Japan

8 Things to Know Before Traveling to Japan

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Japan is one of those places where everyone should visit at least once in their life. It is a country that brings a variety of pleasure into one’s life. Taking you on a ride of fantasy cartoons and anime, fulfilling all your fantasy desires. And also bringing you down to earth by presenting to you the hard work and details they put in everyday life, bringing your soul calm with the art of tranquil bamboo forests and neon arcades and serene temples. Before you dive in, here are 8 things to know before traveling to Japan:

Using English is fine but knowing some basic Japanese will help a lot

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Many tourists from all over the world travel around without understanding the language just fine. Japan’s National language is Japanese. But there are English signs in every airport and train station. In the more popular tourist locations, the train announcements are English as well as in Japanese. However, learning a few key Japanese phrases can make your trip just that much better. Below are a few basic ones for you to practice on:

  • Hello – Konnichiwa
  • Thank You – Arigatou Gozaimasu
  • I want to go to ~ – ~ e Ikitai Desu
  • Where is ~? – ~ wa Doko Desuka?
  • How much is it? – Ikura Desuka?
  • Excuse me – Sumimasen

+81 for making calls to Japan phone numbers

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Remember to add +81 before you call your friends in Japan with a Japanese phone number! And for emergencies call 110 to report an accident or crime to the police call center. Call 118 to report an accident or crime at sea to the Japan Coast Guard. Call 119 to report a fire, to ask for an ambulance or rescue service, or to contact an emergency call center (a fire station). 

In Japan the power plugs and sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 100 V and the standard frequency is 50 / 60 Hz.

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You can use your electric appliances in Japan if the standard voltage in your country is in between 110 – 127 V (as is in the US, Canada, and most South American countries). Manufacturers take small deviations (plus or minus 5%) into account. If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia), you need a voltage converter in Japan.

5000Yen(50 USD) a day can make you some pretty great memories in Japan

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If you are the kind of traveler who likes to walk around trying out new food and buying small souvenirs, 5000Yen is enough to spend for a day. An average meal in Japan comes around 1000Yen and above during lunch hours, many restaurants offer inexpensive teishoku (set menus) at around 1000 yen. You could even go crazy on late-night snacks in 7 Eleven and the price might fall somewhere around 1000 Yen! 

Read more: Tokyo Authentic Food Navigation-Eat Like a Tokyo-ist Today!

Visit Japan when there are Cherry Blossoms and mild weather for the best of dreamy travels

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Springtime (March-May) in Japan is a world of romance and pink fluffy dreams. It is when the weather is decent and you are surrounded by magical petals of Japan’s National flower, Cherry Blossoms. Weather patterns and temperatures vary across the country but generally, the best time to visit Japan is spring (March & April) or autumn (October & November), when days are sunny and dry. During the summer months (May to September), the cities are hot and humid, with heavy rainfall occurring across the country in June & July, except for Hokkaido. In winter, days are cool and crisp, with heavy snowfall in Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps. But traveling in different seasons may bring all sorts of wonders.

Public transportation in Japan is a lot less complicated than it seems. 

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As an international country, a top-up card can get you almost anywhere in Japan. Most of Japan’s larger cities are serviced by subways or trams, buses, and taxis, and many locals rely entirely on public transport. In Japan’s most populated areas, including Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka, most tourist attractions are within walking distance to many hotels and other attractions. Here are a few ways to get around:

Airport-bound

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Narita International Airport(NRT)
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Connected with central Tokyo by multiple rails and bus lines.JR Narita Express(Direct, 60 minutes, around 3000 yen, 1-2 connections per hour)

The most comfortable way of travel between Narita Airport and Tokyo Station. The one-way journey takes roughly one hour, costs around 3000 yen and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, JR Tokyo Wide Area Pass and some other JR passes. There are departures every 30 to 60 minutes. The NEX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket for 4070 yen provides foreign travelers with a discounted round trip from the airport into Tokyo and back within a 2-week period.

  • JR Sobu Line(Direct, 90 minutes, 1340 yen, 1 connection per hour)

Slower but cheaper JR alternative to the Narita Express. The one-way trip takes roughly 90 minutes and costs 1340 yen. There is about one departure per hour.

  • Limousine bus(Direct, 100 minutes, 2800 yen, 3-4 connections per hour)

Limousine buses to Tokyo Station depart Narita Airport every 15 to 20 minutes. The one-way journey takes about 100 minutes and costs 2800 yen. In addition, there are direct limousine bus connections to several major hotels in the Tokyo Station area. A special round trip ticket for only 4500 yen is available to foreign tourists exclusively.

Haneda Airport (HND)
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  • limousine bus (Direct, 40-55 minutes, 950 yen, 1-2 connections per hour)
  • Keikyu Railways(1 transfer, 35 minutes, 470 yen, frequent connections)
  • Tokyo Monorail (1 transfer, 30 minutes, 660 yen, frequent connections)
Kansai International Airport(KIX) 
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Taking the train is the quickest and easiest option when traveling between Kansai International Airport and central Osaka.

  • JR Haruka limited express train(Direct, 50 minutes, 1120-2900 yen one way to Shin-Osaka Station, 2 trains per hour)

You can travel by non-reserved seat on the Haruka between the airport and Osaka for only 1120 yen (to Tennoji) or 1320 yen (to Shin-Osaka) if you own or purchase an Icoca prepaid card.

  • JR airport rapid train (Direct, 70 minutes, 1080-1210 yen one way to Osaka Station, 2-3 trains per hour)

Rapid trains connect the airport with Tennoji Station (50 minutes, 1080 yen) and Osaka Station (70 minutes, 1210 yen).

  • By bus 

There are direct airport limousine buses from Kansai Airport to various places and hotels in Osaka, including Osaka Station (60 minutes, 1600 yen) and Namba Station (45 minutes, 1100 yen).

  • City-bound
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The Japanese transport network is clean, reliable, punctual and often very comfortable! IC cards are prepaid travel cards with chips that work on subways, trams, and buses in Tokyo, Kansai, Sapporo, Niigata, Nagoya, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka metro areas. Each region has its own card, but they can be used interchangeably in any region where IC cards are used; however, they cannot be used for intercity travel.

  • Bus

Almost every Japanese city has a bus network. Tokyo, for example, has two bus options, the public Toei Bus which operates throughout the city as well as sightseeing buses such as the Tokyo Shitamachi, Skybus Tokyo and Skytree shuttles which travel between major tourist areas.

  • Subway:

Subway systems operate in Fukuoka, Kōbe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo and Yokohama. They are usually the fastest and most convenient way to get around the city. The Tokyo metro area and Kansai metro area are further linked by a network of JR and private rail lines. Stops and line names are posted in English.

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Read more: Japan Travel Guide: Transportation, Weather, Festivals, and more

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