Whether you’re preparing for your Japan holiday (woohoo) but you’re getting those pre-vacay nerves. Or if it’s still on your travel bucketlist but you keep putting it off. Then you are not the only one and I too was in that boat! I have just come back from Japan and have put together this list of my top 10 tips and useful things to know that will ensure you’re getting the most out of you’re holiday. Or inspire you to go!
1. Don’t worry basic English is understood!
The signs will have english writing on it and you can get by even if the only Japanese you know is very minimal. Here is the only Japanese we knew and were able to get around with;
Thank-you very much: Arigato gozaimas,
HOWEVER! One thing I regret is not making more of an effort to learn the language a bit more before leaving, so I do recommend you do this. Not only will it make things just a little bit more easier but you’ll feel cool… we love being bilingual!
2. Cash rules this Country.
Even though Japan is such a fast-paced, technological place full of colour and randomness. It is predominately a cash only society.
You will find ATM machines only at convenience stores, the airport and train stations. I have not been able to find ATM’s at any other place. There are convenience stores (such as 711, Family Mart, Lawsons) located EVERYWHERE though so it should not be a problem if you remember this tip.
I also recommend purchasing 2 small coin purses. One for 100 yen and 500 yen coins only, as you will need these coins on the daily. And the other for anything below (so 10 yen, 50 yen, 1 yen coins) these coins are good for vending machines. Trust me, if you follow this tip… you will not regret it. The amount of coins you will obtain is no joke and you will spend ages going through it all. Be organised and stress less.
Lastly on this topic before you leave the country… SPEND ALL YOUR COINS!! Inside the airport terminal while waiting to board your plane homeward bound, there will be more vending machines (of course). Use all your left over coins here for snacks and drinks for the long plane ride home. You can’t exchange coins back into your home currency. So SPEND IT!
3. Keep the plastic bags you get from stores.
We basically lived off convenience stores, as we had one right in front of our hotel and most likely you will too. After breakfast we ALWAYS went to Lawsons and to cash up and stock up for the day. They will ALWAYS give you a plastic bag, don’t throw this away.
Japan is a very clean country and during our whole trip I did not see one scrap of litter anywhere. There are no trash cans anywhere at all so make sure the plastic bag you kept, you put all your rubbish in it for the day. Take your rubbish bag back to your hotel and put in your bin. Simple 🙂
4. Shoes OFF!
This is Eastern culture therefore always take your shoes off before entering anyone’s house, this includes your accommodation. Your hotel – hostel – ryokan should have slippers ready for you to use in the doorway.
Quick public service announcement… on behalf of everyone travelling with you and those around you… while on holiday in Japan, live it up a little yeah. Leave those holey socks at home and bring shoes that are easy to put on and take off also are odour free. Thank-you.
5. Japanese toilet/ bidet.
Make sure you are sitting down before you press any buttons! These toilets are a unique, high-tech system. Lots of buttons and no English, but they do have pictures which are self-explanatory really.
The thing I liked the most was the musical note button. Press this and the toilet will bust out a gentle continuous flushing sound while you do your business. It’s often heard in public toilets and is a nice feature for privacy.
Do you hate the feeling of a freezing cold toilet seat?
Travelling to Japan during there colder seasons and having toilet anxiety for this reason?
Well fear no more my friends because *drum roll* the toilet seats are automatically heated during colder seasons. Yes you read that right. And no this is not the heated toilet seat because someone else has sat on it for too long, it is a luxurious heating that is such a delight for your tush. It is like the VIP experience for toilets.
Enjoy these moments because you will return back home and look at our measly two buttoned, generic toilets and realise we are the peasants in the toilet world.
6. Always carry a little hand-towel as well
While on the bathroom topic, most public bathrooms don’t have paper-towels or anything to dry your hands with. We always had a hand-towel on us for these occasions. Unless you just want to wipe it on your clothes, that is also an option. But take my advice and at least carry a hand-towel.
7. Don’t walk and eat.
As they say ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. Therefore you won’t see anybody walking and eating at the same time in Japan, so you don’t do it either. Get your food, stand or sit somewhere and finish it before moving on. Japanese food is delicious anyway and it helps to savour the moment. Also it’s a bonus rest time if you’re like me and hate walking all the time.
8. Watch the Taxi doors!
In all of the taxi’s we took whenever we attempted to close the door, we were automatically told to leave it. This is because… the doors open and close themselves. Saving you the extra arm movement and annoyance in opening and closing a door. This is how it should be all the time.
Also if you are needing a taxi, you will always find one at the train station. Otherwise we always found it hard trying to find/ get a taxi. Hotels can pre-order one for you as well.
Taxi’s are cash only as well. We did however hop in a black taxi and it had eftpos payment available and also USB ports to charge your devices. However I can’t be certain this will always be the case for every fancy black taxi. So always ensure you have cash for your taxi ride.
Lastly most taxi drivers won’t be able to speak or understand English that well. Have your address prepared in Japanese to show the taxi driver. Then place the cash on the tray in the middle when you have arrived at your destination.
9. Japanese plugs
If you’re like us and forgot that your Camera actually needed a travel adapter to charge the batteries… never fear because I am here!
About 80% of my trip I was able to charge my camera battery for free (love that word) just by asking the hotel reception for an adapter *thanks Colin for letting me know this handy tip*. The only time I had to buy one was when we were at a capsule hotel and they had no Australian to Japanese adapters.
Lastly if you have to buy an adapter, charger or wire of any sort always check convenience stores or even Daiso before going to a major electronics store and paying double. We found this out the hard way.
10. Help! I’m sick! What do I do!
Nobody likes being sick on holiday but if you’ve ended up sick and in need of a doctor badly, or you’re needing prescription medicine, this is something useful to know.
If you are not fluent in Japanese you will need to go to an international clinic. There is 1 right next to Tokyo Tower on level 4, here is the link for it on google maps;
They speak fluent English and will be able to walk you through anything. Let me warn you though… this won’t be cheap. I am talking you will be paying nearly $180aud just for the appointment alone.
If you are hungover, drag your a** to the convenience store and get some vitamins in you! They have a large assortment of drinks designed to cure any hangover.
Lastly if you are getting a cold, sneezing ect. Don’t be an arse – wear a face mask! (haha! Such a rhyming QUEEN I am! Give the blog a shoutout if you use this little saying). Japanese people are very antsy about spreading germs. Plus trains are crowded all the time and you don’t want to be sneezing all over somebody. So wear a face mask.
Oh but Minaah what about Rail passes or public transport? What am I supposed to pack? Where should I stay? How were you on the internet all the time?
Don’t worry my Ramble family! All questions shall be answered in due time. Until then keep following, like, share and comment and thank you so much for all the love.
“Did you know… In Japan they have a Hakada Matsuri aka a Naked Festival. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Thousands of men and boys strip down to loincloths in hope of gaining luck for the year.”