Are you traveling to (or in) Japan this summer? Or sometime this year? Are you prepared for the heat and humidity of summer, the difficult-to-read food labels if you don't know Japanese, or how to find reasonably-priced fruit?
Do you know how to find insect bite medicine if the mosquitoes eat you alive?
Or how to find a non-smoking restaurant if you're sensitive to smoke (it's harder than you think).
Or even the most seemingly simplest of tasks, customizing your favorite caffeine beverage at one of those major coffee chains if there aren't any English-speaking staff available. Some of the customizations might not be what you're accustomed to...
Below you'll find answers to all of the above, plus more tips and advice you probably won't find in any guidebooks that might come in handy while you're traveling around Japan.
First of all, although the rainy season has ended in Okinawa and will soon be ending on the main islands, here are some ways to deal with general heat and humidity summer in Japan usually brings: Surviving the Rainy Season in Japan: 40 Tips
You successfully managed to send your luggage from the airport off to your destination, but how do you send it back when you're heading home? HOW TO: Deliver Your Luggage to the Airport
If you want to save money, one of the best ways to do so is by booking with a Japanese travel site (preferably in Japanese), or directly via the hotel's Japanese version of the site. It's a bit daunting at first, but here's a guide to help walk you through the process: HOW TO: Make a Hotel Reservation Online (in Japanese)
About Cycling and Biking in Japan
If you plan to ride a bicycle at all, you'll want to be aware of some of the rules of the road (although these aren't always strictly enforced).
HOW TO: Find Shinkansen and Express Train Seating Charts
If you're worried about being seated near a smoking car (some trains still have them, though nowadays most don't) or just want to have a better idea of where you'll be sitting (or want to choose), this will tell you what you need to know.
Planning to ride local buses? Major cities and popular tourist destinations usually have bus information listed in English (you'll want to check the tourist information centers for more), but in other cities almost everything is in Japanese, and believe me when I say it's sometimes incredibly confusing to figure out. To give you a better idea of what I'm talking about, see HOW TO: Find Bus Routes/Schedules Online - Part 1 and Part 2.
The Ultimate Guide to Reading Food Labels in Japan - Enough said. You'll be glad you read this.
HOW TO: Find Allergy-Friendly Food in Japan - If you have any kind of food allergy, make sure to read this post.
Looking for inexpensive fruit and veggies? The trick is to check out local farmer's markets or morning markets: HOW TO: Find a Farmer's Market in Japan
HOW TO: Find a non-smoking restaurant in Japan - Most restaurants in Japan still allow smoking, although more are creating separate sections for smokers and non-smokers. If you have issues with smoke, have kids, etc., here is a way to find suitable dining spots.
HOW TO: Customize Your Drinks at Starbucks or Tully's in Japan - Just in case you can't find any English-speaking staff. And Japan does some customizations a bit differently.
Japanese Phrase Cards for Vegans, Vegetarians, People With Food Allergies, or Other Dietary Restrictions - These would be handy to carry around.
If you're coming from abroad, it's probably best to bring your own sunscreen, but if you're staying a while and/or run out, here's A Guide to Sunscreen in Japan
HOW TO: Find anti-itch, insect bite medicine in Japan - The mosquitoes are incredibly annoying here. If you don't bring your own medicine (might be a good idea to do so), here's how to find some relief for those bites.
HOW TO: Find motion sickness medication in Japan - Feeling a little nauseous? Forgot your motion sickness medicine at home? Here's what to look or ask for.
Why not head to the movies? Here's all you need to know, including some tips to find discounts (because the movies tend to be expensive here in Japan): 7 tips for going to the movies in Japan
Maybe you're planning to conquer Mt. Fuji, but if you want to explore places a little less crowded, here's how to find hiking trails in Japan.
HOW TO: Take great travel photos when you visit Japan - Some useful tips to visually document your journey.
If you want to explore one of Japan's many water parks or just cool off in a pool, learn HOW TO: Find a recreational pool or water park in Japan
Make life easy - 8 tools for surviving in Japan - Though more geared for folks living here in Japan, these apps and resources will come in handy when traveling or planning travel activities as well.
HOW TO: Transfer Money To and From Japan - If you run out of cash and don't want to use your credit card, or for any other reason, here's how you can receive money while in Japan.
5 Ways to Not Stand Out in Japan - Many foreigners tend to stick out like a sore thumb, but guest poster Caroline provides some advice on how to blend in.