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Welcome to Japan

Japan

Japan

Continent: Asia

Capital: Tokyo

Population: 127.3million (2013 estimate)                                                                     

Dialing Code: +81

Currency: Yen (¥)

Time zone: JST (UTC+9)

Language: Japanese

Japan is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean with dense cities, imperial palaces, mountainous national parks and thousands of shrines and temples. Shinkansen bullet trains connect the main islands of Kyushu (with Okinawa's subtropical beaches), Honshu (home to Tokyo and Hiroshima’s atomic-bomb memorial) and Hokkaido (famous for skiing). Tokyo, the capital, is known for skyscrapers, shopping and pop culture.

This beautiful Island country is situated in the Pacific Ocean just east countries such as Russia Korea and China. Japan is a stratovolcanic archipelago of 6852 islands. The four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku which make up about ninety seven percent of Japans land area.

Tokyo is the country’s main attraction and is the world’s largest metropolitan area with over 35 million people. Its stable economy, manufacturing industry and high standard of living has cemented its place as one of the worlds superpowers. 

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

Natural Scenery, Cityscapes, Shrines, Temples or churches, Japan has it all.  This island country is filled with contrasts and tradition. See kimono-clad geishas singing karaoke in Kyoto or Buddhist monks in their temples.

Japan has lots to see for the modern tourists and the history buff with the perfect blend of new and old. The speed of technological developments has had its effects on the old city in some areas, but to a large extent the history of some sites have remained relatively the same since its inception.

For nature lovers, Japan is love at first sight. Its natural beauty, powdery slopes and springtime cherry blossoms and turquoise waters will have you begging for more. It is also a land of wild eccentricities where you can buy used underwear from vending machines or watch men strip at the festival of Hadaka Matsuri

Business

Japans robust economic climate makes it a prime destination for business minded people whowish to conduct business in the third largest economy in the world. Its main exports include cars, computers, electronic devices and chemicals.

Manners are very important for business negotiations in Japan. While you’ll be forgiven for not getting everything right, you’ll be expected to wear a smart suit, exchange business cards using both hands with everyone you meet, and to be polite and punctual.

A large supply of business cards printed in English and Japanese is essential. Cards can be quickly printed on arrival with katakana Japanese translation on the reverse side.

Corporate entertaining usually takes place in restaurants and izakaya (drinking halls similar to pubs). Drinking (beer, whisky and sake) is very much part of the culture, as is smoking, although partners tend to be left at home. Gifts, especially those from your home country, are very important (they need not be particularly large or lavish) and are exchanged with great ceremony.

You’ll often need to remove your shoes indoors: look out for lines of shoes or slippers for clues. Avoid putting your foot on the ground while changing from your shoes to any slippers provided. Make sure that you are wearing clean socks

Climate

Japan is a highly recommended for winter sports but the best time to visit ranges from the summer season(between June and September) with its torrential rains to Spring and autumn season which offers spectacular views of pretty sakura cherry blossoms and clourful autmn leaves.

Lightweight clothing is advised through the summer. A hat will come in handy too. Rain coats and jackets are useful during the rainy season in July and June. For other times of the year, much warmer clothing is advised.

Communications

Staying  in touch is easy in Japan with telephones, mobile phone services and  high speed internet services available throughout the country.

Japan's national public broadcaster NHK operates several TV and radio channels, including Radio Japan and the global English language news channel NHK World. There are four commercial broadcasting networks. The press in Japan is free to criticise the government, although freelance journalists find access to information difficult. There are two English-language daily newspapers published in Japan, the Daily Yomiuri, and the Japan Times. The International Herald Tribune also publishes an edition in Japan.

Customs

Japanese manners and customs are vastly different from those of Western people. A strict code of behaviour and politeness is recognised and followed by almost everyone. However, Japanese people do not expect visitors to be familiar with all their customs but do expect them to behave formally and politely.

A straightforward refusal traditionally does not form part of Japanese etiquette, and a vague 'yes' does not always mean 'yes'. (The visitor may be comforted to know that confusion caused by non-committal replies occurs between the Japanese themselves.)

When entering a Japanese home or restaurant, shoes must be removed. Bowing is the customary greeting but handshaking is becoming more common for business meetings with Westerners. The honorific suffix san should be used when addressing all men and women; for instance Mr Yamada would be addressed as Yamada-san.

Table manners are very important, although the Japanese host will be very tolerant towards a visitor. However, it is best if visitors familiarise themselves with basic table etiquette and use chopsticks. Exchange of gifts is also a common business practice and may take the form of souvenir items such as company pens, ties or high-quality spirits.

Shintoism and Buddhism  are the most practiced religions in the country

 

Duty Free

The following goods may be imported into Japan by travellers 20 years of age and older without incurring customs duty:

• 400 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 500g of tobacco or 500g of a combination of these.
• 3 bottles (approximately 750ml each) of alcohol.
• 60ml of perfume.
• Other goods up to the value of ¥200, 000.

Banned imports: 

Prohibited items include narcotics, firearms and ammunition, explosives, counterfeit money, obscene material, and articles which infringe upon intellectual copyright.

Restricted items include animals, plants, medicines and cosmetics, hunting guns, air guns and swords.

You should be aware that in Japan cold and flu medication containing stimulants are illegal. You are not permitted to take commonly available nasal decongestant medication such as Sudafed and Vicks inhalers into Japan.

Banned exports: 

Narcotics and stimulants, child pornography and goods that violate design copyrights, trademarks, patents, breeding and intellectual copyrights.

 

Electricity

Japans electric volage for appliances is 100 volts AC, 60Hz in the west (Osaka); 100 volts AC, 50Hz in eastern Japan and Tokyo. Plugs have two flat pins.

Getting Around

Japan has a network of well-connected expressways linking major regions. However, expressway tolls are very high and there is major congestion during peak holiday seasons. Car hire and Taxi services are also available. Cycling is the best way to explore the city as public transport can be crowded during rush hours.

The Japan Rail Pass is very economical for tourists and domestic ferrys connect the four main islands .

Health

Health insurance is strongly recommended, owing to the high cost of treatment for those outside the Japanese national healthcare system. Confirm that your health care policy fully covers travel to Japan before departure, as you will be expected to pay the full amount of any treatment you receive.

You should make sure you are up to date with routine vaccinations. Influenza and measles epidemics have occurred in recent years and precautions should be taken. Tuberculosis and hepatitis B occur and vaccination is sometimes advised. Typhus occurs in some river valleys. Japanese encephalitis may occur. Vaccination is recommended for long-term travel (greater than one month) in rural areas. All normal precautions should also be exercised to avoid exposure to sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Language

Japanese is the official language. Some English is spoken in Tokyo and other large cities but is less usual in rural areas. There are many regional dialects and there are distinct differences in the intonation and pronunciation between eastern and western Japan

Money

The currency of Japan is written “円”. Its currency sign is “¥” and is written “Yen” or “JPY” in foreign characters. Consumption tax in Japan is 8%.  The unit of Japanese currency is yen.

There is no limit on the amount of any currency that may be brought into or taken out of Japan. However, if you transport (any currencies, checks, securities or other monies) exceeding 1, 000, 000 yen worth in Japanese currency into or out of the country then you must complete a customs declaration.

You can buy yen at foreign exchange banks and other authorized money exchangers. At the international airports, currency exchange counters are usually open during normal office hours. The exchange rate fluctuates daily depending on the money market.

Passport Visa

Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter Japan must have a passport, which will remain valid during the period of stay. In order to enter Japan, visitors usually must comply with the conditions of their visas and authorizations of resident eligibility.

Safety

Theft, car accidents, and other emergencies can occur anywhere, and can happen to even the most careful traveler. If the incident occurred in your hotel, you should contact the front desk manager or concierge first, and they can help you take the necessary steps. If you are in your hotel during an earthquake or other natural disaster, again, follow the instructions of the hotel staff to assure your safety. 

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