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things to know before going to Japan

8 Things To Know Before Going To Japan

Dubbed as the “Land of the Rising Sun”, Japan attracts thousands of tourists every year. This country, rich in history, has a total of 21 World Heritage Sites. From national parks and, hot springs to stunning landscapes and spectacular beaches, Japan is an excellent destination for adventures and creating unforgettable memories.

Each of the country’s four seasons has its own renowned attraction. During winter, Japan is famous for skiing while summer is a perfect time to check out lively festivals and spectacular fireworks. Spring brings about the experience of watching the famed cherry blossoms and in autumn, colorful autumn leaves draw in just as many visitors.

With its impressive culinary traditions, Japan is also famous for being a gastronomic heaven to food lovers around the world. For those who adore architecture, design, and the arts, Japan has a collection of fantastic museums and superb galleries. Japan is perfect for all types of travelers who want to go out and explore.

Things to Know Before Going To Japan

If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful country, here are 8 things to know before going to Japan.

Always have cash

In Japan, cash is king. The country handles money in an old-fashioned way. Always have cash with you as a lot of shops and restaurants will only accept cash. When it comes to traveling outside of the city, you won’t need your credit card. You have to pay in cash.

Compared to other countries, Japan has a very low crime rate so no matter how many thousands of cash you carry, they’ll be safe in your wallet. In some cases when you drop your wallet, Japanese people always hand it to the nearest police box with all its contents intact.

Japan is very careful when it comes to handling banknotes. They consider cash as a crafted product, as such, no one would ever think of crumpling them. What’s more, data has shown that in relation the economy of Japan, the ratio of banknotes in circulation is the highest in the whole world.

Rail passes will help you save money

Time and again, a lot of people advise first-time travelers to buy a rail pass when in Japan. If you are planning on traveling a lot around the country, you have the choice to buy an unlimited pass for the whole country or a specific region.

Your pass can be used for JR-branded commuter trains, ferries, buses, and bullet trains (Shinkansen). The price is often the same as two individual train tickets. Each pass is only valid for a limited time most often seven, fourteen, or twenty-one days. 

When buying JR passes, you have to buy before you arrive in Japan. Also, you have to go to a JR office and validate them. Bring along your voucher and passport.

You don’t need to tip

Unlike other countries, you don’t have to tip when eating in a restaurant. When you do, your server might run after you to give you back your money. This also applies to hotel staff and other service staff.

You won’t always find English translations

When you plan on eating out, you have to be prepared to encounter signs and menus that have no English translations. But, if you are in a top tourist destination, you might find some translations. Outside the major tourist spots, however, you’ll only see Japanese characters. 

If you are having a hard time choosing what to eat in a restaurant,  you can always refer to the pictures. In some places, they provide plastic versions of their menu items that are displayed in the window.

It is rude to point at people and things

In Japan, be careful at pointing at things or people. Some might get offended if you do. Be careful with your hand movements. Other things that are considered rude are snapping photos of people without their permission, losing your temper, and raising your voice.

There are no street names

In the past, before smartphones and GPS, it’s a real pain to find addresses in Japan. You could get lost trying to find a certain apartment. You might even waste a lot of hours just tracking down a small office. After all, there are no street names in Japan.

Dining etiquette

In traditional washoku restaurants, you are expected to take off your shoes then place them in a locker near the entrance. This is often done to keep the space clean. As such, establishments may have low tables with cushions placed on the flooring instead of chairs.

Japanese people say itadakimasu before eating to show their appreciation for receiving food. Once done, say gochaso sama deshita to show how much you enjoyed the meal. To ask for the bill, simply cross your forefingers to form an X. 

Most Japanese meals are eaten with chopsticks. However, you can ask for Western cutlery if you are having a hard time. With chopsticks, don’t ever use it to stab food, tap the edge of your bowl, stuck vertically in rice, or point to someone.

To signify that you’re finished eating, you can simply place your chopsticks across your bowl. If not, just put them below or to the right of your dish. Always see to it that the tip of your chopstick doesn’t touch the table.

Sometimes, you won’t find trash cans

Trash cans are considered dangerous especially when placed in crowded areas. As such, you are expected to hold onto your garbage. Most often, you can find trash cans in an open space. However, you have to always check the pictures on the cans and recycle your trash. Japanese take pride in recycling.

Which of the things to know before going to Japan listed above shocked you?

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