16 Tips for Visiting Japan

Japan may seem very foreign with its language and customs. Here are a few tips and some advice  to help you prepare.

  1. The Yen is worth, roughly, one penny. So, 100 Yen is one dollar, 1000 Yen is ten dollars, and so forth.
  2. Learn Katakana—48 phonetic characters that are used to write foreign words, most of which are English. Found on signs, food labels, and more.
  3. Don’t expect to see Mt. Fuji in the summer, or when the weather is warm.
  4. Outside Tokyo, everything closes by 6pm except restaurants and bars.
  5. Don’t bring too much luggage if you plan to take it on the train.
  6. There is no such thing as daylight savings time. The sun will come up way before you want it to.
  7. You must take off your shoes before entering a Temple.
  8. A slight bow of the head and shoulders is a polite greeting or response if you are a foreigner.
  9. That extra bag they gave you at the gift shop is for you to present your purchase as a gift for someone back home.
  10. There are two religions in Japan—Shinto and Buddhism. Temples are Buddhist and Shrines are Shinto.
  11. Hot Springs bathing is done without clothes—not even a swim suit. And forget it if you have any tattoos.
  12. Only Yakuza—Japanese gangs—have tattoos, so you might want to keep yours covered.
  13. There is a snow festival in Sapporo in January with ice sculptures.
  14. Tokyo has 3 big festivals called matsuri. Sakura Matsuri is in April and Sanja Matsuri and Kanda Matsuri are both in May.
  15. Displays of Christmas lights in cities across Japan, are spectacular.
  16. Learning common words and phrases will make you feel more confident.