Going to Japan for the First Time? Here Are 3 Things to Take Note of on Your Trip!

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  • Traveling to a new country is exciting, especially if it is one off your bucket list and/or one that you just love the culture of and have an affinity to – this is what Japan is to me. Which is why traveling to Japan for the first time (on my own, no less!) is definitely an experience that I will never forget. Everything was new and exciting, and just wonderful and amazing! If you have never been but plan to go, you won’t regret it!

    But like all countries, Japan is so vastly different in culture, values, technology, and just how things work overall. And this is why I wanted to take note of the three main things I came to notice on my very first day, in comparison to how things are in Australia (and potentially other parts of the world).

    1. Taxes on goods and services

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    In Australia, when paying for goods or services, the tax is already included in the price (also known as GST or Goods and Services Tax), so when you see a quoted price, that is what it is. In Japan, however, the tax is added when you make a payment, so the advertised price is not the final price. For example, when an item has an advertised price of 4,980 yen and has “+税 (ぜい – zei)” next to it, you can expect the final price to be 5,378 yen (inclusive of 8% tax).

    This is just something to keep in mind so you’re not wondering why it’s a little more expensive than you thought!

    2. Automatic doors or not?

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    You would think that all automatic doors are, well, automatic, right? Apparently not in Japan. Some are, but most, as I learned as I stood in front of a door that would not open, actually have a button you press so that the door will open for you. The door will have a gray button area that says “押して下さい” which translates to “Please push/press.” So once you press this button, the door opens for you.

    A few days later, I learned (from my Japanese friend) that the reason their “automatic” doors are set up this way is to conserve energy and not waste electricity. Which is clever, right? As soon as this was explained, it all made sense – ever gone to a store and activated the automatic door by mistake, just by being too close to the sensor?

    Knowing this will hopefully prevent you from moving backward and forwards in front of a door hoping it will trigger the sensor, and also stop you from wondering whether or not you have a soul Bart Simpson-style.

    3. Pedestrian crossing (横断歩道; おうだんほどう – oudanhodou)

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    This should not be something you have to learn the hard way! It’s so simple, but not always so obvious.

    White lines across the road usually indicate a pedestrian crossing where cars give way to those on foot. In Japan, white lines on the road just show you that this is the area you walk across when it is your turn to do so.

    Luckily, when I automatically crossed the road (thinking it was a pedestrian crossing where cars give way), there were no cars coming. I was already halfway across when I noticed the red man above me. So what you should keep an eye out for is the green man flashing when it is good for you to go!

    These are the three little (and simple) things that will hopefully help you out in Japan, especially if it is your first time!

    *Featured Image: jp.fotolia.com/