Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Geography

Japan is situated in north-eastern Asia between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. The area of Japan is 377,873
square kilometres, nearly equivalent to half of New South Wales. Japan consists of four major islands, surrounded by more than 4,000 smaller islands.

Average Temperature (°C)

  Spring
Mar – May
Summer
Jun – Aug
Autumn
Sep – Nov
Winter
Dec – Feb
Tokyo 8 – 19 22 – 26 14 – 24 5 – 9
Kyoto 7 – 20 22 – 28 14 – 25 3 – 8
Hiroshima 20 – 23 23 – 29 13 – 25 4 – 8

Public Holidays, National Holidays 2014 / 2015

2014   2015
1 January New Year’s Holiday 1 January
13 January Coming-of-Age Day 12 January
11 February National Foundation Day 11 February
21 March Vernal Equinox Day 21 March
29 April Showa Day 29 April
3 May Constitution Memorial Day 3 May
4 May Greenery Day 4 May
5 & 6 May May Children’s Day 5 & 6 May
21 July Maritime Day 20 July
15 September Respect for the Aged Day 15 September
23 September Autumnal Equinox Day 23 September
13 October Health and Sports Day 12 October
3 November Culture Day 3 November
24 November Labour Thanksgiving Day 23 November
23 December The Emperor’s Birthday 23 December

Peak Travel Season

Visitors to Japan should be aware of the peak times of the year for booking travel and accommodation reservations, which are:

  1. Yearend and during New Year holidays – December 27 to January 4 and adjacent weekends
  2. “Golden Week” holiday season – April 29 to May 5 and adjacent weekends
  3. “Bon” festival season – the week centring on August 15

Language

There is only one official language spoken in Japan, which is of course Japanese. However, many Japanese are able to understand English to a certain extent since English is the foreign language that everyone must learn as part of compulsory education.

Passport and visas

Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter Japan must have a passport, which will remain valid during the period of stay. Australian passport holders are eligible to enter Japan without a visa unless the purpose of the visit is to reside in Japan, to obtain employment or to otherwise engage in remunerative activities.

Currency

The unit of Japanese currency is yen. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen and bank notes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000.

Travelers Checks and Credit Cards
Travelers Checks are accepted by leading banks, hotels, ryokan (Japanese inns) and stores in major cities. International credit cards such as American Express, VISA, Diners Club and MasterCard are also acceptable at these major establishments. However, Credit card transactions are not always convenient outside big cities so obtaining cash beforehand is recommended when you travel to the countryside.

note: Travelers Cheque
Any hotel cashIers will change your travelers cheque. If it is Japanese yen Travelers cheque, usually there is not any service fee nor handling fee to be charged.

ATMs

You can withdraw cash using your international brand credit, debit, prepaid and cash cards nationwide at ATMs of Japan Post Bank. Please note that no other Japanese banks currently accept international transactions. For ATMs that accept credit cards, it is advised to contact each credit company beforehand and check the location of each ATM and its availability as these conditions vary from machine to machine.
Visa provides an ATM locator on their website which you can use to locate ATMs nearby your nearest subway/train station.

Foreign credit, debit and cash cards can be used at over 26,400 Post Offices’ ATMs in locations throughout Japan. This service is available in English and display stickers indicating which cards are accepted. Cards from the Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Visa Electron networks can be used. Accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.

Transport

The railway system in Japan has a reputation for punctuality and safety.
Tickets for short distances are available from ticket machines that are installed at each train station whereas tickets for long distances and reservations are dealt with at ticket offices at major stations.

Mobile Phones

You can use your mobile phone in Japan in SoftBank Mobile or DOCOMO’s 3G (3rd Generation)with your own 3G handset after activating international roaming program. For more details, please check with your local mobile phone service provider. Rental phones service is also available upon arrival at Narita Airport or Kansai Airport.

Electricity

The voltage used throughout Japan is uniformly 100 volts, A.C. There are two kinds of frequencies in use; 50 Hertz in eastern Japan and 60 Hertz in western Japan (including Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka).
A dual voltage type of electrical appliance such as a hair dryer, travel iron and shaver will therefore be handy; otherwise a step-down transformer is required to convert the voltage. There are no columnar-shaped plugs or 3-pin plugs used in Japan but 2-flat-pin plugs are used instead. The traveller is therefore advised to purchase a plug adapter beforehand.

Tipping

Individual tipping is not customary in Japan. Instead a 10-15% service charge is added to your bill at major hotels and restaurants.

Tipping at hotels
Again, individual tipping is not customary but staff will appreciate it if personal service is provided to your guest room such as special delivery or a special request but it is not common to tip otherwise or at normal dining places.

Food

In recent years, Japanese cuisine has become more and more popular around the world as a healthy diet.
Although you may already have tried it many times in Australia, it will be a unique opportunity while you are in Japan to sample the most authentic Japanese cuisine made from the freshest ingredients, from the oceans to the mountains. When in Japan, do as the Japanese do. Indulge yourself in tasting authentic Japanese cuisine with Japanese sake. Cheers, Kampai !

  • Sushi – a small piece of raw seafood placed on a ball of vinegared rice. The most common ingredients are tuna, squid and prawn. Cucumber, pickled radish and sweet egg omelette are also served.
  • Sashimi – sliced raw fish eaten with soy sauce and wasabi, Japanese horseradish.
  • Tempura – lightly battered deep-fried prawn, fish or seasonal vegetable.
  • Yakitori – made up of small pieces of chicken meat, liver and vegetables skewered on a bamboo stick and grilled over charcoal.
  • Sukiyaki – prepared right at the table by cooking thinly sliced beef together with various vegetables, tofu and noodles.
  • Shabu Shabu – tender, thin sliced of beef held by chopsticks and swished in a pot of boiling water, then dipped
    in citrus soy or creamy sesame sauce.
  • Tonkatsu – crumbed and deep fried pork cutlet.
  • Soba and Udon – Soba is made from buckwheat flour and Udon from wheat flour. Both are served either hot with a broth or cold with dipping sauce.
  • Takoyaki – savoury balls of octopus pieces in a flour batter blended with stock and chunks of octopus, chopped cabbage and other ingredients, and baked crispy outside and inside still soft.
  • Okonomiyaki – savoury pancakes made with batter of flour mixed with cabbage, egg, seafood and sometimes noodles.