cultural adaptation


A whole new world opens up when you begin to understand the Japanese language, culture and customs. From little things like ordering at a restaurant to extended travel around the country, get the most from your overseas assignment by learning about your host nation.

cultural trips

The Cultural Adaptation Program offers guided bus tours to off-base destinations with an emphasis on Japanese culture. On these trips, which usually are free or at minimal cost, guests are introduced to local venues and attractions such as museums, festivals, or areas of historical importance. Tours are available to all SOFA status personnel and family members.



cultural classes

The friendly experts at Cultural Adaptation would like to introduce you to our local culture through the exposure to arts, reenacting ancient tradition and lessons. Try your hand at Japanese calligraphy!

These classes, which usually are free or at minimal cost, are available to SOFA status personnel and their family members.

venture out tour

Venture Out Tours are the first place to start when you are ready begin exploring off base. Local buses and trains can be confusing to foreigners, but after a tour guided by a Cultural Adaptation Specialist, you will know the basics in using public transportation on your own. Venture Out Tour destinations include restaurants and grocery stores and focus on acclimating you to dining and shopping off base.

These tours are open to all SOFA status personnel, to include children accompanied by a parent. Strollers, however, are not permitted due to limited room on the local city buses. Trip transportation costs vary by destination and additional spending money is highly recommended.

survival japanese classes

Receive a crash course on Japanese and learn how to communicate in simple Japanese phrases.

useful japanese phrases

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Culture Shock

Moving to Japan and having a satisfying tour begins with a positive attitude, open mind and an understanding of the basics in Japanese customs and culture. Here are some of the more important things to know about your new host country.

public transportation

Many Japanese rely on public transportation as their sole source of getting around. This is a venue where Japan’s reputation as a polite society is best illustrated. Etiquette while using public transportation is pretty simple: just be respectful of others. Don’t eat, drink, talk on your mobile device or have a loud conversation. Buses and trains have reserved seating for the elderly, pregnant, disabled or parents carrying young children. If you should see one of them without a seat, you should stand up and offer your seat.


This is less of a culture shock and more of a culture perk. Tipping is almost never expected in Japan, especially in restaurants.

cash is king

Always carry extra Yen when going off-base. Some larger chains of restaurants and grocery stores accept credit card, but some do not. Personal checks are foreign to most Japanese and off-base rentals are paid via bank transactions or in cash. Utility bills are usually paid in cash at convenience stores or bank transactions. ATM cards issued at banks aboard MCAS Iwakuni can be used to withdraw Yen at 7-11 stores and off-base post office ATMs.

Not one drop

Remember, not one drop if you're driving! Japan has very strict legal limits and severe punishments for driving under the influence. Don't risk it, do not have a single drop if you are driving.

time zones

Many of us are nearly half a world away from friends and family back in the states, and while the distance is vast, modern technology has made it pretty easy to keep in touch. Email, video conferencing and internet phones are great tools to maintain that contact, but figuring out what time it is back home can be tricky.

Japan is close to the International Date Line; roughly a day ahead of the U.S. Japan and does not observe Daylight Savings Time (DST). To figure out the time difference, add Japan’s UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) +9 to the desired time zone’s (adjusting for DST if needed) and count back that many hours from the current time.

japanese alphabet

The modern Japanese writing system uses three main scripts: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. Romanized Japanese, called rōmaji, is frequently used to spell out Japanese words with the English alphabet sounds. Visit Cultural Adaptation or Information Referral today to see about learning the Japanese alphabets.