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General Information

Business hours

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.

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Money matters

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

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Climate and clothing

Japan has a temperate northern hemisphere climate and weather patterns are regular year to year. Kyoto celebrates the changing of the seasons through festivals and events, and its exciting and varied seasonal cuisine. The table below describes weather patterns you should expect at the time of your meeting. Seasonal events are introduced in a separate page of this website.

January Average precipitation
50.8mm / 2.00in
Maximum temperature
8C / 47F
Minimum temperature
0C / 32F
Winter: Mild daytimes and chilly nights & mornings, clear skies, little precipitation. Warm overcoats, hats and gloves recommended early morning, late afternoon, evening.
February Average precipitation
66.0mm / 2.60in
Maximum temperature
9C / 48F
Minimum temperature
1C / 33F
Winter: Mild daytimes, chilly nights, clear skies, little precipitation. Warm overcoats, hats and gloves recommended early mornings & late afternoon / evening.
March Average precipitation
111.8mm / 4.40in
Maximum temperature
13C / 55F
Minimum temperature
3C / 37F
Late winter / early spring: Mild daytimes, chilly nights, clear skies, little precipitation. Warm overcoats are recommended early mornings and evenings.
April Average precipitation
152.4mm / 6.00in
Maximum temperature
19C / 67F
Minimum temperature
8C / 47F
Spring: Warm daytimes, evening and night time can be cool, clear skies, some precipitation. Sweaters and light jackets sufficient during day, jackets useful evenings.
May Average precipitation
154.9mm / 6.10in
Maximum temperature
24C / 75F
Minimum temperature
13C / 56F
Spring: Daytime and night time mild. Sweaters and jackets not needed during daytime.
June Average precipitation
248.9mm / 9.80in
Maximum temperature
27C / 81F
Minimum temperature
18C / 64F
Early summer: Warm to hot, some humidity. Light clothing most comfortable. Rain increases to end of month.
July Average precipitation
233.7mm / 9.20in
Maximum temperature
31C / 88F
Minimum temperature
22C / 72F
Summer: Hot day and night, some humidity, rain not unusual beginning of month. Light clothing recommended. Summer suits most comfortable business attire.
August Average precipitation
142.2mm / 5.60in
Maximum temperature
33C / 91F
Minimum temperature
23C / 74F
Summer: High temperatures day & night, humidity. Light clothing recommended. Summer suits most comfortable business attire.
September Average precipitation
203.2mm / 8.00in
Maximum temperature
28C / 82F
Minimum temperature
19C / 67F
Late summer: Hot days, refreshing morning, evening & night, some humidity. Light clothing recommended. Summer suits comfortable business attire.
October Average precipitation
111.8mm / 4.40in
Maximum temperature
22C / 72F
Minimum temperature
12C / 54F
Early autumn: Mild daytime, clear skies. Summer suits still comfortable at beginning of month.
November Average precipitation
68.6mm / 2.70in
Maximum temperature
17C / 62F
Minimum temperature
7C / 44F
Autumn: Mild daytime, cooler morning, evening, night, clear skies. Jackets recommended for early and late parts of day.
December Average precipitation
40.6mm / 1.60in
Maximum temperature
11C / 52F
Minimum temperature
2C / 36F
Late autumn / early winter. Mild daytimes, chilly nights, clear skies, little precipitation. Warm overcoats recommended early mornings and evenings.

Weather in Kyoto Today (Yahoo Weather)

JNTO Climate

JNTO Seasonal Attractions

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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.

More information about the Japanese electricity supply is available from JNTO

A very detailed description on world plugs and sockets is given here

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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
and other procedures for emergencies

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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 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

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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:

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 (all souvenir needs) and Taniyamamusen (electrical goods specialist) are particularly popular with visitors. You will need your passport to make purchases duty-free and a minimum purchase might apply.

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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

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Time zone

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.

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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.

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Useful links

Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO)
News on Japan
Lonely Planet Japan
Rough Guide to Japan
Visa to Enter Japan
List of Embassies in Japan
Japan Guide
Currency Converter Yen

Kyoto City Home Page
Kyoto Prefecture Home Page
Kyoto City International Exchange Association
Kyoto Official Travel Guide
Kyoto 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 (Japanese only)
Sagano Sightseeing Tram
MK Taxi
Myojyo Taxi (Japanese only)
Yasaka Group
Miyako Taxi (Japanese only)
Eizan Electric Railway (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')

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Page last modified on February 26, 2010, at 02:48 PM