What to know before visiting japan?
10. “Why Are Some People Wearing Surgical Masks?”
This may be the first thing you notice on your visit. Don’t panic! There’s no disease going around. The Japanese wear surgical masks to avoid colds and other bacteria, but usually they’re worn if a person is already sick and wants to protect others. If you have a cold or catch one in Japan, be respectful and wear a mask as you travel. You can purchase them in any grocery or convenience store. And don’t forget: 100 yen stores sell almost everything you might have forgotten or not known you’d need!
9. “How Do They Keep the Country So Clean?”
Do not litter while visiting Japan. I repeat: Do not litter! The Japanese take great pains to keep their cities clean. You can trust that stores and restaurants are also held to this high standard. Most restaurants will ask you to remove your shoes before entering through the lobby. Shoes are seen as especially dirty because they touch the ground all day. As a guest in a Japanese household, you’ll be given guest slippers, but at restaurants your socks will suffice. If you need to use the toilet, bathroom slippers are provided.
8. “If Japan is So Clean, Why Are There No Trash Cans?”
In Japan, too many trash cans are dangerous in crowded areas. You’ll have to hold onto your garbage until you find one. Trash cans are usually grouped together in an open space. But hold on! Recycling is a major source of pride to the Japanese, and they recycle almost everything.
Remember: Observe the procedures (notice the pictures on the cans) and recycle trash properly.
7. “Why is Everyone So Quiet All the Time?”
There is a time and a place for everything in Japan –– except blabbering loudly in public. In general, use an ‘indoor voice’ outside. This is hard for Westerners because we often speak loudly. Even if you think you’re speaking quietly, you’re probably not.
Remember: Do as the Japanese do! If everyone is silent on the train, be silent also. Sure, say a few things to your friend; just keep it down.
6. “Why is Nobody Accepting My Tips?”
Nobody tips in Japan. Ever. In fact, tipping is seen as a rude gesture. Don’t be surprised if a waiter or taxi driver hands your tip-money back. So what’s the deal? In Japan, nobody believes they deserve monetary incentive for doing a good job. If you try tipping them extra, it’s like bribing them to ‘do better.’ But don’t worry. The Japanese know you’re probably unaware of this, and won’t take it personally. If you try giving them a few extra yen, they’ll just hand it back and smile. No harm done.
5. “How am I Ever Going to Find My Way Around?”
Trust me, the subway is way easier than you think, but here are some tips to help you navigate the system. First, try walking to the ticket booths and saying to the employees inside: “Sumimasen. Eigo no mappu wo arimasuka?... Arigatou gozaimasu!”
Excuse me. Is there an English map? ... Thank you so much!
(Sue-mi-ma-sen. Ay-go no mah-pu o ah-ri-ma-ska? Ah-ri-ga-toe go-zai-mahss!)
Once you’ve got an English map, find your location. Then, trace a line along the rails leading to your destination. The number listed next to the destination is how much your ticket costs. Insert the amount into the ticket machine, take the ticket that pops out, and feed the ticket into the machines where you board. Most trains have screens that show destinations in English. The stops will usually be announced in English over the intercom, too. Remember to switch trains when necessary! If you do run into trouble, use these phrases to help you out.
“Sumimasen. wa doko desuka?”