Tokyo is sunny most days in August, with occasional thunderstorms. It is typically hot and humid; the daytime high temperature is usually over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The conference rooms of Waseda University are well air-conditioned.
One of the good things about August is that there are fireworks just about every night in the Tokyo area.
Good hotels in Tokyo are very expensive. There are, however, some reasonable hotels ranging from JPY7,000 to JPY15,000 if you search carefully.
There are two types of accommodations, traditional Japanese inns called "Ryokan" and Western hotels. In Ryokan, guests sleep on Tatami mats on the floor, sandwiched by Futon (Japanese traditional bedding). Shoes should be taken off at the entrance of Ryokan. Ryokan usually do not have individual rooms for each guest; guests share a room. You could enjoy a true Japanese experience by staying at a Ryokan.
Waseda University is located in the northwest part of Metropolitan Tokyo, close to Mejiro, Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, and Waseda Stations. These areas are quite safe (as is Japan generally).
Go HERE for More Information on Accommodations around Waseda University
Japan is famous for her authentic foods, e.g., Shabushabu, Sukiyaki, Kaiseki (traditional course meal), Sushi, Sashimi, Unagi (eel), Tonkatsu (pork cutlet), and Tempura.Good restaurants in Tokyo are expensive. There are, however, some reasonable restaurants ranging from JPY2,000 to JPY5,000 for dinner if you search carefully.
The neighborhood of Waseda University has a wide variety of reasonable restaurants thanks to the student clientele.Restaurants serving dishes such as Rahmen (popular noodles), Soba (traditional buckwheat noodles), Udon (traditional flour noodles), Sohmen (cold noodles), Yakiniku (grilled meat), Donburi (rice bowl), Yakitori (grilled chicken), etc., are common in the area.
You can drink tap water at hotels. It's not only safe, but people say it tastes the best in the world.
Japanese authentic wines are Sake, Shochu (similar to vodka), and Doburoku.
If you think you are adventurous enough, try unusual Japanese foods such as Kusaya (dried fish), Funazushi (fermented fish), Natto (fermented beans), Suppon (soft-shell turtle), Hoya (sea squirt), Shiokara (salted and half-fermented squid), Namako (sea cucumber), Kaiko (pupa of silkworm), and Hachinoko (larva of honeybee).
Life is not easy for a vegetarian to survive in Tokyo unless you choose the materials by yourself and cook them for yourself. Very few restaurants serve vegetarian meals and even fewer are vegetarian restaurants. Please see, for example, the following sites for vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Tokyo.
Tokyo's Top Vegetarian Restaurants
Tokyo Vegetarian Guide
There are thousands of places you might visit during your stay in Tokyo, such as Ginza (where most things are expensive), Asakusa (an ancient center of Edo), the Imperial Palace, the Supreme Court, the Diet (Parliament) Building, Hibiya Park, Yoyogi Park, Odaiba, Edo Folklore Museum, Kabuki, Noh, Rakugo (one-man talk show), Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Akihabara (discount electric appliances), and so on.
If you are accompanied by kids, Ghibli Museum of Mitaka would be one of the best places to visit (MIYAZAKI Hayao, a film director and animator, established this museum).
Half-day and/or one-day trips are also available, such as trips to Nikko (where the founder of Tokugawa Shogunate is enshrined, with gorgeous buildings), Hakone (hot spring area in hilly area), Yokohama (and the Chinatown there), Kamakura (ancient capital), Umi-hotaru (parking area on Tokyo Bay), Izu (hot spring area along ocean).
If you have time, we would strongly recommend to spend a day or two to visit Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka (western cities).
If you are interested in the East Japan Great Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plants Disaster, it would be an invaluable opportunity to visit Fukushima, Sendai, and Iwate prefectures. We are planning a two day trip to these areas as a post-conference event.
No tipping is necessary in Japan, including for taxis and restaurants.
Taxi door opens and closes automatically.
Exchange rate (as of August 2014): ca. JPY100 is equivalent to US$1.00.
Most major credit cards can be used almost everywhere, except cheap discount shops.
Almost everywhere in Japan is safe; you can walk alone even in the middle of the night.
Air and water are clean; there is very little pollution. Except for a few areas near the Fukushima nuclear plants, radiation is not a concern.
All Japanese study English in junior and senior high school, but very few are comfortable in spoken English. In Tokyo, there are many signs in English, including subway and train stations.
Jaywalking is not recommended.
Trying to negotiate for discounts is not recommended. Shops in Japan do not normally engage in discount negotiations, except for Akihabara and Osaka.
Many Japanese smoke on the streets, and even at restaurants. If you are a non-smoker, be sure to ask if the restaurant is no-smoking or has no-smoking seats before making a reservation. If you are still a smoker, please be aware that many universities (including Waseda University) and other establishments have established strict limits on smoking, with smoking restricted to designated areas.
Shinjuku Ward, where Waseda University is located, has established a ban on smoking on the streets. (Despite the ban, it is not unusual to see some people smoking on the streets.) You may be fined for smoking on the streets in several wards in Tokyo, such wards as Chiyoda, Shinagawa, Ota, Suginami, Itabashi, Nerima, and Adachi. More than 50 municipalities in Japan have a ban on smoking on the streets and about 40 of them enforce it with the sanction of fine.
Toilets: there are two types of toilets, Japanese traditional and Western. We would suggest you should avoid traditional Japanese, which has no toilet seat.
★No Endemic Diseases
Almost all of Japan's endemic diseases are eradicated or controlled. You do not need to receive vaccination before entering Japan.