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
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.
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).
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
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
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
If you’re having trouble with how to charge, call a ninja. lol They’ll kindly help you out ↓
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!
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…)
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
4. In a Train Station
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!
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
Kansai regions, Left side: in a rush, Right side: not walking
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
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!
How to Use Bicycles
6. Sightseeing Kyoto
Why? → I’ve heard from many of my foreign friends, “There’s so many places of interest in Kyoto but not enough time!”
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. :)