Large shops and department stores generally operate seven days a week, from around 10:00 to 20:00. Many of the attractive Kyoto sole-traders tend to open more restricted hours. Snacks, drinks, stationary, and all manner of things can be bought anytime of day or night at 24 hr convenience stores, found in every neighbourhood and district. Banks are open 9:00 to 15:00 Monday to Friday. Not all ATM cash machines operate 24 hours a day. Post offices generally operate 9:00 to 17:00 weekdays only, they close their financial services (including international exchange) at 16:00: Kyoto Central Post Office at JR Kyoto station operates a 24 hour desk for postal services. Temples, museums and other tourist attraction opening times are from around 9:00 to 17:00; times vary according to attraction and time of the year. Many shrines do not have gates that close but it is common practice to not visit after dark. Temples and shrines do not have regular worshipping hours so visits can be made any day of the week. Look out for special events and evening opening in local listings, such as Kyoto Visitor's Guide, when you get here.
The Japanese currency is called the yen. Cash is the most widely accepted method of payment, and you can pay for a 99 yen product with a 10,000 yen note. Major credit cards are widely accepted, except in some small sole traders. Debit cards are almost unknown and should not be relied upon as a payment option. Travellers' cheques are only accepted for exchange in banks and post offices, and, in general, cannot be used to purchase goods and services. Foreign exchange can be performed in banks (look for signs in English), larger post offices, a limited number of hotels, and Kyoto Handicraft Center: there are no street-side bureaux de change in Kyoto. Bank counters are open 9 am to 3 pm, post offices financial services from 9 am to 4 pm. There is not much discrimination in exchange rates and commissions between banks in the city and in the airport; post offices and the Handicraft Center reportedly offer slightly favourable rates. You can draw cash on your credit card or debit card at certain ATM cash machines: all post office (found in every neighbourhood; not 24 hr) and Seven Bank (in all 7-Eleven stores; 24 hr) ATMs accept overseas credit cards with PIN, and some debit card systems. Please use the references below when planning the budget for your trip.
- JNTO Money
- Japan Post Bank
- Citibank - branch & ATMs in Kyoto
- Seven Bank - located in 7-Eleven convenience stores accepts credit, debit and cash cards from around the world
- Kyoto Handicraft Center
- Currency Converter JPY
Climate and clothing
In Kyoto "tsuyu" or rainy season starts in mid-June, and ends in mid-July. It is heavy, daily downpours that punctuate searing heat. Nights and mornings can be cool and refreshing; afternoons are usually stifling. Rain comes and goes, but with little regularity; It is recommended to check weather forcast everyday. For days on end, there might be no rain at all\just sweltering humidity. They say thet the deep green foilage of this season in Kyoto is refreshing to see. Rainwear and/or umbrella are highly recommended with you.
Average precipitation in June : 248.9mm / 9.80in
Maximum temperature in June : 27C / 81F
Minimum temperature in June : 18C / 64F
- Weather forcast by Japan Meteorological Agency
- Weather in Kyoto Today (Yahoo Weather)
- JNTO Climate
- JNTO Seasonal Attractions
Mains electricity is supplied at 100 volts AC at the frequency of 60 Hertz in Kyoto. Most portable computers and cameras are internationally compatible but you are advised to check your equipment before departure. Mains sockets require a Type A plug and you are advised to obtain an adaptor before departure if needed. Type A plugs have two flat blades and are used in the US and Canada too.
- A very detailed description on world plugs and sockets is given here
In the unlikely event of an emergency while you are in Kyoto it is good to know the systems in place to support you. Your first source of information and advice should be your hotel or meeting secretariat. JNTO gives a detailed description of things to know in an emergency in Japan.
- Kyoto City International Foundation gives a list of hospitals that can give consultations in other languages
- other procedures for emergencies
Immigration, visa, health certificates, entry procedures
It is recommended that you check with your local Japanese embassy for correct and up to date entry requirements to Japan. All non-Japanese passport holders are required to give finger prints (electronically recorded) and be photographed at passport control. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan advises on its website http://www.mofa.go.jp/index.html a list of countries that do not require a visa to enter the country. At the time of writing this website no health certificates are required to enter Japan. JNTO gives further information on entry procedures and customs allowances http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/essential/index.html
Registration to the conference is required prior to receiving a letter supporting your VISA request. Therefore, e-mail or FAX completed Request for VISA Assistance Form as well as confirmation that you have registered for the conference to:
Dept. of Robotics, Ritsumeikan Univ.
Noji-higashi 1-1-1, Kusatu, Shiga, 525-8577, Japan
Email: secretariat 'at' icorr2009.org
Thanks to its location near the geographical centre of Japan, Kyoto is positioned to offer you fast and easy access to all that is fascinating about this country. Some of the best online resources for travel planning in Japan can be found in the JNTO website: http://www.jnto.go.jp/
Language - Getting by in English and Japanese
Outside of your hotel and meeting venue the main language will be Japanese. However, Kyoto is Japan's prime tourist destination and has the infrastructure in place to make your stay enjoyable and stress-free. Subway & train station and bus stop signs are clearly marked not only in Japanese but also in English, Chinese and Korean for easy comprehension. Also, destinations are posted in English and Japanese, and stops announced in English on board making it even easier for the visitor to navigate the city. Restaurants present bilingual and pictorial menus. If you speak slowly and clearly, shop assistants and taxi drivers will understand your needs. There are sightseeing maps and information boards posted throughout the city and direction signs are displayed in Romanised and Japanese versions. Furthermore, residents are friendly to visitors: if you approach someone on the street, you are likely to be understood and the person you ask is likely to be able and willing to help.
Post, Courier, Luggage Handling
Post offices are located in every neighbourhood making the service very easy to use. Kyoto Central Post Office at JR Kyoto Station offers 24 hour service. If you are travelling with large or heavy luggage, courier services are recommended because most companies offer next-day delivery to anywhere in Japan be it the airport or your next hotel. Courier services can be obtained at your hotel as well as any convenience store. There are even two couriers in Kyoto Station that will deliver your luggage to your hotel/ryokan the same day, so allowing you the freedom to explore the city from the moment that you arrive. A large industry of safe and efficient couriers has grown up to service the demands of a population that is used to travelling separately from their luggage. Please see the following links.
- Japan Post is the brand name for the national postal service
- Sagawa Express offers nationwide and international courier services
- Baggage Delivery Service at Kansai International Airport
- FedEx is also represented here in Kyoto
- Carry Service - B1 level of north (Karasuma) side of Kyoto Station (convenient for Haruka Airport Express)
- Delivery Service - Ground level of south (Hachijoguchi) side of Kyoto Station (convenient for Shinkansen)
- JNTO's guide to postal services
Personal safety & security
Japan is noted for its safety. Kyoto subways, train stations, and bus terminals are clean and well-lit. Even young children commute to school alone. You should have no major safety worries when travelling within Kyoto. Women generally feel comfortable about travelling in the city alone at any hour of the day and families will find their time in Kyoto very enjoyable. It should be reiterated here however that you are always recommended to take the proper precautions you would normally practise when in an unfamiliar place.
Travelling with your children
Your family will find many things to do while you are attending conference sessions - see the Sightseeing page for ideas. There are many educational and fun activities that appeal to children of all ages such as the world's first international manga comic museum, a chance to clash swords with samurai and pit your wits against ninja at the Movie Land, the Torokko open deck train and Hozugawa river rapids rural adventure, as well as parks, museums and festivals. Kyoto is a safe and fun city that your family will remember for a lifetime.
Consumption tax is a flat rate across the country of 5% on all purchases (correct at time of writing this site). There are no additional local taxes. The displayed price on goods and services is required by law to be tax-inclusive. Receipts and bills often indicate tax and service charge for your reference.
Some shops in Kyoto city display duty free shopping signs: Kyoto Handicraft Center http://www.kyotohandicraftcenter.com (all souvenir needs), Biccamera Inc. http://www.biccamera.co.jp/shoplist/kyoto.html (electrical goods specialist) and Taniyamamusen http://www.taniyama.co.jp/store/dutyfree/index.html (electrical goods specialist) are particularly popular with visitors. You will need your passport to make purchases duty-free and a minimum purchase might apply.
Telephones & mobile phones
The Japanese mobile phones protocol is different from that in other parts of the world and it is difficult to give useful information here. The best advice is check with your provider before you depart. Mobile phones are available for rental at the airport but not in Kyoto city. Public telephones can be found in hotels, your meeting venue and throughout the town. International calls can be made from NTT grey public telephones and others that are marked as such. Cards can be purchased that allow international telephone calls from any telephone using a code and PIN.
- JNTO gives a detailed description of telephone services
- Mobile phone rental at Kansai International Airport
Japan is covered by one time zone that is Greenwich Meantime (GMT) plus nine (9) hours. There is no daylight saving system so the clocks stay set the same year round.
Tipping is not practised in Japan - impeccable service is expected and delivered always. Some restaurants and hotels include a service charge in the bill that you pay. This will always be fully explained. Some shops place a tray near the cash register, this is for you to make your payment and for the change and receipt to be passed back to you, it is not a request for a tip. You pay your restaurant bill as you exit not at the table so not tipping is quite intuitive.
- Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO)
- News on Japan
- Lonely Planet Japan
- Rough Guide to Japan
- List of Embassies in Japan
- Japan Guide
- Currency Converter Yen
- Kyoto City Home Page
- Kyoto Prefecture Home Page
- Kyoto City International Foundation
- Kyoto Official Travel Guide
- Kyoto City Tourism & Cultural Information
- Welcome to Kyoto
- Kyoto Visitor's Guide
- Learning About Kyoto
- WAK Japan Culture Workshops
- Sunrise Tours
- Kyoto Shimbun Newspaper
- Weather in Kyoto Today (Yahoo Weather)
- Kyoto City Transportation
- Kyoto Bus
http://www.kyotobus.jp/ (Japanese only)
- Sagano Sightseeing Tram
- MK Taxi
- Myojyo Taxi
http://www.myojyo.net/ (Japanese only)
- Yasaka Group
- Miyako Taxi
http://www.117385.com/ (Japanese only)
- Eizan Electric Railway
http://www.keihannet.ne.jp/eiden/ (Japanese only)
- Kansai International Airport
- Narita International Airport
- Central Japan International Airport (Centrair)
- Japan Air Lines (JAL)
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- JR (Japan Rail) West (Kyoto area)
- JR (Japan Rail) East (Tokyo area)
- JR Central Japan (Shinkansen 'bullet train')