Travel Videos

Japan Travel Guide

Population : 127,3 million

Capital City : Tokyo

People : Japanese

Language: Japanese

Currency: Japanese Yen

Time Zone: UTC +9 Hrs

International Dialing Code : +81

Nestled on the eastern frontier of Asia, the magical nation of Japan is a juxtaposition of past and future. A stone’s throw from the vibrant, neon glow of downtown Tokyo hides peaceful Zen gardens pictures of simplicity and calm. Contemporary art museums flank centuries-old Buddhist temples and skyscrapers erupt from cityscapes a bullet train ride away from towering natural wonder of Mount Fuji. For the culturally curious, Japan is a hub of adventure waiting to be uncovered.

General information

Passport and visa
If you are a citizen of one of the over 50 countries, with which Japan has a “general visa exemption arrangement”, you need only a valid passport to enter Japan as a “temporary visitor”. Otherwise, you need to obtain a visa before entering the country. Temporary visitors from most countries are allowed to stay for up to 90 days. All foreign tourists in Japan are required to carry your passports with you at all times.

USA citizens: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7108b.html
UK citizens: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/japan/entry-requirements
AUS citizens:  http://australia.or.jp/en/visa/

Currency
The Japanese currency is the Yen. Notes come in 1,000 yen, 2,000 yen (very rare), 5,000 yen and 10,000 yen denominations. Coins come in 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, 50 yen, 100 yen and 500 yen denominations.
Cash is still the preferred payment method, especially when it involves small amounts. However, there is an increased acceptance of credit and debit cards, especially in big cities. Most hotels accept payment by credit cards nowadays, as do most department stores, mid to high end restaurants, outlet malls and large retail shops.

Phones & Internet service
There are various ways to stay connected to the internet while travelling in Japan. A majority of hotels in Japan offer free internet in their guest rooms.

Both paid and free wireless (Wi-Fi) hotspots are available in Japan. Laptops and mobile devices can connect to publicity accessible hotspots found around airports, train stations, hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and bars.

Those who wish to use their own mobile phones or tablets to directly access the internet in Japan can get rental or prepaid SIM cards that allow for unlimited internet access via the cellular phone network.

Traffic & Transportation
Getting There
The most common intercontinental flight destination is Narita Airport which is about an hour east of Tokyo. Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, while still primarily for domestic flights, has recently completing an expansion which has allowed for more international service, so many flights to this, more convenient, airport are also now available. Japan’s two major airlines are Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines also operate sizable hubs at Narita, with flights to many destinations in the US and Asia.

Getting Around
Japan has an efficient public transportation network, especially within metropolitan areas and between the large cities. Japanese public transportation is characterized by its punctuality, its superb service, and the large crowds of people using it.

By far the best option for visitors who plan to do a lot of travelling is the Japan Rail Pass, which allows unlimited travel on almost all JR trains, including the Shinkansen.

You will find taxis everywhere in Japan, not only in the city but also in the country. Taxis are clean and completely safe, though a bit expensive. In the city, you can hail a taxi just about anywhere, but outside train stations and other transfer points you should board at a taxi stand.

Weather
The Japanese are proud of their four seasons (and an astonishing number of them are firmly convinced that the phenomenon is unique to Japan), but the tourist with a flexible travel schedule should aim for spring or autumn.

Spring is one of the best times of year to be in Japan. The temperatures are warm but not hot, there’s not too much rain, and March-April brings the justly famous cherry blossoms (sakura) and is a time of revelry and festivals.

Summer starts with a dreary rainy season in June and turns into a steambath in July-August, with extreme humidity and the temperature heading as high as 35C.

Autumn, starting in September, is also an excellent time to be in Japan. Temperatures and humidity become more tolerable, fair days are common and fall colors can be just as impressive as cherry blossoms. However, in early autumn typhoons often hit the southern parts of Japan and bring everything to a standstill.

Winter is a good time to go skiing or hot-spring hopping, but as some buildings lack central heating, it’s often miserably cold indoors. There is usually heavy snow in Hokkaido and northeast Japan due to the cold wind blasts from Siberia.

Health and Safety

Health and well-being
The quality of the healthcare system in Japan is considerably high with excellent medical services and facilities. Pharmacies are widely distributed throughout the country. You are strongly recommended to consult your doctor or country’s travel clinic for up-to-date information and advice regarding appropriate inoculations.

Vaccinations
Before travelling to Japan, please ensure you have adequate protection against disease. Contact your doctor for the latest medical advice on the vaccinations you need, no less than two months before your departure.

Travel Insurance (Recommended)
Buffalo Tours does everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably inbolves some risk and this should be recognised by holiday-makers. Travel insuranceis a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind. Please also make sure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip.

Culture & Customs

Etiquette and Cultural Differences
Experiencing different cultures is one of the joys of travelling, and it is important that these differences are respected. Knowing a few important customs of Japanese people will help make your visit more enjoyable :

Do :

  • Bowing: men bow with their hands to their sides. Women bow with their hands together in front.
  • When you are handing something to someone, it is considered polite to present it holding it with both hands.
  • The elderly are given special respect in Japanese society, and they are used to the privileges that come with it. Not that certain seats (“silver seats”) on many trains are set aside for the disabled and the elderly.
  • If visiting a Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple, follow the appropriate cleansing procedure before you enter.
  • There are not many trash cans in public; you may have to carry around your trash for a while before finding one.

Dont :

  • Never walk on a tatami mat wearing shoes or even slippers. Japanese dwellings and Japanese style hotel rooms will have a genkan, a transitional area. Take your shoes off while standing in the genkan, stepping back onto the boarded area of the floor.
  • Never leave your chopsticks standing upright in a bowl of rice as that is how rice is offered to the dead.
  • Avoid physical contact in public. You will not see Japanese people kissing or hugging.
  • Avoid shouting or talking loudly in public. Talking on mobile phone on a train is considered rude, and many trains have signs advising you not to use them.

Food and Drink
The traditional cuisine of Japan is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Side dishes often consist of fish, pickled vegetables, and vegetables cooked in broth. Fish is common often grilled but also served raw as sashimi or in sushi. Seafood and vegetables are also deep-fried in a light batter as tempura.

  • Sushi (raw fish and rice)
  • Tempura (deep-fried prawn)
  • Udon (Japanese noodles)
  • Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers)
  • Okonomiyaki ( Japanese pancake)

Public Holidays
The following is a list of all Public Holidays in Japan. For these dates most businesses will be closed and conditions of travel may be affected.

  • New Year’s Day : Jan 1
  • Coming of Age Day : 2nd Monday of Jan
  • Foundation Day : Feb 11
  • Vernal Equinox Day : Mar 20 or 21
  • Showa Day : April 29
  • Constitution Memorial Day : May 3
  • Greenery Day : May 4
  • Children’s Day : May 5
  • Marine Day : 3rd Monday of July
  • Mountain Day : August 11
  • Respect for the Aged Day : 3rd Monday of Sep
  • Autumnal Equinox Day : Sep 22 or 23
  • Health and Sports Day : 2nd Monday of Oct
  • Culture Day : Nov 3
  • Labour Thanksgiving Day : Nov 23
  • The Emperor’s Birthday : Dec 23

Tipping
Tipping effectively does not exist in Japan, and attempting to offer tips can often be seen as an insult. Japanese service is legendary, and you do not need to bribe the waiters/waitresses to do their job properly – if you leave a tip in a restaurant, the staff

Price Guide
Food

  • Street food: from JPY 800
  • Restaurant: JPY 1,200 – 3,500

Drinks

  • Soft drinks: JPY 200 - 400
  • Beer: JPY 250  - 500
  • Water: JPY 150 – 300
  • Coffee : JPY 250 – 400

Other items

  • Shorts/T-shirts: JPY 1,000 – 6000
  • Local train cost : JPY 1,000 –2,000 per day
  • Sushi : JPY 1,000 - 3000

Predeparture Checklist

  • Travel insurance
  • Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Visa
  • Vaccinations
  • Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
  • All relevant tickets
  • Reconfirmed flights
  • Light weight clothing (summer months and the south)
  • Warm clothing
  • Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling or walking
  • Insect repellent
  • Medication
  • First aid kit
  • Adaptor – 220V, 50Hz; 2 pin plugs
  • Small daypack (for day and overnight trips)
  • Water bottle

Our very best wishes for your journey.

BUFFALO TOURS IN JAPAN
Kayabacho Tower Residence Room 1706
1-21-1 Shinkawa, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0033
Email: japan@buffalotours.com

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