More about Japan
Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
Time zone: JST (UTC +9)
Japan is an East Asian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of 6852 islands, but the vast majority of its size and population are made up of only 4. Neighboring countries include the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, North and South Korea, the Philippines, Russia and the Northern Mariana Islands. Japan is an extremely homogenous nation with 98.5% of its 127 million person population being of Japanese descent. That being the case, Japan is a country steeped in tradition and cultural heritage. They have great respect for the past, and honor their elders. At the same time, modern Japan is a powerhouse in the region and the world. They have one of the highest levels of education in the world and many of their companies are leaders in technology. Japan’s economy is strong and they import and export goods globally, which makes them a great presence around the world.
When visiting Japan pay attention to the time of the year, because it has all four seasons. You can expect the winter to be freezing cold and the summer to be hot. Temperatures average between -10 degrees celsius in winter and 25 degrees celsius in the summer, but there can be some days that expand beyond that scope greatly. Spring and autumn are fairly mild and bring gifts of cherry blossoms and gentle breezes.
Embracing the old and the new, Japan culture is as much Geisha and it is Anime. As much Samurai and Kabuki and it is Nintendo and Karaoke. There seems to be a continued reverence for the traditions of the past and an eager expectation for things of the future. Technology is in the forefront and guiding the throngs of residents in this country, as they embrace things they appreciate about U.S. and European culture and expand it to fit their own Asian culture and lifestyles.
The tastes of Japan never cease to amaze and delight. Here you can find whatever you like, as international cuisine is everywhere. But if your goal is to sample what’s cooking in the Japanese kitchen then get your palate and your chopsticks ready. What you eat may vary by region or season, but expect everything to be fresh and delicious. Street foods like the charcoal grilled chicken skewers called Yakitori, or Okonomiyaki which are thin pancakes which come with savory fillings, can satisfy a craving or two. You also might want to check out some of the best noodles around, Soba are hearty buckwheat noodles and of course the world famous Ramen are egg noodles on a whole other level. With both, the real game changer is the broth ,which take these dishes to a whole other level. Who can visit Japan and not try Sushi? It may be rice and raw fish, but it sure is delish! If you are more of a carnivore then maybe a bit of the decadent Shabu-Shabu (meat cooked in boiling liquid) or Tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlets) will tickle your fancy! Whatever your tastes, there is something for you here! Japan is one of the best destinations for Gap Year Volunteer Programs!
Even though Japan is covered in mountains, it has a very developed train system. Connection between all bigger cities leave several times an hour and until late at night. There are bus connections too, slightly more affordable than the quite high priced trains.
When planning train or bus travel, Google Maps may not be accurate or not contain certain connections at all. Check out the app ‘NAVITIME for JapanTravel’ (Android / iOS) or similar services for more complete and correct timetables.
On the countryside, bus connections are rather infrequent, even more so on Sundays and holidays.
For intra-city travel you can count on a network of buses, trams, underground metros and of course taxis to take you from point A to B.