Japan Tips

20 Essential Tips for Japan

By on December 16, 2015

When you first get into japan you might feel alienated a little bit. The Japanese do some things a little bit different, and as a visitor you may have not heard of most of things. So I have gathered the best 20 tips for Japan. When you know these tips you know that you will not be doing major things wrong, and it also includes some very handy tips to make your trip more easy.

I hope you all enjoy it and if there are any question whatsoever, leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to answer them!

1. Try out different restaurants
Japan has a lot of food to offer, not only the Japanese food is popular. In Japan you have cuisine from all over the world.

2. Japan uses Plug Type A
Click here if it still isn’t clear for you.

3. Take advantage of of the TAX-FREE shops
Japan has a lot of TAX-FREE shops, specially around electronics. Just make sure to bring your passport.

4. Bring or Buy a Dictionary
This may sound silly but a lot of visitors forget that your cellphone data connection might not work in Japan. And even if it does work, it will have huge rates. So make sure to bring your dictionary or install an application on your phone that does not require an internet connection.

5. Respect the Smoking Area’s
I remember the first time while I was in Tokyo I started smoking on the streets because I didn’t see the non-smoking signs. After a minute a Japanese guy dressed in Yellow approached me and showed me an English sign that said that you can’t smoke on the streets and that he needed to confiscate my cigarette (and he really did, haha).

6. Don’t expect Japanese people to speak English
I know that you expect at least a 30% chance to meet an English speaker in a foreign country, but Japan seems to be an exception. I’d guess this percentage would be around 3%.

7. The price including tax is written with small text under the big price
This happened when the tax changed from 5% to 8% last year, shops started take advantage of people thinking that the price didn’t change, while in fact the real price was just in small text below, which does not call for a lot attention. So make sure to always think “This price is probably without the 8% Tax”.

8. Check if the shop requires to take off shoes
Some shops (mostly izakaya) will require you to take off your shoes and place them into a locker, don’t forget checking this before you step on to the wooden floor! I’ve even been to a Club in Tokyo that required me to take off my shoes (which was very odd).

9. Use the ‘Call Button” to call a waiter
A lot of busy restaurants require you to press in the ‘Call Button” to call a waiter. So first find a call button before yelling through the restaurant.

10. Use “Sumimasen” to call out a waiter when there is no call button
When there is no button present then of course you will have to yell “excuse me” but I noticed that a lot of waiters aren’t used to picking up that sentence so a lot of the time the foreigner has problems getting his attention or waiting for the waiter to look around. So the best way to call out a waiter will be by using the word “Sumimasen!” don’t be afraid to yell a little more than you’re used to if it’s a busy restaurant.

11. Search for “kaitenzushi” to find cheap and fun sushi restaurants
Everyone who comes to Japan will try the famous sushi, most likely you will start looking around the station. And you will find sushi, but at the final bill you will notice that sushi is pretty expensive! Well most Japanese people go to “Kaitenzushi” or “Kauten Sushi” known as conveyor belt sushi and that is exactly what you are looking for if you want to taste sushi at an extremely cheap price (100yen for one pair of sushi). I mostly leave the restaurant with 1000 yen which is about 8.5$.

12. Bring a Mastercard or VISA (And know where to use it).
Click here for more info

13. Post offices are marked with 〒
I found this an easy way to recognize post offices for either sending a post card it withdrawing money. You can also find this mark on Google Maps.

14. Take a break from the city
Most people plan their trip to Tokyo but forgot that Japan has a lot of more beauty like historical towns.

15. Use tools like booking.com to compare rates
Online tools like booking.com can help you find last minute deals while traveling. You can also consider alternatives like hotel.com.

16. Use convenience stores or supermarkets to find budget meals (Which are discounted after 8)
If you’re on budget then of course you won’t be eating out everyday. But you certainly don’t want to live of Ramen Cup Noodles. So an alternative way is to buy pre-made meals in convenience stores or supermarkets I found them quite okay! And they will also be discounted in the evening, sometimes up ’till 40% discount, but you won’t have a lot of choice then.

17. Tipping is not appropriate in Japan
Foreigners from USA or some part from Europe are used to tip, but in Japan the waiters are paid well and they are not expecting any tip. Is will even be considered rude in some occasions.

18. Use 100 yen shops to find cheap essential items
Did you forget something from home? No problem! Japan has a lot of 100yen stores that have a lot of items like USB cables, tools, cups, toothbrushes, power convertors, you name it!

19. Use “Sumimasen” when approaching someone for a question
When I first went to Japan of course I needed help within the first hour I was there, so I tried approaching someone with “Hey!” the result was a very startled reaction and then he started apologizing to me and ran off! Then my Japanese friend arrived and let me know that I had to use “Sumimasen” to get a friendly approach.

20. Buy a JR pass before arriving in Japan
Of course if you are traveling through Japan you will have heard from the Japan Pass. You will be redirected to all sorts of websites, and if you’re not sure which one to chose then you might just consider buying it in Japan itself? Well don’t because there is no way to obtain the pass here within Japan. So make sure to buy it before hand! I’ve wrote a small article about it here.

Was there a tip that you were expecting to see but didn’t see it included? Tell us about it in the comments and we will consider it for our next video!