Travelling Tips

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Travelling Tips

Etiquettes –

  • To greet a person, bend your body 15 degrees forward for a casual bow. But when you meet elders, bow deeply from your waist.
  • Before eating a meal and after finishing it, thank your host for the meal and their company with a small bow.
  • Do not use your cell phones on public transport and do not talk loudly. Keep your phones on the silent mode.
  • Do not blow your nose in public. Be discreet about wiping your nose.
  • Form or join an orderly queue wherever required.
  • Do not assume that a local will know English.
  • If you learn a few Japanese phrases, it will be greatly appreciated.
  • It would be good to bring small gifts from your country to thank the people you are staying with or someone else who has helped you during your trip.
  • Use both hands for receiving visiting cards and gifts. While giving your visiting card, stand up, bow slightly and hold your card facing the others with the fingertips of both your hands. When you receive a visiting card, examine it with pleasure and carefully place it in your wallet. Don’t shove it into your back pocket. Wrap gifts in simple brown paper.
  • Remove your footwear whenever others have. You’ll always have to remove footwear when entering a home, a temple, places with woven straw matting, some hostels and traditional accommodation and some historic sites. Do not wear house slippers in someone’s toilet. Wherever you’re required to remove footwear, it is non-negotiable.
  • Do not play with your chopsticks and do not leave them vertical in your bowl. Then they resemble incense sticks lit for the dead and this is unacceptable in Asia.
  • It is common to slurp while having noodles.
  • Tipping is offensive and unacceptable in all areas except the Roppongi area.
  • Point with your open hand only, not with your forefinger.
  • At a temple, throw a coin into the offering box and fold your hands in prayer. Burns incenses and wave your hand to extinguish the flame. Don’t blow it out.
  • At temples, speak quietly and don’t poke around cordoned-off areas. Cover
  • Before entering a shrine, use the provided ladle to rinse your hands and pour water into your hand to rinse your mouth. Spit the water out on the ground.
  • Take photos only where permitted. Watch the signs or ask if not sure. Don’t take pictures inside temples.
  • In a restaurant, wait to be seated by the staff. If they don’t take you to a table, you can sit anywhere.
  • If you are not sure of what to order, point to a photograph.
  • Do not pour your own drink when with others. It is customary for people to pour drinks for others.
  • Remove your footwear before entering a traditional Japanese restaurant. So make sure you wear good socks. Kneel at the low table. Men can sit cross-legged but women must fold their legs neatly under their hips.
  • To ask for the bill, cross your forefingers together to form an ‘X’.

Tips –

  • Drive, walk and park on the left side. Use the left side of escalators and elevators.
  • Food is expensive, so it is better to buy basic supplies like bread, spreads, rice cakes and noodles from small local shops. Try to cook as far as possible and shop at the 100 yen stores for daily supplies. Curry, Ramen, and donburi (rice bowl with fish/meat/vegetables) are the cheapest to eat.
  • After 8 PM, most supermarkets offer huge discounts on food. Most supermarkets and corner stores sell cheap set meals.
  • Even tap water is safe to drink in Japan.
  • Use maps that contain names of places in Japanese and in English.
  • Carry a translation guide to manage to speak small phrases.
  • Carry tissues or hand towels with you as most public toilets won’t have them.
  • Carry a notepad with you so that you can write or draw if someone can’t understand you.
  • Carry the written address of where you are staying and your destinations in English and Japanese.
  • Some hostels in Japan will let you stay for free if you work for a few hours in the morning.
  • There are hospitality sites through which you can get in touch with locals and be their house guests. It may take you a long time to get a favourable response though.
  • Bear in mind that taxis are expensive and public transport closes at midnight and resumes at 5 AM.
  • Buses are much cheaper than trains. Also, try to get passes for public transport such as the JR pass for unlimited train travel.
  • You can get Suica cards for public transport and paying at stores. You can keep recharging them with money when required.
  • You can visit as many free attractions as possible to save money. Many parks and museums are free.
  • Carry at least 10,000-20,000 yen with you as most Japanese ATMs don’t accept foreign cards. Also, many places don’t accept credit cards.