Although the Japanese are very accommodating and understanding of foreign visitors, there are a few things that will go a long way in respecting and experiencing their culture. Try to learn a bit of the language if you can, they will be especially pleased to help you. It is customary to bow and if you are handing something to someone it is polite to present it with both hands. Pointing is considered rude, rather you should gesture to something with a flat, open hand facing palm up. If drinking beer or sake in a group, it is considered polite to wait for someone to fill your glass rather than doing so yourself, however you will never be kept waiting. Visitors should also ensure that they never step on a tatami mat whilst wearing shoes or slippers and that they never leave their chopsticks standing up in a bowl as this is how offerings are made to the dead.
The official currency of Japan is the Japanese yen (JPY) ¥ which is divided into 100 sen, although sen are rarely used. Coin denominations including the silver 1 yen, gold 5 yen with a hole in the centre, copper 10 yen, silver 50 yen with a hole in the centre and the silver 100 and silver and gold 500 yen. Banknote denominations include the blue 1,000 yen, green 2,000 yen, purple 5,000 yen and brown 10,000 yen. Most Japanese ATMs don’t accept foreign cards, however 7Eleven stores, JP Bank, Citibank, HSBC, Shinsei Bank, SMBC, Mitsubishi UFJ and AEON banks and ATMs are the notable exceptions. Currency exchange can also be easily found at the airport and within the hotels of the city and surrounds.
Most hotels and cafes offer WiFi internet access for a fee or complimentary in some selected areas, as well as dedicated internet cafes. When it comes to plugging in your devices, Japan uses the American two-pin rectangular socket (100V/60Hz).
For international dialing use 0011 + country code + area code + local number. The Japan telephone country code which is +81 and depending on where you are visiting or trying to contact, the area code will vary. Most numbers will list the local area code at the beginning. When trying to contact home, particularly by phone remember the time difference. The Japan time zone is UTC+9.
Japan is home to one of the best transport systems in the world making getting around a breeze. Travelling by train is the most popular option and there are a number of passes that make travel cheaper. Covering the majority of the country, Japan’s rail system is fast and efficient making it the most popular transport choice. Japanese trains are extremely prompt, running to the minute, meaning even if you are only a few seconds late you will miss your train. There are also women only carriages to offer a safe and secure way for female passengers to travel, particularly during rush hour. There are also some excellent bus services, particularly when it comes to long distance travel on the highway and although these are a cheaper option, they take a lot longer than the trains. However many of these services operate overnight which can be a great way to save on a night of accommodation. Premium seats are recommended as they are bigger and more comfortable. Taxis are also everywhere in Japan and are a clean and safe transport option albeit more expensive. Driving in Japan is not recommended as there are a lot of traffic jams with parking expensive and difficult to find. Read more about Getting to Japan Ski Fields
Visitors from most Western countries are able to visit Japan for up to 90 days without requiring a visa. Other nationalities may require a pre-arranged ‘temporary visitor’ visa in order to stay for up to 90 days. All foreign visitors aged 16 years and over are required to be electronically finger printed, photographed and in some cases briefly interviews in order to gain entry into the country. However this is standard practice so visitors should not be alarmed, although is any of these procedures are refused entry into Japan will be denied.
Want to know more? To demystify some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from our customers, we've put together a handy guide on everything you need to know before you go.