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Before You Go

Thinking about making a trip to Japan? Sunrise has been assisting foreign visitors travel to the country of Japan more than 45 years. With all the experience we have accumulated throughout the years, we have developed a certain degree of expertise concerning travel to Japan. Allow us to give you teach you a little bit about Japan before you visit!

Basic Structure

The Japanese archipelago consists of the four main islands (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido), as well as roughly 4000 smaller islands including Okinawa. Honshu is the biggest island in Japan, holding Japan's main sightseeing spots such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. Japan is a largely mountainous country with mountains covering more than 80% of its landmass.

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Weather

The Japanese people are very proud of Japan's distinct four seasons. In general, you can expect the weather to be the same as that in any country with four seasons in the Western hemisphere, the winter (December - March) will be cold, the summer (July - September) to be hot, and the spring (April - June) and autumn (October - November) to be any variation between hot and cold.

Despite how the weather may be in your home country, we recommend that you come to Japan prepared for the season at hand. Japan does not have central heating in most homes and some buildings so it can be very cold during the winter. On the flipside, the summer is extremely hot. We recommend bringing sunscreen and breathable clothing for your trip to Japan.

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Food

Home of the $100 (USD) mango and the $100,000 (USD) tuna fish, Japan is considered to be a very expensive country to travel to and dine in to visitors to Japan. And yes, it can be - depending on what types of restaurant you visit. However, it is not like the Japanese people go out for meals everyday. Cheaper meal options are available if you avoid hotels and expensive looking restaurants. Most cheap dining facilities have their menu displayed outside - so if you do not see a menu displayed it is probably a good idea to think the place is relatively expensive. Lunch in general tends to be a lot cheaper in Japan so it may be a wise idea to explore any more expensive restaurants you would like to visit during this time as well.

Abroad, Japanese cuisine is well known for sushi, yakitori, shabushabu, tempura, miso soup and sake. These foods can be found in Japan as well, but we recommend that you do not limit yourself to these foods during your trip to Japan. Japanese food offers a variety of Japanified renditions of food fro other countries. Try a couple of these dishes and you may be pleasantly surprised!

The Japanese people love food you can make yourself. In particular, we recommend going to a restaurant and trying to make okonomiyaki (savory Japanese-style pancake) if you have a chance. This Osakan specialty filled with cabbage, eggs, and meat is not only delicious but also fun to make!

Vegetarians Vegetarians may have a little bit more of a difficult time navigating in terms with food as a great deal of Japanese dishes are made with dashi (fish stock). For example, Japan's popular miso soup usually includes dashi, in addition to the dipping sauce for tempura, most salad dressings, omelets (including sushi egg omelets) and even potato chips. We recommend that vegetarians make sure what they know what they are eating while they are in Japan as many Japanese people do not understand the concept of vegetarianism. (Often people will say something is vegetarian because it doesn't have meat in it. To make sure that something does not have dashi in it, ask "Dashi haitemasuka?") Sunrise Tours makes sure that all of its vegetarian meal options are vegetarian by the normal definition of vegetarianism so do not worry if you have ordered a vegetarian meal through our tours though!

Sushi, as well, unlike that of the sushi found in other countries tends to focus mainly on fish. Although sushi restaurants may be a bit friendlier than perhaps other Japanese restaurants vegetarians should not expect the wide variety of vegetarian sushi options that they might have access to at sushi restaurants abroad.

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Postal Services

Post offices are open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays. You can also buy stamps at hotels or convenience stores.

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Public Restrooms

There are two types of restrooms in Japan: Japanese-style squat toilets and regular Western-style toilets. Even modern restrooms (particularly at highway rest areas) include two types. In rural areas, you may often find it difficult to find Western-style toilets.

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Basic Japanese Greetings

Although most Japanese people understand a little bit of English, they always appreciate it when visitors gesture to make the effort to speak a little bit of their language. Here are a couple of easy greetings that you may be able to use on your trip to Japan!

Japanese English
Ohayo Gozaimasu Good Morning
Konnichiwa Hello
Konbanwa Good Evening
Arigato Gozaimasu Thank You
Wakarimasen I don't know.
Sayonara Goodbye
Ikura desuka How much is this?
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Related Tour Information

Climbing Mt. Fuji Climbing Mt. Fuji is not the easiest task in the world to complete. For starters, the climbing season for the mountain is incredibly short - spanning pretty much from July - August. We recommend that you wear warm clothing if you plan to hike Mt. Fuji even during the summer, as it can get very cold as you climb up the mountain.

Many people underestimate how tough climbing Mt. Fuji actually is. This hike is not for the lighthearted. Mt. Fuji is very high and many people experience altitude experience at the top of the mountain. Make sure that you have proper shoes (at least tennis shoes, do not wear sandals) and the proper equipment to climb the mountain.

Taking the Bullet Train Japan's shinkansen (bullet train) is the way to travel if you are thinking about traveling on Japan's main island of Honshu. Unlike airplanes, there are no security check lines and you can buy your tickets minutes before departure (although it is significantly cheaper to buy train tickets in advance from Sunrise). If you are planning on bringing your luggage onto the shinkansen (bullet train) on perhaps a short trip to Kyoto or what not, we recommend you make it small, as there is limited space to store baggage on the train. If you absolutely need to bring your luggage with you on the train, we recommend sending your luggage to your destination via courier delivery service instead. Japan has a very good baggage shipping system and if you send your luggage in advance you can have your luggage ready for you waiting for you at your destination.

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