- 11 Jun 2015
- 8 Aug 2016
- 07 Apr 2017
- 07 Apr 2017
Travel To Japan
This page contains various information about travelling to Japan for Collaboration Meetings, Shifts, etc. such as booking the Tokai Dorms, registering for the J-PARC wifi, and many other things that have been noticed or learned over time. Hopefully this page will continue to be updated with the latest information and useful hints about travelling back and forth. This page is loosely grouped by topic, such as preperations for travel, things relating to J-PARC and the Users Office, information on Tokai, etc.
Getting a KEK User Account
The website to register or manage a KEK User Account is here: https://krs.kek.jp/uskek/ui/UI_00000E.do
Register for a new account and then fill out the requisite forms. Here is a list of some of the information needed for the account:
- Affiliation Details: (does not show up in the [Search], so enter the details by hand in the boxed region)
- Foreign Institution
- Michigan State University
- Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
- 567 Wilson Road, East Lansing, MI 48823
- Biomedical & Physical Sciences Bldg.
- Primary Purpose: Hadron, Neutrino Experiment
- Detail 1: Experiment, IPNS, J-PARC
- Detail 2: E11 (T2K)
- Contact Section within KEK: Neutrino
- Contact Person within KEK: Toshifumi Tsukamoto
- KEK Contact Phone No. : 4446
- Intend to work with radioactive materials? No
- Project Spokesperson: Tsuyoshi Nakaya
- Project Spokesperson Affiliation: Kyoto University
- Project Spokesperson Position: Professor
- Area to be Accessed: J-PARC Neutrino
- Name of KEK Host: Toshifumi Tsukamoto
After registering for the KEK account, you will soon get an email confirming your registration and containing your temporary password. That should be mostly everything needed to register for the KEK account. There are still more forms to fill out when you need to visit Japan / J-PARC.
J-PARC Visit Forms
There are two forms associated with visiting J-PARC: The "Application form to visit J-PARC" and the "VISIT PROPOSAL (J-PARC)". The "Application form to visit J-PARC" needs to be filled out every time you go to J-PARC (including if you just visit the IQBRC), while the "VISIT PROPOSAL (J-PARC)" only needs to be filled out once per Japan Fiscal Year (JFY) which begins on April 1st and ends on March 31st the following year. Be sure to fill out both forms with ample time before you travel to Japan. They can be found on the KEK User portal page (the link at the top) under the Administrative Procedures for Visiting KEK / J-PARC, under item number one: Administration related to your visit.
In addition to the two forms above, there is also a form / application for staying at the Tokai Dorms. This application should be filled out as early as possibly to secure your reservation at the dorms. You can apply at a maximum of 45 days in advance of your visit, so for simplicity you can just apply for dorms and fill out the visit forms a month before you plan to go. The dorm application can be found again on the KEK Users portal under Accommodation Booking and/or Travel Expenses.
After filling out both forms you will get an email confirming your visit to J-PARC. If you fill out the forms for only visiting the Collaboration meeting, they will not issue your J-PARC User ID card if you do not have one. If you need to enter J-PARC you will need to sign up for safety training and then send a photo of your face to the J-PARC users office for your ID card. The photo needs to be taken facing front against a plain white (or off-white) background in a .jpeg file format (I took my photo in front of the wall in my office which was accepted). This also should be done several days in advance of your visit to J-PARC. Once at J-PARC, you can pick up your ID card at the IQBRC.
Application form to visit J-PARC
There is not much new information needed for the Application form. You will need the date of arrival and date of leaving at J-PARC / IQBRC, if you need the use the KEK bus, the buildings you plan to visit, when you plan to receive your J-PARC User ID, if you plan to drive a car, emergency contact number, and where you are staying (put in the comments section at the end).
For the collaboration meeting, you will be visiting the IQBRC (Ibaraki Quantum Beam Research Center) and the KEK Tokai No. 1 Building.
Visit Proposal (J-PARC)
This form also does not have too much new information (most of it should already be filled out for you). You will need various passport related information: date of birth, place of birth, passport number, passport expiration date. The Field of Experties is Neutrinos or Neutrino Physics. You again need the beginning and end dates of when you be at J-PARC and the purpose of your visit such as Collaboration Meeting, or Check TPC System. The Visit Sites should be J-PARC, and Visit Facilities should include IQBRC (for collaboration meetings) and possibly the Neutrino Hall if you plan to actually be on site in J-PARC. Finally the list and names of sites, facilities, and year at your latest visit to JAEA which will be "none" if this is your first visit to J-PARC.
Tokai Dorm Reservation
To make a reservation for the KEK Tokai Dormatory, go to the section on the KEK website under "Accomodation Booking and/or Travel Expenses" and select option numebr one: "Make an Accomodation Booking". On this page there will be a bunch of information which you can read, otherwise the important bit is at the bottom of the page where you select the primary purpose for the visit. The primary purpose should be Experiment, IPNS (J-PARC) and for details it should be E11 (for T2K at least), and then click the next button. The next page should have your basic information already present and halfway down should be where you enter your check-in and check-out dates. Make sure it says Tokai campus under part 2 and for the waitlist under part 4, just select "1 Day Before". Once those are filled out, click the next button to move on to confirmation. After your dorm booking is confirmed, be sure to print out the "Dorm. Usage Record" found at the bottom of the page under "Change/Cancel Accomodation Booking or Travel Expenses" option.
This form can be used to help get through Japan Customs when they ask where you are going.
J-PARC, etc. Address Info
Here is information such as the J-PARC Users Office address and phone number for filling out various forms, such as the Travel Authorization, Customs, etc.
- J-PARC Users Office Address: 162-1 Shirakata Tokai-mura Naka-gun,Ibaraki 319-1195 Japan
- J-PARC Users Office Phone #: +81-029-284-3398
- J-PARC Users Office Email: email@example.com
- KEK Users Office Address: 1-1 Oho Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0801 Japan
- KEK Users Office Phone #: +81-029-879-6135
- KEK Users Office Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a number of things you should do before you travel to Japan to make your life less complicated while traveling abroad. This section contians only a subset of these things, leaves out some of the more obvious ones, and is mainly based on personal experience.
The one rule: watch and do what others are doing. If you don't know how something is supposed to work, watch one or two people in front of you do it (this works for eating, getting through the ticket turn stiles, meeting people, you name it). Walking into a restaurant, do I take off my shoes? well, let someone ahead of you go, see what they do. Other than that, be patient, polite, and enjoy the ride.You will certainly return with stories.
- Resources: Lonely Planet's travel guide is reliable.
- Fodor's also has a good travel guide that is similar to Lonely Planet's but has some other options. Andrew and I found an awesome taqueiria in Osaka through this book.
Language:To the degree you can, prepare before your visit. What might you like to see? Get directions now, while you have internet/books available. Bring a notebook and pen with you to Japan. If people don't understand your English, it helps to write it out in block letters, or copy the kanji. Most people have ~10yrs mandatory English in school, but that may have been a while ago, so be patient. Also learn to "make do" and go with the flow. If something isn't necessary, just run with it (My dad once harassed some poor stewardess for some cream for his coffee for a good 20 minutes-- just drink it black!). People tend to not point directly at people or objects, they wave at them with an open palm.
- One thing I (Jacob) had to get used to in Japan was not be able to read pretty much anything. There will be English here and there, but don't expect it, especially if you're not in a major city. As you go more, things will start to become familiar and you'll start to recognize different kanji, even if you don't necessarily know what it says or means. One other thing: If you look really lost, there's a chance that someone will come up and ask you if you need help (in English). Japanese people are very nice, and, at times, will go out of their way to help you out.
- Currency/Cash: One of the main things to take care of is how you plan on being able to spend money in Japan. The main currency of Japan is the Yen, and much of Japan uses cash only for transactions (this is especially true in Tokai) so you should always have some amount of Yen with you. The easiest way to get Yen is to use an ATM after you arrive in Japan. Commercial currency exchanges are also available, but they typically have larger fees and provide worse exchange rates than the banks that operate ATM's. There are ATM's located at the airport as well as at the post office and 7/11 in Tokai. Typical charges for out of network are $3.50 per transaction (this is actual cost that Matt had using the ATM at the Tokai post office). The next question is how much Yen to exchange. Meals (lunch and dinner) will typically cost around 1,000 to 2,000 Yen depending on where you go, so for all meals a good number to budget is 4,000 or 5,000 Yen per day for food. For traveling around Japan, the bus from Narita to Tokai is around 3,200 Yen per person and typical taxi rides run between 1,000 to 2,000 Yen (assuming a fairly short ride, such as from the Tokai dorm to the train station). All in all, from my last trip to Japan, I was able to survive easily on 40,000 Yen for seven days while in the Tokai Dorms (which also even carried over into spending a day in Tokyo).
- Credit: In addition to cash, there are places that do accept credit cards, such as paying for the Tokai Dorms. For credit and / or debit cards you are going to want to contact the provider and issue a travel notice on the card for the time you're going to be in Japan, since your provider may see the international charges as fraud without being notified. On my last trip to Japan I issued travel notices on both my primary credit and debit card and both worked without issue while I was in Japan; note that certain credit and debit cards may charge foreign transaction fees. If you plan staying in HEP, it is strongly recommended to apply for a credit card that does not have foreign transaction fees (such as the CapitalOne Venture card).
- Passport/Entry: Certain pieces of paperwork can be very useful to have with you when traveling, some being specific to traveling for T2K. First it is good to have a paper copy of your passport in case you lose your passport or you're somehow without it. In Japan, you are required to have your passport on your person and to show it if asked. Next you are going to want a copy of your Tokai Dorm stay if you are staying in the Tokai Dorms; you will be asked for your address sometimes by customs.
- Items to bring: Many bathrooms do not have towels, so bring a small handtowel with you for personal use. Get a English-Japanese dictionary on your phone (Jsho is a good English-Japanese app). Get an international drivers license (from AAA typically for about 15$ + a passport photo).
- Gifts: Bring locally themed gifts (MSU or MI). Dried cherries (cooked fruit) is OK for customs, but sometimes fruit, nuts and fish are not OK, so check in advance. Gift culture is important in Japan, and it's really nice to be able to easily thank someone quickly-- your host, the secretaries who help you get set up, the random person at the train station who helps. I often bring a bag of candy for simple thanks.
- Travel around Japan: Train: Many of the trains (at least the high speed ones and trains in the major cities) show in English characters the destinations. The Japan Rail booths, where you can book your ticket, often have good English speakers. There are many kinds of tickets, be ready to tell them if you want a smoking or non smoking seat, and ask for a reserved seat (it costs more, but then you are sure to have a seat). Consider getting a Japan Rail pass if you are doing a lot of traveling over 1 or 2 weeks. Note, you will need to purchase it in the US in advance of your trip and pick up a copy at the airport. You can also pick it up at the Japan Rail office in Tokyo Station. I (Jacob) used a JR pass one summer to travel all over southern Japan and it saved me a lot of money in the long run. Bus: Take a ticket when you get on the bus. If it is the first stop, there will be no ticket sometimes. Then, look on the board at the front of the bus. The fare you pay will be the fare under your number (or under hiragana "なし" if there is none). Go to the front, and put your change in an open plastic bin along with your ticket. Below this bin is a change machine, so you can put correct change in. Highway buses are different, usually you buy a ticket beforehand and give it to the driver when you get off the bus (if leaving major stop, like Tokyo) If you get on the bus from a random stop (like KEK) you can buy a ticket from the driver (he will know the fare) Still other buses have a fixed rate (100yen) or are free (watch what others do).
- I would highly suggest getting a Suica card if you plan on traveling in Japan, especially in the Tokyo area. You load the card with yen and then scan it when you enter and exit the station. The machine automatically deducts the correct amount, saving you time having to purchase a ticket. NOTE: Most trains in the Tokyo region and Mito take Suica, but some smaller or private lines don't.
- Wifi/Phones: TMobile and Spring have international data for free. Otherwise, you can rent a portable WiFi devices and/or a cell phone for your stay. The Narita Airport site offers options.
- Medication: Bring medication you need, even over the counter stuff may be difficult to find.
- Eating: practice your chopsticks before heading to Japan. Don't stab food with chopsticks, move dishes with your chopsticks, point with them, and above all don't pass food from your chopsticks to another person's chopsticks; this is a funeral rite. I highly reccomend eating everything you can in Japan. The food is amazing, and either you will love it, or you will have an interesting story to tell about it. Try anything your host/hostess recommends, and enjoy it with a smile (do take note of the name, in case you loved it or never want to eat it again). Many dishes may include raw items, but there are plenty more that are cooked. Raw egg in Japan is carefully regulated so you won't get salmonella poisoning from it. I've never gotten sick from the fish, but be mindful of bear, ostrich, horse and other exotic sushi/sashimi, which may not go over well.
Shoes/slippers: Many places don't have you take off your shoes anymore, but there are a few cases where you always will. 1) Bathrooms. IF you see slippers provided, then take your shoes off and use the slippers.2) Tatami mats. These mats are beige, and reed-like. Shoes are never worn on them, usually socks only. 3) Restraunts. Most restraunts you keep your shoes on, but if you have to step up, with the step being hollow (for shoes to go under)then chances are you have to take your shoes off (stow them under the step or in a cubby hole, turn them around facing out for bonus points) To this end I bring slip-on sandals, or tie my shoelaces loosely to make for quick entry and exit. Consider buying your own slippers if you are in Japan for an extended time, or have small/large feet. (all the slippers at Super-K are far too large for my feet!). You can buy these at 100Y stores as well. Bring a few pairs of fresh, clean socks, useful for visiting host families and avoiding embarrassment when hyou take off your shoes.
Speaking/Greeting: I've been asked about the usage of "san", and after polling some friends, it sounds like it is safest to use "san" even in English when speaking of a Japanese coworker. Some people don't mind, but on the off chance they do, better to use it. I would also use last names, unless you've been told it's ok to use first names. The true default is to use whatever they want you to call them. Depending on the person, handshakes are fine. Again, to be safe, bow first, lower than they do, with a straight back bow from the waist. Smile, and offer your hand.
Clothing: If you are going to be on site at J-PARC you need to be wearing the appropriate clothes for work. Typical work clothes (as defined by J-PARC satefy training) are long sleeves, jeans or other long pants, and close toed shoes -- typical work or lab clothes. Note, there is a substantial rainy season in June (monsoon season) and you can buy cheap umbrellas in Japan, but a good lightweight coat is helpful, as are layers in winter where everyone doesn't believe in insulation or heating.
What to do in Tokai
J-PARC has free bicycle rentals available. These are 3-speed bikes with a convenient basket and headlight, and they make getting around Tokai much easier. Bikes are supposed to ride on the street (left side), although most T2K people ride on sidewalks. Pedestrians have the right-of-way on sidewalks, and it is expected that you slow down and yield to pedestrians if you encounter them while riding on the sidewalk or street.
There is an office for T2K members from the USA on the fourth floor of IQBRC, where many of the collaboration meetings will occur. You can get a key-card from the User's Office.