Overseas travel can sometimes be a little overwhelming.
Following are a number of handy hints to help prepare you for your Japan travel adventure.
PASSPORT & VISA
Any foreign visitors desiring to enter Japan must have a valid passport.
Australians who enter Japan as tourists may stay for up to ninety days as long as they hold an Australian passport which remains valid during their stay and do not receive any income while in Japan.
SEASONAL CLOTHING (Tokyo and vicinity)
Spring (Mar.-May): lightweight jackets and sweaters.
Summer (Jun.-Aug.): light clothing, short sleeves.
Autumn (Sep.-Nov.): same as spring.
Winter (Dec.-Feb.): coats, warm jackets and sweaters, thermals.
Good quality socks are recommended as shoes are customarily removed before entering many restaurants and all private homes.
Individual tipping is not common in Japan, since 10 to 15% service charge is added to the bill at leading hotels, ryokan and higher-class restaurants.
No tip is necessary unless you request some special services.
Historically Japan was very much a cash society with foreign tourists preparing large sums of yen cash before any holiday to Japan.
In recent years this has changed rapidly with International credit and debit cards issued by American Express, VISA, Diners Club, MasterCard and JCB readily accepted at a high percentage of restaurants and shops.
Cash is still a necessity for small local restaurants, vending machines and the purchase of local transport costs. Japan Rail now accept credit card as a form of payment for the purchase bullet train tickets as do most taxis.
Foreign issued credit, debit and cash cards can be used at the International ATM machines located in all Japanese Post Offices and 7Eleven convenience stores. These machines will also operate in English and conveniently dispense the local currency.
Manageable small to medium sized suitcases with wheels are recommended.
The Japanese transport system is not built to cater for large suitcases. There are no station porters and travellers are expected to be responsible for their own luggage.
Leading hotels in Tokyo and other big cities have two outlets of 110 and 220 volts but their sockets usually accept two prong plugs only.
Australian appliances need an adaptor which are available from duty free stores.
Not all hotels provide a hairdryer in their rooms but they are usually available on request.
FOOD & DRINK
Few first-time visitors to Japan are prepared for the variety and sumptuousness of the food on offer. Among the types of cooking found in Japan are: Sukiyaki, Tempura, Sushi, Shabu-shabu, Yakitori, Soba, Okonomiyaki.
There are also many fast food establishments serving hamburgers and fries.
Prices are very reasonable.
For non-Japanese speakers, some restaurants display plastic and wax replicas of their dishes in front windows, or provide a menu with colour photos.
Tap water is safe to drink anywhere in Japan.
Dial 110 for the police
Dial 119 to report a fire or to call an ambulance.
No coins are needed on public phones for these calls.
Other useful telephone numbers are as follows:
AMDA International Medical Information Centre (for medical information and English-speaking doctors and hospitals):
Tokyo Tel.(03) 5285-8088
Kansai Tel.(06) 4395-0555
For Tourist information:
Tokyo: (03) 3201 3331
Kyoto: (075) 371-5649