Please check that your passport is still valid before travelling and that it has sufficient blank space, usually a single page, for entry and exit stamps. Please also check with your local Japanese Embassy or Consulate whether you will require a visa before travelling to Japan. It is a requirement of Japanese Law that you carry your passport with you at all times in Japan or, if you are resident in Japan, your Residence Card.
Please have a photocopy of your passport details kept separately from your passport in case the latter should be lost. This will help speed the procurement of a replacement.
Visas for Japan
Japan has Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements with a number of countries. Please refer to your nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate for details. Please note that if you do need to apply for a visa and require a letter from Walk Japan to support your application, please request this from us no later than six weeks prior to the start of your tour. Walk Japan cannot guarantee the letter will be available in time to complete your visa application if your request is received any later than this date.
Medicines and cosmetics
Although the Walk Japan Tour Leader carries a first aid kit please bring your own basic supply of adhesive bandages, blister plasters, antiseptic cream, etc. Some medicines and cosmetics with which you are familiar may not be available in Japan, although there are usually similar products. Prescription medicines in Japan may differ from foreign medicines in minor, but possibly unacceptable, ways. If you require a specific medicine or cosmetic, either for health or comfort, please bring sufficient quantities with you.
Vaccinations and general health
Vaccinations are not normally required for Japan. However, please check with your own government’s health authorities for their latest advice. The weather is generally benign in Japan. Summer, however, can be hot and humid and the rays of the sun strong. To help avoid sun stroke and dehydration use sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and drink water regularly.
Mountain sickness is not an issue on Walk Japan tours, which rarely reach an altitude above 1,600m (5,250ft).
Walk Japan will advise if on a private custom tour the itinerary includes heights where altitude sickness is a possibility.
In general, taking photographs is not a problem. However, if taking photos of individuals or groups please ask their permission first. Please do not take photographs of young school children, unless first agreed by their parents or guardians.
Access to cash
Changing foreign currency at a bank can be a time consuming exercise. Instead, we recommend alternatives, including arriving in Japan with some Japanese currency, using credit cards and withdrawing cash from ATMs.
ATMs in post offices provide cash against the following credit/debit cards - Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club International, PLUS, Maestro, Cirrus, Union Pay and JCB. Post offices are ubiquitous in Japan and found in the smallest village. The daily withdrawal limit for international cards is JPY30,000. Seven-Eleven stores also offer the same service with the exception of MasterCard cards (this includes Cirrus and Maestro cards). The ATMs at Seven-Eleven convenience stores are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Most Japanese bank ATMs do not provide cash against credit cards, nor will they provide access to foreign bank accounts with the exception of Prestia Bank (formerly Citibank) and Shinsei Bank branches. However, branches of these banks are only found in the largest cities. ATMs can also be found at Narita and Kansai Airports and some major department stores.
Before leaving your home country, please check that your credit/debit card can be used abroad. You may also wish to enquire as to what fees you will have to pay for overseas withdrawals, and to notify your bank that you are going abroad, as occasionally a card that is suddenly used overseas may be suspected of being used fraudulently and blocked.
International telephoning, mobile/cell phones and the internet
Making international telephone calls and using the internet outside of major urban areas can be difficult or impossible. Please bring a telephone charge card issued by your local telephone company, such as AT&T or BT. These can be used almost anywhere. Most G3, BlackBerry, iPhones and other smartphones operate in Japan but please confirm with your service provider whether your phone set will work. If your phone does not work in Japan you may rent a mobile/cell phone from providers such as NTT Docomo, Cellhire, Mobal, World Roam, SoftBank, or Vodafone, etc. Internet access is usually available in hotels but not necessarily in Japanese inns or other establishments.
There is no tradition of tipping in Japan. No Japanese expects or will solicit tips.