GUEST POST: 10 THINGS TO KNOW IF YOU WANT TO GO — JAPAN

We've partnered with our friends at ManAboutWorld to help bring you insider tips, advice for what to see and do, and travel guides for some of the world's top destinations. Since we covered Japan as one of many easy flight in our Honeymoon Gateway: Denver, CO piece as part of the Denver Edition of MEN'S VOWS, we thought it would only be appropriate to help offer tips for what to know if you're going to Japan. Onward!

At ManAboutWorld, we love Japan. In the developed world, it is unique in the degree to which it has preserved its distinct culture. For visitors, it can be thrilling to experience, and complicated to navigate. Here are 10 things to know that will have you navigating Japan like an expert.

1. Mind your bathing manners 

Japanese bathing rituals are intricate. At a public bath or hot springs, you’re expected to wash and rinse thoroughly before getting into the bath naked to soak. If you have tattoos, you will not be allowed in the most traditional baths, though less of an issue at baths catering to foreigners.

 Japanese Bath House

Japanese Bath House

2. Hyperdia.com 

Japan’s transportation network is extensive, with many different operators. Hyperdia builds point-to-point itineraries for all of them, including connections between trains, subways, busses — even cable cars. Note that train fares may require payment of a “seat fee” (seat reservation fee), in addition to the base fare.

3. Go Down to Eat 

The basement levels of department stores and train stations have great food halls — carrying everything from raw ingredients to prepared meals and bento boxes (perfect for your train ride), to every kind of food gift you can imagine, including delicious sweets and those US $100 melons you’ve heard about.

 Japanese Food Hall

Japanese Food Hall

4. Slip-on Shoes 

You’ll be taking your shoes off and on a lot in Japan – especially if you’re going to explore the temples in Kyoto.  You’ll feel super smart in shoes you can slip in and out of easily.

5. Japanese Etiquette book 

While Japan is increasingly informal, it remains more traditional than most other developed nations, especially at its historic sites and accommodations. You’ll never get the etiquette right 100% of the time, but making an effort is greatly appreciated.

6. Need Cash? 7-Eleven 

Most Japanese ATMs are not programmed for international cards. But Seven Bank has ATMs at every 7-Eleven which are. So get cash before leaving the airport, and use the Seven Bank ATM locator to find a 24/7 international ATM near you.

 7-Eleven in Tokyo, Japan

7-Eleven in Tokyo, Japan

7. IC Payment Cards 

Japan’s electronic payment cards are the easiest way to pay for short subway and train rides, particularly when your travel involves multiple systems — a trip across Tokyo could easily use three different systems. The IC cards let you swipe in and out of all of them, so you don’t need to stop to buy another ticket when you change trains.

8. Japan Rail Pass 

Visitors to Japan can purchase discounted rail passes that provide unlimited train transportation for 7, 14 or 21 days, valid on most lines and trains. It’s a great deal if you’re visiting many cities, or taking at least one round-trip on the bullet train. You can compare point-to- point fares on Hyperdia to check the value.

9. Luggage Delivery 

Overnight luggage delivery to your next destination is very popular and inexpensive in Japan.

This is particularly recommended when traveling by train — the crowded stations and tight connections are not very luggage-friendly.

  Kumano Travel  luggage shuttle service

Kumano Travel luggage shuttle service

10. The Swastika Is an Ancient Symbol

The Japanese swastika predates the Nazi party by centuries, and has nothing to do with them or anti-Semitism. It’s the map symbol for “temple.” That’s a relief, eh?

Want More Japan? The Japan MasterFile guide is available on the ManAboutWorld website as a free download. Just register with your email address if you haven’t already, and get the ManAboutWorld bi-monthly email and other free guides!