State Of The Map 2012/Travel Tips
Here you find some additional travel tips or what is mentioned in the article but may be particularly important.
Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter Japan must have a passport, which will remain valid during the period of stay.
Nationals of many countries are eligible to enter Japan without a visa, for example as a tourist or to visit a conference like SotM. The following is a list of nationals of countries that have "Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements" with Japan: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/essential/visa.html
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs website provides further information if you need to apply for a visa. In this case it's best to contact the Consular Section of the Embassy or Consulate General of Japan nearest you for more information and advice.
Contact us if you need an invitation letter for your Visa application.
Japanese ATMs, known locally as cash corners, generally do not accept foreign cards and the availability of credit card advances, known as cashing, is spotty. The major exceptions are:
- Over 12,000 Japanese 7-Eleven stores with ATMs accept foreign cards for cash withdrawals. Accepted cards include Mastercard, Maestro, Visa, American Express, JCB and UnionPay, and ATM cards with the Cirrus and Plus logos. These are the most useful as they are everywhere and are accessible 24/7.
- JP Bank (ゆうちょ Yū-cho), formerly the Postal Savings Bank and hence found in almost every post office, which in turn has a branch in almost every village. Most postal ATMs provide instructions in English as well as Japanese. Plus, Cirrus, Visa Electron, Maestro, and UnionPay are accepted, and you can do credit card advances on Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Diners Club. Your PIN must be 6 digits or less.
- Citibank, which has a limited network (see here for a list) but does have ATMs at the major airports.
- HSBC (香港上海銀行) ATMs are few and far between, but these are capable of taking Visa and MasterCard.
- Shinsei Bank (新生銀行) ATMs, which accept Plus and Cirrus, are located at major Tokyo Metro and Keikyu stations, as well as in downtown areas of major cities.
- SMBC (三井住友銀行) ATMS will take UnionPay cards for a 75-yen surcharge. You MUST change the language to either English or Chinese before inserting the card; the machine will not recognize it otherwise.
- Mitsubishi UFJ(三菱東京UFJ銀行) ATMs will take UnionPay, foreign-issued JCB, and Discover cards for no surcharge. Be aware that you MUST press the "English" button first; their ATMs will NOT recognize non-Japanese cards in Japanese-language mode.
- AEON (イオン銀行) ATMs will take UnionPay for no surcharge. Here you must press the "International Cards" button.
I personally recommend the first two in the list, 7-Eleven stores and Japan Postal Bank.
Mobile phones / Roaming
The situation is getting better year by year, but still it's difficult to predict if a foreign mobile phone works in Japan or not. But even if it works, roaming costs might be very expensive. (http://wikitravel.org/en/Japan#By_phone)
Until not so many years ago it was impossible to buy a Japanese SIM card wihtout a phone (and contract). And it can be still a challenge. You probably save a lot of time using the internet in the hotel and at the venue. If you really need a working phone, getting a rental phone (or rental SIM) at the airport might be not the cheapest option but most simple one.
- UPDATE: SIM card for travelers: http://www.bmobile.ne.jp/english/index.html (this seems to be a new offer)
- UPDATE: BB Mobile Wifi Hotspots: http://www.jadij.com/2011/06/mcdonalds-wifi.html (Wifi Hotspot network available at various locations)