Are you planning a trip to Japan for the first time?
Here are 7 things that you wish you knew before visiting the land of the Samurais and Sakuras!
1. Organise your paperwork and travel related document that uniquely yours
Planning a trip to Japan is not that complicated, but you need to get your paperworks and VISA sorted.
As a top destination in Asia, many travelers visit Japan on a tourist visa, student permit visa, or business and working permit visa. The government of Japan applies different criteria to visitors based on their motivation to visit Japan and based on some undisclosed considerations. As a first time visitor, you need to comply with the general requirement that is applicable to your particular passport.
Let’s say you are a citizen of the European Union or British national, you can enjoy VISA exemption privileges to stay in Japan up to 90 days. During 90 days of your stay as a tourists, you can have ample amount of time and do a backpacking trip across the country without worrying your status or paying additional visa there. Be advised that such privileges are subject to change without notice. Feel free to contact the Japanese diplomatic missions of your own country for further details.
For business visitors, you might need pre-approval even if your country of origin has been listed for a visa exemption to enter Japan. Another document might be required from a local sponsor or related endorser to verify your purpose of visit. Then, if you would like to extend as a tourist on vacation, you will need to apply and visit the nearest Immigration office prior to expiry dates. All visitors must ensure that their passport is valid for at least 6 months, and able to present proof of where to stay and financial capability. Be advised to also note that your baggage’s value should not exceed JP¥200,000 or S$2,475 and did not bring any items that will be considered as counterfeit goods. Further details can be found this page http://www.customs.go.jp/english/summary/passenger.htm
Planning a trip to Japan or any destination around the world can be both fun and frustrating if you are not done in preparing your travel document. Keep in mind about the necessary details of your stay, your passport, and visa validity. You can bring along copies of your Tripcetera hotel receipt and booking reference in any cities in Japan, in any case you need to show it to the authorities. If you are still unsure about how to extend and proceed, you may always get in touch with your country’s embassy for any requirements.
2. Learn about the demographics and the culture of its people!
Catching a flight to Tokyo Haneda International Airport (IATA: HND, ICAO: RJTT) is only half of the story. You also need to learn about basic greetings and appropriate gestures that you can use to communicate with the locals in Tokyo Japan. As they say: When in Rome, do as the Roman does – a proverb attributed to Saint Ambrose that you should also put in mind when traveling to any city in Japan.
The locals are not well-versed in verbal English (Eigo). However, they may understand you if you write the words down. In public places, the Japanese usually greet each other as they meet everyone even with a stranger, especially in rural and tight knitted areas. Greetings are used as formalities as well as to strike a conversation. As a traveler, you are expected to respond by simply using the same phrases. If you are greeted with ‘Ohayou’ then, you can simply say ‘Ohayou’, or if you hear them say ‘O Tenki desu
While hospitality industry in the Western world consider leaving a tip as a way to respect, in Japan such gesture are approached differently. You can find envelopes or boxes for ‘tipping’ on your hotel room or restaurant corner. Be advised that a public display of affection, taking photos without permission and shouting may be considered inappropriate by the locals and may incite suspicion. Hence, you need the sensitivity to understand this matter long before your arrival.
Perhaps, you know it already that Japan is noted as a homogenous society. You should expect that the people on the city of Tokyo are ethnically and culturally similar with people in Imabari, a city on Japan’s Shikoku island. But there are some degree of differences on how the locals greet foreign tourists. Most people in Japan are very reserved on religious belief and will prefer to avoid such topics when talking to strangers. Although considered as a non-touching culture, in major cities, such as Tokyo, men and women have adopted the Western practice of shaking hands to greet a foreigner.
In smaller cities and suburbs, people are smoking cigarettes freely just about anywhere on the public place such as an alley street, the front of a convenient store, public gardens
You may opt to buy half day tour package to get guided tour around downtown of Tokyo in the early morning. This morning tour lasts for about 3 and a half hours, leaving your afternoon free to spend as you like. Then, you can continue your own quest on finding Yatai stalls that offer food and refreshments line on the streets corner. Most of the stalls offer a variety of food such as ramen,
Japan is also well-known for its convenience stores and automated vending machines that operate 24-7. The locals are very happy to queue for just about anything, even in using a vending machine. As you stroll around the city looking for lunch, you will see popular resto or Yatai flocked with such queue. It doesn’t mean that another venue with a lesser queue is any less. Just like any country, the locals regard street food vendor or a vending machine with a queue has a better quality of some sorts.
However, don’t equate the palate of the locals with your native taste buds. If you do opt for a menu with the stronger palate, you might need to bring your own seasoning or ask for condiments, as most Japanese dish can be considered to have a mild and lighter taste.
3. Cash is king and other means of transaction in Japan
Before having the time of your life in Japan, don’t forget to prepare a special wallet or pocket for immediate dispensing of local currencies. We advise you to also note that the local checkpoint authorities in Japan will ask travelers to declare their cash amount in Japanese Yen excess of JP¥1.000.000 or the equivalent foreign currency of the same amount in and out of the country. You can find more information regarding passenger clearance and Japan customs on http://www.customs.go.jp/english/summary/passenger.htm
Japan is pretty much a ‘cash up front’ society. Most snack bars, restaurants, diners are equipped with an automated machine that enforces you to pick the menu and insert the amount of money to place an order. Hotels and resorts in Japan also urging the visitor to buy a voucher upfront to access their premium facilities such as hot spring bath and spa. Some activities on-site also payable upfront. Let say you purchase activities with the Sumo wrestler, you can certainly ask any question to sumo wrestler, so this is a perfect chance to know behind-the-scene stories of sumo and wrestler’s everyday life. This is why we advise you to prepare a certain amount of notes anywhere you go with a denomination of at least JP¥1.000.
Be advised to keep your Japanese Yen notes in good condition. You are likely to use vending machine during your stay in Japan. A vending machine and voucher machine has a variety of methods in detecting your notes. Most vending machine in Japan also did not have a credit card payment channel. The same thing goes with entrance ticket counters or railway vending machines.
You can actually flash your credit card around many cafes, hotels, bars and many places of attraction in Japan. You have to admit that relying on credit card payment will allow you to avoid over exchanging of cash and having an organized record of expenses during your holiday. However, the merchant fee and hidden charges may vary and are not visible, especially after a long night strolling around the city such as Asakusa, and the infamous Kabukicho Entertainment District（歌舞伎町）on Shinjuku Ward. Unlike most place of interest in Asian destination, most venues in Japan did not charge entrance fee differently between the foreign tourist with the locals.
4. Physical fitness and comfort while you are having the time of your life in Japan
During peak seasons or holidays, it requires physical agility when queuing in Immigration checkpoints. If you a traveler with a long connecting flight or a transit flight to Japan’s Narita International Airport (成田国際空港Narita Kokusai Kūkō) (IATA: NRT, ICAO: RJAA), be advised that in certain terminals, they are also equipped with thermal scan cameras. This camera and body scan apparatus that they have may detect anyone with abnormal body temperatures, which may indicate illness. Present your passport and ask for immediate help if you cannot withstand the queue due to health problems or other issue.
Let’s say you are taking a day tour package with all the places that you are eager to see. As you navigate, you need to also hydrate better and use that bug repellent especially when you visit the southern area of Japan in summer. It is advised that you should manage your own physical fitness and personal comfort as you engage in trekking and walking activities. Do not forget to prepare and bring your personal necessities such as lip balm and related skin care products.
There are many sightseeing destinations that you can list on your Japan itinerary. If you are a photographer who is hunting for the iconic Mount Fuji World Heritage Site, you might want to book tour packages to visit Mt. Fuji’s 5th Station, Oshino Hakkai, Shiraito Falls, and Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine accompanied by an English-speaking guide on this bus tour. Such tours are highly recommended for a group as taking a trip around the base of Mt. Fuji is quite challenging for independent travelers to do on their own. The hike will be rewarding as you may also capture that cherry blossoms in spring foliage to update your social media.
It is certainly a good idea to vaccinate yourself before visiting any country to ensure your own health and comfort. It is true that for a certain passport holders, it is not a mandatory to have a vaccine document to apply for a VISA to visit Tokyo Japan. However, as the flow of people in a big cities such as Tokyo are high, you need to get yourself checked and fit before your travel.
Keeping your health while having the time of your life in Japan should be your main priority as well. Furthermore, if you do travel on medication or in need of regular intake of medical pills, do not forget to also declare and bring printed copies of documents for your legally prescribed medication wherever you go. It is a good idea to keep a contact of your local embassy or consulate office of your country in Japan for emergency measure. You can easily ask for help with the neighbourhood police that are usually in bicycle.
5. Safety measures in case of emergency during your time in Japan
Japan is very famous for its capsule hotels and variety of experience that are offered by many accommodation operators. However, you should also notice that the authorities in many cities in Japan are very strict on monitoring and regulating the accommodation, transportation and many food and beverage business operators. As of 2019, the local authorities in Japan are taking detailed preparation to host the biggest sporting events in the world on 2020. We advise you to only book thru a licensed accommodation operator in Japan. Feel free to browse Tripcetera and book your bed in Japan right away!
Most of the time, a tourist will find it difficult to read the menu written with the Japanese Kanji in the restaurant. If you plan to visit Japan this year or in 2020, rest assured that most of Food and Beverage venues now are renewed with English translation.
To communicate a certain preference on your diet, you might want to check the hotels or the tour provider whether they have kosher or halal foods menus, vegetarian menu, or to inform certain food ingredients that you cannot consume
Sometimes, the inevitable should also be expected. Japan is known for their evacuation route and sophisticated early warning system. The Japanese government even added November 5 (Tsunami Readiness Day, 津波防災の日, tsunami
Tripcetera also allows you to book hotels or evouchers for someone else. You can ask the favor of anyone back home to book accommodation at many cities in Japan with Tripcetera.com. You can ask them to send the Tripcetera evoucher and receipt to your email. You may refer to the ‘Hotel booking Number’ as listed on the hotel voucher and receipt for check-in reference. This is also practical as a back-up plan when you run out of funds during your time in Japan.
You may have the best itinerary on your trip to Japan, but what if you are waking up and feeling unwell in an unfamiliar place? Have no worries. You can expect one of the world’s finest medical care and services in Japan. If you think you are not feeling very well during your vacation, do not hesitate to have yourself checked. After all, a memorable vacation can only be enjoyed when you are fit and ready for the day.
6. Stay connected on your trip to Japan
As a first time traveler to Japan, you definitely want to use your smartphone to navigate the place of interest that you want to discover, especially on a vibrant city such as Kyoto. Smartphone nowadays are equipped with amazing array of functionality, especially if you want to flood your social media with quality feeds that can make your friends back home envy of your vacation in Japan.
Having a local SIM card is convenient as you travel to Japan. Be advised that as you take that tour packages with itinerary to various areas and routes, your signal may deteriorate due to the local terrain of hills, passing thru a tunnel and other landscapes. You should expect that the signal of local operators may not be as good as in Hiroshima’s downtown or the internet WIFI of your selected hotels. You can easily buy local SIM card in Japan with Tripcetera as well. With
By ensuring that your smartphone has the connectivity coverage during your trip in Japan, you can also get early warning system. The early warning system will be broadcasted by Japan’s three major mobile phone carriers—NTT docomo, au (KDDI and Okinawa Cellular) and SoftBank Mobile—have developed Cell Broadcast systems to send multiple users an SMS of the EEW.
Don’t forget to keep your smartphone with you all the time. To keep your devices’ battery fully charged everywhere you go, you should bring your own electrical socket that is compatible with plugs type B (two flat vertical pins) and bring power converter, that will be compatible with most Japanese electrical outlets. Be cautious if you are a tourist from countries of different standard voltage. Cities in Japan operates on 100 Volt, which is different from any Asian countries (220-230V), North America (120V), Central Europe (230V). If you come from North America, your devices can be plugged into Japanese sockets but it may not function properly.
By keeping your electrical logistic sorted and having a local Internet connectivity with power bank devices, you can immediately purchase travel packages and find interesting activities in the format of evouchers in Tripcetera.
7. Build a reasonable itinerary and manage your expectations
For a first time traveler to Japan, it is easy to get carried away. It is true that you can easily manage your expectation in Japan. However, you might even end up spending a whole day on visiting Ghibli museum that goes beyond your expectation and exceeds your allocated timeframe. Every traveler should set an attainable goal when planning, especially when you are not alone. You might want to look for activities that can be enjoyed and considered affordable for everyone. Start building your itinerary with Tripcetera
Japan has a complex train and metro network that spans from major cities and industrial complex all the way to their entertainment district that crowded with people 24 hours. Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train rail network is famous around the world for its punctuality, comfort, efficiency, safety, and speed. With top speeds around 320 km/h, Japan Rail’s bullet train, or Shinkansen, is an experience in its own right, as well as a great way to travel. If you are looking at making an itinerary between major cities, such as; Tokyo and Osaka/Tokyo and Kyoto, Shinkansen is one of the fastest and most comfortable ways to travel.
Be advised that every package and tour that you may book in Tripcetera is very dependent on such punctuality and may vary depending on each terms and condition. Certain activities such as; visiting the Toyota museum, or other places, are also limited to the operating hours. We advise you to be ready for pick up at leat 15 minutes in advance or even more especially if you travel to Japan on peak holiday season. Tour package and guided tour in Tokyo starts from S$20++.
Due to the excellent connectivity, Japan is also attractive for tourist who considers going there during the off-peak season. You can make a predictable itinerary or go on the impulsive itinerary especially if you are planning a trip as a group. However, you should also be flexible in organising alternatives activities or destination. During the summer, the humidity and heat may drain you and certain attractions are not available during heavy rain.
You can find protected and preserved heritage sites in Japan that currently belong to public or private entities. By respecting the local regulation, and warning instruction of not altering or imposing anything on such sites, you are free to roam the land and collect that Insta-worthy photos. Feel free to find activities with an alternate itinerary in Tripcetera.com today.
Trip To Japan: 7 things that you wish you knew before visiting the land of the Sakura!