National Holidays in Japan
As of 2020, Japan has 16 national holidays throughout the year. If a national holiday falls on a Sunday, the holiday is observed on the following Monday. Also, there are certain consecutive holidays three times a year, which result in an extended holiday. Many Japanese enjoy traveling domestically and internationally during these holidays.
New Year’s Holiday
Begins on the last Saturday in December until the first Sunday in January (Lasts about 9 days)
Begins at the end of April until the beginning of May (Lasts about 10-14 days)
Begins on the second Saturday in August until the fourth Sunday in August (Lasts about 9 days)
The table below shows the time differences between Japan and Major U.S. Cities. Japan does not participate in Daylight Savings, so there is no time change within Japan.
The unit of currency in Japan is called yen (¥/JPY). The bill designs will change in 2024! 2,000 yen bills are rarely used. (Maybe if you are lucky, you can see 2,000 yen bill during your Japan trip!) Money can be exchanged at banks, currency exchange offices, post offices. You can also conveniently exchange at the airport after arriving at Japan.
4 Types of Bills
6 Types of Coins
Credit and Debit Cards
We highly recommend bringing cash with you when traveling to Japan.
Many shops still prefer cash with many small shops only accepting cash.
Don't worry about that if you bring enough cash.
Using your American-issued credit or debit card, Japanese yen can be withdrawn from ATMs in Seven-Elevens or post offices.
Debit cards are not as widely used, but credit cards are becoming more and more popular.
Credit cards are accepted by almost all hotels, convenience stores, department stores, restaurants, and cafes.
Surrounded by ocean in the Northern Hemisphere and stretching from north to south, the long strip of Japan and its collection of islands are vastly affected by seasonal winds which create regional climates, giving Japan distinct seasons.
Spring is one of the best seasons for sight-seeing; from March to May, it is relatively warm and comfortable, featuring cherry blossoms and many kinds of gorgeous flowers bloom across all of Japan! Following Spring, Japan’s rainy season, tsuyu, begins at the start of June and lasts until the end of July.
Once tsuyu ends, Summer begins! Meltingly hot and humid from the end of July to the end of September, Kyoto is especially hot at around 38℃/100℉! Please take care to stay hydrated and cool, if you will travel in Japan during summer. During the summertime, from July through October, heavy rain and strong winds caused by tropical cyclones called “typhoons” pass through Japan from the south to the north.
Then comes an incredible season: Autumn occurs from October through November. The trees vividly transform, starting at higher elevations and moving down the mountain. You can easily see the contrast created by the nature in countryside, with green, yellow, orange, and red leaves like Autumn’s rainbow! In the city, enjoy walking under glowing yellow-gold ginkgo trees along the roadside.
Winter, from November through February, brings snow to some areas; the air is cold and dry. In Hokkaido, located at the northernmost point of Japan, there are a lot of mostly freezing cold days below 0℃/32℉ and the lowest temperature is around -20℃/-4℉! There, impressive snow sculptures are built at Hokkaido, Sapporo Snow Festival which is held every February.
Connectivity and Consumables
Starting from wireless connections to daily consumables, these are the things that you should know
Electrical Outlet Adapter
Japan uses 100-volt outlets. An A-type plug adaptor may be necessary to convert the voltage for electrical devices made outside of Japan.
The outlets in Japan are two-prong (A-type) and cannot accommodate a third prong (B-type).
Although both the United States and Japan both have A-type outlets, some of the U.S. plugs have one slightly larger prong and cannot be used in Japan without an adapter.
Japanese plugs are the same size and can be used in America without problems.
Tap water is safe to drink in Japan. Bottled mineral water is also available for about 100 yen at convenience stores and vending machines.
Free wi-fi is not frequently available in Japan. Some public wi-fi can be found at airports, hotels, and other areas, however, a specific phone app or pre-registration may be required. If you plan to rely on or use the internet in Japan, we recommend a rental wi-fi router.
Smoking while walking is banned by an ordinance in many areas and there is a fine. There may be a designated smoking area. Many places, such as restaurants, cafes, hotels, do not allow smoking inside, but some izakaya (Japanese pubs) allow you to smoke inside, so it may be difficult for non-smokers to avoid.
Convenience Stores (Konbini)
Convenience stores (konbini) are everywhere in Japan! Open 24 hours, they are even more convenient as the name suggests. Offering a wide variety of products including food, beverages, liquor, books, snacks, frozen food, stationary, daily necessities, medicine and clothes like socks and underwear, it is accurate to say that they have everything what you may need. Staff members offer you helpful services, unique to Japan. For example, if you purchase food, like a bento box or a rice ball (onigiri), they will ask “Would you like this warmed up?” If you would like to eat it immediately, just say, “Yes, please” and they will heat it up for you.
7-11's are one of the most common Konbinis in Japan!
There are very delicious desserts at Mini Stop!
Manner and Custom in Japan
How to enjoy the ONSEN (Hot Springs)!
Here are some tips to help you enjoy your experience at the hot springs:
- Tattoos are typically forbidden at most public bathing areas, including hot springs.
- This policy is becoming a bit less strict due to tourists, so please check before going!
- No clothing allowed, including underwear and swimwear!
- Wash your entire body before entering the bath, rinsing your body with hot water, called “kakeyu.”
In the mountains, monkeys also enjoy onsen!
Visit to Shrines and Temples
Shrines and temples are sacred places, so please follows the rules during your visit.
- Remain quiet in precincts of shrines and temples.
- Bow before you enter the gateway and do not pass through the very center of the Shinto shrine gates (torii) or Buddhist temple gates where only gods may use.
- Purify by washing your mouth and hands before approaching the main shrine (honden).
At Restaurant and Cafe
If you dine in, some smaller cafes may have a table or seat fee. Servers will not approach your table, so you may need to raise your hand, press a button on the table, or call them over whenever you would like to order or ask a question. There is no specific server in charge of each table, which means any server may take care of you throughout your dining experience. Nearly all restaurants may refuse to let you take leftovers home as they cannot control what conditions the food will be kept and cannot guarantee it will be safe to eat when you decide to consume it. Portion sizes are smaller compared to the US and, in some cases, you can even opt to order less at a reduced cost. At almost all restaurants and cafes, you will need to pay at a cashier, not at the table.
Tipping is not a part of Japanese culture because there is such a high standard of customer service. Japanese hospitality, known as omotenashi, is about valuing the experience wherein money (beyond what the service may cost) has no involvement. Rather than valuing money, your enjoyment and consideration of the services or products are much more valuable. Please do not offer gratuity for restaurants, porters, or other services where you would normally offer one.
Japan’s public transportation is highly praised: local trains, bullet trains (Shinkansen), subways, buses, ferries, and taxis, are available across all of Japan!
Trains and Buses
Run on a schedule that is not 24 hours.
Please check for the “last train” or “last bus” which usually ends between 10:00 PM – 1:00 AM depending on the location.
Rideshare services, like UberPool, are not common or known.
Japanese taxi fares may be higher than other countries. Most taxis only accept cash.
Back seat doors open and close automatically, so please do not open or shut them on your own unless sitting in the front passenger seat.
Bullet Train (Shinkansen)
As of May 2020 and for the safety and convenience of all the passengers, seat reservations are required with oversized baggage that have dimensions between 160 cm and 250 cm.
Please check the details under the appropriate URL:
The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is an incredibly convenient and money-saving tool that allows
unlimited use for a certain time period on JR lines which extend throughout all of Japan!
Emergency (Illness / Accidents)
for serious injuries or illnesses requiring an ambulance and medical attention.
for incidents such as theft or loss of an item and accidents requiring police assistance.
for incidents at sea, which connects to Japan’s coast guard.