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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a visa to enter Japan?
What are medical facilities like?
Do I need to purchase travel insurance?
Do I need vaccination for Japan?
Can I drink the water?
Is tipping expected?
Is English widely spoken in Japan?
Can I use my credit cards?
Can I use my mobile phone in Japan?
Is Japan expensive for tourists?
What are the toilets like?
What is the time zone?
Is internet readily available?
How do I make phone calls?
Can I use my camera charger in Japan?
How do I go about arranging flights within Japan?
Is train a good way to travel in Japan?
What is Onsen and what are the etiquettes?


Do I need a visa to enter Japan?
Not likely, if your stay in Japan is less than 90 days. Japan has visa exemption arrangements with 60 countries, which allow international tourists to enter Japan without obtaining a tourist visa. The UK, Irish and German passport holders can stay in Japan without visa for up to 6 months. For Australia, New Zealand and the USA it is 90 days. For more details, clickhere.

What are medical facilities like?
There are public & private hospitals, and clinics available throughout Japan. Although the standard of medical treatment is high, in rural areas it is difficult to access to English speaking doctors. Your guide will accompany you if you require a medical treatment at hospitals. If you are not residents of Japan medical expenses can be very costly. Please ensure you take out travel insurance to cover the medical costs whilst your stay in Japan.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance?
There are no compulsory vaccinations required for entering Japan, but please consult with your GP prior to trip and seek up to date advice relevant to your personal health situation.

Do I need vaccination for Japan?
There are no compulsory vaccinations required for entering Japan, but please consult with your GP prior to trip and seek up to date advice relevant to your personal health situation.

Can I drink the water?
Tap water is generally safe to drink anywhere in Japan. Sometimes at public toilets the tap water is singed as “not for drinking”. If you are unsure, ask your guide for assistance. The major brands of mineral water are available at shops, convenience stores and similar facilities.

Is tipping expected?
Tipping is not common practice in Japan except at top class ryokan, where you are served by highly trained staff. Service fees are now included at many western restaurants and hotels. If you wish to tip for the excellent service you received, put the money into an envelope or wrap in paper, because giving the bare money may be considered rude.

Is English widely spoken in Japan?
Japanese is the only one official language spoken in Japan. Although English is the foreign language that everyone must learn as part of compulsory education, many Japanese do not speak or understand much English. Speaking slowly and clearly will help you communicate with local people.
Useful phrases
Excuse me Sumimasen
Thank you Arigato
I’m hungry Onaka suita

Can I use my credit cards?
Restaurants and hotels in major cities accept credit cards, VISA, MasterCard and American Express. However, cash is still used much more widely than credit cards, especially so in small towns we stay on our cycle tours. Therefore, obtaining some cash beforehand is strongly recommended. Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, and carrying cash is perceived to be reasonably safe by Japanese people themselves. The ATMs at Post Office and Seven Bank are available in almost every town of Japan, where you can use your cash/credit card to withdraw cash.

Can I use my mobile phone in Japan?
Yes, if your mobile phone is 3G (third generation). Non-3G mobile phones will not work in Japan. If you wish to use your 3G mobile phone in Japan, you may need to set up global roaming before you leave the country. If you don’t have a 3G mobile phone, you can rent one on your arrival at Tokyo/Osaka international airports. You will be using a local Japanese number, so the incoming calls will be free. Web, email and texting are also available on the rental phones, at reasonable daily rate. For further information, visit the following websites.
SoftBank Global Rental
PuPuru Japanese Mobile Phone Rentals

Is Japan expensive for tourists?
This is depending on the exchange rates, but to give you an indication of how much daily foods and drinks cost;?
Canned soft drink 120 yen?
Bottle of water (500ml) 150 yen?
Beer (500ml) 600 yen?
Onigiri rice ball 140 yen?
Sandwich 300 yen?
Obento lunch box 600 yen?
Ramen noodle soup 700-1,000 yen?
There is a wide range in prices for accommodation, transport, activities and food, and it’s all up to how much you wish to spend. There are high-class ryokans and hotels that cost hundreds of dollars per night but also business hostels and minshuku (Japanese style guesthouse) that are reasonably priced, still providing good standards of service. The same applies for food. There are many traditional Japanese restaurants offering authentic Japanese dining experience at a high rate, also side-street noodles and rice bow meals are available at more reasonable rates. Japan has numerous convenience stores nationwide, offering a wide variety of affordable meals and snacks 24 hours!

What are the toilets like?
Toilets, even public toilets are generally clean and free of charge. There are two types of toilets in Japan, a normal sit-on type and traditional squat type. If you have a knee problem you may find the squat type a little difficult to use. The sit-on is often called “super toilet”, which comes with heated seats and bidets; don’t try pushing the buttons without actually sitting on it!

What is the time zone?
All of Japan is in the same time zone, 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (3 hours behind of New Zealand). No Daylight Saving Time is practiced in Japan.

Is internet readily available?
Access to internet is limited in places we stay. This is simply because we are visiting rural areas with no internet facility and also partly due to Japan's high usage of mobile internet. Some accommodation places provide internet access near receptions where you use your own computer for checking emails and sending photos etc. There are only a few hotels on our tours that have computers available for their guests. Internet cafes are available only in major towns. We recommend you leave your family or friends a copy of the accommodation contact list provided, so they will be able to get in touch with you in an emergency.

How do I make phone calls?
Green or grey public phones are available to make calls nationally. They are found at airports, bus and train stations, and generally outside convenience stores. Those public phone accept \10 and \100 coins and/or pre-paid telephone cards, which can be purchased in \500 or \1000 from vending machines. The telephone numbers starting with 0120 are receiver-paid calls. For international calls, the easiest way is to buy a prepaid international phone card. The most airports and convenience stores sell at least one of the following types of phone cards: KDDI Superworld Card, NTT Communications World Card and SoftBank Telecom Comica Card. These cards can be used with any regular land phone in Japan.

Can I use my camera charger in Japan?
The voltage used throughout Japan in uniformly 100 volts. A convertible type of electrical appliance will therefore be handy; otherwise a step-down transformer is required to convert the voltage. Japan uses 2-flat-pin plugs. You may need to purchase a plug adapter beforehand for your camera battery charger.

How do I go about arranging flights within Japan?
There are three airlines operating within Japan. They are Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Skymark. JAL is a member of oneworld and ANA is Star Alliance. They both have “airpass” deals, which are only available to the residents of the countries outside Japan. They must be booked in the country of origin, so don’t leave it too late! If you are travelling to/from Japan on oneworld carriers, you are eligible for JAL airpass. If on Star Alliance carriers, Japan airpass with ANA. To find out more, please visit the following links.
Oneworld Yokoso/Visit Japan Fare (JAL)
Star Alliance Japan Airpass (ANA)
You can also make a booking online with JAL and ANA on their English websites. The fares may be dearer than the airpass but are still a lot cheaper than booking through travel agents. Please bear in mind that the online fares become available only three months prior to the date.

Is train a good way to travel in Japan?
Japanese trains have good reputations for its punctuality and the extensive network throughout the country. Japan Railways (JR) is a leading railway company in Japan and they offer Rail Pass only for visitors from overseas. It is an excellent value for money and convenience, and enables the almost unlimited use of JR trains and its affiliated bus and ferry services in various areas of Japan. Like the air pass deals, the Rail Pass must be purchased from overseas offices. To find out more, please visit the following link.
Japan Rail Pass

What is Onsen and what are the etiquettes?
Onsen means a natural hot spring in Japanese. It is an essential part of Japanese life and cultural heritage. Onsen is not just about washing but is about relaxing and restoring your body. Onsen are often located in areas of stunning natural beauty, and rotenburo (outdoor spas) allow people to enjoy the views while soaking. The majority of onsen we visit do not allow people to wear swimsuits. You may find uncomfortable at first, but you will be relieved to hear that today onsen is single-sex bathing, and mixed-sex onsen is very rare in Japan. Onsen guests generally bring a hand towel that they use as a washcloth and cover up your body partly when walking between the washing area and the baths. In general, people keep the towel out of onsen water all the time. Some onsen in Japan are free, even if you must pay to enter, it is usually around 500yen per person. Please remember that the water in the pools and tubs is for soaking in, not washing in, and it should only be entered after you’ve washed or rinsed your body.

Any more questions?
Contact Cycling Japan by email.

References/Useful links
Japan Cycling Navigator
Japan National Tourist Organisation (JNTO)
Lonely Planet Japan (book)
Visit Hokkaido
Welcome to Kyoto
Kyoto Travel Guide
Outdoor Japan
National Parks of Japan

 
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