If you’re held back by niggling unanswered questions about Japan, then we’re here to offer the peace of mind you’ve been hoping for.
Japan’s traditional culture and architecture, natural serenity and buzzing high rise cities are just a few examples of why so many Aussies are drawn to this magnificent and versatile country.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, cultural enlightenment or the chance to create your own extraordinary memories, there’s no denying that Japan has many enticing qualities.
What to know before you go
Is Japan in Asia?
Yes. Japan is a sovereign island nation situated in East Asia in the Pacific Ocean. It’s located just off the eastern coast of Asia’s mainland.
Is Japan a country?
Yes. Japan is an independent country and has been a member of the United Nations since 1956.
Is Japan a developed country?
It certainly is. Japan is a very highly developed country thanks to its strong gross domestic product (GDP) which measures the sum total of the income generated by the country's productive activities
Is Japan an island?
Yes, Japan is an island county. But, it isn’t just one island. It is compiled of four main islands: Honshu; Hokkaido; Kyushu and Shikoku and approximately 3,000 other islands.
Is Japan expensive?
Compared with the average Aussie price of a mid-range three-course meal for two Japan is considerably cheaper. In Australia we’d usually pay about $80 for a three-course meal for two people, whereas in Japan, you’d be looking at something like $46.39 for the equivalent.
Draught beer is cheaper too, as it would cost around $7 in Australia, whereas prices in Japan are closer to $4.64 (averaged out).
Generally, public transportation services are substantially cheaper than back home. But, taxis are almost doubled in price compared to what we’re used to.
Health and safety
Is Japan safe?
Japan is considered to be one of the world’s safest nations, however, there are a number of important things to keep in mind:
- Crime. Crime levels are significantly low throughout Japan, however, a number of crimes against tourists have been reported from Tokyo’s entertainment areas. Express the due diligence that you would in any city. Safeguard your personal possessions and don’t travel alone if it can be avoided.
- Earthquakes. It’s worth pointing out that certain areas in the country are more prone to earthquakes like Tohoku, in the north-east, and Kanto (near Tokyo).
- Typhoons. Places that are more likely to be affected by typhoons include Okinawa, Kyushu and Hokkaido.
- Volcanoes. You will find active volcanoes in Japan, including its most famous, Mount Fuji, and Mount Unzen in Shimabara.
Radiation. Following the Fukushima nuclear accident sparked by the March 2011, earthquake and resulting tsunami, radiation is still present at the point of the disaster. The levels of radiation are said to be low, however there is a parameter of safety and caution that is advised according to the proximity to the site.
Is Japanese easy to learn?
Unless you’re a natural linguist, learning a new language is generally not easy. However, having said that, Japanese is one of the easier languages to study, especially as an English-speaker. If you want to master Japanese, apply some serious focus and give it a try.
Is Japan bigger than NSW?
No. The Australian state is actually larger than the entire country of Japan. However, Japan is more densely populated.
Culture, customs and lifestyle
Is Japanese food healthy?
Traditional Japanese food consists of seafood, vegetables, and noodle-based dishes. If you’re wanting to make your meal even healthier, it’s fine to ask for your food to be cooked in wine or broth as opposed to oil.
Miso soup is a popular starter and an ideal choice for healthy eaters. It’s made from soybeans and is an excellent source of protein.
Does Japan celebrate Christmas?
Christmas has only been celebrated in Japan for the last few decades and it's not seen as a religious holiday as there are very few Christians in the country.
In Japan, Christmas is known as a time to spread happiness and Christmas Eve is celebrated rather than Christmas Day itself. Christmas Eve is also considered a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents similar in many ways to Valentine's Day.
Young couples like to go for walks to look at the Christmas lights and have a romantic meal in a restaurant. Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas, and due to the demand, people can place orders at their local fast-food diner in advance.
Traditional Japanese Christmas cake, isn’t a rich fruit cake with icing and marzipan. Instead, it’s a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream.
Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but it is common for schools to be closed on Christmas day. Most businesses however, treat 25 December as an ordinary working day.
Getting around and things to do
Does Japan have Uber?
Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, does have Uber, although current government restrictions prevent Uber being more widely spread throughout Japan at present.
In Tokyo, your Uber options include UberBLACK, Van, UberTAXILUX and UberTAXI. Alocal bilingual taxi app, JapanTaxi, is also said to offer cheaper fares.
When is Japan’s cherry blossom season?
On average, the cherry blossoms open anywhere between the end of March and the beginning of May. The dates differ depending on the geographical location of each city. Generally, if the climate is milder, the blossoms will open earlier. You can find detailed info on the average blooming dates in each of the locations here.