5. A Phrasebook And Translator Apps:
Japan can be quite an alienating experience for a lot of travellers owing to the fact that English is hardly spoken in the country and a major percentage of names and signs are written and marked in Japanese. While the locals make every effort to communicate with and help visitors in their broken English, it is imperative for you to have a few decent translator apps on your phone. For those who do not like depending on technology, old-school phrasebooks can come in handy. Additionally, most guidebooks come with a set of pages dedicated to the most common words and phrases used in the country and remembering those can go a long way. Yet another clever thing to do is to take pictures of everyday objects and facilities like public toilets and simply show them to people who absolutely cannot comprehend you. Apps like Goole Translate, iTranslate and Waygo should be of help despite their dubiousness. So should this phrasebook.
6. A Travel Adaptor:
For those travelling to Japan from countries other than the United States, having a travel adaptor is a wise idea. The country uses 2-flat-pin plugs and there are no 3-pin plugs or columnar-shaped plugs (the kind we have in India) at all. Moreover, the voltage used throughout the nation is uniformly 100 Volts A.C. and in order to keep your mobile phones and cameras charged, packing at least two universal travel adapters in advance is a lot better than buying them by paying what is usually twice the amount. Your hotel/apartment should ideally provide you with one but considering how high they are in demand, these adaptors are often not available for all guests. Moreover, instances of travellers not returning these appliances has further deterred a lot of establishments from offering them to guests. Ergo, carry a few of your own.
7. Slip-on Shoes and Socks:
While walking shoes and formal footwear are imperative if you intend to hike and visit high-end restaurants, respectively, make sure you have a pair of slip-on shoes and good socks with you while travelling around Japan. Authentic Japanese eateries, temples and traditional homes require people to leave their shoes at the entrance and wearing footwear that can easily come off saves a lot of time and effort. You should ideally not go barefoot and if in case you are travelling during the muggy weather and forget to pack a decent pair of socks, you can buy some extremely cute and colourful ones at street shops around Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima. For those renting an apartment in the country, most come with separate house and toilet slippers.
8. A Curious Mind To Understand The Trappings Of A Japanese Toilet:
Japanese toilets, apart from being toilets, are a massive source of entertainment for travellers from all over the globe. With dedicated washing sprays for all of your nether regions, heated seats, trappings for deodorisation and noise-cancellation, a plethora of buttons and incomprehensible instructions in Japanese, toilets in Japan are sights in their own right. From the washrooms in hotels to those found inside train stations, freeway rest areas and temples, decoding the functioning of these toilets requires a curious and rather scientific mind. On certain occasions, the flush is impossible to find while at other times, means of drying hands are conspicuous by their absence. All in all, you essentially embark upon a treasure hunt the moment you visit a Japanese lavatory, replete with its murals and Ikebana embellishments and relieve yourself later. Good luck.
That said, the key to the most memorable and smooth travels around Japan, or any destination for that matter, is the undying thirst for discovery and learning. Here's wishing you a wonderful journey!