Going to Japan next summer. What should I learn in the meantime to be prepared?

So, as I said I will be going to Japan next summer. I have questions of what I should learn in the meantime to be able to get by because at the moment I know practically nothing.

If anyone has any knowledge they could share on what I should focus on, I will be taking some Japanese classes, 4 hours a day, while I am there. The class I am going to be put in will be determined by my level of being able to speak, read, and write in Japanese.

I will be in Japan for about 2 months, the whole summer, and except for learning some of the language to hold a conversation and read some things what should I do to prepare? Are there any things i shouldn’t do while I’m there or what should I do when around Japanese people.

Also, are there any specific things I should bring there, like a 100% must have when in Japan.


Maybe you can find out what material they will be using (which textbook, etc.) to see what is expected, and then just plan how much you can learn in advance? If you aim to start with a high class you should prepare as much as possible of what will be necessary to follow the classes.

Other than that, with only two months you might not be able to get a bank account, so you can check how you could get money to Japan easily. Most ATMs and banks are quite selective what cards they support.

Finally, if the language school takes care of housing etc. you should be already set :slight_smile:

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Regarding what you should prepare beforehand, I think it depends really on what your overarching goal is.

Nothing particularly comes to mind when thinking about things you would need.

Number one thing to learn: how to survive in high heat and humidity. :slightly_smiling_face:

Seven Bank ATMs, available in all Seven Elevens, will accept foreign credit and debit cards.


Yes, I was mightily impressed when I couldn’t use my Mastercard some time ago because they updated the security verification to chip only while everything in Japan still used magnetic strip. Best to check anyway :slight_smile:

Yah, ok, perhaps “will” was a bit too strong a word.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever used my actual bank card, to be honest. I used a made-for-travel pre-paid debit card on my last two visits without issue, though.

I’d say start working on Genki 1—if you’ve got until next summer you could pretty easily get through the first book and even a lot of the second, Genki 2. Study the vocab they provide in the textbook, use WaniKani for kanji, find language buddies with an app like HelloTalk to work on your conversation.

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I used my debit card at the seven eleven with no problem, I also withdrew from other convenience stores’ ATMs and in the mall, I just used whichever was at hand, I don’t remember ever having a problem. Maybe I just got lucky? (MasterCard, from Mexico) My mom also used her cards from different banks with no problem.
That was two years ago but I wouldn’t expect them to get any more strict :thinking:

Well, no problems then. Sorry for derailing this thread on first post :slight_smile:

I was never able to use any ATMs except Seven Bank, though I confess I didn’t do a rigorous study of all options available.

How’s your katakana and hiragana?

Otherwise, I wouldn’t stress too much about doing or not doing while around Japanese people. They understand that you’re foreign and as long as you’re humble and try to do what you think is polite or respectful, then people will comfortable enough around you. :slight_smile:

Also, be prepared for "にほんごじょうずですね!!” :wink:

Lastly, two months shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but maybe bring a couple extra tubes of toothpaste and sticks of deodorant (if you use stick).

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I don’t think it matters where you start learning, as long as you’re learning. I liked knowing some kanji when I was there just because I could recognize some signs and such but I don’t really speak a word. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, it’s not like there are things that you can’t live without.

There are some threads on here already with good travel advice, such as getting internet while you’re there, getting a suica card, installing hyperdia (but not too early b/c I think it starts charging you after 30 days.

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Repeated for emphasis. You will probably not be able to find antiperspirant deodorant in Japan, so bring a supply of your own preferred brand.

Also, you may want to learn the kanji for big place names (especially ones you’ll be visiting/staying at), and common signs like 入口 or 立入禁止. For example.

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You can always use the Hyperdia website for free! I find it quite easy to navigate, even if it isn’t optimized for a phone.

At least for android, there’s an app. It works alright, it was good for scheduling shinkansen since it clearly displayed if it was Hikari, Nozomi, etc. Personally, I thought Googlemaps worked best for intercity travel. It pulled up train schedules real-time and even displayed the platform number.

Edit: and both apps are free on Android. Not sure about iOS

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Not sure what your current level of Japanese ability is, but doing almost a year of WaniKani in advance will give you a massive head start. You might wanna check out some of the Japanesepod101 videos on Youtube focused on Japanese culture. Then you can learn to avoid certain faux pas while also practicing your listening comprehension.

In fact, Hyperdia specifically lets you exclude Nozomi (and Mizuho) trains from search results, which is useful, since it prevents them from displacing the results that are actually useful to JR Pass holders.

Aye, the iOS Hyperdia app is not free, which makes me sad. Google Maps is, though, or I’d really despair.

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