Tips to make your trip to Japan more enjoyable
Hello everyone of the world! I am Japanese who learning English. I grow up in Japan all my life, so my English may be wrong. If you look at wrong English, please send me comment. Only English comments may be treated as spam, so please contact me on my Twitter account(@INU_MONO_GATARI).
I live in Nikko city. Yes, Nikko city, with Toshogu Shrine, Kinugawa, various cultural heritage sites, and have wonderful nature. I see foreigners almost every day, so I myself am very interested in foreign countries.
- Why did you like Japan? How did you know Japan and how did you come to like Japan?
- What kind of place is Japan? What kind of who is Japanese?
- “Foreigner” for Japanese
- No ninjas, No one wears a kimono, and We don’t eat sushi every day
- Please take wear off all in Onsen(hot spring/spa)
- If you have tattoo, you may not be able to enter the Onsen
- Vending machines are more expensive than supermarkets
- You will meet an earthquake
- Please have cash ready
- Most importantly… We speak Japanese
- Do I need to learn Japanese?
- Let’s convey your heart
Why did you like Japan? How did you know Japan and how did you come to like Japan?
YouTube Channel Nikko-city(日光市) Introduction to Nikko City
What do you like about Japan?
Sushi? Kimono? Shrine or Temple? Attractive sweets? Kitchen knife that can cut anything? or TV animation? In 2013, Japanese food was registered as a UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage, so some people may be interested in Japan’s rich variety of food.
Whatever the case, I’m glad you’re interested in the island nations of the “far east“. Some of you may be planning to come to Japan. Japan has a culture that surprises you, for example, there are not having a tipping culture and taking off your shoes before entering a house.
In this page, I, a Japanese person written for you to “Notes when coming to Japan“.
What kind of place is Japan? What kind of who is Japanese?
Japan is an island country in East Asia. If you look at the map of your country, Japan will appear to be the easternmost and smallest of the country. But in Japan, a map with Japan almost at the center is used.
Are you think Is Japan small country? In fact, it is the 11th most populous country in the world. There are over 10 million people in Tokyo.
Over 97% of people in Japan are Japanese. In only Japanese people country what should you be careful about? I will write my thoughts.
“Foreigner” for Japanese
Japanese people have a strong image of foreigner as “Americans / Europeans“. Skin color is not matter. In other words, many Japanese people expect that “Foreigners use English“.
What if you were French, German, Spanish, Middle Eastern or Asian? … It doesn’t matter. You are “A foreigner“.
You are a foreign country human
Cities such as Tokyo are different, but Japanese people have few chances to see foreigners. This is especially true in countryside. You may have the feeling that you are being watched or avoided.
If you feel discriminated against, so sorry. But really rare that foreigners are in the countryside. If you make eye contact with a Japanese person, show them a smile. Japanese will be fascinated by you.
No ninjas, No one wears a kimono, and We don’t eat sushi every day
Don’t be fooled by stereotypes. Just like Americans don’t eat hamburgers every day, Japanese people don’t eat sushi every day.
Japan is a strange country. With the latest technology in Tokyo, if you go a little further into the westside, you can enter deep nature. Nikko has Shrines and Temples in the green mountains, but at the same time there are theme parks such as “Edo Wonderland” and “Tobu World Square”.
Everything is really existence, it is Japan.
Please take wear off all in Onsen(hot spring/spa)
In Japan, there is a phrase, “Hadaka no tsukiai”. direct translation is “naked association” mean is “Close relationship“. It is quite odd to me, but there is a culture in Japan where people get naked in public.
The history of hot springs in Japan is old. It is very rare, there are still “mixed bathing” hot spring right now. Oh don’t worry, There are also hot springs where you can into bath with swimsuit, such as the “北温泉旅館(Kita Onsen Rhokan)” which was used in the filming of “Thermae Romae“.
The pool is a swimsuit, but Onsen is naked. It is Japanese style.
Kita Onsen Ryokan(北温泉旅館)
Official site is “Click here“
If you have tattoo, you may not be able to enter the Onsen
Tattoos reminds Yakuza for Japanese people. Many Onsen facility will be refused people who have tattoo.
These days, there is an opinion that “Not good to discriminate based on tattoos”, so more and more Onsens allow you to baths if you stick a sticker over your tattoo.
For details, please ask the Onsen reception.
Vending machines are more expensive than supermarkets
There are many variation of vending machines in Japan. This is sad news for tourists who want to shop at such vending machines in Japan.
Vending machines are expensive. It is for example at 500 ml juice.
→ about 100yen
→ about 160yen
The good thing about vending machines is that “You can easily buy them anywhere”. If you don’t want convenience, I think you should be want it in supermarket.
You will meet an earthquake
Japan is sandwiched four plates plates, so earthquakes are common than other countries. Are you remember the earthquake in Japan in 2011? There were two big earthquakes in May 2023.
When you are in Japan, there is a high chance that you will experience an earthquake. It sounds scary, but quite peculiar enough, Japanese people are not afraid of earthquakes.
If you are really feel fear, ask a nearby Japanese person “Jishin Daijo-bu? Nigeru?(Should I run away from this earthquake?)” or look at the Japanese around you. If them atmosphere is dangerous, you should run away.
Please have cash ready
There are use Yen(円) in Japan. You may be able to use cash cards as debit cards in the city center, but you should think that only cash can be used in country areas.
Japan have unique card as paypay, but it is not perfect. Many stores only accept cash, so you need to have cash(Yen).
If you don’t have cash, you can withdraw money from post offices or ATM in convenience stores.
JAPAN POST BANK(ゆうちょ銀行)
How to withdrawals for cards issued abroad in Japan is “Click here“
Most importantly… We speak Japanese
Japanese people use Japanese. The characters are almost the same as in China, but they are used in a unique way in Japan, so We don’t speak Chinese.
In Japan, there is a class called “Foreign Language“, where you usually learn “English“. However, I don’t think than 1% of people can speak English in Japan because there are no situations where used English.
Of course, some people can speak English, but you speak so fast as we can’t hear you English. Please speak slowly(seriously).
Do I need to learn Japanese?
It is said that Japanese is very difficult language for English-speaker. But learning a little Japanese will make your trip to Japan more enjoyable, right?
United States Department of State
Difficulty list about learn languages for English-speaker is “Click here“
If you want to enjoy a few days in Japan, you don’t need to learn Japanese. Multilingual guides are available in Japan. English menus are usually available on public transport, chain restaurants and tourist areas. And more, Japan has smart information boards are prepared so that you can understand with images and videos instead of language.
If you have a longer stay, deeper sightseeing, taxis, hitchhiking, backpacking etc… you need to be careful if you have a “Need to interact with Japanese people”. Try to use Japanese as much as possible.
Would you like to enjoy talking with people who have the same hobby as you at anime shop in Akihabara? When your favorite character goods are sold out, you want to ask the clerk if they still have them in stock? You want to ask the locals where Toshogu Shrine and Fushimi Inari Taisha are, right?
Let’s convey your heart
In order to convey your thoughts, let’s learn some simple Japanese.
Where is 〇〇?
→ 〇〇 wa doko desu ka?(〇〇 は どこ です か？)
How much is it?
→ Kore wa ikura desu ka?(これ は いくら です か？)
Japan is very nice place. Latest technology, unique history, rich natural environment, delicious food… I hope you enjoy Japan.
Before visiting Japan, I recommend that you gather information at the embassy of each country. Check out the sites below that may be useful to you.
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare(厚生労働省)
How to smoothly enter Japan is “Click here“
What is Visit Japan Web is “Click here“
Ministry of Foreign Affairs(外務省)
About visa application is “Click here“
Japan Railways(JR Group)
About Japan Rail Pass is “Click here“
AMDA Medical Information Center
If you become sick or injured while in Japan is “Click here“