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About Lake Biwa & Japan

Visit this web site for information about the Lake Biwa area: http://en.biwako-visitors.jp/about/

Please view the following information to learn about travel and sites of interest in the Otsu area: http://www.otsu.or.jp/en/index.htm


Average temperatures in Shiga in July range between 22°C/72°F and 31°C/88°F. This is the end of rainy season, and you may occasionally have wet or humid climate.

Currency and Money Exchange

The unit of Japanese currency is the Yen. You can buy Yen at foreign exchange banks and other authorized money exchangers. At international airports, currency exchange counters are usually open during normal office hours. The exchange rate fluctuates daily depending on the money market.

The number of currency exchange places are limited in Otsu, and we recommend the ASLO participants buy Japanese Yen at the international airports.

Banks, Credit Cards, and ATMs

Banks are open from Monday to Friday, 9:00-15:00 (closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays). International credit cards such as American Express, VISA, Diners Club, and MasterCard are widely accepted at hotels, department stores, shops, and restaurants. Foreign credit cards and cash cards can be used to make withdrawals in Japanese Yen at post office ATMs and Seven Bank ATMs throughout Japan:


The voltage used throughout Japan is uniformly 100 volts, AC with frequency of 60Hz in Western Japan and 50Hz in Eastern Japan. 2-flat-pin plugs are used in Japan.


Consumption tax is a flat rate across the country of 5% on all purchases (at time of writing). 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.

Telephones and Mobile Phones

The mobile phone protocol in Japan is different from that in other countries; it is best to check with your current provider whether or not you can use your mobile phone in Japan. Mobile phones are available for rental only at airports.  Public telephones can be found in hotels, the meeting venue, and throughout the city. 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 PIN code.


Tipping is not practiced 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 obvious.

Time Zone

All of Japan is in the same time zone, 9 hours ahead of G.M.T. Daylight Saving Time is not practiced in Japan (8 hours ahead of G.M.T. during the British Summer Time).