just joined the community and saw this thread.
it's a little old but since it says you're going this year (2020) I figured I could still be of help.
1) Rent and pick up a pocket WiFi at the airport. This will give you internet anywhere you go. And if you use WhatsApp it'll also give you a means to contact people. Especially if you guys split up.
2) practice using their transportation app. Gives you subway routes, times, and price.
3) review all your pass options. We opted out of the JR pass. We got a Tokyo metro pass, Osaka amazing pass, Fuji Hakone pass and hanshin tourist pass. Whatever wasn't covered we paid outright. In total, still ended up cheaper than one JR pass.
4) and for pasalubong. save yourself the struggle of lugging around a bunch of souvenirs. Buy goodie boxes of Japanese treats at the airport. The Japanese have their own form of the word pasalubong. They call it "omiyage." That means you'll find plenty of gift boxes at the airport. Best part is, most these treats are individually wrapped. So instead of buying one box each for say 12 people, buy like 4-6 boxes full of a dozen treats and once you get home you can make 12 goodie bags of assorted treats for 12 people instead. Just a thought :)
if you don't like the thought of buying from the airport, do your shopping at a don Quixote. Lots of goodie boxes there too, and probably for cheaper.
Zle1016, Welcome to the community and Thanks for the info. I started doing more research since we leave in just under 6 weeks. My wife loves to shop in many different stores so I'm sure the airport wouldn't cut it for her. HaHaHa!
I hope you found most everything you need to prep for your trip :)
went myself back in March 2019 with husband and another couple. We were so close to being there during the peak of cherry blossom season but not quite there. Still loved everything about japan, especially the people.
I'm going to Japan in March. The train system is a stressful topic for me too. I'm making my husband handle that part while I plan out the rest of the trip. Thank you everyone for your tips.