Postal Service and the Internet
While you are away from home, you probably want to send cards or emails to your family or friends. Japanese postal service is well developed and internet cafes are found in everywhere in big cities. When you send a card from Hokkaido,just take it to the closest post office you can find(won't be any problem finding one!) get a stamp and send through the post office. Although you can buy postage stamps at a convenience store, the shopkeepers usually do not know the postage cost for mailing a card out side of Japan.
You can also send a card by dropping it into a street-corner mailbox if you already know the postage cost and have them ready with you. The post office also handles parcels and sells packaging carton-boxes.
When you want to use the Internet, it is recommended to go to an internet cafe. The rate is relatively low, but they are clean and have good facilities including comfortable chairs. Almost all internet cafes have a drink service.
Though the number of payphones has decreased in recent years due to the widespread use of mobile phones, public phones on the street or in buildings are still available. It is possible to make international calls from most of the payphones in big cities. When using a phone in your hotel room, make sure to check with the front desk before using. Rates for calls made from payphones depend on distance. While you are in Japan, a telephone card can be quite handy in case you don't have or run out of coins.
Taxi is a convenient way to get to whenever you want to go in cities. Like many other countries, you just need to raise your hand to call a taxi. The Chinese characters,'空車' at the front window with a red light on means the tax is empty. After 10pm, the word '割増' with a green light on indicates that rates are raised. Most of drivers are nice, but only speak Japanese, so showing a map or written address of your destination can be helpful. The backdoor opens and closes automatically, so no need to open it by yourself. If you want to put your luggage in the trunk, let the driver know. Many drivers help passengers loading/unloading their luggage, but tip is not necessary.
Japanese convenience stores sell a wide range of products. Most of them open late night or 24 hours a day, so it gets really convenient when you just want something to eat, drink or need other goods. Courier delivery services are also available at convenience stores.
Japan's tap water, particularly in Hokkaido, is known for its quality. You can drink it almost everywhere in Japan without worrying about getting sick. Fresh spring water in Hokkaido is quite popular and many people filling their bottles on the mountains are often seen on weekends. Although Japan has good-tasting water, bottled-water has become popular in recent years, too.