Japan Travel Tips — Part 2
If you haven’t read Japan Travel Tips — Part 1, you can read it here.
To add on to this series, I thought it would be best to add another 3 tips to help you on your merry way.
Let’s get into it!
Tips covered in this article:
- Sending your large luggage via Ta-Q-Bin
- Konbini’s (Convenience Store), food, supplies and everything you need.
- ATM’s & Credit Cards
Ta-Q-Bin (Luggage Sending Service)
In a highly organised and efficient country such as Japan there is helpful services to ensure the transport system is less cluttered and runs without any delays.
A lot of individuals choose to send large suitcases, snowboards, bikes and anything large via a luggage forwarding service called Ta-Q-Bin (pronounced ta-ku-bin). Yamato Transport Co. is the company that run’s the Ta-Q-Bin service from most major airports, 7/11’s and hotels. You can organise a pick up and drop off to any location across the country and most can be organised for next day delivery but Ta-Q-Bin can hold your luggage for up to 7 days before being dropped off at your chosen destination.
The cost is reasonable, sending a snowboard bag (up to 25kgs) costs about 1,800 yen to Nozawa Onsen (Nagano Area) and can be delivered the next day.
There is a Ta-Q-Bin drop off point at all airport arrival terminals, the most common one Sarah and I use is at Narita Airport.
Just ask a local to following to find it:
“Takkyubin wa doko desu ka?” — Where is the Ta-q-bin?
You will see the transport trucks driving all over Japan, they are distinguishable by they green and yellow trucks with a black cat on them.
You can find more information on their website: http://www.kuronekoyamato.co.jp/en/
Hint: When you send your luggage make sure you have your destination address in Japanese!
When you send your luggage back to the airport, allow an extra day as Ta-Q-Bin does not do next day delivery.
Konbini’s — Japanese Convenience Stores
The konbini (Japanese word for Convenience Store) is an icon of Japan. Every convenience store in the world will always be compared to ones in Japan for their delectable treats, wares and goodies. And to be honest, they never stack up to Japan.
There are 3 major konbini’s in Japan — 7-Eleven, Lawson & Family Mart.
Most convenience stores are open all night (exceptions in rural towns and isolated areas) and are frequented by salarymen and people always on the go. Some of my favourite treats have been from 7-Eleven and have included;
- Strawberry Bombs (whole strawberry, cream and wrapped in think pastry).
- Spaghetti (yes, spaghetti!).
- Individually wrapped corn.
- Alcohol (that’s right people, 24 hour access to beer!).
- Tune Rice Balls (tuna wrapped in rice and seaweed).
- Grape Fanta (such a buzz of grape-y goodness).
So be sure to step into a konbini to checkout the goods.
ATM’s & Credit Cards
For such a high-tech country Japan is only now embracing the convenience of digital transactions. Japan is largely a cash based country. Similarly to most asian countries, cash rules everything around Japan [me] (cue Wu-Tang http://bit.ly/1fzuUtS).
Credit cards were not accepted widely until recently, but now most major shopping centres/department stores will accept them. Hotels will also accept your credit card as a form of payment.
There are no signs indicating if stores/establishments accept credit cards so it’s always best to have enough cash to cover whatever it is you are doing. Japan is relatively safe that this shouldn’t be an issue.
You can withdraw your money from most ATM’s you find on your journey (some don’t accept foreign cards, so be sure to read the machine first), most commonly is at 7-Eleven, Banks & Post Offices.
Australian Specific Advice
If you are unsure about what account to use while in Japan, don’t fret. After tonnes of research I have found, what I believe, is the most cost effective way of travelling Japan.
The most convenient ATM’s for when I travel are 7-Elevens, they also happen to have a banking division called 7-Bank (Seven Bank). Which fortunately has an alliance with Citibank.
Citibank offer a fee free transactional account (Citibank Plus Transactional) which allows free ATM withdrawals globally within their alliance, and also no foreign transaction fees (think 3% of what you withdraw), a massive savings. The best news is you can also take advantage of Visa’s exchange rate which is on par with most foreign exchange rates you see online.
You can read more about it here: https://www.citibank.com.au/aus/banking/everyday_banking/citibank_plus.htm
Another great option is the 28 Degrees Card (Mastercard), but doesn’t have as many benefits: http://www.28degreescard.com.au
Series Starting In January 2016
Sarah and I will be doing a series on Japan Travel starting this January, subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more exciting tips, not just Japan but other countries too!