Handy tips and useful information to know before travelling to Japan
Visitors to Japan from Australia do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Under Japanese new Immigration Procedures, all visitors must present their passport upon arrival and agree to be fingerprinted ???and photographed.
Immigration may also ask a few quick questions. See www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/ for more information.
MONEY AND COSTS
The Japanese currency
unit is the Yen (¥). Coins are available in units of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen. Notes are available in 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10 000 yen. ATMs that accept Cirrus, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, PLUS and JCB can be found at post offices, major convenience stores and many banks. Cash payments are still more popular than credit cards, especially in smaller stores.
Tipping and bartering are not ?customary in Japan.
Currently, 3G models and 4G LTE work in Japan that use the 2100 MHz band. With some global roaming plans from Australian service providers you can use your own phone to send and receive calls and texts and to access broadband internet. Alternatively, you can rent a SIM card if it works in Japan to use with your own phone, or a pre-paid phone from such service providers as Softbank and Mobal Narita at Narita Airport Terminal 1. Renting a portable Wi-Fi in Australia to use in Japan is also an option worth considering. Portable Wi-Fi is a device that allows multiple machines including laptops, tablets and smartphones to gain internet access wherever you are within the carrier service area.
Internet cafes are readily accessible in Japan, especially in the cities. Although big-name chain stores like Global Gossip are prevalent, the most popular internet cafes in Japan are Manga cafes, which also provide comics, magazines and video games. You pay time increments in either a private booth or a communal seating area. Special time-packages are available and there is even the option of an overnight stay on a reclining seat in a private booth.
Green or grey public phones can be found everywhere
in Japan. They accept
¥10 and ¥100 coins, and telephone cards that can be purchased from kiosks and news agencies. You can make international calls from grey phones displaying the “International” sign.
TO CALL AUSTRALIA
Japan has three international call providers. Dial one
of their access numbers (0033, 001, or 0061) + 010
+ country code (61) + area code (without the zero) + personal number.
International mail can be classified into letter post (letters, aerogrammes and postcards); parcel post; and EMS (Express Mail Service). EMS takes two to four days to reach Australia. Airmail
or letter post and parcel post takes three to six days and sea mail takes one to three months. Parcels must be under 20 kg. Most post offices are open 9am to 5pm on weekdays. www.post.japanpost.jp/ english
PEAK TRAVEL SEASONS
Train, bus and flight Domestic Mail to eMs timetables may change during the following peak travel seasons: New Year Postcard 52 yen 70 yen — (December 27 to January 3 and adjacent weekends), Golden Week (April 29 standard 1,200 to May 5 and adjacent letter 82 yen 110 yen yen weekends), Bon Festival (the up to 25g week surrounding August 15).
All tap water in Japan is safe to drink.
For police assistance call 110 (free call from public phones if you press the red button)
or look for the nearest koban, or police kiosk, marked with a red pentagonal light. For the fire department or an ambulance call 119.
The Visit Japan information Network consists of 250 information services across the country. usually located near major train stations and town centres, they will provide information on local tourist sites.
USING THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Japan ha an extremely efficient public transportation system. Train and busses service a large network, especially in metropolitan areas and between cities, and are clean and punctual.
Most trains and train lines in Japan are owned by Japan Railways (JR). However, others are owned by a number of private companies, often sharing mutual tracks. The urban train systems comprise of shinkansen (bullet trains), limited express, express, rapid and local trains. Many are owned by separate companies, so it can be a little confusing. It’s a good idea to carry a route map (called rosenzu) with you at all times. You can pick one up from most train stations.
All individual tickets (including shinkansen, private railways and subways) can be purchased from vending machines or ticket offices. Individual ticket costs will be shown on the railway line map next to your destination station. Once you have checked the price, you can buy your ticket from one of the nearby vending machines. Children aged six to 11 pay half price and children under six travel free. Trains owned by different companies require different fares, so prepaid integrated-circuit (IC) cards such as pasmo and Suica, are a useful way to simplify the system (see box). passengers tend to form queues while waiting for the next train.
SUICA AND PASMO
Suica and Pasmo are rechargeable, prepaid integrated- circuit cards that can be used for all buses and trains (except shinkansen), regardless of the operating company.
Suica or Pasmo cards can be purchased and recharged at rail vending machines and ticket counters in Tokyo. The initial cost consists of a small refundable deposit plus an initial loading of ¥1500 (for Suica) or between ¥500 and ¥9500 (for pasmo).
When riding the train, touch the card to the card reader when you pass through the station’s ticket barrier. The applicable fare will be automatically deducted at the ticket gate at your destination. When riding the bus, touch the card to the reader when you board. If you are required to pay when alighting, make sure you touch your card to the reader when you get on and again when you get off for the appropriate fare to be deducted.
THE JAPAN RAIL(JL)PASS
The JR pass allows unlimited travel on JR-owned trains, buses and ferries for periods of 7, 14 or 21 days. JR passes are available outside of Japan (either online or through your travel agent) before your visit. See www.japanrailpass.net for more information.
Many bus routes link train stations and residential areas. Each stop is announced and displayed on an electric signboard on approach. push the button to alert the bus driver when you wish to alight. Tickets are purchased upon entering the bus, or when getting off, depending on the bus company and the bus route. Fares can be pre-paid or you can use cash or integrated- circuit cards (Suica or pasmo) on the bus.
*It is considered bad manners to talk on a mobile phone in trains and buses, so they are best left switched off or muted.
JR EAST PASS
The JR East pass provides tourists with unlimited travel on JR trains (including shinkansen and limited express trains) on 72 lines in the Kanto, Koshinetsu and Tohoku regions. passes are available for five or 10 consecutive days or four flexible days within one month.
A quick guide to domestic flights and train travels
NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Travelling to and from Tokyo
Narita Airport has two key rail connections operating between central Tokyo Station and the Narita Airport terminals. JR East’s Narita Express (N’EX) is the fastest option (60 min., ¥3020). The Keisei Sky Liner is the best choice for travel to Ueno (41 min., ¥2470).
Airport Limousine buses stop at most major hotels and certain landmarks on the way to central Tokyo (75 – 125 min., ¥3100).
Taxis can be expensive depending on your destination. Travelling to central Tokyo costs approx. ¥15000 to ¥24000 by taxi.
A few domestic flights do leave from Narita, but most domestic flights leave from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (95 min. from Narita by the Airport Limousine bus).