It turns out that Japan uses a different credit-card network than the rest of the world - and that cash is the preferred medium for transactions. This comes as a bit of a counter-intuitive shock to me. I've accordingly ordered a healthy amount of Yen from my bank, both cash and traveler's checks.
Also,I hadn't really given any thought to the issue of electrical power formats - Japan runs on 100 V AC, and Kyoto and Tokyo run at diferent frequencies (60 and 50 Hz). The pins are two-bladed with no third grounding plug, but I am not taking any three-pronged appliances along. And my laptop power brick supports 100 - 240 V input, 50-60 Hz, so I should be able to use it without any adapters. The only possible stumbling block is current, but my brick supports .8 - 1.6 A which hopefully will be sufficient range. Unless Japan runs at some insanely high current like 2A or above I don't think I will be risking my laptop.
Finally, I went to Fry's and got a very cheap ($12) USB flash card reader, supporting everything from Microdrive to SD to Memory Stick. This means I'll be able to transfer photos from the digital camera I am borrowing for the trip with ease. every day. I imagine that I'll have decent connectivity at the conference to blog from so I don't forsee any problems in uploading my files.
I leave on Saturday - blogging will be very light from now until I arrive on Sunday, but I will make a point of blogging my arrival in Kyoto after the flight and shinkansen ride.