I need to book some accommodation. What do you suggest?

In Japan you will find a variety of accommodation styles to suit all tastes and budgets. These range from western-style lodgings including hotels, business (economy) hotels and youth hostels as well as Japanese-style options like high-end ryokan (Japanese-style accommodations with tatami mat floors and futon bedding, usually found near hot-springs), minshuku (bed & breakfast) and guesthouses.

Visit Accommodation for more information.

How far in advance can I book my accommodation in Japan?

In Japan it is still quite common for hotels to only release their rooms for sale 3-6 months in advance. If you search for accommodation and it is unavailable, try checking back 3-6 months out of travel.

How can I book a stay at a temple?

There are over one hundred temples on Koyasan, a sacred mountain in Wakayama prefecture. Many of these offer temple lodging, called shukubo. Most of these Shukubo cost around 9,500yen per person per night including dinner and breakfast. The food served at shukubo is Shojin Ryori, vegetarian cuisine eaten by monks, and at most of shukubo, guests can participate in morning prayer at 6am. Koyasan is best accessed by train from Osaka (Namba).

For more information, please visit the Koyasan Tourist Association website for information on shukubo (temple lodging).

Is AirBnB legal in Japan?

As of June 15, 2018, private lodging facilities including holiday rentals and AirBnB require a license to operate lawfully. Always ensure that you are booked in a licensed property to avoid having your bookings cancelled. Read more about the current situation here.


I am stopping over in Narita for a couple of hours. What can I do?

You can visit Narita City, within 10 minutes train ride from the Airport terminal. There are dayrooms  with shower facilities within the terminal. Currently, international transit passengers can use the travellers lounge free of charge and use the showers at half-price (updated 1/4/2015). Narita Airport also offers Japanese cultural events including performances and hands-on experiences.  Visit the official site for the latest event schedule.

There are also transit tour programs being offered, both volunteer-guided and self-guided. See here for more information.

I am going to Japan with children. Where can I find information about things to do?

There are so many fun things to do with children in Japan. See here for some ideas.

Where can I find information on events and festivals?

Visit the JNTO events page here.

Where can I watch and/or participate in a tea ceremony?

Please click on the link below to see a list (in PDF form) of places that run tea ceremony presentations and/or lessons in English in Tokyo.

Tea ceremony in Tokyo.

How can I see a Sumo Tournament?

You can only see Sumo Tournaments at certain times and places during the year.

• Tokyo – January, May, September Tournament
• Osaka – March Tournament
• Nagoya – July Tournament
• Fukuoka – November Tournament.

Dates for tournaments differ every year. To confirm dates visit the Nihon Sumo Kyokai website.

Visa Requirements

Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not need a visa to enter Japan for a holiday as these countries have Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements.

At immigration, Australian and New Zealand passport holders will be issued with a “Temporary Visitor” entry status stamp, which allows them to stay in Japan for a period of up to 90 days for non-remunerative activities such as sightseeing, participating in amateur sports, visiting relatives, taking inspection tours, participating in lectures or research, attending conferences, making business contacts or other similar activities.

Passports must remain valid for the duration of stay in Japan.

Nationals of countries that do not have “Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements” with Japan must obtain a visa.

Longer stays program

From 23 June 2015, Japan introduced the longer stays program, which allows eligible tourists to stay up to one year in Japan for sightseeing and recreation. Read more.

Please direct all visa-related enquiries to the Consulate-General of Japan in your nearest city.

Further information

Australia Visa Information
New Zealand Visa Information
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Home Page
Immigration Bureau of Japan

Cash and Credit Cards

Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and is generally a safe place to carry cash. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at stores, restaurants and hotels in most major cities, but retailers in some smaller regional areas may only accept cash.

If you wish to use travellers’ cheques, they are accepted by leading banks, hotels, ryokan and stores in major cities.

Japan Post ATMs (JP Bank), Seven-Eleven convenience store ATMs and Family Mart convenience store ATMs accept most international credit and debit cards for cash withdrawal. International withdrawal fees apply.

Shinsei Bank and Citibank ATMs also accept international cards. The number of ATMs that accept overseas issued cards is on the rise.

Consumer Affairs for Tourists

Consumer Hotline for Tourists

The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan offers a Consumer Hotline for Tourists, which offers telephone consultation for visitors to Japan that experience consumer related issues during their stay.

Call the hotline if you encounter consumer issues involving stores, restaurants, bars, transportation, or lodging during your visit.

Phone number


* Standard call rates to the call centre will apply.

Operating hours

Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (closed weekends, national holidays, and Dec. 29 – Jan. 3)

Languages supported

English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese

Climate and Weather

Click here to view the Weather Forecast for Japan.

Spring (March – May)

The plum blossom is a good sign that the cold winter will soon end and spring is just around the corner, followed by the cherry blossom at its best in the Tokyo area between the end of March and the beginning of April to bring this beautiful season to a climax. Splendid views of mountains, fields and gardens all blanketed in gentle pink abound in this season.

Clothing: light jackets, light sweaters and other similar kinds of tops.

Summer (June – August)

The Japanese summer begins in June with a three to four week rainy season. This is an important time for farmers to plant rice. It becomes seriously hot and humid from July onward and many Japanese enjoy bathing in the sea and relaxing at cool resorts in mountainous areas. Summer is when many interesting festivals and other events are held all over the country.

Clothing: light clothes (cardigans and other similar kinds are handy, since indoors are mostly air-conditioned.)

Autumn (September – November)

Autumn always brings such freshness with a light breeze and cool temperature after the hot and humid summer. All forests are dyed in glorious autumn colors. Chrysanthemums create beautiful displays with their abundance of flowers to enchant visitors to parks and gardens. Autumn is also the season for many exhibitions, music concerts and sports tournaments in Japan.

Clothing: light jackets, light sweaters and other similar kinds of tops.

Winter (December – February)

The temperature rarely drops below 0°C in the plains along the Pacific coast during wintertime. It is also quite dry and very often sunny. Central Japan and Northern Japan are highly reputed regions for winter sports. Southern Japan is comparatively mild and pleasant in winter.

Clothing: overcoats, sweaters, etc.

Average Temperature & Precipitation in Major Cities


Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) -4.1 26.4 110.7
Spring (Apr) 6.7 44.1 60.9
Summer (Jul) 20.5 68.9 67.2
Autumn (Oct) 11.3 52.3 124.1


Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 1.5 34.7 33.1
Spring (Apr) 10.1 50.2 98.1
Summer (Jul) 22.1 71.8 159.7
Autumn (Oct) 14.8 58.6 99.2


Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 5.8 42.4 48.6
Spring (Apr) 14.4 57.9 130.3
Summer (Jul) 25.4 77.7 161.5
Autumn (Oct) 18.2 64.8 163.1


Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 4.3 39.7 42.2
Spring (Apr) 14.1 57.4 143.3
Summer (Jul) 26.0 78.8 218.0
Autumn (Oct) 17.6 63.7 116.9


Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 5.8 42.4 43.7
Spring (Apr) 14.8 58.6 121.
Summer (Jul) 27.2 81.0 155.4
Autumn (Oct) 18.7 65.7 109.3


Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 6.4 43.5 72.1
Spring (Apr) 14.8 58.6 125.2
Summer (Jul) 26.9 80.4 266.4
Autumn (Oct) 18.7 65.7 80.9


Temperature °C Temperature °F Precipitation (mm)
Winter (Jan) 16.6 61.9 114.5
Spring (Apr) 21.3 70.3 180.7
Summer (Jul) 28.5 83.3 176.1
Autumn (Oct) 24.9 76.8 162.9

Guide Services

Guide Service / Professional Guides or Guide-Interpreters

Guide-interpreters may be hired through hotels as well as land operators. Licensed guides are available for interpretation in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Korean.

Charges for guide-interpreters services depend on the level of expertise required and the length of the assignment. Average rates are in the range of 25,000yen – 45,000yen per day. In addition, transportation, meal and accommodation costs for the duration of the assignments are borne by the person engaging a guide-interpreter.

Tour guide-interpreter search – database of licensed tour guides and interpreters
Information on the National Examination for the Guide-Interpreters (in Japanese only)

Guide Service / Volunteer Guides (Goodwill Guides)

Systematized Goodwill Guide Groups, comprising mostly students, housewives and retirees, are engaged in different locations throughout Japan in a variety of volunteer activities using their foreign language skills. As volunteers standing ready and willing to assist overseas visitors, these Goodwill Guides are registered with JNTO and display the badge shown below. Several Systematized Goodwill Guide (SGG) groups offer tourists from overseas free local tours guided in English and other languages.

Some have a pre-set walking tour for which you only need to go to a pre-established place at certain dates and times to join, while others make arrangements to meet tourists’ requests. When calling from overseas, your courtesy would be appreciated in making contact during the Japan Standard Time (JST) hours given in each group’s description.

There is no charge for their service as they are volunteers. You are only expected to pay for their travel expenses and admissions to tourist facilities as well as yours, and to pay for their meals if you eat with them.

Feel free to contact any of the SGGs listed and make arrangements for a personal tour if you are planning to visit one of the places included in the list. These volunteer guides will make your visit to the place of your choice much more memorable and rewarding.

List of Volunteer Guides


Health and Safety

Is Japan safe?

Japan has one of the highest levels of public safety with a low crime-rate. According to DFAT’s Smarttraveller Travel Advice on Japan, Japan overall is safe to visit.

If you need further information about the safety of Japan after the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami, refer to this PDF document: For Safe Travel in Japan (PDF: 5.20 mb)

Do I need any vaccinations?

No vaccinations are required before entering Japan.

Is food and water safe for consumption?

Tap water is safe to drink anywhere in Japan. Bottled water can be purchased easily from vending machines for about 120 yen. Food is safely and hygienically prepared, so even street-food can be safely consumed.

In case of accident or illness

Japanese hospitals are well-established so you can expect a high standard of treatment should you require it in Japan. For any medical emergencies, see here. We highly recommend that all travellers purchase travel insurance for peace of mind.

Luggage Forwarding and Storage

Luggage forwarding

Luggage forwarding and storage companies operate throughout Japan at reasonable rates.

These companies include JALABC, Yamato Transport (Kuroneko), and Sagawa Express. You can specify the date and time you’d like your bags to arrive at your destination up to 7 days after pick-up, making it a convenient way to send your bags and store them temporarily if required. You can send items from luggage forwarding service stations located at airports, in hotels or shopping malls, most convenience stores and supermarkets.

Prices range from about 1000yen to 5000yen per item depending on the size.  Deliveries can usually be made by the next business day. Allow an extra day if sending to a remote area like Hokkaido and Okinawa.

When sending bags from the Airport, you should be able to receive your luggage on the same day, depending on the area.  When sending luggage to the airport however, you will need to do it at least 2 days prior to departure (in some areas, 3 days prior). There will be designated luggage pick-up counters at your departure airport. Speak to your hotel concierge for more information.

Refer to this PDF Hands-Free Travel Guide for more detailed information.

Luggage storage

Most Japan Rail (JR) and private railway train stations provide coin-operated lockers. They range in price from 400 yen (small) to 800 yen (large). Bear in mind that during peak travel seasons, coin lockers may be full.

Tokyo Station has a JR Travel Service Center which offers a cloakroom/luggage storage service for 500 yen per item. More information.

Yokohama City Air Terminal (Y-CAT), the city’s bus terminal, offers a cloakroom service for 720 yen per item per day. Located in lobby 2.

Narita International Airport offers temporary luggage storage at the following locations: T1 South Wing 1F Arrival Lobby (GPA Counter), T2 1F Arrival Lobby (GPA Counter and JAL ABC Counter) and T2 3F Departure Lobby (Narita International Airport Promotion Foundation Center). Prices vary depending on the size of the item. A typical suitcase would be 500 yen per day. More information.

Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal offers temporary luggage storage for up to 2 weeks. Prices range from 200 yen to 800 yen depending on the size of the item. More information. Coin lockers are also available on 2F/3F for up to 7 days in two sizes; 300 yen (small) and 500 yen (large).

Kansai International Airport T1 offers temporary luggage storage at the following locations: 1F South & 4F South (JAL ABC) and 1F North & 4F North (Kansai Airport luggage Service). It’s 620 to leave a suitcase for one day, and large items such as surfboards can be left for 1,030 yen per day. More information.

Shin-Chitose Airport offers temporary luggage storage at the following locations: International Terminal Building, 3F and Domestic Terminal Building 1F and 2F. The prices per piece are 305 yen (small), 515 yen (medium) and 820 yen (large). More information.

Mobile Phones and Internet

Can I use my mobile phone in Japan?

You can use your mobile phone (smart phones only) in Japan in SoftBank Mobile or DOCOMO’s 3G (3rd Generation) or 4G/LTE service areas. Ensure global roaming has been activated with your service provider before you leave home and the phone is unlocked from the network.

How do I stay connected while in Japan?

Here are some options:

  1. Global roaming – Vodafone customers can activate global roaming with their plan for an additional $5 per day. For other networks, check with your service provider.
  2. Renting or purchasing a SIM card – SIM cards for smart-phones (iPhone and Android) can be rented from airport kiosks, or ordered online and delivered to your hotel. Phones must be unlocked from your network. Prepaid SIM cards tend to be for data (internet) only and restrict your data usage to 100mb per day. Voice calls are possible using an app like Viber, Skype or even Facebook Messenger. Some data SIMs allow you to purchase additional data online.
  3. Renting a Wi-Fi router – Wi-Fi router rentals, sometimes called “Pocket Wi-Fi” usually offer unlimited data for a daily flat rental fee. Multiple devices can connect to the same hot-spot, so one device can be shared between a group.
  4. Renting a Japanese mobile phone – if you need to make calls to Japanese phone numbers, renting a Japanese mobile phone might be a good option. There are two types of phones available, smartphones (calls, email and internet) and normal phones (calls and text only). Receiving calls is usually free, but additional charges apply for making calls, texting or using the internet.


Ninja WiFi (Pocket WiFi rental)
Softbank Global Rental (data/voice SIM rental, Mobile phone rental, Pocket WiFi rental)
• NTT Communications Prepaid SIM for Japan (Prepaid data SIM)
• So-Net (Prepaid LTE data SIM)
• Telecom Square (Prepaid data SIM, Mobile phone rental, Pocket WiFi rental)

Where can I find free Wi-Fi in Japan?

Free WiFi spots in Japan are on the rise and can be found at many hotels, convenience stores and public areas like shopping malls and train stations.

Download an app like Japan Connected Free WiFi or Travel Japan Free WiFi before you leave. Both apps allow you to search for free hot-spots and connect to them with a one-time registration.


Where can I find information on flights and tours?

Japan is easily accessible from Australia with direct flights every day from most major cities. Information on flight schedules and fares can be obtained by contacting the airlines directly, or through your travel agent or tour operator.

There are many tour operators offering a variety of travel options to help you make the most of your visit to Japan. Search directory to find the operator nearest you.

View flight information
Find a Travel Agent (or tour operator)
Find a Deal (tour or package)

How do I plan my train trips?

Please use Hyperdia to plan your trips. Information about the timetables, prices, transfers and travel times/distances can be obtained here.

How do I reserve/purchase seats on trains, such as shinkansen (bullet trains)?

If you are travelling during a busy time (E.g. 28 Dec-6 Jan New Year holiday, 27 Apr-6 May consecutive holidays, and 11-20 Aug Obon season). Seats can be reserved at the JR Travel Service Center or a Reservation Office (midori-no-madoguchi) at major JR stations, at sales offices of JR-associated travel agencies.

Online reservations can be made via JR-East Shinkansen (JR East and JR Hokkaido) and via the Smart EX Shinkansen Reservation App. JR West will launch an online shinkansen reservation site from March 2019. All other shinkansen must be reserved from Japan, or by contacting a Japan specialist travel agency with a branch in Japan.

Please do not use an automatic ticket-reading gate with a JAPAN RAIL PASS or a reserved-seat ticket. Please show the PASS at a manned ticket gate. Seat reservations are free of charge when using a JR Pass.

Which rail pass should I buy?

This depends on your itinerary. If travelling extensively utilising shinkansen (bullet-trains) within a 7, 14 or 21 day period, it may be worth the money to buy a JR Pass. If you are spending your time concentrated in one region, a regional rail pass might be your best option.

Please use Hyperdia to work out the sector fares and refer to Japan Rail Pass and Regional Rail passes information to make your own decision.

Are there any discount travel passes for exploring Tokyo?

There are several different passes available for multiple journeys within Tokyo, although you should bear in mind that given the relatively low cost of a single trip (usually less than 200 yen), you will need to make numerous trips for the pass to be economical. Refer to Useful Tickets in Tokyo for information about some of the different types of discount passes in Tokyo.

How do I get from the airport to the city?

To/From Narita Airport

See here.

To/From Haneda Airport

See here.

How do I get to/from Yokohama Cruise Port?

See here.


How do I get from Osaka Port to Kansai Airport?

  1. Walk to Osaka-ko Station
  2. Take the Osaka City Subway Chuo Line to Bentencho – 5 mins, 230 yen (as this is a private railway, you cannot use the JR Pass)
  3. Take the JR Yamatoji Rapid Service to Shin-Imamiya – 5 mins, 160 yen
  4. Take the Nankai Limited Express Rapit to Kansai Airport – 35 mins, 1,360 yen (as this is a private railway, you cannot use the JR Pass)

How do I get from Kobe Port to Kansai Airport?

    1. Walk 5-10 mins to Port Terminal Station
    2. Take the Port Liner monorail to Sannomiya subway station. (5 mins, 200 yen)
    3. Walk 5 mins to JR Sannomiya Station. Take the JR Special Rapid Service and alight at Osaka. (20 mins)
    4. Take the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service to Kansai Airport (68 mins) – 1,660 yen

Is there an economical alternative to the bullet-train?

There are overnight coach services to many major cities in Japan, which can cost less than half the price of a bullet train ticket, and also save you on a night’s accommodation.

Japan Bus Pass
Willer Express Highway Bus Services

Travel Apps

1. Japan Official Travel App


Designed to make your trip to Japan smooth, safe and comfortable.


  • Tourist information articles
  • Restaurant listings
  • Public transport route guidance
  • Information on hospitals which provide foreign language services
  • Alerts on natural disasters
  • Find duty-free shops, luggage-forwarding spots and ATMs
  • Search for Wi-Fi access points and Tourist Information Centers offline

2. Safety Tips for travellers


This push-enabled app pushes alerts about earthquake early warnings, tsunami warnings, and other weather warnings within Japan in English, Japanese, Hangul, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.

3. SmartEX: Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Reservations


Purchase tickets and make seat reservations before arriving in Japan on the Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen. This includes stations from Tokyo to Hakata (Fukuoka) including Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima.

Note: this is for travellers using point to point tickets, not for Japan Rail (JR) Pass holders.

See the full list of useful travel apps here.

Travel Tips

 Emergency Info

Japan Visitor Hotline

The Japan Visitor Hotline is a 24-hour, 365 days a year, multilingual call service for travellers in Japan.

Call the Japan Visitor Hotline for tourist information, or if you need assistance in case of emergencies (accident or sickness) or for support during natural disasters.

Ph: +81 (0)50-3816-2787

  • Available 24 hours a day
  • 365 days a year
  • Languages supported: English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese

Natural disasters: Download and install ‘Safety Tips’, a push-notification information natural disasters alert app for tourists.

To report a crime, accident, or other emergency, dial ‘110’ from any telephone or visit your nearest koban (Police Box). In Tokyo, an English-language line to the Metropolitan Police is available from Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., at 03-3501-0110.

If you fall ill or are injured, contact the front desk or concierge at your hotel for assistance. Tourist Information Centres located in tourist spots and train stations can direct you to a nearby medical facility. The AMDA International Medical Information Center also provides a telephone service to foreigners in Japan in several languages. They can provide introductions to medical facilities with staff who speak the patient’s language, and also explain the health care system to callers.

Tel: Tokyo 050-3598-7574 (office)
Tel: Tokyo 03-5285-8088 (consultation)
Tel: Osaka 06-4395-0555
Tel: Machida 042-799-3759

International travel insurance is highly recommended as medical costs can be high.

If you lose your passport, contact the foreign mission of your country:

Australian Embassy

Chancery: 2-1-14, Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
Post Code: 108-8361
Tel. 03-5232-4111

New Zealand Embassy

Chancery: 20-40, Kamiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
Post Code: 150-0047
Tel. 03-3467-2271

Tourist Information Centres

There are more than 300 certified Tourist Information Centres throughout the country, located close to popular tourist attractions and major railway stations.

You can also call the Tourist Information Center hotline: 03 3201 3331 (open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm)

Telephone & Postal Services

Domestic calls – payphones accept 10 yen or 100 yen coins as well as phonecards. A local call costs 10 yen every 57.5 seconds.

International calls – prepaid phone cards for international calls can be purchased at airports or from some convenience stores. Service providers include: KDDI, Softbank and NTT Communications.

Time Difference

Standard time:
• NSW, QLD, ACT, VIC & TAS: Japan is 1 hour behind
• NT & SA: Japan is 30 mins behind
• WA: Japan is 1 hour ahead

Daylight savings time:
• NSW, ACT, VIC & TAS: Japan is 2 hours behind
• QLD: Japan is 1 hour behind
• NT: Japan is 30 mins behind
• SA: Japan is 1.5 hours behind
• WA: Japan is 1 hour ahead

For other countries, see here.

Business Hours & Holidays

See here

Electricity and voltage


The voltage used throughout Japan is uniformly 100 volts, A.C. There are two kinds of frequencies in use; 50 Hertz in eastern Japan and 60 Hertz in western Japan (including Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka).

Australian appliances can be used in Japan as long as they are dual-voltage. Simply purchase a travel plug, which can be purchased at airports or in the travel section of department stores and electronics stores.

A 2-flat-pin plugs are used in Japan.

Please note that when purchasing electrical appliances from Japan, be sure to only purchase dual-voltage appliances such as laptop computers, digital cameras etc. Otherwise, a step-down power transformer will be required when using the Japanese appliance in Australia.