Ok, so maybe you want to go to Japan and don’t care about all my hilarious anecdotes? Here’s a collection of random tips:
If you have an unlocked phone, order a sim card and swap it out! You’ll have internet everywhere.
If you are going to use the local trains, get a Suica card. (You may be able to order a card online before you get there, if you really want to hit the ground running.) We used ours on different lines in Tokyo, and in Osaka. If we had taken the train anywhere in Kyoto, it would have worked there, too. We found the trains fairly easy to navigate. You can trade in your Suica card at the end of the trip to get any remaining money back. They can also be used at some vending machines? We did not try that.
Google translate is a lifesaver! Not sure what the menu says or what you are buying in a conbini? Aim your phone at it (internet required, see the tip above), and it will translate enough bits of things that you can sort of tell what it is you’re considering.
Need cash? Conbinis have ATMs.
Oh, you’ll need cash. Weirdly, not all places take credit cards.
Hungry? Conbinis have surprisingly good food!
What’s a conbini? A convenience store. Family Mart, Lawson, 7-Eleven. Yes. 7-Eleven. I have no idea why they all have ‘L’s in the name, but … they do.
Wendy’s First Kitchens have machines to order at, so you don’t have to interact with other humans (for ordering at least) if you don’t want to.
McDonald’s has handy laminated menus at the counter so you can point at what you want.
No eating and walking on the street. It’s rude, I guess? No one will stop you, but if you pay attention, anyone eating on the street has stopped walking and is standing off to the side.
There are drink vending machines everywhere, but food vending machines are few and far between.
The Japanese are all about the seasons! Including in their snack foods. We managed to get Apple Coke and White Peach Fanta because we were there in the fall. If you are a junk foodie, keep an eye open and you’ll get to try all kinds of weird stuff. (But Apple Coke and White Peach Fanta? So good.)
Japan (and Malaysia, too, so maybe it’s in all of Asia? Unsure) is all about random flavored Kit Kats. We tried all kinds of flavors. All kinds of flavors – many of them probably seasonal.
Stop in at a Don Quijote store. You’re welcome.
Also, check out the Robot Restaurant if you are in Tokyo. No locals attend the show, so it’s not really an authentic Japanese experience in that regard. But it is something unlike anything you’ve ever done, I can almost guarantee that.