5 tips for First Timers in Japan

Temples and Trees
So, your all booked and off to Japan? You won’t regret it…

Before you leave, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on what you can do to make your trip a little more enjoyable.

Here are our Top 5 Tips for first timer’s.


You don’t speak Japanese, but you want to visit Japan? Don’t stress, this is not a problem. Japanese people are extremely friendly and welcoming. Regardless of your language abilities, you’re still going to have a great time. We do recommend you be prepared with a few greetings and important phrases. Not only will any attempt be well received, it can save you in some tricky situations. Check out our Essential Japanese Basics.


Japan is still very much a cash society. Ensure you have a sufficient amount of cash with you. Most hotels, major restaurants, ski rental and other places within the resort will allow you to pay by card.  However, be prepared and you should expect to pay in cash, unless you have been informed otherwise.

ATM’s are aplenty in Japan, however not all allow international transactions. To withdraw cash, look for the Post Office or a 7-Eleven store which contains international ATM’s.

In Hirafu, there is an international ATM located inside the Shiki building.


The Japanese are one the most well mannered and polite cultures I have come across. All the little things your Mum told you not to do while growing up, should be adhered to whilst in Japan.

It is considered impolite to eat and drink while in the street, blow your nose in public and talk on the phone while riding public transport.

For those not used to using chopsticks, eating can be quite the struggle. It is important to remember that your chopsticks are not a knife and fork, so DO NOT use your chopsticks to stab or skewer your food. Use them to pick up the food and take a bite, before returning the rest of the food to your plate. It may take longer to eat, but the more you get to enjoy your food.


It is customary to remove your shoes in the entrance of many places and wear the house slippers provided. Some restaurants feature a tatami style setting. Here you are expected to remove your shoes, usually next to the table. Take note of whether there is a storage cupboard and slippers provided.

A quick glance at others in the room is a good indication of what is expected and can save you the embarrassment.


Always know where you are going and where you are staying. If possible, try to carry to name and address of the place you are going in Japanese as well. This will allow people to help you if you become lost, and assist taxi driver’s in getting you to your destination.

A few basic Japanese phrases can help you a lot in transport situations. The Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook can come in handy when navigating, especially in areas where English is not widely spoken.