10 Things To Know Before Visiting Japan

1. Cash is king. Most places only accept cash. It’s a good idea to exchange your money at the airport once you arrive in Japan. We found it was cheaper to exchange at the Tokyo airport (NRT) than at our home airport (JFK). 

2. Stay connected with a prepaid SIM card or Pocket WiFi Router. I bought a SIM card from a vending machine in the Tokyo airport. The package came with instructions on how to temporarily replace my SIM card. Other people use Pocket WiFi Routers instead of buying SIM cards. You can rent these from https://ninjawifi.com

3. Don’t expect Micky Mouse pancakes and a side of crispy bacon for breakfast. Traditional Japanese breakfast involves fish and rice. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you can head over to one of the many delicious bakeries. Walk in, grab a tray and tongs, and help yourself to fluffy fresh baked yum-yum’s. An added bonus: it’s cheap.

4. Public trash cans are hard to come by.

5. It isn’t rude to ring a bell to receive service at a restaurant if one is provided. At many restaurants a bell (or button) is on the table. After sitting, when you’re ready to order, you ring the bell (or push the button) and someone comes over to take your order. Once your order is placed, they’ll bring your food when it’s ready along with the check.

6. When you buy a metro ticket, hang on to it after using it at the entrance turnstile. You’ll need it again to exit through the destinations turnstile. 

7. Sidewalks are treated like roads (especially in Tokyo). It is polite and standard to walk one behind the other on the left side. People don’t cut each other off and if you need to pass someone, signal first.

8. Public transportation is organized. People are respectful and wait in a neat line. Don’t cut or push ahead. In relation to public transportation, when riding a bus look out for the buttons that tell the bus driver you are getting out at the next stop. If no one presses the button, the stop may be skipped.

9. More common than iced tap water, green tea is often served at the start of a meal. 

10. Toilets are elegant and sophisticated. The seat is heated and there are more buttons than you’ll know what to do with.