Japan (日本, “Nihon koku”, “Nippon koku”) is a country in East Asia, located on the Islands of the Japanese archipelago in the Pacific ocean, East of Russia, China, North and South Korea. Japan is bordered by the sea of Okhotsk in the North, the sea of Japan in the West, and the East China sea in the South. In the country, covering an area of 377 973 km2, is home to 126 of 440 000 people (data 2018).
The Japanese archipelago consists of 6,852 Islands, the largest of which are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku-their territory is 3/5 of the total area of Japan. The highest point of the country is mount Fuji, an active volcano.
The Japanese call their country “Nippon” or “Nihon”, and the first option is official (banknotes, postage stamps, etc.), the second — household. Themselves residents of Japan called “nihonjin” (日本人), and your language is “Nihongo” (日本語).
- Capital: Tokyo
- Area: 377 973 km²
- Population: 126 of 440 people (2018)
- Language: Japanese
The name “Land of the rising Sun” appeared because “Nihon” literally means “source (homeland) Sun”, so called Japan by the Chinese in correspondence with the Japanese Emperor during the Nara period. Prior to this, the country was called “Yamato” (大和), or WA (倭) and Wagoku (倭国).
How to get to Japan
The most logical way to get to Japan is by plane. In a small area of Japan, there are 173 airports, the main international airports are:
- Narita (Tokyo)
- Haneda (Tokyo)
- Kansai (Osaka)
- Chubu (Nagoya)
In addition, you can get to Japan with transfers in Europe and Asia – by Lufthansa airlines — via Munich; Finnair-via Helsinki; KLM – via Amsterdam; Korean Air – via Seoul and others. All options can be found using the form below.
Sea transport to Japan
Japan is surrounded by the sea on all sides, so the sea route to the country is also logical. Two companies operate regular ferry services from Russia to Japan.
Japanese company Heart Land Ferry, which operates ferries between the ports of Korsakov (Sakhalin) and Wakkanai (Hokkaido, Japan). The distance between the ports is 157 km, and the ferry “Ains Soya” covers it in 5.5 hours. Ticket price-from $ 250 one way. You can buy tickets in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the company “Bi-Tomo” (1 Sakhalinskaya street, of. 1), the schedule can be seen on the website of the ferry company (link above).
The Russian company Storm marine-Vladivostok operates a flight from Vladivostok (Russia) — Donghae (South Korea) – Sakaiminato (Japan). Eastern Dream ferry tickets start at $ 300 each way. Tickets can be ordered online on the ferry company’s website (link above).
History of Japan
According to the results of archaeological research, the first people in the Japanese archipelago appeared in the late Paleolithic period. The population of ancient Japan was engaged in hunting, fishing and gathering — this period of history is called dzemon (11000 BC — 300 BC), after the common name found during the excavation of clay products of that time.
The next period in the history of Japan was the Yayoi period (300 BC — 250 ad), when agricultural and handicraft activities became widespread in the country — rice crops were imported from Korea and China (around 100 BC), and blacksmithing came. In this regard, there was a social division of society, and parts of the country began to unite. The name of this period was also given to archaeological finds — clay products Dating back to that era.
The Kofun period (named after the “kofun” burial mounds that were built for the burial of the rulers), which began around 400, was marked by the fact that the country was United under the rule of the Yamato Emperor. The influence of China and Korea also grew, as Japan owned a small part of Korean territory (until 662).
Over time, all political power in the country passed into the hands of the Soga clan, while the Emperor remained in the role of the religious leader of Shintoism. Buddhism appeared in Japan in 538-552, the new religion was supported by the ruling class, soon making it the state religion. Buddhism in Japan still coexists peacefully with the historical religion-Shintoism, as well as with Taoism and Confucianism that came a little later from China and Korea.
From 645 to the XI century, Japan was ruled by the aristocratic Fujiwara clan, after which the samurai came to power and carried out the famous Taika reforms: the system of state and administrative structure was reorganized on the Chinese model, the state bought the land and divided it among the peasants. The period between 710 and 1185 is called the Nara and Heiyang era, since the first Japanese capital was founded in Nara in 710. Soon the influence of the new Buddhist monasteries in Nara increased so much that the Emperor was forced to move to Nagaoka in order to maintain power, and in 764 to Heian (Kyoto), which remained the capital for the next thousand years. During this period, there was an increase in national consciousness.
From the 12th to the 14th century (kamakura era) Japan was torn apart by power struggles between various clans and internecine military and religious conflicts between Buddhist monasteries. The Emperor and the remnants of the government in Kyoto almost completely lost power over the country. Japan began to be threatened by enemies from outside.
The Muromachi era (1333 — 1573) was named after the Kyoto district, where government buildings had been located since 1378. This era was also marked by a mass of military conflicts, giving rise to new feudal lords-daimyo, warriors-landowners, who in the next era — Azuchi Momoyama (1573 — 1603) — contributed to the forcible unification of Japan. During this period, new political ambitions of Japan emerged, unsuccessfully encroaching on the territories of China and Korea, and the Christian religion appeared and found support.
In the Edo period (1603-1867) (Edo — the old name of Tokyo), a class division of society appeared: the highest rung of the social ladder was occupied by samurai, followed by peasants, then-artisans and, finally, merchants. This division, however, was smoothed out at the end of the era-in connection with the strengthening of the position of the merchant class. Class representatives were forbidden to change their social status. A positive aspect of this era can be considered the development of arts, literature, and philosophy. At the same time, the principles of self-discipline, morality, and loyalty spread among the samurai.
At the end of the XVIII century, the previously planned development of Japan’s international trade relations with many countries of the world stopped, and the world trade community insisted on opening at least several Japanese seaports for trade.
However, this situation persisted until the beginning of the Meiji era (1867-1912), or the Restoration period. The restored Meiji Emperor moved to the new capital, Tokyo. He listened to more far-sighted Ministers who appreciated the serious achievements of science and military art in the West, and opened Japan to the world. Among the new reforms were the abolition of classes, freedom of religion, compulsory education, the unification of all lands under the authority of the Emperor with their further division into prefectures, the introduction of universal military service. In 1889, Japan received its first Constitution. The government invested heavily in the development of transport and communications, supported business and industry.
In 1894-95, an armed conflict broke out between China and Japan over Korea, which led to the rearmament of the Japanese army and Navy. Japan won the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-05, and in 1910 annexed Korea to its territories. In the First world war, Japan was on the side of the allies, soon after which the country’s economy was on the verge of collapse: the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) and the world economic crisis (1929) played a role. Militaristic Japan turned its gaze to Chinese territories. In 1931, the Japanese army occupied Manchuria, the Japanese air force bombed Shanghai, for which the country was forced to leave the League of Nations.
In July 1937, Japan launched the second Sino-Japanese war, which lasted until 1945, leading to the United States imposing an oil embargo on the country. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked pearl Harbor, thus declaring war on the United States and great Britain, and getting involved in world war II. Despite some military successes, on August 6 and 9, 1945, Japan was subjected to atomic bombings (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) by US aircraft, and after the USSR joined the military operations, it was forced to capitulate (1945).
Allied forces left Japan in 1952, and the country joined the United Nations in 1956. Later, Japan achieved record economic growth, followed by the crisis of 1991-2000. Having survived the great East Japan earthquake of 2011 and its aftermath, today Japan remains a great economic power, a developed country with a very high standard of living and an attractive exotic tourist destination.
Climate and weather in Japan
Since the Japanese archipelago stretches for three thousand kilometers from North to South, there are large climatic differences on its territory. In General, the climate of Japan is humid and marine. Total annual precipitation ranges from just under 1,000 mm in Eastern Hokkaido to 3,800 mm in the mountains of Central Honshu. There are four seasons that largely depend on the winds that blow from the continent in winter and from the Islands to the continent in summer.
So, Hokkaido lies in a zone of low temperatures — with long frosty winters and cold summers.
On the coast of the sea of Japan, winters are snowy, summers are cool, and in spring there is often a natural phenomenon of fen (a strong warm and dry wind blowing from the mountains to the valleys), which causes a sharp increase in temperature.
In the center of Honshu island is a typical island climate with a wide range of temperatures in winter and summer, night and day.
In the area of the Inland sea of Japan, which washes the Western part of the southern coast of Honshu island, from the southwest-the coast of Kyushu and from the South — the coast of Shikoku, there is a temperate climate.
The Pacific coast is characterized by cold, snowless winters and hot, humid summers.
The South-Western Islands are located in a subtropical climate zone with warm winters and hot summers. There is a lot of precipitation, which results in the presence of a rainy season and the appearance of typhoons.
Cities and regions for tourism in Japan
Japan is divided into 47 administrative divisions (prefectures): the capital Prefecture “to” (都) — Tokyo; the governorate ” do” (道) — Hokkaido; two cities “fu”(府) with the status of prefectures — Kyoto and Osaka; 43 prefectures “Ken” (県). Prefectures, in turn, are divided into smaller administrative divisions: counties, 14 districts of Hokkaido, 17 special cities (whose population exceeds 500,000 people). The capital of Tokyo is not considered a special city, however, as a city in General, being an urban conglomerate.
It is also necessary to mention the still unresolved dispute between Japan and Russia over the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands (Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai group of Islands), which were under the control of the USSR in the last days of world war II, and were included in the Khabarovsk territory of the RSFSR since 1946, along with other Kuril Islands and Southern Sakhalin (now — the Kuril and South Kuril city districts of the Sakhalin region). In addition, Japan disputes the Liancourt Islands ‘ ownership of South Korea. In turn, the ownership of the Senkaku Islands, controlled by Japan, is disputed by China and Taiwan.
Prefectures of Japan are conventionally grouped into regions, “Tycho” (地方). They were formed historically, but they are not administrative divisions.
Hokkaido (北海道) is the northernmost Prefecture of Japan, located on the island of the same name, the second largest island in Japan, and small nearby Islands, consisting of 14 districts.
The Seikan railway tunnel is located under the Tsugaru Strait, which separates Hokkaido from Honshu.
The administrative center of the governorate and the largest city in Hokkaido is Sapporo. Major cities are Hakodate (in the South) and Asahikawa (in the center), as well as the ports of Tomakomai, Muroran, and Otaru. The region is famous for its forests, marine fishing (especially salmon fishing) and seafood.
Sapporo is the fourth largest city in Japan and an important economic, industrial and cultural center of the country. Sapporo is also known for its thermal waters. Tourists in Sapporo also attract attractions: the symbol of the city Clock tower; Odori Park; Ishiya chocolate factory, which produces the famous white chocolate Shiroi KoiBito; beer Museum; traditional village of pioneers of Hokkaido (Museum of the island’s history of the early XX century); Museum of modern art; art Park; Botanical garden. Many guests also come to Sapporo to participate in the famous annual Snow festival.
In the world, Sapporo is best known as the capital of the 1972 Winter Olympics and the three Asian Winter games of 1986, 1990 and 2017.
Tohoku or Ou (東北地地方, “northeast region”) -“Tycho” in the northeast of Honshu island. The center of the region, which consists of 6 prefectures, is Miyagi Prefecture. The largest cities are Sendai, Fukushima, and Aomori.
The region is famous for its agricultural industry, mining of coal, gas, oil and other minerals.
From the West “Tycho” is washed by the sea of Japan, from the East-by the Pacific ocean. The area is hilly or mountainous, covered with forests. Tourism plays an important role in the region’s economy. Attractions include lake Towada, Matsushima Bay, and Bandai-Asahi national Park.
Fukushima (福島市) is a city located in the northeast of Honshu, the administrative center of the Prefecture of the same name. The first settlement on the site of present-day Fukushima was called Shinobu-no-Sato (“Shinobu village”). In the XII century, a castle was built there, unfortunately, not preserved to this day, around which the city grew. During the Edo period, Fukushima was famous for silk weaving, and after the Meiji restoration, it became the administrative center of the Prefecture.
Fukushima became notorious worldwide on March 11, 2011, when a major radiation accident occurred at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, which occurred as a result of the strongest earthquake in the history of Japan and the subsequent tsunami.
Kanto (関東地方 “region East of the Outpost”) — “Tycho” on the island of Honshu, the most highly developed part of Japan. Here is the capital of Tokyo, the residence of the Emperor and the government of Japan. The region comprises 7 prefectures. Tokyo and Yokohama form a single industrial complex that stretches along the coast of Tokyo Bay. The most developed industries here are the electrical and electronic industries. Tycho is also known for its raw silk grown on the Kanto plain and in the Western mountain valleys.
In addition to the Metropolitan area of Tokyo and the city of Yokohama, other major cities are Kawasaki, Saitama and Chiba.
Tokyo (東京, “Eastern capital”) is the capital of Japan, its administrative, financial, political center, and cultural heart of the country. The city is located in the South-Eastern part of Honshu island in the Bay of Tokyo Bay of the Pacific ocean. Greater Tokyo is an administrative division of Japan consisting of the Tokyo special districts, Tama region, and Island territories (Izu and Ogasawara Islands).
Tokyo is also a center of attraction for tourists from all over the world, because it combines the futuristic landscape of a modern metropolis, historical attractions and cultural entertainment in an amazing way. In Tokyo, there is an Imperial Palace and a huge number of temples, parks and gardens, authentic restaurants, shops for every taste.
Yokohama (横浜市) is the largest port city in Japan, located on the Western shore of Tokyo Bay, 30 km from Tokyo, and is the administrative center of Kanagawa Prefecture. The city was founded in 1858 on the site of the already existing small fishing villages of Yokohama and Kanagawa. Then the construction of the port began, which received the first foreign ships, which contributed to the economic development of Yokohama.
Tourists are attracted to Yokohama attractions: the country’s tallest skyscraper landmark (300 m), which has become a symbol of the city; openwork suspension bridge over The Yokohama Bay (1989) with a length of 860 m; Yamashita Park; Minato-no-Mieru-Oka-Koen Park; open — air Museum “Sankeyen”; ramen Museum (1994) – a Museum of noodles, occupying a multi-story building; marine entertainment center “Hakkejima” with the largest aquarium in Japan on an artificial island; joypolis and Yokohama Dreamland amusement parks.
Tyubu (中部地方, “Central region”) — “Tycho” in Central Japan on the island of Honshu. There are 9 prefectures in the region, the Central one being Aichi Prefecture. Major cities are Nagoya, Shizuoka, and Niigata.
Nagoya (名古屋市 “family old house”) is the fourth most populous city in Japan, located in the Central part of Honshu island. Nagoya is one of the largest ports in Japan, an important commercial and industrial center of the country and the administrative center of Aichi Prefecture. Due to its location between the ancient capital of Kyoto in the West and the modern capital of Tokyo in the East, Nagoya was named Chuke (“middle capital”).
People on the territory of Nagoya began to settle at the beginning of the I century. In the XVII century, there were several localities, the largest of which was Atsuta, which arose at the Shinto temple of the same name. In 1610, shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu built Nagoya castle, around which the city soon grew. In the first half of the 20th century, Nagoya became a major commercial and industrial center of Japan, which it is today. The city was heavily damaged by bombing during world war II, but was rebuilt after it ended.
Tourists in Nagoya are attracted by interesting sights: Nagoya castle-the symbol of the city; Atsuta temple, which houses Kusanagi no Mitsurugi-the sacred sword, one of the three symbols of the Emperor; Meiji-Mura Park — an open-air Museum; Urakuen Park with the preserved tea house of the founder Of the uraku-ryu classical school of tea drinking; monkey Park; Museum at the Toyota motors factory.
Kansai (関西地地, “region West of the Outpost”) is a “Tycho” in Western Japan on the island of Honshu, also called kinki (近畿地方) — “capital region”. There are seven prefectures in the region, the Central one being Kyoto Prefecture. The largest cities are Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto.
Osaka (大阪市) is the third most populous city in Japan, the center of the Prefecture of the same name, located in the southern part of Honshu island, on the East coast of the Osaka Bay of the Inner sea of Japan. Osaka is riddled with rivers and canals, which gave it the name “Japanese Venice”.
Osaka is the historical commercial capital of Japan, and now an important industrial center and one of the country’s largest ports. Initially, the settlement on the site of Osaka, which arose no later than the IV century, was called Naniwa, it was the very first capital of Japan before the Nara period.
Osaka offers many interesting attractions to tourists: the five-story samurai Osaka castle (a copy restored after the end of world war II); Osakaze-Koen Park; Sumiyoshi temple; the ancient Buddhist Shitennoji temple; Universal Studios Japan theme Park.
Kyoto (京都市) is a city located in the Central part of Honshu island, in the southwestern part of Kyoto Prefecture, of which it is the administrative center.
In 794 — 1869, Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the main residence of the emperors. The city was originally called Heian. During world war II, when Japan was bombed by the allies, Kyoto was not affected at all. 1,600 Buddhist and 400 Shinto temples, gardens, parks, and palaces have survived. In this context, it is worth mentioning a little-known fact, information about which was preserved by Japanese Shinto scientists: Kyoto was saved from air bomb attacks only because a Russian Japanese scientist, Professor Sergey Eliseev (son of the owner of famous stores), who lived and worked in the United States, wrote a letter to General MacArthur, in which he asked to spare Kyoto.
Today, Kyoto is the main cultural center of Japan and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. Among the most famous temples in Kyoto are the unique wooden Kiyomizu — Dera temple on the hillside; Kinkaku-JI (“Golden pavilion” or “Golden temple”); Ginkaku-JI (“Silver pavilion”); Rean-JI stone garden; and the Heian-Jingu Shinto temple, built in 1895 to mark the 1100th anniversary of the city’s founding. Famous parks include Maruyama Park, the Botanical garden, and the former Imperial Palace Park.
Kyoto is also home to one of Japan’s most famous geisha quarters, hanamachi. In addition, Kyoto is the birthplace of Haruki Murakami, a world-famous writer.
Nara is a city in Central Japan, the administrative center of Nara Prefecture, famous for its ancient history. Nara was the capital of Japan during the Nara period 710-784 and was called Heijo (“capital of the citadel of the world”). The city was built on the model of the Chinese capital, Chang’an (Tang period). Since then, many temples and shrines have been preserved in the city, including the Kofukuji Buddhist temple with three-tiered and five-tiered pagodas; the To-Kondo temple with a prayer hall and pagoda; todaiji temple complex with the Great Buddha hall — the world’s largest wooden structure and a large bronze statue of the Buddha sitting on the petals of the sacred Lotus. Nara is also famous for its magnificent parks, which are home to tame deer.
Kyoto is also home to one of Japan’s most famous geisha quarters, hanamachi. In addition, Kyoto is the birthplace of Haruki Murakami, a world-famous writer.
Kobe (神戸市) is the sixth largest city in Japan and the capital of Hyogo Prefecture, located on the island of Honshu. Since the eighth century, Kobe is known as one of the most important ports in Japan and a center of international trade.
Historically, the city was a center for the production of Japanese rice wine sake, the birthplace of the Yakuza mafia group, and a significant religious center. Since the middle of the XIX century, Kobe began to develop the industry and production of artificial pearls. Kobe was badly damaged in the 1995 earthquake, but quickly recovered.
Attractions in Kobe are: art Museum; Shinto shrines Ikuta, Nagata and Minatozawa, Suma temple, Sorakuen Park, the old European quarters of Yamamoto street, aquarium, port tower. Modern architectural structures include the Hyperboloid grid tower in Kobe port (1968) and the longest suspension bridge in the world, Akashi-Kaike, connecting the city with the island of Awaji.
Chugoku (中国国国 中, “Midlands region”) — “Tycho”, located in the West of Honshu island, in a mountainous area North and South of The Chugoku range (1,713 m). The region’s name comes from its location between the ancient capital of Kyoto and the island of Kyushu. Chugoku is an industrial and agricultural region, its center is Hiroshima Prefecture, whose eponymous capital, the city of Hiroshima, is the largest settlement in the region. Other major cities are Okayama and Yamaguchi.
Hiroshima (広島市, “wide island”) is the largest city in the Chugoku region, located in the southwest of Honshu island, the administrative center of Hiroshima Prefecture.
Hiroshima was founded in the late 16th century by the Mori samurai family. The city developed economically during the period 1894-1895. In 1945, it became the first settlement in history to suffer from a nuclear bombardment. After the end of world war II, on August 6, 1949, the Japanese authorities declared Hiroshima a “city of peace”, and the city began to actively rebuild. In the area of the epicenter of the explosion, a Peace Memorial Park with an area of more than 12 hectares was created. By the early 1960s, Hiroshima was almost completely restored.
Among the main tourist attractions are the Peace Memorial Park (listed as a UNESCO world heritage site) with a Museum and a Peace Cathedral; the Gembaku dome; Rijo castle; the Mitaki and Fudoin Buddhist temples; the Botanical garden; the Asa zoo; the Shukkeien Japanese garden; and the Mazda factory Museum.
Shikoku (四国, “four regions”) is the smallest island in terms of area and population of the four main Japanese Islands, as well as the eponymous “Tycho” of Japan. The name “four regions” was formed in ancient times, when the island was divided into four historical regions — Ava, Ie, Sanuki and Tosa. The region consists of four prefectures, the largest city is Matsuyama, the center of Ehime province.
Matsuyama (松山市) is the administrative center of Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. Matsuyama is a University city, as well as a city of poets. A native of Masaoka, Shiki became famous for his haiku reform, in honor of which the city annually hosts haiku poetry competitions. Every year, 3,000 poets create 50,000 haiku, from which they choose the most worthy poems. Matsuyama also hosts a local competition for the best haiku every two months, which anyone can participate in.
In addition, tourists are attracted to the city attractions: Matsuyama Castle with the historical Ninomaru garden; Isite-JI Buddhist temple; Municipal Museum “Matsuyama Shiki kinen”, dedicated to Masaoka Shiki and haiku.
Kyushu and Okinawa
Kasyu and Okinawa — the “tycho” of Japan, occupying the Islands of Kyushu and Okinawa.
Kyushu (九州, “nine provinces”) is the third largest island in Japan, bordered on the East by the Pacific ocean, on the northeast by the Inland sea of Japan, and on the West by the East China sea. Kyushu is divided into 7 prefectures, the largest city is Fukuoka, the center of the Prefecture of the same name.
Okinawa (沖縄本島) is the largest island of the Ryukyu archipelago, located between the island of Kyushu and Taiwan, the Prefecture of the same name. The main city is Naha. Okinawa is known in the world as the birthplace of the martial art of Okinawa-te, the foundations of which laid the Foundation for most karate styles.
Long a Chinese dependency, Okinawa (formerly the Ryukyu Kingdom) was conquered by the Japanese in 1879. In April — June 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, the city was captured by American troops. The battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest battles in the history of world war II, killing 200,000 people on the Japanese side alone. An American military base was established on the island, which is a key strategic object and controls all approaches to Japan, which existed until 1972. The island is still home to a powerful network of us military bases.
Fukuoka (福岡市, “happy hill”) is a major port in southwestern Japan, the administrative center of Fukuoka Prefecture, and one of the ten largest cities in Japan. The city is considered an important political, cultural and economic center of the country. In the seventh century, Fukuoka was known as Hakata, a port that conducted successful trade with Korea and China, and was located on the Eastern Bank of the Nakagawa river.
At the beginning of the 17th century, a castle was built on the Bank of the Nakagawa river. Today’s city of Fukuoka is the result of the merger in 1889 of two cities-the port of Hakata and the city that arose around the castle, which has come down to us only in the form of ruins. It is these ruins, and Higashi Koen Park with the monument Laterano and are the major attractions.
What to see in Japan
The main attractions of Japan are listed below. by clicking on the links, you can get more detailed information about a particular object — a description, ticket prices, if any, location and opportunities to get there by public transport, photos, reviews of tourists, hotels nearby, and much more.
Japanese attractions outside of Tokyo
- Golden pavilion Kinkaku-JI (Kyoto)
- Silver pavilion Ginkaku-JI (Kyoto)
- Horyu-JI temple (Ikaruga)
- Rean-JI rock garden (Kyoto)
- Big Buddha (kamakura)
- Nijo castle (Kyoto)
- Yakushi-JI temple (Nara)
- Kyoto national Museum
- The temple Kasuga Taisha Shrine (Nara)
- National gallery of modern art (Kyoto)
- Nara national Museum (Nara)
- Osaka Castle
- Mount Fuji (near Tokyo)
What to do in Japan?
Once in such an exotic and amazing country as Japan, you should definitely choose the time and get acquainted with some of its traditions-unusual, colorful, memorable and often incomprehensible. Familiarity with many Japanese ceremonies depends on the season.
Hanami (花 見) is a Japanese national spring tradition of flower viewing, and is a very short-term pleasure lasting 7-10 days until the flower petals fall off. The Japanese consider falling flower petals a symbol of their attitude to beauty: beauty is short-lived, and disappears before it has time to become commonplace.
The first, in late February – early March, to bloom are the “ume” – Japanese plum trees. The most famous hanami “ume” takes place in Yugawara or Odawara (Kanagawa Prefecture).
Behind the plum blossoms sakura – Japanese cherry, of which there are about 600 varieties in Japan. It blooms at different times and differs from each other in the color and shape of the petals. The cherry blossom season begins in Japan in mid-March and ends in May.
Forecasters report in advance the timing of flowering trees in each individual prefecture and in each area of large cities. The most famous place for hanami in Tokyo is Shinjukugyoen National Park, home to 1,500 cherry blossom trees of 75 species. It is followed by Ueno Park, Tokyo’s largest urban park, with 1,100 trees. Sumida Park with 400 trees is no less famous. In Kyoto, for hanami it is worth visiting Arashiyama Park.
The Japanese, with their families and companies of friends, go to parks and have picnics under the flowering trees. This type of picnics is especially popular among office workers, when the management of the companies organizes visits to the khans by whole teams. It is considered extremely impolite among the Japanese to refuse to participate in such an event.
Momiji (“red leaves”) is a natural phenomenon and another seasonal Japanese tradition: admiring red maple leaves in autumn. Maple trees begin to turn red in September, slowly changing the color of Japanese vegetation from green to scarlet over the course of three months.
Momiji begins when the air temperature drops to +10 degrees. The first maples turn red in the Taisetsu-zan mountains on Hokkaido, then the Momiji front moves south, painting the mountains of Kanto, Tohoku, Shikoku, Kyushu and Kansai with all shades of red.
The contemplation of momiji for the Japanese has a deep philosophical meaning: the aesthetics of decay, dying is associated with a long-standing samurai attitude to death, with Buddhist beliefs in rebirth, with a tremulous awareness of the transience of beauty. The Japanese believe that a person lives as long as he contemplates momiji.
Tourists wishing to spot Momiji are advised to come to Japan in October and November.
Japanese tea ceremony
Tea ceremony (茶 の 湯) is a tea ceremony (chaanoyu) that is an integral part of Japanese culture.
For the first time, tea was brought to Japan in the 8th century, probably by Buddhist monks from China, Korea or India, or by Japanese traders who visited China. The first tea in Japan was grown by the monk Saisho in Kyoto, at the foot of Mount Heizan, in 802.
Tea as a drink became widespread only in the XII century. Originally, tea was offered to the Buddha in Zen Buddhist monasteries and drank during religious ceremonies. Then, in the XII-XV centuries, with the strengthening of the influence of Zen Buddhist monasteries, tea began to drink not only monks, but also samurai, townspeople, aristocrats.
Over time, a ritual of drinking tea developed – a tea ceremony, a certain sequence of actions appeared, the behavior of tea participants was canonized. The classical tea ceremony is a specially organized meeting of the owner – the tea master (chajin), and his guests for joint relaxation and conversation, accompanied by the use of tea, in a place specially equipped for this purpose – in a tea garden (teniva) with a tea house (chashitsu) , to which you can walk along a stone path (roji).
The tea ceremony is of six traditional types: night, at sunrise, morning, afternoon, evening, special. There are several classical schools of tea ceremony, the most famous of which is the Urasenke School in Kyoto.
Today the tea ceremony in Japan is mostly performed by women. Often, the tea ceremony is held simply – in one of the living rooms of the house, and is accompanied by refreshments.
The meaning of the tea ceremony has remained unchanged for centuries, which, according to the Japanese, fosters simplicity, the habit of order, and national identity. In addition, a deep philosophical meaning is hidden in the ritual of tea drinking: it teaches the ability to see beauty and perfection in everyday things, to realize the high value of everything that is given in this life.
Traditional theaters of Japan
While in Japan, it is imperative to visit its theaters, which played a huge role in shaping the country’s culture.
Japanese theater, No – one of the types of classical theater art in Japan, which has existed for more than seven centuries. The traditions of the theater, but are rooted in ancient Shinto rites. The theater’s performances take place on a stage reminiscent of the interior of a Shinto shrine, with actors wearing masks and ornate costumes. Performances of this kind can be seen at the Tokyo National Theater, Noh, at the theaters of Hosho Nogakudo, Kanze Nogakudo and Kita Nogakudo in Tokyo. In “quietly” Kansai performances, Noh take place at the Kanze Kaikan Theater in Kyoto and at the Nogaku Kaikan in Osaka.
Japanese Kabuki Theater is an ancient Japanese drama theater with spectacular costumes and decorations, with performers adorned with bright make-up. The plot of the performances is dynamic and dramatic; in addition to dancing, it often includes sword fights and actors flying over the stage and audience. You can see the performance in Tokyo at the Kabukiza Theater on Ginza, at the Shimbashi Embujo Theater, and occasionally at the Japanese National Theater.
The Japanese theater Bunraku is a Japanese traditional puppet theater, a sufficiently complex device: the performance involves wooden and porcelain dolls in роста human growth, each of which is controlled by three puppeteers. The puppet show is narrated to the accompaniment of a shamisen. Bunraku performances can be seen at the National Bunraku Theater in Osaka and at the National Theater in Tokyo.
Hot springs (onsen)
Since the Japanese islands are located in a zone of volcanic activity, the country is rich in thermal springs, called “onsen” in Japanese. In terms of the composition of the water, onsen are distinguished by hydrogen sulfide, ferruginous, saline and carbonated carbon dioxide. Balneological resorts have long been established around them. The tradition of visiting onsen has a long history, and has been elevated to the rank of ritual with a specific set of rules. Onsen trips with family and friends are very popular among Japanese people.
Onsen are of two types – in the open air (rotemburo), located in nature, in very picturesque places, and indoors (ofuro), where thermal waters are supplied through pipes from springs. A long stay on the waters for medicinal purposes (from one week or more) is called toji.
Men and women attend onsen separately. Visitors take their baths completely naked. Exceptions are mixed onsen, where a bathing suit is required. Before immersion in containers with mineral water, wash in a specially designated place.
The most famous Japanese onsen
Getting around the country
The main types of transport for moving around the country are bus and train.
Japan has a highly developed network of intercity bus routes. Compared to high-speed trains and airplanes, buses are more economical, but take longer to travel. So, on the Shinkansen, you can cover the distance from Tokyo to Osaka in 3 hours, and a regular bus will spend 12 hours on the way, but the cost of a bus ticket will be about five times lower. Traveling by night bus, you can save on hotel costs. Transportation services are provided by numerous bus companies, so ticket prices differ from case to case. All intercity buses arrive and depart mainly from the bus stations at Tokyo Main Station or Shinjuku Train Station.
Bus is also a popular means of transport in Japanese cities. Buses run from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, and to some remote areas, buses run from 5:30 am to 11:00 pm. Each stop has its name (in Japanese and English) and route numbers. On some routes in large cities and popular tourist lines, stops are announced in English. In addition, the final destination of the bus and the route number are written on a luminous board above the windshield. The bus driver and passengers will always tell the tourist where to get off by showing them the name of the destination written on paper in Japanese.
The map of transport routes is divided into zones, so the cost of a bus ride will depend on how many zones you need to cross. They pay for the fare at the entrance to the salon in a special machine, where money should be dropped. The machine will issue a ticket when specifying the final stop zone. You can also buy a ticket from the driver: at the entrance, calling the final stop, or at the exit – so as not to get confused in the transport zones. In cities, the ride costs around 200 yen. There is also a pass system: a one-day pass – about 1,200 yen (600 yen for children under 12), etc.
The railway network in Japan is highly developed. Japanese trains are considered the safest and most punctual in the world. All Japanese railways are operated by 8 private companies (since 1987), united in the Japan Rail Group (JR グ ル ー プ). Railways in Japan are narrow gauge, with the only exception being the Shinkansen train system, which uses the European 1435 mm gauge.
There are 4 types of trains: local trains (local), express trains (rapid), long-distance trains and shinkansen bullet trains. Shinkansen, in turn, are also divided into those that go with all stops, with almost all stops and almost non-stop. All trains are comfortable, equipped with soft chairs, toilets, telephones, machines with coffee and drinks. Electronic bulletin boards in Japanese and English are available everywhere.
The cost of travel across the country varies from $ 15 to $ 440, depending on the distance of the trip and the class of the train. Regional train tickets are sold at special ticket machines at train stations. Long-distance train tickets are sold at special ticket offices at major stations (in Tokyo, at Tokyo Station, for example). The ticket must be kept until the end of the trip.
To pass through the turnstile at a railway station in Japan, you must have a train ticket. If you are going to travel on the Shinkansen, you need to remember that you will need one more ticket – to enter/exit the territory of the Shinkansen station. Tickets are sold at vending machines and at the ticket offices of railway stations (cashiers rarely speak English!). You can purchase a special transport card for a certain amount (1000 yen, 2000 yen, etc.), from which money will be charged when passing through the turnstiles.
Japan Rail Pass
There is a travel ticket system. For example, for tourists, the Japan Rail Pass, which is purchased in advance by guests with a tourist visa, will seem very convenient. The ticket entitles you to travel an unlimited number of times on the trains, buses and ferries of the Japan Rail group of companies for a period of 7, 14 days or 21 days. The fare starts at 28,300 yen. The ticket is personalized, its transfer to another person is prohibited, you will need to present an identity card during verification.
A coupon for its subsequent exchange for a ticket (upon arrival in Japan within 3 months from the date of issue) must be purchased at the offices or on the websites of authorized companies and representative offices: JTB Corp., Nippon Travel Agency, Kintetsu International, Jalpak, Toptour Corporation , on the websites of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (subject to the purchase of a ticket for their flights). In Russia, the representative office is located in office No. 641 at Sheremetyevo airport (international terminal (former Sh-2), +7 495 956 46 34). You can exchange a ticket for a ticket in Japan at airports, train stations, in the offices of the above companies that sell tickets. If the coupon has not been exchanged, it can be returned within a year and the full amount can be returned. For more information, visit the Japan Rail Pass website.
Shinkansen (新 幹線, “new gauge”), or “bullet train”, is a high-speed rail network in Japan designed to transport passengers between major cities in the country. The average speed of the trains is about 200 km / h. The Shinkansen are operated by three companies that are part of the Japan Rail Group – JR Central, JR West and JR East.
The Shinkansen line network consists of 6 routes: Sanyo (Osaka – Hakata), Tokaido (Tokyo – Osaka) and 4 radial routes diverging from Tokyo to the north and northwest. At Tokyo Central Station, the paths of different directions of the Shinkansen do not intersect, but are located on adjacent platforms. The frequency of movement is from 15 minutes (Tokaido) to 30 minutes (Sanye). At night, all shinkansen lines are closed from 0:00 to 06:00 a.m. for maintenance. At this time, ordinary trains operate, running along lines parallel to the Shinkansen.
Shinkansen cars can be shared (without seat numbering) and with seats (an additional ticket is required, which is checked by the conductor). Often, in order to save money, the Japanese travel long distances while standing. Station names are announced in Japanese and English, and are also duplicated on an electronic scoreboard. Passengers are offered snacks and drinks for a fee.
Shinkansen tickets can be purchased at the box office of high-speed train stations or online on the Japan Rail website.
The subway in Japan is developed only in large cities such as Tokyo (the third largest subway in the world), Kitakyushu, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Fukuoka, Hiroshima. Trains run at five-minute intervals from 5:00 to 23: 30—00: 00. The lines are divided into transport zones, covering also the suburbs, so the fare is different in different cities, on different routes and depends on the number of crossed zones.
Ticket prices start at 120 yen.
To buy a metro ticket, on the large map-scheme present at each station, you should select the destination station and remember the fare indicated next to the name. Then, in a special machine with a screen, by entering the required number and dropping the money, you can get a ticket by passing it through the turnstile to enter the station. At the terminal station, the ticket will again need to be inserted into the turnstile receiver, which will no longer return it. Therefore, the ticket must be kept until the end of the trip. If you don’t know exactly which station you will get off at, buy the cheapest ticket – in the Japanese subway you can pay extra at the exit.
The cars are painted in different colors, corresponding to the color of the line on the diagram. Free maps and timetables are offered at each station. You can read more about the metro in the capital of Japan in our article “Transportation in Tokyo”.
Taxis in Japan are a common form of transport, but very expensive. The fare is calculated as follows: boarding fee – 650 yen in Tokyo and 500-580 yen in other cities, then 80-90 yen for every 280-300 km (depending on the fares of the taxi company). An additional 90 yen will be charged for every 2 minutes and 15 seconds of downtime (including traffic jams). From 23:00 to 6:00, the fare increases by 30%.
All taxi cars are clean and comfortable, the doors open automatically, the driver will take you by the shortest route, will not zip around the streets, stretching the way, and expect a tip. If guests have forgotten something in the car, they are entitled to almost 100% compensation for the cost of the thing.
You can rent a car in Japan with an international driver’s license and compulsory local JCI insurance. The cheapest car rental will cost from $ 70 per day. You can rent a car in the offices of rental offices, including those with a worldwide reputation, the offices of which are located in abundance at airports and train stations.
However, it should be noted that renting a car in Japanese cities is impractical, especially in the Tokaido area (Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka) – the roads are catastrophically congested, there are no free parking spaces, gasoline is expensive (from 140-150 yen per liter), autobahns are very high (travel on the Tokyo-Kyoto highway, for example, will cost about $ 90). Car rental offices also impose a fine for returning a car with an empty tank or for returning a car earlier than the deadline specified in the contract.
Traffic in the country is left-handed, the traffic police are harsh and uncompromising. Speeding over 180 km/h is a criminal offense. In the event of any accident involving a pedestrian or cyclist, the driver of the car is by definition to blame.
In light of the above, public transport for traveling around the country is much more efficient than a car.
As an island nation, Japan has an extensive ferry network between all the islands.
To clarify details and get up-to-date information about ferries between the islands of Japan, visit the websites of ferry companies:
- Hankyu Ferry
- Ferry sunflower
- Taiheiyo Ferry (Japanese only)
- MOL Ferry
- Miyazaki car ferry
- Meimon Taiyo ferry
- Shin nihonkai ferry
- Ocean Tokyu ferry (Japanese only)
Japan is famous for its authentic cuisine based on wholesome and tasty dishes, as well as strict table etiquette.
Japanese cuisine, which is based on three whales – rice, fish and seaweed, makes extensive use of fresh or raw foods. Also, various vegetables, tofu bean curd, sauces are used.
The most popular dishes: “sushi” (“sushi”), of which there are more than 200 types; Sashimi (sashimi) – pieces of raw fish served with soy sauce and wasabi horseradish; “Tempura” – slices of fish or meat in batter; “Sukiyaki” (grilled beef); Tonkatsu (breaded pork chop); mini-kebabs “yakitori” (from poultry) and “kusiyaki”; ramen and udon soups with noodles, miso soup made from fermented soy and fish broth with seaweed, mushrooms, tofu, meat and fish.
Sushi in Japan
Sushi in Japan is a real masterpiece, and it is not as easy to prepare it as it seems at first glance. Sushi masters study for many years to make the “right” rice, to master the art of choosing fish and removing bones from it. The main types of sushi are “nigiri” (a long lump of rice covered with a piece of fish), “maki” (fish and rice wrapped in nori and cut into small pieces), “temaki” (fish and rice wrapped in a nori in the form of a cone), “Gunkan” (oval-shaped sushi), “shirasi” (rice mixed with seafood). You can try “moriawase” – an assortment of sushi and sashimi.
Sushi from a master chef is also a very expensive pleasure in Japan. Affordable prices for this Japanese “culinary brand” can be found in national cafes – kaiten, where sushi plates move in front of customers on a conveyor belt and cost about 100 yen.
From fish and seafood, the menu of any restaurant includes maguro (tuna), shake (salmon), ika (squid), tacos (octopus). Quite often you can find uni (sea urchin caviar), toro (tuna fish oil) and shirako (fish milk).
Japan alcoholic drinks
Beer. The Japanese are big fans of the foamy drink. Among the local varieties, the most popular are Asahi, Sapporo, Kirin, and Ebisu.
Sake (酒) is a national strong drink, the same indispensable attribute of a Japanese feast, like sushi. The sake recipe was brought to Japan at the beginning of our era from China. Sake, which has a strength of 14.5–20%, is often called rice vodka or rice wine because of the way it is produced, but both are fundamentally wrong. Rather, sake is a rice beer made by fermenting rice. The technology for making sake is very difficult, it requires the availability of certain varieties of rice and water saturated with certain microcomponents. There are many varieties of sake – from primitive drinks to premium sake. Depending on the variety in Japan, sake is drunk either chilled (+ 5 ° C) or heated (+ 60 ° C) according to the rule: “Good sake is drunk cold. Bad sake is warm. ”
Shochu (焼 酎, “burnt wine”) is a Japanese strong alcoholic drink, “rice moonshine”, obtained by fermentation and distillation. The strength of the drink is usually 25 degrees.
Japanese whiskey “Suntory” is also in demand. It must be understood that Japanese whiskey is the fifth world style of whiskey after Scotch, Irish, bourbon and Canadian whiskey. Whiskey “Suntory” in Japan has been produced since 1923 and has many types and varieties. Connoisseurs say that Suntory is so good that it can be easily confused with Scotch whiskey.
Speaking of fish in Japanese cuisine, one cannot fail to mention the legendary fugu fish, a dish of which embodies the samurai contempt for death and the Buddhist attitude towards life.
The puffer fish (dogfish, death fish, blowfish, rocktooth, dioodont, fahak) is a very poisonous fish that lives in the seas surrounding Yamaguchi Prefecture. Its milk, caviar, viscera, skin, and especially the liver, contains the deadly neuroparalytic poison tetrodotoxin, 275 times more powerful than potassium cyanide and 25 times more toxic than curare. For a person to die, only one milligram of this substance is enough. The Japanese have been eating puffer since ancient times, Europeans have been eating puffer since James Cook’s second voyage around the world, but both have been in awe of the great and terrible puffer fish.
The ability to prepare a fugu is a unique art, the masters study for a long time, pass an exam, at the end of which, as they say, they eat a dish prepared with their own hands, and if they remain alive, they receive a license – “permission for a fugu”. The skill of the chef is to reduce the concentration of the poison in the fish to the permissible level during the cooking process. The cost of a fugu dish ranges from $ 100 – $ 500.
First, customers are served sake, in which the fins of puffer fish, fried until charring, were dipped for just 2 minutes. This is followed by “fugusashi” – fugu sashimi – slices of raw fugu, intricately arranged on a platter. If customers wish to continue, they are served “fugu-zosui,” a puffer soup with rice and a raw egg, and lightly fried puffer slices. Dishes are served in such a way that the concentration of poison in them increases. The chef vigilantly monitors the condition of the guests, because his duty is to correctly calculate the dose of poison in the fish, the intensity of which depends on the weight, age, temperament and even the color of the guest’s skin.
The artist Kitaoji Rosannin used to say: “All those who refuse fugu for fear of dying deserve deep sympathy,” and a Japanese popular proverb says: “Those who eat fugu are fools, but those who do not eat too.” Is it possible to feast on fugu just to tickle your nerves? Is it really Russian roulette in the Japanese way? Gourmets who have tasted fish say that some time after eating all the senses become dull, and the organs of the body atrophy, the insidious poison in a small dose leaves only the eyes and brain alive. Then everything slowly returns. A person who has felt the breath of death is reborn to life. It is for the opportunity to experience this experience that the puffer fish is valued, respected and treated with sacred awe. And they eat more than 20 thousand tons annually.
Today, about 20 people a year become victims of fugu, and only a few die from this dish in our time. Either the rumors about fish are too exaggerated, or the Japanese fugu masters are actually aces of their craft, but about 70 thousand people have a license for fugu in Japan, and the Japanese and tourists eat fugu en masse, agreeing: “Terribly delicious!”
Table etiquette in Japan
There is very strict table etiquette in Japan. Its rules, which came from time immemorial, are indisputable and are the pride of the Japanese. At the same time, however, the inhabitants of the Land of the Rising Sun are quite loyal to guests from other countries of the world who have no idea how to behave at the table in Japan.
In Japan, you will not have to worry about European restaurant doubts about which cutlery would be more correct to use, because the only appliance here is the hasi sticks. It is advisable to get the skills to use them in advance, since in most Japanese restaurants no one will offer a fork and knife.
In the Japanese drinking tradition, there are several taboos that even guests need to know:
- mayoibashi (dancing sticks) – you cannot point with sticks or draw something on the table with them;
- saguribashi (groping sticks) – having taken a piece of food, you cannot put it back on the plate and choose another;
- sashibashi (prick sticks) – do not prick food with a stick;
- tatebashi (sticking out sticks) – you cannot stick sticks into rice, because this is how they put shelves in a bowl of rice at a commemoration of the deceased.
A hot, damp face and hand towel (oshibori) is served before meals. All those present at the table before the start of the meal in chorus say “Itadakimas!” (literally, “I’m starting to eat with your permission!”).
The setting of the Japanese table and the order of serving dishes in Japan are elevated to the level of art, the essence of which is often not given to a foreigner. It is enough to know that dinner consists of at least 5 changes of dishes: rice, soup, 3-4 appetizers; at official events, the number of dishes is at least doubled. First, rice is served, which accompanies all dishes and with which you must definitely start your meal. Along with the rice, they bring soup, which is drunk from a bowl, and what cannot be drunk is taken with chopsticks.
You should not do at the Japanese table what will not be considered cultural at the Russian table – bite off a large piece, lick sticks.
In terms of the use of alcoholic beverages, there are also some rules: it is not customary to often “clink glasses” with glasses and say long toasts, pour yourself from a bottle. The Japanese say only one toast “Kampai!” (“To the bottom!”) At the beginning of the feast.
After finishing the meal, sticks should be placed on a special stand (hasioki). Also, there should be no rice left in the bowl. Finish the meal with the words “Gotiso-sama desu!” (“Thanks for the treat!”).
Several rules for the use of this or that dish: when ordering sushi (sushi), it is acceptable to take it with your hands to dip it in soy sauce; When eating noodle soup, it is not considered indecent to suck noodles loudly into your mouth.
You should not leave a tip in a restaurant or cafe in Japan, a service charge (5-10%) is automatically added to the bill.
Shopping in Japan
Japan is a great place to shop, where shoppers can find a wide variety of quality goods, from electronics to pleasing authentic items. The country’s currency is the Japanese yen.
You can read more about shopping in Japan in our article “Shopping in Japan“. There you can also find out a lot of interesting information about shopping in Tokyo, as well as familiarize yourself with shopping centers in Tokyo.
Since 2003, there has been a tendency in Japan to eliminate payphones installed on the streets and in public places due to their unprofitableness. However, payphones can still be found on the streets of Japanese cities.
There are three types of machines:
- green or gray automatic machines with the inscription ISDN – long distance telephones operating on special telephone cards of various denominations, which can be bought at any hotel or tobacco kiosk;
- blue or yellow automatic machines – also long-distance telephones that work with cards and coins;
- red phone machines are smaller landline telephones that only accept 10 yen coins.
Picture instructions for using the machine are available inside each booth.
The international code for Japan is 81.
When calling a Japanese landline phone, dial 8 – 10 – 81 – -.
Useful phone numbers in Japan
- Police 110
- Fire Department 119
- Ambulance 119
- Lost Items +81 (3) 3814-4151
- Hospital inquiries +81 (3) 5285-8181
Mobile phones of the generally accepted European GSM standard do not work in Japan! The communication standard in Japan is CDMA, or rather its 3G version of WCDMA.
The largest mobile operators in Japan are NTT DoCoMo, which provides 3G services under the FOMA trademark, and KDDI.
Mobile phones in Japan are called “keitai denwa” (“portable phone”) or simply “keitai”. The Japanese are very scrupulous in choosing their mobile – they do not care about the manufacturer of the phone, but the set of modern functions offered by this or that model is very important. In Japan, it’s hard to find someone with a phone two years ago.
Tourists in Japan are advised to rent a mobile phone right at the airport.
Internet service providers are the aforementioned operators offering Internet services to the Japanese. Visitors to the country should remember that, despite the aura of a super-tech country, free wi-fi points on the streets of Japan are almost impossible to find, even in chain cafes and eateries (like Starbucks), where you can connect only by signing a special contract with your “home” provider… It is recommended not to give up the internet service offered in hotels and hostels.
In the near future, soft drink maker Asahi plans to equip its vending machines with Wi-Fi hotspots with a range of 50 meters and a session lasting 30 minutes. The machines will be installed in shopping centers, train stations and on the streets. At the same time, it is planned that the connection will be possible regardless of whether the user buys something from the machine or not.
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of crime, but guests should not forget about the usual precautions: keep valuables and cash in the hotel safe, carry a copy of your ID with you, be careful with your personal belongings. It also doesn’t hurt to bring a first-aid kit with you with the medicines you need, since buying at a local pharmacy can be linguistic difficulties.
Tourists should remember that foreign languages are not common in Japan. At the same time, the Japanese are very polite, they will never ignore the request of a foreigner for help and will give you all the time they have. In addition, on the streets of Japanese cities for help, you can always turn to the police, whose duties include helping foreigners.
Etiquette in Japan
As in any country in the world, while in Japan, one should respect and show tolerance for its customs: you need to reckon with the lifestyle of the local population, not raise your voice, respect local traditions that may seem very unusual.
So, among the rules of etiquette, the following stand out:
- during a conversation, do not look closely into the eyes of the interlocutor, this is considered a sign of aggression;
- if you were handed a business card (in Japan, almost everyone, starting with students), should read it carefully, and only then hide it;
- in public transport, it is not customary to give way to anyone and never;
- in no case touch the Japanese with your hands: only a handshake is permissible, and then only after the interlocutor himself expresses a desire to shake your hand;
- when entering a living room, you must take off your shoes;
- once in a traditional Japanese room, sit on the tatami in the correct seiza posture – on your knees with your feet under you. For women, this rule is strict, men can sit down in Turkish or leaning against something. Feet should not be bare, the best option is white socks by analogy with Japanese “tabi”. In the restaurant, during a friendly feast, you can take a more relaxed position – a relaxed “agura”;
- to enter the temple, you need to take off your shoes, under which there should be fresh and clean socks. In the temples of Japan, it is allowed to photograph and film.
It is unacceptable in Japan to appear in public places or on the street while drunk, drink alcohol and smoke in places not designated for these purposes, disrespectful statements about the country’s leadership.
It is also necessary to dwell on a delicate issue: the administration of their natural needs. Toilets are available in all public places, they, like the rest of Japan, are at a very high level of technical progress. The usual letters WC on the door may not be, then you should look for the hieroglyphs 男 and 女 – “man” and “woman”, respectively. In a Japanese house, people go to the toilet in special slippers at the door.
Earthquakes and typhoons
When traveling to Japan, it is also worth remembering that the Japanese archipelago is part of the Pacific Volcanic Ring of Fire, and one tenth of all world volcanic activity since the early 1990s is in Japan. It is common for Japan to have about 1,500 annual magnitude 4-6 earthquakes. Small earthquakes occur every day in different parts of the country, accompanied by shaking of buildings. Another natural hazard remains typhoons (台風 typhoons), which hit Japan from the Pacific Ocean.
Where to stay in Japan
Renting apartments in Japan
Along with the usual hotels in the land of the rising sun, you can rent apartments in Japan. This is a unique opportunity to live in a Japanese apartment and experience the lifestyle of the locals. In addition, it is often cheaper than renting a hotel room. You can also save on food, not having dinner in restaurants, but by preparing food yourself.
Traditional accommodation in Japan
To experience the atmosphere of traditional Japan, tourists can stop at a Japanese ryokan. Ryokan rooms usually consist of one large room with no partitions. The floors in the rooms are covered with tatami straw mats, on which a cotton futon mattress is laid out in the evening. A blue and white Yukata robe is provided. There is only a low table from the furniture. Bathroom – public, separate for men and women. Meals – half board, consisting of a rich national dinner and a modest breakfast delivered directly to the room.
Hotels in Japan
There are all kinds of accommodation in Japan (both Western and traditional Japanese style), which differ in class and price.
Japanese hotels are part of the Japanese Hotel Association and are famous for their high level of service and quality living conditions.
Western-style hotels are no different from similar hotels around the world, they are found in all Japanese cities. The service staff of these hotels speaks English.
A new trend in the hotel industry in Japan is budget capsule hotels, the rooms of which are so small that they look more like shelves on trains or storage boxes for luggage. Amenities here are limited to bed linen, a radio with headphones and a lamp.
In a hotel in Japan, any kind of tip is not acceptable to the staff, a service charge (5-10%) is automatically added to the bill.