Guide to Travelling to Japan part 3

January 26, 2011 § 4 Comments

Stuff to Know

Here I’ll talk about several things to keep in mind when traveling to the land of the rising sun.

Keep in mind..

The first, and probably the most important is to respect local etiquette. Japanese society is most likely very different from your own local neighbourhood. Do not let the following be you.

This picture was taken right outside Tsukiji Market, the area where many fishermen work. However it’s also a tourist attraction and as you can see, they’ve put up signs (conveniently in English), to tell you what NOT to do. In the same way that you wouldn’t want a guest visiting your home to ruin things in your house, be sure to be considerate of Japanese etiquette at all times. You’ll find that locals are actually very willingly to help. At times I’ve gone to restaurants that have no English at all, and even though the staff knew little English they tried their best to serve us.

For instance:

    • At events such as WonFes, don’t simply snap pictures of cosplayers. Many photographers line up to have photo shooting sessions with a cosplayer. One at a time is the key. Be sure to obtain permission!
    • If you’re not sure about something, ask. Locals may not be proficient in English, but they’re all very helpful and friendly.

Another thing you should consider doing is learning to read basic Japanese, Hiragana and Katakana. You may think “what good is that going to do, I wouldn’t understand anything!” Even though there is plenty of difficult Kanji, Hiragana alone will at least allow you to convey simple messages when conversing. Being able to say a Hiragana word goes a long way, since communication in English can be tough. Katakana is useful because much of the time it mimics English words.

Suddenly, confusing Katakana letters may just become your own native language. Personally I was able to converse with basic Japanese so I did not have much of a problem. For those who do not know Japanese however, be sure to learn Hiragana and Katakana, I’m sure they’ll help you out! Communicating with simple English and a dash of Japanese words (things, menu items) can actually go a long way. This can be your in-flight entertainment I guess?

As far as money goes, I think it would be in your best interest to exchange your currency before going to Japan. It is possible to go to banks to exchange currency, but many offer rates lower than what you would get outside of the country. HSBC users will also be happy to know that there are branches in Tokyo, but you’re still unlikely to receive good exchange rates. The branch I went to does not do exchange at a teller counter (since it’s an unpopular bank I presume?), but they had ATMs. It’s in Ikebukuro by the way.

The end.

Thanks for reading the guide. Had I anticipated that I would be writing a guide I would have taken more pictures to show you exactly what I mean, sorry!

Even so, I hope that the guide was informative and helped you in one way or another.

If you have any questions or anything of the sort feel free to leave a comment~

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