The Tourist Information Center (TIC) near Tokyo Station has a wealth of information for visitors, as do the more than 140 tourist information offices around the country run by JNTO. Look for the sign showing a red question mark and the word "information" at train stations and city centers.
Tourist Information Center (TIC) (Shin Tokyo Bldg. 1F, 3–3–1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-0005. 03/3201–3331. www.jnto.go.jp/eng.)
Online cultural resources and travel-planning tools abound for travelers to Japan. Aside from the expected information about regions, hotels, and festivals, Web Japan has offbeat info such as the location of bargain-filled ¥100 shops in Tokyo and buildings designed by famous architects. Another good source for all-Japan information and regional sights and events is Japan-guide.com. Hyperdia has excellent information about train travel, as does the "train route finder" by Jorudan. Urban Rail has an excellent map of the Tokyo and Osaka subways system.
Urban Rail maintains a useful subway navigator, which includes the subway systems in Tokyo and the surrounding areas. The Metropolitan Government website is an excellent source of information on sightseeing and current events in Tokyo.
Check out the websites of Japan's three major English-language daily newspapers: the Asahi Shimbun, Daily Yomiuri, and the Japan Times. Both Metropolis and Time Out Tokyo have up-to-date event, dining, and arts listings.
Avoid being lost in translation with the help of Japanese-Online, a series of online language lessons that will help you pick up a bit of Japanese before your trip. (The site also, inexplicably, includes a sampling of typical Japanese junior-high-school math problems.) Order Japan's tastiest with confidence by checking translations on the Tokyo Food Page.
The website, the Japanese Garden, has photographic tours of more than 20 famous gardens and explanations about their history and design elements. Keep an eye on Mt. Fuji with the 24-hour live camera at Mt. Fuji Live. The Japan Sumo Association's website sets you straight with everything from the moves, the rankings, and even translated interviews with the wrestlers; tournament ticket information (but not booking) is also available. The Kabuki-za Theater in Tokyo has history, stories, and sounds of the ancient art form (with good information about costumes and makeup) at its website. Japan has a good share of places designated by UNESCO. Check them out at webJapan, a site sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which includes some quirky information on new Japanese trends.
Web Japan (web-jpn.org.)
Asahi Shimbun (ajw.asahi.com.)
Daily Yomiuri (www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy.)
Japan Times (www.japantimes.co.jp.)
Kansai Scene (www.kansaiscene.com.)
Time Out Tokyo (www.timeout.jp.)
Urban Rail (www.urbanrail.net.)