What to expect when you travel in Japan!
Read this Japan Information so you know in advance, what to expect when you travel to Japan. Understanding how things work,the culture and traditions will make your holiday a more enjoyable experience.
General Japan Information
These are a few bits of miscellaneous Japan Information that will help you understand the culture.
- Japan is a very safe country, where temples are left open, and are treated with real respect.
- The Transport System is fast, efficient and easy to use. Read my article with detailed information on Japan's train system - or in particular Tokyo.Although much of the information applies throughout the country.The shinkansen( bullet train) means you can get from place to place with comfort, ease and...........speed! The buses are also easy to use and sometimes are a better option for the scenic opportunities, going through villages, and meeting the local people
- Japan is so clean you could eat off the streets – but just don’t drop anything – it will be into the rubbish before you can retrace your steps!
- Japanese people are generally very friendly,which helps make your Japanese holiday a happy experience.Although they do sometimes send you astray, as they are unwilling to admit they cannot help, so will send you somewhere! It can pay to double check with a second person.Especially f English is not strong.
- We nearly ended up on a train to...........well....... I am not sure where. Fortunately, someone speaking English overhead the incorrect Japanese lady's information and directions, so actually walked us to the correct platform.Japan's information on train destinations was not in English at this station!
- The Tourist Bureau - These Japan Information Centres and their offices are always near the train stations. They are usually good places to arrange accommodation. In fact we found they will often negotiate on your behalf if you tell them how much you can afford, and decline anything more expensive.
Japanese Food and Restaurants
Japanese Food is delicious! If you really do not enjoy traditional Japanese food, there is a good selection of European style bakeries, fruit, and grocery shops with usual European foods.
All the international franchised food outlets are here, such as McDonalds and Starbucks.
The system of ordering your meal,does take a bit of trial and error in restaurants.
Eating in local restaurants is not expensive! It is something of a myth that Japan, in particular food, is extremely expensive.It will be expensive in hotels, or up market restaurants - as it is anywhere........so try and eat in more suburban restaurants where the locals eat.
The restaurants will have models or pictures to inform on Japanese food, so you have some idea of what you are eating. If they don't........ you may need to find a restaurant with English menus. Look in your hotel for these.
Japan Information -Travel Tips
- Japan Rail Pass – these must be bought outside Japan. You can purchase them in most countries. It covers one week to one month – you choose how long when you purchase. It then starts from the date of first use, giving you unlimited travel with Japan Rail. It will save you a lot of money! Transport is not one of Japan’s cheaper activities.
- Trains - line up at the marked line, behind the number that matches your ticket number, to ensure you get on the correct carriage.
- Seats on Public TransportThere are seats on trains and buses with picture signs you cannot miss, indicating they are for elderly, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and people with children. You can sit in these, but must give them up if a person who qualifies to use them, gets on.
- Expect trains to be crowded in big cities and on holidays.You will need to stand firm!
- Buses – you usually get on at the back and off at the front, paying as you go. Although sometimes it can be the reverse. So watch the people.
- Always stand to the left when you are on an escalator.
Accommodation in Japan
Japan Information on Hotels and other accommodation is easily found on the internet. You may pick up some bargain hotel accommodation here. We did.You will have the choice of anything from 5 star hotels to cheap hostels.
Japan Information on Accommodation Possibilites
- 5 star Hotels
- Moderately priced hotels - 4-3 star
- Ryokans - the traditional Japanese Guest House where you sleep on a futon on the floor.Ryokans usually include breakfast,sometimes dinner and come in a variety of prices but usually prove to be cheaper accommodation than a hotel.
- Minshuku - These are Japanese Inns similar to a Ryokan but more family run - you may find it a cross between a Ryokan and a Homestay.You will sleep on a traditional futon on the floor.
- Business Hotels - These have very small rooms but are also well priced. Some may have shared bathrooms.
- Capsule Hotels - These are basically a sleeping pod!Used by business men to take a nap you may find as a foreigner you cannot get a space.They have shared facilities.
- Hostels and backpackers
- Homestays - this is another option that may appeal for a few days at least.
- Camping - It is possible to camp in the more rural areas.Hokkaido,Shikoku,Kyushu etc.We hired a tent from a camping ground in Shikoku.
- Pension - These are similar to a Ryokan and Minshuku and are located in resort areas.Breakfast and dinner is included.
- Love Hotels - Cheap and basic this is probably not your first choice of accommodation. However.if you arrive late it may be better than no bed for the night!
USE THE SEARCH BOX FOR JAPAN HOTELS
Visiting a Japanese Home
Read this Japan Information Guide so you know what to expect of Japanese Culture. If you are going into a Japanese home there are a few traditions you need to be aware of and honour.Visiting a Japanese home is a wonderful way to really get to know Japanese people and better understand their culture.Here are a few tips to help you .
- Omiyagi - always take gifts.It will depend on how long you are staying what you should take.
- Always remove your shoes at the door and put on slippers....... they will most likely provide.
- Note the bathroom use below. As a guest you will probably have the first bath.........but it will be used by the whole family.
- Try and speak a little of the language......a dictionary will be most useful.
Using a Japanese Bathroom
Bathrooms – Japanese wash themselves down outside the bathtub. They then soak in the tub, once they are clean. A family will use the same tub filled with water, one after the other. Usually father first.
Japanese Toilets – with several styles you are likely to encounter, you need a license to drive the latest and greatest.
- Traditional squat toilets - you actually face in ......not out!
- You will find toilets in hotels or homes that have a remote control! You can use these to control how warm you want the seat,to spray yourself after the event with sometimes a choice of sprays, to flush, and if really top of the line........to play music to drown your tinkles!
- Japanese people always change into special slippers to go into the toilet.They will be left just outside or inside the door.
You were probably not expecting to need any Japan Information on their toilets! But they can be disconcerting!
Japanese Onsen - The procedure!
Bathing in an Onsen is a very popular Japanese Communal Activity........both to relax and to socialise. Knowing what to do is important! Use this Japan Information on Onsens to get you through your first experience!
Onsens – the traditional Japanese hot pools are found everywhere. While it takes some getting used to the system, they become addictive. You do NOT wear clothes or swimming costumes in the onsen. Your birthday suit is it! You may like to use the little white towel to show some modesty, if this bothers you.The onsens are where Japanese go to socialise and catch up, often on a daily basis. Many are simple, outdoor experiences, others more lavish indoors with several pools, and temperatures to choose from.
You will be given a yukata ( dressing gown) and expected to strip off, leaving your clothes in a locker. You then sit on a little stool - a bit like a milking stool and wash yourself with all the lovely soaps provided. Wash off with the hand held shower, then into the hot tub to soak! There will be different temperatures.
Afterwards, you can shower, sit at a dressing table and shave, use the hair dryer, use more lotions and potions on your face and body - and leave feeling a million dollars!
Omiyagi -Giving Gifts in Japan
Omiyagi - The practice of giving gifts is still very strong in Japan Information on what to give is hard to find and the question repeatedly asked.......... so I will do a full page of suggestions to help here.
You need a supply of small gifts you can give if you are visiting.Even a day trip away, means a gift for your work colleagues.That is why their shops are full of beautifully boxed sweets and chocolates, biscuits and small souvenirs.
Japan Information Tips
Japan Information Tip#1 - Ordering Your Meal
People generally sit down and after perusing the menu raise their hand calling out "Sama san".........to get the attention of the waiter. They will then take your order.Which will usually consist of several dishes. You do not have to make your full order...............as you can top up with extra dishes as you decide you need them.
Japan Information Tip #2 - On Tipping
There is no tipping in Japan.It is also considered rude to count your change after paying your bill in a shop or restaurant.
Japan Information Tip #3 - Free Breakfasts
Many coffee shops offer free breakfast with the coffee you pay for. Look out for the signs. You help yourself after buying your coffee........... a very cheap cup of coffee!
Download some Japanese Words and Phrases
Learn the Lingo on your iPod
Join the locals and have fun with our series of free language guides that contain around 30 basic phrases that you can download onto your iPod.
More "Learn Japanese Language "downloads here.
Japanese Currency is called the Yen. You can use this Currency Converter to work out how many Yen to your currency.
NOTE:You will find you will be dealing with large numbers when purchasing in Yen. You may like to take a pocket calculator to help out!
More Useful Japan Links
Tsukiji Fish Markets
12 Tips on How the Tokyo Train System Works
Kamakura Day Trip
Fuji-Go-Ko( Fuji Five Lakes)
Japanese Lessons and Ipod Phrase Book
Japan Rail Pass
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