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What are some of the challenges that you've encountered when traveling in Japan?


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With all the bicyclists riding on the sidewalk, it's a challenge just walking down the street. On so many occasions, they have flashed silently past only inches away. I don't like trusting my (and my loved one's) personal safety to (for example) a high school student with one eye on his smafo.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Tight, inflexible schedules that make the trip feel like an exhausting business trip rather than leisure. Massive crowding at attractions, to the extent that moving forward a few inches becomes a serious problem.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

.... Well , lots of frustrations. I've had a great time over six trips but;

Yen travelers checks purchased in US - cannot cash in Japan banks, except at few in Tokyo! They'd never seen them, no policy, much sucking of wind through teeth. Cannot be done.

Cannot use my numerous US credit cards in many places. Waiting for Post Office to open to get cash. Post closed before I returned to town.

Where is the Wi-Fi? Had to rent a portable unit.

Rules, rules, rules and no bending of the rule for any reason (see above Yen travelers checks)

No foreigner in my taxi/restaurant, etc

Folks here feel no need or reason to learn English, although they think they are a part of the world order.

No high quality cold medicine allowed in country, need Dr's permit for other medicines --- no problem for the same situation for Japanese visiting US.

Could move to Japan, but; how to open bank account, how to get someone to sell me there empty home?? Received a credit card offer, but no, you are foreigner, cannot be done.

Name on ID (Passport, etc.) does not match local documents; romaji VS katakana VS English on documents --- rules say cannot complete the "deal" . Middle name & initial problems on documents, not matching. Paperwork is designed for Kanji names (space on paper allowed)

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Too many steps at stations

1 ( +4 / -3 )

"What are some of the challenges that you've encountered when traveling in Japan?"

Japanese driver's... truly unbelievable what too many of them are incapable of....

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Being shocked the first time I learned that the price I was paying at a hotel near Mt. Fuji was per person, not for the room.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

would like to be able to take a spontaneous day drive and pull in to a rest stop and stay at a clean hotel with big rooms for under 10,000 yen.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I love the bullet trains, local trains etc but as many have said above or hint at, a lot of vacation related stuff is way too much like WORK! Hard to relax & enjoy, it can be done but not easy & certainly not for visitors.

If you want to be busy & always feel you need to move then Japan is your gig.

I remember going to Bali for my honeymoon soooooooooooo relaxing, virtually stress free, very hard to pull that off in Japan, it should be easier to do.

And we need more ways to cut travel & accommodation costs so we can splurge on the actual fun stuff!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It is very difficult, even in major cities like Tokyo, to find a Japanese hotel, even major chains like Prince, that will accept a family of four (two adults and two children) in one hotel room. I think this one of the factors hampering Japan from becoming a major tourist destination. When I walk around New York's Times Square, for example, I am struck by how many international families are on vacation there. The related spending is a great boon for the city.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

And while I love the typical drive to osen etc eat drink & then get out by 10am, if you are the DRIVER, I am sure other drivers would agree, by the time you get back home your exhausted, dreading work the next day.

Japan needs more variety of accommodation in terms of room sizes & check in/out policies should be more flexible so that trips can be more relaxing!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For the most part I have found traveling in Japan to be very easy. I've almost been to every prefecture now and haven't run into many problems but this is my list:

1) lack of online up to date bus information for smaller cities. Sometimes buses only go to some stops during summer but it isn't made clear online.

2) ATM hours and holidays. This goes more for international tourists but it is very frustrating when you can't easily access your money.

3) The tours that all seem to clump together. I wish that there was a way to require 5 minutes or so between your groups entering a tourist sight. Sometimes I see 3 groups going in back to back and know that I wouldn't be able to weave through that mass of people. I try to get where I'm going as it just opens to avoid this.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I like challenges when traveling. One challenge that I faced was when I was trying to get from Matsue to Fukui by train. I was told at the station that there was no direct link between the two cities at that time and was advised to go to Osaka and then proceed to Fukui. I didn't want to backtrack to Osaka, so still thought there must be a way to get to Fukui without seeing Osaka again. That night a different man was on duty at the ticket office and he told me I could make the trip, but a bridge was out and I would have to change to a bus, ride through the area without rail service, then get back on the train line beyond that detour and go on to Fukui. Thus I took a train, a bus and another train from Matsue to Fukui. It took almost all day ... but it was a fun experience as I met a lot of interesting people and saw many sights on board the bus I would not have seen otherwise.

Another challenge I faced was when I went from Wakkanai to Abashiri in Hokkaido by bus. A lady at the bus station mapped out a route and schedule that would take all day to complete. I had to make five bus changes, leaving before the sun came up and arriving well after dark. Again ... another successful challenge completed.

If you are faced with challenges of any kind when traveling around Japan, just ask at the train or bus depots and someone will surely help you solve your problem. The Japanese are very friendly, so don't be afraid to seek help when needed.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Yen travelers checks purchased in US - cannot cash in Japan banks, except at few in Tokyo!

What did your guidebook say on the matter? (If it's any consolation, Japanese package tourists are still advised to buy USD travellers cheques for visiting the Eurozone). TCs are so 20th century - see 'ATM' below.

Being shocked the first time I learned that the price I was paying at a hotel near Mt. Fuji was per person, not for the room.

Europeans are always delighted to find that US room rates are for the room, not per person.

ATM hours and holidays

The ubiquitous 7 Eleven: 24 hour cash

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@edojin - Great things to remember !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Finding a western style toilet... that's about it really. I can make myself understood through my ropey Japanese, pointing, electronic dictionary and some people understanding English.

As for emergency cash - as long as there's a Seven&i I can use my credit card in their ATMs.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I really enjoyed Japan. I didn't join an organized tour. I don't speak Japanese.

It is easy to get around by train, bus and metro and there is plenty of English signage at the train stations and the Japanese are very willing to help. I also liked cycling in Japan, for example in Nara, Kyoto, Takayama and the Kibi plane, renting a bicycle is not expensive.

I could get money everywhere at the 711 ATMs with my debit card, no problem at all, there are 711s everywhere. I never use traveller checks, even Laos has plenty of ATMs nowadays.

One restaurant didn't have an English menu and no plastic dish examples in the window but I pointed at the food of other eaters. Japanese food is yummy. Even the 711s have good food. It suprised me that the ryokan wanted to know how late I wanted to eat breakfast but the next day I understood because that breakfast was a really complicated meal consisting of many different small dishes for 1000 Yen.

I travelled during the Golden Week but it was not too crowded, except in the Matsumoto castle and the Ginkaku temple in Kyoto. I reserved the trains via the JR Railpass just after arrival at the airport.

I flew from Amsterdam to Osaka Kansai and I departed from Tokyo Narita, that is easy and it saves one ride with the Shinkansen.

A two person room in a hotel is usually only slightly more expensive than a one person room, same in Europe, I don't understand the issue.

Tokyo is not a grid city like New York so finding your way around is a bit more difficult, once I couldn't find a restaurant from the guide book and I went to another one instead because I was becoming a bit tired. I tried again the next day and had no problem finding it.

You don't have to tip unlike the US. Japan was cheaper than I expected. The Yen is lower nowadays so Japan has become even more affordable.

I will return!! I have also visited and enjoyed other Asian countries (China, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam) but Japan is the most interesting imo when it comes to crafts, art and culture.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is a tough one. I've been visiting Japan for several years, for between one and three months every time, and while I appreciate some of the comments in this thread, I have to say that I really haven't had a problem with anything. As Australian Robyn Davidson, one of my favourite modern day adventurers, said after trekking 2,700 kilometres across the Australian desert in 1977, 'I like the growth and learning processes that develop from taking chances...To be free is to learn, to test yourself constantly, to gamble. It is not safe. I had learnt to use my fears as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.' We're about the same age, and I'm sure she, like me, still has that go-for-it fun attitude about travel. I just wish I could read and speak better Japanese because I miss so many unusual opportunities by not being able to understand signage.

See y'all for cherry blossoms!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

TrevorPeace1: I just wish I could read and speak better Japanese because I miss so many unusual opportunities by not being able to understand signage.

Haven't tried it, but if you install Word Lens on tablet, etc, and hold device in front of a sign it's supposed to translate it for you. Example photo's on the wikipedia page.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese screwing up on one thing or another when dealing with me and then declaring any mistakes they've made as cultural misunderstandings. For this reason, I've found it wise to have a Japanese on my side to bear witness to what is transpiring so that any goofs can be called for what they really are, goofs.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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