A couple of friends are leaving for Japan in a few weeks, and while we’ve been chatting constantly about the where and how in the Land of L’Arc~en~Ciel, I thought I should write these tips down so I can just link this to them the next time they have questions. LOLJK. I won’t write about what you should already know by now, and I’m pretty sure there are several blog posts dedicated to applying for visa, getting cheaper flights, and booking hotels (or maybe I’ll post about accommodations in Japan) already. So here are just some additional –probably minor; hence, palabok– tips that might just be useful when wandering around.
First up, Pocket WiFi and Google Maps – Aside from posting photos on social media (because #priorities), having a pocket WiFi is essential for navigation, most especially if you’re in a foreign country and you have no damn idea about its language.
Thankfully, Japan Wireless got you covered! By heading over to www.japan-wireless.com, you get to choose which pocket WiFi to use. My personal choice (and also their recommended one) is the Lite with unlimited data, which can connect to a maximum of five devices. There is also a table where you can see the price vis-a-vis the number of days you’re going to use it. You can pay via credit card or Paypal. I paid via Paypal, jsyk.
In the order form, you will write where you want to pick up your WiFi; it can be at the airport or at the hotel where you’re billeting. I got mine at the reception desk of Hotel Nikko in Osaka, while we were checking in. To return the pocket WiFi, an envelope is already provided in the kit/box, complete with addresses, and all you have to do in the end is to insert the pocket WiFi, its charger, and powerbank (yes, the kit comes with a powerbank!) into the envelope, then just drop it off in any post box (no stamps needed). I dropped mine at Narita Airport; there’s a red post box near Uniqlo.
Japan Wireless will then send you an email once they’ve received the pocket WiFi.🙂
Also, while navigating, it’s better to use Google Maps rather than Waze
Second, Train Schedules – Japan’s train stations will eat you alive if you’re not prepared to face more than seventeen –confusing- train lines. I have zero directions myself, but I always manage to survive from one prefecture to another because of Hyperdia.
Bookmark this now, friends: http://www.hyperdia.com/en
Hyperdia shows you all of your train-ride options from point A to point B. Just type in the station you’re coming from and the nearest station to your destination, as well as the date and time you plan to ride the train, aaand there you go! Not only do you get to see the norikae or change of trains you have to undertake, but also the prices!🙂
Third, the MK Shuttle – Don’t want to ride the train from the airport to your hotel? MK Shuttle got you covered! MK Shuttle is, of course, a shuttle that will drop you off at your hotel. It’s like a school bus trip where they drop off their passengers per hotel one by one, so if you’re not in a hurry, this is the transpo for you. In Kansai, there is a Kyoto Shuttle and a Kobe Shuttle.
At the Kansai International Airport, there is an MK Shuttle booth at the ground floor (Gate H). Prior to that, fill out the form at their website where you can also choose a taxi service, or hire a limousine service if you’re swimming in okane.
Website: http://www.mktaxi-japan.com/taxi or you can send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the last minute, my sister and I cancelled our reservation here, but our fee costs 2,300 yen per person. Each seated passenger may carry one piece of big luggage, and additional luggage will be charged 1000 yen per stuff.
Fourth, the Night Bus – Planning to head over to Tokyo from the Kansai region but your wallet is crying over the shinkansen (bullet train) fare? Calm down ‘cause Willer Express gotchu! Just head over to http://willerexpress.com/en/ to make a reservation.
Aaaand make sure to have your passports with you when you go to the Umeda Sky Building (waiting area) before you board the bus. Take note that the bus leaves ON TIME. So make sure that you’ve gone to the toilet/restroom already at least five minutes before boarding time.
The bus itself is adorable. For one, it’s pink! Second, each seat has its own charging plugs, pillow, blanket, and anti-social hood, so you get to have a good night sleep from Osaka to Tokyo. The space for your feet is spacious, as well, so you can tuck in a bag there somewhere.
My friend Kuya Allen and I were giddy as we achieved the 53 Stations of the Tokaido with this trip!🙂 To those who active bladders like me, don’t worry as the bus stops every two hours for toilet breaks.
First stop toilet break stop was at Shiga Prefecture. Fell asleep after that then woke up at Yokohama.
Fifth, Basic Japanese Phrases and Kana/Kanji – Okay, so, in Japan, some of the maps in train stations and even food in the menu are in Japanese. And if ever you get lost, there may be times when the person you get to talk to doesn’t speak English. Hence, written below are some Japanese phrases and characters that may come in handy as you wander in the Land of Utada Hikaru.
Numbers – The most well-known type of counting is the Chinese way of counting: ichi, ni, san, shi, et cetera. I would, however, suggest that you guys learn the Japanese way of counting as this is the one that is actually much used in everyday life (like ordering food or buying pasalubong/omiyage)
Here are the numbers from one to ten:
- One – Hitotsu – 一つ
- Two – Futatsu - 二つ
- Three – Mittsu – 三つ
- Four – Yottsu – 四つ
- Five – Itsutsu – 五つ
- Six – Muttsu – 六つ
- Seven – Nanatsu - 七つ
- Eight – Yattsu - 八つ
- Nine – Kokonotsu －九つ
- Ten – Too – 十
So if you point an order at the menu, for example, and the AteGirls ask you, “Ikutsu desu ka?” (How many?”), you can basically reply with those numbers mentioned with matching fingers for good measure.
Phrases – Here are some of the phrases my sister asked when she wanted to go to downtown Kobe while I was attending a conference, lol.
- How much is this? – (Kore wa) Ikura desu ka?
- Where is the (insert place)? – (Insert place) wa doko desu ka?
- How do I get to this place? – (Insert place) e dou yatte ikimasu ka?
- In English, please. – Eigo de onegaishimasu – This is the shortest and polite version; easy to remember for non-speakers of Japanese. Eigo basically means English.
Kana/Kanji – Here are some basic kanji or Chinese characters and kana that you may want to memorize/print/take note when you go around the metro, especially when you’re getting lost in train stations:
Densha – Train – 電車
Densha Eki – Train Station－電車駅
Takushi – Taxi －タクシー
Takushi Noriba – Taxi Terminal －たくし乗り場
Basu – Bus – バス
Basu Noriba – Bus Terminal – バス乗り場
Oriru – To descend – 降りる
Nori – To Ride – 乗り – You will often find this in every station, and is usually partnered with the transportation or vehicle character, so if you see a バス乗 (Basu Nori/Bus Ride) sign, it technically refers to boarding the bus. It can be about boarding time or bus stops. Similar to oriru.
Norikae – Transpo Change – 乗り換え
Chikatetsu – Subway －地下鉄
Ue – Up －上
Shita – Down －下
Higashi – East －東
Nishi – West －西
North – Kita –北
South – Minami – 南
Iriguchi – Entrance －入り口
Deguchi – Exit ー出口 – In train station exits, you sometimes see a Nishi Guchi (西口) sign so that means West Exit. Just take note of these characters and you can mesh them up later.
Tachiirikinshi – No Entry/No Trespassing – 立ち入り禁止 – You will often see this on the street and sign posts.
Hikouki – Airplane – 飛行機
Kukou – Airport – 飛行機港
Erebeetaa – Elevator – エレベーター
Esukareetaa – Escalator – エスカレーター
Tomeru –Stop －止める
Kuruma – Car－車
Jidousha – Vehicle －自動車
Jidou – Automatic – 自動 – You usually see this on doors of establishments.
Jidouhanbaiki – Vending Machine – 自動販売機
Osu – Press/Push – 押す – You will often see this on doors, vending machines, ticket booths, and the likes. So take note.
Hiku – Pull – 引く – Mostly on doors.
Ookii – Big －大 – This can be useful when you buy omiyage/pasalubong, and you want to tell the store owners what size you’re buying, lol. Or at the grocery.
Chiisai – Small －小さい
Atatakai – Warm –温かいーYou can use this in restaurants when servers ask you if you want hot or cold tea, or hot or cold noodles. Do not use these words (also tsumetai) to refer to the weather or climate, though. There are other terms for that.
Tsumetai – Cold －冷たい – So if you want cold noodles, you can just say “tsumetai soba.”
Mizu – Water – 水
For places (just in case the train station map doesn’t have Romanized versions):
Tokyo – 東京
Shibuya – 渋谷
Shinjuku – 新宿
Nippori – 日暮里
Nishi-Nippori – 西日暮里―I’m adding this here ‘cause this is where the Skyliner stops where you can change train to Narita
Osaka – 大阪
Kyoto – 京都
Nara – 奈良
Kobe – 神戸
Oh, and last tip: Always Monitor The Weather – Whether via news or App, always check the weather so your plans won’t be thwarted, and you can actually plan your outfits.Trust me; my sister didn’t do this, so she had some outfit regrets.
Another kanji bonus: 雨 means rain (ame).
These are the frequently-asked-concerns I can recall for now, so there. I’ll probably add more or make another post when I remember more.🙂