Japan: Travel Tips


Bear with me ..."Japan: The Series", is almost over but if I still have your attention, a few travel-tips...

1. Carry Japanese Cash. Bank ATM's do not work with western banking systems. US currency and  Credit Cards are not widely accepted. We learned the hard way.
The good news is... ATM's in Post Offices or 7-11's accept debit cards from the west

2.  Know these Japanese Key Phrases
"Sumimasen" means "Excuse Me"
"Arigato" means "Thank you" 
"Shimasu" means "Please"

3. When you arrive at the Narita Airport in Tokyo make two stops before getting on the train to Tokyo.

The Japanese Visitors Center (JNTI). Here you'll get maps and travel tips before you arrive in Tokyo. If we had made a stop here, it would have been so worth it and might have prevented us from schlepping all over east Jesus to get to where we wanted to go..

The Japan Rail Office - If you have purchased the Japan Rail Pass it will have to be activated here. It has to be purchased outside of Japan. It's a little pricey but saves you a lot of money in the long run especially if you plan on traveling outside of Tokyo during your stay.
A very important point regarding The Japan Rail Pass...They are a great value and are accepted on all Japan Rail Trains except the Nozomi Train. Do not use it for any train identified as "Nozomi". It is not valid for travel on Nozomi Trains (these are super-fast, slick-looking bullet trains). Did I mention not using your Japan Rail Pass on Nozomi Trains?  The Japan Rail people are not happy when you travel on these trains with a Japan Rail Pass and want you to hand over the equivalent of $600 US cash per person immediately when traveling on the Nozomi Train (I thought Mr. Something was going to pass out at that request ... Just sayin').

Nozomi Train - "No"

Shinkansen Train - "Yes"
4. If you should choose to attend a traditional Kabuki Theatre...
...don't do it soon after your arrival to Tokyo. You'll be exhausted and you really need to pay attention as the story line tends to be somewhat complex. We attended on Day 2 of our trip and should have waited until about Day 5. 

I really can't remember a whole lot about the play (despite the fact that we had English-translation earbuds). Just as we were about to drift off ... a couple of audience members would suddenly shout out something in Japanese. Could it have been "WAKE-UP"? We will never know for sure.

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