Destination Focus: Destination Focus:
Japan tips and travel highlights
FACT FILE: Do I need a visa?
Citizens of 62 countries, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, UK, Canada and the US, don’t require a visa to visit Japan. Stays are generally allowed for up to three months at a time. For more info, visit www.sg.emb-japan.go.jp.
How long will it take me to get there?
Between 6 and 7 hours from Singapore. Japan is 9 hours ahead of GMT, 1 hour ahead of Singapore.
What’s the money situation?
The official currency in Japan is the Japanese yen (JPY). Many ATMS don’t accept foreign cards and credit card use is limited so do carry sufficient cash. Cash withdrawals are possible at post office ATMS and 7-Eleven stores. Banks and post offices will exchange major foreign currency and travellers’ cheques.
When’s the best time to visit?
Late March to April is Sakura (cherry blossom season), a hugely popular time to visit. June tends to be wet, while high temperatures and powerful storms can strike throughout July and August (with the exception of Hokkaido, mountaintop resorts like Hakone, and the Japanese Alps). The autumn months of September to November are cooler and aesthetically beautiful. December kicks off the ski seasons in the north. Snowcovered landscapes in Japan are lovely, yet obviously very cold.
What’s a tip for staying healthy in Japan?
The country has an ongoing risk of earthquakes and tsunamis, so it’s best to familiarise yourself with the safety procedures of where you’re staying, just in case. Check www.jma.go.jp/ jma/indexe.html to keep updated. Steer clear of the exclusion zones around Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Is there anything I should know about meeting the locals?
Japanese people greet each other with a bow. For foreigners, a bow followed by a gentle handshake is acceptable.
What’s a must-try dish?
Where do we start? Maybe with ramen, a noodle soup combining a meat or fish broth flavoured with miso or soy, and served with a variety of toppings depending on the region and the chef.
What should I buy as a souvenir?
Quirky snacks, yukata robes, wagasa ( traditional Japanese umbrella made from paper and bamboo), cat- related paraphernalia.