Passport and visas

Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter Japan must have a passport which will remain valid during the period of stay. Australian passport holders are eligible to enter Japan without a visa unless the purpose of the visit is to reside in Japan, to obtain employment or to otherwise engage in remunerative activities.

Money Matters

The unit of Japanese currency is Yen. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 Yen and bank notes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000.

Daily budget

As a guideline for general expenses whilst travelling, we suggest you budget around AUD $60.00 per person per day which will cover all food costs, lunch and dinner (when not included) and snacks. Other expenses you may incur include shopping and souvenirs which depend on the individual, as well as admission fees to optional activities during your spare leisure time.

ATMs

You can withdraw cash using your international credit, debit, prepaid and cash cards nationwide at Japan Post Bank ATMs and most Post Office ATMs. Please note that no other Japanese banks currently accept international transactions. Services are available in English and display stickers indicating which cards are accepted. Cards from the Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Visa Electron networks can be used including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club credit cards.

Also, Seven Bank’s ATMs are placed in all convenience Seven-Eleven stores which has about 14,000 stores nationwide as well as in some stores of Ito-Yokado (supermarket) (about 16,000 ATMs in total placed nationwide) allowing you to withdraw cash using credit cards issued by overseas financial institutions. Seven-Eleven is very convenient as almost all the stores are open 24 hours a day and cash withdrawal is possible at any time. You can find the locations of ATMs placed by the Japan Post Bank and Seven Bank on your credit card company’s website.

Credit cards and traveller cheques

Travellers cheques are accepted by leading banks, hotels, ryokan (Japanese inns) and stores in major cities. Hotel cashiers will usually change your traveller cheques. If your travellers cheques are in Japanese Yen, usually no service fee or handling fee will be charged.

International credit cards such as American Express, VISA, Diners Club and MasterCard are also acceptable at these major establishments. Credit card transactions are not always convenient outside big cities so obtaining cash beforehand is recommended when you travel to smaller regional areas.

Tipping

Individual tipping is not customary in Japan. Instead, a 10-15% service charge is added to your bill at major hotels and restaurants. Don’t be surprised if the cashier comes running after you as you leave the restaurant to return a tip you have left. During your stay at hotels, individual tipping is not customary, however staff will appreciate it if personal service is provided to your guest room, such as a special delivery or request.

Luggage delivery

Japan’s highly sophisticated and punctual rail network is one of the best ways to get across Japan. While travelling by train, transfers from one train line to another are often required and, while not rushed, it is important that tour members can negotiate any stairs in a timely manner while moving between platforms. Cumbersome luggage can be an impediment in such circumstances. You may also be aware of Japan’s famous high speed Bullet Trains. While convenient, they offer limited space for luggage. General practice is therefore for large suitcases to be forwarded overnight while tour members travel with a smaller overnight bag (usually with wheels and pull up handle) with each member managing their own bag as we move around using the trains. On JANESCO Platinum Tours, same-day delivery of suitcases is included wherever possible.

Staying connected

We’ll help you stay connected during holiday in Japan. Here are our travel tips for your mobile phone, internet access and electricity.

Mobile phones

It’s recommended you activate international roaming on your phone before you leave Australia and speak to your service provider about rates and charges. Data charges can be quite expensive in Japan. Rental phone services are available upon arrival at Narita Airport or Kansai Airport. Monthly SIM cards are increasingly available at major retail outlets such as BIC Camera and Yodobashi Camera. You can also purchase SIM cards suitable for Japan before leaving your home city, with some providers even delivering to your first hotel in Japan.

Wi-Fi and Internet Access

Most hotels in Japan offer free wi-fi and LAN cable internet in guest rooms or in the shared lobby area. Some may charge a fee for access in your room. Currently, “WiFi Spots” are being rapidly established throughout Japan and most transportation hubs such as airports and large-scale railroad stations, as well as large-scale hotels, have public WiFi Spots. Internet access is less common at traditional ryokan inns or small regional areas so be prepared to have a few days offline and enjoy the serenity.

Electricity

The voltage used throughout Japan is uniformly 100 volts, A.C. There are two kinds of frequencies in use; 50 Hertz in eastern Japan and 60 Hertz in western Japan (including Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka).

A dual voltage type of electrical appliance such as a hair dryer, travel iron and shaver will be handy, otherwise a step-down transformer is required to convert the voltage. There are no columnar-shaped plugs or 3-pin plugs used in Japan but 2-flat-pin plugs are used. Please purchase a plug adapter before you leave Australia.

Food and dietary requirements

In recent years, Japanese cuisine has become more and more popular around the world as a healthy diet. Although you may already have tried it many times in Australia, it will be a unique opportunity while you are in Japan to sample the most authentic Japanese cuisine made from the freshest ingredients, from the oceans to the mountains. When in Japan, do as the Japanese do. Indulge yourself in tasting authentic Japanese cuisine with Japanese sake. Kampai!

Common traditional foods you’ll likely come across:

  • Sushi– a small piece of raw seafood placed on a ball of vinegared rice. The most common ingredients are tuna, squid and prawn. Cucumber, pickled radish and sweet egg omelette are also served.
  • Sashimi– sliced raw fish eaten with soy sauce and wasabi, Japanese horseradish.
  • Tempura– lightly battered deep-fried prawn, fish or seasonal vegetable.
  • Yakitori– made up of small pieces of chicken meat, liver and vegetables skewered on a bamboo stick and grilled over charcoal.
  • Sukiyaki– prepared right at the table by cooking thinly sliced beef together with various vegetables, tofu and noodles.
  • Shabu Shabu– tender, thin sliced of beef held by chopsticks and swished in a pot of boiling water, then dipped
    in citrus soy or creamy sesame sauce.
  • Tonkatsu– crumbed and deep fried pork cutlet.
  • Soba and Udon– Soba is made from buckwheat flour and Udon from wheat flour. Both are served either hot with a broth or cold with dipping sauce.
  • Takoyaki– savoury balls of octopus pieces in a flour batter blended with stock and chunks of octopus, chopped cabbage and other ingredients, and baked crispy outside and inside still soft.
  • Okonomiyaki– savoury pancakes made with batter of flour mixed with cabbage, egg, seafood and sometimes noodles.

Vegetarian/Vegan diet

Vegetarian options are becoming increasingly common in Japan due to the rising influx of tourism but you still might need to do your own research. Restaurants in tourist areas that have English menus often offer vegetarian options.

Generally, be aware that your options may be limited, as many dishes without meat are made using Dashi (fish stock). The Happy Cow website is a great source for finding Vegetarian and Vegan restaurants in Japan and has an App with which you can search for one in your area. Another helpful guide concerning vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan-friendly food in Japan is provided by the Lazy Beggars.

Gluten-free diet

Following a gluten-free diet in Japan can be difficult as soy sauce (which contains gluten) is widely used as an ingredient in Japanese cuisine. We recommend that you pack some emergency gluten-free snacks in your suitcase – you never know when you may need them. Please check carefully how your dish is prepared by carrying with you the Gluten Free Restaurant Card in Japanese.

For more information, read about gluten-safe foods and those to avoid in Japan.

Weather and climate

Average Temperature (°C)

Spring
Mar – May
Summer
Jun – Aug
Autumn
Sep – Nov
Winter
Dec – Feb
Tokyo 8 – 19 22 – 26 14 – 24 5 – 9
Kyoto 7 – 20 22 – 28 14 – 25 3 – 8
Hiroshima 20 – 23 23 – 29 13 – 25 4 – 8