Japan should be very pleasant in April, though rain is always a possibility. Please look at the websites below to keep track of the weather before you pack:
http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html (this is a very detailed and useful site)
What to pack
- 1 set of business casual dress for embassy and business visits
- 1 pair casual, very comfortable, shoes for sightseeing-closed toes are best
- 1 pair dressier shoes for business meetings and some dinners out (most won't require anything dressy)
- 2 pairs hiking pants or similar
- 3-4 casual shirts or T-shirts, some short-sleeved
- 2 dressier shirts or sweaters for evenings
- 1 pair dressier pants or skirt for dinners
- 1 fleece jacket or pullover
- 1 warm sweater for evenings
- bathing suit if you want to use hotel pools. Most Japanese baths are separated by gender and taken in the buff (you wash yourself at a spigot or shower first).
- Whatever you wear to bed
- raincoat or rain jacket
- underwear and socks
- travel alarm clock
- all your standard medications
- Imodium or similar in case you get a stomach bug(unlikely in Japan, but still possible)
- standard toiletries (hotels will have hair dryers)
- hand wipes and hand sanitizer
- tissues (handy if there's no toilet paper)
- mosquito repellant (just in case we see a bug)
- several zip lock plastic bags
- sun hat for sightseeing
- camera with extra disk and batteries and battery charger
- adaptor kit (see below about electricity)-maybe
- whatever you like to read
- business cards
- nice but not essential, a travel pillow. You can find a variety of these at http://www.royalpillow.com/travel-pillow.asp. Amazon and others offer some as well.
See these websites for information about electricity in Japan:
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/essential/electricity.html. You won't need a converter unless you take something quite unusual. You won't need to take a hairdryer.
Shogun, James Clavell, 1986
One of the monumental novels about Japan, still excellent reading to learn about Japanese history and culture.
Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden, 1999
A bestseller during its day and still a great book to read. The story is beautifully-written and told, about an ancient Japanese tradition and the women who were caught up in it. A haunting love story..
A Concise History of Japan, Brett L. Walker, release date is January 31, 2015
Walker covers key themes regarding Japan's relationships with its minorities, state and economic development, and the uses of science and medicine. The book traces Japan's early history and explores life in the imperial court, the rise of the samurai, civil conflict, encounters with Europe, and the advent of modernity and empire. It outlines Japan's ascension from the ashes of World War II into the thriving nation of today..
Traveller's History of Japan, Richard Tames, Comp and Scott Hall, 2008
This clearly written history explains how a country embedded in the traditions of Shinto, Shoguns and Samurai has achieved stupendous economic growth and dominance in the twentieth century..
The Postwar Occupation of Japan: The History of the Transition from World War II to Modern Japan, Charles Rivers Editors, 2014
Discusses the American occupation of Japan after World War II and the immense changes this brought about in a medieval and thoroughly autocratic culture that is today a bustling democracy and economic powerhouse (despite its economic and political turmoil).
A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower,Kenneth Henshall, 2012
Japan's impact on the modern world has been enormous. It occupies just one 300th of the planet's land area, yet came to wield one sixth of the world's economic power. Just 150 years ago it was an obscure land of paddy fields and feudal despots. Within 50 years it became a major imperial power -
it's so-called 'First Miracle'. After defeat in the Second World War, when Japan came close to annihilation, within 25 years it recovered remarkably to become the world's third biggest economy - it's 'Second Miracle'. It is now not only an economic superpower, but also a technological and cultural superpower.
Introduction to Japanese Culture, Daniel Sosnoski and Narumi Yasuda, 2014
Well-researched articles, color photographs, and line illustrations providing a compact guide to aspects of Japan that often puzzle the outside observer. An informative, needed primer on the cultural make-up and behaviors of the Japanese.
Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics and Culture, Patricia J. Graham, 2014
Asian art expert and author Patricia J. Graham explains how Japanese aesthetics based in fine craftsmanship and simplicity developed. Her full-color presentation reveals this design aesthetic by using a combination of insightful explanations and more than 160 stunning photos. Focusing upon ten elements of Japanese design, Graham explores how visual qualities, the cultural parameters and the Japanese religious traditions of Buddhism and Shinto have impacted the appearance of its arts.
The Art of Japanese Architecture, David Young, Michiko Young, Tan Hong Yew, 2011
The architecture of a people is a living, breathing thing which constantly evolves. As a community grows, thrives, changes and develops, the architecture does as well. By examining the Japanese history of buildings and building designs from prehistory to modern day, lovers of Japan will develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of this island country
Japan is easy for travelers because the food and water are safe. The Japanese are meticulous about cleanliness. Do check the Centers for Disease Control website on Japan anyway
(http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/japan). We always recommend that you make sure you are up to date on all your vaccines, regardless of where you travel. We will not be in an area that currently has had cases of Japanese encephalitis.
Take a look at these websites for good tips on culture and etiquette in Japan. It is really important to read these before you go and to keep them in mind while we are traveling there. Shoes are a big thing. They don't belong inside a home. Separate slippers are used for the toilet rooms. Our hosts will tell us what to do.
Tipping is included in the cost of your trip. You will not need to tip as it is not terribly common in Japan. If in doubt, ask Aki, our wonderful guide.
Japan does not require a visa for U.S. citizens. You must have a valid passport that will expire at least 6 months after you depart from Japan.