The most popular religious culture in Japan is Shinto, although a major part of the population also practices Buddhism while some delve into Christianity, and a minor percentage indulge in Hinduism, Islam, and other popular religions from around the world.
Although the famous foods of Japan lie in the essence of various types of meat and fish, Japanese people also consume a lot of vegetarian recipes. The most popular dishes involve eggplants, stew or dumplings made of fresh vegetables, and the famous fried ice cream.
The Japanese are delightfully warm-hearted people who love to welcome tourists from around the world into a beautiful country. They are very respectful in their communication and always prepared to lend a hand whenever you need them.
It is considered disrespectful in Japan to maintain eye contact while having conversations. Instead, from a young age, the Japanese are taught to focus on a person's neck or feet so they can still see the other person's eyes in their peripheral vision without seeming rude. This concept is derived from the principles of respecting everyone you meet regardless of their age, social status, and gender.
Japanese can be a tricky language with three different scripts in circulation. However, learning the words 'yes' and 'no' is fairly simple. ‘Hai or Hi’ means yes and ‘Lie’ means no.
Some of the festivals celebrated in Japan are seasonal festivals such as the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido and the Cherry Blossom Festival which takes place in spring.
A Japanese festival is called Matsuri and most of these are religious but there are a few secular festivals too. What's interesting is that there are no fixed dates for these events, and they change from area to area.
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)..
In urban areas, it is relatively easy to find devices such as conversion plugs and transformers. They are sold in electronics quarters such as Tokyo's Akihabara and Osaka's Nipponbashi, or at major home appliance mass retailers such as Yodobashi Camera or Bic Camera.
Visitors to Japan in possession of a foreign phone can take advantage of telecom giant Softbank's Wi-Fi hotspots. Softbank: Free Wi-Fi Passport provides two weeks of free Wi-Fi from 400,000 hotspots nationwide. All you need to do is set your roaming destination to "SoftBank" and dial *8180 to receive your password to enable your connection. Look out for the Softbank mark in restaurants, cafes, major train stations, hotels, and other locations where you can log on.
Certain coffee chains, fast food restaurants and convenience stores also offer their own free Wi-Fi.
Another way to stay connected is to rent or buy a sim card. Major airports offer different data plans depending on your need. Other options include Brastel. You can buy a sim card at one of the electronic megastores such as Bic Camera or Yodobashi Camera. A wide range of plans are on offer, so research is recommended to find one that best suits your needs. As a rough guide, you should be able to pick one up a 1GB data plan for 30 days for around 3,000 yen.
Points to be noted.
Your phone must be unlocked to use a sim card.Before arriving in Japan, make sure to confirm the compatibility of your mobile phone with your phone line service provider. It is worth noting that rental phones, sim cards and Wi-Fi are available in Japan on varying plans and costs. Most major airports have kiosks offering these services.
Credit cards in Japan
Credit, debit and prepaid cards of international brands are generally accepted throughout the country.
Just in case, here are links for major credit card companies: American Express, JCB Mastercard , Visa , Discover , Diners Club.
If you are uncomfortable carrying a large amount of cash with you, another option is to purchase a Suica card or Pasmo card. These cards aren't simply for using the trains—you can use them on many other forms of public transport, as well as at convenience stores, and an increasing number of shops and restaurants. While they can't be used everywhere, they can be a useful alternative to carrying cash.
If you are from a country where tipping is routinely practiced, it may come as a surprise that this is rare in Japan. If you are visiting bars, cafes, or restaurants, taking taxis or staying in hotels, tipping is not expected. In special cases, a small gratuity is sometimes given to express gratitude if someone goes above and beyond to help.
If you have a private guide, or interpreter—someone who is used to western practices—then they may accept a tip from you (although it is certainly not expected). If you do decide to tip, make sure to put any bills in an envelope. You can buy these at convenience stores or 100-yen shops.
While bottled water is readily available all over Japan—including in the infinite vending machines—the tap water is perfectly safe to drink.
If you wish to drive in Japan, you need to follow the rules set out by the Japan Automobile Federation: Obtaining Japanese Translation of foreign driver's license.
Make yourself familiar with the conditions before arriving in Japan. Some of the fundamental conditions are:
1. Obtaining a Japanese Driver's License.
2. Obtaining an International Driver's Permit. You need to apply for this before you make your trip to Japan.
English is generally understood throughout the country, particularly in major cities and tourist centers. Combine this with some positive body language and gestures, and you shouldn't encounter many problems. Public transportation announcements are frequently made in both Japanese and English, and signs generally include decipherable roman characters or English explanations.