Business Hours Businesses and most government offices are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm; banks operate from Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm. Department stores are open daily from 10am to 8pm, while small post offices remain open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and close on weekends and national holidays. Larger post offices stay open on weekdays until 7pm and may also open on weekends. Many convenience stores are open 24/7.
Electricity Fukuoka uses 100 volts, with 60 hertz. Buy appropriate converters before arrival.
Emergencies For an ambulance or fire truck, call tel. 119. To contact the police in an emergency, dial tel. 110.
Internet Access Free Internet access is available at the Fukuoka International Association at Rainbow Plaza (8F IMS Building), though there is a daily 30-minute time limit per person. Some internet cafes offer access for free or a fee; these include the Cybac cafes (call tel. 0120-24-3189 or go to www.cybac.com for locations) and the Media Cafe Popeye chain (call tel. 092-737-7744 or go to www.media-cafe.net/1.htm for locations). Many hotels, such as the Hyatt Regency (tel. +81 92 412 1234; wwww.hyatt.com), offer internet access to guests for free or at a nominal charge.
Liquor Laws The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Japan is 20. Driving after drinking (even one beer) is not tolerated -- if you're arrested for it, expect to serve up to five years in prison or a pay a hefty fine (up to $8,800). The same penalties apply for providing an intoxicated person with a vehicle, and there are also weighty punishments for providing a person with alcohol who subsequently gets a DUI, as well as for riding as a passenger in a vehicle operated by an intoxicated driver.
Mail At press time, first-class domestic postage rates were 80 to 90 yen for standard-sized letters and 50 to 60 yen for postcards. To send a standard-sized letter to Europe or the U.S. costs 110 yen; the rate to send a postcard to Europe or the U.S. is 70 yen.
Newspapers & Magazines Four daily English-language newspapers are available in Fukuoka: Japan Times (www.japantimes.com), Herald Tribune Asahi (www.asahi.com/english), Mainichi Daily News (mdn.mainichi.jp), and the Daily Yomiuri (www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy); they're often available for purchase at major hotels and bookstores. Fukuoka Now (www.fukuoka-now.com) is a free monthly multilingual magazine which includes dining and nightlife reviews, event listings, and local maps; it's available at Rainbow Plaza and other locations around town.
Pets Bringing pets to Fukuoka is a complicated, time-intensive process which includes obtaining microchip identification and rabies vaccinations at least 210 days before travel, faxing a form to Japan's quarantine services 40 to 90 daysbefore arrival, and obtaining a health certificate for the animal 2 to 10 daysbefore arrival. Animals that arrive without all documents in order are subject to a quarantine of up to 120 days. To read about the procedure in full detail, go to www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/index.html.
Police To call the police, dial tel. 110 in an emergency. For the English-language help line, call tel. 03-3501-0110.
Safety Fukuoka is a relatively safe destination, but criminal incidents are not unheard of, so be sure to lock your car, bicycle, and hotel room. Women should be particularly alert, as cases of bag-snatching, bullying and sexual harassment can happen.
"Police boxes" are located throughout the city and are open 24 hours a day to take burglary and assault reports, assist with directions or lost items, and to help locate missing people.
Earthquakes are not uncommon in Fukuoka, so make note of possible escape routes in your hotel. After an earthquake, be alert for tsunamis and stay away from the beach. If you are near a beach during an earthquake, head for higher ground immediately and listen to the radio for tsunami-related news.
Smoking Smoking while walking or riding a bicycle is prohibited in Fukuoka. A violation of this, especially in the Tenjin or Hakata Station areas, can cost up to 20,000 yen.
Taxes A 5% sales tax (shohizei) is tacked onto all purchases; check with your hotel to find out whether this is already included in your overnight rate.
To Make International Calls To call abroad from Japan, dial the international dialing access code (010), then the country code of the country you are calling (for the U.S., it's 1), then dial the rest of the number (if it starts with a 0, drop the 0). For example, to call the U.S. number (123) 456-7890, dial 010+1+123-456-7890.
Public phones are easily found in Fukuoka, and you can make domestic and international calls from them using either yen coins or a prepaid phone card, which you can buy from vending machines in most telephone booths, or from convenience stores.
Since most U.S. cell phones don't work in Japan, you may want to rent one. To do so, check with the kiosks at the airport.
Time Zone Fukuoka is on Japan Standard Time (JST; GMT+9), which puts it 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (and thus London). Fukuoka clocks do not change for daylight savings time.
Tipping Tipping is not expected in restaurants or bars. Hotels usually include a service charge of 10 to 15% so that you don't have to worry about tipping each service person individually.
Water Tap water is considered safe for drinking throughout Japan, but if you're unsure or have a delicate constitution, stick to bottled water.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.