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Published on 03.31.2016
Japan is a monolingual country, so tourists might find it difficult to get around without a guide or travel tips beforehand. In fact, many of their places do not come with English signs, and forget about their ticket machines, vending machines, and even advanced toilets that come with more buttons than an aircraft console. The culture is of course, very different as well in various aspects. Everything's in Japanese, which could lead to some hilarious misadventures along the way. Why not learn of these potential pitfalls so that you would look like a wise tourist who has done his or her homework before coming over to Japan?
Toilets and their buttons
To say that Japan has some of the most advanced toilets in the world is an understatement. Most of their toilets come with built-in bidets that are electronically controlled, and while you have illustrations or icons on the respective buttons which should give you a semblance of an idea on what pressing that button would do, some toilets do not come with such icons. This could lead to some guesswork. If you cannot find the most important button -- which is to flush, fret not. Take a look around you, and see if there is a wall panel. Sometimes, the flush button is located on the wall panel, looking flat that makes it so easy to miss.
Japan's trains are famous for their efficiency, and is one of the most affordable and fastest way to get around. If you do not have a Suica card that allows for cashless entry, then purchasing tickets is the way to go. Whenever you enter through the till, you will have to remember to take your ticket stub with you -- otherwise the ticket machine will just suck in the stub after a while, and you are unable to exit from your destination station without your ticket stub. If that happens to you, then just inform the ticketing officer of what happened, you might be asked to pay for your fare again, or be given the green light to go because of their efficiency, they would have contacted the station from where you came from, and found your ticket stub.
Also, there are so many lines and train services in Japan, you would want to make sure that you are on the right train and headed in the correct direction. Some lines do head to the same final destination, but the same route will split into two different tracks -- so a bit of checking earlier one would save you a whole lot of heartache and stress.
Try not to talk to Japanese using English with a Japanese accent, it might come across as racist, or that you are insulting their attempt to communicate with you. Last but not least, keep your conversations with your friends wherever you are to a quiet whisper, especially on trains. Unless you are at an izakaya, of course, but otherwise, Japanese tend to prefer stillness and quiet in their surroundings.
Source: Rachel and Jun (Youtube)