ABOUT Japan is situated in north-eastern Asia between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. The area of Japan is 377,873 square kilometres, nearly equivalent to Germany and Switzerland combined or slightly smaller than California. Japan consists of four major islands, surrounded by more than 4,000 smaller islands. Japan is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It is a unique blend of traditional and modern, with many temples and buildings from the past co-existing with modern achievements in architecture and technology. Visitors can be immersed in Japanese history and culture one day and get a glimpse of the future through technological developments the next. Almost all of the historical sites are still used for their original purposes while remaining open to the public. The natural beauty of Japan can be seen all year. Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter Japan must have a passport, which will remain valid during the period of stay. Nationals of many countries are eligible to enter Japan without a visa unless the purpose of the visit is to reside in Japan, to obtain employment or to otherwise engage in remunerative activities.

CLIMATE Winter (Dec - Feb) The temperature rarely drops below 0°C in the plains along the Pacific coast during wintertime. It is also quite dry and very often sunny. Central Japan and Northern Japan are highly reputed regions for winter sports. Southern Japan is comparatively mild and pleasant in winter. Clothing: overcoats, sweaters. Spring (Mar - May) The plum blossom is a good sign that the cold winter will soon end and spring is just around the corner, followed by the cherry blossom at its best in the Tokyo area between the end of March and the beginning of April to bring this beautiful season to a climax. Splendid views of mountains, fields and gardens all blanketed in gentle pink abound in this season. Clothing: light jackets, light sweaters and other similar kinds of tops. Summer (Jun - Aug) The Japanese summer begins in June with a three to four week rainy season. This is an important time for farmers to plant rice. It becomes seriously hot and humid from July onward and many Japanese enjoy bathing in the sea and relaxing at cool resorts in mountainous areas. Summer is when many interesting festivals and other events are held all over the country. Clothing: light clothes (cardigans and other similar kinds are handy, since indoors are mostly air-conditioned.) Autunm (Sept - Nov) Autumn always brings such freshness with a light breeze and cool temperature after the hot and humid summer. All forests are dyed in glorious autumn colours. Chrysanthemums create beautiful displays with their abundance of flowers to enchant visitors to parks and gardens. Autumn is also the season for many exhibitions, music concerts and sports tournaments in Japan. Clothing: light jackets, light sweaters and other similar kinds of tops.

BEWARE Japan is generally trouble-free and has relatively low levels of common crime. It is generally safe to walk about at night and to travel on public transport. Nevertheless, you should maintain the same level of vigilance as you would at home, and take sensible precautions. This is particularly the case if visiting bars and restaurants in the Roppongi entertainment district of Tokyo, which is considered a higher risk area for crime. There have been instances of British citizens arrested following disputes with bar staff and doormen, which can lead to up to 23 days in police detention while the case is investigated. There have also been reports of drink spiking with drugs such as Rohypnol. Victims have described loss of consciousness for several hours, during which time large charges are reported to have been fraudulently billed to their credit card. Most Japanese people are very friendly and welcoming but can be reserved. Loud, boisterous behaviour is not as acceptable as it is in the UK. In regard to sexual conduct in private, Japan is a tolerant society. However, public displays of affection are less common than in the UK. Drinks and meals are paid for at the end of your visit to a Japanese bar. Tipping is not necessary. Be aware that, in some cases, prices can be high. Disputes over bills can lead to the customer’s arrest.