When it comes to Japan, expect the unexpected. So many times, we hear people say, “only in Japan”. Japan is such a unique and quirky country. It is polite and regimented and crazy and unpredictable all at the same time. Its people are hospitable, formal and eccentric. Their normal is so different to ours.
Japan blends extraordinary culture, authentic history, divine cuisine with advanced technology, a booming economy with stylish, confident and modern cities.
The Japanese are friendly and respectful. Rather than greeting someone with a handshake it is customary to bow. By the end of the trip you will find yourself bowing just like the locals.
When you arrive into Japan, expect it to be busy, expect crowds. With over 130 million residents and over 28 million visiting tourists each year, expect to queue. With the Japanese qualities of efficiency and politeness, lines generally move quickly and in an orderly manner. However, when visiting popular landmarks, avoid public holidays.
Expect rooms to be small than western style accommodation. It is not common for Japanese accommodation to offer double/queen beds. Most supply twin bedding. Japanese style accommodation features tatami flooring, woven straw mats placed on the floor, shoes cannot be worn on this type of flooring and must be removed before entering the room. Futon bedding is laid on these tatami mats. Some of the futons and pillows are thin so expect, perhaps an uncomfortable sleep until you get used to it.
Japan is a cash society. Take cash with you. While the larger cities and ski resorts may accept credit cards there are still some services that only accept cash. The resort hotels may accept cards, but on mountain cafes and restaurants will only accept cash. Outside the major cities and ski resorts, international ATMs are not available so stock up before you head to the resorts.
Outside of the main cities (like Tokyo and Kyoto) and ski resorts (like Niseko and Hakuba), expect not to find a lot of English, especially on menus. What you will find is pictures of food on the menus, so you can easily just point, smile and hope for the best.
At some restaurants, after you are seated you will be handed an ‘oshibori’, a moistened hand towel used to wipe your hands. When it is time to pay the bill take your check to the cash register. A lot of establishments will not accept credit card so be prepared to pay in cash. It is not customary to leave a tip in Japan and can be considered rude.
Vending machines are a part of the Japanese culture. They are everywhere. Everywhere. Don’t expect to find just packet of chips, chocolate bar and a can of drink. You can get anything from hot drinks, hot meals, WiFi, beer, rice, umbrellas, batteries, fruit and vegetables, toilet paper, ice cream, flowers, ties, toys … almost everything but the kitchen sink.
Snow, snow and more snow. Depending which resort you visit and when you travel the snow conditions will vary. If you plan to visit one of the snowiest places on earth, Niseko in Jan-Feb, expect to see bucket loads of snow. Literally. During these months you may be lucky to get one bluebird a week. The snow is light and dry so isn’t any good for a snowball fight, but perfect for skiing and riding. The town will be covered in snow, the roads will be covered in snow. Make sure you are wearing the appropriate footwear. Spring brings less snow and more bluebirds.
Expect fast trains, there is nothing like the speed of a bullet train and is something that you must do at least once. Expect futuristic toilets with heated seats, automatic flushing, inbuilt bidet and even music.
Explore Japan to its fullest to make the most of your holiday. Do as the locals do, get nude and immerse yourself in an onsen, buy beer from a vending machine, take part in traditional tea ceremony, visit a temple, try its delicious food, listen to is traditional music and join in some of its traditional arts.
Do some research, try and master some basic Japanese words, speak to our travel consultants, ensure you read all your travel documentation before you leave so that you know exactly how to get where you are going and you should be able to experience the very best Japan has to offer.
Do you have more questions? Contact us today and we can help you plan your next family snow holiday to Japan.