If there’s one place in the Far East that is a must-visit, it’s Japan!
There’s no other country quite like it! A harmonious mix of modernity and traditions, this so-called “Land Of The Rising Sun” has its own charms and quirks that are simply sensational.
From their adorable Anime sub-cultures to ancient practices that many still do to this day, not to mention the man-made marvels and natural wonders the country offers. There’s nothing similar to seeing the new technologies in Tokyo, visiting the ancient towers in Kyoto, or learning about the histories in Hiroshima.
Similarly to other countries, Japan is quite protective of their own cultures and ways of life. So much so that any wrongdoing committed by foreign visitors can leave a terrible impression for them.
If you intend to go to Japan, you have to adapt in their unique ways in order to have a hassle-free trip! For your assistance, here is a quintessential list of Japan travel tips.
Avail a Japan Rail (JR) Pass
When traveling in Japan, especially to other cities outside of Tokyo, getting a Japan Rail (JR) pass is a must! Train travel is common in the country, and it’s one of their more affordable modes of transportation. Using one for multiple rides a day is a lot cheaper and more convenient than having to pay for a new ticket every ride.
You can avoid long queues and multiple payments and get easy access to Japan’s various train systems. Although they can get quite pricey, as a one-week pass costs almost as much as a flight from Tokyo to Kyoto, the culmination of all fully-priced train rides you’ll take in the same time span can be just as costly and maybe even more.
Always have Cash!
Despite being an expensive country, full of upscale businesses and luxurious lifestyles, Japan is still heavy on cash. A lot of the country’s establishments only accept cash as compensation. It’s rare to find a store, restaurant, and even hotels that accept credit cards.
Especially if you’re traveling to a more rural area, you should always have some cash at hand. Fortunately, there are multiple ATMs around the country, particularly in the bigger cities.
Another tip for traveling to Japan is to bring along a credit card that doesn’t entail a withdrawal fee. This way, you’re not losing more money than you spend on your trip.
Learn Some Japanese
Although Japan is an international powerhouse, there aren’t a lot of English-speakers in the country. Japan is one of those countries that are still heavily devoted to their own cultures, customs, and tradition, which means people here would rather speak Japanese than even try to learn English.
However, it should be noted that within the more urban areas, there usually are good numbers of English-speaking locals. It’s often noted that these bilingual Japanese usually speak better English than what they make out to seem.
Still, learning a few important phrases in the language will be a lot easier than attempting to communicate amidst the language barrier.
Keep Shoes Off
There’s a stereotype among Asian nationalities wherein they usually prefer not having shoes won inside their houses. This applies to the Japanese as well, who find it quite rude if you enter their home or establishment with your shoes on.
When they welcome you to their home, they want you to feel right at home enough to free your feet from your shoes. The practice is also slightly about maintaining a clean home or establishment, leaving the dirt under your shoes outside of the premises.
While this practice is more common at residences, several establishments also require taking your shoes off. A travel tip to Japan is to always skin the place before going further inside. If all the people in the room have they shoes off, best to take off yours as well.
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Buzz For Service
Japan is known for their quiet practices. They’re not like other nationalities who’re used to screaming or shouting as ways to communicate. This is part of their charm. Even in their busiest cities, because of their silent nature, it’s often peaceful staying in Japan.
This applies most to their restaurants. Here, they have little black boxes and buzzers to call the waiters. Other Asian countries also have this practice, but Japan does it the most. Loud calling or even shouting is taboo in any establishment here, even though the place might be packed.
A good Japan travel tip is to go to Japanese-themed restaurants in your town prior to your trip. These places usually have these little boxes as well, which can help you get used to them before going to Japan.
Do Not Point!
Another taboo in Japan is pointing with your fingers. The Japanese consider this as a sign of disrespect. If you point at a person, they’ll most likely see it as an invasion of privacy and a breach on their character, regardless of the reason why you’re pointing at them in the first place.
Pointing at items is also a huge no-no! If you want to see and hold something in a store, it’s best to tell the merchant as calmly and collectedly as you can. Whatever situation you’re in while in Japan, always remember to never point at anything or anyone.
While you’re supposed to always be polite while visiting a foreign country, this matters most in Japan. Japanese people are known for their politeness, a product of centuries of ancient traditions that they still practice to this day.
Bowing when they greet you and speaking in more quiet tones are some of the easiest ways to act politely in Japan. You also have to avoid eating and drinking in public, taking pictures of people without their permission, and greeting strangers with a “hello.”
Subsequently, Japanese people are also afraid of offending others, especially foreign visitors. When speaking to a native, a travel tip for Japan is to examine their body language. If they say yes to something, but their body language clearly says no, don’t disturb them any further.
There’s no country quite like the “Land of the Rising Sun.” Its unique culture is a charming experience you wouldn’t want to miss. While in Japan, make sure you know how to properly act while you’re there and how you can better navigate the country. You’ll surely have a much easier time if you do!