Practical Information

Travelling to Japan, a country that seamlessly blends centuries-old traditions with cutting-edge modernity, is an experience like no other. However, the unique cultural norms and systems can sometimes be daunting for first-time visitors. Our tips below aim to help you navigate Japan with ease, ensuring a memorable and hassle-free journey.

Japan Rail Pass

For long-distance travel, consider purchasing a Japan Rail Pass, which offers unlimited travel on most Japan Railways (JR) trains, including the Shinkansen (bullet train), for a fixed period. It's cost-effective if you plan to explore multiple regions, but it must be purchased before arriving in Japan.

IC Cards

For convenience in urban areas, get an IC card like Suica or Pasmo. These rechargeable cards can be used on public transport (trains, buses, and subways) across many cities, as well as for making small purchases at convenience stores and vending machines.

Buses and Taxis

Long-distance buses offer an economical alternative to trains for inter-city travel. Within cities, taxis are readily available, but they can be expensive. Most taxi drivers do not speak English, so it's helpful to have your destination written in Japanese.


While English is taught in Japanese schools, proficiency levels vary widely. Learning basic Japanese phrases, especially for greetings and common questions, can be incredibly helpful. Carrying a phrasebook or a translation app can also ease communication.

Wi-Fi and Connectivity

Japan is well-connected, with free Wi-Fi available in many public spaces, including train stations, airports, and some cafes. For uninterrupted internet access, consider renting a pocket Wi-Fi or purchasing a local SIM card.

Cash is King

Despite its technological advancement, Japan remains a predominantly cash-based society. Always carry sufficient cash, especially when travelling to rural areas. International credit cards are accepted in major hotels, restaurants, and stores, but smaller establishments may only accept cash.


International ATMs are available at 7-Eleven stores, post offices, and some banks. Be aware that ATMs in Japan may have operating hours and could incur international transaction fees.

Cultural Etiquette

Politeness is a cornerstone of Japanese culture. Simple gestures like bowing slightly when greeting, saying "arigatou gozaimasu" (thank you), and being punctual are appreciated.

Shoes Off

When entering a Japanese home, traditional inn (ryokan), or certain public spaces like temples, you will be expected to remove your shoes. Slippers are often provided for indoor use.

Public Conduct

Maintain a respectful tone and volume when speaking in public. Eating while walking or on local trains is generally frowned upon, except on long-distance trains where it's common to eat bento boxes.

Dietary Restrictions

Vegetarian and vegan options are becoming more available but can still be limited. It's useful to learn specific phrases to communicate dietary restrictions. Many restaurants display plastic or wax replicas of their dishes outside, which can help with ordering.


Tipping is not customary in Japan and can sometimes be considered rude. Exceptional service is the standard and is factored into the overall price.

Safety and Emergency

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates. However, it's still important to exercise usual precautions, especially in crowded areas.

In case of emergency, dial 110 for police and 119 for ambulance and fire services. Many emergency responders may not speak English, so it's advisable to seek assistance from a local if possible.

Final Thoughts

With these practical tips in hand, you’re set to explore Japan's wonders with confidence. From navigating the efficient transport system to indulging in the exquisite cuisine and respecting cultural practices, your journey through Japan promises to be as smooth as it is unforgettable.