Mac, Founder and Lead Guide of Maction Planet Bespoke Japan Travel, introduces off-the-beaten-track Tokyo.
Know before you go. We hope this page of Japan travel tips, info and FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) helps prepare you for your trip to Japan. If you have any other tips, information, questions, comments or advice for fellow visitors to Japan add them at the bottom of this page.
Arriving in Japan
Passport: you will need 6 months or more validity on your passport from the date you depart Japan. Make sure you have a few blank pages too.
Arrival Card: you will need to write the name and address of your first hotel on the arrival card. Remember to carry that information with you on the plane (not packed in your check-in luggage).
Immigration desk: don’t be surprised when you are fingerprinted and photographed at the Immigration desk. It’s like that in most countries I visit these days I’m afraid.
Do I need a visa to travel to Japan?
Probably not but you can check if you need a visa to enter Japan here.
Do I need travel insurance for Japan?
Yes you do. Medical care isn’t free in Japan. If you have an accident or get ill you will probably need to show proof of insurance before you receive medical treatment.
If your holiday is arranged by us (Kyushu Journeys) we will ask for your insurance details before you arrive so we can help communicate with the hospital in an emergency. If you need medical treatment while you are in Japan contact us immediately. We will help find the nearest suitable hospital or clinic and liaise (and translate) on your behalf.
Can I bring my usual medicine into Japan?
Probably yes but note that Japan is stricter than most countries about bringing medicne. Take note of the following points:
- Dexamphetamine (and most other medicines related to ADHD and narcolepsy) are completely prohibited
- Products that contain Pseudoephedrine (such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) are completely prohibited
- Codeine-based products are completely prohibited
- All medicine should be in the original box or bottle
- If you are bringing prescription medicine into Japan you should bring a copy of the prescription too
- If you need to bring syringes into Japan please contact the Japanese Consulate in your country for advice before departure
Money in Japan
Can I use my credit card in Japan?
Credit cards are widely accepted but probably not as much as in your home country. You will be able to use your credit card in many places but you should always carry cash. Many hotels and restaurants still don’t accept credit cards even in 2018.
It may be surprising but in Japan cash is king
The good news is that usually there is no extra charge for paying by credit card.
There may be fewer ATM machines than in your country and many do not accept foreign cards. Surprisingly many ATMs are not 24-hour. Convenience stores are the most common place to find ATM machines that accept foreign cards and are open 24 hours. You may also find ATms with English menus in Post Offices.
Don’t forget: inform your card company in advance that you will be travelling to Japan and make sure you know your PIN number. Tip: If your PIN number is more than 4 digits you may have problems using your card here. Check with your bank before departure.
Withdrawal limit: If you card has a chip the limit is usually ¥100,000. With a magnetic strip card the limit may be only ¥30,000. Any daily withdrawal limit set by your bank will override these amounts.
Should I exchange money before I travel to Japan?
You will probably get a better rate here than in your own country. You can change money at Fukuoka airport when you arrive. Please note however most money changers only operate from 8AM to 9PM. You can also find a variety of 24-hour ATM machines accepting foreign credit cards at Fukuoka Airport. For peace of mind on arrival day you may want to change some money into Japanese Yen in your home country, just in case. Don’t forget to ask for some smaller denomination notes if you plan to take a taxi. You won’t find money changers on every street corner like you do in Bali or other big tourists destinations. Most banks won’t change money either. Bring as much of any major currency as you need together with your credit card to get Japanese yen cash withdrawals.
Best exchange rate in Fukuoka
The best exchange rate in Fukuoka we found is at this shop (Japanese website) in this location. Hakata Station exit 15. It’s open 7 days a week from 10AM to 7PM. Despite this, if you ask my advice, I would say the best place is to change money in Fukuoka is at the airport. The difference in exchange rate probably isn’t worth your time unless you are on a very tight budget or staying close by that shop.
Can I use travellers cheques in Japan?
We don’t recommend bringing travellers cheques unless you research first specific places you can cash them.
Electricity and Adaptors
The voltage in Japan is 100 V (not 110 or 220 V like many other countries) and power sockets are Type A. Type A is used in USA and China so if you are from another country you will need to buy an adaptor.
You need to buy an adaptor that allows your gadget to plug into Type A socket.
Note that Type B is also used in Japan but it is the same as Type A except there is an extra input for grounding. Therefore any Type A plug will also fit into Type B socket. Most electrical shops or convenience stores in Japan don’t sell overseas to Japan converters so better buy adaptors you need in your home country. However if you do need to buy them here they are available at Bic Sim in Fukuoka. I haven’t found them at any other electrical shop in Fukuoka.
Japan packing tips (what to bring)
Try to bring as little as possible. You will probably be travelling on public transport where storage space is limited and it’s very crowded. Make sure you can easily pull or carry your luggage. You don’t need to bring formal wear. Casual-smart is fine even at the best restaurants. It’s better to avoid scruffy-looking clothes. Coin laundry is widely available so you can recycle your clothes. Bring shoes that can easily be slipped on and off and that are comfortable for sightseeing. You will often be shoeless so bring enough socks to avoid the embarrassment of pongy feet. Don’t bring your old socks with lots of holes. Bring handkerchiefs! Some public bathrooms don’t have any way to dry your hands, and in summer you’ll need to wipe sweat from your face. In summer you’ll need a sun hat too and in winter something wooly and warm. Umbrellas are more popular than raincoats in Japan. You can bring your own foldaway umbrella or buy cheap umbrellas almost everywhere. Don’t choose your Japan trip to digitally detox. You’ll need your phone for travel apps like Google translate and Google maps. Unless you are from the US you will need a power adaptor and you will probably want to bring a battery bank too. Japan is incredibly photogenic so bring a camera (or just use your phone like everyone else!). I almost added, “bring enough film” but that just shows my age. Unless you are planning to visit a friend you don’t need to bring gifts from your home country. Most importantly bring a sense of fun and adventure. If you are here hoping to get the timing right for cherry blossom viewing bring some luck too.
Luggage Delivery service
If you don’t want to carry your bags around you can use a luggage delivery service. The biggest and best is Ta-Q-Bin operated by Yamato transport. You can get your luggage delivered from the airport to your hotel. You can also get it delivered from hotel to hotel during your trip. At the end of your trip, when your bags are laden with souvenirs, you can get delivery to the airport. The service is basically same day or next day delivery. This depends on what time the luggage is picked up and where you want it delivered. If you want to send your luggage from Fukuoka Airport the counter in the international arrival terminal is open from 9AM to 6PM (365 days a year). Most major hotels have contract with Ta-Q-Bin. Look out for the black cat logo in the lobby or ask the staff. If the hotel has a contract you just need to leave your bags for collection with the hotel staff. You can also look for the logo at convenience stores. Many ‘conbini’ (as they are called) have Ta-Q-Bin contracts so you can drop your bags there. The final option is to call Ta-Q-Bin directly to collect your stuff. Their English-language toll-free number is 0120-17-9625. It’s a 24-hour number but the section to arrange collection is from 9AM to 6PM (365 days a year). They will pick up and deliver to/from any address in Japan. If you buy an enormous souvenir they also handle overseas deliveries. For prices and other info check here. The best option is to travel lite. But if you just have to pack that ball-gown and 50 pairs of socks Ta-Q-Bin is a reliable alternative.
Staying online in Japan
Can I get free WiFi in Japan?
Yes you can. There is free WiFi in a lot of places but it’s not as common as you may be used to. Annoyingly the free WiFi in many cafes is restricted to users with phones using specific Japanese networks. All international hotels and most ‘business hotels’ (budget Japanese hotels) will offer free WiFi to guests. Starbucks (all branches) and McDonalds (some branches) also have free WiFi but what a pity if you come all the way to Japan and have to spend your time in these places.
Can I stay online with my phone in Japan?
Yes you can. We recommend one of the following methods instead of relying on free WiFi when you are in Japan. You will probably want to be online at all times so you can use apps like Google Translate and Google Maps. However don’t forget to disable your work email and block your boss’ messages while you are here.
- If you have an unlocked phone you can get a data-only SIM. This means you can browse the net, check your emails and stay in touch using WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger etc
- Getting a voice SIM card (to make phone calls) is a bit of a hassle so best avoided if possible. If you do need to make phone calls it’s easier to rent a phone with voice and data SIM while you are here
- Renting pocket Wifi is a good option if your phone is locked or if you are travelling as a group or family
If you use Kyushu Journeys as your trip planner we will explain the options in more details and an help you buy a data-only SIM, rent a mobile phone or rent a pocket WiFi unit.
We hope you found these Japan travel tips and information useful. If you have any other questions, comments, tips or advice for fellow travellers add them here.