Japan in 60 seconds…your FAQ’s answered
Everybody is talking about Japan - with flight deals that are saaa good, it’s become one of the destinations that are top of the travel list for most of us who are keen to say ‘sayonara Australia’ and ‘hello’ the rest of the world.
But before you book flights and a 7-day JR Rail Pass (…don’t know what that is or if you need it? You should probably read this then….) take a read through some of our most frequently asked questions…
Is it easy to catch the trains around Japan?
Japan has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. In Tokyo and Osaka, the different train lines may seem overwhelming at first but one of the quickest ways to get your head around it is to use Google Maps until you’re more familiar. Which brings us to our next FAQ….
Will my phone work in Japan?
We’d recommended that you either buy a Japanese SIM card when you arrive at the airport or if you have a good overseas data plan – use that.
There are also many companies that rent sims and even phones for the short term if you want to go down that path. Having access to Google Maps while you’re in Japan makes life A WHOLE LOT EASIER. Totally worth the moolah for this one.
Is it worth buying Japan Rail (JR) Pass?
One recommendation: Short-term visitors can get an unlimited Japan Rail pass for two weeks. If you're planning to travel around the country, get one.
But absolutely do not forget to get this before you go because the pass must be purchased outside of Japan, and it only works on JR operated railways! Otherwise you can also get a seven day pass which is handy but (and this may sound obvious) don’t activate it until you’re ready to start the seven days.
Is Japan expensive?
Like any city you can ball hard or, as your Mum would say, ‘get by on the smell of an oily rag,’ and the reason people ask whether Japan is expensive is because it’s often compared to other South East Asian countries which are notoriously dirt cheap.
Japan may not be one of those dirt cheap countries but that defs doesn’t mean it’ll be expensive either. You just have to know where to be savvy.
What you really want to know though is how to drink on the cheap, right? For that, it’s best to drink (responsibly obvs) on the street.
Yep, that’s right. There’s a massive choice of chu-hai (alcopops made with shochu, a barley, sweet potato or rice distilled spirit) that are available at convenience stores and in vending machines which are legal to drink in public and are about AUD$1.40 (100 yen).
You can also head to an izakaya (a Japanese pub) for a ‘nomihodai’ deal aka all-you-can-drink for a couple of hours for about AUD $25-38 (2000-3000 yen).
How much money should you bring?
Japan has surprisingly been slower than other countries to adopt the use of credit cards however many cities are now less cash-centric than they used to be.
You can get around with a credit card, but some stores and restaurants still only take cash. It's always good to carry paper yen notes and while using an ATM might seem easy, some banks don’t accept foreign bank cards.
Your best bet is to take a split of cash and a currency card with Yen pre-loaded on it. We’d recommend a Travel Money Oz Currency Card pre-loaded at your local Student Flights store.
Can you get by with English in Japan?
Long story short, yes. Most Japanese people study English from junior high to high school BUT you will also find that much of the older generation that live in less cosmopolitan cities don’t speak any English so be prepared to whip out the Google Translate when that happens - trust us, having data to use for this very purpose is a GAME CHANGER!
Are Japanese people friendly?
The Japanese customer service is some of the best in the world. They’re also typically extremely polite and very helpful if you need directions or help finding something. Try not to fall in love with them and all of the customs, we dare you.
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