As some of you may know, we went to Japan for two weeks in August and it was amazing. We also learned a lot of things that we would like to pass on to people who would like to visit Japan in the future.
We decided to write about some tips you don’t read often that will hopefully save you from headaches.
1. Convenience stores.
Convenience stores were a great help to us for 2 reasons.
For starters, when we went to Tokyo we noticed there were no trash cans to be found outside. This is because the Japanese government had to remove all public trash cans for security purposes after an attack in 1995 which resulted in over a dozen deaths. Which made us carry our trash such as plastic bags and bottles until we were home. But then we found out you can recycle these items by going to a convenience store instead.
Lastly, convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and Family Mart all offer free WiFi. Which saved us when we didn’t have a pocket wifi with us. When we would get lost and not know where to go, we would find a convenience store and connect to the internet to see where we needed to go.
The best option is to probably exchange money pre-arrival because it will be easier to get a solid exchange rate without commission charge in your home country. Exchange offices in Japan have a low rate (for Euro & £, in our experience) and they charge a bundle of commission. If you are low on funds and require money then convenience store ATM’s offer cash withdrawals with debit or credit card (7 Eleven or Family Mart accept a wide range of credit/debit formats so they will probably be the best ones). They will give a better rate than exchange offices with a transaction fee much more affordable than commission fees, the fee amount may vary depending on your bank. ATM’s require a minimum withdrawal of ¥10,000.
For example, it was £1.25 for every ¥10,000 I withdrew. Minimum fee amount £1.99, so it was more worth it to withdraw in bulk of ¥20,000 (or more) to paying an extra £0.70 on every new withdrawal. A good way to do it is; if someone didn’t need a full ¥10,000, then one withdrew and split ¥5,000 each and just split the cost of the full withdrawal.
3. Speak to natives/locals
From our experience, some natives may be quite shy (especially since we were a full group of guys) but having someone that knows the language or the locale will make an extraordinary difference to your trip; they can suggest places to go, help you out with the language barrier and even better, if you become friends and they show you around (even if it’s just one occasion). Free tour guides and new friends, can’t really complain! Just make sure you’re thankful and be appreciative, leaves a good impression with them because they may offer again if it was that enjoyable!
4. Cheap places to eat
We found a few local places that offered real good prices and was definitely generous in portion size but they weren’t huge chains. If you wanna find out about the local ones then feel free to ask!
But for chains that you’ll probably find around most of Japan, here’s a two that we could definitely rely on!
The most popular and cheapest thing you can get here is the Rice & Beef bowl (600 calories) with a side of Miso soup. It only cost us around ¥380 and kept us filled up for a while!
This place offers a lot of cheap options to choose from! The average price for a meal here is ¥400-500.
Pocket WiFi – Could be considered expensive but it’s a great resource if you can afford it.
JR-Pass – This one is mentioned a lot because it’s definitely worth it. If you’re staying in Japan for a long time it will save you time and money (especially on long distance travelling e.g. Tokyo to Osaka).
Suica Card – This is a prepaid smart card that can be used to pay for most forms of transportation in Japan. Next to that you can also use it for vending machines or to pay for your items in a convenience store.