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Japan - Traveling

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Entry requirements

Organizing your trip

Means of transport recommended in town

The bigger towns have a well-developed metro system and taxis are available everywhere. Taxi lights show green when they are free, and red when they are not. Most taxi drivers do not speak English. Ask the hotel to write the address in Japanese.
The metros of Tokyo and Osaka are among the most extensive in the world. In the ranking of the 10 best metro systems in the world, Tokyo’s is in 5th position. Destinations and information are written both in Japanese and in English.
Maps of urban networks: Map of the Tokyo metro

Means of transport recommended in the rest of the country

The train remains the most suitable means of transport for foreigners. The Japanese rail network is efficient and modern. It has recently been equipped with a high speed line (shinkansen) which travels at 185 miles per hour and links Tokyo with the other main economic centers in the country. The Japan Rail Pass allows you to travel at a lower cost. The following sites will give you further information about the Pass: the Japan Rail Pass website, the information pages on the national tourism website. Domestic air travel is quite expensive, but it is practical when you are traveling with a lot of baggage. The Japan Guide summarizes the different means of transport in Japan.
Rail companies: Japan Railways Group
Name Type Domestic flights International flights
Jalways Major yes Yes
Japan Airlines Major yes Yes
All Nippon Airways Major yes Yes
Jetstar/Jetstar Asia/Valuair low cost no Yes

Traveling by yourself

Recommendation: The road network is good and modern throughout the country. The roads are safe. But tolls on motorways are expensive, traffic conditions on the roads are congested and car rental prices are high. It is particularly recommended that people who do not have an excellent knowledge of Japanese do not go out on the roads by themselves, given that all road signs are in Japanese.
Road maps: Map of Japan
Find an itinerary: Live search maps


Different forms of tourism

Historical: Castles, a reminder of the establishment of the central power until the 15th century. Destroyed en masse at the time of the Meiji and during the Second World War, about a dozen can still be visited.
Cultural: Many festivals take place throughout the year (festival of the tombs, cherry blossom festival). Open air museums offer visits of the different Japanese architectural styles.
Nature: Many Japanese-style gardens, among which the most outstanding are Konrokuen at Kanazawa, Katsura Villa at Kyoto. Some Japanese sites are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, consult the website to see which they are.
Religious: Many temples and tombs. Each city has them. Some of them are really magnificent. Among the temples: Ginkakuji, Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera and Sanjusangendo at Kytoto, Todaiji and Horyuji at Nara. Among the tombs: the one at Ise, Nikko Toshogu at Nikko, Itsukushima at Miyajima.
Thermal: Hot springs flow all over the country. There are many spas.
Winter sports: The 500 national ski resorts have plentiful, good snow, superb countryside and hot water springs to relax in.
Outdoor activities: Rambling, Diving, Bicycle touring, Golf
Shopping: Japan is known worldwide for its original mode with its Japanese creators, European brands (Louis Vuitton, Prada, etc.), department stores (Mitsukoshi, Takashimaya, etc.)

Living conditions

Health and safety

Health precautions: No specific vaccination is required.
Because of the epidemic of avian flu, it is recommended that you avoid all contact with poultry or birds, that you do not go to any bird markets, and that you do not attend cock fights.
For further information on sanitary conditions: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare

Time difference and climate

Map of the time zone: Tokyo (GMT+9)
Summer time period: None
Climate: The rainy season lasts from June to mid-July and the summer is damp and humid. The Typhoon season lasts from August to September. The temperature can rise to 38°C (100°F) in summer and drop to under 5°C in winter. The climate can vary noticeably from one island to another. Autumn is undoubtedly the best time to visit Japan.


Food specialties: Most Japanese dishes are served in bowls (Domburi) with rice on top and meat, vegetables etc underneath: Oyakodom (eggs and chicken), Katsudom (fried pork chops), Gyudom (beef and eggs), Unadom (grilled eels), Chukadon and Tendon (seafood and vegetables).
Japanese cooking is also composed of salads (Gomaae), a wide variety of fish and seafood eaten raw (Sashimi and Sushi), seaweed, noodles (Soba), soups, meat grilled on skewers and cheese.
They also have some items of Chinese cooking such as steamed fritters or fruit.
Drinks: Tea is most widely drunk but it is also possible to find alcoholic drinks: beer, Happoshu (a by-product of beer, less strong in taste but with the same alcohol content), Nihonshu or Sake (spirit made from rice), Japanese wine, products made from plums, imported international wines.
Dietary taboos: None


Getting some knowledge: The Travlang website gives you some typical phrases to learn in Japanese.
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