Yokoso! Welcome to Japan, the country of sun rise, samurai and sushi!
Japan is an island country with 6,852 islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the Okhotsk Sea, and it’s located in East Asia.
Although Japan is known as high-technological country, about 73 percent of Japan is forested or mountainous.
Japan is a small country, but it’s divided into 47 prefectures in 9 regions and each prefecture has at least one medical school.
The population of 126 million is the tenth largest in the world and its population density is very high. We have one of the biggest cities in the world, Tokyo, the capital city of Japan. Tokyo is the modern and developed city with full of busy people, 2 towers (Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower) and many skyscrapers. However, Japan is not only Tokyo! You can enjoy visiting many historical temples in Kyoto / Nara, shrines in Mie / Shimane, swimming in Okinawa / Kanagawa, skiing / snowboarding in Hokkaido / Tohoku, and nature in every region.
Japan’s foundation traces back to 660 BC. It’s derived from the first emperors’ enthronement.
Japan had been heavily influenced by neighbouring countries like China for a long time, so there are many similarities such as Kanji (Chinese character) and temples. However, at the same time, we have developed our own cultures like samurai, kabuki and so on.
Religion in Japan is quite unique and complicated. The most common religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shintoism. Buddhism in Japan is a little bit different from the Buddhism in other countries. We don’t have god in Japanese Buddhism and it’s just for expressing thanks to ancestors. On the other hand, Shintoism has gods and it’s believed only in Japan. We go to temples to pray for ancestors in March, August and September and celebrate New Year in a Shintoism way. So it means these religions are kind of combined.
But recently, few of us have faith in specific religions, in short, while celebrating the New Year in a Shintoism way and praying for ancestors in a Buddhism way, we also celebrate Christmas. This is one of the most interesting customs in Japan.
Health care system in Japan is managed by public health insurance.Health insurance is compulsory for all persons residing in Japan.
Health insurance covers 70 percent of individuals medical expenses and ambulances fee. So we need to pay only 30 percent for our own medication and we can make use of ambulances for free.
In terms of general life expectancy (man-80.21 woman-86.61), Japanese medical level is the best in the world.
We usually go to medical school for 6 years after graduation from high school. We study liberal arts (general education subjects) in the 1st grade. From 2nd grade to 4th grade, we are taught basic and clinical medicine. Japanese medical students have to take CBT (Computer Based Test) and OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) before practicing in the hospital, 4th grade. Ordinarily, we are supposed to study in the hospital at least one and half years. After the 6 years of study, we have to take national licence exam.
We have many kinds of developed public transportation networks such as railways, buses, and airplanes throughout Japan. Our public transportation is characterized especially by its unbelievable punctuality, its splendid service and the large crowds of passengers. You can choose how best to travel our country from many options according to your plan or budget.
Railways are a very convenient way to travel this country because Japan is almost covered by Japan Railways Company and other private railway companies. You can arrive at the destination comfortably within a very short time although it costs a little bit high. Moreover, you can ride Shinkansen, which is a kind of high-speed trains, by paying additional fare. If using these bullet trains, it takes only 2.5 hours from Osaka to Tokyo.
As previously mentioned, it is expensive to travel around by train but there are various kinds of discount train tickets.
- Seishun 18 Kippu: This is a seasonally available railway ticket, which gives you five days of unlimited travel on local and rapid Japan Railways trains for 2370 yen per day
- Rail Passes: Many railways companies have their own rail passes, which give you unlimited travel on almost all trains for a certain number of consecutive days. If you are planning to travel for several days in a row, these passes would help you to save money!
You can get information about the railway system below.
Japan Railway Company (These sites include information about ‘Shinkansen’)
- Hokkaido Railway Company http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/
- East Japan Railway Company http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/
- Central Japan Railway Company http://english.jr-central.co.jp/
- West Japan Railway Company https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/
- Shikoku Railway Company http://www.jr-shikoku.co.jp/global/en/
- Kyushu Railway Company https://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/index.jsp
Other private railway companies
- Kanto area
- Tobu http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/en/
- Odakyu http://www.odakyu.jp/english/
- Tokyu http://www.tokyu.co.jp/global/english/index.html
- Keisei http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/us/index.php
- Seibu http://www.seibu-group.co.jp/railways/tourist/english/
- Keikyu http://www.haneda-tokyo-access.com/en/
- Keio https://www.keio.co.jp/english/
- Sotetsu https://www.sotetsu.co.jp/en/
- Tokyo Metro http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/
- Chubu area
- Meitetsu http://www.meitetsu.co.jp/eng/
- Kinki area
- Kintetsu http://www.kintetsu.co.jp/foreign/english/
- Nankai http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/top.html
- Hankyu http://www.hankyu.co.jp/global/en/
- Keihan http://www.keihan.co.jp/travel/en/
- Hanshin http://www.hanshin.co.jp/global/en/
- Kyushu area
- Nishitetsu http://www.nishitetsu.jp/en/
In Japan, there are two kinds of buses; one is the local bus and the other is the highway bus (long distance).
Local buses serve as an efficient and cost effective means of transportation. The fares normally depend on the distance you travel.
Highway buses are an inexpensive means of transportation For example; you can go to Tokyo from Osaka about 3,500yen.
You can get information about the bus system below.
- Highway buses (Online reservation website)
- Japan Bus Online: https://japanbusonline.com/
- Willer Express: http://willerexpress.com/en/?aid=184
- Night Bus: http://nightbusjapan.com/
Air travel is dominated by two main carriers, JAL and ANA, which have strong network throughout Japan and provide superb service. Several smaller airlines are competing with them by slashing airfares.
You can get information about airlines below.
- JAL (Japan Airlines) http://www.jal.co.jp/en/
- ANA (All Nippon Airlines) https://www.ana.co.jp/asw/index.jsp?type=de
These two airlines offer special fares and air passes for foreign visitors on domestic routes to compete with the budget airlines. Some of them must be purchased before you leave for Japan.
- JAL Japan Explorer Pass http://www.world.jal.com/world/en/japan_explorer_pass/ar/
- ANA Experience Japan Fare http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/ph/e/wws_common/promotions/share/experience_jp/
Visiting all prefectures around Japan is recommended because each prefecture has its own custom, food, and places with beautiful scenery. However, it cost an excessive amount of money or time. So, at least you should explore one prefecture where university that you plan to study at is. Each prefecture certainly have a city, places famous for cherry blossoms or the viewing of colorful autumn foliage, and historical structures such as shrine.
Also, if you have the time and the money, you should try to visit at least one popular large city such as Tokyo or Kyoto, and one popular mountain such as Mt.Fuji.
There are some amusement parks too.
There are several famous spots. There are places where you can enjoy the atmosphere of Shintoism or Buddhism in Tokyo not to say Kyoto.
Sensouji temple (in Asakusa) the Meiji Shrine (in Yoyogi)
You can also enjoy seeing Japanese traditional Garden in Tokyo. For example, Shinjuku Gyoen is one of these places. It is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era. This garden blends three distinct styles, so you can see not only Japanese Traditional Garden but also French or English ones.
There are a lot of famous historic buildings. You can learn Japanese traditional culture and religion and have a lot of experiences about it. The example of the spots are shown below. Going to see these places is popular among foreign tourists.
Fushimi Inari-jinja Shrine Sanjusangendo Hall The Shariden of Rokuon-ji Temple
You can enjoy viewing scenery as well. Kyoto has several popular spots. For instance, Arashiyama. You can see different scene in every season because the colour of the leaves of its place’s tree changes depending on the seasons. Besides, you can interacte with Japanese macaque. It is popular among foreigners.
Mt.Fuji is a spiritual symbol for Japanese. It has been registered as a World Cultural Heritage. It is described in a lot of Japanese arts and literatures. If you visit here, you can understand or feel Japanese aesthetic sense. Also, you can enjoy seeing its beautiful scenery, and doing some interesting activities. For instance, climbing or fishing. Especially, we are able to see a beautiful sunrise from the summit of Mt. Fuji. It is one of the most popular activities at Mt.Fuji.
In some cultures, eating aloud is impolite. However, eating noodles aloud in Japan is an appropriate way to show respect to the chef.
During rush hour, the trains may be extremely crowded. Other passengers or even station attendants may try to push you inside the train!
Japan has constant harmless earthquakes, so you may find that many people barely panic when those harmless earthquakes hit. (Still you should panic. Do not be too careless)
Many restrooms are equipped with “washlet” or “electronic bidets” whose functions differ from place to place. You are recommended to learn how to use it from local staffs.
Eating while walking is not common in Japan, so it is appropriate to eat outside the store or nearby dining space.
Important Phone Number
Police Station : 110
Fire Station / Emergency Call : 119
Daily life conversation in Japanese
Good morning.--- Ohayou
Good afternoon. --- Konnichiwa
Good evening. --- Konbanwa
Nice to meet you. --- Oaidekite ureshiidesu
My name is xxx.--- Watashino namaewa xxx desu