Influenced by the existence of anime shows, I’m always astonished by how anime industry in Japan can still survive up to date. As an anime geek, depending on what anime show it is, learning the language has sparked in the interest in me. But more than just its language, there are far better things that travellers need to understand when visiting the country.
As I got a chance to travel in Tokyo, there are some key takeaways I’d like to share with my readers here. For the most part, Japan is geographically located in Asia where its counterparts are Korea and China and the currency used there is YEN. Without further ado, let’s get it started.
If you think your English proficiency is excellent enough to make you survive for a week, bet your luck guys. Majority of the citizen cannot understand English well especially if you speak like a running machine. Stop boasting yourself, the Japanese can offer a help if you’re able to speak a few Japanese phrases such as:
- Sumi masen – Excuse me
- Ohaiyou Gozaimasu – Good morning
- Arigatou Gozaimasu – Thank you
- Wakarimashita – Understood/got it
While English is the most basic need when travelling, the language can be a hindering factor for you stop travelling in Japan. What do you do? It’s best if you can have a translation tool to help deliver your message/question so they can better understand your needs.
However, my experience in Japan is otherwise. As English is my second language, I got to see some Japanese could grab our message IF and only IF we speak slowly, using the most simplified terms. I still remember the day I wanted to do my check-in at a guesthouse. Nobody was there so I roamed around to ask for help from a local. As I started speaking up, he didn’t understand and I slowed down my speed to make him understand. Unfortunately, he could not catch up anything I said. As a loyal anime fan, I uttered “Wakaranai!” – I don’t know – to tell him that I don’t know how to check in. LOL. At the end, he told me something like “Go to level 6, the owner may be there.”
P/s: Watching anime can be quite useful, y’know 😉
In my country when you want to escalate up the level using the electronic stairs, it is usually the case that people won’t bother to stand either on the left or right side. Unless you raise a signal to the person in front of you, they’ll make some space for you to move.
But in Japan, specifically in Tokyo, they usually will queue on the left side and leave the right side blank for those in a rush. Be it an old man, a professional working lady, or a college boy, they will stand on the left side if they’re not in a hurry. Guess it’s about time to start raising the awareness in my country.
The power of public transport
The idea of renting a car may not seem to be the cleverest decision to do. Unless you’re planning to go on a road trip from Tokyo to Osaka and to Fukuoka (Don’t do!), go ahead and enjoy your journey.
To tell you the truth, the power of public transport in Japan is enough for you to commute from a place to another. Putting aside the ‘sardine-factor’ you might experience during peak hours, public transports in Japan are usually on time to ensure that the people can arrive at their desired location without being tardy.
Since I commuted a lot using the train, it can be very confusing in the first place. My tip would be, if you’re at a train station and wanting to go to a certain place but have no idea how to purchase a ticket, approach the receptionist and inform them your next location as he will definitely guide you. On top of that, the ticket is available at the machine and the map is normally shown on a board above so it will be convenient for you to plan your journey. Another tip is, google maps should be your best friend!
Yen is the official currency in Japan. Unlike most Asian countries, Japan is so well developed which means the cost of living can fork your money out so fast, especially in Tokyo. While there are many attractions in the metropolitan, travellers must be aware of the price as you might splurge until your pocket money is gone. No I’m not discouraging you, what I meant was, plan your budget or otherwise you’ll overspend.