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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Few Things To Remember Before You Go




1. Beware: Your credit card may not work in Japan. Traveling from Russia to a nation allegedly hooked into the international banking system, you may expect to be able to swipe your Visa through cash registers, telephones and the nation's outdoor soft-drink machines. It's not that easy. In bigger cities, some bookstores and hotel restaurants took my Western credit cards. But many Japanese banks and ATMs accept a bewildering array of credit cards, none of which include Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Dollars were also difficult to exchange outside of a limited number of banks. This isn't Russia, where money-changers are on every street corner. Trust me: Bring lots of yen to get you by until you find a bank that will let you draw money off your foreign credit card.


2. Be prepared to burn money. Plain coffee can cost from $3 to $5 a cup. Modest hotels and small ryokan, traditional Japanese inns, in a provincial city can set you back $100 to $200. You can live moderately, according to Japanese standards, by eating at noodle shops (Then again, who wants to skip sushi?) And when the Antonina Nezhdanova is in port, you have got a bed for the night. But face it: Japan is the most efficient money-burning machine in the history of mankind, with the possible exception of Las Vegas. On the other hand, after Russia's public face of dirt, rudeness and ingratitude, the cost almost seems worth it. Almost.


3. Train travel is also expensive. Consider getting a JapanRail pass.


4. If you plan on hopping ship for a week, make sure you clear your plans with the Antonina Nezhdanova. Remember: It is an island of Russian bureaucracy in the Sea of Japan.


5. It is close to impossible for single Russian women to obtain visas to Japan through the nation's consulates and embassy. The Japanese are still incensed about a Russian woman who stabbed her Japanese husband to death some time in the last millennium; and besides, some not-so-nice Slavic working girls have found gainful employment in the Land of the Rising Sun. Luckily, there's a way around this: Single Russian women can easily get a visa through a travel agency. It costs, though - you will pay $100 instead of $10.