Planning your trip Getting to Japan Getting around in Japan
Staying in Japan What to do in Japan Financial matters

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NEW IMMIGRATION PROCEDURE starts in Japan from 20 November 2007.  After presenting your passport, finger prints and a facial photograph will be taken, then you will be briefly interviewed by the immigration officer.  Expect long queues at immigration, especially when the procedure first starts.

Planning your trip

Start by looking at  Japan Travel Updates from the Japan National Tourist Organisation. Be sure to explore the site in detail, as it gives lots of cultural and regional information. For those who think Japan is expensive the sections on budget travel and accommodation will be an eye-opener.  The Japan Rail Pass can give you unlimited travel around the country, and even includes reserved seats on the shinkansen, but must be purchased before you arrive in Japan .  The site also explains how to get discounted tickets on city transport services. 
You can also do some planning or armchair travelling with the help of our Guide Book page.   Microsoft's Expedia site also has general background on Japan, art, culture etc. There is a very good directory of all aspects of Japan at the Japan Information Network and you can also get General information on Japan from the CIA World Factbook.  Also try the Excite travel pages for Japan  When contacting your Japanese friends by snail mail to tell them you're coming be sure to check their Postal Code. Will you need a mobile phone while you're there?  Your own probably won't work in Japan, but you can rent one for the duration of your visit from Adam Phones (if you live in the UK) or Mobal (if you're from the US).  If you want to get some language practice and cultural experience before you go, while making what could turn out to be a life-long friendship, why not try acting as a host for a Japanese student - contact HOST

Getting to Japan

To get to Japan, try this site for  CHEAP FLIGHTS, air tickets and travel advice to Tokyo (mainly based on flights from the UK or our own personal favourite The Airline Network.  For travel from other parts of the world try the Japan Travel Bureau, who also have information on tours in various regions of Japan.  If you're looking for packages from the UK try ANA WORLD TOURS and you will find details of escorted tours at The Oriental Caravan.  It is also possible to travel cheaply by acting as a courier for freight companies - get more information from Dave Sands web site. But if you've got a bit more cash try the JAL website for flight schedules etc (this link open the UK website but if you live elsewhere just click 'Worldwide' to find your local JAL site.)

And if you need to check out the time differences along your route click this link to the World Clock site

  Getting around in Japan

If you are flying in to the new Kansai International Airport this link has arrival/departure information together with local transport details.   Travellers to Tokyo will probably need information on Narita airport.  On our way back from Japan we often stay overnight in Narita - it's an intriguing area and means an easy taxi trip to the airport next morning. See what you're missing in the Shimousa area!

There are plenty of maps of all kinds on the JNTO site , but a few more are given below.
General map of JapanMap of HokkaidoCity Net's Japan maps.  Part of the University of Tokyo provides Tokyo metro and railway maps, with other general information.  Microsoft's Expedia site also has information on Transport.  The Travel Japan Site gives a range of information with tours, regional guides, and accommodation.  And if you're intrigued by Japan's high-speed trains find out more on this Shinkansen site.

Staying in Japan

The Japanese Inn Group provides very reasonably priced accommodation in ryokan - you can usually choose between a traditional room with futon or a Western style room.  We have used a lot of these all over Japan and have always found them excellent value.  They are used to coping with foreign visitors and usually have very useful tips about things to see and do in their neighbourhood.  The Welcome Inn Group provides a similar service, and the JNTO pages even give details of Temple Lodgings for an unusual experience.  All this in Japan Travel Updates.  If you're staying in Kyoto and are looking for centrally-placed budget accommodation have a look at the Tour Club web site

What to do in Japan

If you're heading for the culture of Kyoto start with the Kyoto National Museum, and for a wider picture try Museum Information Japan.  To get an advance view of what you're going to see (or to console you if you can't go just yet!) have a look at The Window of Japan, which has links to a number of Web-Cam sites.  For a look at the coutryside with a conservation slant try Green Tea Time and for more about trees look at Japanese maples & World maplesCharles Eicher's pages include pictures of Tanabata Festivals and the area around Hakodate.

To get a closer look at peaceful mountain areas of outstanding natural beauty, and experience Japanese life at a gentle pace, try a walking holiday led by Hike Japan., which will take you along old pilgrimage and trade routes, staying in temples and traditional inns.  Even for those who are only armchair walkers the web site shows beautiful areas of Japan and tips on the culture.

To find out what to do while you're in Tokyo try  Tokyo Meltdown or even Tokyo Disneyland Official Home Page.   For a more historical approach Explore Old Tokyo.  Near Tokyo everyone visits Kamakura.  And you must look at the latest electronic toys in Akihabara.   The Japan Traveller magazine is a guide to everything that's going on around Tokyo.  If you can't get to Tokyo just yet try a virtual tour or look at the superb panoramic photographs on Kuri's pages.  

For a guide to what's going on around Kyoto look at Kansai Time Out. If you want to concentrate on old Japan try some of the links on our History page.  If you are going to Japan to study the language have a look at a student's experiences and tips in My Trip to Japan.   For something unusual try your hand at Ayu Fishing.

Financial matters

To know how long a trip you can afford you  need the latest Yen exchange rate from The Personal Currency Assistant UCC This site also allows you to calculate travel expenses in Japan - for these services see the Travel Expenses Calculator .  There is also a currency converter on the Expedia resources page.

Have a good trip!         Itteras'shai!

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