Continuing on the topic of finding your way around Tokyo, I have to recommend this book as an absolute must-buy.
The 3rd edition of the Tokyo City Atlas is the only map book I brought with me because it had all the references I needed. Like I discussed yesterday, if you have a specific address you want to go to, finding the right block is essential. This book has clear English maps of all the wards in Tokyo labeled with major malls, hotels, and landmarks, which is extremely helpful in correctly orienting yourself.
Let’s say you’re in Shinjuku, standing in front of the Mitsukoshi Dept. Store and facing the Kinokuniya book store. A quick look at the Shinjuku page will tell you that you’re on block 29 and facing block 17 (both in the 3rd chome of Shinjuku). This is enough information to look at the numbered blocks in the book and be able to find whatever destination you’re looking for.
The included Tokyo subway maps are also very helpful and are labeled in both English and Japanese. What’s more, all the subway exits are depicted on the maps so you can find the most appropriate exit for your destination. The Tokyo subway can seem extremely intimidating at first, but it’s really no big deal after you’ve taken the first ride. However, finding the right exit can be troublesome so it’s very handy to have this book in your bag. The terminals of a subway station stretch underground for what seem like miles – you don’t want to take the wrong exit and have to retrace your steps, or worse, have to navigate above ground on the complete opposite side of the station.
The paperback book is just barely over 100 pages and is very lightweight. The downside is that it’s too big to fit in a pocket, so you have to either hold it in your hands or bring a bag along (which most people will do anyway). Some people say that part of the fun of exploring Tokyo is wandering aimlessly and discovering random cool places. That has its merits, but for those of us who have specific places to visit or don’t have all the time in the world, bringing along the Tokyo City Atlas is a must.