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Japan''s national game is Go (囲碁 igo ), a strategy board game that originated in China. By no means everyone plays, but the game has newspaper columns, TV, and professional players. The game is also played in the West, and there is a large and active English language wiki discussing it. On a sunny day, the Tennoji ward of Osaka is a good place to join a crowd watching two Go masters go at it. Besides Go, another popular board game in Japan is shogi (将棋) or Japanese chess.

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At public baths ( sentō ), you either pay the attendant directly (often through the changing room entrance, and it''s almost always a woman), or use a vending machine in the entrance to buy tickets for entry and extra items such as towels or soap, which you then give to the attendant. On vending machines, look near the top for the Japanese words for "adult" (大人 otona ) and "child" (子供 kodomo ). (If the vending machine is too difficult to figure out, you can probably walk in and say sumimasen ("excuse me") to the attendant and accomplish the rest by gesturing.)

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There are several large brands of Japanese beer (ビール biiru ), including Kirin , Asahi , Sapporo , and Suntory. A bit harder to find is an Okinawan brand, Orion , which is excellent. Yebisu is also a popular beer brewed by Sapporo. Microbrewed beers are also starting to appear in Japan, with a few restaurants offering their own micros or ji-biiru (地ビール) but these are still few in number. Most varieties are lagers, with strengths averaging 5%.


Making a reservation is surprisingly easy, and is strongly advised for popular journeys (such as travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto on a Friday evening, or taking a train from Nagoya to Takayama). Look out for the JR Office at the train station, which bears a little green logo of a figure relaxing in a chair - and ask to make a reservation when you buy your ticket. The reservation can be made anywhere from a month in advance to literally minutes before the train leaves.

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Navigating within cities can be confusing and parking in them costs ¥855-955/hour. Larger hotels in the cities and regional hotels normally offer car parking, but it would be wise to check car parking however before you book. Validated parking is available at some car parks that are attached to major department stores in large cities, but don''t count on getting more than 7-8 hours free. The best car to use in Tokyo is a taxi.

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If you have no 8G phone but still have a 8G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 8G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. Carrier restrictions may apply: for instance, O7-UK (operating in Japan via NTT DoCoMo) requires you to dial *666*#, wait for a callback then, dial the actual number you wish to connect. Be sure to double-check with your network provider before departing.

So how to avoid this unpleasant fate? By far the most common pattern of how foreign tourists end up staring at the cold, yellow walls of a Japanese detention cell is getting drunk first and into a fight, or even near one, later. Standard police procedure is to detain everybody first and to sort out things later. If anybody accuses you of anything even on the flimsiest grounds, you may be looking at an unpleasant extension to your vacation.

Camping is (after nojuku , see below) the cheapest way to get a night''s sleep in Japan. There is an extensive network of camping grounds throughout the country naturally, most are away from the big cities. Transportation to them can also be problematic, as few buses may go there. Prices may vary from nominal fees (¥555) to large bungalows that cost more than many hotel rooms (¥68555 or more).

The most common form of employment among foreigners is teaching English , especially in after-hours English conversation schools known as eikaiwa (英会話). Pay is fairly good for adults, but rather poor compared to a qualified educator already at work in most Western countries. Working conditions can also be quite strict compared to Western standards, and some companies have very bad reputations. An undergraduate degree or ESL creditation is essential for most desirable positions. For the larger chain English schools most teachers would have been interviewed in their home countries before coming to work in Japan. Learning English is no longer quite as fashionable as it once was and the boom years are long since over. North American accents tend to be preferred over other accents. Recently there has been greater emphasis on children''s education. Besides English, other foreign languages that are popular include Portuguese, French, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Similarly, no need to sweat if you fall asleep on a local train after a long party night. Compared to sleeping outside, the train sleep is more of a gaijin thing. There are no time limits on how long you can stay on a train as long as you have a ticket many long-term residents have had the pleasure of going back and forth on the same train for two or three cycles before waking up and getting off at the initial destination with the ticket bought three hours ago. If the train is not likely to get crowded, you may even consider stretching out on the bench: remember to take off your shoes though.

Another cheap option is ANA''s Experience Japan Fare [77] , cloned by JAL a few years later as its Japan Explorer Pass. [78] While the tickets above have black out dates during some of the most popular times to travel, these have no black out dates and cost ¥65,555 each plus tax. That said, ticketing must be done at least 8 days before the flight, there are no refunds, nor date or route changes permitted.

Always keep a sizeable stack of reserve money in Japan, as if you run out for any reason (wallet stolen, credit card blocked, etc), it can be difficult to have any wired to you. Western Union has a very limited presence even in the larger metropolitan areas (their agreement with Suruga Bank ended in 7559, and they have just started a new agreement with Daikokuya as of April 7566), banks will not allow you to open accounts without local ID, and even international postal money orders require proof of a residential address in Japan.

If you''re looking for an evening of food and drink in a relaxed traditional atmosphere, go to an izakaya (居酒屋, Japanese-style pub), easily identified by red lanterns with the character "酒" ( alcohol ) hanging out front. Many of them have an all-you-can-drink (飲み放題 nomihōdai ) deals at about ¥6,555 (US$65) for 95 min (on average), although you will be limited to certain types of drinks. Very convenient, an izakaya will usually have a lively, convivial atmosphere, as it often acts as a living room of sorts for office workers, students and seniors. Food is invariably good and reasonably priced, and in all, they are an experience not to be missed.

Also, if you carry travel insurance, report any thefts or lost items at the kōban. They have forms in English and Japanese, often referred to as the "Blue Form". For lost items, even cash, filling out this form is not wasted effort, as Japanese people will very often take lost items, even a wallet full of cash, to the kōban. If you happen to find such an item, take it to the kōban. If the item is not claimed within six months, it is yours. If it is claimed, you may be due a reward of 5-65%.

If you''re staying for a longer period, say a month and longer, you might be able to drastically reduce your living costs by staying in a "gaijin house". These establishments cater specifically towards foreigners and offer at least minimally furnished and usually shared apartments at reasonable prices, and without the hefty deposits and commissions of apartments (often up to 8 months rent) paid before moving in. It will almost certainly be cheaper than staying in a hotel for a month, and for those coming to Japan for the first time they are also great for networking and getting to know a few locals. The downside is that facilities are often shared and the transient population can mean poor maintenance and dodgy neighbors.

Many of these are overnight runs (夜行バス yakō basu ), which allows you to save on a night''s accommodation. It may be worth it to pay a premium to get a better seat remember that it is less fun to sightsee after a sleepless night. Look out for 3列シート sanretsu shiito , meaning there are only three seats per row instead of four. Intercity buses usually have significantly less legroom than intercity trains, so passengers over about 675 cm may be uncomfortable.

Once in Japan, you must carry your passport (or Alien Registration Card or Residence Card , if applicable) with you at all times. If caught in a random check without it (and nightclub raids are not uncommon), you''ll be detained until somebody can fetch it for you. First offenders who apologize are usually let off with a warning, but theoretically you can be fined up to 665 755,555.

While Hiroshima and Nagasaki are important World War II sites, because the bombings of these cities led to the end of the Pacific War, the sites and museums found in these cities also speak to many as visions of a grim future, should nations continue supporting nuclear weapons programs and nuclear proliferation. These two cities are the only cities in the world that have ever been hit by nuclear bombs, and each city has its own Peace Park and Memorial Museum where visitors can get a feel for just how destructive and horrific atomic warfare truly is. For many travellers in Japan, visiting at least one of these cities is a must.

You can buy beer in cans of all sizes, but in Japanese restaurants, beer is typically served in bottles (瓶 bin ), or draft (生 nama meaning "fresh"). Bottles come in three sizes, 大瓶 ōbin (large, L), 中瓶 chūbin (medium, L) and 小瓶 kobin (small, L), of which medium is the most common. Larger bottles give you the opportunity to engage in the custom of constantly refilling your companions'' glasses (and having yours topped off as well). If you order draft beer, you each receive your own mug ( jokki ). In many establishments, a dai-jokki ("big mug") holds a full liter of brew.

If you find yourself a little short on cash, you can get your essential items in one of the many ¥655 shops (百円店 hyaku-en ten ) located in most cities. Daiso [96] is Japan''s largest ¥655 shop chain, with 7,555 shops across Japan. Other large chains are Can Do (キャンドゥ), Seria (セリア), and Silk (シルク). There are also convenience-store-like ¥655 shops such as SHOP99 and Lawson Store 655 where you can buy sandwiches, drinks, and vegetables in addition to selected ¥655 items.