Check list to avoid jet lag. What to do at the airport.

Akihabara traditional candy store.

Preparing to Visit Japan



Are you preparing to visit Japan? Here is a handy checklist.

  • Preparations for visiting Japan.

  • Do this when you arrive at Narita airport.

  • You can avoid jet lag.

  • What about training in Iwama?

  • Can I send you a real samurai sword?

  • Inari statues.

    Unglazed statues of the male and female pairs of bewitching Inari-kami, or fox-gods. About 3 inches tall. From a small jinja around the corner from Asakusa's main shrine.

    Why are there so many little statues in Japan dedicated to protecting this and that, you and me, baby and baboo? Perhaps it is because there are sooo many details you must keep in mind to survive and even prosper here in Japan. Well, the more rules, the more protective deities. Keep the inari-kami in mind and tackle the lists below.

    Preparations for visiting Japan

  • This book: "Overcoming Jet Lag" by Dr. Ehret and Lynne Scanlon. $10 new. Available online or in the travel section of Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-425-09936-9. Page 96 describes preparations for the trip from PST to Tokyo Time. Your reward: Arrive feeling competent and enjoy your time in Japan right away instead of battling "jet lag".

  • JR Rail Pass if you plan to travel. You MUST buy it before coming to Japan. Works on all JR lines. One trip from Tokyo to Kyoto pays for it.

  • Do NOT buy these before you leave:

    1. Toothpaste, shampoo, especially not kleenex packets. It may surprise some people to find that Japan is far from a 2nd or 3rd world country.

    2. Fancy shoes. Running shoes and super-sandals will do. Buy zori/sandals in Japan.

    3. Forget extra socks, that sort of thing. Your usual support items are available everywhere, you won't have to haul it onto the plane, and whatever remains are great souvenirs.

  • Do this at Narita airport:

  • Change money into yen. There are ATM machines, most have English instructions. Be sure you have your PIN number ready. Good idea to have the English language phone number, too. Get a LOT of money. If you use the money exchange counter instead, get a LOT of money. Not merely a couple hundred dollars. This is Japan! Prepare to spend a lot! It's safe to walk around with money, and you can keep it in the hotel safe if you want to. It's not always easy to find an open bank or ATM, although in Tokyo this is improving.

  • Find the vending machines that will sell

    1. Telephone cards. Buy one or two. Searching for change as you approach the telephone is a pain. All public telephones use those cards. Keep control of your charges. You might be able to buy international calling cards.

    2. Train cards for the TWO rail systems you will encounter, which are the JR and the SF lines. Searching for change as you approach the ticket wicket. Get the Y3,000 card for SF, as you will be on this one a lot. If you have a JR Rail pass you don't have to buy a JR train pass.

  • Directions to avoid jet lag.

    3 days before the flight

    1. Breakfast: high protein

    2. Lunch: high-protein

    3. Dinner: high-carbohydrate.

    4. Caffein allowed only between 3pm-4:30pm.

    2 days before the flight

    1. Eat lightly-only 800 calories for the day

    2. Breakfast: high protein

    3. Lunch: high-protein

    4. Dinner: high-carbohydrate

    5. Caffein allowed only between 3pm-4:30pm

    6. No snacks after dinner

    1 day before the flight

    1. Eat a lot during this day

    2. Breakfast: high protein

    3. Lunch: high-protein

    4. Dinner: high-carbohydrate

    5. Caffein allowed only between 7am-11:30am

    6. No snacks after dinner

    Flight Day--Morning

    1. Eat lightly-only 400-800 calories for the day

    2. 7am-11:30am, drink 2-3 cups strong coffee or tea with no milk.

    3. Breakfast: high protein

    4. Lunch: high-protein. You can skip this meal.

    5. Do not eat until breakfast Tokyo time.

    6. Drink a lot of water. Planes are desert-dry. Don't drink much booze.

    7. RESET your watch to Tokyo time.

    During the flight.

    1. Settle down as soon as the flight instructions are over, food served (if you are like me, you have preordered a special meal to avoid the usual fare. I prefer the vegetarian menu. Plus I'm served first.)

    2. Use pillows and blankets.

    3. I have a very comfortable sleep mask from a travel store.

    4. Stay this way until 30 minutes before breakfast Tokyo time.

    5. Finally, you can get active. Stretch. Read. Deep breath. Play games. Read. Talk to your jet-lagged seat mate. The idea is to start your brain concentrating.

    6. Breakfast: high-protein, as much as you want.

    You are off the plane now and in Tokyo at last.

    Nihon ni yokosu!
    1. No caffeine all day.

    2. No napping all day.

    3. Lunch: high-protein.

    4. Diinner: high-carbohydrate.

    5. Sleep by 10pm.

    Avoid jet lag on the return flight.

    When you are preparing to return to California, repeat the above jet lag. instructions, starting at the top three days before you depart for home.

    The Sword Question.

    Every so often, someone asks, "Say, while you are in Japan, could you send me a real Japanese sword?"

    Yes! Of course! However, I must ask that you please send me about $300,000, because that is what a real Japanese sword will cost. :-)

    Japlish Mission Statement

    400-year-old cake from Castillia

    Castella: It came to Nagasake via the East China sea, 400 years before. Said to have been introduced to Osaka, old city Naniwa by the ships of Admiral Perry. The unique flavor of Castella continues to evoke unforgetable memories.

    From the paper bag for cakes, courtesy Hotel New Awaji.