Things to know before going to Japan

by Fidelia - TripleLights travel specialist

Japan, like every other country in the world, have their own set of cultures and norms. As a traveler, you might actually be looking for these kinds of cultural differences to get some new experience from it.

 

However, here’s the problem with cultural differences;

If you’re not prepared enough to follow the “unspoken” rules, you might have a hard time dealing with the cultural shock.

 

Not to worry! Here in this article, I will discuss things you should know before traveling in Japan. Sit tight and hold on!

About Japan

Look:

There are more tourists who got “The Look” from locals in Japan than what you might possibly think.

In order to avoid that, here are some tips about things that you need to prepare for your Japan trip to make you fit in more with the locals!

 
Things to know before going to Japan

  1. Cash, baby

Japan, like most countries in Asia, holds more cash in their wallets than most westerners. Although you can use credit cards in several stores at touristy areas, most shops usually do not accept credit cards. This includes restaurants and other establishments. If you ever ran out of cash, you just need to find the nearest Seven-Eleven convenience stores that have a 7 Bank ATM in them. You can take more cash with the maximum limit of 30,000 yen per transaction.

  

Things to know before going to Japan

  1. Chopsticks Rules

You can find chopsticks in almost every restaurant in Japan. Even some of the international restaurants that are serving western foods usually have some chopsticks available. However, there are some etiquettes regarding the use of chopsticks.

One, you can never stick your chopsticks vertically in your bowl of rice. This symbolizes incense sticks that are usually used to honor the dead. Also, you should not transfer food from chopsticks to chopsticks; you need to put it down on a plate or a bowl first. On the other hand, you can always ask for spoons if you have difficulties using chopsticks! 

 

Things to know before going to Japan

  1. Trains Do Sleep

I have met tourists that were stranded in stations since they missed the last train. They thought that trains in Tokyo never stops. Well, they were wrong.

 

Here’s the thing;

Trains in Japan do not work at night.

 

Although they stopped pretty late (around 00.30 AM) and starts back pretty early (around 05.00 AM), it is better for you to know what time the last train is to avoid getting stranded. If you did -by any chance- missed the last train, you can try to get some rest at internet cafes or all night karaoke bars to catch the first train in the morning!

 

Things to know before going to Japan

  1. No tip

Imagine you’re in a restaurant in Japan. You are so satisfied with their services, and you wanted to give them something to show it. So, you opted to leave them some cash. Well, you’ll be surprised to know that they’ll catch you when you get out of the restaurant to return your “forgotten things”, which is your tip!

 

Japan does not have the culture to give out tips. Even in hotels or other establishments, there is no way you’ll find tip boxes laying on the counter. However, if you are so keen on throwing out some extra coins, you can put them inside small charity boxes that are available in some shops.

  

Things to know before going to Japan

  1. Be quiet in trains!

During train rides, you must not take any phone calls or speak too loudly. This is especially true when the train is crowded during rush hours. In fact, the more crowded the train is, the quieter it will be. People will be literally glued to each other, and even then they will opt to look at the floor or the train roofs. Everyone would keep to themselves. This is the one unspoken custom you might want to know before your Japan trip, to avoid the stares from the locals 

 

Things to know before going to Japan

  1. Regarding photographs

Of course, you would love to take pictures of some geisha or maiko when you’re traveling in Japan.

 

Here’s the problem with that:

They might not want their pictures to be taken!

 

Japan has a strict rule regarding taking photographs. Even Japanese phones have a loud camera shutter noise that cannot be silenced (there is literally no option for it). Although you just want to respect the Japanese’ cultures, you should still respect geishas and maikos by asking their permission before taking their pictures.

  

Things to know before going to Japan

  1. English?

Surprisingly, most Japanese does not speak (or choose not to speak) English. They do have the basic understanding of it, but they are mostly too shy to communicate in it. If you’re ever lost, your best bet is finding the nearest police station or tourist information center.

 

English proves to be difficult to when you’re in a restaurant. Although more restaurants in big cities offer English menu, there are lots of restaurants that still have Japanese only menus. You can try your best to point at pictures that are usually available in the menus or take pictures of the fake foods that are usually available in front of the shops to point at the menu that you want.

 

  1. Shoes off!

Japan took this one Asian custom to the next level; there are more places where you need to take your shoes off then you would imagine.

 

Of course, most restaurants do not require you to take off your shoes. However, some of the traditional restaurants or places with a tatami mat usually needs you to change your shoes to slippers before you enter. You might also be surprised to know that you also need to take off your shoes when you enter dressing rooms in clothes shops!

 

To make your trip easier

Things to know before going to JapanJapan has so many more unwritten rules and customs that tourists need to know before their visit. This could prove to be difficult for visitors and the language barrier problem might even deter some tourists from ever visiting Japan.

 

Worry not!

 

I have another tip for you to ensure you have the best trip as possible during your Japan holiday; hire a private guide!

 

Look, hiring a private guide is not as difficult as you might think. You would easily overcome the language barrier if you have a guide to translate what you really want to say. Plus, your guide will tell you all the things you might need to prepare for your arrival in Japan.

If you are thinking of hiring a private guide, then I recommend you to find one in Triplelights. They have a list of professional guides that would ensure you have the best holiday in Japan as possible.



In this article, I have explained about a few tips and things you need to know before you arrive in Japan. I hope that it has been helpful enough and I wish you the best of luck for your holiday!

Did you like my article?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Japan, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Japan


12 Mar 2018

Plan your trip to Japan

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews

“ Highly recommend touring Tokyo with Yukiko ”

Excellent
1 hour ago Traveler: Robert -   Tour Guide: YUKIKO

We had a perfect and fun day with Yukiko. We were on the beginning of a two week trip to Japan and Thailand. Working with Yukiko to plan our tour was very easy. We conversed over email for around 2 months to custom tailor our tour. We only had 1 day to experience the best of Tokyo so Yukiko and I worked on a 5 destination trip plus lunch. Each stop on our tour was great. We started at the Out...
read more

“ Stressed free visits around Tokyo, Hakone, Kamakura and Enoshima Island ”

Excellent
14 hours ago Traveler: Azhari -   Tour Guide: Toshihiro

Toshihiro-san or uncle Toshi is like family bringing you around Tokyo. Not so formal but more like a friend. Great communication up to the travelling day and he answered a lot of questions from me. My family and I have some requirements due to our travelling pack but Toshi-san accomodate us completely. Hakone have beautiful mountains and excellent My Fuji view, Kamakura have beautiful shrines, Eno...
read more

“ Very worthwhile ”

Excellent
15 hours ago Traveler: Tanya -   Tour Guide: Toshihiro

We had Toshi as a personal guide around Tokyo for 6 hours after we landed. He met us at our hotel and showed us some main attractions as well as less known ones. The day was not rushed, yet we saw many sights. We learned how to use the rail network system and Toshi related really well with our whole group, including 2 teenagers. Such a great investment and I would really recommend having his loca...
read more

“ Sumo, Temples, Shrines and Geiko in Tokyo ”

Excellent
22 hours ago Traveler: Stephen -   Tour Guide: KASHIMA

Our family of 6 had an excellent and enriching tour with Kashima-san. One of the main reasons we wanted a guide in Tokyo was to help with arranging a tour of a sumo stable in Tokyo, many of which are weary of visitors. Despite this, Kashima-san managed to book a tour of the Hakkaku sumo stable. Ahead of the visit, Kashima-san sent us a summary of sumo wrestling and what we might expect to see in t...
read more

“ Wonderful day in Tokyo ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Giuseppe -   Tour Guide: Makiko

Yes I was lucky... nice weather, not so many people and the antique market just opened today, but I would never had such beautiful experience without the help of Makiko. In a few hours I have visited so many interesting places and had so many new experiences.. the fish market (the big tuna cut was amazing..), the antique market, the temples, the local food... everything perfect. I left Tokyo know...
read more

“ Tokyo Highlights ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Linda -   Tour Guide: Makiko

We had an amazing time with Makiko. She was very knowledgeable, professional, and fun. She communicated with us several times in the weeks leading up to our tour. I had a few ideas of what we wanted to see and she incorporated those into other popular and traditional places to visit. She made sure we ate at a place that accommodated everyone’s tastes. Makiko is fluent in English and very easy...
read more

“ Excellent introduction to Tokyo and Japan ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Bjorn -   Tour Guide: Keiko

We just wanted to express our appreciation for the 8 hour guided tour of Tokyo that Keiko provided for us, a couple visiting Japan for the first time. Her communication before our trip was exemplary, and her teaching experience as well as knowledge of Japanese history and culture gave us an ideal first day of our ten day visit. It helped us to quickly understand practical matters such as the trans...
read more

“ Hiroshima tour ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Eric -   Tour Guide: Azusa

Azusa was an excellent guide and very friendly and spoke english well was flexible to work in our plans very knowledgeable about history where to go and knew the good eateries would highly reccomend Azusa we were a group of 4 from Australia
read more

“ Tokyo day trip ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Golan -   Tour Guide: Mitsuru

Highly recommend!
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Japan

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started