Starra wrote:I think I want to spend most of the time in Tokyo and only stay in Saitama around the days of the concert.
There's not much reason to hang around Saitama except for the concert, anyway. (They used to have an incredible John Lennon Museum at SSA, but it's gone now.) Saitama's a quick and easy train ride from Tokyo, especially if you're staying somewhere near the stations on the eastern side of the Yamanote line. When I went to SSA in 2007, I was staying in Kawasaki, which is just south of Tokyo (Saitama is north of Tokyo), and it still took less than an hour to get there.
Starra wrote:At least there're a fuckton of things to do in Tokyo itself and at least most of what I want to do/see is right there. And I can always save up to go again some day.
The first time I went to Tokyo, I didn't venture any further away than Yokohama and Kamakura, and after a full two weeks, I still hadn't seen everything on my itinerary.
Shoujo Q wrote:Familiar yourself with elevator and escalator locations because every train stop seems to have a hell of a lot of stairs since most are underground.
Be advised that some of the smaller subway stations don't have elevators or escalators at all, just stairs. Case in point, Inarichō, the station closest to my hotel on my last three trips.
Shoujo Q wrote:You'll get disoriented rather quickly, especially in the bigger stations which are practically like mini malls.
Yep, I've been caught in the labyrinths of Ueno Station and Shibuya Station.
Starra wrote:I'm not used to trains though. But several of the rides (from, say, Ueno to Akihabara) seem to not take terribly long (to me, lol). We'll see. I don't do well in crowds but it's more the noise and randomness of them and as chaotic as Tokyo gets I think I might be able to cope a bit better. Maybe. Hopefully.
One positive thing about Japanese trains that will work in your favor is that even though they may be crowded, they will be remarkably quiet. It's nothing like having to listen to all the braying jackasses on public transit here in the S.F. Bay Area.
Ueno to Akihabara is only three or four minutes. I doesn't take very long to travel by train anywhere within Tokyo. Even when I was staying in Kawasaki, the train ride to Shibuya only took about 25 minutes.
My advice is to get familiar with the geography and the train lines before you even get to Japan. If you know where you're going and how to get there, it makes things so much easier. Being lost and bewildered can eat up a lot of time that could be spent doing things you actually want to do. (But if you just want to wander around aimlessly and see whatever you stumble across, that's fine, too. I've had great experiences doing that, but unfortunately I rarely have the time to indulge in it while I'm over there.)
If you don't know about HyperDia
, it's an incredibly useful tool for planning train trips in Japan.
Another bit of advice: When choosing a place to stay, make sure that you're close to a train station, preferably one well situated for your travel needs, even if it's not necessarily close to all the places you're going. On my last three trips I've stayed about halfway between Ueno and Asakusa, which works well for me. Even though Shibuya is clear across town, it's just a 30-minute straight shot on the Ginza Line. The place I stayed in Ōsaka was an easy walk from Shin-Ōsaka Station, where the Tōkaidō and San'yō Shinkansen meet.