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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

Useful Tips for Traveling in Japan
By:Dee Barizo <deebarizo@gmail.com>

Traveling to Japan can both be an exciting and frightening experience. It is a wonderful and thrilling experience because Japan is one of the most unique countries in the world and the large array of destinations that can be visited is just mind blowing. But it can also be a frightening proposition because of so many factors – the language barrier, the cultural differences, and the traditions and peculiarities of Japanese living that could cause a big embarrassment if one does not know how to maneuver around it.

For travelers to Japan, one of the ways to get ready is to read about tips that will make the whole stay in Japan a little easier. The following tips will help anyone when they navigate the fascinating and yet daunting streets of Nippon.


* The official Japanese unit of currency is the yen. It is advisable that travelers bring their major credit cards with them.

* Credit cards are accepted in almost all the commercial establishments within the city but when traveling to the countryside, the smaller stores may not accept plastic. Precisely for this contingency, cash should also be brought.


* The biggest obstacle for practically all travelers to Japan is the language. Nihongo is the official language and practically everything spoken or written in the country is in Japanese. English is only spoken by a minority so navigating through the country would mean that travelers should at least know some phrases.

* A Japanese phrase book will be a big help especially when asking simple questions. Travelers should get acquainted with the phrases they will likely use often so that the tricky pronunciation can be ironed out early. Some of the phrases that travelers should know beforehand are:

Good Morning.
How much?
Where can I get a taxi?
Where is the hotel?
I am looking for.
Excuse me.
Thank you very much.

* Some Japanese people may know English but they are usually quite shy in using the language. In this case, carrying a pen and a notebook and writing the query in English is a good idea. Most of them feel more comfortable dealing with written English.


* There are no restrictions with regards to attire when you travel in Japan. In fact, the Japanese youth are some of the most stylish people on earth.

* But travelers should take into account that it is part of Japanese custom to remove shoes when going indoors. This means that travelers will have to remove their shoes quite often. Try to wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off to make it more convenient. Of course, it goes without saying that socks shouldn’t have holes in them to prevent any kind of embarrassment.

* Travelers should also bring handkerchiefs or pocket tissues with them. Most Japanese bathrooms do not have paper towels. A hankie or pocket tissue will make it convenient to dry your hands.


* The Japanese use chopsticks when eating. As well as learning to eat with chopsticks, travelers should know some important information about their use. For example, spearing food with chopsticks should be avoided.

* Also, do not use chopsticks to go through the dish trying to find a tasty morsel or a part that you want.

* In the event that chopsticks for serving have not been given or provided, the proper thing to do is to use the other end of one’s chopsticks to take the food from the plate.

* Avoid passing food to another person using chopsticks.

* Never stick the chopsticks vertically on bowl of rice. This is considered extremely bad luck because this is how rice is offered to the dead.

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