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General Travel Info

GENERAL FACTS 

Japan is an island nation located in East Asia and lies east of the Japan Sea within the Pacific Ocean and is often called the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Japan is an archipelago of 6500 islands, the main four islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.  

Millions of tourists visit the country for a variety of reasons; iconic sites, ancient traditions, art, history, culture, food and drink, technology and the iconic high quality snow.  

Japan is considered a world class ski and snowboard destination with abundant, high quality snow, beautiful sceneries and relaxing hot springs. Japan is home to more than 500 ski resorts ranging from the north island of Hokkaido all the way to the south island of Kyushu.  

 

POPULATION 

The country is divided into 47 prefectures within eight regions and boasts a population of 126 million people and with about 10% of the population living within Tokyo.  

Estimate of the statistics are as of 2022.  

  • Tokyo: 14 Million 

  • Kanagawa: 9.2 Million 

  • Kyoto: 1.5 Million  

  • Osaka: 2.7 Million 

 

CLIMATE 

Japan has four distinct seasons. The coastal regions are temperate with more traditional seasons consisting of Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Autumn (September, October, November) and Winter (December, January, February). While the mountain areas like Hakuba are more cold and the winter stretches from November through to the end of March as the cold Siberian winds bring meters and meters of powder to the Japan ski resorts.

 

ELECTRICITY 

The voltage in Japan is 100 volt, Australia is 240 volt, North America is 120 volt and Central Europe is 220 volt.  

Japanese electrical plugs have two pins, same as America (Type A). The frequency of electric current is 50-60 Hertz in Japan, however this frequency difference affects only sensitive equipment. Most likely, charges of portable electronics (cameras, mobile phones, Ipods, Mp3 players etc.) come with an automatic voltage converter.  

Read the label on your device and if it says 100V to 240V, then all you need is the plug adapter for the 2 pin system.  

 

HEALTH AND SAFETY 

Hygiene standards are high in Japan, and medical facilities (although expensive without health insurance) are widely available. Japanese people have the highest life expectancy of any country in the world and the medical facilities, treatment and medicines are of the first world quality.  

Probably the most important preventative measure is to make sure that you are healthy before you start travelling. Dental treatment is expensive, so it’s a good idea to have a check-up before you leave.  

Make sure that you take to Japan any medications that you might need as well as knowing the generic name of the drug. Visitors should be aware that in Japan medications containing stimulants or codeine are illegal. You are not permitted to take commonly available nasal decongestant medication such as Sudafed and Vicks inhalers into Japan.  

 

VACCINATIONS 

Vaccinations are not required when travelling to Japan.  

Japanese encephalitis and measles vaccinations are recommended but are not necessary. Influenza and measles epidemics have occurred in recent years and precautions should be taken.  

All normal precautions should also be exercised to avoid exposure to sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS 

 

TRAVEL INSURANCE 

We highly recommend that all our customers take out a good travel insurance policy to protect yourself from theft, property loss or health problems. Due to the high cost of hospital treatment in Japan, you will want to make sure that you and your family are covered before you arrive.  

If you are not sure what travel insurance to take out, please contact us. Make sure you read through the policy and find out which insurance will work best for you. 

 

FIRST AID KIT 

A small first aid kit can save you from running around a busy Japanese city or town and looking for items that are a lot easier to find at home.  

Things you might consider including in your kit are: Band-Aids, bandages, paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, antacid, antiseptic, calamine lotion, a small set of scissors, lip balm and sunscreen.  

 

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE & EMERGENCIES 

Make sure you than have the Japan contact details of your travel insurance with you at all times. If you need emergency medical assistance you might need to provide them to a doctor that is treating you.  

Powder Holidays also offer a help line which you can call in the case of emergency 24/7. Australian Office: 1300 527 267 (Monday – Friday 8:30am - 5pm). Japan Office (0)80 4667 7267 (24/7).  

If you’re looking for a hospital which can provide you with assistance in a specific language, try the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Centre.  

 

TOKYO METROPOLITAN HEALTH AND MEDICAL INFORMATION CENTRE

Telephone: +81-3-5285-8181 

Hours: 9:00am – 8:00pm 

Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Thai and Spanish. 

If you have difficulties explaining your symptoms at a hospital or a pharmacy, try the Emergency Translation Services. Call the number listed below, talk to the operator and they will explain to the staff. 

 

EMERGENCY TRANSLATION SERVICES 

Telephone: +81-3-5285-8185 

Hours: Weekdays 5:00pm – 8:00pm 

Weekends and Holidays 9:00am – 8:00pm 

Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Thai and Spanish. 

 

FIRE/AMBULANCE: DIAL ‘119’ FROM ANY TELEPHONE 

Japan has a direct-dial emergency number that connects the caller to the re brigade and emergency medical services. On certain older pay phones, the number can be dialled by pushing a special button that will automatically connect the caller with the 119 dispatch centre. Although the dispatchers still record the address of the emergency call manually, most systems are now set up to automatically log the location of the call as well. 

Tokyo English Life Line: 03-3201-3331 (Daily 9 am - 11pm) 

 

POLICE: DIAL ‘110’ FROM ANY TELEPHONE 

You may make a free call from public phones if you press the red button. In Tokyo, the Metropolitan Police have an English help line 03-3501-0110, available Monday through Friday except on holidays (8:30 am -5:15 pm). 

POLICE BOX (交番Koban) 

Police officers stationed at Koban stations serve several roles including: 

  • Maps and Direction  

  • Emergency Services 

  • Lost and Found  

  • Crime Reports 

 

PASSPORTS, VISAS & CUSTOMS 

This information is intended as a guide only, for official information please contact your nearest Japanese Embassy or check the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. 

Passports 

Your passport must be valid for the length of time you wish to stay within Japan, along with 6 months validity beyond your planned stay. It is always a good idea to make a photocopy of your passport in case you lose it. Japan usually requires that you hold a valid onward or return ticket in order to be allowed to enter. Upon departure from your flight you will need to proceed through a passport check, where officers will check the validity of your passport, scan your fingerprints and take a photo of you. These are required for all travellers 16 years and over. 

Visas 

Japan has agreements with 61 countries and regions, which allows nationals of these countries to enter Japan without a visa when the purpose of their visit is holiday tourism, business, a conference or to visit relatives or friends. Nationals of countries that do not have "Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements" with Japan must obtain a visa. To check the current visa status for Japan of your country go to the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs visa website. 

Custom Procedures 

As a visitor to Japan you are required to perform certain custom procedures which are an important part of the arrival and departure within the country. All passengers will need to complete a Japan Customs Declaration Form. Certain items that you bring into the country may be subject to duties and taxes, therefore you must declare these items on the customs declaration form. 

 

CURRENCY & ATMS 

Japan has a reputation of being a cash-based society, but there has been a significant increase in the acceptance of other payment methods. Payment by card is less accepted in small cities and towns, therefore it’s better to keep cash at hand when visiting these. Currency exchange is usually handled by banks, post offices, and some larger hotels along with a handful of licensed money changers found at international airports. 

ATMs 

Network International cards can be used at most 7 Eleven Convenience Stores as well as the Japan Post Office ATMs and Citi Bank ATMs. 

In order to withdraw Japanese Yen from convenience store ATMs, use 7 Eleven ATMs (Seven Bank). Other convenience store ATMs most likely don’t accept international credit cards issued outside of Japan. 

Japanese Yen 

The Yen is the unit of currency in Japan. There are four kinds of bills (10,000 Yen, 5,000 Yen, 2,000 Yen, 1,000 Yen) and six kinds of coins (500 Yen, 100 Yen, 50 Yen, 10 Yen, 5 Yen, 1 Yen) used. 

 

INTERNET, TELEPHONES & MOBILES 

Internet Access  

Internet access is available in most hotels and other accommodations. Some international hotels charge a daily fee for access, so check with your hotel upon check in. Hotels usually provide a LAN cable in your room or you can ask at reception as they usually have spares, along with Wi-Fi access. Some smaller boutique hotels and lodges offer Wi-Fi so you can sit in the bar and have a chat with friends anywhere in the world. 

Both paid and free wireless (Wi-Fi) hotspots are available in Japan. Laptops and mobile devices can connect to publicly accessible hotspots found around airports, train stations, hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Some cafes like Starbucks and Tully’s Coffee provide free Wi-Fi. 

Mobile Network 

The Japan mobile network is based on 3G, 4G LTE networks, and it doesn’t support GSM. Check with your mobile phone service provider whether it will support international roaming in Japan. There are prepaid rental sims or rental phone services available at most airports and these services are often more affordable than using international roaming services from your home provider. 

Telephone 

The international prex for Japan is +81. There are many public phones in Japan although they have reduced in recent years. There are generally two types of public phones where you can use coins or phone cards which can be purchased from convenience stores such as 7 Eleven and Lawson, the phone cards are usually area or season specific which also makes a great souvenir. 

Green phones are the most common public phones. International calls are usually unavailable from these phones. Coins or phone cards can be used. 

Grey phones are also very common. International calls are available. Coins or phone cards can be used.  

To make an international call from Japan: 

  • Dial 010 the Japan international dialling code. 

  • Dial the country code of the country you are calling. I.e. Australia 61. 

  • If the number starts with a 0, drop the 0 and dial the rest. 

Sim Card Vending Machines 

At Narita Airport there are SIM card vending machines found in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, with only credit cards accepted for added ease. These rental SIM cards are priced at ¥3,450 for one week and ¥4,950 for two weeks. Both types offer a maximum download speed of 150 Mbps and 50 Mbps as an upload speed. It slows down if the data amount exceeds 100 MB a day. Buying a cheap smartphone and SIM card together will cost about ¥13,000. Users will need to register their information in order to activate the service. However, it can be done by scanning their passport information at the vending machine. 

 

JAPAN RAIL & TRAIN 

Japan Train Network 

Travelling in Japan is easy with the extensive train network which is efficient and covers metropolitan, country areas including travel to and from ski resorts and also between large cities. The stations and carriages are clean, the trains run on time and they provide a great service to travellers as well as the locals that use the network daily. The railways consist of a variety of different types of trains, which include bullet trains (Shinkansen), express trains, subways, monorails and local trains. 

Japan Rail Network  

About 70 % of Japan's railway network is owned and operated by Japan Railways (JR). The JR Network consists of 6 regional JR networks; JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR Central, JR West, JR Shikoku and JR Kyushu. The JR Network is extensive and covers most areas of Japan that tourists would need to go, the other 30 % of Japan railway are privately owned lines predominately around metropolitan areas such as subways and suburban lines. The JR Network includes bullet train lines and extensive suburban and regional lines. 

How long does it take? 

Tokyo to Kyoto (2hrs 20mins to 3hrs 50mins) 

By Shinkansen 

  • Nozomi (the fastest shinkansen): 2hrs 20mins 

  • Hikari (covered by JR Pass): 2 hrs 40mins 

Plan Ahead 

The Japan Rail Network can seem complex and daunting to the unfamiliar, however is well organised, punctual and extremely efficient. 

To check journey times and plan ahead, you can use the online planner (hyperdia.com). This planner provides accurate departure, interval and arrival times, train numbers, pricing and other relevant information; perfect to plan your journey ahead of time. 

"HyperDia" is a service which offers the route and the timetable of railway and aviation of Japan. With simple operation, it guides the optimal route and the fare from starting point to end. The route search engine is made by self-developed technology. http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ 

JR Pass 

The Japan Rail (JR) Pass enables almost unlimited use of the extensive JR train networks which is considered to be one of the most efficient in the world, and its affiliate bus and ferry services within various areas of Japan make travelling around easy. 

The JR Pass is a perfect accompaniment for any trip to Japan. 

The JR Pass is an economical way to travel throughout Japan by rail and is available in two types; Green Class (First) and Standard Class. This is offered as 7 day, 14 day and 21 day passes. We can offer JR Passes as part of your Powder Holidays Ski Package. 

East JR Pass 

The East JR Pass allows you to explore the top half of Honshu, the main island of Japan. 

The passes are ideal for guests traveling to Nagano, Niigata or Tohoku areas. You can choose any 5 days within 14days after exchanging your order. 

  • JR East Pass (Tohoku) - Allows you to go to areas such as Iwate (Appi), Nagano Prefecture and Yamagata (Zao). 

  • JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area) - Allows you to go to areas such as Nagano (Hakuba, Nozawa) and Niigata (Naeba, Echigo Yuzawa). 

 

NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ACCESS 

Train 

Narita Express – From Narita Airport to Tokyo Station (53 minutes) 

Sky Liner – From Narita Airport to Nippori (36 minutes) / Ueno (41 minutes) 

JR Liner – From Narita Airport to Tokyo Station (90 minutes) 

Bus 

The Airport Limousine Bus allows for easy and convenient travel for guests to and from the airports. The airport limousine bus departs regularly to and from the airports to Tokyo city and the journey takes between 70-90 minutes and stops at dedicated hotels within the city.  

Departure Point 

Destination 

Duration 

Narita Airport  

Haneda Airport 

54 Minutes 

Narita Airport  

Shinjuku Station 

62 Minutes  

Narita Airport 

Tokyo CityAir Terminal  

50 Minutes 

Narita Airport 

Ikebukuro Area 

73 Minutes 

Narita Airport 

Yokohama CityAir Terminal 

82 Minutes 

Narita Airport 

Akasaka Area 

82 Minutes 

Narita Airport 

Shibuya Area 

64 Minutes 

Narita Airport 

Shinagawa Area 

70 Minutes 

Haneda Airport 

Narita Airport 

58 Minutes 

Shinjuku Station 

Narita Airport 

65 Minutes 

Tokyo CityAir Terminal 

Narita Airport 

53 Minutes 

Ikebukuro Area 

Narita Airport 

68 Minutes 

Yokohama CityAir Terminal 

Narita Airport 

85 Minutes 

Akasaka Area 

Narita Airport 

59 Minutes 

Shibuya Area 

Narita Airport 

70 Minutes 

Shinagawa Area 

Narita Airport 

69 Minutes 

 

HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ACCESS 

Train 

Using the Tokyo Monorail and travelling to Hamamatsucho Station takes approximately 13 minutes. Another option you can use is the Keikyu Line to Shinagawa Station which also takes approximately 13 minutes.  

Bus  

It takes about 30 minutes from the airport to Tokyo Station by bus, either being the Keikyu Limousine Bus or the Airport Limousine Bus.  

 

KANSAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ACCESS 

 

Area 

Destination 

Transport 

Time  

Osaka 

JR Shin-Osaka Station 

JR Limited Express Haruka  

50 Minutes  

Osaka 

JR Shin-Osaka Station 

JR Rapid Train  

70 Minutes  

Osaka 

JR Shin-Osaka Station 

Taxi 

80 Minutes  

Osaka 

JR Osaka Station 

JR Rapid Train 

65 Minutes  

Osaka 

JR Osaka Station 

Airport Bus 

60 Minutes  

Osaka 

JR Osaka Station 

Taxi 

60 Minutes  

Osaka 

Nankai Namba Station 

Nankai Railway Limited Express  
“Rapit” 

35 Minutes  

Osaka 

Nankai Namba Station 

Express 

50 Minutes  

Osaka 

Osaka Airport (Itami) 

Airport Bus  

70 Minutes  

Osaka 

Osaka Airport (Itami) 

Taxi 

70 Minutes  

Kyoto 

JR Kyoto Station 

JR Limited Express Haruka 

75 Minutes  

Kyoto 

JR Kyoto Station 

JR Rapid Train 

95 Minutes 

Kyoto 

JR Kyoto Station 

Airport Bus 

85 Minutes  

Kobe 

JR Sannomiya Station 

JR Rapid Train 

80 Minutes 

Kobe 

JR Sannomiya Station 

Airport Bus 

70 Minutes 

Kobe 

JR Sannomiya Station 

Taxi 

70 Minutes  

Kobe 

Kobe Airport  

Bay Shuttle 

30 Minutes 

 

TAXI 

Japanese Taxis are a convenient way to get around particularly in urban areas and to and from hotels and train stations when you want to get there quickly or would prefer not to walk. Taxis in Japan can be an expensive alternative to the efficient train network. 

In urban areas and country areas, taxis serve as a convenient form of transport instead of waiting for an infrequent bus or train service. Taxi fares start from 730 yen for the first 2km and then increase by 90 yen for every 280m travelled (prices may vary depending on the company or region). Late evening services generally charge an additional 20- 25%. 

Tipping a taxi driver is unnecessary. Japanese taxis are very clean and tidy. The rear left hand door is operated by the taxi driver, so simply let the driver open and close the door. Most taxis accommodate up to 4 passengers and it is recommended that you provide the taxi driver with precise destination details such as your hotel address or your destination on a map/brochure. If you are hailing a taxi it’s important to know whether the taxi is vacant or occupied. A sign on the dashboard on the lower left hand corner indicates whether a taxi is vacant or not. 

 

LUGGAGE SERVICES 

Japan has a very efficient luggage, ski and snowboard delivery system called Kuroneko TA-Q-BIN (black cat couriers), the service is available to and from the airport as well as most hotels and make travelling on the Japan Rail network a lot easier as you don’t need to carry your heavy bags up and down platforms and stairs as well as on crowded trains. 

TA-Q-BIN sends your package to anywhere in the country by the next business day (excluding some areas). Kuroneko also offers other specific TA-Q-BIN Airport and Ski Services. 

Airport TA-Q-BIN 

Kuroneko deliver your heavy suitcase or large luggage to counters at the main international airports. Simply let your hotel know your departure date and Kuroneko will deliver your luggage to the airport one day before your departure. (Please book to allow 2-3 days before your departure for transport). 

Ski TA-Q-BIN 
Kuroneko deliver your ski equipment and luggage to your hotel or accommodation one day before you plan to use them. (Please allow 2-3 days before you plan to ski for transport).