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Japan Travel Tips

japan-smallOnce you’ve purchased your first class ticket to Japan, you may wonder how to most successfully conduct business while there. We’ve compiled some helpful travel tips, along with Japanese business customs, phrases to know, and where you might like to spend your down time. Here, we’ve listed what a traveling professional needs to know on a visit to Japan:

Major Cities in Japan

Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, and Nagoya are the major cities of Japan, with Tokyo being the most visited destination for business.

Emergencies and Safety

The crime rate in Japan is among the lowest in the world. However, precaution should always be taken. To report a crime in Japan, contact your embassy, or call 110 from any phone. For medical emergencies, call 119.


Few people remember when reading up on Japan travel tips to bring power adapters! In Japan, two-pronged adapters at 100 volts are used.

Money Matters

The currency in Japan is yen, which comes in the form of both coins and bills. The currency fluctuates, however there are about 120 yen to every U.S. dollar. Note that if you plan on taking more than 1,000,000 yen out of the country, you must complete a customs declaration.

Tipping Customs

Don’t tip. Tipping may actually be considered rude in some situations. In very rare situations, such as while staying at Japanese-style inns, it is accepted, but your bills must be placed in an envelope first. Tourism guides are the only ones who will accept cash tips.


Japanese cuisine is diverse, interesting, and unexpected. Never be ignorant or rude when it comes to food; knowledge about certain types of cuisine, such as sushi, is expected. Always be cognizant of your chopstick manners. Note that the slurping of soba noodles is practiced by locals. Also note that many restaurants will expect you to remove your shoes. Toasting is a common practice at business dinners.

Japanese Business Etiquette

Japanese culture as a whole emphasizes loyalty and politeness. Actually, many Japanese words are conjugated based on the seniority of the person one is speaking to, and the required politeness of a situation. Establishing trust is absolutely essential for a successful business relationship in Japan, so be sure to study up on these Japanese business etiquette tips before you go. In business, the Japanese often emphasize both hierarchy and teamwork (an “all-win” or “all-fail” attitude), and are anxious to avoid confrontation. The Japanese are often desperate to save face, so causing someone to lose face in front of others is very rude. Here are a few more key pointers for a successful business meeting in Japan:

  • Punctuality – Confirm meetings ahead of time, about two hours in advance. If one must be late, call at least an hour to let the other party know. Agendas are often very exact in Japan in both business and family life, so meetings and cut-off times adhere to a strict schedule.
  • Greetings – This is possibly the most important part of your meeting and is accompanied by several Japanese business customs and rituals:
    • Bowing/Shaking Hands – Though shaking hands as a whole is not a normal practice in Japan, many business people understand that it is important to westerners. If you would like to also bow, place both hands at your sides. The longer and lower the bow, the more respect you’re showing. Lean to the slight left as to avoid bumping heads.
    • Business Cards – You must bring unworn business cards. Business cards must be exchanged properly. Take the offered card with both hands, holding it with the top two corners, and bow. Place it on the table or on top of your suitcase.
    • Gifts – The Japanese often exchange properly-wrapped gifts upon your first meeting. Exchange them the same way one would exchange business cards: with both hands and a bow.
  • Communication – When listening, silently nodding is important to show that you understand. Note that Japanese business people rarely say “no,” but often they’ll say “maybe” and mean “no.” Also, it’s considered polite to subtly reject compliments. The “hard-sell” approach is rarely successful here.
  • Negotiating – Keep in mind that hierarchy is important for all levels of business in Japan. Initial negotiations typically begin with middle managers (or between people of the same rank). Once negotiations begin, your company should have its own interpreter. Note that it often takes several meetings to develop a contract. Remember that building trust is key. Deals are closed with a handshake.
  • Faux Pas:
    • Don’t sit with one ankle over the knee.
    • Don’t beckon or point with your forefinger or chopsticks.
    • Don’t put your hands in your pockets, as it conveys boredom.
    • Don’t blow your nose in public.
    • The number four, the color red, and white flowers are all considered to be very bad luck.
    • During the exchange of business cards, don’t cram them in your wallet or suitcase. This is very insulting; it’s sort of like crumpling up someone’s resume into a ball.
    • Patting someone on the back, standing close, hugging, or otherwise invading personal space in any way is considered rude. Even shaking hands may make certain people feel uncomfortable, as it is seldom done.
    • Eye contact has almost the opposite emphasis in Japanese culture as opposed to American culture. In America, holding eye contact is important as it conveys honesty. In Japan, prolonging eye contact with superiors is considered to be very rude.
    • Entertaining is crucial to business, and deals are rarely reached without going out for a drink or to eat. If one is invited out to eat or drink, don’t refuse!
    • Wear shoes with socks, and be sure that your socks have no holes in them. Often you’re expected to remove your shoes in a home or sitting area. Bare feet are rarely acceptable.

Simple Japanese Phrases for Professionals

Many people speak English, and most people will assume you are a native English speaker unless you show otherwise. However, it’s certainly polite to try some Japanese phrases. Here are a few essentials:

  • Hajimemashite: Pleased to meet you!
  • Moshi moshi!: Hello! (This is only used while on the phone.)
  • O genki desuka?: How are you doing?
  • Ohayou: Good Morning.
  • Konnichiwa: Good afternoon.
  • Konbanwa: Good evening.
  • Domo arigato gozaimashita: Thank you very much. (This is often used upon parting.)
  • Gommen nasai: Sorry, please excuse me.
  • Doitashimashita: You’re welcome.
  • Wakarimashita: I understand.
  • Wakarimasen: I don’t understand.
  • Nihongo ga wakarimasen: I don’t understand Japanese.

Also, it’s important to understand Japanese honorifics, which are used in addition to someone’s last name. For instance, if someone’s last name is Jones, he may be referred to as Jones-san. The -san honorific is for peers, and -sama is for superiors. On the other hand, -chan and -kun is used only for children and pets. People are rarely referred to using their first name in Japan.

Japan Visa Requirements

While doing business, you may need a visa while staying in Japan. Visa requirements can be somewhat nuanced. If you are from the U.S., and visiting for less than 90 days, you won’t need one. You can apply for a temporary visa if you’re planning to stay longer than that. If you plan to make a profit on your trip, note that you may need a certain type of visa.

Popular Activities for Your Day Off

Because of the enthusiasm that your business partners may have in creating an awesome business partnership with you after hours, you may have less time to spend taking in the sights while on one business trip. However, there are plenty of things to do. Some of the most popular landmarks to visit include the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Mount Fuji near Fuji, and the Imperial Palace at Tokyo. Take the time to soak in the amazing local foods, customs, and culture of Japan!

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our Japan travel tips! Remember to book your business class fights with us, and you can get an amazing flight at a discount!