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- 10 things to know before you go to Japan.
I'm Chris, this is Topher, we're Yellow Productions.
We do travel guides that are fun,
informative, and entertaining.
This is part of our series on Japan.
We've got over 100 other videos on Japan,
but after you watch this one you'll be well-versed
to come to this country.
Many people think that Japan can be difficult to get to,
hard to navigate, it's like the land of foreign things.
But I'll tell you that is not so,
and after you watch this video, you'll be a pro at Japan
and if you want some specific travel guides
on specific places, well,
check out some of my other Japan travel videos.
The first thing to know before you come to Japan
is about etiquette and rules.
Japan is a country of rules and to make things work,
you should learn to follow them.
The Japanese have a specific way
of doing almost everything.
As a foreigner, you might get a pass,
they might understand if you don't understand
but it is better if you try to understand
so I'll give you a few of the Japanese etiquette basics.
First of all, the typical greeting is a bow
and the deeper the bow, the more respectful it is.
So you'll see a small bow to big bows
and if it's a bigger bow,
that means they are giving you more respect.
They have a certain way to sit if you're at a table
that doesn't have chairs and you're on a tatami mat,
there's a certain way to sit
but they'll probably expect if you understand,
and you just sit how ever you wanna sit.
But if you ever find yourself on a tatami mat
you'll need to take off your shoes.
Expect to take off your shoes in certain areas of Japan.
Don't ever step on a tatami mat in bare feet.
Tatami are straw mats, by the way.
If you hand something to somebody
or they hand something to you, it'll be with two hands
so give it to them with two hands
and receive it with two hands.
When you're paying for things in a shop,
you will find there's a little money dish.
Put your money in there,
they will put the change back in there for you.
The Japanese are happy to help, but they are often shy
and so if you find that they don't respond
quickly right away, it's because they're shy,
maybe not because they don't wanna help
or they don't understand, and when they do help
they will often really go out of their way to help you.
The second thing to know before you come to Japan
is about the language.
It's Japanese of course, but there's different dialects
throughout the country.
If you're speaking in English to Japanese,
they may not seem like they know English
when they're looking at you or how they respond
but it's often because they're just shy.
They often also understand more than they can speak.
You may find that the way they'll respond
is by going to get somebody else or perhaps writing it down.
Just speak slowly and speak with basic words
if you find yourself in a little bit
of English/Japanese trouble.
Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are all pretty well signed
in English, particularly the public transportation
so if you're in the big cities you won't have an issue
getting around if you don't speak Japanese.
I will say that is not so much the case in the suburbs.
If you're in the smaller towns in Japan,
the stations are just in Japanese, so good luck. (chuckles)
It's also good to have your hotel and destinations
written in Japanese, just in case you get lost
and you need to ask for help.
You could always show somebody the card
that has that written in Japanese.
And if you're trying to speak Japanese
and you don't know it, just try the English variant.
For example, hamburger
is often (speaks in foreign language),
coffee is (speaks in foreign language).
But I'll say it's good to learn some basic Japanese,
a basic word I use all the time when I want water,
it's (speaks in foreign language),
or if you want beer, it's (speaks in foreign language).
You say that, chances are you'll get what you want.
The third thing to know before you come to Japan
is about timeliness.
In Japan, being on time is very important.
You will find that stores close and open promptly
at the time posted to the minute.
Bullet trains have to run within 15 seconds
of their posted schedule,
otherwise they're not considered on time.
If you've made dinner reservations,
make sure you are on time.
If you're five minutes early, chances are they won't
seat you 'til it's actually your dinner time.
And if you come 15 minutes late, well,
you might as well forgot
that you had that reservation anyway
'cause they figured you weren't coming.
Distance is often measured not in meters or miles
but in walking time, so things will advertise
that they are a one-minute walk from the train station
or a zero-minute walk which means they're basically
right on top of the station.
Related to time zones, Japan is just one time zone
for the entire country so that makes setting your watch
pretty easy if you're traveling around,
and also the calendar is different.
They measure it based on the emperor and things like that
and so if you look at dates and you don't understand,
well, that's because they've got a different way
of doing dates.
The fourth thing to know before you come to Japan
is about public transportation.
In short, public transportation in Japan is amazing.
I will say, be aware of rush hour and the last train.
Last train time's often around midnight.
If you miss it, you are kind of stuck
and if you're wondering why I'm talking
about public transportation in a canal,
well that's because there's some boats that run
on this canal here in Osaka.
And if you're wondering where I'm shooting this,
I'm shooting this in Osaka in the Namba district
around Dotonbori, this is the Dotonbori Canal.
If you wanna know more about like how to ride the trains
in Tokyo and Osaka, I've got separate videos on those.
But if you're taking public transportation,
you should note that on the trains and subway,
there is little luggage storage.
So Japan offers these luggage shipping services
that essentially you can pay and have your luggage shipped
so that you don't have to carry it with you on the trains.
I will also say the train stations, they are amazing,
but they can be confusing.
So if you're on the train and you're in the station
and you can't find where you're going, just remain calm,
that's the first step.
Don't rush for your train, there will be another train,
I guarantee it, well unless it's the last train.
But these trains, they come very very frequently in Japan.
The Yamanote Line in Tokyo comes almost every couple minutes
so just take the next one.
Also in the train stations, they have these neat
coin lockers where you can store your luggage.
The coin lockers are great, but make sure you remember
where you put your luggage, in what locker,
otherwise you'll be probably looking for your luggage
for a long time.
Japan offers this great thing called the JR Pass.
The JR Pass it's for foreigners,
unlimited, Japan Railways trains.
Japan Railways is the main train operator,
but there's other companies too so just be aware
that your JR Pass will not go on all trains in Japan,
just the ones operated by JR.
If you're driving, I've got a video on that too.
Check out my video on driving and renting a car in Japan,
just don't drive in the big cities.
Drive in the suburbs, it's pretty nice and okay.
Their expressways are actually quite good.
You might also hear of something called a limousine bus.
Those often pick you up from the airports.
It's not a limousine, it's really just a bus.
Maybe kind of a nice bus (chuckles)
but it's not nearly a limousine.
Also there's really no Uber or Lyft
or any app-enabled ride companies here, just taxis.
You're gonna have to hail one down the old fashioned way.
Also, bicycling is pretty popular right here.
Just park in a legal spot, otherwise you might find people
picking up your bicycle and towing it away
and if you are riding a bicycle, ride it on the sidewalks.
That's where you ride your bike here.
So if you're also walking on the sidewalks,
beware of some of the bicycles that may be riding there too.
The fifth thing to know before you come to Japan
is about food, Japanese food is awesome, excellent.
There's great food to be had all throughout Japan.
People often think of Japanese food as noodles, sushi,
and yakitori, but I'll tell you Japanese food
is so much more than that.
But let's start with noodles, ramen is probably one of those
quintessential Japanese dishes.
If you're eating ramen here,
make sure to slurp your noodles. (slurping)
That is considered a compliment to the chef
if you are slurping so you'll hear most of the locals
slurping their noodles when they eat it.
They are not being rude.
It's considered quite polite actually.
Some other great things are things
that are called (speaks in foreign language), D-O-N.
Typically those are bowls, rice bowls,
that have something on top.
(speaks in foreign language) is a rice bowl
that has breaded fried pork on top.
(speaks in foreign language), it's a tempura bowl.
One of my favorite chains in Japan is Pepper Lunch,
and their locations are dwindling but it's fast food steak.
It's delicious, they have another one called Ikinari Steak.
The Japanese love pudding.
There's pudding all throughout the country,
so check out the pudding while you're here.
They have green tea matcha everything.
Green tea pudding, green tea drinks,
green tea, green tea, green tea.
The fruit here is really good.
It may seem really expensive, but I will tell you
the fruit is worth it.
The strawberries will probably be some
of the sweetest strawberries you've ever had in your life.
Cantaloupe here too doesn't taste
like cantaloupe anywhere else.
And also, people think food in Japan is expensive
and let me tell you, it does not actually
have to be expensive.
If you're going to Tokyo, you can watch my video
on cheap eats in Tokyo.
It's pretty applicable for a lot of the big cities in Japan.
Many restaurants, they'll have the sort of plastic
replica food out in front so you can take a look
in the windows to decide what you want.
Many restaurants in the big cities will have English menus,
just ask if they have an English menu.
If they don't, then use the point and order method.
Point at the menu and say this one.
That is typically a phrase they understand
in most restaurants.
Some restaurants, they won't have menus or order takers.
They'll just have vending machines.
Pretty popular at ramen restaurants.
In that case, there'll be a vending machine out front.
You put your money in the vending machine,
push a button, it spits out a ticket,
and then you'll take that ticket in with you
and kinda put it down on your table
and that is how you order.
Japanese pubs are called (speaks in foreign language)
and you should be aware if you're going
to a (speaks in foreign language),
they often have a time limit on how long you can sit
at the table before they kick you out.
If you go to a fine dining restaurant
that has tatami flooring, which I mentioned earlier
in the etiquette section, make sure to take off your shoes
before you go on the tatami mat.
New trend in Japan maybe in the last 10 years
are the standing restaurants, popular in the train stations.
You'll find standing noodle restaurants,
standing sushi restaurants.
Space is so limited, they have no chairs
and you stand to eat.
Another great place to eat are convenience stores,
Japanese convenience stores in the big city
seem to be almost every block.
7-Eleven, Lawson Station, FamilyMart
are some of the big ones and if you're thinking
7-Eleven in the U.S. or some place like that,
these are nothing like it.
They're food, delicious, and it's brought
into their stores multiple times a day.
Another great place for food in Japan
is at department stores.
The big department stores will typically have a food floor
in the basement, you can get cheap to-go food there
and then they will often be marking that food down
late in the evening, 10, 20, 50% off even,
to make sure it gets sold.
Another trend in Japan is pancakes,
pancakes are very popular here.
Not pancakes for breakfast, pancakes for lunch
and pancakes for dinner.
In Harajuku in Tokyo, you'll find long lines for pancakes.
Also a couple, another new trend in Japan,
new, you know, the last 10 years,
something like that, maid cafes.
These cafes where the waitresses dress up as French maids
to serve you, you'll find those in Akihabara,
in Osaka, in Denden Town.
So if you wanna be waited on by a Japanese girl
dressed up as a French maid, check those out.
And finally I just include this one
'cause it's got the word restaurant in it,
there's a place in Tokyo called the Robot Restaurant,
and they do serve food but not really.
It's just restaurant in name.
It's a really awesome dinner show,
one of the coolest I've been to.
If you're going to Tokyo and you like robots
and big things and lights and things that flash,
then check out the Robot Restaurant.
The sixth thing to know before you go to Japan
is about money and you should know
that in Japan, cash is king.
Credit is not accepted ubiquitously.
You will find a lot of restaurants and shops
are cash only so make sure you
get some yen, bills and coins.
The coins, quite valuable here.
Hundreds, five hundreds, 500-yen coin
worth about five U.S. dollars.
I mentioned earlier but when you pay in a shop,
they'll have a tray, that's where you put your money in.
That's where the change will come back for you.
Always make sure to hand it with two hands
and receive it with two hands as well.
Many people think that Japan is expensive,
but I will tell you I think that Japan is probably
one of the cheapest countries in the developed world.
I find trips here to actually be quite inexpensive
and the only comparable countries are Portugal and Taiwan
for development to inexpensiveness ratio.
And if you're looking to stay cheaply in hotels,
check out Toyoko Inn.
It's a business hotel, the rooms are small
but they are clean and so that's something
you don't have to worry about here
that if you get something cheap, cheap food and cheap hotel,
you don't have to worry about it being filthy
or a place you don't wanna stay
or something you don't wanna eat,
and if you wanna eat really cheap,
eat in convenience stores and the Yoshinoya,
one of the cheapest Japanese staples with their beef bowls.
Also, if you wanna know more about money
you can check out, I gotta whole video
talking about money in Japan.
The seventh thing to know before you go to Japan
is about tipping, and this one's really short.
Don't do it, they don't tip in Japan.
Actually, tipping in Japan is considered rude.
It's like you have too much money and you pity them
and that's why you need to tip them to give them money.
It's doesn't matter where you go,
whether you go to restaurants, whether you ride a taxi,
whether it's the bellboy in the hotel,
they do not expect tips and in fact
they don't want your tips, so for those of you
who love tipping, get over it, they don't tip in Japan.
The eighth thing to know before you go to Japan
is about trash and trash cans.
There are very few public trash cans in Japan.
The first few times I came here, I had trash
and I was looking to throw it away
and I couldn't find trash cans for the life of me
and then I figured out trash cans are in a few places.
They're at convenience stores, they're in train stations,
they're on bullet trains.
There are often no trash cans in bathrooms
where you might expect them.
There's often no trash cans in big public areas
expect the ones where tons and tons of tourists go.
In Japan they expect you to basically
take your trash home with you,
and that might be back to the hotel.
If you wanna know more about trash cans,
I gotta whole video about trash cans in Japan.
The ninth thing to know before you go to Japan
is about toilets, and the toilet
are usually these typical amazing TOTO toilet
that have a bidet and a wash and are heated
and are like the most futuristic high-tech toilets ever.
But it is Asia, and so you will find some squat toilets.
Actually in some parts of Japan,
particularly the rural areas,
the public toilets will only be squat toilets.
And so if you are confronted with a squat toilet,
well, you need to make sure you face the right way
and that's usually in the direction of the porcelain hood.
Whatever you do, don't do your business into the hole.
It'll splash, do your business into the flat part.
But back onto those amazing toilets,
'cause I think that's more interesting
than the squat toilets, is the amazing toilets.
Sometimes they're called a washlet
or an ostamat
You might see signs in bathrooms or doors
that will advertise them.
If you sit on the toilet and water runs,
don't think you break it.
That's what I thought the first time
I sat on one of them.
It's just running water to heat it up
in case you want to use the wash or the bidet.
Those toilets are a great way to clean yourself.
They often often have dryers so after you use the water,
you can dry your bottom.
Sometimes they'll have music, extra sound.
In public bathrooms, though, it's worthwhile to note
that there are often no paper towels.
The Japanese typically carry a handkerchief
wherever they go to dry their hands
or their shirt or their pants,
so be aware that there are typically no towels.
Also if you're in hotels or restaurants
or things like that, you may encounter
slippers in the toilet.
Those are toilet slippers, those are for you to put on
when you go to the toilet so that your feet
do not get dirtied by the dirty dirty toilet,
and you don't take the toilet dirt into the rest
of the place that you're in.
The 10th thing to know is about hotels,
so I thought it was only appropriate
to do this one in a hotel.
This is the 51st floor of the Osaka Marriott,
so that's the night view of Osaka in the background.
So to describe Japanese hotels in four words,
I would say clean, functional,
small, and tired, yes tired.
I find a lot of the, blah blah blah.
Look, I talked for like seven minutes about hotels,
so if you wanna know more about staying in Japanese hotels
click the link in the upper left
to check out that video right now.
Well hey, that's it, those are all the major things
you need to know before you go to Japan,
you are well armed to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.
If this was your first time at Yellow Productions,
make sure to click this yellow ball to subscribe
for our fun informative travel videos every week.
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Japan Travel Tips: 10 Things to Know Before You Go

168 Folder Collection
Yuen Yee Bertha Chan published on February 14, 2020
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