All foreign visitors to Japan must have a valid passport, which will remain valid during the period of stay. Nationals of many countries (U.S. citizens up to 90 days) are eligible to enter Japan without a visa unless the purpose of the visit is to reside in Japan, to obtain employment or to otherwise engage in remunerative activities.
Japanese is the national language. English is spoken throughout the country, but particularly in major cities and tourist centers. Public transportation announcements are frequently made in both Japanese and English, and signs generally include an English explanation.
The unit of Japanese currency is the yen. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen and bank notes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen.
Travelers Checks are accepted by leading banks, hotels, ryokan (Japanese inns) and stores in major cities. International credit cards such as American Express, VISA, Diners Club and MasterCard are also acceptable at these major establishments.
Foreign credit and cash cards can be used at Post Office and Seven Bank ATMs throughout Japan.
There are over 26,000 Post Office ATMs in Japan and post offices which provide this service display stickers indicating which cards are accepted. Cards from the Cirrus, PLUS, Maestro and Visa Electron networks can be used. Accepted credit cards include VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.
Currently the Japanese mobile telephone system is not compatible with those of other countries; however, you may wish to confirm the compatibility of your mobile phone in Japan with your phone line service before departing for Japan. If you want to use a mobile phone in Japan, rental phones are also available. You can find rental shops at Narita Airport and Kansai Airport.
Climate will vary from region to region, but generally Japan has four distinct seasons. Spring months are March, April, and May. Summer months are June, July, and August. Autumn months are September, October, and November. Winter months are December, January, and February. Summer is hot and humid in general. During the winter, it snows a lot on the Sea of Japan side, and it is dry on the Pacific Ocean side. Good times to travel in Japan are early/mid-April, mid/late-May, October, or early November. The temperatures are mild, and there is not too much rain at that time. You can enjoy beautiful cherry blossoms in April and colorful autumn foliages in late October to November.
The voltage used throughout Japan is uniformly 100 volts, A.C. There are two kinds of frequencies in use; 50 Hertz in eastern Japan and 60 Hertz in western Japan (including Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka). Common electrical appliances such as a hair dryer, travel iron and shaver will operate without converters. The plug type (2-flat-pin) is the same as the U.S.
All of Japan is in the same time zone, which 9 hours ahead of GMT, or 14 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. No daylight savings time is practiced in Japan.
Tipping is rarely seen in Japan. Taxi drivers, restaurant waiters and waitresses, and hotel bellhops do not need to be tipped. Services in western style hotels will generally add a 10%-15% service charge to the bill.
Tap water is safe to drink anywhere in Japan
There are no inoculations required for entering Japan from anywhere around the world.