Published on April 21st, 2019 | by Arslan Riaz0
5 Tips to Keep in Mind Before Traveling to Japan
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Japan as a tourist. The last time I was there, no longer as a tourist, but with a student visa, it was two months ago to study for a year at Rikkyo University. You can know my experience.
The first time I went to Japan was in 2008 and at that time there was not so much information about some of the utilities that I will talk about in this post. Google Maps was not as developed as it is now.
After that experience, I leave you with a series of tips that I would have liked to have on my first trip to Japan.
Although it seems otherwise, Japan does not have as many tourists as you would think. One of the reasons that act as a barrier is clearly the language; another is that it continues that idea that Japan is expensive. There is also the inconvenience of cultural shock, since it is not the same to travel to Austria, where they have a way of being and thinking more similar to ours, than traveling to Japan. However, after all, we are not so different. If you are one of those who have broken those barriers and stereotypes, read on and start organizing.
1. Learn basic Japanese
It is not about you becoming the Asian Shakespeare, it is more, you can always communicate in English although there is that theory that the Japanese do not know how to speak it, but something that the Japanese value in a foreigner, apart from that you have interested in your culture and your country, is that you speak your language.
2. Respect the rules
Although many times you will find posters that prohibit things, many of them obvious in their context, it will be necessary that you have learned some that are not so explicit and that could be overlooked. I list them below:
- Do not smoke on the street. It will be strange, but in Japan there are more specific areas for smokers in the street than in restaurants and bars (izakaya), where you can smoke in the whole place. The vast majority of these areas are marked with a large SMOKING AREA. Use them!
- Do not leave a tip. Since we talk about restaurants that less than to warn you that in Japan it is frowned upon to leave tip.
- Do not speak loudly inside the train. When you get on public transport in Japan you will hear the sound of silence. Make it last throughout the journey. Of course, you will also see stickers with prohibitions such as not talking on the phone, not running towards the door, etc.
- In Japan there are many superstitions (pending entry for the blog). One of them is to stick the chopsticks in the rice bowl. Do not do it! There is a series of, I will not say prohibitions, but rather rules at the table. It is better that you have this rule in mind, while the rest will not affect you if you are just going to travel.
- When in Rome, do as the Romans. Mime. Do the same as the rest and let yourself be carried away by the swarm. In Japan it is not well seen to draw attention or stand out from the rest. Remember that you are not going to Magaluf.
3. Follow your itinerary without fear
In case you have it, of course. If you prefer to go on an adventure you can skip this point, but if you have organized the trip with an itinerary I recommend you follow it since public transport in Japan is 100% punctual and reliable. Your itinerary will not suffer any setback, I assure you.
If you are one of those who like to have everything under control, you can start the trip from your country knowing the timetables of the trains or buses you are going to use. One known by all and very good application and web is Google Maps.
4. Stay connected at all times
This advice applies rather when you arrive in Japan, but it will also affect the decisions you make before starting your trip from your country.
From our respective countries, many of us who have traveled to Japan have activated the roaming service to communicate with our relatives through phone calls, so we had to pay extra money on our telephone bill.
In addition, a few years ago we did not have that need to upload the Yakisoba dish to Instagram in real time, but now having an Internet connection during the trip can be a priority for many. With this advice this will be possible.
There are different possibilities to be communicated. One of them is to rent a phone and another (the one I personally prefer) is to rent a pocket WiFi. This way you can use your phone and avoid renting a car. No calls, only Internet, but having messaging and Skype applications when you get to the hotel, is more than enough.
5. Make the change of currency in Japan
Getting favorable rates in changing euro into Tokyo currency – Yen is impossible because the intermediary will always keep some money, but throughout the duration of your trip, the best exchange rate you will get is at the airport of arrival in Japan. Although the change we receive in yen for the value of 1 euro is not the full value, we still have a very generous change (1 euro = 147 yen). We must take advantage of this type of opportunity to make those purchases that we were waiting for so long.
Doing all that means carrying a lot of Euros with you. It would be very risky in case of loss. I know you’re thinking about it. The solution is called ‘Credit card’. It is not a bad idea, but in that way you would not benefit from the euro-yen change completely and you would already depend on the conditions of your bank. In addition, Japan is not a country very given to the use of credit cards and the Japanese usually always carry cash in your wallets (remember that Japan is a very safe country), so you will find yourself in uncomfortable situations in some establishments. My advice? Take the credit card to buy in large areas where they admit them without putting on weird faces and cash (which will change at the airport once arrived in Japan) for small purchases and transportation.
If we think more in detail there are many tips that are missing, but starting from these five we have already made a breakthrough. It is clear that if you have already traveled to Japan or know the country in depth it will be a long time since you passed this content. Can you think of any other advice? Tell us!