Going to Japan in a month -- some questions!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by ravenvii, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #1
    So I'll be going to Japan in a month. I'll be going to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.

    I have some questions:

    Credit cards -- I hear it's not as universal there as it is in the States -- is that true?
    Credit cards (again) -- what is the most-used type there -- VISA?
    Currency exchange -- is the ATM the best place to get cash?

    Food -- for the cities I'll be visiting (Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo) I'll likely hit the tourist/obvious spots, so skip those -- what are the best places that locals frequent? I'm mostly focused on food? Please recommend restaurants in any price range -- cheap to expensive, I'll try almost anything at least once! (I have no interest in going to those ****ed up places, like this (NSFW), so if you're going to recommend something like that, please keep it to yourself).
    Bars -- recommendations for good bars to check out?
    Beer -- what are the best local beers to try in Japan (I know beer isn't that big there, but they have some, and I'd like to try them!)
     
  2. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #2
    Credit cards are taken just about everywhere. The atm will cough up cash at the appropriate exchange rate, otherwise use the kiosk at the airport.

    I think you'll have your hands full with the tourist/obvious spots. Local places are for locals, they'd probably be all "what's this gaijin doing here?" Try Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Tower, the Sky Tree at dusk or sunset.

    But this bar had nice ice cold Kirin Ichiban and great food: Waigaya link

    April is the nice time to go to Japan however, when all the sakura are blossoming.
     
  3. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #3
    I can't help you to much as far as recommending places to go as my experience in Japan is limited to a day in Osaka when I had a long layover flying from Southeast Asia back to the US. But what I can say is that When I left the airport none of the places that I wanted to buy anything, particularly public transit, took credit cards. It also took me a while to find an ATM that would take my American debit card, but once I did I thought the exchange rate from the ATM was pretty good.
     
  4. puma1552 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #4
    Japan is still largely a cash society. Given the extremely low crime rate, it's not an issue walking around with $300 in your wallet at any given time. Pretty common actually. In my experience, almost nowhere takes credit cards.

    ATMs at 7/11 may be your best bet for accepting American cards - most ATMs in Japan won't accept them but I usually had luck at 7/11 when I needed to. Not always though.

    A great restaurant in Kyoto is Kushya, in the Sanjo/Kawaramachi district. Tough to find though, but worth the hunt. They do have an English menu, too.

    Also that link in the OP about people having sex with animals before eating them? Yeah, don't believe the junk you read on the internet.
     
  5. Huntn, Dec 5, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015

    Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #5
    When I was there frequently in the early 1980s, we frequented The Chicken Place, The Fish Place, The Diner Across The Street (Atsugi), The Daisey Store, and The Greek Place (Akihabara). Unfortunately we never imprinted on their real names. :oops: I used a custom map consisting of physical landmarks to navigate my way around when driving. Yes, I dared to drive. :D

    If you have time and inclination, consider a side trip from Kyoto down to the Nara Deer Park and Shrine. An easy 30 min (or so, if I remember correctly) train ride.
     
  6. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #6
    There are more ATMs available now than the first time I went to Japan in the early 1990s, but they're still not the easiest to find, especially outside the big cities.

    You'll find some that accept foreign cards at your international arrival airport.

    Around town, besides the ATMs in 7/11 stores that puma1552 mentioned, the post offices often have ATMs that work with foreign cards.

    Call your CC issuer. Customer service should be able to direct you to a website that shows ATM locations. Before you go you might want to make note of where these are relative to your hotel locations (and make sure your hotel will accept your credit card, especially if you're staying at more budget friendly places)

    Does your CC charge a foreign currency conversion fee for each and every transaction? If it does, you don't want to be using your CC for small purchases since the minimum fee will mount up over the course of your trip.
     
  7. puma1552 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #7
    also dont forget most atms are NOT 24 hrs - a lot of them have business hours like banks. note again 7/11 atms are the ones most likely to be 24 hrs (though again not all will be but i always had best luck with 7/11 atms when i wanted to withdraw cash late)
     
  8. E3BK macrumors 68020

    E3BK

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    Location:
    NYC
    #8
    Japan is pretty connected and use of tech is pretty highly adopted, esp in Tokyo so you should be fine with Visa/MC. I have never had a problem using my AMEX. But when choosing which credit cards to take, take the ones that don't have a foreign exchange fee. You'll save yourself A LOT of money. If you don't have any CC's that raise the transaction fee, pay with cash as much as possible. Withdraw from a Bank ATM outside the airport, they will give you better rates. Don't exchange at the kiosks at the airport if you can help it. They give awful exchange rates and charge high fees. If I absolutely have to, I will exchange a small amount when I land just to get me started and then hot an ATM at the hotel or when I'm out and about in the city.
     
  9. JamesMike macrumors demi-god

    JamesMike

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  10. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

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    #10
    I cannot stress this enough - don't let yourself get too low on cash, because you won't always find an ATM that accepts US ATM cards. One of my two cards worked only at post offices.
     
  11. puma1552 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #11
    honestly i would just exchange cash before you go and bring that, leave the cards at home and dont bother. theyre usually more hassle between finding one that works and the absurd business hours of them and as mentioned japan is a very safe cash society so carrying lots of cash is no big deal, everyone you see is doing it. youve got nothing to worry about
     
  12. sim667 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    #12
    I went one or two years ago....... We didn't really go to specific restaurants, but found the food was very good generally.

    There's a few things I'd definately recommend trying, sushi (obviously), okonomiyaki, kobe beef, and a kaseiki (I imagine you will have to book this, and it will probably be very expensive, we had it at a ryokan we stayed at).

    As for the country, its beautiful, I loved it, and I would really like to return some day.

    I've got all my photos on flickr here, if you want to have a peak through and ask about anything
    https://flic.kr/s/aHsjXUSjfs
     
  13. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #13
    Traveling outside the States we have always enjoyed bed and breakfasts vs routine hotels. We stayed at ryokans (traditional Japanese inn) in both Kyoto and Nara. This was decades ago (so my info maybe outdated), but I don't remember them being exceedingly expensive as compared to a modern hotel, and it was an outstanding immersive atmosphere. We loved them.
     
  14. mac666er macrumors regular

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    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #14
    I have done exactly this trip a couple of times. Last one was this year ( I was in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima) Traveled by bullet train and ate mostly local.

    Depends obviously on your tastes, as the variety is obviously very extensive and you will prefer some Japanese food over others. You didn't specify, but I am assuming you know no Japanese and your native language is English.

    Having said that, the food capital is Osaka. This is where you take out your wallet and live like there is no tomorrow. Food is cheap AND good, so no need to go broke. You should try as many kinds of food before you leave the city.

    Go to downtown (where the infamous running man ad is - Glico) Dotonbury and try:
    1. Takoyaki - fried octopus balls. Any place will do. Getting in line and seeing them cook is part of the experience.
    2. Sushi - there will be NO English signs - but the sushi bites will be on display in a window. Just go inside and if you know no Japanese at all -- learn how to say "one tuna", "one salmon", "one eel" and "one miso soup" -- "itotsu maguro", "itotsu sake", "itotsu unagi" and "itotsu miso soup". This isn't quite proper Japanese, but they are friendly and will look after you seeing that you are at least trying to speak their language. If it is a GOOD sushi place, you should eat it with your fingers.
    3. Noodles. There is usually no seating in these, you just approach them, order a bowl and eat it while standing.
    Having said that, when you are out and about you should try:
    1. Yakitori - Japanese skewers. If you are in a shopping mall, you can just go to one and ask to be seated. The fryer is at the table and YOU will have to fry your own food. It is usually like a buffet. You stand up, grab the raw food, come back and fry it at your table. Then pig out.
    2. Xabu Xabu - This is usually at a place to have diner. Meat is very expensive in Japan, so be prepared to pay exorbitant prices in comparison to the amount of meat you would get in the US. You choose the type of meat (pork, beef, etc) and they will bring it raw and then you fry it yourself at your table, usually with beer. This is where you should have Kobe beef.
    3. Desserts and bakeries. if you are, again, at shopping malls or train stations, you should treat yourself to pastries and bread. You will NOT believe how good they are. Chocolate cakes, croissants and everything in between.
    4. Bento boxes. If you are traveling by train at some point. Grab sandwiches and bento boxes and eat them on the train. Don't buy them on the train.
    For Kyoto, whenever you are near temples (and this applies to Tokyo too, but Kyoto is where most temples are) grab crepes, ice cream and pancakes. Crepes are different from the western ones, they are gummy and made out of flavors, likewise, pancakes are usually baked in front of you in form of animals or some other shapes and with some fillings in (like red bean paste). Others, like Dorayaki are sold in wrappers already, but it is the same concept. A pancake with red bean paste in it. These are snacks, not proper lunch.

    Since you said expensive places too, I'll mention that there are several sushi places in Tokyo that are Michelin star rated and you should do the reservation NOW to be assured to get a place. Obviously expensive. They are usually very intimate places, but even though I have not gone there to one myself ( my schedule was a little unpredictable and couldn't set aside to a particular day to splurge) I have heard only good things about them.

    I intentionally left particular names and places out as I think exploring is part of the charm, but if you insist still, I can share some excellent places, especially in Osaka.

    Good luck! sounds like an awesome trip!
     
  15. LifeIsLikeABoxOfRocks macrumors member

    LifeIsLikeABoxOfRocks

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Alameda
    #15
    Given that Fukushima is still leaking, and has small airborne releases a couple of times a month. I'd bring a Geiger counter, and not eat any seafood or rice.
     

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