Kon’nichiwa! FlightHub´s heart: Japan
Traveling to Japan is usually the stuff of dreams: flying halfway across the world to a country where tradition and modernity blend in seamlessly, foreigners are inundated with a culture so different from their own that the most you can usually do is stare, wide-eyed, in amazement. From vending machines that provide users with everything from fried chicken to full-sized Smart Cars, to their love of anime, Japan is one of the most colourful countries you could visit.
Planning your trip
Now that you’ve decided to travel to Japan the question of when to go remains. Naturally this all depends on your availability, but if you’re flexible for your dates, FlightHub reviews the best times to see the country and encourages you to go during these periods:
- The weather is typically dry and sunny, and you’ve passed the holiday madness that usually devours the country. With the New Year over, shops and businesses return to regular working hours, allowing you to visit at your leisure. Though not particularly warm, temperatures vary between 19°C to 14°C in areas like Naha, or from 0°C to -7°C in Sapporo.
- With rising spring temperatures, tourists are often greeted by the world famous cherry blossoms that bloom during this period. April is peak season for both domestic and international travel in Japan, with many schools and businesses releasing for break as well as participating in Golden Week. Temperatures are warm and steady throughout the island-country, making it the perfect time to travel.
- Once the height or Japan’s rainy typhoon season wears off, November becomes a safe haven of beautiful fall foliage and comfortable weather. Tourists are few, which means visitors can see Japan without the hassle of being overcrowded.
If you’re a traveler with a passport from Australia, Britain, Canada, the USA, or the European Union, you are not required to have a visa to enter the country, however you have to have both a passport and a return ticket in order to gain entry into the country. FlightHub strongly encourages you to see the detailed outline of your permitted stay, as the number of days can vary between countries.
Japanese etiquette, both spoken and unspoken, is by far one of the most intriguing aspects of Japanese culture, and for those visiting the country observing these etiquettes demonstrates your respect towards the people and culture of Japan.
Remember how a little bit of effort can go a long way and appreciating the subtleties or a foreign culture emphasizes respect. Locals know that you’re unaware of the nuances of their society, so demonstrating that you’re willing to learn is typically welcomed.
When greeting folks in Japan, folks typically bow to one another. Bowing can range from a slight nod of the head for informal greetings to a deep bend at the waist which emphasize respect and formality. Though most Japanese people don’t expect foreigners to do this, a slight nod is more acceptable than hand-shaking, so try to greet people this way.
Along with introductory bowing, FlightHub recommends learning a few words or phrases to begin with. Hello (Konnichiwa), Welcome (yōkoso), how are you (O genki desu ka), thank you (arigatō) are just a few words that’ll demonstrate to locals that you’re trying.
For Canadians entering a Japanese home, you’ll find yourself in a similar position of removing ones shoes before entering. Upon entering the home, remove ones shoes in the genken portion of the home, and place the shoes facing the door (and not in the direction of the home.) Removing your shoes prior to entering a house is considered polite as you aren’t bringing the ‘outside’ to the ‘inside’. Typically hosts are supposed to offer their guests slippers to wear while inside, but just in case there aren’t any handy be sure to bring a fresh pair to change into.
When dining out in restaurants in Japan you typically have two kinds of seating options available to you: you can sit at raised tables and chairs, which is considered the western style. Or, you can sit on low tables and cushions, known as a tatami floor. Should you choose to sit on a tatami floor please be reminded that shoes must be removed before you sit down, and not to step on cushions that aren’t yours.
After you’ve ordered your meals (and received wet towels, or oshibori to clean your hands) it’s common to wait for everyone’s dish to be served prior to starting. When eating from small bowls, it’s custom to bring the bowl close to your mouth. With family-style dishes or with larger bowls, refrain from bringing these to your mouth and instead use the opposite end of you chopstick to pick the pieces you desire. There’s a lot of chopstick etiquette to consider when eating, so be sure to refrain from doing the following: don’t stick your chopsticks into rice (this is only done at funerals), do not pass food directly from your chopsticks to someone else (as this is also a funeral ritual), and it’s also important to note not to spear your food with your chopsticks.
Once your meal is finished it’s considered good manners to rearrange the dishes in the order that they were received in, and thank the waitress and the chef for the service, as well as the food itself. For this, simply say gochisōsama deshita to show gratitude. A gentle reminder from FlightHub while out dining is to avoid tipping. This is considered extremely insulting, so refrain from doing it.