Japan has a well-developed courier service delivering anywhere in Japan, usually overnight. The courier companies operate out of the airports, so you can send your luggage as soon as you pass through customs. The service is safe and reliable. All trains in Japan have very limited luggage space; overhead storage and a small luggage shelf at either end of the carriage are standard on all trains.
There are no luggage trolleys available at train stations, although there is a porter service available at Tokyo Station. The cost is about 500 yen per piece of luggage. The porter needs to be advised of the train and carriage number in advance. Small suitcases and bags can be stored in lockers at the larger stations, however there is no storage for skis and snowboards.
Luggage sent from Hakuba to either Narita or Kansai airports requires luggage to be sent two days before departure. Luggage cannot be stored at the airport if customers have onward flights and are wishing to collect luggage on their return flight home via Japan.
BANKING AND MONEY:
Japan is a very safe country and Japan is an unusually cashdependent society. You can use credit cards for purchases in many places in Tokyo and Osaka, but once you venture into the country (i.e. Hakuba and Niseko), cash is often the only accepted method of payment outside of the hotel. Cash withdrawals from Automatic Teller Machines are only available at certain banks in the main centres and at the international airports. Withdrawing or exchanging cash at the airport on arrival into Japan is the most convenient.
Most hotels do not exchange foreign currency or travellers cheques for Japanese yen. Niseko does have a Travellex office for money exchange.
INTERNATIONAL PHONE AND INTERNET ACCESS:
Public telephones in Japan are categorised according to colour - grey is generally the colour which provides international access. The grey phones are digital and a modular jack can be connected to your computer for internet access. Prepaid international calling cards can be used from any public or private phone, regardless of colour or type. Customers wishing to connect to the internet with laptops, palmtops, etc are recommended to have an internet service provider to enable connection while in Japan. Australian mobile phones do not work in Japan.
HEALTH AND SECURITY:
Japan has an excellent health-care system that is comparable to western standards. Many doctors speak some English and guests can be confident that they will receive a high level of care. Health care and medical services can be very expensive, and we do recommend that insurance is an essential part of your holiday. On mountain ski insurance is available to cover you for skiing accidents. Japan is well known as being one of the safest countries in the world. The crime rate is extremely low, and misplaced personal belongings find their way back to their owner’s with unusual regularity.
Japan has an excellent transportation system, world-renowned for its efficiency and cleanliness.
- Airports: All airports, including Narita Airport near Tokyo, the new Kansai International Airport near Osaka, Haneda and Chitose in Hokkaido, have direct, regular connections to the main city train stations. There are plenty of signs in English, and both airports have English speakers at the tourist information stands.
- Cities: Trains are easily the most convenient method of transport. Tickets are purchased from vending machines within the station, and most stations are signed in English. Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo all have loop lines (train lines that run in a circle around the main city centre), thus allowing easy access to all other train lines. Colour coded maps of the train and subway lines are available from English-speaking tourist information centres.
- Taxis: Taxi fares begin at 600 yen, and additional charges are incurred after 2 kilometres. Japanese taxi services pride themselves on being clean, reliable and safe. Most taxi drivers wear white gloves, and taxi rear doors open and close automatically. Please note sedan taxis do not take skis.
- Rentals Cars: Cars are available on Honshu and Hokkaido Island. During winter, rental cars come equipped with snow tyres, and ski & snowboard racks are an optional extra. An international license is required to drive in Japan, and must be arranged in your home country before arrival in Japan. Driving is fairly straightforward, and almost all major roads have english signage. Road rules are similar to the U.S. and Australia. Japan drives on the same side as Australia.