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FAQs

Do I need any vaccinations to enter Japan?
There are no requirements for foreign travelers from any countries regarding certificates of vaccination.

Do I need a visa?
Japan has agreements with 60 countries that exempt these citizens from having to apply for a visa to enter Japan. Nationals of all other countries require a visa.

What can I bring through Customs?
Baggage or accompanying items arriving separately (within six months after either entry to or exit from Japan), which are accepted as for personal use only, are duty-free within the restricted quantity as specified by the customs regulations. For more details, please refer to Customs.

Can I use my credit cards? If yes, what is the best way to carry money in Japan: Travelers Checks, cash or credit cards?
Although most stores and restaurants will accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express cards, travelers should keep in mind that there are smaller shops that may not have merchant account capabilities. More than 26,000 Post Office ATMs exist at various locations throughout Japan, and stickers indicate whether a Post Office has an ATM machine. Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Visa Electron networks are accepted, as are Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club credit cards.
Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, so carrying cash is not a real problem. Travelers Checks are also an option, although it is wise to have these available in either Japanese yen, or US dollars. Travelers Checks may not be accepted by establishments other than major hotels and banks, as establishments must have currency exchange capabilities in order to accept these.

Is it possible to use my mobile phone in Japan?
At the time of writing, the Japanese mobile telephone system is not compatible with those of other countries; however, you may wish to confirm the compatibility of your mobile phone in Japan with your phone line service provider in your own country before departing for Japan. If you want to use a mobile phone in Japan, rental phones are also available. You can find rental shops at Narita Airport and Kansai Airport.

Is Japan expensive? Prices in Japan are extremely high, aren't they?
Despite rumors that travel in Japan is expensive, Tokyo and other large Japanese cities are not any more expensive than other big cities worldwide. Previous surveys on price differentials from 2002 showed that the average price in Tokyo is only 1.06 times higher than the average price of London, 1.13 times higher than the average price of Paris and Frankfurt, and 1.24 times higher than the average price of New York. 100-yen shops and budget stores abound in Japan and sell extremely affordable necessities and reasonably priced gifts, and inexpensive restaurants serve meals that cost 1,000 yen or less.

When is peak travel season?
Visitors to Japan should be aware of the peak times of the year for booking travel and accommodation reservations, which are:
(1) Yearend and during New Year holidays -- December 27 to January 4 and adjacent weekends;
(2) "Golden Week" holiday season -- April 29 to May 5 and adjacent weekends; and
(3) "Bon" festival season -- the week centering on August 15.

Please tell me where Japan is located. Can I go from Tokyo to Hong Kong by train?
Japan is an island nation with Tokyo as its capital, and is situated to the east of the Chinese mainland.
We are sometimes asked if people can travel from Tokyo to Hong Kong by train. But Hong Kong, a Chinese territory located in the south of the mainland, is separated from the islands of Japan by sea. The distance between Hong Kong and Tokyo is 2,890 km (1,806 mi.).
Therefore, you cannot travel from Tokyo to Hong Kong by train, but you can travel by air, which takes about 5 hours.

What kinds of accommodations are there in Japan?
You will find a variety of accommodation styles to suit all tastes and budgets in Japan. If you are looking for western-style lodgings, there are luxury hotels and business hotels.
If you prefer Japanese-style accommodations, stay at Ryokan (Japanese-style inn) and Minshuku (private guest-house providing a bed and meals).

We recommend the Welcome Inn, the Japanese Inn Group and Youth Hostels for travelers on low budgets

Is all of Japan urbanized like Tokyo? Is there no natural landscape left anywhere in Japan?
Metropolitan Tokyo is a big city with a population of over 12 million inhabitants. Here company headquarters, commercial establishments and government agencies are concentrated, impacting the Japanese and world economies.

Since there are many office buildings and commercial facilities, you may have the impression that there is no natural beauty left in Tokyo, but the truth is that there are many parks and green spaces, such as Hibiya Park, the Imperial Palace Outer Gardens, and the Meiji Shrine Outer Garden, where greenery in Tokyo flourishes.

Since one-seventh of Japan's landscape is mountainous, abundant with rivers, ravines and lakes, you can enjoy beautiful scenery within a short distance of major cities.
The Shirakami-Sanchi Mountains in Aomori and Akita Prefectures and Yakushima in Kagoshima Prefecture have even been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. There are also 28 national parks where the natural environment is protected.

Furthermore, since Japan is a nation of islands surrounded by seas on all sides, you can enjoy the picturesque coastline from many parts of the country. In fact, in subtropical Okinawa, majestic ocean resorts with coral reefs and spectacular beaches stand their ground with first class ocean resorts worldwide.

I hear that many Japanese people still wear kimonos as regular clothing. Is this true?
Until approximately 130 years ago, most Japanese men and women wore kimonos as their everyday clothes. However, around that time, Western clothes gradually became popular with Japanese people. By 1925, Western clothes were commonly worn by many Japanese citizens. Business suits were the norm for male company employees and female working women started to wear Western-style clothes in the office. Some people even wore Western clothes at home.
Nowadays, most Japanese people wear kimonos for ceremonies such as weddings or on other special occasions. Business suits are generally worn as business attire, but other than this, Japanese wear typical Western casual wear � such as T-shirts, polo shirts, sweaters and jeans, which are all popular.

Do Japanese people eat sushi every day?
It is true that sushi is a typical and popular Japanese dish (particularly in the West), and many Japanese people like it. But Japanese people don't eat sushi every day. Sushi is not even a common Japanese everyday food.
In their everyday life, many Japanese people eat food that contains fish and vegetables as essential ingredients, but Japanese also eat Western food such as spaghetti, hamburgers, and beefsteak for their regular meals.
You can find many fast food restaurants, such as hamburger establishments in Japan, and in big cities such as Tokyo, there are restaurants serving a variety of international cuis

Are there samurai in today's Japan?
The samurai were members of a powerful class of warriors who mastered martial arts and were engaged in military affairs. The samurai class ruled Japan until about 140 years ago, but in today's Japan there are no samurai.
The origin of the samurai dates back to the middle of the Heian period (794-1192), when powerful clans of farmers and military officers, who had guarded noblemen and their residences, were reclassified into the samurai class. Soon after this time, the samurai class grew powerful. In 1192, the first Samurai-run government was established in Kamakura, and the samurai class ruled the nation for over 680 years until the Meiji Restoration of 1867.
As the world has seen via the Hollywood production, "The Last Samurai" starring Tom Cruise, samurai warriors are popular subjects for movies, TV dramas and shows.

What are geisha?
Geisha are women whose profession is to entertain guests in a tatami-matted room at Japanese-style restaurants and other similar establishments. They perform traditional Japanese arts such as dancing, playing the shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese musical instrument), and playing/singing musical accompaniments. Geishas can be 18 to 80 years old. An apprentice geisha is called Maiko in Kyoto and Hangyoku in Tokyo. It is believed that there are fewer than 10,000 geisha in Japan today, so certainly, not all Japanese women are geisha.
Some people can form the wrong impression of a geisha's occupation, because geisha are women while their guests are usually men, but it is true that geisha are purely professional artistes who entertain guests by performing traditional arts.




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