Facts for the Visitor
visa required, visitors permitted to stay 3 months.
Language Skills Needed
its possible to get by on English alone in Tokyo and a few other
major cities, little English is spoken elsewhere. Since many
Japanese study written English in school, questions in simple
text are normally better understood than verbal communication.
Signs and directions are regularly posted in Japanese. Find a
Japanese map and compare the characters to the posted signs to
get around independently.
Citibank cash machines are connected to the Plus
and Cirrus networks. There is one in the Narita Airport lobby
after exiting customs. In Tokyo, there are few Citibank machines.
Outside major cities there are none. The easiest way to find them is on
the Citibank web site. Since Japan is a cash-based society
(credit cards are not widely accepted) and costs are high,
withdraw the equivalent of US$500 to US$1000 whenever you find a
Citibank machine. Theft of your money in Japan is highly
|US$ 1 =
¥ 118.9 on September 14, 2001.
50~60Hz. Plugs have
2 flat pins like the US.
|International Certificates of Vaccination are not required.
is never required nor expected. Don't try to tip anywhere. It'll
just create confusion.
in Japan ranges between traditional tatami rooms to
western-style hotels; from pricey to very expensive.
||A traditional-style room
generally has a tatami floor, sliding wood and
paper-screen doors, low tea table, and futons for
sleeping. Prices are per-person, always include
breakfast and often include dinner. There are 2 types of
expensive, better service, unbelievable Japanese meals,
and a spacious and relaxing common bath (ofuro) or hot
springs (onsen). Prices are about ¥15,000 per person per
night and up.
expensive, generally owned and operated by a family,
very good service, excellent meals, and a small common
bath (ofuro). Prices are about ¥7000 per person per night
||Anything that isn't traditional Japanese fits into
the "Western" category even though the room may vary from
a Westerner's expectation.
rooms have a bed, private bathroom, TV, and telephone. Room sizes
range from 2 meter by 3 meter singles to spacious doubles. Meals
are not included. Prices are for the room, not per person. Tiny
singles are ¥10,000 and up. More spacious doubles are
¥17,000 and up.
cheapest clean urban overnight is in a capsule (kind of like a
cadaver storage at a morgue). Prices are ¥3500 and up.
cheaper hotels are full, find a brightly lit Love Hotel.
Rooms often have themes and are charged by the hour. Contrary
to the clientele one might expect, many guests are business men
with long commutes needing a few hours sleep between leaving
work late and the next morning, and married couples with kids
and tiny apartments.
huts and lodges range from adequate to excellent. All serve breakfast
and some serve lunch and dinner also. The availability of running
water depends on the hut's location. Sleeping is on a futon and
normally very cramped. Carry a light sleeping bag if staying at
huts at high elevation. Prices are per-person. All huts in the
Kimikochi area charge ¥8500 per person with dinner and
are 2 types of public telephone pre-paid cards: NTT and IC. IC
phones are clearly marked and are often orange. NTT phones are
usually gray or green. The gray NTT phones have an English
instruction option and are equipped with an ISDN and
analog RJ11 jack for laptop computer connection. Telephone cards
come in ¥500 (50 unit) and ¥1000 (105 unit) denominations.
They can be purchased at any train station kiosk, souvenir shop, or
mini-mart. Directory assistance is number 104 and costs ¥100
(10 telephone card units) per
Internet Cafés can be found in Tokyo. None can be found
in the country side. The easiest way to find an Internet Café
in Tokyo is to ask at the police box at any major train station.
The police will gladly show a map and explain how to get there.
train and bus networks throughout Japan are excellent. Just
bumming around Tokyo, expect train fare to cost between ¥1500
to ¥2000 per day. Free train and subway mini-maps are available
at the station master's office next to the ticket gates at every
station. The maps are in Japanese and provide you with the routes
and station names in Japanese characters that you can compare to
route maps on the train platform and in the train cars. The bus
network is very difficult to navigate for non-Japanese speakers.
A few train and subway conveniences to mention:
traveling the same route multiple times, consider buying a booklet
of 11 Kaisu-ken for the price of 10 fares. Kaisu-ken are valid
between 2 stations for an unlimited period of time. Purchase
them at the purple-colored ticket vending machines. At these same
machines, 14 Off-Peak Kaisu-ken can also be purchased for the
price of 10 fares, but they can only be used between
can be used in the JR (Japan Rail) network only. They come in ¥1000,
¥3000, and ¥5000 denominations. No discounts are given.
The advantage is that the iO Card, like a telephone card, can
be used at JR ticket gates in place of a ticket. The entry and
exit points are recorded and the appropriate amount is deducted
from the card. This avoids lengthy waits to purchase individual
train tickets. The combination of up to 2 iO cards and cash
can be used at JR ticket machines (displaying the iO symbol)
to purchase individual tickets too.
identical to the iO card but is valid for all trains and subways
other than JR.
Copyright © 2000-2002 Wes and Masami Heiser. All rights reserved.