How should I pay in Japan? And where should I change my money?

Japan is still very much a cash-based society and it is not unusual to have thousands of yen on one’s person. Some shops and services in Japan do not accept credit or debit cards, although card services are becoming more popular.

We strongly recommend delegates exchange their cash into yen at a bank in their home country before departure to ensure a smooth transaction and the best rate possible. Our second recommendation is to exchange in an international airport (Note: Hagi-Iwami is NOT an international airport).

We do NOT suggest waiting to exchange money in Hamada. Hamada banks do not offer currency exchange. Additionally, foreign credit and debit cards are occasionally not compatible with Japanese ATMs.

What is the weather like there? What clothes should I take?

Hamada has a humid subtropical climate and the second half of May is typically warm and sunny. In 2023, the average high for Hamada in late May was 26 C (78 F) and the average low was 16 C (60 F) with 50 – 60% humidity.

A breathable wardrobe will be most comfortable at the beginning of a Japanese summer, though a light jacket for evenings out is also recommended.

What power outlets are used in Japan?

Japan’s electricity is 100 volts (differing slightly from North America’s 120 volts) and the most common plugs are often non-polarized, ungrounded, with two pins (type A). Non-grounded North American equipment may work fine without an adapter, however certain equipment involving heating may not work properly or even get damaged.

Can I use my mobile phone on Japan’s networks?

It is best to consult your mobile carrier regarding their international plans. While there will be Wi-Fi available at the conference venue and hotel, off-campus sites are unlikely to have internet access.

What are some cultural practices that I should be aware of when I get to Japan?

  • Wear shoes that are easy to take off and put on quickly. Many places like temples, residences, and restaurants require guests to remove their shoes.
  • Although there are no mandates regarding Covid-19, wearing a mask is still very common in Japan, especially on public transportation or if you have symptoms (cough, sore throat, etc.).
  • Unless you’re on a crowded train or other extenuating circumstances, physical contact is not common or welcome in Japan. For greeting someone, the most appropriate gesture is to bow one’s head. Handshakes with people familiar with other styles of greeting are acceptable.
  • Spearing food with chopsticks, or picking up non-food items is seen as childish and rude at the dinner table. Do not leave chopsticks stuck in white rice, or pass food from one person’s chopsticks to another’s, as they resemble Buddhist funeral rites.
  • Tipping is not an accepted practice in Japan for any staff. Even if service is good, waiters are likely to outright refuse added gratuity.
  • Many public places in Japan do not have garbage cans, so one may be expected to keep trash until returning to a hotel room or going to a convenience store (to buy something).

How can I use the bathhouse in the hotel?

The bathhouse in the Route Inn is a great opportunity to experience Japanese bathing culture. The baths are separated by sex and available from 15:00 – 2:00 and 5:00 – 10:00 every day. Here are some simple steps to follow in the bathhouse.

  • In the dressing room, disrobe completely and put your clothes in a locker or basket. It is best to not bring valuables with you to the bath.
  • When you enter the bathing area, take a bucket and stool and find an empty faucet. Here is where you wash yourself before entering the pool. Do not use any product, soap, shampoo or towels in the shared bath. If you have long hair, tie it up before entering the bath.
  • It is a good idea to test the temperature of the bath water before stepping into the bathing pool. Relax and enjoy the moment of serenity, but be careful of overheating.
  • Return to the locker room where you dry off and get dressed. Once you are finished, wipe the floor to remove excess water.

Interested in learning more?