Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SoSolid, 17 Jun 2014.
Great advice, is it mandatory to reserve seats for train travel?
No for normal class but I think you are supposed to for green (1st) class, it is free to do so if you are using a rail pass. Most bullet trains I've caught have had several carriages with unreserved seating as well as coaches with the different classes of reserved seats.
It's not mandatory but apparently the seats in the reserved cars are slightly better, plus if you have a tight schedule it avoids any worry about being able to get the train (some of the services we got were full).
One thing to bear in mind is that the Japanese have a very off attitude to ATM machines. All the machines are inside shops (rather than external) so can only be used during business hours. Most banks will not accept foreign cards even if they are well known multinational banks. I have a debit MasterCard and the only machines that would take it were in the Japanese post office. 7-11 machines will apparently take visa. If you turn up on a Friday like I did it can be a little tricky.
We didn't have any issues using our cards in most shops but a lot of the smaller stores don't take cards at all.
One thing I'd really recommend doing before you go to Japan is learning the Katakana character set. You can learn it in a couple of days and it will be extremely helpful because so many products are written in it.
Katakana is mostly used for writing loan words, so if you know it, you'll be able to read a lot of the things on restaurant menus (especially at more Western style restaurants - no idea why you'd go there but oh well) and products.
ビーフステーキ - Biifu Suteeki - Beef Steak
チキン - Chikin - Chicken
パチンコ - Pachinko - Pachinko (gambling game)
ポテトフライ - Poteto furai - Potato Fries (chips)
スポーツジム - Supoutsu Jimu - Sports Gym
I've been to Japan on business trips several times now and things became a lot easier for me once I learned these 48 characters (this was before I started taking lessons).
Oh, and finally, if you don't want wasabi with your sushi:
sabi nuki de onegaishimasu
Cool, where did you guys order your JR passes from?
I used jrpass.com personally.
Separate names with a comma.