Tips for First Time Travelers to Japan

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Japan is very warm and welcoming to Travelers, but its culture is very unique and different. For the first-timers, it is good to create a blunder-free journey. I would suggest you to arm yourself with some basic tips to make your visit to Japan hassle free.

1. Rent a wireless router

Getting a prepaid SIM card with local calling service is difficult in Japan. It's better to rent a handy little wireless router, known as "pocket Wi-Fi" in Asia.

This will allow multiple gadgets -- smartphone, laptop, tablet, Kindle -- to connect at once with un-throttled, unlimited data. Local calls are then possible via cheap Internet phone services like Skype. You can rent and return one of these devices easily at the telecom company counters at most airports.

2. Rent bicycles when possible

Renting a bike is a great way to cover a lot of ground in a day. One city that is particularly good to cover on the bike is Kyoto. The areas of Arashiyama and Sagano are lovely for biking during the spring and fall. Public transport is very costly in Japan.

3. Don’t raise your voice
      
Talking loudly is considered extremely rude on public transportation.  Most people sit quietly or use SMS phone messaging. Don’t talk loudly in public.

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4. Bring your passport for tax exemption

To take advantage of tax exemption at stores like Tokyu Hands and Don Quijote, you need to show your passport. There's nothing worse than having purchased a ton of stuff only to find that you’ve forgotten your passport at the hotel.

5. Download the Hyperdia app
 
Cabs are extremely expensive in Japan. It's good to have a firm handle on the public transport system. This easy-to-use Japan train app is a godsend to foreign travelers and is free for the first 30 days. This includes long-distance shinkansen as well as subway trains. Just be on time, you may miss the train even if late by a minute.

6. Download Google Translate app, learn basic Japanese
 
The extent of the language barrier may come as a surprise to first-timers to Japan.
The Google Translate app is one of the handiest ways for translating what you want to say on the spot. It has a camera input option and is free to download. It is also good to learn basic questions in Japanese, to avoid confusions.

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7. Don’t be afraid of robots

Japanese are very innovative, they try and minimize human efforts as much as possible. You may find some automation and robotic structure in toilets or any public places or security checks. Don’t be afraid, they will be as friendly as the Japanese people.

8. Print out your hotel address in Japanese

This goes for travel to most foreign countries as well, but it's a particularly useful tip in Japan. Just in case your phone battery runs out and you can't look up the address in a taxi, have a print-out to show the driver if it's not already written on your key card.

9. ATM’s are difficult

It can be surprisingly difficult to find an ATM that accepts foreign cards, even in Tokyo. The ATMs that do can be found in 7-Elevens, post offices, and Citibank ATMs.

Again, this sounds obvious, but you can save a lot of frustration by double checking before you arrive that your card is activated for withdrawals in a foreign country.

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10. Try local food

It's almost impossible to get a bad meal in Japan! Every dish in every restaurant is meticulously thought-out and prepared. And the food is incredibly varied, from the expected sushi and ramen joints to restaurants that specialize in anything from yakitori to soba noodles, katsu cutlets to okonomiyaki.

11. Some rituals

Shrine rituals, There will be a water source in front of any shrine. Before entering the shrine, use the ladles provided to pour water over your hands to rinse them, and pour water into your hand to use to rinse your mouth. Avoid too short or revealing dresses at temples.