The “Michinoku Fairy Tale Road” lies along the Ou Mountain Range, the spine of Tohoku. Therefore, the climate, temperature, and precipitation rates are different on either end of the mountain range, in between Yamagata prefecture and Miyagi prefecture, and in mountainous areas and flatlands. The climate of Nanyo city and Takahata town is an inland climate that is unique to basins in mountainous areas, thus, creates a great difference in temperature from summer to winter. They also get heavy snowfall in the winter due to the seasonal winds from the Sea of Japan. The central area of Shiroishi city has a rather warm climate, but places in mountainous areas, such as Zao and Shichikashuku town, get a lot of snow. The temperature varies greatly during the day, so we recommend that you to prepare something to wear on top even during the daytime.
A lot of public transportation facilities, hotels, fast food restaurants, cafes, and chain stores in Japan provide free Wi-Fi to their customers. In some cases, they require you to install certain applications and register in advance in order to use the Wi-Fi. Moreover, it is not always free of charge. There are many Wi-Fi spots provided by phone operators and Wi-Fi operators, but they require different procedures to access the Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi service is usually provided for free at hotels and inns.
If it’s your first time to take a taxi in Japan, you will be surprised by how clean it is inside the vehicle , the automatic doors, and the taxi drivers’ hospitality and politeness. When you want to take a taxi, you can ask a staff member at your hotel, take one at the station taxi pool, or simply raise your hand to stop one with a sign that says “空車 (vacant)”. Most taxi drivers in Japan do not speak foreign languages, so we highly recommend that you prepare a map of your destination beforehand. When you arrive at your destination, you can pay the fare with cash or credit card (some taxis do not accept payment with credit cards). If you want to charter a taxi and visit a number of places freely, we recommend you to hire a sightseeing taxi.
Railways are highly developed in Japan, and trains come and depart right on time. When you buy a JR train ticket, you first need to check the train fare on the route map, buy a ticket at the ticket machine, and walk through the gate. Tickets for long distance trips, such as Shinkansen tickets, are available at a manned desk. If you do not know which ticket to buy, let the station staff know of your destination and what time you want to be there, and they will tell you the most suitable route for you. Ticket checkers are mostly automatic, and they open up when you put your ticket in. Your ticket comes out at the end of the ticket checker, so make sure you do not forget it. When you arrive at your exit station, put your ticket in the ticket checker and walk through the gate. Your ticket will be collected by the ticket checker.
As a rule, you cannot use any currency that is not yen. The currency of Japan is “Yen”, and there are four types of paper money, 10000 yen bill, 5000 yen bill, 2000 yen bill, and 1000 yen bill, and six types of metallic money, 500 yen coin, 100 yen coin, 50 yen coin, 10 yen coin, 5 yen coin, and 1 yen coin. Depending on the situation, some automatic lockers, vending machines, and parking lots do not accept paper money except for 1000 yen bills, 5 yen coins and 1 yen coins. We recommend you keep your 1000 yen bills and 100 yen coins.
When you exchange your money to Japanese Yen in Japan, you need to go to an exchange counter, bank, or post office. There is not much difference in handling fees, so we recommend that you change your money at the airport when you arrive. It depends on the currency if it is a better deal to exchange money in your country or in Japan, so it is good to check the exchange rate of your country in advance of your visit to Japan.
Shops and restaurants with credit card seals at their register usually accept payments with credit cards. Debit cards, however, may be refused at some shops and restaurants. Small shops and restaurants often do not accept payments with credit cards, so we recommend you check with them before making orders. There are not many ATM machines that accept foreign credit cards and cash cards to draw Japanese yen, thus, it is important to research which ATMs you can draw your money from in advance to your visit. ATMs, such as “Yucho Bank” and “Seven Bank” located at Seven Eleven, usually take a wide variety of credit cards without any problem. Certain public transportation facilities also do not accept payments with credit cards, so we recommend you to carry a certain amount of cash at all times even if you have a credit card.
Although Japan is overall a safe country, there are possibilities of getting things stolen and encountering accidents and trouble. If you come across any trouble, whether it be an accident or theft, please call the police at 110 or 119 for the fire department or an ambulance. If you lose your credit card, please contact your credit card operator immediately to block your credit card. If you lose your passport, please contact your country’s embassy. In the case of any trouble, you need to report a theft to the police in order to reissue your official belongings. If you feel sick, please contact the hotel staff, and they will take you to a suitable facility to give you treatment. Many tourists forget their belongings as well, however, please jot down all the places (station, train names, etc…), times, characteristics of the lost items (color, shape, size, etc…) you can think of and contact all possible places.