Culture and recreation

JapaJapanese culture has evolved greatly over the years, from the country's original Jomon culture to its contemporary culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. Traditional Japanese arts include crafts (ikebana, origami, ukiyo-e, dolls, lacquerware, pottery), performances (bunraku, dance, kabuki, noh, rakugo), traditions (games, tea ceremony, Budo, architecture, gardens, swords) and cuisine. The fusion of traditional woodblock printing and Western art led to the creation of manga, a typically Japanese comic book format that is now popular within and outside Japan. Manga-influenced animation for television and film is called anime. Japanese-made video game consoles have prospered since the 1980s. Japanese music is eclectic, having borrowed instruments, scales and styles from neighboring cultures. Many instruments, such as the koto, were introduced in the ninth and tenth centuries. The accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the fourteenth century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the sixteenth. Western music, introduced in the late nineteenth century, now forms an integral part of the culture. Post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European modern music, which has led to the evolution of popular band music called J-pop. Karaoke is the most widely practiced cultural activity. A November 1993 survey by the Cultural Affairs Agency found that more Japanese had sung karaoke that year than had participated in traditional cultural pursuits such as flower arranging or tea ceremony.

Japanese Travel  - "Month of No Gods"


Top Cities to Visit in Japan

There are many interesting destinations to see in Japan - here are just some options in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo

Money Japan


Japanese Yen (JPY; symbol ¥). Notes are in denominations of ¥10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000. Coins are in denominations of ¥500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1.

Note: Japan has a strong cash culture, and it is usual to see people carrying large amounts of cash with them because of the low crime rate. It is only recently that credit cards have begun to become more popular. However, travellers may still encounter difficulties with foreign credit cards.

Currency Exchange

All money must be exchanged at an authorised bank or money changer.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and other major credit cards are widely accepted in towns. ATMs are available with many branches of the Post Office and 7-eleven stores having ones that accept foreign cards. Otherwise, only international banks accept foreign credit or debit cards, and these are hard to find outside of major cities. They are generally open Mon-Fri 0700-2300, Sat-Sun 0900-1900, though some only operate during normal banking hours and on Saturday mornings. Citibank machines are the most likely to have ATMs, and also to accept foreign credit cards (and are usually open 24 hours).

Traveller's Cheques

These can be exchanged at most major banks, larger hotels and some duty-free shops. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Japanese Yen or US Dollars.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1500.

Exchange Rate Indicators

1.00 GBP = 143.17 JPY
1.00 USD = 89.8 JPY
1.00 EUR = 131.25 JPY
Currency conversion rates as of  October 2009


Travel Photos (With Description Subtitles)


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