In Japan the standard voltage is different from other regions of the world at 100V, and power outlets accept a flat 2-pin plug (similar to North American outlets). To cover all bases, it is best to pack an international travel adaptor!
Japan is 9 hours ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight savings.
Weather conditions vary in Japan depending on location and time of year. Typically summers are hot and humid, whilst winters are significantly colder - especially in the mountains, with a dry climate and light snowfall. Spring and Autumn offer warm days and cool nights, making this a wonderful time to explore the highlights of Japan. June is considered the rainy season with hot and muggy weather. Temperatures do vary depending on the region, so be sure to check in advance when travelling to the far north or far south of Japan.
Japan - Tokyo
|Min Temp °C||2||3||6||11||15||19||23||24||21||15||10||5|
|Max Temp °C||10||11||14||19||23||26||30||31||28||22||17||13|
|Ave Rainfall (mm)||62||61||126||139||150||168||182||186||215||235||108||44|
The weather chart above shows the average daily min and max temperatures in Celsius and the average monthly precipitation, and should only be used as a guide.
The official currency in Japan is Japanese Yen (JPY).
Most major currencies can be exchanged at the airport, post office, banks or major hotels; and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged in major banks, larger hotels and some duty free shops. While credit cards are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, they are not commonly used for making purchases as in western countries so you are best to pay in cash where possible.
Avoid cash machines at banks as these do not normally accept foreign-issued cards. Instead use the Post Office cash machines from which you will be able to take out money using Visa cards, MasterCard, Cirrus or Maestro. Note that Post Offices may only be open during office hours Mon to Fri. Convenience store chain 7-Eleven will have ATMs in almost all of its stores which will accept most foreign-issued credit and debit cards.
While Japan is considered safe make sure you are up to date on routine vaccinations; it is also recommended to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Japanese B Encephalitis.
Japan does have mosquitoes in the summer months, but Malaria is not a problem in Japan. If you are allergic to bites from mosquitoes please take appropriate precautions; anti-mosquito sprays and creams are widely available in Japan or you could bring your own from home.
Water is safe to drink in all areas of Japan.
One of the best things about visiting any country is sampling its cuisine and during your stay in Japan you’ll probably be wishing to do just that. Many Japanese restaurants specialise in one particular type of food. Sushi is of course the most famous dish, but Japanese food does not stop with raw fish; other specialities include teriyaki (marinated beef/chicken/fish seared on a hot plate), sukiyaki (thin slices of beef, bean curd and vegetables cooked in soy sauce and then dipped in egg), and tempura (deep fried sea-food and vegetables).
If everything so far sounds a bit meat and fish orientated don't be alarmed - there are vegetarian options in Japan. Try the wonderful zaru soba (buck-wheat noodles served cold), a bowl of Udon (thicker noodles) in a mountain vegetable soup, tofu steak or a vegetable okonomiyaki (savoury pancake). If you are feeling adventurous you could try natto, this is a sticky and slightly smelly concoction made of fermented soya beans.
If you want a more general selection, then the best place to go is an Izakaya (Japanese pub) where you will find an extensive and pretty cheap choice of food and drink. Izakaya often offer tabehodai or nomihodai - for a set price you get an hour or two to eat or drink as much as you like. Choosing exactly what to eat is made easier by well illustrated menus or plastic food displays at the doorway – just point and see what you get. In major cities you will also find plenty of Western-style restaurants.
Each region of Japan also has its own speciality foods, unique to or particularly famous in that one area of the country. These are nearly always made from locally produced ingredients.