FAQ

Visa Requirements

Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter Japan must have a passport, which will remain valid during the period of stay.

Nationals of countries listed here 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.

Australia and New Zealand have “Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements” with Japan for a period of 90 days or less.

Upon landing Australian and New Zealand passport holders will be issued with a “Temporary Visitor” entry status stamp, which allows them to stay in Japan for a period of up to 90 days for non-remunerative activities such as sightseeing, participating in amateur sports, visiting relatives, taking inspection tours, participating in lectures or research, attending conferences, making business contacts or other similar activities.

Nationals of countries that do not have “Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements” with Japan must obtain a visa.

Longer stays program

From 23 June 2015, Japan introduced the longer stays program, which allows eligible tourists to stay up to one year in Japan for sightseeing and recreation. Learn more.

Please direct all visa-related enquiries to the Consulate-General of Japan in your nearest city.

Further information
Australia Visa Information
New Zealand Visa Information
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Home Page
Immigration Bureau of Japan

Baggage Forwarding and Storage

How do I send my bags throughout Japan?
There are delivery companies operating throughout Japan at reasonable rates. Companies include JALABC, Yamato Unyuu (Kuroneko), Sagawa Express. You are able to choose what time it reaches its destination, making it convenient. You can send items from service stations located at airports, in hotels or shopping malls, most convenience stores and supermarkets.

Price ranges from about 1000yen to 5000yen per item and they can deliver by the following day or two if it is a remote area like Hokkaido and Okinawa.

From and to the Airport, you should be able to receive your luggage on the day or the next day. Prices are around 2000-4000yen depending on the operators and the destinations. If you want them to pick up your luggage in order to send it to the airport, usually you need to book 2-3days in advance and organize the pick up.

For more information on operators, please visit their website for Narita Airport and for Kansai International Airport.

Where can I store my bags?
Most Japan Rail (JR) train stations provide coin-operated lockers. They range in price from 300 yen (small) to 700 yen (large).

Tokyo Station has a JR Travel Service Center which offers a cloakroom/baggage storage service for 500 yen per item. More information.

Mobile Phones and Internet

Can I use my mobile phone in Japan?
You can use your mobile phone (smart phones only) in Japan in SoftBank Mobile or DOCOMO’s 3G (3rd Generation) service areas. Ensure global roaming has been activated with your service provider before you leave home.

How can I rent a mobile phone or sim card in Japan?
SIM cards for smart phones (iPhone and Android) or rental phones are available to rent at airports.

Please note on top of a daily rental fee, internet usage and making/receiving calls in Japan or overseas are an additional cost.

Another option could be to rent a Wi-Fi router, allowing you to connect your wireless-enabled devices such as tablets, mobile phones and handheld gaming consoles to the Internet on-the-go. These are also available at airports in Japan for a flat daily rate with unlimited usage.

Mobile phone and Wi-Fi rental service providers
G-call
JAL ABC
Pupuru

Where can I find free Wi-Fi in Japan?
Free Wi-Fi spots in Japan

Health and Safety

Is Japan safe?
Japan has one of the highest levels of public safety with a low crime-rate. According to DFAT’s Smarttraveller Travel Advice on Japan, Japan overall is safe to visit.

If you need further information about the safety of Japan after the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami, refer to this PDF document: For Safe Travel in Japan (PDF: 5.20 mb)

Do I need any vaccinations?
No vaccinations are required before entering Japan.

Is food and water safe for consumption?
Tap water is safe to drink anywhere in Japan. Food is safely and hygienically prepared, so even street-food can be safely consumed.

In case of accident or illness
Japanese hospitals are well-established so you can expect a high standard of treatment should you require it in Japan. For any medical emergencies, see here. We highly recommend that all travellers purchase travel insurance for peace of mind.

Accommodation

I need to book some accommodation. What do you suggest?
In Japan you will find a variety of accommodation styles to suit all tastes and budgets. These range from western-style lodgings including Deluxe Hotels, Business Hotels and Pensions to Japanese-style accommodation.

There are also many options available for visitors who are travelling on a budget, including The Japanese Inn Group and Youth Hostels. Visit Accommodation for more information.

How can I book to stay in a temple at Mt. Koya?
There are over one hundred temples on Mt. Koya and about half of them are Shukubo where you can stay overnight. Most of these Shukubo cost around 9,500yen per person per night including dinner and breakfast. The food there is Shojin Ryori, which is vegetarian meals that monks enjoy, and at most of shukubo, guests are able to enjoy morning pray at 6am. It takes about 100mins, catching two trains from Osaka (Nankai line, Namba Station).

For more information, please visit the Koyasan Tourist Association website for information on shukubo (temple lodging).

Attraction

I am stopping over in Narita for a couple of hours. What can I do?
You can visit Narita City, within 10 minutes train ride from the Airport terminal or there is transit lounge and shower room facilities within the terminal. Currently, international transit passengers can use the travellers lounge free of charge and use the showers at half-price (updated 1/4/2015).

There are also transit tour programs being offered, both volunteer-guided and self-guided. For more information please see Narita Airport Website.

I am going to Japan with children. Where can I find information about things to do?

There are so many fun things to do with children in Japan. We can provide you with a list of activities and attractions guaranteed to keep you and your family occupied. You can also visit the the homepages of some of the most popular theme parks in Japan.

Where can I find information on events and festivals?

Japan’s festivals are world renowned, and you can find a comprehensive listing of the major events in the Things to Do section of the JNTO’s website. You can see the annual calendar under “Festivals”. You can also see our Practical Travel Guide, called Events in Japan, available in PDF format. The prefectural or city websites of many regions in Japan also list upcoming events, so please contact us for more information on specific areas.

Where can I watch and/or participate in a tea ceremony?

Please click on the link below to see a list (in PDF form) of places that run tea ceremony presentations and/or lessons in English in Tokyo.

Tea ceremony in Tokyo.

How can I see a Sumo Tournament?

You can only see Sumo Tournaments at certain times and places during the year.

• Tokyo – January, May, September Tournament
• Osaka – March Tournament
• Nagoya – July Tournament
• Fukuoka – November Tournament.

Dates for tournaments differ every year. To confirm dates visit the Nihon Sumo Kyokai website.

Transportation

Where can I find information on flights and tours?
Japan is easily accessible from Australia with direct flights every day. Information on flight schedules and fares can be obtained by contacting the airlines directly, or through your travel agent or tour operator.

There are many tour operators offering a variety of travel options to help you make the most of your visit to Japan. Search directory to find the operator nearest you.

How do I plan my train trips?
Please use Hyperdia to plan your trips. Information about the timetables, prices, transfers and travel times/distances can be obtained here.

How do I reserve seats on shinkansen (bullet trains)?
If you are travelling during a busy time (E.g. 28 Dec-6 Jan New Year holiday, 27 Apr-6 May consecutive holidays, and 11-20 Aug Obon season). Seats can be reserved at the JR Travel Service Center or a Reservation Office (midori-no-madoguchi) at major JR stations, at sales offices of JR-associated travel agencies.

Only reservations for JR-East shinkansen services can be made online; JR-East Shinkansen. All other shinkansen must be reserved from Japan, or by contacting a Japan specialist travel agency with a branch in Japan.

Please do not use an automatic ticket-reading gate with a JAPAN RAIL PASS or a reserved-seat ticket. Please show the PASS at a manned ticket gate. Seat reservations are free of charge when using a JR Pass.

Which rail pass should I buy?
This depends on your itinerary. If travelling extensively utilising shinkansen (bullet-trains) within a 7, 14 or 21 day period, it may be worth the money to buy a JR Pass. If you are spending your time concentrated in one region, a regional rail pass might be your best option.

Please use Hyperdia to work out the sector fares and refer to Japan Rail Pass and Regional Rail passes information to make your own decision.

Are there any discount travel passes for exploring Tokyo?
There are several different passes available for multiple journeys within Tokyo, although you should bear in mind that given the relatively low cost of a single trip (usually less than 200 yen), you will need to make numerous trips for the pass to be economical. Refer to Useful Tickets in Tokyo for information about some of the different types of discount passes in Tokyo.

How do I get from the airport to the city?
To/From Narita Airport
• Using Japan Rail (JR) – Take the Narita Express N’EX from Narita Airport Terminals 1 or 2 into stations in Tokyo or Yokohama. As it is high-speed rail, you won’t have to worry about traffic. Free for JR Pass holders, all seats reserved. More information
Using Keisei Electric Railway – Take the Keisei Skyliner from Narita Airport to Keisei-Ueno Station for 2,400 yen one-way. All seats are reserved. As it is a private railway, you can not use the JR pass. More information
• Airport Limousine Bus – Comfortable and economical transfers from the airport to the door of most major hotels for 3,000 yen one-way. Purchase tickets from the Airport Limousine Bus counter in the arrival hall. More information
• Tokyo Shuttle – Airport transfer offered by Keisei Bus company from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station for 900 yen one-way. Purchase tickets from the Keisei Bus Counter in the arrival hall. More information.

How do I get from Yokohama Port to Tokyo and Narita Airport?
To Tokyo

  1. Walk 5 minutes from the Passenger Terminal to Nihon-Odori Station
  2. Take the Minato Mirai Line to Yokohama Station – 6 mins, 200 yen (as this is a private railway, you cannot use the JR Pass)
  3. Change to the JR Yokohama Station and take the JR Tokaido Line or the JR Yokosuka Line to Tokyo Station (approx. 30 mins, 450 yen)

To Narita Airport
• Take the Narita Express (N’EX) from Tokyo to Narita Airport Terminals 1 or 2 OR
• Take the Tokyo Shuttle (operated by Keisei Bus) from the bus stop at Tokyo Station near the Yaesu Exit

How do I get from Osaka Port to Kansai Airport?

  1. Walk to Osaka-ko Station
  2. Take the Osaka City Subway Chuo Line to Bentencho – 5 mins, 230 yen (as this is a private railway, you cannot use the JR Pass)
  3. Take the JR Yamatoji Rapid Service to Shin-Imamiya – 5 mins, 160 yen
  4. Take the Nankai Limited Express Rapit to Kansai Airport – 35 mins, 1,360 yen (as this is a private railway, you cannot use the JR Pass)

How do I get from Kobe Port to Kansai Airport?

    1. Walk 5-10 mins to Port Terminal Station
    2. Take the Port Liner monorail to Sannomiya subway station. (5 mins, 200 yen)
    3. Walk 5 mins to JR Sannomiya Station. Take the JR Special Rapid Service and alight at Osaka. (20 mins)
    4. Take the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service to Kansai Airport (68 mins) – 1,660 yen

Is there an economical alternative to the bullet-train?

There are overnight coach services to many major cities in Japan, which can cost less than half the price of a bullet train ticket, and also save you on a night’s accommodation.

• Japan Bus Pass
• Willer Express Highway Bus Services

Guide Services

Guide Service / Professional Guides or Guide-Interpreters

Guide-interpreters may be hired through hotels as well as land operators. Licensed guides are available for interpretation in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Korean. As of June 2007, there were licensed guides, of whom about 920 were members of the Japan Guide Association (Tel. 03-3213-2706. Fax. 03-3213-2707) and 530 were members of the Japan Federation of Certified Guides (Tel. 03-3380-6611. Fax. 03-3380-6609).

Charges for guide-interpreters services depend on the level of expertise required and the length of the assignment. Average rates are in the range of 25,000yen – 45,000yen per day. In addition, transportation, meal and accommodation costs for the duration of the assignments are borne by the person engaging a guide-interpreter.

Useful links

Tour guide-interpreter search – database of licensed tour guides and interpreters
Information on the National Examination for the Guide-Interpreters (in Japanese only).

Guide Service / Volunteer Guides (Goodwill Guides)

Systematized Goodwill Guide Groups, comprising mostly students, housewives and retirees, are engaged in different locations throughout Japan in a variety of volunteer activities using their foreign language skills. As volunteers standing ready and willing to assist overseas visitors, these Goodwill Guides are registered with JNTO and display the badge shown below. Several Systematized Goodwill Guide (SGG) groups offer tourists from overseas free local tours guided in English and other languages.

Some have a pre-set walking tour for which you only need to go to a pre-established place at certain dates and times to join, while others make arrangements to meet tourists’ requests. When calling from overseas, your courtesy would be appreciated in making contact during the Japan Standard Time (JST) hours given in each group’s description.

There is no charge for their service as they are volunteers. You are only expected to pay for their travel expenses and admissions to tourist facilities as well as yours, and to pay for their meals if you eat with them.

Feel free to contact any of the SGGs listed and make arrangements for a personal tour if you are planning to visit one of the places included in the list. These volunteer guides will make your visit to the place of your choice much more memorable and rewarding.

Click here to view a list of Volunteer Guides

Japan-Tourism-guide_map

List of Prefectures Where SGG Groups Are Located
• Aichi – Nagoya and the rest of Aichi; Chita Peninsula – 16
• Aomori – Misawa – 1
• Chiba – Kashiwa – 7
• Ehime – Matsuyama and the rest of Ehime – 28
• Fukui – Fukui – 15
• Fukuoka – Fukuoka; Kitakyushu; Omuta; Chikuho region; north Fukuoka Pref. – 30
• Fukushima – Aizu Wakamatsu – 3
• Gunma – Ota – 8
• Hiroshima – Hiroshima and Miyajima – 26
• Hyogo – Himeji; Kobe; Takarazuka – 23
• Ibaraki – Kashima; Mito; Tone-machi; Tsukuba – 6
• Ishikawa – Kanazawa – 14
• Kagawa – Takamatsu and the rest of Kagawa – 27
• Kagoshima – Kagoshima – 35
• Kanagawa – Yokohama, Kamakura and the rest Kanagawa; Odawara and Hakone – 11
• Kochi – Kochi – 29
• Kumamoto – Kumamoto – 33
• Kyoto – Kyoto – 19
• Mie – Iga region – 18
• Miyagi – Matsushima, Sendai and the rest of Miyagi – 2
• Miyazaki – Miyazaki Pref. – 34
• Nagano – Matsumoto – 12
• Nara – Nara Pref. – 20
• Niigata – Sado Island – 4
• Oita – Beppu; Oita – 31
• Okayama – Kurashiki – 24
• Osaka – Osaka and Kansai Area – 21
• Saga – Imari – 32
• Saitama – Kawagoe – 9
• Shiga Hikone Castle; Otsu and the rest of Shiga, Kansai area – 17
• Shimane Matsue and Izumo – 25
• Shizuoka – Atami; Ito; Shimoda – 13
• Tochigi – Nikko, Utsunomiya and the rest of Tochigi – 5
• Tokyo – Asakusa and the rest of Tokyo – 10
• Wakayama – Wakayama Pref. – 22

Travel Tips

Money

Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and is generally a safe place to carry cash. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at stores, restaurants and hotels in most major cities, but some smaller regional areas may only accept cash.

If you wish to use travellers’ cheques, they are accepted by leading banks, hotels, ryokan and stores in major cities.

Japan Post ATMs (JP Bank) and Seven-Eleven Convenience Store ATMs accept most international credit and debit cards for cash withdrawal, however international withdrawal fees apply.

Shinsei Bank and Citibank ATMs also accept international cards.

For more information please check Cash, Cheques & Credit Cards.

Emergency Info
See here

Tourist Information Centres
See here

Telephone & Postal Services
See here

Time Difference

Standard time:
• NSW, QLD, ACT, VIC & TAS: Japan is 1 hour behind
• NT & SA: Japan is 30 mins behind
• WA: Japan is 1 hour ahead

Daylight savings time:
• NSW, ACT, VIC & TAS: Japan is 2 hours behind
• QLD: Japan is 1 hour behind
• NT: Japan is 30 mins behind
• SA: Japan is 1.5 hours behind
• WA: Japan is 1 hour ahead

For other countries, see here.

Business Hours & Holidays
See here

Electricity and voltage

Electricity

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).

Australian appliances can be used in Japan as long as they have a travel adapter, which can be purchased at airports or in the travel section of department stores.

A 2-flat-pin plugs are used in Japan.

Please note that when purchasing electrical appliances from Japan, be sure to only purchase dual-voltage appliances such as laptop computers, digital cameras etc. Otherwise, a step-down power transformer will be required when using the Japanese appliance in Australia.

For Budget Travelers

Budget Travel Hints

Welcome Cards

Foreign Embassies & Consulates in Japan
See here

Climate and Weather

Click here to view the Weather Forecast for Japan.

Spring (March – May)

The plum blossom is a good sign that the cold winter will soon end and spring is just around the corner, followed by the cherry blossom at its best in the Tokyo area between the end of March and the beginning of April to bring this beautiful season to a climax. Splendid views of mountains, fields and gardens all blanketed in gentle pink abound in this season.

Clothing: light jackets, light sweaters and other similar kinds of tops.

Summer (June – August)

The Japanese summer begins in June with a three to four week rainy season. This is an important time for farmers to plant rice. It becomes seriously hot and humid from July onward and many Japanese enjoy bathing in the sea and relaxing at cool resorts in mountainous areas. Summer is when many interesting festivals and other events are held all over the country.

Clothing: light clothes (cardigans and other similar kinds are handy, since indoors are mostly air-conditioned.)

Autumn (September – November)

Autumn always brings such freshness with a light breeze and cool temperature after the hot and humid summer. All forests are dyed in glorious autumn colors. Chrysanthemums create beautiful displays with their abundance of flowers to enchant visitors to parks and gardens. Autumn is also the season for many exhibitions, music concerts and sports tournaments in Japan.

Clothing: light jackets, light sweaters and other similar kinds of tops.

Winter (December – February)

The temperature rarely drops below 0°C in the plains along the Pacific coast during wintertime. It is also quite dry and very often sunny. Central Japan and Northern Japan are highly reputed regions for winter sports. Southern Japan is comparatively mild and pleasant in winter.

Clothing: overcoats, sweaters, etc.

Average Temperature & Precipitation in Major Cities

Sapporo

Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) -4.1 26.4 110.7
Spring (Apr) 6.7 44.1 60.9
Summer (Jul) 20.5 68.9 67.2
Autumn (Oct) 11.3 52.3 124.1

Sendai

Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 1.5 34.7 33.1
Spring (Apr) 10.1 50.2 98.1
Summer (Jul) 22.1 71.8 159.7
Autumn (Oct) 14.8 58.6 99.2

Tokyo

Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 5.8 42.4 48.6
Spring (Apr) 14.4 57.9 130.3
Summer (Jul) 25.4 77.7 161.5
Autumn (Oct) 18.2 64.8 163.1

Nagoya

Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 4.3 39.7 42.2
Spring (Apr) 14.1 57.4 143.3
Summer (Jul) 26.0 78.8 218.0
Autumn (Oct) 17.6 63.7 116.9

Osaka

Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 5.8 42.4 43.7
Spring (Apr) 14.8 58.6 121.
Summer (Jul) 27.2 81.0 155.4
Autumn (Oct) 18.7 65.7 109.3

Fukuoka

Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 6.4 43.5 72.1
Spring (Apr) 14.8 58.6 125.2
Summer (Jul) 26.9 80.4 266.4
Autumn (Oct) 18.7 65.7 80.9

Naha

Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 16.6 61.9 114.5
Spring (Apr) 21.3 70.3 180.7
Summer (Jul) 28.5 83.3 176.1
Autumn (Oct) 24.9 76.8 162.9