I'm not Japanese or anything but I have gone to Japan to see SCANDAL twice before so I can try to share tips that helped me have a successful trip.
- Start learning any Japanese you can right now. Japan isn't like Europe where just about everyone speaks English fluently. You can technically get around without speaking any Japanese but every little bit you can learn will help your trip go easier for sure. In my experience staff speak workable english in the airport, train stations and some hotels, but if you encounter anyone at a restaurant/shop or out in the street who speaks strong english it's really rare. Even if you can't speak anything of substance, being able to say "Sorry, I can't understand Japanese" in Japanese goes a really long way, just as a sort of courtesy that you're at least trying.
- Research Japanese culture and customs. Basically watch every video this guy has on youtube, especially the How To playlist. http://www.youtube.com/user/TheJapanChannelDcom It was incredibly helpful to know ahead of time about things like Suica cards for the trains and how to avoid embarrassing yourself in public.
- Rent a Japanese iPhone/smartphone. I've used these guys before: http://www.jcrcorp.com/ I recommend airport delivery and return because it's very easy to do at Narita where the staff speak workable English and then you have it to use for the entire trip. I went alone on my trip and the Japanese iPhone was absolutely essential. Look up translations online, get train maps, use the gps to find where you want to go, etc etc.
Last edited by 320x200 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:35 pm; edited 2 times in total