Japan is, without doubt, one of the most fascinating countries in the entire world. Combining its own unique culture with all things modern and boasting large metropolis style cities as well as remote mountain retreats, it has something to offer everyone. Most travelers will still be saying “Wow” long after their holiday has finished, as images and memories flash back into their minds. It’s the sort of place that amazes and inspires and below are 5 must-know things before landing in Japan which might make life easier once there.
Pick your Time of Year well: Many people have certain images in their minds when they think of Japan and two of the most common are those of snow monkeys keeping warm in hot springs whilst surrounded by snow and, of course, cherry blossoms. Anyone intending to see these should probably avoid the summer months when it is in fact hot and humid in Japan. Cherry trees do not blossom at this time of year, and snow monkeys are totally absent! So probably spring (for Cherry blossoms) and autumn (for cooler temperatures) are recommended.
The Language Barrier: English might be taught in Japanese schools but finding someone that actually speaks English outside of regular tourist haunts might be a rare thing! Whilst most younger generation Japanese may have an understanding of English, they are quite often shy to speak it. For travelers, Japanese can be quite a hard thing indeed, but learning a few basic words might encourage a response in English. A good phrase book from Amazon is a good start.
Insurance: For travelers, medical treatment in Japan can be expensive. It is therefore very important that adequate travel and medical insurance is taken out before visiting the country. Holidaymakers should make sure they read the small print to ensure that adventure sports (which can apply to cycling) are covered.
Money: Japan is often thought of as being an expensive country however in reality it is only as expensive as most modern capital cities such as London. Where travelers might come unstuck though is by actually trying to get some money in the first place. Although Japan seems to have ATM’s (cash machines) on every street corner, they quite often do not take foreign issued cards. Don’t leave it until the last minute to withdraw cash, as it might take an hour or so to find a machine that will accept your card.
Space: Travelers from western countries such as the UK should perhaps start to adjust themselves to a different conception of personal space. Everything seems a little smaller, whether it is hotel rooms or even the width of the beds themselves. In terms of personal space though, the Japanese train system and in particular the Tokyo Metro is a whole different world. During the morning rush hour, special attendants known as Oshiya are employed to push riders together with their baggage onto trains in order that the doors can close. It might feel like being a sardine in a can but travelers to Japan should try a rush hour journey at least once in order to experience the madness of it all!
Author bio: Dave is a travel writer who when not traveling is occupied with freelance writing. He occasionally writes for Fortina Spa resort a 5 star Hotel in Sliema, Malta.
This guest post was provided for Travel and Leisure Group leading timeshare resales brokers in Europe.