ようこそ! (Welcome!) Japan is a country of fascinating contrasts, where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with modern technology.
Japan is located in East Asia and is made up of four main islands – Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. The capital city of Japan is Tokyo, a bustling metropolis and the center of Japanese culture, business, and government.
Japan is famous for its unique and ancient culture, which can be seen in its art, architecture, religion, and customs. The country has a rich history that dates back thousands of years and is characterized by periods of isolation and openness to the world.
One of the most recognizable aspects of Japanese culture is its cuisine, which is known for its precision, presentation, and variety. Some of the most popular Japanese dishes include sushi, ramen, tempura, and soba noodles.
Japan is also known for its technology and innovation. The country is home to many leading tech companies, and its cities are some of the most advanced in the world, with high-speed trains, automated toilets, and cutting-edge architecture.
Despite its modernity, Japan has also managed to preserve its natural beauty, with stunning landscapes ranging from snow-capped mountains to cherry blossom-lined streets. Some of the most popular natural attractions in Japan include Mount Fuji, the Japanese Alps, and the islands of Okinawa.
In addition to its cultural and natural attractions, Japan is also home to many unique experiences, such as bathing in hot springs, watching sumo wrestling, attending a tea ceremony, or taking part in a traditional festival.
As you can see, Japan is a country full of contrasts and surprises, where ancient traditions meet modern technology, and where natural beauty meets urban sophistication. I hope you enjoy your time in Japan and discover all the amazing things this country has to offer.
LANGUAGE: Japanese, or Nihongo is the official language used in the country and is also the primary language with over 125 million speakers. They have three writing systems which consists of of Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. Some Japanese people can speak English but they tend to shy away and often, they’re afraid of committing mistakes.
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VISA POLICY: Japan maintains a structured and well-defined visa policy that varies based on the purpose and duration of a visitor’s stay. Tourists from many countries can enjoy visa-free travel to Japan for short stays, typically up to 90 days, under the visa waiver program. However, those intending to engage in employment, study, or other extended activities are required to obtain specific visas prior to arrival.
Japan offers a range of visa categories, such as tourist, business, student, and working holiday visas, each with its own set of eligibility criteria and application procedures. It’s essential for travelers to carefully review the requirements and plan accordingly to ensure a smooth and legal entry into Japan. Staying informed about the latest updates and adhering to the visa regulations will contribute to a successful and hassle-free visit to this captivating country.
CURRENCY: The Yen (JPY) is is the official currency of Japan. It is the third most traded currency in the world, and the most heavily traded currency in Asia. Bills come in 1,000 yen, 2,000 yen (very rare), 5,000 yen and 10,000 yen denominations. Coins come in 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, 50 yen, 100 yen and 500 yen denominations.
Most establishments only accept Yen as payment especially tourists spots like shrines & temples, small restaurants and small shops. They also have a reputation of being a cash-based society. It is advisable to carry coins especially when riding buses or trams. You may still use your credit/debit cards in hotels, mid to high end restaurants, outlet malls, convenience stores, and supermarkets. They also have prepaid cards called, IC cards (Suica and Icoca) as a convenient payment of train and bus fares.
Currency exchange is usually handled by banks, post offices, some larger hotels and a handful of licensed money changers found especially at international airports.
BANKS AND ATMS: Banks in Japan are known for their efficiency and advanced financial services. Most banks operate from Monday to Friday, typically from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, with some variations. Some larger branches might offer extended hours and limited services on weekends. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are widely available throughout the country, often accessible 24/7, allowing travelers to withdraw Japanese yen using international debit or credit cards. Many convenience stores and post offices also host ATMs, making currency exchange and cash access convenient for tourists. While the majority of ATMs accept foreign cards, it’s advisable to check with your bank beforehand to ensure compatibility and to be aware of potential transaction fees.
SOCKETS AND ADAPTERS: The power plugs and sockets in Japan are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 100 V and the standard frequency is 50 / 60 Hz. Plug type A is the plug which has two flat parallel pins and plug type B is the plug which has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin.
CONNECTIVITY: The three biggest carriers in Japan are NTT Docomo, AU and SoftBank. NTT Docomo is the largest mobile network, covering more of the country than either AU or SoftBank. To use the mobile network in Japan, you must have an unlocked phone that can access 3G or 4G networks. Depending on where you are from, your phone might be unlocked already.
Both paid and free wireless (Wi-Fi) hotspots are available across Japan that laptops, smartphones and other mobile devices can use to connect to the internet, especially around airports, train stations, convenience stores, restaurants, coffee shops and bars. It best to carry a WiFi router and they are available to rent on a daily basis at major Japanese airports or via the internet for delivery to your home or hotel.
TRANSPORTATION: The three most common modes of transportation in Japan are trains, subways and buses.
WEATHER: Japan has four distinct seasons: March to May is spring – temperatures are warm but not too hot, plus there isn’t too much rain. The famous cherry blossoms are out during this time; June to August is summer – it is hot and humid during this time and temperatures are often in the high 30’s; September to November is autumn – characterized by light breezes and cooler temperatures of around 8-10oC; and December to February is winter.