Travelling to Japan

So, the aim of these pages is a simple one – to make sure you have an awesome experience when going to Japan. Some parts covers Japan in general, others are specific to a given place. Enjoy.

If you're short on time – browse the hyper-efficient bullet list version to have your basics covered 

Sections

» Places to stay
If you need a hotel, these are a few recommendations across Tokyo and Japan

» Before you go
The cash/credit card situation, Japanese wall sockets, basic communications, internet access in general, hotels, getting around, and more.

» When you get there
Getting yourself from the Tokyo-Narita and Tokyo-Haneda airports to downtown Tokyo, picking up 

» Tokyo
Things you absolutely should do, restaurants, logistics, getting around. And a few suggestions on mini-itiniraries within the Tokyo to help you do stuff efficiently.

» Kyushu
The southernmost part of mainland A brilliant part of Japan. 

» Other parts of Japan
A few notes and tips on Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka

Posts on Japan

 

 

Good to Know

A few simple bits of info to know before you arrive, and some you might

Exploring

Things you can and should do when in Japan

  • Tokyo – insanely big, insanely awesome
  • Kyushu – the southern

Getting Around

How to get around in Japan, in cities including Tokto, 

  • Before you leave – Rail Pass, cellular wifi rental and more
  • Travelling around Japan by train
  • Getting around Tokyo

Before you go

Some things you might want to know before heading off to Japan:

» Language and communication
» Paying for things
» Electricity and wall sockets
» Wifi and internet


Language and communication

In general, people speak little to no English. The only major exceptions are upscale places like luxury hotels, and even then it might be a bit of a struggle sometimes. No reason to worry though, using a bit of sign language will get you incredibly far – here's what you need to know:

  • ◯ means yes
  • ✕ means no

Super simple, really. Just make the👌 sign with your hand to indicate affirmation, or cross your index fingers to indicate "No" or any form of negation. Mix these two with a healthy proportion of creativity and you're able to handle most situations easily.

Paying for things

Japan spans the entire range – you sometimes have no option but to use cash, and yet you're able to pay for a soda at 7-eleven by touching your subway card at the register. These are some general guidelines:

Cash
It's always a good idea to have a bit of cash. Shops, restaurants and taxis are sometimes cash only. 

Getting hold of cash
This can be a bit tricky if you're using a foreign credit card, so be sure to plan accordingly. The 7-Eleven ATMs are your best bet (and those ATMs are sometimes found outside stores, too). If you're only doing Master Card, a Citi Bank ATM should be a good option. Other ATMs might work, too, but it's all a bit random.

Credit Cards
These days most mid/upscale places acceppt all major credit cards, especially in larger cities. Most taxis in Tokyo will accept a range of credit cards too, look for the logos when boarding a cab if you're out of cash.

Suica Cards
Across Japan you'll find a range of different Suica cards – a credit card-sized wireless wallet, if you will. Simply get yourself one at special public transport ticket machines, recharge using cash at the very same machines, and use by touching the Suica card to pay. Works incredbly well at a range of places, including but certainly not limited to convenience stores and many vending machines.

The Tokyo Suica variety is called Pasmo, in Nagoya it's Manaca. Japan recently made everything work everywhere, allowing you to pick up a nice silver/pink Pasmo card in Tokyo and then use that very same card to get you through the Osaka subway system. Pretty sweet, really.

Electricity and wall sockets

Sockets are of the US variety. They do 100V and 50 or 60Hz (the weird mix is, of course, due to historical reasons, but you shouldn't really have to worry – everything works regardless).

Wifi and internet

Free wifi is somewhat spotty and sometimes requires elaborate registration processes (be sure to sign up for the Japanese Starbucks wifi before you head off to Japan). If you don't have flat rate roaming on your cell phone plan you might want to rent an LTE pocket wifi router. It's easy, fairly cheap (around ¥1200/day) and usually pretty fast. Pre-book one if you want to be sure there's one waiting for you at the airport.

» Tokyo Bling
Stunning photos with a personal touch from Tokyo and all over Japan. Love browsing through the archives, there's so much great stuff in there.
» Uniqlo Calendar (requires flash)
Tilt-shift, pseudo stop motion and music, turned into magic. Or, in the words of Uniqlo, »Miniaturizing Japan scenes from all 47 prefectures, 140 cities and 328 locations«.