Are you a solo female traveler planning on visiting or living in Tokyo in the near future? Here are a few tips will make your life easier here.
Be alert on busy trains
For such a safe and polite country, it can come as a surprise that Japan has a big problem with groping. Strange men will sometimes seize opportunities on jam-packed trains to touch women inappropriately. For this reason, many trains have implemented women-only cars during rush hour. If available, it’s always a good option to ride in these cars. If anyone does grope you, be sure to shout out and/or grab his arm to make him stop and then report him.
Pack toiletry essentials
Even if you understand Japanese, toiletries in Japan can still be confusing and very different from home. For this reason, I highly recommend packing enough deodorant, sanitary products and face wash to last you your stay. Or if you`re planning on staying long-term, pack enough to last you until you find Japanese versions you like, or can have some mailed to you from home. If, like me, you live here long-term and don`t manage to find Japanese brands of toiletries you like, don`t despair! Amazon.co.jp and Ebay also mean you can import products at a low-cost. If you need something right away, you can also find imported toiletry items at stores like Loft and Tokyu Hands, though they can be a bit pricey.
Japan isn’t 100% safe
Japan is relatively safe compared to most of the world, but it still isn’t completely crime free, so please use common sense. Keep possessions close in crowded areas and don`t go walking through dark areas by yourself at night. If you are ever followed or touched inappropriately, don`t be afraid to shout-out. Most of the time this will scare the creep away immediately.
If you`re in Japan for a while and have big and heavy luggage, the best tip I can give you is to ship your luggage straight from the airport using a delivery (takuhaibin) service. It can be the best 1800 yen you will ever spend, especially when you take into consideration that many stations are vast and/or don’t have elevators. Also, men in Japan don’t generally help women who are dragging heavy bags stairs like they do in the UK and many other countries. I made the mistake of hauling my big bags across Tokyo`s train and subway system, taking several hours of sweating, awkwardness and very painful hands. Once was enough! You can also select a pickup time to have your bags shipped back to the airport free of charge using English-friendly services like Yamato.