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  1. #1
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    Things to know when traveling in Japan

    So you're thinking of going to Japan - do you know what you're getting into? Do you really? I hope so, but either way here are some tips for you.

    1.) Just as most of California is not L.A., most of Japan is not in fact Tokyo.
    Tokyo is very dynamic and progressive and on the cutting-edge of technology. It is however only one area of Japan, and you should not expect the rest of the country to match it. Other areas can be very, very conservative in their behavior and views. So you should not come over expecting everything to be copacetic. More importantly - don't expect a comprehensive level of technology. Some places will have amazing tech, but other places will have stuff you haven't seen since the late 80s - early 90s. Yes I am serious.

    2.) Do not engage any small children (particularly female children) that aren't obviously yours.
    Lately there has been a serious crackdown on does looking to engage lolis and so anyone hanging about children who isn't a teacher, doctor, parent, or such is in for a bad time. That goes double for gaijin - foreigners.

    3.) Look for the little red huts.
    Those huts tend to contain cops who often have maps and are generally quite helpful. If you are severely lacking in the language and can't find either a youngster (16-25) or a kind business professional these guys are your best bet.

    4.) Accommodations are going to be different... and sometimes quite uncomfortable.
    Sometimes you'll have bathrooms that are futuristic with machines that make sounds to cover the sound of you doing your business. Sometimes you'll have bathrooms that are holes surrounded by porcelain. Central heating isn't always going to be a thing - sometimes you have to make due with a brazier or personal heater(s). Spaces will generally be smaller then what you're used to, and personal space doesn't really exist.

    5.) No, you aren't in Nazi country.
    You are in a Buddhist country and what you're seeing are the original symbol as it was before being co-opted by the Nazis. Stop by and enjoy the atmosphere - it's quite peaceful.

    6.) Food... man.
    Food gets really weird - I mean drinks made from pig uterus weird. You really need to think before you order or try something. Mayo is slathered over a lot of things here and eggs make appearances when you least expect them. I would advise sticking to things like ramen, but not things like fast food unless it's a conveyer kiosk.

    7.) Stereotypes and xenophobia
    Um... I'm not sure how to say this - Japanese people can be spectacularly rude and bigoted as far as non-Japanese people go. This can be especially true for say Black folks. Japan is rather behind on that so... yeah. Things can get very awkward very fast so try to have a thick skin.

    And it is 6 am so this is where I'll stop for now.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esperahol View Post
    6.) Food... man.
    Food gets really weird - I mean drinks made from pig uterus weird. You really need to think before you order or try something. Mayo is slathered over a lot of things here and eggs make appearances when you least expect them. I would advise sticking to things like ramen, but not things like fast food unless it's a conveyer kiosk.
    I would agree with all the tips above, including this one - food gets pretty bizarre. However, I'd advise visitors to Japan to be as adventurous as possible! Be wary of places that don't look sanitary, especially if consuming uncooked/undercooked food, but don't just stick to the stuff that looks familiar like ramen or typical rice+meat dishes.

    Great tips overall though, and thank you for sharing!

  3. #3
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    Hey Esperahol
    Great post!! I went to Japan last year and encountered a lot of this. Japan is such a fascinating country and if people went over there not knowing what to expect they could definitely be in for some surprises.
    Everyone is super friendly and helpful when you are there and they will go out of their way to offer advice if you look lost.
    You're welcome and yeah I think a lot of people go over expecting things to be like animes or Hollywood's vision of Japan. So they don't do any real research and are shocked at how things work or don't work (no your cell phone won't work). That said you can find some super helpful folks, but don't forget those very helpful red huts.

    I would agree with all the tips above, including this one - food gets pretty bizarre. However, I'd advise visitors to Japan to be as adventurous as possible! Be wary of places that don't look sanitary, especially if consuming uncooked/undercooked food, but don't just stick to the stuff that looks familiar like ramen or typical rice+meat dishes.
    Great tips overall though, and thank you for sharing!
    I can understand wanting to be adventurous, but considering how picky folks can be... I figured I'd advise ramen (which can get quite complex all things considered) or rice+meat. Some people like a surprise, but most folks don't really want anything too exotic.

  4. #4
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    One thing I learned living in Japan... never ask what's in the food. If you like it, great, if you don't like it, move on. Don't embarrass your host or restaurant cook by making a big show of how disgusting you think something is. Japanese people are very sensitive to that.
    Also, try not to be loud or obnoxious in general.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soliloquy View Post
    One thing I learned living in Japan... never ask what's in the food. If you like it, great, if you don't like it, move on. Don't embarrass your host or restaurant cook by making a big show of how disgusting you think something is. Japanese people are very sensitive to that.
    Also, try not to be loud or obnoxious in general.
    Like many foreign countries it is important to be polite - more polite then you generally might be. You are a guest and guests can certainly outlive their welcome. That said I generally make a point of presenting my "allergies", because I wouldn't want to be so rude as to ruin dinner with an allergic attack.

  6. #6
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    Re: Things to know when traveling in Japan

    I like this list, it definitely had some information I could use. However the way you've written it is almost hostile. Any particular reason for this? Did you personally have problems with these things?

  7. #7
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    Re: Things to know when traveling in Japan

    Another good thing to know; those little rolled up towels you'll be offered before meals are seriously hot. Handle with care, and gingerly open them up to let them cool a bit before wiping your hands and face with them. You'll find them very refreshing afterwards.

  8. #8
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    How essential do you think it is to have a command of the language? Is basic "do you speak English?", "where is the restroom?" level sufficient in most places, or is it a good idea to be proficient if not entirely fluent?

    What is the best way to work around the cell phone issue, and how is the coverage outside of major cities?

    I'm the opposite of those travelers that don't do any homework... I suspect I may be doing too much. I'm planning a summer in Japan for my daughter and I as her high school graduation gift in a few years and I'm already reading up on the customs and sights we might want to see and starting to plan things out in my head!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by crimsonghost747 View Post
    I like this list, it definitely had some information I could use. However the way you've written it is almost hostile. Any particular reason for this? Did you personally have problems with these things?
    Was I especially hostile? I don't see it - the titles for each point might have been rather upfront, but the information under was just a basic blurb. Can you explain what made it seem hostile to you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soliloquy View Post
    Another good thing to know; those little rolled up towels you'll be offered before meals are seriously hot. Handle with care, and gingerly open them up to let them cool a bit before wiping your hands and face with them. You'll find them very refreshing afterwards.
    This is a good point - I may need to edit this to include bath houses and why you need to learn to enjoy showers. Also vending machines, banking hours, and how medical care works there... Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cammie27 View Post
    How essential do you think it is to have a command of the language? Is basic "do you speak English?", "where is the restroom?" level sufficient in most places, or is it a good idea to be proficient if not entirely fluent?

    What is the best way to work around the cell phone issue, and how is the coverage outside of major cities?

    I'm the opposite of those travelers that don't do any homework... I suspect I may be doing too much. I'm planning a summer in Japan for my daughter and I as her high school graduation gift in a few years and I'm already reading up on the customs and sights we might want to see and starting to plan things out in my head!
    You can get by without too much of the language, but to do so you need to stay close to large cities and tourist traps. If you're going to venture out pass that then you need to be rather more proficient. Business men and young adults (16-25) are your best source of translators and helpers.

    You can get a fairly cheap, rather nice phone there - that's what most people do. You can get them from kiosks, vending machines, and many other places. I think there are also places you can rent them from while you're there. Don't quote me on that. Coverage is generally very good even in the country.

    There are many forums online that can help you with these questions. Just search - learning about japan forum and that should get you started. That is a really nice thing you're planning for your daughter. She is really lucky.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esperahol View Post
    You can get by without too much of the language, but to do so you need to stay close to large cities and tourist traps. If you're going to venture out pass that then you need to be rather more proficient. Business men and young adults (16-25) are your best source of translators and helpers.
    That's what I thought. She's trying to teach herself the language now using free resources, and I'm going to be getting her Rosetta Stone for us to use together for Christmas so hopefully we'll know enough to get by. She does want to venture out of the cities and we're looking into international volunteer opportunities for part of our time there, so I do think at least some proficiency will be needed.

    Thank you for your help!

  11. #11
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    I'm glad to help you out and I hope this is a great experience for you. I would love to get the Rosetta program - I've heard its a really excellent method of learning.

  12. #12
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    Re: Things to know when traveling in Japan

    Japan is an amazing region that is offfer a diverse kind of attraction to explore the views of nature beauty. It is a most famous holidays destination around the world. I have been there about few years ago with my whole familt to enjoy holidays. We stay there for four days and had lots of fun there through different activities that tourist can enjoy there. I would love to go there again again.

  13. #13
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    Re: Things to know when traveling in Japan

    It's so much great to see that you have shared here really great kind of stuff about the Things to know when traveling in Japan. I just really like this great stuff and sure that it would be really great to note these all best points and will explore out while will be there at that.

  14. #14
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    Re: Things to know when traveling in Japan

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