It is well known to everyone nowadays that it is important to make your research before traveling abroad, each country has its own rules, traditions, and culture, Japan is not an exception. Even if visiting for a short time, it is advised to learn basic rules on how to act in Japan. Japan is famous for its strict etiquette, visitors might unwillingly act completely against Japanese culture. To avoid any inconveniences and save you from trouble we have prepared you some tips on how to make your travel easier and even more enjoyable!
1. Get the Japan Rail Pass to save money
Public transportation in Japan is extremely advanced, efficient and comfortable, however, it is quite expensive as well. The key element you should do to save your money before traveling to Japan is to purchase a 7, 14 or 21-day Japan Rail Pass, this will save you a lot of money which then you will be able to spend for much more pleasant things than a bus or train tickets. You should definitely consider getting JRP, especially if you are planning to visit more than one region in Japan, one round trip like that will pay your pass. Moreover, you will have a chance to use the famous Japanese bullet train.
It is advised to purchase your JRP prior to your travel to Japan. You can order your voucher online and it will be delivered to your door within a week or so. Once you are in Japan you will have to visit an exchange office to activate your JRP. In the exchange office, you will be allowed to chose the JRP activation date (within 30 days).
While filling the JRP application, make sure to provide correct personal information. If any information in your JPR does not match your passport, you might need to pay a fine while going through the pass control.
2. Stay in a traditional Ryokan
To be able to experience Japanese traditions and culture to the fullest extent we strongly advise you to book your stay in a traditional Ryokan. This is a classic Japanese style inn. It keeps a special atmosphere and a traditional appearance. A Ryokan is a perfect place for those who want to experience Japanese culture, hospitality, and service. Before booking a perfect Ryokan, you should check them out as there are many different styles.
The oldest Ryokans are located on the Tokaido Highway, Tokyo and the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. Ryokan was created centuries ago and is an important part of Japanese culture. Ryokans were first created to accommodate tired travelers, traders, and samurai before they hit the road again. Nowadays as well as many years before, Ryokan owners try their best to make their guests feel as good as possible.
Visitors must take into account that staying in Ryokan is not the same as staying in a regular hotel. Ryokans have no central heating, it is heated by portable heaters. The owners are trying to avoid damaging traditional architecture and to preserve traditional heating systems. Ryokan will not charge you per room, it charges per guest. Make sure to be prepared to pay the bill in Japanese cash (yen) as some Ryokans do not accept credit cards.
3. Learn about the customs and etiquette
As you may already know Japan has many different rules and traditions, it is important, that you follow the rules in order to avoid unpleasant situations. Make sure to:
- Wear a surgical mask if you are ill.
- Take off your shoes in the restaurants and other public places if required.
- Japanese respect silence. Do not make noise in public places, make sure that your voice is heard only by your group.
- Note that Japanese waiters will not come to your table, you have to call them.
- Do not put your chopsticks in your rice upright, Japanese do this only during funerals.
- Tattoos are a taboo in Japan, be prepared to cover your tattoos in public pools and baths.
- Even though public trash bins are not on every corner, the Japanese have a strong moral code regarding trash. Make sure not to throw your trash on the street, it is advised to keep a plastic bag with you.
Japanese citizens acknowledge their cultural differences, and they are aware that they have distinct behavioral norms from the rest of the world. Modern Japanese people understand that it is extremely difficult and stressful for foreigners to follow all the rules and traditions. Do not worry if you make a minor mistake, and make sure to keep it in mind for the next time.