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ImageThe yen is the Japanese currency. The bills are in 10,000 yen, 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen denominations, and the coins are 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, 50 yen, 100 yen and 500 yen. You can convert foreign currency at any bank, hotel or tourist facility that displays an "Authorized Money Exchanger" sign. The conversion rate is better at banks, but there is no black currency market.
Tipping is not customary in Japan, so do not feel obliged to. Hotels and major restaurants will add a 10-15% service charge.
Credit Cards
ImageAll major credit cards, such as American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Diners Club are accepted at all major hotels, restaurants and tourist facilities. You cannot use them at small or inexpensive places.
Traveler's Checks
Only major tourist facilities and department stores accept traveler's checks. It is advised that you exchange them for yen at banks, hotels and other exchange facilities.
Duty Free Shopping
ImageBe sure to take your passport along with you when you visit stores with a "Tax-Free" sign displayed. The store clerks have to fill out paperwork that is attached to your passport, and collected as you leave the country.
A jacket or sweater would be enough in the spring or autumn. Summer is hot and humid, so you will only need light clothes. In winter, a coat would be enough, but if you are travelling in the north, it is advisable to bring warmer clothes with you. Casual wear is suitable for sightseeing and a lot of restaurants. The Japanese do not tend to dress up as much as they did some years ago. But it is advisable to look respectable when going out at night.
Make sure to pack any prescription medicines you need. Japan does have international standard medical services and facilities. Hotels can help you, if you need urgent attention.
ImageThe electrical current is 100 volts in Japan; 50 cycles from Tokyo and north, and 60 cycles west of Tokyo.
ImageMost station public toilets do not have toilet paper and hand dryers. There is usually a vending machine at the entrance. It might be a good idea to bring along your own toilet paper and tissues. You will find packets of tissues handed out free as promotion useful for the toilets.
ImageThe number of non-smoking cars has increased over recent years on long distance trains. Smoking is prohibited on all short distance and commuter trains. All train stations are non-smoking, except for the designated smoking areas. All subway stations are non-smoking. The number of restaurants with non-smoking sections is increasing, but they are still rare. Do not be surprised if you see a Japanese person light up in a non-smoking area, especially if they are standing in front of a "No Smoking" sign.
Mobile Phones
ImageMost major hotels have signs in their coffee shops and restaurants prohibiting the use of mobile phones. If it is necessary, you can leave the restaurant and take or make the call outside. All trains have announcements that ask passengers to be considerate of others when using their phones on the train. Some train companies actually ban the use of mobile phones on their trains. It is basically a matter of common courtesy not too talk too loudly when using a mobile phone in public.
All long distance trains, including JR and private lines, have reserved seats. To make sure you can get a seat for long distance trips, it is advised that you book as early as possible, if not as soon as you arrive in Japan. The Hikari and Kodama bullet trains (Shinkansen) have unreserved seats (5 cars and 11 cars respectively), but all seats on the Nozomi are reserved.
You can find taxis all over Japan. It is only necessary to use one if you have large, heavy suitcases to carry from the hotel to the station. In some remote areas, taxis are the only reliable form of transport, as buses do not run as regularly. The fares vary according to the taxi company. Empty taxis can be recognized by the red light in the front of their windshields, on the passenger side. From 11 pm to 5 am, a 20% surcharge is added. Most taxis only seat 4 people, and only have room for 2 large suitcases in the boot.
Rental bicycles are avaiable at many destinations, and they offer the most convenient and cheapest means of transport to explore the area.
Buses and Streetcars
Buses area important means of transport in smaller cities, such as Nara and Kyoto.Hakodate, Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Kochi, Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Nagasaki have streetcars. Both buses and streetcars are usually operated by the driver. Some local buses charge a flat rate, but some also charge by the zone. Check to see whether there is a zone ticket (seiri-ken) dispenser as you get on the bus. If there is, take the ticket it. You are to place the correct fare (and seiri-ken) in the box at the front as you get off the bus. No change is given

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