Tokyo’s New Normal – Safe, Clean and Kind

Where Tradition meets Innovation

© Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Tokyo is a vast megalopolis celebrated for its seamless fusion of innovation with tradition. A city of contrasts and so many facets to explore, from world-class modern architecture and ancient cultural sights to unforgettable dining experiences.

Japan’s capital has adapted swiftly and smoothly to the new realities of living with COVID-19. So, how does Tokyo, one of the world’s largest most densely populated cities, manage to stay so clean, hospitable, and organised? The answer is simple, rules and etiquette are important in Tokyo both the old and the new.

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Some rules and etiquette implemented for the pandemic have been routine adjustments for locals, like increased mask-wearing and social distancing (both of which have long been part of Japanese culture), others have been adopted more gradually but quickly become part of daily routine, such as frequent hand-sanitising and temperature checks.

Despite its size and diversity, Tokyo is an organised city that works; it is safe, surprisingly easy to get around and incredibly clean. And respect for cleanliness seems to be engrained in Japan’s DNA. Tokyo locals and establishments take COVID rules very seriously, even when they not enforced by law. Tokyoites have such a high level of regard and respect for others that they take great care not to put each other and visitors at risk.

Did you know the word kirei, is the word for both clean and beautiful in Japanese?

Here are some examples of the ways Tokyo is striving to make the capital a safe and comfortable destination for visitors.

Airports – As visitors start flying into Tokyo’s airports from around the world, they will be in for an experience that is as safe as it is memorable. Tokyo’s multi-award-winning Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) is already known as one of the world’s best and cleanest airports*, further measures to ensure the safety and comfort of guests at the airport include innovations using advanced robotics – see the videos below.

(*Haneda Airport is a 5-star Airport according to SKYTRAX Global Airport rating and has consistently been awarded at the Skytrax World Airport Awards.)

Covid safe practices at Haneda Airport

WHILL Service at Haneda Airport

Hotels – Tokyo has long been renowned for the outstanding hospitality of its amazing hotels – and the adjustment to the “new normal” has been smooth and super-efficient. The Japanese ‘omotenashi’ ethos of hospitality means the service industry is working behind the scenes harder than ever to ensure guests have a seamless warm welcome and a safe, clean and comfortable stay.

Hotels across the capital have installed a multitude of anti-COVID measures which are as efficient and innovative as they are thoughtful and discreet.

The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon is one great example of how big-city luxury hotels are managing to keep clients safe from a contactless check in to enhanced cleaning methods, find out what to expect here.

Restaurants are ensuring social distancing, spreading customers out throughout their spaces and often with reduced capacity. Other measures include transparent table dividers, QR code menus and paper mask holders.

Museums and Galleries – Advance reservations ensure most art galleries and museums are free from crowds, and hand sanitiser is the norm in every establishments’ entrance from the local convenience store to the luxury hotel.

Sensoji Temple and Skytree (C) Richie Chan

Local customs:

Observing local customs and manners when visiting a foreign land has always been good practice, and in Japan some of the basic rules and customs are less obvious than others. Tokyo has made an effort to ensure that non-Japanese-speaking residents and visitors get the message through a series of helpful tools and videos outlining old manners along with some of the new, ensuring everyone fits in seamlessly and stays safe along the way.

Tokyo has developed a series of English animated videos with Monocle (scroll below) to help visitors to understand the rules, stay safe and enjoy Tokyo by day and by night. Tips for getting the most out of Tokyo days and nights include some general pointers in Japanese culture, like bowing instead of shaking hands, taking off your shoes for some restaurants and ryokan, as well as some of the new implementations and things to know about like the COCOA App, Japan’s COVID-19 contact tracing app, and identifying the Rainbow signs which identify bars and restaurants that meet the city’s strict COVID-19 regulations.

Learn more about Tokyo’s New Normal:

*Visit the Official Tokyo Guide for COVID-19 updates here.

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