo residents who won't be commuting, and may even be out of town or out of the country, compared to the number of inbound visitors.

Museums and tourist spots will be very crowded. Independent art galleries should be okay. Restaurants should be okay in general since there are just so many choices, though you might want to call ahead to reserve if you want to go to a popular place. Restaurants in business districts may be mostly closed, but I'm guessing there should still be some places open.

Is metro and train service going to be changed?

Yes, trains and buses will all run on a Sunday-holiday schedule, so they will be slightly less frequent than during regular weekdays, but much less crowded.
posted by Umami Dearest at 11:40 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (Bonus points for advise on how out of place I would be as a middle-aged Canadian at a random local punk show.)

Speaking as a not-quite middle aged Canadian who has been going to random punk shows in Japan for a decade, you will stick out like a sore thumb - but not because of your age, just because you're not Japanese. But that's actually awesome - people will come up and start chatting just to figure out why some random gaijin is at their friends' show. You'll be out of place but not unwelcome.
posted by Gortuk at 6:30 AM on April 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Best answer: My general advice for someone going to Tokyo, is to take an hour train and spend the day in Kamakura. It is a beautiful place with amazing things for tourists.
posted by mbarryf at 7:28 AM on April 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sorry, another general Japan recommendation. When you use the toilet in Japan, most of the toilets (western style) will have an odd-looking seat. That is a washlet or bidet seat. Make sure that at your first opportunity you try it out. There is a good chance, like many visitors to Japan, will love the experience. (After we visited Japan in 2015, I installed one of the seats on our home toilet.)
posted by mbarryf at 7:32 AM on April 6, 2019

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