I often tell people that all you need is a valid passport, some cash, and hotel reservation before you fly over. As long as your passport is valid, you can plan the trip 1 day before takeoff. Apparently, it might be a bit more complicated than that for the first time travelers, but the fundamentals for world travel: Money, Time, Energy, and Interest will always apply.
-To read about how much to budget for your trip to Tokyo, visit Budget: How much does it cost to go to Tokyo?
-To read about how to plan your trip to Tokyo, visit Planning for your trip to Tokyo
-To read about where you can find the best Ramen in Tokyo, visit Best Ramen in Tokyo.
VISAJapanese government has been updating its VISA policy in order to attract more revenue from tourism.
I would refer to the official website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for the latest information on VISA requirement.
If you are from a nation state that requires VISA to enter Japan, just plan ahead, apply and obtain for the visitor's VISA at your local Japanese embassy prior to your trip.
Obtaining some knowledge before heading over to Japan will help travelers on planning their trips. There are plenty of guidebooks on the market, any of the popular ones will give you more information than you need. Reading guidebooks and organizing your own trip will also make the traveling memory last longer. For specific niche of interest such as architecture, fine Japanese dining, and anime, consider googling the web for the latest information. Understanding a little bit of the history, culture and survival Japanese language will make the trip more enjoyable.
PASSPORTMake sure you have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months. If not, just plan ahead and apply or renew your passport. I was shocked to find out that there are so many people who have never applied for a passport in their lives.
SAVE UP! Please refer to the Budget post for the rough estimated amount of money you need for your trip. Depending on what you are planning to do or buy in Tokyo, make sure you save up enough money for the trip. Please refer to the blog post on Money issue for exchange questions.
BOOK YOUR TICKET EARLY! This is will ensure that you will have plenty of time to find deals on cheap tickets and prevent you from cancelling your planned trip. Once the departure and return dates are set, it will be easy to do detailed planning for your trip.
For first time travelers to Japan, I highly recommend booking the hotel early. Start searching for hotel deals weeks before for your actual trip, you will be surprised that many of the hotel reservation websites offer many early bird specials.