Japan : Travel Information before you go!
The Narita International Airport in Tokyo is located 40 miles east of the city. There are several means of transport between the two. A trip by bus takes 1h 30m and costs JPY 3,000 (approx £23). A taxi during the day costs around 21,000 JPY (£160) and takes about 55 minutes. The new Skyliner (an ultra-modern elevated rail transit system, £15 per trip) provides a link from the Narita airport to the city centre in just 36 minutes.
As for the Haneda airport, which is also in Tokyo, it is located just 19 miles from the city centre. The trip takes 27 min by monorail to Ueno station with one transfer. The price of a ticket: £4.50 (included in the JR Pass). The Haneda Airport, which mostly handled domestic flights until 2010, now has a new international terminal. Many airlines, notably Japan Airlines, offer direct daily flights from London to Tokyo.
FCO UPDATE:Following reports of a new leak at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility on 1 September 2013, the FCO advises against all travel to the exclusion zones around the plant.
Though Japanhas a low crime rate, female travellers should be wary of inappropriate touching (chikan) on commuter trains. Should this occur, the police advise attracting attention by shouting at the perpetrator and contacting the train staff.
The Roppongi entertainment district of Tokyo is considered a higher risk area for crime, with drink-spiking with the intent to steal occuring.
The biggest risks are the natural ones, with Japan being particularly prone to tsunamis and earthquakes (1,500 per year in Tokyo alone). The typhoon season runs from June to December with most activity between July and September. There may be some disruption to transport and other infrastructure in the parts of north-eastern Honshu most affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Check with the local authorities or your travel company before you go.
For the latest developments, see the FCO Travel Advice section for Japan.
The Japanese language. English is spoken in the main towns.
Required travel documents for
Passport valid for at least 6 months after the return date. A visa is not necessary for a stay of less than 3 months.
The two main religions are Shinto (religion founded on ancestral worship and nature worship) and Buddhism. Several Japanese practise both religions.
The local currency is the Yen (JPY), which is divided into 100 Sen (£1 = approx. 156 JPY). Make sure you always have cash on you, as this is generally the method of payment in Japan. There are very few bank machines that accept foreign debit/credit cards, although you are sure to find some in all of the post offices. Some of the banks have a currency exchange office open during business hours: 9:00am to 3:00pm, Monday to Friday.
Air travel: It is a practical means of travelling in the islands and is harldy more expensive than the train. Air lines offer discounts, where more than three women travel together or if the age of both members of a couple is more than 88 years!!!
Train: fast means of transport, comfortable, neat and... expensive!!! Tourists may take advantage of the "Japan Rail Pass" package to be bought prior to departure and is valid for an unlimited number of travels on the railway network over a 7-to-21-day period. Prices: JPY 28,300 for a 7-day pass. Ship: a dense network links the main islands and the smaller ones located close to Taiwan. It is an excellent means to discover the most inaccessible panoramas of the country.
Car: the roads are very good. The highways are very congested. You should therefore be patient when travelling for long distances. Driving out of Tokyo requires knowing the language, as all signs are written in ideograms. The international license is not recognised. In the city, the options are limitless: subway, bus, tramway and taxis (expensive!). Since a new signalling system was introduced in 2004 for foreigners, taking the Tokyo subway is no more a headache. The lines are designated by the first letter of their names and the stations by a number referring to the order they appear on the line. For instance, Stop H8 is the 8th station on the Hibiya line.
Avoid eating raw, or half-cooked food, and wash your hands with soap often.
No particular vaccination is required. Medical costs are extremely high in Japan, get insurance and check the limit given to reimbursement of medical expenses.
Electrical power is of American style: 100 V. You will find electrical outlets of 220 V in certain hotels. An adaptor is however essential. If you have forgotten to buy one, you will easily find some in shops.
Japan hosted 6,137,905 tourists in 2004.
Taxes and tips
Tips are not absolutely essential but you can give one as a mark of satisfaction.
Airport taxes: only if leaving from Tokyo (2,400 JPY) and Kansai (2,650 JPY) airports.
To call Japan from the UK: dial 00 + 81 + the area code (Tokyo: 3; Sapporo: 11; Yokohama: 45; Kawasaki: 44; Kobe: 78; Kyoto: 75; Osaka 6) + the number you are trying to reach.
From Japan to the UK: dial 001 + 44 + the number you are trying to reach.
Phone booths accept both coins and credit cards but are not all designed for making international calls.
To make local calls from a landline, make sure you have roughly 10 Yen per minute (approx. 80P) on hand. What you won't need, though, is your mobile phone; it will be of absolutely no use here. Indeed, the two national networks are not compatible with those of other countries. However, you will be able to get one on the spot for the duration of your stay.
Japan : Useful addresses in the country
101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J, UK.
Telephone: (44 20) 7465 6500.
Fax: (44 20) 7491 9348.
At the destination
British Embassy, Consular Section
No 1 Ichibancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8381.
Telephone: 03-5211-1100. Fax: 03-5275-0346.
Tourist Information Center (JNTO)
B1F, Tokyo International Forum, 3-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0005. Telephone: (81 3) 32 01 33 31. Fax: (81 3) 32 01 33 47.