Japan will fascinate, astound and enchant you with its off-the-charts level of extraordinariness. Nowhere else on earth is politeness taken so seriously that knowing how to bow at exactly the right angle for any situation is practically an art form in itself and even saying ‘thank you’ comes with its own microscopically detailed unwritten rules.
You’ll see the effects of this remarkable devotion to often bafflingly tiny points of etiquette everywhere you go, whether you’re taking part in a ceremony that lifts a humble cup of tea into a cultural cornerstone, watching a seemingly never-ending stream of commuters moving like well-drilled ants at a frantic traffic crossroads or gazing in awe at the sight of helpers patiently trimming blades of grass by hand in an artfully manicured public garden.
There are certainly sights in the classic sense, from serenely timeless shrines where you can almost breathe in the past to heartbreakingly poignant reminders of mankind’s darker days. But wherever you go on your Japan travels, it will be the people you meet along the way who will help to shape your trip into something truly unforgettable.
If you’re looking to get under the skin of this surprising country, it pays to have experts on hand to help you pick out the experiences that will stay with you for ever and the accommodation that’s an event in itself. Our Japan team are here to do just that.
Time difference: GMT +9 (all year)
Flight time: 12 hours (direct flight London/Tokyo)
Currency: Japanese yen (JPY/¥)
Electricity: 100 V, 50/60 Hz (flat two-pin plugs)
Telephone code: +81
Tipping: perhaps surprisingly, given the exemplary levels of service, tipping is not customary in Japan and may even cause embarrassment.
Etiquette: no one expects visitors to grasp all the complex rules of Japanese society, but there are a few basics that will stand you in good stead. Keep your phone on silent mode on public transport; don’t eat while you’re walking along the street; take off your shoes and put on the provided slippers when you visit anyone’s home as well as some temples and restaurants; and definitely don’t blow your nose in public as the Japanese find this disgusting.
Religion: Buddhism 79.2%, Shintoism 66.8%, Christianity 1.5%, other 7.1% (many Japanese embrace both Buddhist and Shinto practices0
Visas: You can look up the latest advice on https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/japan/entry-requirements. Please be aware that this information can change at short notice.
Vaccinations: Health facilities, hygiene and disease vary world-wide and you may choose to take the necessary vaccinations before you depart. You can find out more about Japan on the NHS’s Fit For Travel website.