Getting around and transportation
If you are travelling to Japan, you’re most likely going to visit the major cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and more. There are numerous ways to get from city to city, whether this be by car, bullet train, or plane. If you plan on travelling to Japan and only staying within one city, Tokyo, for example, it may not be worth looking into getting a JR Pass. A JR Pass is only available for tourists. It can get quite pricey, but it is definitely worth buying if you plan on catching a lot of bullet trains to various cities or outside of the cities for day trips. The pass allows you to travel on JR lines, which run through most cities, and also on most bullet trains, with a few exceptions! If you do decide to purchase one, it is a good idea to reserve a seat for the bullet train you are planning to take at least a day in advance if you are travelling during peak season. It can get booked out very fast!
IC Card (Pasmo, Suica, Icoca)
For every day travel, an IC card is an absolute must in Japan. The most popular IC cards in Japan currently are Pasmo, Suica, and Icoca. There’s no real difference between them, so feel free to grab whichever is first available to you. You can easily grab one yourself at any of the ticket machines at local train stations or subway stations. Usually, the machines will also have an English menu, so you don’t need to worry about that either. It costs 500 yen for the card itself, and you can then reload any amount onto the card. Some cards also allow you to print your name on them! You can also use the same machines to reload more money into the card if you need to in the future.
TIP: You can also use your IC card to buy drinks from some Japanese vending machines around the country! You can also use it to pay for items at selected stores.
Taxis in Japan
Taxis in Japan are quite expensive. However, the subway and train system are very much integrated into major cities, and you probably wouldn’t need to catch a taxi unless in an emergency. If you decide to use Uber in Japan, don’t be surprised if a taxi comes to pick you up! Uber and taxis in Japan are integrated, so you’re probably better off just using public transport.
Money in Japan
Exchanging your cash to yen at the airport is never a good idea. The exchange rate is always extremely low. You’re better off either exchanging your AUD to JPY in Australia first before you depart. Before you head off to Japan, you should always check the current exchange rate online, and then visit a few currency exchanges in your country to see if you can get a good deal. However, what we recommend is to withdraw Japanese yen in Japan using ATMs.
Using ATMs in Japan
ATMs can be found EVERYWHERE in Japan. Most convenience stores like 7 Eleven, Lawson and Family Mart will have an ATM, so it is super convenient to withdraw cash whenever you need to do so. You can choose to bring a prepaid travel money card, your debit card, or credit card. However, you should also keep in mind that some of these cards may incur international fees, and some ATMs can also charge an ATM fee. To be fee-free, we recommend bringing a card that has no international fees. The ING Orange Everyday Card works perfectly in Japan - and probably most of the countries around the world – as international fees and ATM fees are rebated, under some conditions. If your card is a Visa or MasterCard, you will find that withdrawing at ATMs in Japan will most likely give you the best rate.
TIP: Although many places in Japan now accept card payments, there are still a lot of places where cash is absolutely essential. We recommend always carrying a safe amount of cash around, and when you’re running low, just head to the nearest convenience store to withdraw more!
Upon arriving in Japan, you will notice that Japanese people are very friendly and respectful of each other. There are a few unspoken rules in Japan that you should know about:
It is normal for Japanese people to bow at you when they greet you, say thank you, sorry, or goodbye. It can be polite to also bow back during these situations – not a 90-degree bow, but a slight one.
Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
Smoking while walking, or anywhere on the street is illegal in Japan. Please be respectful of others and use the designated smoking areas to smoke cigarettes. Some restaurants and cafes may allow you to smoke inside. If unsure, make sure to always ask staff first!
On the other hand, some countries may have laws against drinking in public. But in Japan, it is absolutely fine to walk around the streets with cans of beer or a bottle of whiskey in your hand! As always though, please be aware of your surroundings and be respectful to those around you.
Walking and Eating
Chances are that it is normal to walk and eat at the same time in your home country. But, in Japan, there is a time and place for everything. And eating whilst walking is not a norm. Even if you’ve purchased some Japanese street food, stand to the side, away from pedestrians, and enjoy your snack. Likewise, it is also uncommon to see anyone eating or talking on the train, so if you’re travelling by train, hold off on your snacks until you’re back at your hotel or found a spot outside to eat.
There is an endless number of things to do in Japan. Why not make sure you’ve got the best things to do and see covered in your itinerary? We’ve got the perfect Japan tours to ensure that you get the most out of your Japan holiday! So, make sure to check out our all-inclusive Japan packages!