Japan-- A Mini Guide For Women
| Evelyn Hannon
exciting! You're off to Japan, a wonderfully interesting destination.
However, be aware. This is not a country you can visit without doing
your research. There's much for a woman to learn before her departure
-- everything from culturally correct communal bathing to how to
eat like a local and deal with Japanese bathrooms. Then there's
shopping at 100 yen stores, the books to read, the clothes to pack
and ways to handle the antisocial behaviour of gropers on trains
and subways. Bon voyage, ladies. We promise that this will be an
suggests you pack lightly. Trains in Japan have no porters, no
checked lugguage, and there is little overhead space for carry-on
items. Most train stations have stairs so your luggage wheels
become useless, and most train stations have lockers, but only
major stations have lockers large enough to hold big bags. How
to get around this problem? Use Forward Luggage service called
"takkyu-bin" to send all but an overnight bag to your next stop.
This service is available from airports and hotels. Or, if you
are staying at a small family-run, budget "ryokan" (inn) in the
city, you can usually arrange takkyu-bin with a nearby convenience
store. Cost for an average bag? $US15.00
Pack an umbrella or buy one
at the airport. It can rain in Japan, especially in June and early
In the wintertime take along
slacks rather than skirts and don't forget to bring thick socks.
Since people remove their shoes when entering temples and shrines
and since these places are not heated, you will spare your legs
and feet from the cold.
Light, breathable clothing
is recommended if you're travelling anytime between June and the
end of September. The humidity is more than just unbearable, it's
unbelieveable. However, if you are travelling during the summer,
even though it may be hot outside, the air conditioning inside
can be very strong. Carry a light jacket or sweater. Also, no
matter how hot it is, it is not proper etiquette to wear overly
skimpy and revealing clothing at temples and shrines or in crowded
Lisa in Tel Aviv, Israel writes...
If you wear clothing larger than US size 10, or shoes larger than
size 36, you will experience great difficulty in finding anything
to fit you in Japan. The only place in Tokyo that carries shoes
up to size 40 is the Birkenstock store in Harajuku, and even the
Gap does not carry clothing larger than size 10. Someone told me
that the shops near Tokyo Disneyland
do carry larger sizes, in order to accommodate Western tourists,
but I did not have an opportunity to verify that.
Women who prefer tampons over
pads would be well advised to pack their favourite brand. Japanese
women do not tend to use tampons, and I did not find a single pharmacy
in Tokyo carrying them.
She eats like a local...
Be a savvy female traveller.
Learn these few simple dining rules -- they'll help you to fit in.
She eats soup Making loud slurping
sounds while enjoying noodle soup is perfectly acceptable for men
in Japan but not for women. Understand that you will not be given
a spoon to use -- only chopsticks. The chopsticks are used to eat
the meat, vegetables and noodles. You can then drink the broth directly
from the bowl.
She eats sushi When eating sushi,
try not to soak your rice in the soy sauce. Instead, dip the top
portion containing the fish into the sauce. Then put the sushi into
your mouth with the fish top facing down on your tongue so you can
savor the flavor.
She eats rice When you have
finished eating your rice, put the chopsticks down along the side
of your plate (usually chopstick holders are provided). Never ever
place your chopsticks straight up in the rice. This is how rice
is normally served to the dead. Your Japanese hosts will not be