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I changed the regions of Japan. This seems more complete, but eliminates some questionable regions like Chiba (too small) and Greater Tokyo (which currently re-directs to Tokyo anyway).

I wonder what people think about including a few specifics to flesh out otherwise meaningless region names?

Ted 01:02, 26 Feb 2004 (EST)

Started work on the history section, but there is obviously a long way to go. I tried to follow the basics of the previous Understand section but tried to tighten up some of the language, counter the myth that Japan is unaffordable (it is not as cheap as South East Asia, but neither is the UK or the US), and eliminate some of the stereotypical/judgemental language. I considered just scrapping the section on attitudes towards foreigners, but it was obviously important to someone, so I tried to add some balance.

Ted 01:53, 26 Feb 2004 (EST)

Other Destinations

Jpatokal, thank you for welcoming me to wikitravel and for your comments. I certainly understand your concern in removing my edit that placed Koka under the "Other Destinations" heading on this page. However I have concern over the criteria used to decide whether a destination is of "paramount importnace." A case could certainly be made that Koka and many other destinations are at least on par with the likes of the 88 Temple Pilgramage and the Narrow Road to the Deep North. - - The229er 16:52, 25 April 2007 (JST)

So here's how this works (at least in my opinion, see also Wikitravel:Country article template). The "Cities" list contains the top 9 cities in the country by touristic importance (loosely defined as how many people visit it); I think the list for Japan is fairly well settled, and you'd have a fairly tough time arguing that Koka should displace any of the current ones. "Other destinations", on the other hand, is usually interpreted is as destinations that are not cities: hence Mount Fuji, the 88 Temple Pilgrimage and the Narrow Road all qualify, but Koka doesn't, because it's a city. Jpatokal 11:49, 25 April 2007 (EDT)


"There is a 5% consumption tax on all sales in Japan. The tax is usually not included in the displayed price." - Are you sure about this? I am absolutely certain that when I was in Tokyo (and Osaka) in September 2001, I never paid an additional 5% on anything. Maybe someone on location can verify? --Nils 02:28, 23 Mar 2004 (EST)

The consumption tax has been firmly in place for about ten years now. Maybe you just never noticed it because it's negligible compared to the European VAT :)
As of next month, the law will require all prices (in tags, advertisements, etc.) to display the tax-inclusive price. I'll update the entry. - - Paul Richter 04:33, 23 Mar 2004 (EST)


So, the first level of headers (Understand, See, Do, Get in, etc.) should have two equal signs (==Header==). It's annoying, but it's the way our software works. A single equal sign messes things up for some reason. See section headers for details. --Evan 11:27, 14 Apr 2004 (EDT)

Those damned software programmers! Can't they get anything right? Gotcha, I'll reorganize the 5-level deep sections then. As it is, the headers are smaller than the text itself (which is why I changed the levels). -- Paul Richter 21:11, 14 Apr 2004 (EDT)
Ha ha! Yeah, guilty as charged. --Evan 00:02, 15 Apr 2004 (EDT)

Frequent Disambiguation Problem

Almost all prefectures in Japan have the same name as their capital cities. I should have thought of this when adding region information, but just noticed in the new page for Kumamoto at

Looking at what links to the page, Kyushu regions list indicates the prefecture, but the entry is a city entry. Perfectly understandable for someone who arrived directly at the page. Do we want to do Kumamoto (city) Kumamoto (prefecture) to keep these straight as listed in the disambiguation guidelines? Or, spell it out in full like this: Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture as an English translation of the full place names? This will be an ongoing problem in Japan where names apply to several divisions and/or locations, so is it worth making a note of the disambiguation policy on the Japan page itself for people just arriving at Wikitravel? Ted 23:04, 5 May 2004 (EDT)

Over at the Big Wiki prefectures are "X prefecture", cities are "X, X" and just plain "X" usually redirects to "X, X". IMHO this is butt-ugly but workable. Jpatokal 23:38, 5 May 2004 (EDT)
We should follow the same disambig rule in Japan as anywhere else (e.g. Rio de Janeiro). Wikipedia has different disambig rules because it has to distinguish between Acre, Brazil, and acres of land, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Queen Charlotte, etc. Here, everything that has to be disambigged is a place. -phma 19:48, 25 Sep 2004 (EDT)
So just for the record (see also [1]) , the approach finally adopted for prefectures/cities is that the city gets X and the prefecture gets X (prefecture). So now we have Kumamoto and Kumamoto (prefecture). Jpatokal 06:11, 12 Aug 2005 (EDT)

Get around

By plane

FYI, Narita does not have a "domestic" terminal, but it does have two terminals. I've noted this under Tokyo#Narita, the main article should only cover the very basics (ie. a listing of what airports to use to go where). Jpatokal 21:11, 8 Jun 2004 (EDT)

By car

I've updated the car section with a little bit on the traffic lights and related miscellania, in case someone is crazy enough to drive on the roads over there, particularly if they are color-blind (like, for example, my brother!). cef 19:53, 14 Mar 2006 (AEDT)

By taxi

I have a photo of a taxi fare rate card (from Tokyo) if this is would be useful? cef 19:53, 14 Mar 2006 (AEDT)

Why not? Upload away. Jpatokal 05:19, 14 March 2006 (EST)


So, I live in the Northeast of North America, and autumn here means the changing of the colors -- and loads of tourists, called "leaf-peepers", coming to see the display.

I know there's a tradition of leaf-watching in Japan, too. Is October the right month for it? If so, are there places that are really well known for leaf-watching? I'm thinking such a place would make an excellent October destination of the month. --Evan 13:21, 25 Sep 2004 (EDT)

Yes, there are a few, but Yagen Valley is probably the only one that is noded right now. Although in Japan "leaf-peeping" is a distant second to the cherry blossom season (March/April). Jpatokal 00:23, 26 Sep 2004 (EDT)
Some other notes -- since Japan is such a vertical country, dates for leaves and cherry blossoms vary greatly by latitude. If you're looking for the Japanese words, cherry-blossom (or any other blossom, plum is also popular) viewing is called hanami 花見 and autumn-leaf viewing is sometimes called momiji-gari 紅葉狩り. Hokkaido is a great place for autumn leaves, since it's mostly untouched nature, relatively uncrowded, and is easy to drive through (before the snow hits). (Sorry, I forgot my account name...)


I noted with alarm that the main cities of Japan were not listed at Japan#Cities. I've tried to rectify this, but the list could probably use a little work. --Evan 13:35, 20 Jan 2005 (EST)

I don't really like the way the Cities are now separated from the Regions, although I know that this what the template says. Is there any particular reason for this? I'd prefer something like this: Jpatokal 08:20, 23 Jan 2005 (EST)
  • Region 1
    • City 1
    • City 2
  • Region 2
    • City 1
    • City 2

JRP not valid on Nozomi

According to, the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on Nozomi. Do you have sources to the contrary? Jpatokal 07:18, 28 Feb 2005 (EST)

I made a mistake. Thank you for correcting the error. Kurkoski 08:17, 1 Mar 2005 (EST)

Popularity of Sake, NY Times article

The NY Times has an interesting article (6 March 2005) about sake breweries in Japan as a travel destination. This link may require free registration at NY Times' site, and articles go off-line after 30 days. Kurkoski 04:17, 11 Mar 2005 (EST)

English is NOT compulsory in Japan

A foreign language is compulsory, but not all students learn English though most students take it as a second language. KagakuyaSan 02:56, 5 Apr 2005 (EDT)

  • Even though many Japanese learn English at high-school but their communicating ability is rather poor. I think it is because of the education system which doesn't focus on oral communication. Students learn grammar and write a lot but aren't requested to speak. If you combine this with the Japanese shyness and being afraid of making mistakes (which is an unavoidable part of learning and practicing a language) you get to the present situation: they know English but often can't communicate well. Of course those who spent a year abroad (often only for studying English itself, not necessary for studying at any school.) are good exceptions. -- bujatt 01:33, 18 May 2005 (EDT)
  • Second languages (overwhelmingly English) are compulsory from Junior High (grade 7 up.) Many schools nationwide are beginning to introduce English at the elementary level. Last month the federal government announced will be pushing for mandatory ENGLISH (not "any second language") at elementary. (reg req) Not that this change will have any real effect on tourists walking through the streets for about 7-8 years.

Vending machines

Should it be noted that vending machines, unlike in the US, usually do not carry food(such as candy bars and whatnot)? At least in my admittedly limited experience, most outdoor vending machines carry only liquids(including beer!) but because the Japanese don't like to walk and eat, you can't buy candy bars in vending machines.

Actually there are plenty of Japanese vending machines that sell food, just not on the street (at least very often — I do remember seeing some Pocky machines in Shibuya). Take a look at those in hotels, ferries, long-distance trains etc instead. Jpatokal 02:23, 24 Jun 2005 (EDT)
Lounges in hotels and inns often have a snack machine. (Normally refered to as "otsumami" - the context is "snacks to accompany alcohol". Expect a lot of peanuts, dried squid, and cup noodles.)
Quite normal is, to see a glass tube containing Kit Kat bars in normal on-street machines Niels

I also added that you can now pay with Suica card at quite a lot of vending machines in and around JR stations. Most on the Yamanote line.Niels

Mobile phones

Sorry Sekicho, I think the previous info was correct: Vodafone uses 'normal' 3G WCDMA and can thus be used as long as your phone supports 3G and your operator has a roaming agreement. NTT's FOMA WCDMA thingy is, however, still incompatible. The quad-band things are AFAIK PDC (Japan's home-grown standard), not 3G. Jpatokal 21:15, 5 Jul 2005 (EDT)

You can only use WCDMA 3G and not "normal" 3G. Europe mostly uses the other variety of UMTS and not the WCDMA type. Hence, most WCDMA only phones will not work on European 3G networks and will not work at all if they are PDC/WCDMA combo's like some in Japan are. The US, home of Quallcom (creator of CDMA/WCDMA) does use WCDMA 3G. Also, Vodafone should be updated to Softbank now. Niels
This is almost entirely incorrect. UMTS is W-CDMA (and FOMA). Qualcomm's standard, which is used by au (KDDI), is called CDMA2000. Roaming on all three networks (Docomo, Vodafone/Softbank, au) is possible with the right equipment. Jpatokal 10:03, 15 October 2006 (EDT)
You are so right. And I am wrong. Thank you for editing my stupidity. Niels

Prefectures complete

All of Japan's prefectures should now be written up with a stub, a map, and appropriate links to the capital, Wikipedia and the Japanese version (where most pages don't exist yet, but soon will). Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto! Jpatokal 06:09, 12 Aug 2005 (EDT)

Ah! I guess you kind of said you were going to do that when you made the nomination here: Wikitravel:Script nominations#Kunibotto. --Evan 13:01, 12 Aug 2005 (EDT)

Sake & Alcohol Types

I think the section on sake is inaccurate: I've been to Tokyo (and speak a fair amount of Japanese) and I was never offered "nihonshu". Always, if the server prompted for a beverage choice it was called sake. Maybe it was just cause I'm obviously foreign (caucasian) but I'm never heard it. Also, my college classes never called it nihonshu (I could only see what it was getting at by reading the kanji given in parenthesis). Any objections on changing that? I was also thinking of correcting slightly the explanation of why sake is more like beer (it is more like it because it is made with grain, not that it is "brewed". "brew" is just the term in english for making grain-based alcoholic beverages, versus, for example "vint" for grape wine). R343L

Or having looked into it a little more, maybe it should just be updated to indicate that "sake" can mean different things in different areas. In Tokyo it seems to be rice wine. But apparently elsewhere it can be shochu or other regional beverages. R343L 19:59, 14 Oct 2005 (EDT)

When I toured a sake factory, I was surprised by how much the process resembled that of making beer. I believe that sake-making involves heat, in such case the word "brew" would be appropriate—we also brew tea and coffee with hot water. However, sake does not contain hops, and is certainly not beer. I have edited the section in question. Kurkoski 07:18, 10 Jan 2006 (EST)

Dew-Sky bath?

Do we really want to get that literal with translations? 露天 (roten) means "open-air" in general, not just for baths. -- Paul Richter 02:13, 16 Feb 2006 (EST)

True enough, but it sounds a lot more romantic when translated that way. =) And I think the term implies a bit more than just open-air, as out in inaka you'll occasionally run into the completely no-frills field-sky-bath notenburo 野天風呂... Jpatokal 03:14, 16 Feb 2006 (EST)
"dew" is not a literal translation per se. In the context of 露天, 露 means あらわ, not つゆ. (same character though.) The literal (Japanese) meaning of "roten" is "without a roof". I don't think that the word 野天 is often used in Japanese (I even asked some Japanese friends in Hokkaido and THEY hadn't heard that word... how much more inaka can you get?)
Direct translation of Kanji, or thinking of words in Kanji according to their "meaning" has been looked down upon by all of my Japanese teachers. While I find it fun to think of some words that way, and use it to memorize Kanji that way by no means for the audience we are writing this for needs this translation. I go to onsen 1-3 times a week and 露天風呂 just means outdoor bath. For example rotenbori 露天掘り means a strip mine. If no one objects I'm gonna edit the "Dew-Sky bath" out. David Bower 11:01, 19 Oct 2006 (JST)
Go ahead. <涙> Jpatokal 23:57, 18 October 2006 (EDT)


It should be noted that while Japan uses the American style plug, most places (particularly hotels) have only the 2 pin variety available, whereas the 3 pin variety (earthed) is usually only common in offices and factories. This makes the use of earthed equipment (eg: some laptops and computers) a bit of a hassle in hotels. cef 18:36, 11 Mar 2006 (AEDT)

Well, you could just get a Japanese earthed plug with 2 pins and an earthed wire? This way, you can connect your laptop earthed. Same applies for machines like a microwave or fridge. Niels

Important safety information removed

You guys are no fun. -- 00:57, 18 March 2006 (EST)

Sadly, yes. We guys are so serious that we have a policy about Jokes stashed away somewhere. Problem is, if people see stuff about Godzillas in the "Stay safe" section, the quality of the guide will go down in their minds, because they will assume that the rest of the guide is filled with nonsense too. That was why I reverted it. Unfortunately, the jokes I don't mind, someone else will for some other reason. See the whole history of Walnut Creek for example. Don't let that stop you from making your writing lively and witty though. At least some of it will stick. (And you can move your godzilla joke to Wikitravel:Bad jokes and other deleted nonsenseRavikiran 08:17, 18 March 2006 (EST)
Fair enough, but should Japan come under Godzilla attack while wikitravel members are on vacation there, which one of us will feel guilty? -- 11:43, 18 March 2006 (EST)
One of the admins will commit seppuku on behalf of Wikitravel — Ravikiran 21:35, 18 March 2006 (EST)

Rail travel in Japan

There are separate Travel Topic articles for Rail travel in Europe and Rail travel in North America. The "By rail" section here is rather lengthy, and it seems to me that it would make sense to move this topic to its own Rail travel in Japan article. - Todd VerBeek 11:30, 7 April 2006 (EDT)

I don't like the Rail travel in Europe/N. America articles and I will loudly oppose a move to create such a monster for Japan. In Japan's case, in particular, there's one very good place for the info to go -- in the country article under Get around#By rail -- and that's where it should stay. Jpatokal 12:16, 7 April 2006 (EDT)
If that's how you feel, please add this opinion to the discussion about Rail travel in North America. I think we need to try to find a consensus for how to handle this, consistently. - Todd VerBeek 13:22, 7 April 2006 (EDT)
The issue is how much information does there need to be in a country's continent's "get around" section? The NA/ EU articles allow for the excessive amount of information to be available for travellers. This would be my idea for coming to a consensus:
  • Rail information should be in a country's "get around" section provided that there is little information that is available or that rail travel is of little use in that country.
  • If there is an excessive amount of information then explore the possibility (does not give a guarantee for the creation) of a [[Rail travel in xxx]] article.
The case for the European article (as an example) many travellers use rail to cross Europe. The information provided in the EU article would therefore be useful, because then the traveller knows what to expect in some cases of traveling by rail across Euroland.

Sapphire 13:41, 7 April 2006 (EDT)

Can we please add this link to the article? Please print and fill out this | handy form to save time at the exchange office. This is especially handy if you travel with more then 2 persons, as filling out the forms on location might make you miss the train ytou wanted to take.


"Japanese eat all their traditional food with chopsticks (箸 hashi), the primary exceptions being curry rice and fried rice (for which a spoon is used)."

I would strongly disagree that either curry rice or fried rice is traditional Japanese food. Also, some traditional items (esp. ochawanmushi) are now eaten with a spoon. There are a number of "traditional" foods eaten with bare hands (e.g. many types of sushi, onigiri / omusubi, and most types of snacks like senbei). Should this be re-written?

"Disposable chopsticks (wari-bashi) are provided with less expensive meals, bentō and other take-out foods."

I don't think I have ever eaten at a restaurant in Japan of any sort, no matter how cheap or how expensive, used non-disposable chopsticks. I think wari-bashi are ubiquitous because they are undeniably clean. Non-disposable chopsticks are normally used in people's homes, and guests will normally be given wari-bashi. Might be worth noting that wooden wari-bashi are also easier to eat noodles with.

Plunge forward! Jpatokal 10:23, 30 April 2006 (EDT)


In a recent edit, the following information was removed:

to figure out where a campsite is, paste the address into Google Maps when you're looking at roughly the right region. Zooming in over Google Maps can often reveal additional campsites (the symbol looks like a tent) that you may not have found otherwise, although it won't provide you with pricing or hours.

This is a very useful tip; why was it removed, out of curiosity? -- 13:22, 23 June 2006 (EDT)

Hello! Please see Wikitravel:External links for more information, but basically, we want to have complete guides and not just lists of links. Wikitravel:Goals and non-goals may help too! Thanks. Majnoona 21:47, 23 June 2006 (EDT)

Shoes and children

Sorry, I didn't really understand that "shoes and children" addition. It's rude in any country to put your feet up on any surface other than the floor, this is not specific to Japan (or children). Jpatokal 01:34, 31 July 2006 (EDT)

-- Whilst I agree it is rude everywhere, it is very rude in Japan. And it is frequent complaint about foreigners particularly those who travel with children. Japanese ladies frequently move away and start wiping there dress with the wet tissues when such things happen. In Europe such things are more tolerated. I have edited and reinserted.

I lived in Japan for 4 years and never saw that happen, but maybe I'm just an big old gaijin brute. But it is true that shoes and feet generally are considered dirty, so I've kept the bit in but cut it down to size (short = good). Jpatokal 02:32, 31 July 2006 (EDT)

-- I live in Japan and have done so for 10 years and have traveled widely. For me, I really dont like your edit, Japanese couldnt care a toss about pointing your shoe towards, nor do I mean directly standing on seats, I mean brushing up or brief touching. I really find the shoe issue the #1 complaint about western tourists and I have watch at least two occasions children have accidently in there excitement to view whats happening, touch someone who then moved away even if it was to stand up. However I am not going to get into an edit I will give up trying.

Better? This is hardly an edit war, I'm just trying to distill the advice to be as compact as possible. And in my book, getting into a tub before washing or walking on tatami with shoes/toilet slippers are both more likely and bigger offences... Jpatokal 02:49, 31 July 2006 (EDT)


Edited Sapporo out of my Weekly Mansion Tokyo bit. They sold the Sapporo mansion. Also edited the 1 person. They now have 3-4 people who reasonably understand English.

Secondly, I have edited the hotel section to speed up check-in, by adding it is wise to take a copy of your passport to hand over to the hotel clerks. Niels

Jpatokal, I do not agree to your "tiny" addition and condensation in this way, however, if the majority does agree, It's fine by me, however wrong it is. The ensuite facilities in most Tokyo-inn are neither tiny nor are the rooms cramped when compared to any other hotel in Japan. Condensing it and making it uniform and therefore generalising is not something you should do. Especially not on a travel advice site.
In my experience a "business hotel" is pretty much defined by having tiny cramped rooms, but I've never stayed at a Tokyu Inn. I added a note to say that they're better than the rest, is it OK now? Jpatokal 10:38, 15 October 2006 (EDT)
Yup, looks better that way. Thanks Niels
Tokyu are very much the upper end of business hotels - in fact I'm not even sure if I would call a Tokyu Inn a business hotel (I've stayed in one, and compared to most other business hotels...). Kagaland 12:43, 23 February 2007 (EST)
Also readded the link to Rakuten, which is Japan's undisputed #1 booking engine and offers more options and better rates than any of the competition. Jpatokal 10:42, 15 October 2006 (EDT)
Never used them. Are they any good? I usually just call the hotels in Japanese.
Rakuten is very good. I have used them for years, for numerous hotels, and the reservation is always there, always correct. I have even used them to book hotels in China with no problems. They don't cover every single hotel in the country of course, but they are my first stop. Kagaland 12:43, 23 February 2007 (EST)
Rakuten's Japanese site is indeed great, although JALAN is up there too, but their English site has no where near as many hotels as theri Japanese site. I was wondering if this was not a violation of the not linking to hotel booking sites rule.

Hiyashi vs reishu

Yes, reishu is "cold sake", but when ordering sake X cold, you say hiyashi and IMHO that's what Wikitravel should say. Jpatokal 14:26, 25 October 2006 (EDT)

"Get in - by plane"

About "5.1 Get in - by plane".

It seems this sentences incorrect.

"While Narita and Kansai handle some domestic flights, while most domestic flights from the Kansai region use Itami (ITM) to the north of Osaka or Kobe's airport. "

I wrote at Kansai international airport (Wikitravel by english version - discussion ),

>It is number of domestic flights.

>KIX  : To 416 flights (per a week),20 airports. (Aug. 2006)

>ITM  : To about 560 flights (per a week),28 airports. (Oct. 2003)

>NGO  : To 679 flights (per a week),25 airports. (Aug. 2006)

and UKB (Kobe airport) has 196 flights (per a week),8 airports. (Oct. 2006).It isn't "most". (but "more" than NRT)

It shuld be rewrite it,I think. , 18:52 8 Mar. 2007 (JST)


I removed this:

Whale meat is also considered a delicacy. Canned whale meat can be found in some supermarkets, though for a rather high price for such a small can. Whale meat is served in the most elegant of restaurants - again, the price is tremendously high for a small serving.

This seems wrong on almost all counts. I've never seen canned whale (not that I've looked very hard), it's not served by "the most elegant of restaurants" ('cause it just doesn't taste that good), but if you can find it prices are quite reasonable (Kujiraya's teishoku sets in Tokyo are mostly under ¥1000).

All in all, though, I'm not sure whale warrants a mention on the main page, because it's just not that common in Japan and tourists are highly unlikely to stumble into it by accident. Jpatokal 02:37, 17 March 2007 (EDT)

Agreed. I've never seen either canned or restaurant whale for sale, nor have I ever talked to a Japanese person who named it among their favorite foods. By and large, it's a political issue, not a tourist one. Gorilla Jones 03:47, 17 March 2007 (EDT)
The descriptions is a bit off, but I think whale is worth mentioning in the Food section. Whaling is in the news, and perhaps visitors will be curious about it, whether with an intent to try it or to avoid it. (Explaining that it's not common will allay the visitors fears - "OMG, there isn't any whale in this dish, is there?!")
I have, on at least one occasion, found whale meat included in a "normal" sashimi plate in a run-of-the-mill izakaya. (No mention of it in the menu, and I had to ask the waitress to confirm my suspicion.) -- Paul Richter 23:02, 18 March 2007 (EDT)


"Perhaps Japan's most famous culinary exports are sushi (寿司), raw fish over rice..." Sushi is not necessarily raw nor is it always fish.

And a barbeque is not always meat, and you can make a pudding from cabbage. Did you have a point? Jpatokal 09:33, 22 March 2007 (EDT)
I was under the impression that the information on this site is supposed to be true. The statement I quoted is false, so it should be changed. You would probably also want to change a wiki on American food if it said something like "In the US, people enjoy barbeque, or grilled hamburgers." Not to mention the fact that the idea that sushi is raw is a huge misconception that many people believe erroneously and this wiki is reinforcing that. So yes, I did have a point.
Assume you're a completely clueless tourist to Japan, and you're presented with a platter of sushi. Will you be struck by the fact that the rice is delicately scented with vinegar? (That's what "sushi" actually means.) Will you be surprised by the use of cucumber or egg? No, you'll be shocked by the fact that 90% contain raw fish. The article goes on to explain that not all sushi is raw fish... but most of it certainly is. Jpatokal 02:28, 27 March 2007 (EDT)


that wasn't a copy vio