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 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan

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PostSubject: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:54 pm



You look weird.
Sorry, but you do. Your nose looks funny. Your hair is strange. Your handbag sucks. And what the hell are you wearing?
You may take comfort in knowing that there are several million other visitors also touring the country, but that's not going to stop you from sticking out like a sore thumb. In America, almost anyone can blend in. Stick an American in Japan, and even with the high number of visiting tourists they're still going to stick out. Chances are you'll be taller than everyone else. Or... bigger. You know what I mean by that. Sorry 'bout that. And young people in Japan have a pretty good sense of style. If you're caught in the wrong place, your sweatpants and hoodie could be very unfashionable.
And blondes are like magnets to little Japanese eyes. I visited Ueno Zoo once with my lovely platinum blonde female companion. She found it difficult to get around, as school kids would stop and stare at her and her shiny head. School teachers and parents would have to come snap them out of it.
[Pro Tip] Get used to people looking at you. Wink if you're ballsy.

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:58 pm

Bring lots of money.
If you're going to Japan, chances are that you'll be visiting Tokyo. Tokyo has consistently ranked among the most expensive cities in the world, this year coming in at #2. Things are expensive in expensive cities. Lunch might cost a few dollars more than you want it to. That shiny new camera might cost several more dollars than you want it to. Hell, there's stuff in Japanese vending machines that cost more than what you'd pay in an American restaurant.
This isn't even taking the things you'll want to buy into consideration. Getting to Japan isn't cheap, so it's natural that you'd want to make the most of it while you're there. Those doujinshi, trading figures, old Super Famicom games, and gashapon add up quick.
That being said, there's several ways to prevent wallet rape in Tokyo. If you play your cards right, you can get by with less money. You might be eating fast food and konbini snacks, and possibly staying in a shit hole, but it can be done. Tokyo is way more expensive for a resident than it is a visitor.

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:01 pm

Going to the bathroom may be awkward.
We don't think much about natural bodily functions until we have to do them in a foreign place. For the most part, the ol' 1 and 2 is pretty straightforward in urban Japan. But there are some things that first timers should be aware of.
Your toilet may have more buttons than a space shuttle - Japan is home to some of the fanciest toilets ever, and they all have buttons on them. Start jamming on said buttons, and you may find yourself sitting on a warm geyser. Or hear music coming out of your rear end. Once you get the hang of them, they're pretty cool.
Your toilet may look like a hole in the floor - The polar opposite of this space-age toilet is the dreaded squat toilet, which looks like a hole in the floor. And what's worse is that the facilities that have these kinds of toilets often do not have toilet paper. Keep that in mind before you leave your hotel room in the morning.
[Pro Tip] When you come out of many of the bigger stations, someone will inevitably thrust a packet of tissues in your face. They're a form of advertising in Japan. Don't ask questions or decline -- you need those. Just nab one and stick it in your back pocket.

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:04 pm



You're not welcome everywhere.
Most doors will swing wide open for you, white guy/gal, with a store clerk screaming Irashaimase! at you. That means come in and buy our shit, but don't make us talk that much to you... roughly translated. But there are some that don't want your business, white guy/girl. No offense.
It's usually not a racial thing as much as it is a culture thing.
Some very traditional places, like older restaurants and and bars, may have signs that say "Japanese Only" on their doors. Don't take offense. Just move on to the next one.
Finally, there are some places -- mostly bars -- that are kind of anti-American. It's nothing against you: you can blame the drunk and rowdy military guys from the bases for the ban in these places.

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:06 pm

Use cash.

You look like a douche at the konbini with a credit card. Get that Pepsi N'ex and those Karl chips with Yen, and not your credit card. For major purchases, credit cards are fine. The bigger establishments and chains will gladly accept them.
Just "hitting the ATM" is not as easy as it would be back at home. The ATMs work fine for the Japanese, but your foreign card isn't as cool here. Also, forget all of that Traveler's Checks nonsense you hear on the TV. Unless you wander off somewhere shady, your money is safe in your pocket in Japan. The Traveller's Checks are more hassle than they're worth.
[Pro Tip] Take out cash and keep it with you. There are still plenty of places that do not accept credit cards.

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:08 pm

Wear your passport.
As a visitor to Japan, you must have your passport on you at all times. It is a crime to not have your passport on you. If you're stopped by authorities for any reason, you'll have to show your passport to them. If you can't show it, you'll be taken in to the police station. You probably won't have any issue, but Japanese police are allowed to stop you at any time, for any reason, and ask to see it. That does not usually happen, though.
There is an upside to lugging your ugly mugshot around. In many of the touristy areas, you'll be able to shop duty free with your passport in certain stores. In many cases you'll be directed to make your purchase at a special counter, but it's worth the hassle to save that money. A side benefit is that the clerks at these special counters are sometimes multi-lingual.

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:12 pm



Maps are confusing.
...but it gets easier. In Tokyo, public transportation is the preferred method of getting around for the locals. There's trains, subways, busses, bullet trains, cars, and tons of people. You'll have to move quickly to get in line with the masses to get around town. You haven't lived until you've been packed by hand into a crowded train. It's not all bad, it's just really busy
Luckily, the transportation in the more populated places has plenty of English to read for train riders. Maps are crazy to look at at first, but you'll be counting stations in no time. Hell, if you're going to Akihabara, just follow the nerds. Sometimes figuring out train fare can be confusing.
[Pro Tip] Make it easy on yourself and look for a green Suica machine while in Tokyo. You pay 500 yen for an IC card that you can fill up with cash. Fill that sucker up at the machine (money can be added at any time) and simply tap it on top of the turnstile in stations. Money will be automatically pulled from your card. You don't have to bother with doing the math! You can actually shop at select locations with the card, too.
[Pro Tip] Knowing where you're going before you leave can be a big help. Ask your hotel if they have a map. You can save yourself time and money (and embarrassment) with a well planned trip.
[Pro Tip] On escalators in Tokyo, stand to the left. Don't be that douche on the right blocking traffic. Walking down streets and pathways follows the same formula.

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:15 pm

Use manners.
I'm not saying that you have bad manners. It's just that the ultra-polite Japanese society makes the unprepared foreigner look like an ape.
Gotta sneeze? Make it quiet. Gotta blow your nose? Don't. It's considered disgusting there. Go to a bathroom and do it. Don't point. Also rude.
Get up and let that old lady have your seat on the train. Don't eat and walk around. Don't wipe your face with the warmed towel they give you at restaurants. Don't yell to get someone else's attention.
The shoes thing is real. When you go to a place that requires shoe removal, you'll know. You'll see shoes there, set aside in an orderly fashion. Some bathrooms will have special slippers available for you. You'll see them.
[Pro Tip] Here's some quick guidelines for shoe removal. You'll remove for: tatami matted places, most homes, older eateries and establishments, any place you see slippers available.

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:16 pm

(I'll post the last two later...)

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PostSubject: Re: 9/30 Ten Things To Know Before Going To Japan   Sun Oct 05, 2008 12:46 am

Whoa, sounds pretty complicated.
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