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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Messages 1 2 

JAPAN by TERRY S on 16 November 2007 1:27am
Going to Japan in January for first time ever. Heard it's really difficult to get around if you don't know Japanese. Anyone got any good advice and any advice on how to get cheap accomodation, please? We want to travel for two weeks like Michael does, rather than stay two weeks in one city. It has been my dream to go there since I was seven years old (now thirty-eight). Want it to be the best holiday ever, as it's also boyfriend's 50th birthday. Help,please?
Re: JAPAN by tucsonmike on 16 November 2007 1:42am
If you are in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, you will find English speakers. If you find on the Internet the small schools, where in English is taught, you may be able to find a guide.

It will help to learn a few phrases. Japanese are impressed if you know a little, but my experience has been, they do not like it if non Japanese speak it well.
Cheap Accomodation? Good luck.
Re: JAPAN by pandab on 24 November 2007 4:50am
I just visited Japan a month ago!

You do not need to speak fluent Japanese. Learn some basic phrases ... Hello, Good-bye, Thank you and so on. Knowing the basic question words is handy, too ... What, When, Where, How and How much. To ask for things, you only need to know the noun and follow it with "o kudasai" (normal) or "o onegai shimasu" (very polite). For example, if you would like a cup of coffee, you can say, "Kohi o kudasai."

I speak minimal Japanese, enough to cover the basics, but I had no trouble at all. Mike is right. If you are in the bigger cities, especially Tokyo, you will find people who speak enough English to help you. Still, if you learn a little bit of the language, you will delight the Japanese.

Above all, ALWAYS be polite when you talk to the Japanese. They value good manners very highly and will forgive almost any mangling of their language if you are polite.

Cheap accomodation in Japan? There is no such thing. There are a few hostels, but even they can be pricey. Japan is one of the most expensive places in the world. Even when you leave the big cities and get into the smaller places, prices are high. Still, I must say, though accomodation prices are high, customer service is FABULOUS.

A couple other notes on money matters ... One, buy minimal Yen before going. You can stop at the post office or most Seven-Eleven stores and get money from the ATM cheaper, even with whatever extra charges your bank may tack on.

Two, there is no tipping in Japan. Not in hotels. Not in restaurants. In fact, if you do tip, some service staff might even be offended.

Back to language ... The only problem I really had with language wasn't the speaking part, but the reading part. Most street signs and all public transport signs are in English, but you won't find much written English elsewhere. Be prepared for the culture shock of not being able to read anything. Believe me, it can come as jolt. Pray for pictures on the menus, and you can also take your waiter outside to point at the model of the dish you want in the window display most places have.

If you have any other questions, just let me know! I "stroll" through the forums on a regular basis.

Re: JAPAN by TERRY S on 7 December 2007 9:45pm
Hi, Pandab! Thanks for that, Mate. My boyfriend and I found that very helpful. Cheers!
Re: JAPAN by orangecat on 23 December 2007 1:10pm
You wont have any problem communicating English in the major cities. Just talk slowly -- they will understand you enough for basic things. If you need to communicate something complex, write it down. Yes, write it down, as Japanese education system emphasizes written English and grammar over conversational methods. Japanese people are also culturally shy and don't like to show off; speaking in English in public is considered showing off so there's a tendency for Japanese to refrain from speaking English even if they know it very well. Keep that in mind.

It is true that many words are written in Japanese. It helps a great deal to learn a bit about the writing as Japanese either romanizes English words in Katakana or you'll see the pictographic lettering of the Kanji characters. Know some of your basic Kanji like up, down, mountain, big, small, water, and you're good to go as they are used immeasurably in place names. Often you can just match up the characters if you know the basics.. it's enough to get around without getting totally lost.

As for lodging, look for "business hotels". Despite the name, they are perfect for a tourist. These hotels are very near trains/subway stations and are no frills in terms of ammenities and service, but very clean and quiet. Unlikely you're going to be going all the way there to lounge in your room all day long anyhow so save the money.
Re: JAPAN by TERRY S on 30 December 2007 12:57am
Cheers, OrangeCat! Much appreciated!
Re: JAPAN by pandab on 5 January 2008 4:10am
Japan is a very safe place, even a huge city like Tokyo. You need to take normal precautions, of course, but you don't need to worry about violent crime. In fact, I feel safer in Tokyo than in my own hometown! :+)

One of the things some Westerners have a little trouble with is the Japanese concept of personal space. There isn't much of it. If you come from a big city, you are probably already used to that, but if you're like me and come from a small city, the crowds can be disconcerting at first. I found the best way is to just walk boldly. I don't mean shove people out of the way, but move like you know where you are going ... even if you don't know.

Like I mentioned before, the Japanese value good manners very highly. They aren't quite as concerned with saving face as in some other Asian cultures, but you DON'T want to make someone lose face. An easy touch works wonders in situations where you are displeased with service or something.

Along those lines ... The Japanese have an unfair reputation of being stand-offish. I've heard some people complain the Japanese won't offer help. And normally, they won't. But the reason is not because they are rude. I learned the Japanese (especially the older folks) can regard offering help before it is requested as causing you to lose face. It is seen as an implication you are incompetent. So, don't be shy about asking for assistance. Once you do, you will find they can be so helpful you might need to beat them off with a stick! :+)

In tourist areas, you will likely encounter hordes of school kids. They are loud and active like kids anywhere, but they are also very well-behaved. One thing to be aware of, though. School kids will sometimes mob you, wanting to practice their English with you. I felt a little like a rock star! Even the high schoolers will do it sometimes.

I had kids on the subways plop down beside me and strike up a conversation, and they can get indignant if you try to practice your Japanese. "No, no!" one girl scolded me. "No Japanese. English, please." :+)

If I think of anything else, I'll post it.

Re: JAPAN by TERRY S on 8 January 2008 3:40am
Thanks, a lot!
Re: JAPAN by tucsonmike on 19 July 2008 5:02am
Lately, I have developed a yen to visit Japan and travel through the country.
What sparked this was getting older, more peaceful, eating less and finding Japanese food healthy.
If God forbid I outlive Elaine, I had considered taking my retirement there. A monastery sounds nice and peaceful.
I have been reading the guidebooks and am seeing it is not as expensive now as parts of the U.S. and Western Europe.
Re: JAPAN by quest_himalaya on 9 August 2008 6:12am
If anyon intrested for bike tour in North india so please contect me,
We organize also trekking,cultural tour,jeep safari, Mountain bike tour all kinde of adventure act.
this is my personal e-mail address contect me for more detail.
[email protected]

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