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Goin’ Japanesque!

Help for Your First Trip to Japan! 6 Best Things to Know Ahead of Time

We’ve gathered information that will be very useful for you to know when you come visit Japan. There’s also information that those who have been to Japan before will benefit from so be sure to check this out!

 

1. Payment is in Cash

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In Japan, cash is life. Especially at many local or privately-owned stores, you can’t use a credit card. If you only have a credit card then you might not be able to easily go sightseeing, purchase souvenirs, or eat Japanese food.

helpful-tips2
Of course, you can take out Japanese yen from convenience and bank ATMs (they offer English support) but when you withdraw in Japan you have to pay a fee (100-200 yen) and there are many that aren’t open 24-hours (or on weekends).

Tip 1
In Japan, it’s not dangerous to walk around carrying a considerable amount of cash. So take out a good amount.

 

How to Use the Trains

2. Suica, Pasmo

2-1. Summary

Shinjuku-station1
You’ll especially be using trains a lot if you’re in the capital. The reason is because Japan is a small country so using cars leads to congestion and wastes a lot of time.

helpful-tips3

Tip 2
These 2 IC cards are very convenient. Buy a Suica or Pasmo card once and you can use trains and buses with just these. This is great for people who worry about how to buy tickets!

So how do you actually do it? ↓

2-2. How to Purchase

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If you need anything that has to do with trains, go straight to this place! These ticket offices (Midori no Madoguchi) are information centers located in almost every train station. You can purchase Suica and Pasmo cards here and the station attendants will also help you.

Let’s Learn Japanese
Ticket Office = Midori no Madoguchi = みどりのまどぐち = みどりの窓口

2-3. How to Use

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You’ll be allowed to pass through the ticket gates by waving your card. By charging a somewhat larger amount ahead of time, you can easily get through!

Tip 3
If you’re having trouble with how to charge, call a ninja. lol They’ll kindly help you out ↓

helpful-tips5
And! You can make purchases with these cards at vending machines and stores within the station or downtown convenience stores. In the beginning we said that cash is life here but, when it comes to transportation, you can get by with these!

*There are bus routes in the Kansai region that don’t accept Pasmo cards.

 

3. JAPAN RAIL PASS

Also! Also! Here’s a super money-saving ticket!

helpful-tips7

Tip 4
This Japan Rail Pass is a pass for people who want to travel all around Japan for long periods of time, around 1-3 weeks. You can get a big discount by using this!

Who is this pass for?
In short, this pass definitely should be used by people coming and going to many places. (ex. Tokyo → Osaka → Fukuoka → Kyoto → Tokyo…)

Notes
You can’t purchase this pass in Japan. You purchase it in your home country and then pick up the pass from the Midori no Madoguchi ticket office after you arrive in Japan.

How to Purchase: http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/purchase.html

japan-rail-pass

 

4. In a Train Station

Station-in-Japan1

Tip 5
We recommend you line up when you’re in a train station.

Why? → See this earlier article: 5 Life Conveniences + 1 Interesting Video: Here’s Real Life in Japan!

4-1. Escalator

There’s even a rule of where to stand when you’re on an escalator. It’s a compromise with those who are using the escalator but not walking, and those in a rush to get to the top. But, be careful. For some reason the side that you stand on is different between the Kanto and Kansai regions.

Kanto regions, Left side: not walking, Right side: in a rush

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Kansai regions, Left side: in a rush, Right side: not walking

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Tip 6
If you don’t know about this then you’ll end up being a bother to other people when you try moving in small Japan.

 

How to Use Cars

5. The rear door of taxis

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Tip 7
The rear door of taxis in Japan automatically open when you’re getting on or off. If you try to open it yourself, you might get your hand trapped. Don’t forget!

Related: Japan Bus Lines: Traveler’s Pass Reservation/Information Site

 

How to Use Bicycles

6. Sightseeing Kyoto

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Since downtown Kyoto is rather flat and sightseeing spots are concentrated in certain areas, it is easy and enjoyable to go for an excursion on bicycle. We recommend you sightseeing by bicycle.

Why? → I’ve heard from many of my foreign friends, “There’s so many places of interest in Kyoto but not enough time!”

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Tip 8
So here’s a bicycle for that, which you can ride even in a kimono!
A recommended rental bicycles shop: http://www.kyoto-option.com/en/

We wrote this article, following the flow of sightseeing, so that your Japan trip will go smoothly. If there’s any part you don’t understand, feel free to let us know. :)

Related:
The Seishun 18 (Juhachi) Kippu: A Value Ticket for Unlimited Travel on the JR Lines
Convenient Ways to Utilize the Hokkaido Shinkansen for Visitors from Overseas

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