There is a lot to know before heading to Japan, so having a little knowledge can be quite helpful. Here are five general things to know before preparing and exploring Japan.
Cash is king – We are so used to using credit cards for everything (especially in the West), but cash is still king in Japan. A lot of places, especially small restaurants and even cabs, only take cash. So before you go to Japan or before you leave the airport, make sure to get some Yen or may not be able to pay for items during your trip. This may be changing due to the pandemic, but cash will always be a thing in this country so make sure you have some in your pockets.
Everything is on time – Most Americans are used to planes, cars, and even friends usually being a few minutes late for events (or even later). But in Japan, this is not the case. If it is stated that a train is arriving at 5 PM, it will be there at 5 PM. Don’t be late in Japan, it is consider very rude so be respectful and get there early! Trust me, they will not wait too long for you if being late is something you do all the time.
Trash cans are hard to find – If you are walking around the streets of Tokyo or any city in Japan, finding a trash can is going to be hard. You can usually spot a trash bin outside a train station or at the local store, but throughout the cities, finding one can be a bit of a journey. So know this ahead of time or you might be packing your trash with you for the day.
Don’t tip! – This is straight forward, don’t tip! From restaurants to shuttle services, don’t tip, it is not required and it is even considered a little rude by the Japanese to offer them extra cash. Just pay your bill and then move along with your day, there is not need to search for some extra cash. The gratuity is already going to be included in the total price, so don’t feel weird about not leaving or handing anyone the extra money.
Follow the flow of people – When moving around the train stations, the streets, or anywhere around Japan, follow the people. 99% of Japanese people are going to follow the rules and the cross walks, so if you see everyone stopping, stop and just wait a minute. It’s how such a large city is able to maintain just some basic order, so follow the flow and you will be able to make your way around the large cities without any issue.