Before you start planning your trip to Japan, it’s important to brush up on the basics. This includes everything from the country’s geography and history to the common language phrases you’ll need to know.
Japan is a huge country with many cities. In order to help you get around Japan, we have six things that you should know.
#1 Cash only policy in most places
The first hurdle most travelers come across is that many businesses in Japan only accept cash. Fortunately, there are plenty of ATMs available in most areas, so when you find one, pull out a lot of money.
You may not be able to use your credit card with some small vendors that take cash only, but this isn’t a problem. It’s always easy to find a spare change with large bills, so just have a wallet pouch on hand.
#2 Tip is not the norm
The hospitality space in Japan is different than in many other countries. Waiters and other restaurant staff earn a living wage without the need for tipping, and if you do happen to leave any money on the table, someone from the restaurant will track you down to return it.
In Japan, tipping is not the norm. If you want to tip, leave a few dollars with your bill. Tips are not expected, however, and Japanese people do not customarily tip.
#3 Learn basic Japanese survival phrases
It’s a long flight from wherever you are to Japan. With that much time, you can learn a few phrases in Japanese. In the country’s big cities, such as Tokyo or Kyoto, everything is marked in English. So if you’re going to those cities, there is no need to worry about language issues.
When it comes to traveling, Japan is a gorgeous and unique country. If you’re planning a trip around Japan, you might find that people do not speak English. This includes restaurant menus and street signs. It’s important to learn the most common basic Japanese survival phrases such as “Arigato” which means Thank You! Be sure to bring pictures with you too!
#4 Don’t embarrass yourself in public
Laughing to the point where you can’t stop is embarrassing in Japan. People talk softly to avoid making noise and disturbing anyone else. Even when people are at large parties in restaurants or cafes, they’ll talk quietly to be courteous to other guests. So, if you are speaking loudly in public, turn the volume down. You are drawing attention to yourself, which could be uncomfortable to others. Chatting loudly could make someone from the establishment come over to warn you to be quiet. This is not because they are insulted by your behavior, but rather they are offended by it.
#5 Get lost in streets with no name
Without names for main streets, figuring out where you are can be confusing. But there’s a way to make navigating easier. Addresses are not common, even in big cities, but there is a system. Location is marked as the part of the city, then ward, and subdivision.
Be prepared to get lost. Google Maps won’t help you navigate small streets that go in alphabetical order or numbered streets that start at one and work their way up to the nearest hundred. Maps might get you to the general area but they’ll fail you when it comes to specifics.
Uh-oh. You’re lost in a new city. Where do you go? The best move would be to ask for help from local passers-by or to inquire in a store for directions. If that doesn’t work, then take a cab. Taxis will take you right to your desired location and then wait until you’ve arrived safely. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best bet you can get in Japan.
#6 Foreigners are not welcomed
Some restaurants are not welcoming to foreigners. This can be common in Japan, but you shouldn’t take it personally. There are many cultural rules that are very strict inside public venues. It is said that tourists usually have a sense of relaxed politeness and would rather that you go to some other place.
If you’re in Japan and you’re looking to get a really authentic experience, then you should visit restaurants that discourage street-side dining. This is because reputation matters in this country, so restaurant guests are especially sensitive to the behavior of patrons enjoying their meals. And, since tourists hardly speak the language around here, they often find it difficult to communicate with waiters.
19 facts that may interest you about Japan
1. Japan is a country of contrasts, where traditional culture and modernity exist side-by-side.
2. The island nation is made up of four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.
3. The population of Japan is 127 million people, making it the tenth most populous country in the world.
4. Japanese is the national language, but English is also widely spoken.
5. The currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY).
6. Japan is known for its food, which includes sushi, ramen, tempura, and more.
7. Tokyo is the capital and largest city in Japan with a population of over 13 million people.
8. Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and is considered one of the country’s national symbols.
9. The Imperial family has resided in Tokyo since 1868.
10. Japan has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama among others.
11. Cherry blossoms are very popular in Japan and symbolize springtime.
12. There are over 3,000 onsens (hot springs) in Japan that are perfect for soaking after a long day of exploring.
13. Samurai were a class of warrior in feudal Japan who lived by a strict code of honor known as bushido (the way of the warrior).
14. Geishas are professional entertainers who have trained in music and dance and wear traditional Japanese clothing and hairstyles.
15. Sumo wrestling is the national sport of Japan and tournaments are held throughout the year all over the country.
16. Mitsubishi Motors manufactures vehicles in Japan that are sold all over the world, such as the Outlander SUV and Lancer Evolution sports car .
17. Toyota , Honda , Nissan , Suzuki , Mazda , Mitsubishi , Subaru , Isuzu , Daihatsu , Infiniti , Lexus , and Acura are all Japanese car brands .
18. Some popular Japanese electronics brands include Sony , Panasonic , Sharp , Toshiba , Canon , Nikon , Fujitsu , and NEC .
19. Several international fashion brands have roots in Japan including Comme des Garcons , Uniqlo , Muji 20 . Nintendo , PlayStation Sega Nintendo DS Wii Pokémon are some well-known Japanese video game consoles