7-Eleven food is tasty
They may look like your run-of-the-mill convenience stores on the outside, but Japanese 7-Elevens are anything but. With more than 20,000 locations throughout the country, Japan’s largest convenience store chain can easily double as a restaurant. Expect to see entire aisles dedicated to beer, sake, instant noodles, desserts, condiments and fresh produce. If restaurants are sometimes daunting, you won’t go hungry with 7-Elevens quality meals like Bento (lunch box), karaage (Japanese fried chicken), ramen, sandwiches, rice balls and sushi, which are clearly on display so you know what you’re buying. The only downside are the large amounts of plastic that come with it.
Learn a few basic words and phrases
For the most part, you can get around Japan just fine without knowing any Japanese. Most restaurants provide pictured menus, too. Once you venture outside of the tourist spots, however, it’s common to see solely Japanese lettering. Familiarise yourself with how to say: ‘thank you’ – arigatō; ‘please’ – okudasai; ‘excuse me’ – gomenasai and ‘good morning’ – ohaiyoo gozaimasu. Your efforts will be appreciated by the locals, and you’re guaranteed to have a better time.
Keep your voice down
It’s no secret that the Japanese are fiercely protective of their customs and have no intention of watering them down, even for tourists. Speak loudly in Japan and you’ll bring unwanted attention to yourself and your travel companions. Watching the volume of your voice and the subject of your conversation is essential. Also, most trains will have a quiet carriage, so make sure you’re not in one of these if you intend swapping travel stories with fellow backpackers.