What You Should Know Before You Travel to Japan

Visiting Japan is like visiting the future. It has taken a giant leap in terms of technological advancements. Having said that, Japan has still managed to hold on to its cultural roots. The Asian country has found a perfect balance between technology and culture. Possibly, for this particular reason, Japan is one of the most highly rated countries in the books of frequent foreign travelers.

The following is a compilation of everything you should know before you travel to Japan:

Japan Rail Pass –

Moving from one place to another in Japan is best experienced on a train. They are fast, reliable, and accessible. Although expensive, it is still cheaper than, say, hiring a cab. It is advisable to book your Japan Rail Pass before your arrival so that you can pay a discounted price. You can also download the Hyperdia app which provides all the train related details free for the first month. You can use your prepaid Forex card to make a payment for the rail pass.

Culture –

Japan, in several ways, is like India in terms of culture. Like in India, it is expected to remove your shoes at the threshold when visiting someone’s house or a religious site. The younger Japanese bow in front of their elders to seek their blessings. In Japanese culture, speaking loudly is considered rude, and one is expected to wear a face mask if you have any form of infection.

Language –

English is moderately spoken in Japan. In fact, it is usually avoided by the locals. However, you should be able to speak a bit of Japanese. Learn the basic, commonly used Japanese words and phrases such as Hello, Thank You, Excuse Me, Sorry, Please, How Much, etc. But remember, your Japanese will not help you if you pronounce the words incorrectly.

Religious Belief –

There are several temples in Japan which are absolutely ethereal. Japanese truly treasure their temples and all their religious sites, including Hot Springs. But many of them are not religious. They are spiritual. Japanese consider nature extremely sacred. Therefore, acts such as plucking of flowers, littering on mountains, speaking loudly inside a shrine, etc., are considered highly offensive.

Shopping –

Japan is a paradise for shoppers. From gadgets to games, there is something for everyone. Home to elite brands such as UniQlo, Onitsuka Tiger, etc., Japan offers a huge range of products. A highly recommended shopping store is the 100-yen stores, which are … you guessed it. Everything in the 100-yen stores costs only 100 Yen, equal to approx 63 INR. Additionally, there are 7-Eleven stores sprinkled all over the country. You can find pretty much everything you may need in those stores.

Seasons –

There are four seasons in Japan. Each season has its own beauty and there is no such thing as off-season in Japan. Spring is mild and pleasant and is popular for Cherry Blossom. Summer is sunny and warm, making it an ideal period for outdoor activities. Autumn is cool and snowy. Winter brings a fresh new life along with cultural extravaganza.

Food –

Japanese eat out quite frequently. There are a gazillion eateries in Japan. Apart from Sushi, seafood, ramen, yakitori, natto, are some of the popular Japanese dishes. But there’s something you need to know about the Japanese eating culture. If you are provided with a pair of chopsticks to eat your food, use them. It is considered rude to use some other tool to eat your food than what is provided. Wasting food is also a no-no in Japan, but leaving a little bit is advisable. If you don’t leave anything, your host would assume that they didn’t feed you enough. Also, when you pay for your food, do not tip the waiter. Yes, that’s considered rude, too.

Cash > Cards –

Japan, in spite of being technologically so advanced, is majorly a cash-driven economy. Many small places, including cafes, restaurants, shopping stores, etc., continue to accept only cash payments. Therefore, it is essential to carry cash with you. However, to meet your expenses, you can use your prepaid Forex card to withdraw cash as and when needed. Also, buying Forex on card versus cash is much cheaper and also readily available.

Some Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do not eat on the go.
  • Do not be late.
  • Do read the manual before using the toilet.
  • Do not litter.
  • Do not visit animal cafes.
  • Do not expose your tattoos.

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