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Often-asked question

Often-asked question

Suzuka became the first city in Japan to proclaim itself a "Motorsports City" in December 2004. Since then, the city has been actively promoting motorsports together with its citizens. You will certainly be welcomed in Suzuka. However, because "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," we would like to offer answers here for some of the frequently asked questions that travelers from overseas want to know about when visiting Japan.
 

Daily life

Manners
Japanese make slurping noises while eating noodles and sometimes sneeze loudly. But talking on cell-phones in public transportation systems like trains and buses is not accepted. If you do it, you may be looked at coldly by the surrounding people.

Tip
In Japan, we don’t have the custom of tipping at restaurants, and for other services like taxis, etc.  One day, when a French motorcycle road racer had a meal at a restaurant in Nagoya and left a tip on his table as he does in Europe, the waiter thought it was forgotten money and ran after him to give it back.

Foreign languages
The names of street or town on arterial roads and in metropolitan areas, Japanese and English written together. On the major railway lines, announcements are given in English (and in Chinese as well as Korean on certain lines) However, that is not true in rural districts. "It’s another planet!" said a person from Spain who visited in a small city in Japan.  

Rainfall in Japan
Rain does not always stop soon in Japan. It sometimes rains continuously all day for some days. An editor in chief of an Italian magazine said, "I understand clearly why Japanese carry umbrellas."

Restrooms
There are restrooms everywhere in Japan. At stations, public facilities, department stores, etc., they are almost always clean and most of them are free (pay toilets are very rare in Japan). For this reason, you won’t need to look for a coffee shop and asked to use their restroom like Japanese tourists have to do in Paris.

Transportation

Buying a train ticket
In most cases, you may buy a train ticket at a ticket vending machine at train stations. The machines at big stations of the major lines have English notation. In general, credit cards can not be used when using the vending machines for short-distance travel.

Shinkansen
Tickets for the Shinkansen, Japan’s famous high-speed railway lines, may be purchased online, but you have to make a membership registration beforehand. However, it is very easy to purchase a ticket by the Shinkansen ticket vending machines or at the ticket counter, either by cash or credit card. The Shinkansen trains run frequently. From Tokyo to Nagoya, for example, there are over 10 trains per hour.

Local buses
There are a number of different systems in bus ticketing depending on the bus company and the region: some companies require you to board the bus through the door in front and pay a flat rate fare first, while other buses are boarded through the door in the middle of the bus where you pick up a ticket from a machine located near the door and pay the fare depending on the number printed on the ticket when you leave the bus. The buses in Suzuka city are this latter type.

Using Taxis
When you take a taxi, you need not open or close the door. The driver operates the doors remotely. Once seated, all you have to do is to tell the taxi driver where you want to go. Japanese taxis are in general very clean inside and the fares are calculated correctly by a meter. You need not worry about being overcharged with a big fee. You also don’t need to tip the driver.

Rent-a-car
To drive a car in Japan, you need to be age 18 or older, and that is also the age limit to get a Japanese driver’s license. You can also drive in Japan if you have an international driver's license issued under the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, or a driver’s license issued in Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, Estonia and Taiwan, with Japanese Translation issued by the designated organization such as embassies or consulate in Japan or JAF.

Accommodations and meals

At Hotels
If you forgot to put your razors or comb in your luggage, don’t worry about it. Hotels in Japan provide guests, regardless of their grade, with not only towels, shampoo and hair rinse but also sleep-ware and toiletries such as toothbrushes, combs, and razors. If you don’t use the comb, razor or others toiletries, you can take them with you to use elsewhere. But never take towels or sleep-ware! You will be billed for them if you do.  

Fast food
If you want to enjoy Japanese cuisine at a reasonable price, you have a lot of choices. There are many stand-up-eating shops and restaurants, not only for Soba and Udon noodles, but also sushi and Ramen noodles; and there is also French and Italian cuisine. Some of them provide you with cuisine comparable to that of expensive restaurants.

Payment in restaurant
In general, payment is made at a cash register, not at your table/seat. Many fast food restaurants like Ramen or Soba/Udon noodle shops have a meal ticket vending machine near the door to purchase when you enter. At restaurants there is also no need for tips.  

Shopping

Credit Cards
Of course, you can pay by credit card at large stores, but there are many small private stores which do not accept credit cards. You should check before making a purchase.

In case of trouble

Drug Stores
If you have food poisoning, fever or an injury, and if these are minor cases, then you can go to a drug store. In Japan, you can buy many types of medicine without a prescription. There is a full variety of non-prescription drugs.

Koban (Police boxes)
You may find a lot of small police boxes called "Koban" in big cities. There you can not only report a crime, incident or accident, but you may also ask there for directions if you can’t find your destination. Long ago, Japanese police officers were said to be intimidating, but now they are in general, very kind and considerate.

Others

Wi-Fi
Almost all accommodations provide free Wi-Fi service. You can enjoy Internet access without any complicated procedures. You will find Wi-Fi service in many coffee shops and restaurants. In many airplanes, trains and some intercity express buses offer free Wi-Fi service. However, some of them require a complicated procedure. It would be better to check the one you would use beforehand.

Takuhaibin (door-to-door delivery service)
This is a very convenient service for sending luggage, parcels or boxes everywhere in Japan. Delivery is normally on a next-day basis. You can send your things from hotel to hotel as well and enjoy your trip in Japan with empty hands! 

Coin-operated lockers
In many large public facilities such as train stations, airports and sports facilities you will find these lockers. There are various sizes of lockers including suitcase size to small approximately 250x350x570 mm. They are operated on a cash (coin) basis.

For the weekend of the F1 Japanese Grand Prix

Taxis
During the weekend of the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, as many spectators as the population of the city of Suzuka visit the Circuit. You may have trouble getting a taxi in some time periods. Still, you might enjoy talking to others while waiting in line at a taxi stop to go to the circuit!

Trains
It takes 38 minutes by the Kintetsu Railway limited express train from Nagoya to Shiroko station, from which shuttle buses run to the circuit frequently. There are three limited express trains per hour from Nagoya to Shiroko and the same number of express trains. This means you have an option to stay in Nagoya, a large city of two-million with many hotels, or other cities nearby to enjoy F1 Japanese Grand Prix.  

Sport-tourism
In Mie Prefecture there are a lot of tourist spots, including the Ise Shima National Park, Ise-Jingu shrine, the World Heritage site Kumano kodo Ise-ji, and demonstrations of the Ninja arts. When you come to Suzuka for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, why not visit some of these interesting spots?