Safe and Clean
Japan is extremely safe, with one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
You can walk on the streets and not be afraid. The country is also hospitable, clean, prompt, polite, efficient, friendly, and you can drink the tap water.
In regard to safety, many foreigners have wonderful stories of returned lost wallets. Hopefully, you will not have to report such an incident to the police, but if you do, you will find a "Koban" or Police Box at most train stations and major city intersections.
In regard to cleanliness, you will find that most cities in Japan do not have garbage cans along the streets. This is because the Japanese do not eat and walk at the same time. Therefore, they do not produce trash such as paper coffee mugs, ice cream cups, or chip bags, while strolling along a thoroughfare. If you have such trash, carry it with you until you find a garbage receptacle -- usually at locations that sell such snack items or next to the ubiquitous vending machines. When you do find the trash receptacles you will notice that there will be separate bins for regular trash vs. aluminum cans and glass bottles. Throw the recyclables in their appropriate slot.
Depending upon where you travel in Japan you may encounter a traditional "Japanese-style" toilet. These can be found in public restrooms in shopping malls, train stations, and in small town "minshukus" (family run inns). These commodes are at floor level. To use, face the hump. In a location with several toilets there may be a Western toilet as indicated on the door, and if there is a queue, line up by stall. On the Shinkansen (bullet train) go for the handicapped stall. This is always a Western-style toilet. In public restrooms, you may need to be prepared with a travel pack of tissues. These packages are often handed out free (with advertisements on the reverse) as you walk along major thoroughfares in the large cities, such as Tokyo and Osaka.
So, you don't make a mistake and walk into the wrong door, especially when traveling in rural areas, memorize the Kanji for:
On the other hand, Japan is recognized for its extremely high tech toilets. In upscale hotels and ryokans (high-end Japanese inns), and even many upscale restaurants, you will find toilets with heated seats -- a blessing on a cool, autumn day -- along with an array of other buttons that spray water to wash you, air to dry you, etc. There is a good chance you will miss these when you return to the USA.
Though bathing tends to be a communal and sometimes social event, men and women now generally bathe separately. Though bathing naked with strangers with only a small towel for cover can be a daunting experience, it is one well worth trying, for any concerns about modesty - and any other worries at all - melt away in the steaming water.
We frequently receive inquiries about tipping our tour guide and bus driver and here is the guideline on tipping for our tour. Japan is a tip free country and you do not have to tip chambermaid, taxi drivers, or hotel or restaurant personnel. However some people are surprised to find that most tour companies expect customers to tip their tour guides at the end of the tour. At Japan Deluxe Tour we do not have tipping guidelines nor expect receive gratuities from our customers and it is up to your discretion to tip our staff in Japan only if you believe that you have received excellent service from them. Your travel document holder contains a gratuity envelope for your convenience, however it does not mean you will have to use it.