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28

Qualifier: I live in Tokyo You will have no problems navigating the train system or shopping in tourist-specific areas like Asakusa. Beyond that, not that many people speak or understand English. Even getting lunch at McDonalds is difficult - I speak reasonable Japanese and they still get my order wrong nearly half the time. The locals are simply not used ...


14

In this I can only give my own experience but I think it is telling enough. I have traveled in Japan for most of a month in 1994, with no Japanese at all and traveling by train and hostels, using English as my native Dutch is not understood there at all. I had arranged my first week with a short tour Tokyo/Kyoto, but did the rest without any reservations ...


7

Japan is an extremely safe and largely cash-based society. As I remember, if you use a cash machine the smallest amount you can withdrawal is the equivalent of 200 USD. Also, there is virtually no crime. So it is quite normal to walk around with a lot of money in cash. Second, it is no problem to pay for a small thing with a giant bill. In some countries if ...


6

Yes, not because the bars and hotels want to check it (some will), but because the police have the authority to stop you in the street and demand identification and the proof that you are staying in Japan legally. Source: got checked for passport in JR Tokyo Station.


6

Konoko (more commonly kuchiko) and konowata are both examples of chinmi, strong-tasting delicacies intended to be eaten in small quantities as an accompaniment to liquor. There thus aren't any restaurants that specialize in them, they're more the kind of thing you will (or will not) find on a rotating menu of today's specials. But here is one random ...


6

Partly depends on where you are going. In the bigger cities, at hotels, large department stores, bigger restaurants you may be able to get by just fine with English (though learning some basic Japanese - Hello, Thank You, How Much, How Are You, etc never hurts) In rural Japan you may have difficulty, especially with older Japanese shop owners, innkeepers ...


6

No, advance booking is not required, you can generally walk up and buy tickets. This applies to both the slow ferries and the hydrofoils on the primary routes (Busan-Fukuoka, Busan-Shimonoseki). Of course, this assumes there is availability on the ferries, but outside absolute peak travel seasons (Golden Week etc) this is unlikely to be a problem, ...


5

In reality, as long as the boy is accompanied by an adult, just walking on public streets in Japan late at night won't cause a substantial problem in most cases. If you are unlucky, a police officer might stop you and ask a few questions, but anything worse is unlikely to happen. Entering certain safe stores like convenience stores is OK, too. But I don't ...


5

I presume you're looking specifically for English-language retreats, which narrows your options significantly; Japan may have a lot of temples, but it doesn't have all that many that can run a week-long course in a foreign language. (Even if the vast majority of that course involves complete silence!) But have no fear, Wikivoyage's Meditation in Japan is ...


4

In case the total amount of time you can spend there is more or less fixed, I would choose doing roughly two weeks Japan and one week Korea. My itinerary of suggestion would be as follows, though keep in mind that it's exactly the same if you do it in reverse order: Buy open-jaw tickets Zurich-Tokyo and Seoul-Zurich, you'll probably get a decent price with ...


4

From http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/visa/tvisa-nivgeneralfaq.html May I apply for a US visa when I’m just visiting Japan? Applicants for visas to the United States should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Non-immigrant visa applicants who are resident in Japan must ...


4

A small hint that I don't see in the other answers is that some fraction of the locals will be willing to write English for you but won't try to speak it. I suppose that they are embarrassed, but given the atrocious state of my Japanese I don't see how they had anything to be worried about. Still, some of them seemed to care. I made it a habit to always ...


3

Summary: Go there early. If you can, take the first possible train. Do not take a car. Take public transport. It will not be easy to park. Yes it's crowded. Not so much that you won't see the procession, but the spots famous for the good photos will be very crowded. Details: There are two parking spaces in the village, one directly in front of the ...


3

The only case I'm aware of where it's actually illegal to photograph something from a public place is when that something is a US military base or affiliated facility in Japan. Here's the Mutual Cooperation and Security Treaty under Article VI Facilities and Areas and the Special Criminal Act Attendant upon the Enforcement of the Agreement Regarding the ...


3

You can mail a 50 pound (22.6 kg) package from the US to Japan for $180 via Priority Mail International. The maximum allowed length is 60", and the maximum length plus girth combined must be less than 108". If you buy the postage online it is $160, and you fill out and print the customs forms at the same time. The catch is you have to get a special customs ...


2

For starters don't exchange it in Australia, you will get a better rate exchanging it in Japan. (hard to tell from your post if you have or will do this, since you used different tenses in each sentence) Bring it all in AU$100 notes, so you have less bills to conceal. Then exchange it in smaller amounts as you need it, not all at once. Personally I would ...


1

The best advice, even though it requires more preparation (the first time) than simply taking cash, is to get a Charles Schwab High Yield Checking account. You will get an ATM card that you can use at any 7-11 in Japan, and 7-11s are plentiful in Japan. It's possible to use at other ATMs as well, but I know for a fact they work at 7-11. The benefit of this ...


1

I will add to downhand's answer, which I mostly endorse (especially the part about the ferry!) I will give some alternative suggestions about some of my favorite places off the beaten track, especially if you like walking. I would personally spend somewhat less time in Tokyo and Seoul -- they are delightful places both, but in my opinion the tourist sights ...


1

Well three weeks is not much time, you could easily spend that in either country and just scratch the surface. For air travel, buying three one way tickets will likely cost a far bit more than buying a round trip ticket, plus a regional ticket. I would look at a couple of options: flying r/t ZRH-ICN or ZRH-NRT with a second ticket r/t between Japan and ...


1

Summer 1990, a week in Tokyo. Palace tour guide: excellent English. Proprietor of small hotel in the Japanese Inn Group (which was at that time making special offers to foreign tourists), limited English. At a restaurant where we were befuddled by the buy-a-ticket from the machine and give to the cook system, one high school student with perfect English, ...


1

I'd say you should book the ticket and apply for a canadian passport and pay for urgent processing. Your passport will cost close to 300 CAD with the additional fee tacked on but it should still be worth it if you are saving that much money on the tickets. If you show the passport office proof of travel (the ticket) and pay the necessary fee, you will be ...


1

Butsudanya Takita Shoten is under construction at the moment. Near Tawaramachi station there is a line of Budsudanya shops, I found the zazen zabuton in one of them, but there is need to ask, I didn't see any at the shop window. Here is the streetview image of the shops.


1

Caveat: I've studied Japanese at the college level twice--when I was in my early 20s, and again when I was almost 40, for about 2 years each time. I finally made it to Japan in 2007. My reading knowledge allowed me to do a few things easier, make my way in train stations (but the big ones have English signs too), fill out a seat reservation form for the ...


1

I was in Tokyo for 10 days in 2007, used the public transportation to go around, I went for one day to the Fuji and one day for Kamakura. I had great difficulties to get things done. The only person who spoken good English was at the reception of my hostel in Tokyo. Otherwise, even the young ladies at the Tourist Information point at a big metro station ...


1

I cannot give specifics because of my bad memory, but in 2011 I made two one-week trips to Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and a few places in between). I don't recall a single issue neither with food nor lodging nor transportation (although, admittedly, I'm kind of a loner). I don't know a single word in Japanese.



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