If you are planning to spend your next holidays in Japan, you have really made a great choice. Japan is a fabulous country with amazing natural beauty, unique culture, friendly people and interesting language. However, as every country is different from another, you, as a foreigner, may find Japan to be very different from your homeland. With some tips, you can easily cope up with this difference and enjoy the land’s incredible offerings.
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Here are some tips to help you make your stay in Japan as pleasant as possible.
1. Use the subway
Japanese people are quite proud of their subway systems that connect a large number of places. These subway systems are faster than buses and cheaper than taxis. The signs and announcements are generally in English. If you are lost, locals would happily help you. Young people of the country often speak English.
2. Don’t tip
Japan is a nation where you don’t need to tip. Here, waiters, porters and cab drivers decline gratuities politely. Sometimes, waiters are offended on being offered tip. In some upscale establishments, your bill is often added with a service charge. However, you can give money gifts in certain situations, like to your private guide or the head maid in a ryokan (Japanese-style inn). To present a money gift, put flat and new bills in an envelope.
3. Learn to bow
Japanese people greet others by bowing. Bowing in response would signify that you are a polite person. However, it’s not mandatory to bow. Business travellers may bow to contacts but tourists don’t need to. Hotel employees often bow to guests. Ticket inspectors greet train passengers by bowing. But, they don’t expect reciprocation. But, it is always good to greet the Japanese people in their way and create a good impression of yours.
4. Choose accommodation carefully
Accommodation in the country is quite expensive, especially in the big cities. Here, the word “hotel” is mostly used to refer business hotels. Business hotels come in mid-range, and have small rooms that are suitable for one individual. They have all amenities required by business travelers, and are clean. Business hotels are mostly aimed at accommodation of business travelers, so, you may not always find English-speaking staff.
If you are looking for the best possible accommodation on a budget, go for Minshuku, which are budget inns. The more expensive forms of Japanese inns are the Ryokan.
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An interesting and unusual way to get accommodation on a budget, is to stay in Capsule hotels. Just like hostels, here you get a single bed, power outlet, light, a small desk and a privacy curtain. Work spaces, toilets and showers are shared. Capsule hotels are recommended for single individuals only and many of them don’t accept women.
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Hostels are also a good choice, if you are ready to stay in cramped quarters with bunk beds crammed in them.
5. Get Suica Card and buy Japan Rail Pass
Traveling here in a taxi is very expensive, and you can do so only if you have enough money. Using a train is far better. A JR (Japan Rail) pass would help you use all train transportation services at a low cost. You need to buy a JR pass prior to arriving in Japan. You can buy it online, but not within Japan. To know more about the JR pass, visit the Japan Rail Pass website.
With a Suica card, you would be able to pay for things purchased from stores, and for traveling by metro or subway.
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6. Drive and walk on left
Here, vehicles are driven in the left side. So, drive car on the left side, instead of the right side. The correct side for walking here is also the left side.
7. Bring cash with you
Carry a lot of cash with you as most ATMs of the country don’t accept foreign cards. Carry travelers’ checks also, for your vacation duration. The ATMs of the busy areas are open till 9 pm, and most of them remain closed in weekends.
8. Carry tissue paper
Tourists may need to bring their own tissues while using some of the public restrooms. Many tissue packets are given for free to tourists as they walk on the major streets (this is a common method of advertising). It is always good to carry a few packets of tissue with you, in case you find a restroom without tissue papers.
9. Use vending machines
You can find vending machines everywhere in the country, and they are out of order very rarely. These vending machines sell various products like ice-cold beers, steaming soups and cold or hot drinks.
So, plan well in advance of the amazing places you would visit in this amazing country, and follow the above tips. These tips would certainly help you have a great vacation in Japan.