Japan – tips & tricks

16th December
written by martina

PLANE TICKET (different airway companies-two big Japanese airports-Kansai-close to Osaka, Narita-close to Tokyo), before landing you complete the form for immigration office-usual formalities at the airport, in case of epidemics fever measurement and questionnaire…

JAPAN RAIL PASS-MUST have!!! there are many train companies in Japan, the most spread one is Japan Railways (JR) and with this pass you can travel on these lines without buying tickets before, you can make seat reservations for free and you can use it also for the fastest train Shinkansen (there are few sorts of shinkansen-they differ at which stations they stop-you can’t take just Nozomi, the fastest fastest one, but all the rest  is ok-up to around 300 km/h-Ljubljana-Ilirska Bistrica ura in pol, ma kaaaj, dvej, ce smo se tocni-o SZ govorim!; Osaka-Tokyo 3 ure, pa preverte na karti razdaljo v km). JR Pass can be bought over internet and sent to you wherever you are- I suggest Japantravel – it says everything there and yes, you’ll be needing it since the JR lines also cover networks inside of the cities-very very useful. If you travel on other private railways which can be cheaper or if you don’t have JR Pass, your tickets are purchased at the machines-you check on map where you are, where your destination is and there you can see how much it costs to get there. There are usually maps in both ways of writing. And trains are really smooth and punctual!!!

SLIPPERS – everywhere you gooo, always take the weath…slippers with you, even several pairs. but if you don’t have them, don’t worry-there are enough of them all around the house, different ones for the toilet. it’s comfortable, clean and worm-finally Slovenes can feel like being at home.

MONEY- currency is Japan Yen (JPY)-1eur=135,367 yen on 20/10/2009 It’s preferable to have paper money than cards. So the best way to avoid any doubts is by paying with cash.

ATM-You can find ATMs almost in every bigger cities. At first I was told there are none for foreign debit or credit cards or really really few but this is not true. You can withdraw money from your current and credit account at ATMs which are situated at the post offices or at 7/11 stores and some other places. Banks are not that useful. To me, the most useful card was Visa electron-it is a debit card so I could withdraw money with it, the cost is lower than witdrawing with credit or home debit cards. I didn’t use cards for paying in the stores, even though some, accept them.

VENDING MACHINES – Behind every corner there is at least one  selling all possible cold japanese green teas, soft drinks, even alcohol and cigarettes. Prices are lower than in stores.

SAFETY- When you see only few bicycles with safety chains, women with open purses and wallets looking out of them, then it must be something wrong with the world or you’re just in Japan. Really safe country where they find you silly when you tell them about moneybelt:) but don’t forget being careful. it doesn’t cost you much but may save you from any inconvenient events and closer encounters of the lovers (it is written like it is pronounced, the english word is robbers;)

FOOD – in the blog you can read the post only about the food. It is tasty, diverse, you get it in normal amounts, healthy, still different from other asian food and really something new when you first try it. They have their own fast food, don’t bother with the youknowwhichonesimean, but of course it’s only my opinion.

SUPERMARKETS, CONVENIENT STORES – supermakets are cheaper, the food is not that expensive than in Europe and you get to see all sorts of traditional fruits, vegetables and prepared dishes. In cinvenient stores there is food from all around the world and it is also expensive but worth going to if you are making traditional dish from your country.

HOSPITALS – whaaaat? is this a hospital? with escalators? and the last high tech gadgets? Patients pay for their visit and they have no problems with waiting lines. Japan is good in endoscopy, especially gastric (gastric cancer is the most spread one).

PEOPLE – Be prepared for a cultural shock, similar to that one in Lost in translation movie, feeling of uneasinees, emptiness and tightness at the same time. But when you accept the new surrounding as something natural and when you realize you are thrown in a different world, you can spend time of your life with the most wonderful people. Follow their customs: be polite, respectful, bow when greeting somebody, learn at least the polite words, smile, be kind, don’t argue, do whatever they do. And don’t worry. If you do something wrong they forgive you-you’re still a foreigner and they are still people! C’mon, I’m a exaggerating. It’s really really wonderful experience meeting so many wonderful people. And the thing is in harmony!!!

LANGUAGE – Japanese. They understand English but have problems with speaking due to the lack of practice.

RESTAURANTS – all sorts, traditional fast food, slow food, international food… leave the choice to people who know what the food is like;)

CINEMAS – Some movies have subtitles, some are sinchronized – ask if you are not sure.

RESERVATIONS – wherever you go, really WHEREVER you go and are planning to stay, MAKE RESERVATION!!! at least one week before going there.