Sandra Barron

Correspondent

  • Tokyo, Japan, Asia

Sandra Barron is a correspondent who lives in Tokyo and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. Barron has worked for the Japanese media both in New York City and Tokyo. She loved the serenity of living in rural western Japan and now thrives on the energy of Tokyo. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNN International, in The Japan Times and in its trend blog, Japan Pulse. She also is contributing to a book about some of Tokyo’s most intriguing hidden destinations.

  • On May 28, 2013
    Sandra Barron is now following Angie Berry
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    Sandra Barron is now following Heather Hannig
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    Sandra Barron is now following Susan Campbell
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    Sandra Barron is now following Jessica Colley
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    Melinda Joe is now following Sandra Barron
  • On May 17, 2013
    Sandra Barron answered the question: Sandra Barron

    What is the best way to haggle in Tokyo?

    The short answer is: you don’t. Haggling is not part of daily life in Tokyo. The price on the menu or on the artfully hand-lettered tag is the price you pay.
    There is one exception I can think of: flea markets. Flea markets and antique markets are wonderful places to explore on weekends. Many local temples have them on a specific weekend each month. Check local English listings or ask at your hotel. These are a great place to find everything from Japanese toys, cameras and electronics from the 80’s to antique silk, scrolls and ceramics. And more. So much more. Things you never imagined existed and whose purpose you can only guess at are neatly laid out on tarps, and used clothing in pristine condition is hung from rolling racks or the sides of minivans. Sure, there’s plenty of junk, but there are also treasures to be found. And when you find something you like, it never hurts to ask for a little bit of a mark-down. Respect (as always) is key in this  interaction. After the proprietor says the price, smile and say, “Sukoshi makete kuremasen ka?” (“Could you please reduce the price a little?”) They may round the price down or throw in an additional item at the same price, but they won’t play games about it. Don’t walk away expecting them to call after you and halve the price on the spot - usually, the original price will be fairly close to the final price. Whether the price cut you get is small or large (and you just may get a great bargain toward the end of the day), be sure to express your gratitude. Stay calm and friendly, and you just might walk away with a one-of-a-kind souvenir at a price you love.
  • On May 16, 2013
    Sandra Barron answered the question: Sandra Barron

    What is the Tokyo Metro like?

    The Tokyo Metro is a modern wonder of efficiency. It has some of the most-trafficked train stations in the world - by some estimates, Shinjuku station ushers through over 3 million people per day. At the same time, trains are almost always on time; conductors make repeated announcements apologizing when a busy subway is running one or two minutes late.

    Don't be intimidated, though. Despite the sheer number of trains and volume of people, Tokyo’s subway and train system is surprisingly simple to navigate. Though there are technically three different train systems in Tokyo, you can ride all of them seamlessly with a single card, which you can buy as soon as you arrive and recharge with cash at a machine in any station. Simply tap the card at the turnstile on your way in and out. All station signage in the city will have English as well as Japanese.

    One trick for making your trip as simple as possible is to know your exits. Zoom in on the map of your destination until you see small exit numbers appear around the station. (Paper maps and the large color maps inside the train station will have the exits marked, too.) Bright yellow signs within the stations will point the way to each numbered exit. Stations are sometimes so vast that going out the right exit can mean the difference between ascending to street level right at (or even inside) your destination or walking a quarter of a mile on a busy street to find what you’re looking for.
  • On May 16, 2013
    Sandra Barron answered the question: Sandra Barron

    Where can you get the best view of Tokyo?


    The most in-demand place to take in the view right now is Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world. The futuristic glass tower and the shopping area surrounding it turn a year old in May 2013. The complex can see more than a million visitors over holiday periods. Plan to reserve your tickets in advance for busy days!

    Before the Skytree replaced it as a broadcast beacon, the orange and white Tokyo Tower had been the tourist tower of choice since it opened in 1958. The attractions in the lower floors, including a wax museum, could be described as a bit retro. Unlike the Skytree, you have the option of walking up the 531 steps to the top, and getting a certificate to prove it.

    Right in the middle of the Shinjuku “skyscraper district” is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, known in Japanese as the Tocho, or City Hall. The observation deck is free. There are signs in Shinjuku station to point you in the right direction - but if you get lost outside, just look for the building’s distinctive double towers. There is tourist information in several languages in the elevator lobby. There is also a cafe at the top that sometimes has live piano music.

    The best option for getting a dose of culture with your view is the open-air roofdeck of the Mori Tower in Roppongi. The ticket includes admission to the Mori Art Museum a few floors below, which hosts contemporary art shows by well known international and Japanese artists. At the top, staff will snap a digital souvenir picture of you that you can purchase on your way out, and they will also happily take your picture for your with your own camera or cellphone for free.
  • On May 15, 2013
    Sandra Barron is now following Jennifer Kester
  • On May 14, 2013
    Sandra Barron answered the question: Sandra Barron

    What are the best bars in Tokyo?

    Tokyo's bartenders are famous for elevating the art of the classic cocktail to new levels of icy perfection. Experience the unbelievable attention to detail, with precision in every element from the bartenders’ bowties to the rythm of their trademark shakes, at Ginza mainstays like Bar High Five, Star Bar, and Orion. In the domain of these award-winning bartenders, understated old-world elegance and manners are the rule.

    A new breed of cocktail connoisseurs are mapping out fresh territory with more experimental approaches. Key among them right now is Gen Yamamoto and his flights of muddled fruit drinks at the bar that bears his name. Fuglen is bringing a twist of Scandinavian novelty to the scene. 

    At last, locally brewed craft beers are rising to prominence next to the endless drafts of Sapporo and Asahi in Tokyo. Relatively new bars like Devil Craft in Kanda and Goodbeer Faucets in Shibuya require reservations on busy nights for their long rows of taps. Still under the radar but just as good is Watering Hole on a quieter stretch of Meiji Dori in Shinjuku.

    Whiskey drinkers will feel right at home in Tokyo. Zoetrope near Shinjuku Station is a wonderful place to cap off an evening with a sip of something old and rare. The bartender is happy to help navigate the hundreds of whiskey bottles lining the wall.
  • On May 13, 2013
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    Mutia Adisoma is now following Sandra Barron
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    Amelia Hagen is now following Sandra Barron