When we think of the word serene and tranquil, probably one place enters our mind: Japan. We think about the peaceful temples, the relaxing hot springs, and a pleasant view. In contrast—but in the best way—Japan also has sinful, scrumptious food, vibrant nightlife, and limitless shopping choices. Now that a new year is about to start, it is never too late to take a vacation and go on a recreational trip before you brace yourself for what the new year has to offer. We are living today under extraordinary times. The stress caused by the pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health and spiritual balance. Before you think about packing your bags and planning your trip to Japan, let us share with you some tips you need to know before visiting Japan:
1. Check out their popular media
In case you have not heard yet, Japan is famous for its popular media like Mangas, animated films and series or Anime, Japanese dramas, and more! This fact is not much of a surprise for us. Japan, after all, has a rich culture of both popularity and tradition. Being that rich in culture will pave the way for more inspiration and more creativity for unique media. Check out their Anime series by streaming it online. You can go for those with English subtitles. If you are having a hard time catching up with the subtitles, you can also check out some dubbed anime sites online.
2. Ready your Harajuku fashion
The Japanese people also love clothing themselves in layers, frills, and in a unique way known as the Harajuku fashion. The iconic Shibuya Crossing would not be complete without the fashionable Japanese trotting off to start their day in the city. Have fun and clothe yourself in style because the cities of Japan are your runway! The Japanese people dress up wherever they want. So, if you are into tacky clothes, you might feel a bit out of place. Invest in stylish clothes that are neat with high necklines. Style your hair, too, or keep it in place.
3. Ready your cash
You might use credit cards or debit cards wherever you go and whatever you purchase. In Japan, you must ready your cash because it is a cash-centered economy. Most establishments only accept cash. Big establishments may have already adapted and have started accepting credit cards, but medium to small stores still accept cash only for payment. You also cannot pay with your credit cards on most public utility vehicles like trains, buses, and taxis.
4. Left is always right.
Another interesting thing in Japan that you ought to watch yourself on is where they walk. You will immediately notice that people walk on the left side, instead of the right side–which we always practice. Set your “keep right” courtesy rule aside and keep left. The Japanese people are rather strict when it comes to discipline and courtesy, too. Always be watchful and gravitate towards your left. Even as you drive, you will notice that they stay on the left side.
5. The “New Normal” has always been the normal
Now that we are living under a pandemic, wearing masks is now quite normal—mandatory, even. In Japan, you might be surprised to know that the people have always worn masks even before the pandemic. People in Japan wear masks to avoid catching a cold. Some also wear masks so they would not be too contagious once they sneeze or cough in public. Women also wear masks when they do not have the time to put on makeup. You will notice a lot of people wearing masks during spring and winter. Wearing masks protect them from pollen entering their system and from the cold air that will make their faces dry.
6. Discipline is the way to go
We mentioned that in Japan, people are strict with discipline. They do not like even when you bend the rules for your convenience. They do not want to be trouble for others. They are also quite conscious of noise. Even in establishments, the Japanese people only speak in soft voices, so only their groups and companions can hear them. If you do not want to trouble others and annoy them, you might start practicing speaking in a gentle voice as early as now.
7. Watch out if you need to take off your shoes
You might already have an idea that most Asian countries remove their shoes before entering their homes. But in Japan, some establishments—if not most—require you to remove your shoes before entering. They will offer you some clean slippers for you to wear inside, though. Upon entering, a waiter or a host or hostess will guide you in the entrance for you to remove your shoes. If there are none, and you are not sure if you need to take off your shoes, check out other patrons if they have their shoes removed. You can also check out the entrance if there are lockers for shoes.
8. Know about the Japanese tipping culture
You might be used to giving tips to waiters and servers when you are staying in an establishment. In Japan, you might be surprised to know that they are not very keen on receiving tips. The price of your bill is the only thing that you need to pay. If you give a server a tip, they will just insist on returning it.
9. Drink responsibly
You might see from TV shows or films how the Japanese people love drinking. In reality, they strictly follow the rules for drinking and smoking. They do not drink publicly so as not to disturb others.
10. Smoke responsibly
The same with drinking, the Japanese people only smoke in designated areas. They even carry pocket ashtrays to keep ashes and butts from scattering.
Know more about Japan
Now that you have learned some things about staying in Japan, you might be more than ready to take a trip there! The key is to know more about their culture, so you would enjoy your trip!