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Practical

Articles and resources on living, working, and studying in Japan

  1. Tipping in Japan

    Most travel guides on Japan state that it is not customary to give tips. As gratuity is already included in bills and prices in the form of a 10 to 15 percent service charge, many are not aware of the fact that they actually do pay tips. Therefore, the notion of “service = free of charge” is deeply ingrained in Japanese minds. So while bellboys, waiters, hair dressers and even taxi drivers might raise their eyebrows at your tip or even outright reject it, some practices equivalent to tipping still exist in Japan. Examples are chadai (茶代, tea money) or kokorozuke (心付け, lit. gratuity) in...
  2. Accommodation in Japan

    Aside from the run-of-the-mill pensions, hotels and youth hostels catering to international and domestic travelers, accommodation in Japan can be a unique experience, ranging from exclusive ryokan inns to functional capsule hotels and extravagant love hotels. When reserving any Japanese accommodation, travellers should bear in mind that many smaller operations, especially those off the beaten tracks, may hesitate to accept foreigners, fearing language difficulties or other cultural misunderstandings. This is to some extent institutionalized: large travel agency databases note which (few)...
  3. Train classes

    Shinkansen trains, JR limited express (特急 tokkyū, short for 特別急行 tokubetsu kyūkō) and express (急行 kyūkō) services usually offer the following carriages: Ordinary (普通車 futsū-sha) Green Car (グリーン車 gurīn-sha), a first-class car with two seats abreast on each side. In local traffic, there are only ordinary cars and the following services: Local (普通 futsū-densha or 各駅停車 kakueki-teisha) stopping at all stations and Rapid (快速 kaisoku) that only stop at major stations. Reserved seats Trains have both reserved (指定席 shiteiseki) and non-reserved (自由席 jiyūseki) seats. Seat reservations range...
  4. Japanese Addresses

    Signs displaying town addresses of Oji in Kita-ku, Tokyo Rather than odd and even numbers running consecutively along named roads, Japanese addresses are determined by a hierarchy of local areas. A typical Japanese address would start with the largest administrative unit, the prefecture (県 ken). However, there are three exceptions: to (都) for Tōkyō dō (道) for Hokkaidō fu (府) for the metropolitan areas of Osaka and Kyoto These administrative areas are accompanied by a seven-digit postal code: Tōkyō-to, 100-8111 or 〒100-8111 東京都 in Japanese, for the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo,...
  5. Guest houses in Japan

    One of the most convenient and affordable ways of finding short, but also long-term accomodation in Japan are guest houses, also often referred to as “gaijin houses”. Gaijin (外人, a controversial term translated as “outsider” or foreigner) is actually misleading, as quite a lot of residents in guest houses are Japanese: students, “salarymen”, day labourers, and others keen to avoid the host of fees involved when renting an apartment in Japan. Guest houses offer you all the conveniences needed for your daily survival and will in most cases only charge you low deposit fees, which are usually...
  6. Earthquakes in Japan

    Seismologically, Japan is one of the most active countries in the world: almost ten percent of all active volcanoes are located there, and ten percent of all major earthquakes ranging in the magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale (nowadays referred to as moment magnitude scale, MMS) occur in the archipelago. Earthquakes happen on a daily basis, but most of them are just minor tremors that people would not even notice. The two most recent massive quakes were the Great Hanshin Earthquake (or Kobe Earthquake) on January 17, 1995, with a magnitude of 6.8, resulting in some 6,400 casualties, and...
  7. Shinkansen

    The shinkansen (新幹線, “new trunk line”), also known as the “Japanese bullet train” due to its shape and speed, is a high-speed passenger railroad system operated by the Japan Railways. The shinkansen connect most urban centres in Japan, running at a top speed of 320kph. They are extremely punctual, reliable, and have an excellent safety record: only occassional earthquakes and severe typhoons do stop the shinkansen. There have been no fatal accidents in almost fifty years of service. Shinkansen lines There are six main shinkansen lines, and two mini-lines: the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, which is...
  8. Rental Phones and prepaid SIM cards

    This is a short introduction on how travelers to Japan can acquire rental phones and prepaid SIM cards in Japan. As mobile phones become more and more prevalent all over the world, many travelers are confronted with the question, whether their phones can be operated in Japan or not. While Japanese enterprises are certainly in the forefront of mobile phone innovation and development, Japan does not use GSM/EDGE/GPRS networks, therefore mobile phones solely based on GSM will not work. In order to use a non-Japanese mobile phone in Japan, it has to be compatible with Japanese mobile phone...
  9. Japan Fact Sheet

    The Japan fact sheet comprises a quick rundown on the most important facts and figures about Japan. Country and population Name Flag Capital Archipelago Emperor Government Legislature Times and dates Language Currency Climate Natural phenomena Voltage Religion Country and population Japan is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of China and Korea. It has a surface area of 374,744 square kilometers (144,689 square miles), a coastline of 29,751 kilometers and a population of around 127.65 million (estimate March 2012), with a population density of 336 inhabitants per square kilometer....
  10. Japan in the News

    Japan News in English Japan Times Kyodo News Asahi Shimbun Daily Yomiuri Shimbun Mainichi Shimbun Nihon Keizai Shimbun Japan Today Jisyo.org allows you to read Japanese news resources with explanatory pop-up hints Online Media News NHK Radio Japan Online (available in 22 languages) NHK Radio Japan : Weekly Program (available in 20 languages) NHK TV : Daily News (English video with transcript in 8 languages) TBS Weather (interactive maps in English) Headlines Provided by The Japan Times [URL]http://www.japantimes.co.jp/feed/topstories/[/URL]
  11. The Unbiased Truth About Nova

    Topics in this article: The Reality of Nova The Nova Routine The Interview and Qualifications Accommodation Training and Teaching Methods Money and Saving Schedule and Vacation Nova Policies Coworkers and Location Requests Being a Gaijin in Japan Other Opportunities in Japan Conclusions About the Author The Reality of Nova If you’re interested in Japan and/or teaching and don’t know where to get started, Nova offers you an easily accessible doorway to Japan by giving you a visa, a place to live, and a steady income. If you later decide to take teaching to the next level, your time at...
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