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Must know

Before leaving for one of the most exotic destinations in the world, to ensure an enjoyable and relaxing trip, there are some things that is better to know and some precautions to take in advance.
Japan, like any other countries in the world, may shares similarities but at the same time, has its own customs, laws and ways of thinking which may differ a lot sometimes. Luca, your guide from the Amico Del Solevante, is more than happy to offer you advices based on both his professional and personal experience, formed during 16 years of traveling around the globe, (eight in Japan). Collecting information like a citizen of the world but more specifically, in regards to Japan.

Last news from Japan about Coronavirus pandemic

To make sure of the situation before leaving, making bookings and organizing a trip is strictly necessary to rely on official sources, such as your country Embassy in Japan or the Japanese Embassy in your country.



In Japan when you are walking on the streets it is mandatory to have at least a readable copy of the passport. It is instead optional to have a copy of the residency permit or visa (depending on the case) together with some contacts, allowing local authorities to help you in case of need. For example, paper copies are fine, but also a picture in your smartphone will do (but remember to always have a full battery or even best uploading those information in a pdf file in a cloud-based account).


If you are staying in Japan for more than 15 days it might be useful to consider buying the Japanese Rail Pass. Which it is purchasable only outside Japan. Be careful, the JR Pass does not cover all the transportation. For example, in Takayama and its surrounding, if you ride the bus (Nohi bus), it is recommended to show the JR Pass at the ticket counter, this way the staff can tell you if the ride is covered, or if you have to buy another ticket. In any case always contact the JR Pass via their official website: JR PASS (multilingual).

Sending Luggages within Japan

Sending luggages within Japan is possible. From convenient stores like Seven Elevens or the  hotel were you are staying. Instead of carrying around your suitcases and backpacks, I advise that once you arrive at the hotel, right during the check in, ask about the delivery and the timing. Send your luggage in complete comfort between hotels! You have to pay for the service and is carried out with the Yamato delivery company. Be mindful to go to ask at the reception of your hotel promptly and from the same day about logistics, conditions and timing, the staff in charge will be more than happy to help you in the process.

Mobile phones and internet

In the information age we are all living and traveling with a smartphone. Because it can be very helpful sometimes. But not mandatory of course. For those smartphone users there is good news. Finally you can buy and use SIM free smartphones and/or internet traffic only unlocked-sim-cards. In case of longer periods of stay you can still use your unlocked phone with a Japanese SIM card (usually one year/two years contract based plan) as well. During your short term travel, those SIM cards come out already pre-cutted in standard, micro and nano sizes for all types of phones. In Takayama the nearest shop where you can buy an internet-only SIM, is at the convenient store, within the JR station (link Family Mart)! Once you give your tickets to the station officers on your left you see a waiting room with big windows, you can’t miss it. If you miss it make sure to promptly mention it to your guide Luca.
Last but not least, a small tip: please be sure to use headphones or to silence your phone in all public areas, like inside public transports, restaurants...I am sure you want to enjoy and you may want to feel free...finally you are traveling and you are on vacation and trust me, I know the feeling, but the other living beings like to enjoy their own life too. But in order to guarantee everybody happiness the guide kindly expect a common sensed baseline from everyone, guide included of course.


Food and beverage

If you are willing to fully savor the culture, trying local and traditional dishes is essential. Your guide will excuse you only in case of this case, Luca will be more than happy to find the best alternatives to satisfy all the palates. In fact, it may seem strange, but here the culinary culture is full of flavors. In general in all Japan it's possible to find dishes and restaurants for vegetarians, vegans or muslims, especially here in Takayama. Speaking of allergies, such as gluten, eggs, fish and so on, the standard is high, and good alternatives do exist.

There are no dust bins in Japan. For one reason, it's up to each of us to take our own "consumerism debris" at home and dispose of it according to common sense criteria. Such as differentiate plastic from paper, food, etc. This applies to both citizens and tourists. In case of tourism, all the "dross" must be taken to the hotel room.

Smoking is prohibited on the street of Japan. One of the main reasons beyond health is the danger of causing fires, given the many new and old wooden houses. Many places, like in all the rest of the world, are banning the consumption of "indoor" tobacco. Please use the designated smoking areas for cigarettes (electric or traditional) and butts.

Alcohol consumption (and tobacco) underage in Japan is illegal
In Japan, to reach adulthood you must be 18 years old. If the legal age in your own country is below eighteen, once you step in Japan you will automatically become underage. Consider it a chance to enjoy healthy drinks during your journey, because Japan, but in particular Takayama have also excellent soft-drinks, such as fruit juices made out of real 100% fruits, veggie juices, local fruit juices like yuzu...but if you have to drink something that resemble alcoholic beverage you can find non alcoholic beers. 
P.S. Drink alcohol and driving is illegal too, what ever the percentage of it you end up in jail. You can call a cab or if you have your own car you can call "DAIKŌ" a driver service. They drive your car and a hub will drive you home just behind. Not so expensive and very safe. Like all the Japanese standards.
Here is an official source:

Also, regarding “drinks”, here in Takayama is possible to taste vegetarian ramen, exclusively made of vegetables: remember to promptly mention it to your guide.

Usually, many people love to sleep on a comfortable and warm Japan we sleep on a healthy futon. No need to worry though: hotels and many other facilities have both. Normally, if you reserve a room in a ryokan it is better to know in advance, that your experience will be as close as possible to the traditional Japanese culture from at least 50 years ago. These facilities are usually warm, generally their restaurant service has traditional menu options only, so no french fries or chicken wings, after all you choose the place. The restrooms might be built in a traditional even here luck is on the side of those who come prepared. Usually every ryokan has a website, some of them may also be in English but it's not mandatory.


In the rising sun cash is king. Credit and debit cards are allowed but often they may be not accepted as a payment method. Especially in remote areas of course, but not only. Therefore, it is better to be equipped in advance and relying on your bank at first, might be the best option. Exchanging money at the airports is never recommended and it is better to go to the banks directly in Japan (not the kiosks!) or to a bank that is provided with currency-exchange services. But Japanese ATMs, both in post offices and convenience stores (Seven Eleven, Family Mart, Lawson) are not that bad, but you may want to rely on them as a last resort. Not all credit cards are also accepted. In Takayama there is a specific bank just in front of the JR station. Ask your guide for more information, before your arrival.
To check the currency exchange, the best world’s source recommended is the website


During the tour
The sun in Japan from the end of April until September is very strong, so I always recommend the use of high protection sunscreen. There are days that the direct sun can really burn, especially in the Takayama-Shirakawa-Kanazawa area, even after twenty minutes of short sleeves. This is because the ozone in this part of the hemisphere is thinner and the UVs are very high. So long sleeves hat and sunscreen never hurts. If you want to be deeply Japanese, you can also use UV protection umbrellas that shield you from the strong rays of our beautiful mighty sun on long walks.

In winter, however, Takayama Shirakawa and Kanazawa might get really snowy. So much snow that any public transportation can be shutted down or delayed. Especially between January and early March. About clothing, you don't need to dress like you would for skiing or climbing the Alps! Comfortable but warm clothing, with windproof and waterproof shoes, umbrellas even for heavy snowfall is required. But don't worry, Luca do his best trying to foresee what is possible, so that even in the event of heavy snowfall, the tours are still feasible! Takayama is accessible on foot even in the snow. For Shirakawa if the only means (buses) moves, we will move too! For Kanazawa for example instead of mainly walking for the tour we will do it by bus. If the buses are blocked, the taxi is required. Of course, itineraries and times may vary. So let's arm ourselves with patience and try to enjoy the day by adapting to the conditions of mother nature and leave it to the guide!

Now remember "forewarned is forearmed..."!


Geisha (or Geiko) and Maiko (the apprentice of a Geisha)
Because of television, in the popular imagination there is still a lot of confusion regarding Japan in general. In particular, the confusion is about the art world and, more precisely, the figure of the Geisha. Actually, these beautiful living beings represent the high Japanese culture. Geisha now are living forms of art and not, under any circumstances, they should be confused as courtesans, secluded at home, or other things (those figures also do exist and they are called
Oiran) even if there might be a time where even Geisha were born from humble or less humble times. When mentioning a Geisha, the first thought is about Japan or, more specifically, Kyoto, but not everybody knows that also in Takayama and in Kanazawa is possible to admire some of them, obviously, like any other form of art they are not accessible to everyone.

In the last years tourism has increased significantly, especially in Kyoto. Among the people from all around the world there are some, unaware characters who try to stop a Geisha or Maiko, asking for a selfie to post on social media. Yes it is difficult to see them walk around the streets sometimes, but usually, when they do it's because, like many of us, they are going to work. Therefore, it is strictly recommended to use common sense and if you must, just take a picture of them from afar, being discreet, as they are living beings too.

Finally as an artist myself, I feel the need to affirm that they are not attractions, but people of culture who like anyone else, do not like to be stopped all day long. That being said, Geisha and Maiko performances are one of a kind. No matter how many times I have met a Geiko or a Maiko for me is like the first time all over again. I am fascinated by their beauty and elegance. I hope that you may find the time to enjoy spending some time in their presence too. How they move and how they perform will definitely capture your heart.




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