As promised, here comes the second part of my “10 things you should do before coming to Japan” article.
It’s going to be about drinking, money, cheap food and more…
But I don’t want to tell you too much already. Just keep on reading and find out yourself!
Nomihodai? What sounds like an attack move from Dragonball is actually the Japanese expression for “All you can drink”! You heard it right – All you can drink!!
What might be a stupid business concept in western countries seems to work in Japan. You can get a 2 hour Nomihodai session for as little as 900 yen plus some snacks you’ll have to purchase (mostly an additional 600 yen). Still, this is an amazing price for an all you can drink offer when you compare it to the usual alcohol prices in Japanese restaurants. For comparison, a small beer will already cost you about 500 Yen in most places!
So where is the hook? Actually there is none. Japanese people are just not able to drink that much alcohol so for them, the offer is adequate. But as an European, 2 hours are plenty of time to make use of that offer. Ok, in most places the last order has to be done 30 minutes before your time ends, but that doesn’t stop you from ordering various drinks with your last order.
If you’re looking for places who offer Nomihodai I’d totally recommend you to look them up on the internet or ask at your hostel/hotel reception for some recommendations.
It is an incredibly fun experience as you’ll see a lot of drunk Japanese people (don’t think they are rude, other than in a lot of European countries, they open up when they get drunk).
So grab some friends and take in the full Nomihodai experience. It’s the cheapest and most fun way to get drunk and you’ll surely meet some fun people.
7. Cheap food
I expected Japan to be way more expensive than it actually was. Especially when it comes to food, you can get some great dishes for little money. A satisfying bowl of Ramen will never cost you more than 1000 Yen and at most places you can get some decent lunch meals (Settu) for the same price.
If you’re even more on the budget side, a good way to get you filled up without spending a lot of money is checking out the supermarkets’ fresh food sections. You can get some freshly prepared Bento (lunch boxes) and a lot of other beautiful and delicious meals. And trust me, you can’t compare the freshness and taste of these sets with supermarket food you get in western countries. The value for money is just insane and like everything in Japan, the quality is extraordinary high.
Tip: Try to check out the supermarkets before closing hours to get even better discounts. They often reduce the prices of the food they can’t sell on the next day by more than 60% so if you want to safe some money but still get some decent food, that’s your way to go.
Another place for cheap food is Seven Eleven or Family Market, where you can get more or less the same food like in the supermarkets. Definitely an option if you want to save some money!
Littering is an absolute no go in Japan. Arriving in Tokyo, one of the first things you’ll probably realize is that there is no trash on the floor. You won’t see any cigarette stumps or other garbage lying on the ground. The Japanese have a really good attitude towards littering, also because there are high fines for doing so.
Japan is the cleanest country I’ve ever been to. In my opinion not even the super clean city of Singapore can compete.
But the first problem you are confronted with as a first time visitor is probably that you don’t know where to put your trash. There are almost no trashcans in Japan. It’s quite incredible that there is no trash at all even though there are no trash cans.
But it becomes clearer once you realize that Japan is a culture where consuming while walking is considered rude. That’s why the people toss their trash wherever they buy it.
So for example Street Food: You buy it at a stall and eat it there, where they – of course – have a trash can. Same goes for drinks. The most common spots for trash cans are vending machines: Buy your drink, consume it in front of the machine and toss it right away. The result: No trash on the streets! Quite a simple but effective concept.
And if there’s no trash can in sight? Well Japanese people tend to just take their trash home with them and dispose it there.
I’m convinced that’s a system of which a lot of countries could take advantage and it would help make a lot of places cleaner.
9. Intercity Transportation
Traveling through Japan, there are many possibilities to get from one place to another. One of the most convenient for tourists is traveling with the Shinkansen (super-fast bullet train). As a tourist, you can purchase the Japan Rail Pass which allows you to use all JR services all over Japan for an estimated amount of time (1-4 weeks).
I purchased the rail pass and I’m convinced that it is the most convenient, best value for money and fastest manner of traveling the country, especially when you want to see a lot of places in a short period of time. Compared to the official Shinkansen prices, you get a real steal with the Japan Rail Pass.
Still, if you’re a little bit more on the budget side of traveling, consider to travel from place to place by overnight buses. I also used it various times and it is a cheap alternative to the JR-Pass. Even though it takes some time to get from one place to another (most of the times you start around midnight and arrive really early the next morning) prices are only as little as 4000 Yen and you save one night of accommodation. So you do the math 😉
In the end it’s your decision how you want to travel the country but don’t disregard the possibility of using night buses only because everyone is recommending the Japan Rail Pass.
It all depends on your preferences but keep in mind that night buses are a cheap and easy to use alternative if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a rail pass.
There are two points I’d like to elaborate on.
The first one is withdrawing money. Your access to cash is 7-Eleven. A lot of banks in Japan don’t accept foreign credit cards. But every 7-eleven has their own ATM and you can always get your cash out there. There are also other convenient stores with ATMs inside but the only ones which are reliable are the 7-Eleven ones. Luckily, 7-Eleven is a wide spread convenient store chain in Japan and you’ll find one almost around each street corner.
The second point I want to talk about is payment. Even though Japan is a technologically advanced country, people here really have stuck to cash. Okay, if you’re at big stores or in shopping malls you can pay by card most of the times. But most of the smaller stores or even supermarkets don’t accept card payment. Cash still has a high importance in this country so you should never rely on your credit card. I’d recommend you to always have cash with you. It’s the preferred method of payment and you’ll be on the safe side.
To sum it up
Japan is a country which can’t be compared to any other places in the world. Due to its geographical position as an island, it developed kind of independent from foreign influences for a long-time period and opened for world trade quite late.
That’s the reason why Japan feels so different and you’ll find that many customs which can’t be found outside of Japan. That made Japan so interesting for me. A completely distinct culture which contributed to so many WOW-moments during my stay in Japan. There’s always something that you’ve never seen before and the country left me speechless not only once.
With these 10 tips, I hope I could give you a short introduction into Japan and maybe help you with preparing your trip or even inspire you to do so.
It’s always fun to experience all that by yourself and I promise you that there still is a lot of stuff to experience. But I think these are some important things to know before going to Japan and they will help you to get a good start once you get to Japan.
I really hope you enjoyed the article and I could provide some inspiration. More posts about Japan are going to follow so stay tuned.
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With love, Niko
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