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Japan is a land of ancient cultures, austere traditions and ground-breaking technology.
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Japan is a country of fascinating contradictions; ancient temples compete with futuristic cities, lightning-fast bullet trains speed through serene, mist laden hills, and the trendy fashion fads of Tokyo are as Japanese as the kimono-clad geisha. If traditional culture is what you’re after, head to Kyoto, one of the world’s most culturally rich cities; but if modern technology is your thing, Tokyo has an energy that never stops.
The best time to visit Japan is spring, March to May, and autumn, September to November. Spring is when Japan's famed cherry trees burst into bloom, starting in Kyoshu in March and advancing north to the main cities on Honshu by April. Once in bloom, they usually last for only a week. The peak holiday seasons of late-April to early-May, mid-August and the New Year period are popular for domestic travel and very crowded.
TOKYO Japan’s capital is a city not to be missed – it’s a quirky, curious metropolis that pulses with a constant energy. It’s passion for everything new sharply contrasts with the traditional culture that still permeates the city
TAKAYAMA Step back in time and walk the narrow streets of Takayama, admiring the well preserved 17th century merchant houses and traditional wooden Japanese homes in this beautifully preserved town.
KYOTO UNESCO World Heritage listed Kyoto is Japan’s former imperial capital and today is an important cultural centre. This ancient city boasts over 2,000 classic Buddhist temples, palaces, Shinto shrines, gardens and wooden houses.
MOUNT FUJI This almost perfectly shaped volcano has been worshipped as a sacred mountain and has inspired many people for centuries. Enjoy the mountain’s natural surroundings by heading to Fuji Five Lake at the foot of the mountain.
KANAZAWA Kanazawa was a notorious castle town and headquarters to many samurai nobles between the 16th and 17th centuries. It is now known for its well-preserved Edo Period districts, art museums and regional handicrafts.
NIKKO Scattered among hilly woodlands, Nikkō, with its World Heritage temples and shrines, is an awesome display of wealth and power and is the site of Toshogu, the famous Shinto shrine built in 1617.
Country Code for Japan: +81. Emergency Services: Police: 110 ; Ambulance, Fire: 119. The emergency numbers apply to all cities, but may not always have English speaking staff. Internet cafes are found all through Japan and wifi is available in most hotels.
Tipping is not expected in Japan and the Japanese never do it. Leaving money on the table in a restaurant will usually result in the waiter chasing you down the street to give it back. However, if you feel like you’ve received excellent service from a guide or your personal maid at a ryokan, then place some money in an envelope and hand it to the person (handing cash over without an envelope is considered crass in these situations). Local guides: Throughout your trip you may want to tip your guide. We suggest US$3 per person, per hour for local guides. Pay in the local currency. Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest US$1-2 per person, per hour for driver. Pay in the local currency.
The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a traveller's individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor. The World Health Organization recommends that all travellers regardless of the region they are travelling in should be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as hepatitis B. While making preparations to travel, take the opportunity to ensure that all of your routine vaccination cover is complete. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. Australians travelling to Japan should also ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. For further information, please visit the Smartraveller website, www.smartraveller.gov.au
Japan has an efficient public transportation network, especially within metropolitan areas and between the large cities. Japanese public transportation is characterized by its punctuality, its superb service, and the large crowds of people using it.
The official language is Japanese. Other languages spoken include some English.
In Japan the standard voltage is 100 V. The standard frequency is 50/60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type A / B.
Japan is a shopping paradise with a wealth of stores selling everything from traditional souvenirs and local food to the latest electronics and hottest fashion brands. Both domestic and foreign brands are represented, as are stores for all budgets, from the 100 yen shops to high-end fashion boutiques and department stores.
Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz
The Japanese greetings are very formal so it is therefore advised to wait to be introduced. Age and status are highly regarded and therefore it important to show the right amount of respect. The traditional form of greeting is the bow, although it is expected for foreigners to shake hands. The bow is also important as the lower you bow the more respect you are giving.
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