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Local Information

You can also review these notes from the local committee(PDF)>>>

Child Care:

Please note that child care will not be available at the Nagoya Congress Center during the 2014 Congress. If you are bringing children, you will need to make your own arrangements for child care.

Climate:

The climate of the month of September in Nagoya is usually hot and humid, with the average high temperatures at 84゜F / 29゜C and average low temperatures at 70゜F / 21゜C. Choose loose, light clothes or take lightweight jackets. The congress hall and all major hotels are air-conditioned.

 

Currency:

The currency used in Japan is yen (¥). Foreign currency or traveler’s checks can be changed to yen at major banks, hotels, or airports. It is necessary to show your passport when changing traveler’s checks. Many automatic teller machines (ATMs) in Japan do not accept credit, debit and ATM cards, which are issued outside of Japan. The big exception are the ATMs found at the over 20,000 post offices and over 10,000 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country. These ATMs allow you to withdraw cash by credit and debit cards issued outside of Japan, including Visa, Plus, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus, American Express and JCB cards and provide an English user menu. ATMs at 7-Eleven stores are available 24 hours per day around the year.

 

Only Japanese yen is accepted at stores and restaurants.

 

Bills come in units of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen, and coins in units of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 yen. The approximate exchange rate for U. S. $1 is 102 Yen (as of December 2013).

 

Dining:

A few table manners to keep in mind when dining in Japan are:

  • Blowing your nose in public, and especially at the table, is considered bad manners.
  • It is considered good manners to empty your dishes to the last grain of rice.
  • Talking about toilet related and similarly unappetizing topics during or before a meal is not appreciated by most people.
  • It is considered bad manners to burp.
  • After eating, try to move all your dishes back to the same position they were at the start of the meal. This includes replacing the lids on dishes and putting your chopsticks on the chopstick holder or back into their paper slip.

When drinking alcoholic beverages, it is customary to serve each other, rather than pouring your own beverage. Periodically check your friends' cups and refill their drinks if their cups are getting empty. Likewise, if someone wants to serve you more alcohol, you should quickly empty your glass and hold it towards that person.

 

How to eat:

  • Rice: Hold the rice bowl in one hand and the chopsticks in the other. Lift the bowl towards your mouth while eating. Do not pour soya sauce over white, cooked rice.
  • Sushi: Pour some soya sauce into the small dish provided. It is considered bad manners to waste soya sauce, so try not to pour more sauce than you will use.

    You do not need to add wasabi into the soya sauce, because the sushi pieces may already contain it, or may be eaten plain. However, if you choose to add wasabi, use only a small amount so as not to offend the sushi chef. If you do not like wasabi, you can request that none is added into your sushi.

    In general, you are supposed to eat a sushi piece in one bite. Attempts to separate a piece into two generally end in the destruction of the beautifully prepared sushi. Hands or chopsticks can be used to eat sushi.

    In case of nigiri-zushi, dip the piece into the soya sauce upside-down so that the fish enters the sauce. A few kinds of nigiri-zushi, for example, marinated pieces, should not be dipped into soya sauce.

    In case of gunkan-zushi, pour a small amount of soya sauce over the sushi piece rather than dipping it into the sauce.
  • Sashimi: Pour some soya sauce into the small dish provided. Put some wasabi on the sashimi piece, but be careful not to use too much as this will overpower the taste of the fish. Dip the sashimi pieces into the soya sauce. Some types of sashimi are enjoyed with ground ginger rather than wasabi.
  • Miso Soup: Drink the soup out of the bowl as if it were a cup, and fish out the solid food pieces with your chopsticks.
  • Noodles: Using your chopsticks lead the noodles into your mouth. You may want to try to copy the slurping sound of people around you if you are dining in a noodle shop. Rather than being bad manners as Westerners are often taught, slurping noodles is considered evidence of enjoying the meal. In case of noodle soups, be careful of splashing the noodles back into the liquid. If a ceramic spoon is provided, use it to drink the soup, otherwise, lift the bowl to your mouth as if it were a cup.
  • Kare Raisu: (and other dishes in which the rice is mixed with a sauce) Kare Raisu (Japanese style curry rice) and other rice dishes, in which the rice is mixed with a sauce (for example, some domburi dishes) may become difficult to eat with chopsticks. Large spoons are often provided for these dishes.
  • Large pieces of food: (e.g. prawn tempura, tofu) Separate into bite sized pieces with your chopsticks (this takes some exercise), or just bite off a piece and put the rest back onto your plate.

Electricity: 

The voltage in Japan is 100 Volt, which is different from North America (120V), Central Europe (220V) and most other regions of the world. Japanese electrical plugs have two, non-polarized pins, as shown above. They fit into North American outlets.

 

Japanese power outlets are identical to ungrounded (2-pin) North American outlets. While most Japanese outlets these days are polarized (one slot is slightly wider than the other), it is possible to encounter non-polarized outlets in some places.

 

Some North American equipment will work fine in Japan without an adapter and vice versa, however, certain equipment, especially equipment involving heating (e.g. hair dryers), may not work properly or even get damaged. If you intend to purchase electronic appliances in Japan for use outside of Japan, you are advised to look for equipment specifically made for oversea tourists.

 

Insurance:

All conference attendees are advised to arrange private travel insurance. The conference organizers and committee accept no liability for personal accidents or damage to property while in attendance at the conference. The Organizing Committee of ISPCAN reserves the right to amend and alter the conference program and events without prior notice and accepts no liability as a result of such actions.

 

Shopping:

Japan is a shopping paradise with a wealth of stores selling everything from traditional souvenirs and local food to the latest electronics and hottest fashion brands. Both domestic and foreign brands are represented, as are stores for all budgets, from the 100 yen shops to high-end fashion boutiques. If you intend to purchase electronic appliances in Japan for use outside of Japan, you are advised to look for equipment specifically made for oversea tourists.

 

In general, large shops and department stores are open daily from 10:00 to 20:00. Smaller stores and shops around tourist attractions may have shorter hours. When you walk into a store, the sales staff will greet you with the expression "irasshaimase" meaning "welcome, please come in". Customers are not expected to respond.

 

Consumption tax in Japan, known in other countries as VAT, GST or sales tax, is a flat 5% on all items. Stores are required to list the after-tax price, so what you see is what you should pay. Note that the consumption tax rate is scheduled to increase to 8% in April 2014. Be aware that any items you purchase in Japan may be subject to import duties in your home country.

 

Cash is accepted everywhere, and it is usually no problem to use large bills to pay for small items, except at small street vendors or dusty mom and pop shops. Although not as universally accepted as cash, credit cards can be used at more and more places, especially major retail stores, electronics shops and department stores. Visa, Mastercard, JCB, American Express and Union Pay are among the most widely accepted types of cards. Travelers checks, on the other hand, are not widely accepted except at major department stores and electronics shops that regularly cater to foreign customers.

 

When paying, put the money onto the provided tray (preferably with the bills neatly unfolded). Your change may be returned in the same way. Bargaining is neither common nor appreciated in most stores.

 

Tax and Tipping:

There is no custom of individual tipping in Japan. Instead, a service charge will be included in the bill where applicable. A 5% consumption tax applies to almost all consumer goods made in Japan.

 

Telecommunications and Cell Phones:

While most newer mobile phone models can be used in Japan, many older phones may not work due to different technologies. Most importantly, there is no GSM network in Japan, so GSM-only phones do not work. The following are needed for a handset to work in Japan:

  • For Voice - The handset must be compatible with a Japanese mobile phone network (typically 3G UMTS 2100 MHz, 3G CDMA2000 800 MHz, or LTE band 1). Most modern 3G and 4G phones are compatible with one or more of these networks. Compatible handsets may be used via international roaming (check with your home provider for details) or a rental or prepaid SIM card from a Japanese carrier (unlocked handsets only). Alternatively, phones with wireless network (WIFI) connectivity can use internet based telephone services (voip), such as Skype, when connected to a WIFI network.
  • For Data - Phones that work in Japan for voice (see above) can also receive and send data (such as e-mails and web content) via international roaming or a rental/prepaid SIM card, but note that the cost for data transfer can easily skyrocket without an appropriate data plan. Alternatively, phones with wireless network (WIFI) connectivity can take advantage of the numerous paid and free wifi hotspots found around the country..

Renting is the most economical way for the average traveler to get a phone, and typically requires a picture ID and a credit card. Many companies have kiosks at the airports, while other companies will mail a phone to your hotel or to your home. You can return the phones at the airport or through the mail depending on the company. The fees for rental phones vary and usually consist of the rental fee (typically 250-1000 yen per day) plus a usage fee (typically 70-200 yen per minute domestic outgoing, incoming calls are free). All of the companies at the airports have same day rentals, while some companies offer discounts for advanced reservations.

 

Traveler’s Checks and Credit Cards:

Traveler’s checks are not as popular in Japan as in some other countries. They are usually accepted only by leading banks and major hotels.

 

Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Diners Club cards are widely accepted at hotels, department stores, shops, and restaurants.

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