Are you heading to Japan?
Here’s some things I wished I’d known before my April 2023 trip:
The website to complete your immigration paperwork is advance is https://www.vjw.digital.go.jp/
You’ll create an account. Be sure to keep the email and password you used for the account handy.
You’ll need to complete three sections:
- Immigration – You’ll receive a QR code that you will show an immigration officer.
- Quarantine – This is the requirement through May 8, 2023. Proof of vaccination plus booster or a COVID test are required for entry into Japan.
- Customs – You’ll receive a QR code that you’ll verify in baggage claim before proceeding through customs.
If you don’t have a cell plan that works in Japan, I recommend renting a wifi hotspot. It worked great during our stay. We used Ninja wifi and picked it up at the airport: https://ninjawifi.com/en/plan/
Japan Rail Pass
There are pros and cons to purchasing a Japan Rail Pass through a third party or directly through the Japan Rail website. It’s important to know which trains you’ll likely need. If you want to take the bullet trains (Shinkansen), I recommend making reservations. You’ll also need reservations for oversized luggage.
The Tokyo subway operates on a different system than the Japan Rail Pass though there are some Japan Rail lines through Tokyo. You’ll want to either purchase individual tickets or load some money onto an IC Card. The kiosks have an English button to guide you through the process.
The subway lines use a letter and a color. The stops are also numbered making it easy to track your progress. Google Maps and Google Translate can be very helpful.
We dined mostly in regular restaurants. We found a few different ways the restaurant worked:
- Vending machine outside. You punch in what you want, pay, and get a ticket to give to the staff inside.
- Order outside from a person and then be seated.
- Write our name on a list and then be seated.
- Eating is a very efficient process. You’ll pay a cashier at the end. Be sure to use the tray to exchange money.
Higher end western hotels will have English speakers. I was delighted to see that pajamas were an amenity at our hotels. Toilets can be complex so keep an eye out for the flush symbol or a toilet handle similar to those in the USA.
It struck me how calm and quiet people are. No jaywalking. Very little littering. Very calm and kind in line.
Have a great trip to Japan.
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