The weather throughout the four main islands
that make up Japan is generally temperate, with four distinct
seasons. The weather
can get very hot during the summer months, particularly
in the South. May, June and July are the wettest months, and
June, July and August are hotter and more humid. In the
winters are cool but sunny, but as one moves further north
temperatures drop and snow falls. The island of Hokkaido
in the far north of Japan is bitterly cold in the winter,
with snow guaranteed.
Narita Airport (New Tokyo International)
Location: The airport is located 40 miles (66km)
north-east of Tokyo.
Time: GMT +9. Contacts: Switchboard: + 81 (0)476
Information: +81 (0)476 34 5000.
Transfer between terminals:
A free shuttle bus connects the two terminals.
Transfer to the city: Each airport terminal
separate railway station. Different train services on the
JR or Keisei lines serve Tokyo and surrounding destinations.
journey to Tokyo takes one hour; if possible book a seat
in advance. Buses connect to the domestic airport and hotels
centre; the journey takes between one and two hours. Taxis
are not advised as, due to the distance, the fares are very
The tourist information desk in the arrivals hall can help
travellers with their transport needs.
Car rental: Rental cars
can be organised at the airport, though most visitors wisely
avoid driving in Tokyo and instead take
the efficient public transport.
Facilities: The facilities
at New Tokyo Airport are extensive and include shops (including
duty-free), banks, ATMs, currency
exchange bureaux, massage, baby changing and left luggage.
A variety of restaurants catering for Japanese, Chinese
tastes are available, including a new revolving Sushi Bar.
Both terminals have shower facilities and Day Rooms (bedrooms
can be hired by the hour). There are Internet cafes situated
throughout the airport.
100 volts, 60Hz in the west (Osaka,
Kyoto, Nagoya, Hiroshima);
100 volts, 50Hz in eastern Japan (Tokyo, Sapporo, Yokohoma).
Flat two- and three-pin plugs are used.
is the Japanese Yen (¥), which is equal to 100
sen. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger
Japenese operate with cash. Cash and travellers cheques
can be exchanged in banks, post offices and currency
Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
Travellers cheques offer the best exchange rate and
are best taken
US dollars. ATMs do not accept all credit and debit
the international ATMs in post offices, airports and
some major stores.
Japanese is the official language. Most
Japanese people will have studied English at school, but
few can speak
or understand what is said to them.
Tokyo’s public transport
system is one of the most efficient in the world and is clean
and safe, combining an extensive train
network, 13 underground subway lines and a bus system. Visitors
usually find the trains (JR) and subways the best way to get
around although the complexity of the underground network can
be intimidating; rush hour from 7.30am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm
should be avoided. Most stations have English signs.
lines are owned by different companies, transfers between
trains or subways usually require a transfer between different
systems, with different ticketing systems that can be confusing.
The Tokyo Combination Ticket (Tokyo Free Kippu) is a day
travel pass that allows unlimited use of the trains, subway
lines within the city. Subway tickets are bought at vending
machines; just buy the cheapest ticket if unsure how much
to pay and the
difference, if any, can be paid at the end of the journey.
The bus system is more complicated for visitors as most destinations
are written in Japanese only and bus drivers don’t speak
Taxis are convenient but never cheap, particularly
in rush hour. Taxis can be hailed on the street, except in
central areas, where they only pick up from taxi ranks. Drivers
speak little English so it is a good idea to have the destination
written out in Japanese. Driving a car in the city is not
No vaccination certificates are required
for entry to Japan. Medical assistance in Japan can be very
expensive and visitors
have to pay the whole cost up front. Travellers should
ensure that they have adequate medical insurance before
Visitors using prescription or common over-the-counter
medications (such as inhalers or allergy and sinus
note that some may be prohibited in Japan and customs
officials may detain travellers carrying them.
to contact the Japanese embassy in their home country
before departure to ascertain whether their medication is
Although new outbreaks of avian influenza have
been confirmed in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia,
China and Malaysia,
travellers to Japan are unlikely to be affected,
should avoid bird markets and farms and places where
they may come
contact with live poultry.
Tips and bargaining
are not expected in Japan, however a service
charge of between
15% is generally added to hotel and restaurant
The vast majority of visits to Japan
are trouble-free. It is generally a very safe country with
and is stable, highly developed and modern.
Travellers should, however, still be vigilant about personal
safety and belongings.
Typhoons are common particularly from June
September and travellers should take note of storm warnings
along the coastal
if travelling during this period. An earthquake
measuring about 7 on the Richter Scale occurred on 20
March 2005 off the north
coast of Kyushu affecting cities, including
Fukuoka, but also parts of Saga Prefecture. Communications
road and rail links have been disrupted in
the region. Travellers should avoid the Niigata area in view
the earthquake and its aftershocks and should
news and weather forecasts regularly.
formal and reserved and visitors are
expected to behave politely. When
entering a Japanese home or restaurant
it is customary to remove
shoes, and bowing is the customary greeting.
The international access code
for Japan is +81. The outgoing code
is 001 followed by the relevant country
code (e.g. 0011 for the United States). Local calls can be
but only some allow international calls.
Telephone cards are sold at kiosks and from vending machines.
The local mobile phone operators use technology that
is not always
networks, but local handsets can be hired
the airport and various other locations. Internet