– 10 things to know
before you go to Japan. I’m Chris, this is Topher,
we’re Yellow Productions. We do travel guides that are fun, informative, and entertaining. This is part of our series on Japan. We’ve got over 100 other videos on Japan, but after you watch this
one you’ll be well-versed to come to this country. Many people think that Japan
can be difficult to get to, hard to navigate, it’s like
the land of foreign things. But I’ll tell you that is not so, and after you watch this
video, you’ll be a pro at Japan and if you want some
specific travel guides on specific places, well, check out some of my
other Japan travel videos. The first thing to know
before you come to Japan is about etiquette and rules. Japan is a country of rules
and to make things work, you should learn to follow them. The Japanese have a specific way of doing almost everything. As a foreigner, you might get a pass, they might understand
if you don’t understand but it is better if you try to understand so I’ll give you a few of the
Japanese etiquette basics. First of all, the
typical greeting is a bow and the deeper the bow,
the more respectful it is. So you’ll see a small bow to big bows and if it’s a bigger bow, that means they are
giving you more respect. They have a certain way to
sit if you’re at a table that doesn’t have chairs
and you’re on a tatami mat, there’s a certain way to sit but they’ll probably
expect if you understand, and you just sit how ever you wanna sit. But if you ever find
yourself on a tatami mat you’ll need to take off your shoes. Expect to take off your shoes
in certain areas of Japan. Don’t ever step on a
tatami mat in bare feet. Tatami are straw mats, by the way. If you hand something to somebody or they hand something to
you, it’ll be with two hands so give it to them with two hands and receive it with two hands. When you’re paying for things in a shop, you will find there’s a little money dish. Put your money in there, they will put the change
back in there for you. The Japanese are happy to
help, but they are often shy and so if you find that they don’t respond quickly right away, it’s
because they’re shy, maybe not because they don’t wanna help or they don’t understand,
and when they do help they will often really go
out of their way to help you. The second thing to know
before you come to Japan is about the language. It’s Japanese of course, but
there’s different dialects throughout the country. If you’re speaking in English to Japanese, they may not seem like they know English when they’re looking at
you or how they respond but it’s often because they’re just shy. They often also understand
more than they can speak. You may find that the way they’ll respond is by going to get somebody
else or perhaps writing it down. Just speak slowly and
speak with basic words if you find yourself in a little bit of English/Japanese trouble. Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto
are all pretty well signed in English, particularly
the public transportation so if you’re in the big
cities you won’t have an issue getting around if you
don’t speak Japanese. I will say that is not so
much the case in the suburbs. If you’re in the smaller towns in Japan, the stations are just in
Japanese, so good luck. (chuckles) It’s also good to have
your hotel and destinations written in Japanese,
just in case you get lost and you need to ask for help. You could always show somebody the card that has that written in Japanese. And if you’re trying to speak Japanese and you don’t know it, just
try the English variant. For example, hamburger is often (speaks in foreign language), coffee is (speaks in foreign language). But I’ll say it’s good to
learn some basic Japanese, a basic word I use all the
time when I want water, it’s (speaks in foreign language), or if you want beer, it’s
(speaks in foreign language). You say that, chances are
you’ll get what you want. The third thing to know
before you come to Japan is about timeliness. In Japan, being on time is very important. You will find that stores
close and open promptly at the time posted to the minute. Bullet trains have to
run within 15 seconds of their posted schedule, otherwise they’re not considered on time. If you’ve made dinner reservations, make sure you are on time. If you’re five minutes
early, chances are they won’t seat you ’til it’s
actually your dinner time. And if you come 15 minutes late, well, you might as well forgot that you had that reservation anyway ’cause they figured you weren’t coming. Distance is often measured
not in meters or miles but in walking time, so
things will advertise that they are a one-minute
walk from the train station or a zero-minute walk which
means they’re basically right on top of the station. Related to time zones,
Japan is just one time zone for the entire country so
that makes setting your watch pretty easy if you’re traveling around, and also the calendar is different. They measure it based on the
emperor and things like that and so if you look at dates
and you don’t understand, well, that’s because
they’ve got a different way of doing dates. The fourth thing to know
before you come to Japan is about public transportation. In short, public transportation
in Japan is amazing. I will say, be aware of rush
hour and the last train. Last train time’s often around midnight. If you miss it, you are kind of stuck and if you’re wondering why I’m talking about public transportation in a canal, well that’s because
there’s some boats that run on this canal here in Osaka. And if you’re wondering
where I’m shooting this, I’m shooting this in Osaka
in the Namba district around Dotonbori, this
is the Dotonbori Canal. If you wanna know more about
like how to ride the trains in Tokyo and Osaka, I’ve got
separate videos on those. But if you’re taking
public transportation, you should note that on
the trains and subway, there is little luggage storage. So Japan offers these
luggage shipping services that essentially you can pay
and have your luggage shipped so that you don’t have to carry
it with you on the trains. I will also say the train
stations, they are amazing, but they can be confusing. So if you’re on the train
and you’re in the station and you can’t find where
you’re going, just remain calm, that’s the first step. Don’t rush for your train,
there will be another train, I guarantee it, well
unless it’s the last train. But these trains, they come
very very frequently in Japan. The Yamanote Line in Tokyo comes
almost every couple minutes so just take the next one. Also in the train stations,
they have these neat coin lockers where you
can store your luggage. The coin lockers are great,
but make sure you remember where you put your
luggage, in what locker, otherwise you’ll be probably
looking for your luggage for a long time. Japan offers this great
thing called the JR Pass. The JR Pass it’s for foreigners, unlimited, Japan Railways trains. Japan Railways is the main train operator, but there’s other companies
too so just be aware that your JR Pass will not
go on all trains in Japan, just the ones operated by JR. If you’re driving, I’ve
got a video on that too. Check out my video on driving
and renting a car in Japan, just don’t drive in the big cities. Drive in the suburbs,
it’s pretty nice and okay. Their expressways are actually quite good. You might also hear of something
called a limousine bus. Those often pick you up from the airports. It’s not a limousine,
it’s really just a bus. Maybe kind of a nice bus (chuckles) but it’s not nearly a limousine. Also there’s really no Uber or Lyft or any app-enabled ride
companies here, just taxis. You’re gonna have to hail one
down the old fashioned way. Also, bicycling is pretty
popular right here. Just park in a legal spot,
otherwise you might find people picking up your bicycle and towing it away and if you are riding a bicycle,
ride it on the sidewalks. That’s where you ride your bike here. So if you’re also
walking on the sidewalks, beware of some of the bicycles
that may be riding there too. The fifth thing to know
before you come to Japan is about food, Japanese
food is awesome, excellent. There’s great food to be
had all throughout Japan. People often think of Japanese
food as noodles, sushi, and yakitori, but I’ll
tell you Japanese food is so much more than that. But let’s start with noodles,
ramen is probably one of those quintessential Japanese dishes. If you’re eating ramen here, make sure to slurp your
noodles. (slurping) That is considered a
compliment to the chef if you are slurping so you’ll
hear most of the locals slurping their noodles when they eat it. They are not being rude. It’s considered quite polite actually. Some other great things are things that are called (speaks in
foreign language), D-O-N. Typically those are bowls, rice bowls, that have something on top. (speaks in foreign
language) is a rice bowl that has breaded fried pork on top. (speaks in foreign language),
it’s a tempura bowl. One of my favorite chains
in Japan is Pepper Lunch, and their locations are dwindling
but it’s fast food steak. It’s delicious, they have
another one called Ikinari Steak. The Japanese love pudding. There’s pudding all
throughout the country, so check out the pudding
while you’re here. They have green tea matcha everything. Green tea pudding, green tea drinks, green tea, green tea, green tea. The fruit here is really good. It may seem really expensive,
but I will tell you the fruit is worth it. The strawberries will probably be some of the sweetest strawberries
you’ve ever had in your life. Cantaloupe here too doesn’t taste like cantaloupe anywhere else. And also, people think
food in Japan is expensive and let me tell you, it does not actually have to be expensive. If you’re going to Tokyo,
you can watch my video on cheap eats in Tokyo. It’s pretty applicable for a
lot of the big cities in Japan. Many restaurants, they’ll
have the sort of plastic replica food out in front
so you can take a look in the windows to decide what you want. Many restaurants in the big
cities will have English menus, just ask if they have an English menu. If they don’t, then use
the point and order method. Point at the menu and say this one. That is typically a phrase they understand in most restaurants. Some restaurants, they won’t
have menus or order takers. They’ll just have vending machines. Pretty popular at ramen restaurants. In that case, there’ll be a
vending machine out front. You put your money in the vending machine, push a button, it spits out a ticket, and then you’ll take
that ticket in with you and kinda put it down on your table and that is how you order. Japanese pubs are called
(speaks in foreign language) and you should be aware if you’re going to a (speaks in foreign language), they often have a time limit
on how long you can sit at the table before they kick you out. If you go to a fine dining restaurant that has tatami flooring,
which I mentioned earlier in the etiquette section, make
sure to take off your shoes before you go on the tatami mat. New trend in Japan maybe
in the last 10 years are the standing restaurants,
popular in the train stations. You’ll find standing noodle restaurants, standing sushi restaurants. Space is so limited, they have no chairs and you stand to eat. Another great place to eat
are convenience stores, Japanese convenience
stores in the big city seem to be almost every block. 7-Eleven, Lawson Station, FamilyMart are some of the big ones
and if you’re thinking 7-Eleven in the U.S. or
some place like that, these are nothing like it. They’re food, delicious, and it’s brought into their stores multiple times a day. Another great place for food in Japan is at department stores. The big department stores will
typically have a food floor in the basement, you can
get cheap to-go food there and then they will often
be marking that food down late in the evening, 10, 20, 50% off even, to make sure it gets sold. Another trend in Japan is pancakes, pancakes are very popular here. Not pancakes for breakfast,
pancakes for lunch and pancakes for dinner. In Harajuku in Tokyo, you’ll
find long lines for pancakes. Also a couple, another new trend in Japan, new, you know, the last 10 years, something like that, maid cafes. These cafes where the waitresses
dress up as French maids to serve you, you’ll
find those in Akihabara, in Osaka, in Denden Town. So if you wanna be waited
on by a Japanese girl dressed up as a French
maid, check those out. And finally I just include this one ’cause it’s got the word restaurant in it, there’s a place in Tokyo
called the Robot Restaurant, and they do serve food but not really. It’s just restaurant in name. It’s a really awesome dinner show, one of the coolest I’ve been to. If you’re going to Tokyo
and you like robots and big things and lights
and things that flash, then check out the Robot Restaurant. The sixth thing to know
before you go to Japan is about money and you should know that in Japan, cash is king. Credit is not accepted ubiquitously. You will find a lot of
restaurants and shops are cash only so make sure you get some yen, bills and coins. The coins, quite valuable here. Hundreds, five hundreds, 500-yen coin worth about five U.S. dollars. I mentioned earlier but
when you pay in a shop, they’ll have a tray, that’s
where you put your money in. That’s where the change
will come back for you. Always make sure to hand it with two hands and receive it with two hands as well. Many people think that Japan is expensive, but I will tell you I think
that Japan is probably one of the cheapest countries
in the developed world. I find trips here to
actually be quite inexpensive and the only comparable
countries are Portugal and Taiwan for development to inexpensiveness ratio. And if you’re looking to
stay cheaply in hotels, check out Toyoko Inn. It’s a business hotel, the rooms are small but they are clean and so that’s something you don’t have to worry about here that if you get something cheap,
cheap food and cheap hotel, you don’t have to worry
about it being filthy or a place you don’t wanna stay or something you don’t wanna eat, and if you wanna eat really cheap, eat in convenience
stores and the Yoshinoya, one of the cheapest Japanese
staples with their beef bowls. Also, if you wanna know more about money you can check out, I gotta whole video talking about money in Japan. The seventh thing to know
before you go to Japan is about tipping, and
this one’s really short. Don’t do it, they don’t tip in Japan. Actually, tipping in
Japan is considered rude. It’s like you have too much
money and you pity them and that’s why you need to
tip them to give them money. It’s doesn’t matter where you go, whether you go to restaurants,
whether you ride a taxi, whether it’s the bellboy in the hotel, they do not expect tips and in fact they don’t want your
tips, so for those of you who love tipping, get over
it, they don’t tip in Japan. The eighth thing to know
before you go to Japan is about trash and trash cans. There are very few public
trash cans in Japan. The first few times I
came here, I had trash and I was looking to throw it away and I couldn’t find trash
cans for the life of me and then I figured out trash
cans are in a few places. They’re at convenience stores,
they’re in train stations, they’re on bullet trains. There are often no trash cans in bathrooms where you might expect them. There’s often no trash
cans in big public areas expect the ones where tons
and tons of tourists go. In Japan they expect you to basically take your trash home with you, and that might be back to the hotel. If you wanna know more about trash cans, I gotta whole video about
trash cans in Japan. The ninth thing to know
before you go to Japan is about toilets, and the toilet are usually these typical
amazing TOTO toilet that have a bidet and
a wash and are heated and are like the most futuristic
high-tech toilets ever. But it is Asia, and so you
will find some squat toilets. Actually in some parts of Japan, particularly the rural areas, the public toilets will
only be squat toilets. And so if you are confronted
with a squat toilet, well, you need to make
sure you face the right way and that’s usually in the
direction of the porcelain hood. Whatever you do, don’t do
your business into the hole. It’ll splash, do your
business into the flat part. But back onto those amazing toilets, ’cause I think that’s more interesting than the squat toilets,
is the amazing toilets. Sometimes they’re called a washlet or an ostamat You might see signs in bathrooms or doors that will advertise them. If you sit on the toilet and water runs, don’t think you break it. That’s what I thought the first time I sat on one of them. It’s just running water to heat it up in case you want to use
the wash or the bidet. Those toilets are a great
way to clean yourself. They often often have dryers
so after you use the water, you can dry your bottom. Sometimes they’ll have music, extra sound. In public bathrooms, though,
it’s worthwhile to note that there are often no paper towels. The Japanese typically
carry a handkerchief wherever they go to dry their hands or their shirt or their pants, so be aware that there
are typically no towels. Also if you’re in hotels or restaurants or things like that, you may encounter slippers in the toilet. Those are toilet slippers,
those are for you to put on when you go to the
toilet so that your feet do not get dirtied by
the dirty dirty toilet, and you don’t take the
toilet dirt into the rest of the place that you’re in. The 10th thing to know is about hotels, so I thought it was only appropriate to do this one in a hotel. This is the 51st floor
of the Osaka Marriott, so that’s the night view
of Osaka in the background. So to describe Japanese
hotels in four words, I would say clean, functional, small, and tired, yes tired. I find a lot of the, blah blah blah. Look, I talked for like
seven minutes about hotels, so if you wanna know more about
staying in Japanese hotels click the link in the upper left to check out that video right now. Well hey, that’s it, those
are all the major things you need to know before you go to Japan, you are well armed to visit
the Land of the Rising Sun. If this was your first
time at Yellow Productions, make sure to click this
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