Now that I am back home, and I’ve got all this time to reflect, I prefer to spend my post sharing with you some of the most valuable tips you ought to know about traveling to Japan as opposed to recounting the tales of my encounter. If you plan to visit Japan for the first time, then you will certainly find these things to know before going to Japan quite useful for planning a successful trip.
So what to know before going to Japan? There are many important things to know before you head there, besides the cultural difference, social manners, and language.
What to Know Before Going to Japan?
1. You’ll Need A Visa
Before you even consider booking your flight to Japan, you must first obtain a Japanese visa, unless you fall under the category of citizens from countries exempt from visa. The citizens from such countries get a 90-day stay pass in Japan. However, if you need your visa, you’ll be required to submit your application at any of the Japanese embassies.
In an instance when you need further information, your nationality determines how and where you get the visa. There are some aspects of the Japanese visa policy you ought to know about. Currently, citizens from 68 countries are exempt from applying for a visa to visit Japan. Unless otherwise specified, visitors from these countries can stay a maximum of 90 days. EU member countries, including the US, Mexico, and Canada are allowed to visit the country for a period lasting 90 days. Citizens from countries such as the UK, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Ireland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein can apply for an extension of their stay for up to 6 months.
Citizens from Africa, Latin America, the former Soviet Union, and Asia are expected to apply for a visa to this country at a Japanese embassy. To get your visa, you will be required to have a valid passport and other additional documentation determined by the government.
2. If Possible Get an Internationally Run Flight
We flew United Airlines on our way to Japan, which was similar to taking a domestic flight with the only difference being that it took 13 hours to reach our destination. However, on our way back home, we opted for All Nippon Airways, which was better considering we had roomier seats, personal TVs, and footrests. Apart from blockbuster movies, we had the option of watching dozens of Japanese documentaries. We recommend that you watch some of these on your way to Japan.
3. Bring Cash
Japan is more of a cash-based economy and most of the places where you would typically expect to make payment using a credit card such as McDonald’s do not allow it. A good number of stores are not equipped with card payment systems. However, you can always look out for signs out front for those that do. We also recommend that you take a card with no withdrawal fees or foreign transactions.
Since 1-500 yen are in the form of coins, I recommend that you carry a coin purse – it will come in handy! I could not help but notice how often I had to take mine out, and it came as no surprise to discover that these purses are popularly sold here as souvenirs to tourists.
4. If You Plan To Leave Tokyo, Secure a JR Pass
The JR (Japanese Rail) is a popular fanfare for tourists visiting the country. The pass that only costs just $250 allows you access to any JR line for seven days. The pass includes several different high-speed trains as well.
For the 10 days I spent in Japan, I realized it quite would not have made sense to spend $500 on a 14-day JR pass. Consequently, we relied on the Tokyo subway (for the few days we spent here). However, we activated our passes when we traveled to Kyoto, which was a superb idea. The fares for using the Tokyo subway are dirt-cheap considering they’re in the range of $2. The fact that the e-ticketing machines provide the option of English menus makes it even easier for visitors to get their tickets. If you consider the extremely low prices, it would have been hard to justify the pass, especially when traveling only around Tokyo.
In the end, it is only recommended if you plan to make travels out of Tokyo, but it wouldn’t be worth it if you’ll be moving only around Tokyo.
5. Convenience Stores
If I had the chance to bring back something home, it would have to be the convenience stores in Japan. Where else do you get a nutritious, filling meal for just $5 in the US? The ambient music and easy-to-use ATMs are a treasure, not to mention their friendly staff who are patient enough to try and understand tourists with bad accents. The food is also delicious and they’ll heat it up right there when you order.
6. You’ll Need A VPN To Surf The Web As You Do In The US
I tried to stream US content from popular providers including Hulu, Crunchyroll, Daisuki, and Funimation, but none of it was available here. None of the sites are allowed to air their shows to users in Japan. So, to let them know I’m an actual American, I resorted to connecting to these sites via VPN and I recommend you do the same if you still wish to access your content while visiting Japan.
7. Bring a hand sanitizer
I didn’t like two things about Japan and the first had to be the unavailability of soap dispensers in most of the public restrooms I visited. I would only see people exit the stalls, dribble water from the sinks over their hands, and walk away. Therefore, I recommend that you carry hand sanitizer wherever you go to avoid situations where you have no soap when you’re done using the washrooms.
The other annoying thing that I couldn’t deal with was the absence of trash cans. The only available ones can be found in private establishments and convenience stores. Therefore, I had to get used to carrying my own plastic bag in the purse after which I would dump it in a more convenient location after filling it up.
Do you know of any other Things to Know Before Going to Japan to share with everyone?