Unlike some other reviewers I actually quite liked the skybus tour. I had been in Tokyo for 8 days already doing the subway thing and had no sense or idea of things happening overland. We also always go on a hop on hop off bus when we’re in a city and have been on numerous - London, Munich, Paris, Syndey.
The bus leaves from outside the Mitsubishi building on the first street to the left if you exit the Tokyo station from the Marunouchi exit.
There are three circuits of about 1.5 – 2 hours, some that overlap and you could hop on and off and catch a different route. A lot of the sights and attractions of Tokyo are covered here. The routes and times are well detailed and laid out in the brochure you can get from the ticket office which is also the place you get on at. Or on the website http://skybus.jp/?lang=en&no=.
You get a 24 hour pass for 1800yen or ($20US) which is, I think, good value in a very expensive city. The buses ran like clockwork when I used them, they may wait at a stop until it’s time to leave but it was never more than a few minutes.
Agreed the commentary (via headphones for English speakers) could be more detailed but it was always being played as we more or less went by each sight. The music interspersed did get a little annoying! I travelled with the Timeout 2010 Tokyo guide book (which I found very good for information) and also the The Getting Around Tokyo Pocket Atlas and Transportation guide to get my bearings and have a decent guide to the underground network. I certainly didn’t rely on the hop on hop off bus commentary for my main information on Tokyo.
I think to get the most out of the trip, one has to do some homework when visiting Tokyo, it’s huge and there’s so much to see and do. Relying on the hop on hop off bus commentary is not going to give you a good insight into the city. It will, however, give you a good visual orientation of the city you won’t get by travelling the trains.
I would recommend rugging up warm as there is only the option to sit upstairs, make sure you do get the seats that are partially covered. Wear a hat and have an extra blanket and your thermals on at this time of the year! To make the trip more enjoyable get a takeout coffee from Starbucks in the building where the ticket office is located.
All in all a very worthwhile tour, well done, on time, and clean bus. The Odaiba route is especially spectacular.
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