Have you ever wanted to become famous? To have crowds of eager fans screaming your name?
Get yourself to Japan.
The boys from Kurupt FM know all about that. When they hear the BIG news that their song is being used on a hit game show in Japan, they've made it. It's time to take on the Land of the Rising Sun! People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan, in UK cinemas August 18, is a continuation of BBC’s award-winning mockumentary that has won over our hearts. In the film, our favourite boys can finally enjoy the fame and fortune that they’ve always known they deserved– in a very, er, ‘unique’ way… Learning from their cultural mishaps, we present our guide on how NOT to do Japan feat Kurupt FM.
DON'T be afraid to try new food
We have all felt the appeal of the “golden arches” at some point and it’s worth checking out their Japanese menu – the teriyaki burger is a real treat. But you’re in Japan, the world’s capital of delicious food! Do trust in Japan and try new things, Tokyo has made its way to the top of the culinary world with more Michelin starred restaurants than any other city! It’s a paradise for foodies, and you don’t have to be a seafood-kind-of-person eating sushi every day to enjoy Japanese cuisine. There are plenty of meaty dishes starting with the all-time fan-favourites, ramen and grilled meat. Japan delivers on the other end of the food spectrum too, with its vegan and vegetarian cuisine like the Buddhist shojin ryori, developed with care through centuries. Even the convenience stores offer iconically high-quality eats at a very affordable price.
More good news for your wallet - tipping is not customary in Japan (choosing their service is considered more than enough) so don’t be surprised if a waiter chases you down to give you back your change. Do remember, however, that some places may ask that you buy a small snack as a cover charge, and that, whilst contactless is very widespread in the big cities now, generally, cash is still king (the ever-present 7Eleven stores are your best bets for quick and painless withdrawals).
DON'T just wing it
We know it’s difficult to keep track of things you want to see and experience but preparing for your dream holiday is your chance to become the Japan know-it-all. DO find out all the places you want to visit, if you need to pre-book in advance (museums etc. tend to close on Mondays, not Sundays), where to find the best food in the area, and maybe a fun fact or two.
Does Tokyo Tower look familiar? It should. Because its creation was inspired by the Eiffel Tower! However, at 333 metres and 4,000 tonnes it’s taller and lighter than its Parisian counterpart! Imagine heading up Tokyo Tower to see Tokyo by night with your friends and family, and just whipping out those little titbits of valuable information like a pub quiz magician.
More? When taking a bow, never put your hands together in a praying position – just keep them at your side. Strictly speaking, the deeper the bow, the greater the thanks, but a gentle bow of the head will absolutely do the trick for day-to-day interactions (e.g. someone holds the door open for you).
DON'T behave like you’re the last person on Earth
The temptation to stand in the middle of those charming vermillion torii gates, spread your arms out like you’re about to fly and get a professional photoshoot going is an ever present threat to your dignity. However, hold your horses, in the most popular shrines and temples you won’t be the only one with those aspirations! You can still do all of those things your adoring followers are dying to see, but just be mindful of the people around you. DO try your hand at all of the rituals – cleanse your hands and mouth using the ladles at the fountain near the entrance and then support the shrine in some way. You can get your hands on a good luck charm or head to the collection boxes located by the main altars. It might look like a complicated ritual but all you have to do is bow twice, clap twice, then you can either pray for a bit or bow again! On a side note, passing through the centre of a torii gate is reserved for the gods (kami) so make sure to follow the tradition and walk on either side.
You will also generally be asked to take off your shoes when stepping into the building of a temple or shrine, so wear shoes that are easy to take on and off, and your most fashionable socks, if you’re planning on a temple-tastic day out.
DON'T forget to dress for the season
Japan is fantastically seasonal, with a total of 72 beautiful ‘micro-seasons’, but DO have a think about what you might need for the time of year you’re visiting. Spring and Autumn tend to be the mildest, very similar to the UK. Summer, however, is lush and green but sunny and sweaty so bring breathable layers to deal with both the heat outdoors and the air-con indoors. Winter, meanwhile, boasts clear skies and dependable forecasts but crisp temperatures and snowfall, requiring thermals and shoes with good grip. No worries if you don’t have this stuff at home; you can always buy it in Japan (most convenience stores will sell strap-on cleats for your shoes, for example) but do emotionally prepare yourself to peruse a couple of sizes up from your usual!
That said, you won’t be disappointed by the spirit of omotenashi - Japanese hospitality. Shopping assistants in Japan are always ready to help and go above and beyond to make you feel welcome. And DO take your time and shop around; Tokyo is full of fashion whether you’re into chic looks or mountains of frills! Check out Harajuku for quirky styles, Shimokitazawa for vintage retro, Shinjuku for classics, and Ginza for the glitz and glam of big brands.
DON’T lose your head in the bright lights
The Shibuya Scramble Crossing is an iconic landmark in Tokyo which on busy days can have over 1,000 people cross it at one time! It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Tokyo and waiting to cross, you will notice that no one dares to step onto the crossing until that little green man appears. That’s because jaywalking (or stopping in the middle of the road) is heavily frowned upon in Japan! We know it’s difficult to get the perfect shot of the crossing so head into one of the local vantage points like the recently opened Shibuya Sky and take your time!
Navigating Tokyo can feel like a mammoth task, but DO pay attention to what other are doing and ask for help if you need it. Japan is full of helpful staff (and passers-by), proficient in clean public toilets (convenience stores won’t even expect a purchase in return) and brimming with English signage and announcements. Free Wifi is also increasingly available all over, but you may want to rent a portable hotspot to share between your friends before arriving so that you can stay connected throughout your stay - even on the Tokyo Metro!
See for yourself how the boys from Kurupt FM take over Japan in People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan, in cinemas August 18. In the end exploring Japan is all about having fun and making unforgettable memories.