So I've been in Japan for about four days know and there are a couple of things that I have learned in the short time that I have been here.
First, get used to the fact that you will be stared at in Japan. There are many places were foreigners are common, however the Japanese are fascinated by our differences and you should not feel self conscious or ridiculed by this action, just get use to it.
Second, if you haven't stated practicing your bicycle skill START. Riding bikes is a very common practice in Japan, and one of the vital forms of transportation. I haven't ridin a bike in YEARS and regretting the fact that I have haven't ridin. My biggest fear was getting hit by a car in one of the many allies or running into someone, which hopefully won't happen. Also the bike seats are not that comfortable, but you can buy pillows for your bum. Also you can purchase a used bike (or buy a new one) at bike stores around the city. The used bike that I bought was over 5,000 yen (over $60 U.S. dollars) but the bike stores also charge a 500 yen (over $5 U.S. dollars) for maintenance.
Third, **For Americans** when trying to take money out of the atm we are only allow to take out 200 yen a day, so plan accordingly. Atms are open every day but banks are not, only five days a week. I recommend having multiple atm cards to take more money (meaning that you have multiple accounts). Also some cards charge a tax on taking out money overseas, however some Credit Unions DO NOT.
Fourth, C.R.E.A.M. If you know what this means then you know a vital point in living in Japan. If not c.r.e.a.m. stands for "cash rules everything around me". Japan is a cashed base society, few places take credit cards so carry cash on you at all times.
Fifth, recycling is very prominent in Japan. Not only are cans and bottles recycled but most other things as well. The Japanese recycling system is broken up into three different categories. 1. things made of plastic. 2. cans. And 3. things that can burn, this is food, paper, and ect.
Sixth, if you like wireless internet then I have some bad news. Wifi is not common in Japan. In some places such as Mc Donald's you can find it but I've had no luck.
Seventh, Japan is HOT and HUMMID so prepare clothing accordingly. Also in place such as Kyoto where I am staying I have learned that snow fall in Kyoto is not similar to that of Michigan (thank the heavens). Kyoto does not receive a lot of snow fall, however learned that Kyoto (and safe to assume other parts of the Kansai region) do get incredibly cold so dress accordingly.
Eighth, **For American** LEARN THE METRIC SYSTEM, It makes life a lot easier, and measurements come up in conversations more often then you would think. We are the ONLY ones that use that system and most other foreigners have no idea of scale of our measurements. Also the drinking age is 20 NOT 21 as I assumed.
Ninth, some supplies are hard to find. Deodorant is a hard thing to find I have learn and you have to go deeper in the the city to find it, such as around Kyoto station.
Tenth, Some foods in Japan are expensive. Fruit is one of those item. The cheapest price that I have seen for a single apple was under 200 yen. A bag of grapes was over 1200 yen. Red meat (pork and beef) is rather expensive, but chicken is not.
*****Next part of this is for people who are attending Doshisha University*****
If you're female stating in a dorm at Doshisha Richard's House is the BEST, that being my un bias opinion...lol. Not sure yet what the best male dorm is but will find out and post it later.
The rooms are narrow but long, and come with a bathroom, which doesn't give you much room to move around but are every nice and convenient. The rooms also come with a refrigerator and a simi-kitchen, which is also very convenient to have. We were also given a plate, bowl, fork, and a spoon. If there is anything that you need up the street there are several local 100 yen stores that sell supplies, such as "Lawson's".
Many of the 「コンビニ」or convenient stores sell fresh made food. The Great thing about Lawson's is the fact that they sell day old food for 20-30 yen.
Beding is provided if you sign up for it but I recommend that you either buy a pillow or bring your own.
Also buy hangers, and also buy a LAN cable for internet access, I recommend over eight feet or over 3 meters so you can lie down on your bed with your computer. The dorm does proved you with a land cable, however its rather short.
People in the dorms are eager to make friends so don't be shy. Also don't assume that everyone speaks english because they don't.
Doshisha gives you ample amount of time to explore the city (almost a month in advance) so have fun and wander around