Letter from a reader
Last year I had a wonderful trip to Japan; it was basically my first tour in an Asian country. Every country has its own sets of cultures and rules. And I am a person who loves tasting the different cultures of the world. Getting out of your comfort zone and having new experiences, meeting new people and their culture is so fun. Well, your trip is only going to be well, if you don’t end up attracting the locals in every wrong way! Frankly, speaking Japan was a bit different from other countries I have visited so far. It has completely different cultures and rules.
So if you are looking forward to a trip to Japan for the very first time, then you should get fully prepared. I would like to share certain things and tips about the country that will help you a lot on your trip.
1. You need the Google Map all the time!
Well, Tokyo is a huge city, so huge that you always need Google Maps to show you directions. When I was in Japan I rented a pocket Wi-Fi. That was a lifesaver for me. To get subways, trains or walk along with the city, you need proper navigation and obviously, you can’t just keep on asking random people for directions. You need your mobile hotspot available all the time. By renting a pocket Wi-Fi you get access to the internet everywhere you go.
2. There are fewer trash cans on roads
When walking on the streets of Japan, if you feel like grabbing some delicious street food, note that you won’t see a trash can near you. This is because there are fewer trash cans in Japan. Even if you find one it may be located far away from your location. So it’s better you carry plastic or recyclable bag along with you to throw trash in it.
3. The JR Pass is actually a waste of money
I know you have come through advice to get a JR pass when visiting Japan. But the truth is you don’t need a JR Pass to travel in Japan. Unless you are planning to travel to different cities within a single week, you won’t need the JR Pass. It’s a complete waste of money. To travel to Kyoto and Tokyo, the Pasmo or Suica card is enough.
4. Never tip someone in Japan
The concept of tipping drivers, housekeepers or bartenders does not work in Japan. In fact, if you pay a tip to anybody apart from the normal pricing, the guy might feel insulted for such a gesture. Only pay the price of the product or service that’s there on the bill.
5. Credit card is hugely accepted in Japan
Before visiting Japan I have heard people saying that most restaurants and shops do not accept credit card. But it’s completely wrong. As per my experience, most restaurants and stores accepted credit card. Only the small shops and local street-side vendors accepted only cash. Like any other international trip always carry cash along with you, but at the same time know that you can use your credit card at several places in Japan.
6. Strictly follow the rules of the Subway
In Japan, people strictly follow every rule in public areas, especially in public transports. This means NO foods or drinks when travelling in subways and NO use of cell phone. Plus do not sit on any reserved seats that are meant for elder people, pregnant women or physically disabled persons. Let people exit first before getting on and always line up at the left side of the door.
7. Restaurants might ask to remove your shoes
In a few restaurants in Japan, people need to open their shoes and keep them in a safely secured shoe rack, before entering the main space. so do not forget to wear your socks!
8. Department Stores are filled with delicacies
If you are a foodie, here’s some good news for you. The basement of most departmental stores is filled with a variety of food options starting from tempura to herbal tea. When visiting a departmental store do not forget to visit the basement.
9. Experience the high tech toilet technology everywhere you go
Public toilets in Japan are something more than you can dream of. You might enter a toilet and get confused as if you are in a five-star restaurant. Most western-style toilets in Japan come with advanced electronic options like deodorizer, bidet, and heated seat and so on. In a few traditional places like temples or shrines, you may encounter with traditional squat toilet style. So you have to get used to it.
10. Tattoos are not quite cool in Japan
Though tattoos are becoming quite acceptable worldwide, in Japan it’s still a social stigma. When you visit traditional onsen they might not allow if you have a tattoo. So don’t forget to carry some tape along with you.
Get it easy through Japan Tourist eVisa
The government of Japan is planning to introduce an electronic Visa system by April 2020 to let more than sixty million foreign tourists visit Japan by 2030. The Japan tourist eVisa is going to make it easier for travellers to visit Japan through the online system of single-entry visa. This service will be first available to Chinese tourists and this single entry system will be available through an online application. And the Chinese Tourists will be the first category to enjoy the service. As Japan is preparing to host the Tokyo Olympics the visa system will make it easy for millions of foreigners to visit Japan on this big event. There are different sets of rules and travel plans for tourists from different countries. You can check out this link to get more details about the Japan visa requirements for indian citizens.
Travellers who are looking for a tourist visa to Japan needs to send their online application to the agency since they are the ones who will initiate the whole process of visa. For Chinese travellers, the online application is expected to be opened after 2020.