An Archipelago of 6,852 islands, Japan is home to over 126 million people, making this the world’s tenth most populated country.
A nation rich with Asian traditional culture surrounding a complex and profound Buddhist and Shinto spiritual custom, Japan also has a contemporary pro-Western attitude, boosting cutting-edge modern innovations and the ‘pop culture’ of anime and manga. Nothing quite prepares one for the pleasant blitz of disorientation as you negotiate this facinating land where ancient customs appears side-by-side with futuristic inceptions. While the energetic cities of Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka are the place to catch the latest trend, the most forward fashions and must-have gadgets, you never have to go far to step into the past too – ancient temples, shrines or grand castles can be found throughout.
Theme parks are a speciality too. The Disney theme parks near Tokyo and Universal Studio in Osaka have long been a favourite with Asian travellers.
And, it certainly would not be a stretch to position Japan as one of the top ski destination in Asia! Hokkaido boast several world class resorts, while the famed Hakuba Valley in Central Japan was the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, something the city is still cry proud of.
The Japanese people are famously polite and punctual. Though not outwardly emotive, they are generally kind towards children. Japanese kids are generally well behaved and soft-spoken in public too!
Dining out in Japan is a feast for the bellies, as well as the eyes. If you are a family of foodie, you will appreciate the Japanese insistence on using the finest ingredients, attention to details and genius for presentation.
|Currency||Japanese Yen (¥)|
|Tipping||There is no tipping in any situation in Japan - to do so would be considered rude.
|Languages||Japanese. However a growing number of establishments will be able to cobble together enough English to understand your point.|
|Climate||The Japanese archipelago, for the most part, belongs to the temperate zone and its climate is characterized by four distinct seasonal changes. Visit http://www.jnto.org/climate.html for comprehensive information on what to expect and pack each season|
|Useful numbers||Police: Dial 110 from any phone.
Tourist Police (English): 03 3814 4151
Available Daily from 9am - 5pm
Tourist Information Center: 03 3201 3331
Toyko English Life Line: 03 5774 0992
Tourist Information Center: 03 3201 3331
Singapore: 03 3586 9111
Malaysia: 03 3476 3840
(Please add country code +81 if calling from overseas)
|Keeping in Touch||There are now at least two options for prepaid data sim cards available now:
1. eConnect (http://www.econnectjapan.com) offers a 1GB data plan priced at 4,100Yen, for use up to 1month
2. bMobile (http://www.bmobile.ne.jp/) offers a 1GB data plan priced at 3,980yen, for use up to 14 days
Both companies offer delivery service to your hotel with your online purchase. Do note that only data services, and not voice calls, are supported by these sim services.
|Getting around:||The most common, affordable and reliable way to travel around the country is by train.
The four major islands, Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku are covered extensively by rails. Trains are extremely punctual, efficient and clean. The Japan Rail (JR) network is operated by 6 JR Group member companies, and while that looks daunting, a visit to http://www.japanrailpass.net/ will help you make sense of the network.
The JR Pass (available for nation-wide or regional travel by the individual member company) is a special pass available only to travelers visiting Japan from foreign countries for sightseeing, and must be purchased outside of Japan. For a list of authorised agents (including in Singapore and Malaysia), please visit this link.
Within Tokyo, taxis can be flagged down but expect to pay a hefty price. A half-hour journey will cost around SGD65. Taxis are popular after public trains and buses stopped operating, around midnight.
|Food and Drinks:||While the tap water is safe to drink in Japan, the tap water in Tokyo has a strong chlorine taste which many may not like. To remove the chlorine taste, simply boil the water.
Products distributed to the public, including food and water, are rigorously inspected and approved by Japanese authorities for contamination safety.
When dinning with little ones, ask for Kids Meals -“OKOSAMA (Child)”. They are reasonably priced and are always a welcome treat for the little ones; it usually consists of a little bit of everything.
Eating in Japan is an adventure onto itself. Japanese cuisine place a heavy emphasis on freshness and seasonality of ingredient, and long before "locally-sourced" became a buzzword in the international food scene, it had been practiced in Japan. One of our favourite food guide is www.Bento.com . Browse by city / region, or cuisine type.