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11 tips for your Japan trip

With a language barrier than can be intense, technology that can overwhelm and etiquette thatís complex, it is vital to be prepared.

1. Show me the money

Japan is a cash-based society so be sure to carry plenty of cash on you. Most ATMs donít accept foreign cards, nor do many establishments.

2. Off the rails

A JR Rail Pass, only available to foreign visitors, is a must if you plan on travelling between cities as it can save lot of expense.

3. Lost in Translation

The extent of the language barrier may be a surprise to first-time visitors to Japan, so use the Google Translate app to help you find your way. And always carry a copy of your hotel address in Japanese for taxi drivers.

4. Super 7-Elevens

Japanís convenience stores are convenient indeed. They sell everything from phone chargers and underwear to concert tickets, alcohol and hot food.

5. Get it onsen

Onsen baths are less for cleaning and more for relaxing, healing and detoxing. You must shower before entering the water and you will have to go in fully nude.

6. Don't eat and run

It is considered rude to eat takeaway food as you walk down the street and you should consume food in front of the stall where you purchase it.

7. Take a bow

The people of Japan greet each with a casual bow.

8. Don't tip

Nobody tips in Japan and in fact, can be seen as rude.

9. Metro management

For multiple trips on city trains (including the subway and metro area) a pre-paid Suica card saves time otherwise spent buying individual tickets for each journey.

10. Shoe biz

The etiquette around the wearing of shoes is complex. When entering a Japanese house, place your outdoor shoes at the doorway and wear the house slippers your host provides. You should only step on tatami mats with bare or socked feet.

11. Wi-Fi in your pocket

Getting a prepaid SIM card with local calling service can be tricky in Japan. Instead rent a Pocket Wi-Fi (which can be pre-ordered online and waiting at your hotel when you arrive) to stay connected during your travels.

This article appeared in volume 53 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

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