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Here are some commonly asked questions about travel in Japan. If you have any other questions, please just drop us a line.

What's the weather like?
What sort of baggage should I use?
What should I bring?
Do I need a visa?
Do I require any inoculations?
Travellers Cheques, Cash or Cards?
What's the Time Zone in Japan?
What's the voltage?
How much spending money do I need?

Weather

With four distinct seasons, Japan has something to offer whenever you visit. 

Spring and autumn are generally warm and dry seasons, hence the most popular time to visit.  The summer is hot and humid but with fantastic festivals and days at the beach it’s a great time to get outside.  There is a short rainy season in June, during which time the weather can be unpredictable, however the rainy season doesn’t mean it rains everyday, but more that there is good weather interrupted by periods of rain.

Baggage

All Dragonfly Tours utilise the fantastic public transport network of Japan and although most accommodation is close to the station, small baggage is not only the most convenient for yourself but also for other travellers.  A small case on wheels is good, a backpack is even better.  In addition to this a small daypack is a good idea for camera, snacks and additional clothing while out exploring.

In some cases it’s convenient to forward baggage.  There are a number of companies in Japan which do this efficiently and cheaply, leaving you free to explore with only your daypack.

Ideal baggage with a case, a daypack and a smaller shoulder bag

What to bring

This is always a tricky question and often asked, so here’s a list of recommended items starting with the obvious.  If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Essentials

  • Passport

  • Flight tickets or e-ticket details

  • Insurance policy

  • Credit cards

  • Cash

  • All medication required for the trip (and copy of the prescription)

  • All contact lenses, emergency back up lenses and even emergency back up pair of glasses (prescription is worth bringing, but if you wanted to buy contacts or glasses in Japan they’d insist on having your eyes tested and writing their own prescription.  This can be a hassle and having back up lenses and glasses are advised.

Be sure to have copies of all the above kept in a separate place from the originals.

So with the above packed, unless you have special requirements, all else can be bought easily in Japan.  With convenience stores around every corner and vending machines crammed into any space possible selling everything from vegetables to beer with a number of quirky things in between, it’s a country that epitomises the meaning of convenience.

But here are some other things you may want to bring.  - Just remember the less you have the better it is

  • Backpack or small case on wheels

  • Daypack

  • Money belt.

  • Clothing - Japan is a seasonal country with significant changes in temperature, please consider the weather guide above and choose your clothing appropriately.

Here is a rough guide to the seasonal clothing:

In spring, (March-May) windbreaker, light fleece, shorts and trousers.

In summer, (June – August) light clothing, shorts and tee-shirt, a light sweater can come in useful when on air-conditioned trains.  Summer can be very humid and sticky necessitating regular changes of light clothing and a sunhat is invaluable.

In autumn, (September – November) windbreaker, light fleece, shorts and trousers.

  • Comfortable, waterproof walking shoes / boots for daily use, temple hopping, travelling and hiking.

  • Sandals. 

There is little need for a third set of shoes.

  • Camera

Camera charger.  Please check voltage on the plug.  Adaptors can be bought in Japan but it’s usually better to buy them in your own country.  There is no need to bring lots of film.  Film is cheap and plentiful in Japan, after all it is the home of the camera!

  • Guide book of Japan.  A phrase book can be handy too.

Visas

Many countries have reciprocal visa exemptions, and a 90-Day tourist visa will be issued on arrival in Japan.

Please check with your nearest Japanese consulate for information in regards to this.

For more information please see the following website:

http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/novisa.html

Inoculations

At the time of writing there were no requirements for pre-travel inoculations.

Please check with your local Japanese consulate for up to date information.

Money / Credit cards / Travellers Cheques

Although travellers’ cheques are accepted in the big banks, hotels and stores in the major cities, credit cards give you much more freedom.  ATMs can be used in post offices and 7-11 convenience stores throughout the country.  But ultimately cash is king.

Many smaller businesses don’t accept plastic and the Japanese use cash for most things, whether it’s in the supermarket, dining out, or shopping often carrying large sums about with them.  Most visitors to Japan also find it more convenient to use cash.

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, petty crime is extremely rare and carrying cash isn’t the worry it is in most other countries. By keeping your important things in a money belt reduces any chance of losing it. 

It’s worth bringing 30,000 yen per person into Japan to save changing money at the airport where rates tend to be less. 

It’s also a good idea to stash $100 somewhere in case of emergency. 

Time Zone

All of Japan is on the same time zone, 9 hours ahead of GMT.  There is no daylight saving.

Electricity

Throughout Japan a uniform 100 volts AC is used.  There are two frequencies, 50 Hertz in eastern Japan and 60 Hertz in western Japan (including Osaka and Kyoto).

North American appliances, despite the slight voltage difference work ok.

Japanese sockets take plugs with two vertical pins.  Transformers and adapters can be bought in Japan, but it’s often easier to purchase them in your own country before coming to Japan.

Prices / How much?

Since the 80’s and the economic bubble, a time when people would pay US$100 (£50) for a watermelon or US$12 (£6) for a coffee, Japan has had a reputation for being expensive.  In fact, these days most tourists are pleasantly surprised by how reasonable prices are.  Broadly speaking prices are comparable with most other western countries but dining out, in particular, represents good value for money and there are always plenty of good deals to be found on latest electronics.

With travel and accommodation covered, many of the breakfasts and a number of other meals you can get by on ¥3-5,000 per day.  If you are a little more extravagant, aim for ¥5-7000.  It’s worth noting also that the speciality foods such as fugu, Kobe Beef and high class sushi does come at a price.

Here is a rough guide to some of the prices you can expect.

Big Mac Meal 620 yen
Starbucks coffee of the day -Tall 330 yen
Can of Cola 120 yen
Can of Beer (500ml) 290 yen
A glass of beer in a bar 500 – 700 yen
Bowl of noodles (ramen) 800 yen
Apple 100 yen
Lunch set 1,000 yen
Quality Kobe Beef dinner 10,000 yen
Taxi   - 2km 550 yen
Central subway journey 260 yen
Entrance into a temple 400 – 500 yen
Tipping Tipping is not customary nor expected in anyplace in Japan including restaurants and hotels

Business hours

  Weekdays Saturday Sunday & National Holidays
Banks   09:00-15:00 Closed closed
Post offices   09:00-17:00

09:00-12:30

(ATM only)

closed
Department
stores
10:00-20:00 10:00-20:00 10:00-19:30
Shops   10:00-20:00 10:00-20:00 10:00-20:00
Museums   10:00-17:00 10:00-17:00 10:00-17:00
Offices   09:00-17:00 Closed closed
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