Tips Before You Go

Transportation

Transportation in Japan is well known for its reputation of efficiency and punctuality. Consumption of food and drinks are usually refrained on public transportations except when on “Green cars” or “Shinkansen”. Talking loudly and the usage of cellphone on public transportation are also not preferable. Public transportation is relatively expensive, and the prices vary according to the route you choose.

Japan Rail Pass

If you plan to travel across Japan for more than one week, you may want to consider purchasing the “Japan Rail Pass”, limited to non-Japanese travelers for its cost effectiveness. The Japan Rail Pass offers unlimited use of JR trains within a certain period of time.

  7 days 14 days 21 days
Regular 29,110JY 46,390JY 59,350JY
Green car 38,880JY 62,950JY 81,870JY

For more information, pease refer to the official Japan Rail Pass website.
Japan Rail Pass

Route Planner (Norikae Annai)

The transportation system in Japan is very complex and there is a high chance that you can get lost. There are several route planner websites and mobile apps available for you to use in order to navigate smoothly through the complex Japanese transportation system. Numerous types of train lines interchange that there are mostly several ways to get to where you want to go. The route planner websites and mobile apps will give you the exact directions, time, and cost at one time. We highly recommend installing this system for travelers who are not so familiar with the Japanese transportation system.

Please refer to the official Route Planner Website below.
Japan Transit Planner

*To download the app, please type “NORIKAE” on your designated app store

Language

Tackling the language barrier in any part of the world has never been easy. Japan has been strengthening their English programs in education in the past few years and the majority of the population has the ability to read and write but not a lot of people can speak fluent English. As a result, people in department stores, buses, and train stations often communicate with a troubled tourists through writing into a piece of memo. In major cities, such practice is conducted but the further you travel into rural Japan, no other language but Japanese is understood.
Knowing some basic Japanese will help you a lot during your travels in Japan. Japanese consists of three kinds of characters, Kanji (Chinese characters), hiragana and Katakana. In comparison to other languages, Japanese is easier to pronounce as most of the pronunciations are found in English. Try to pronounce the alphabet like they are seen in English and you would likely be understood. Do not be afraid to talk to Japanese people as they are usually extremely friendly to strangers. Even though they cannot speak English that much, they will very likely try their best to help you.

For basic survival Japanese words, please see the chart below.

English How To Read Japanese
hello kon-ni-chi-wa こんにちは
thank you a-ri-ga-to ありがとう
excuse me su-mi-ma-sen すみません
sorry go-men-na-sai ごめんなさい
where is…? …ga-do-ko-de-su-ka? ...がどこですか?
hotel ho-te-ru ホテル
toilet to-i-re トイレ
train station e-ki えき
how much is…? …i-ku-ra-de-su-ka? ...いくらですか?
single room shin-gu-ru ru-mu シングルルーム
double room da-bu-ru ru-mu ダブルルーム
I don’t eat… …wa-ta-be-ma-sen ...はたべません

To learn more about the Japanese language, please refer to the website below.
LEARN JAPANESE

Wi-Fi

The Japanese government has recently decided to strengthen public Wi-Fi accessibility throughout Japan. However, Wi-Fi access is still only limited to major cities and some regions like Shikoku. Below are lists of methods to have internet connection.

Free Wi-Fi

Here is a list of areas that offer free Wi-Fi
*depending on the area, a sign up process may be required.

  • Starbucks
  • Tully’s Café
  • Komeda Café (コメダ珈琲店)
  • Seattle’s Best Coffee
  • Convenient Stores

Mobile Apps

TRAVEL JAPAN Wi-Fi and Japan Connected-Free Wi-Fi are apps that are available for smart phone users, which can be downloaded at your designated app store. After downloading and changing some settings on the phone and allow the app access to your phone’s location, you will be able to connect to the Wi-Fi freely. There are also Wi-Fi spots in parts of the cities that be used for free. For more information, please check the website below.

Rental Pocket Wi-Fi

Upon arrival, service facilities that rent out portable Wi-Fi devices are available at major Japanese airports. Rental (reservation and payment) can be conducted online, receive the device anywhere in Japan and return the device through post mail or through the company’s designated box within the airport. For more information, please check the website below.

Rental Smartphones

Rental services of smartphones (iPhones and Android models) are also available at major Japanese airports. Delivery to a designated place and return through mail can also be conducted after ordering/reserving online. A check of your photo ID and your credit card may be required. For more information, please check the website below.

Sim Cards

Sim Cards can also be rented in the airport or through online services, as mentioned above in regard with portable Wi-Fi and smartphone rentals. Prices vary depending on companies, data usage and time length. For more information, please check the website below.

Payment Methods in Japan

The most common payment method in Japan is through cash. However, there has been a slight social change in regard of other payment methods. Listed below are different types of payment methods.

Cash

Cash as mentioned above is the prevailing payment method within Japan. When travelling into rural regions it is best to carry cash around as most stores, hotels, and transportation do not accept other payment methods. In terms of transportation, most buses do not accept bills over \1,000 so carrying small change is advisable.

Credit/ Debit Cards

There has been a slight increase in the usage of credit/debit cards in big cities. Most hotels, department stores, mid to high-end restaurants, convenient stores, outlet malls and supermarkets have begun to accept this kind of payment method. When travelling in smaller cities, cash is still the preferred payment. Master- Card and Visa are widely accepted, while places that accept American Express are relatively limited.

IC Cards

“IC Cards” are rechargeable prepaid cards mainly used for transportation and are prominently used in Japan. “Suica” and “Pasmo” are typically the main IC Cards that are used and you can not only conveniently pay for transportation but also for vending machines, coin lockers and convenient stores.
* Suica and Pasmo are mostly accepted throughout Japan. However, depending on which area of Japan you are, other IC Cards are applicable or cannot be used.