Ultimate Japan Travel Guide: What You Should Know for Your First Visit
Now more than ever, Japan is one of the most magnificent tourist destinations and offers many authentic experiences as Japan’s diversity provides.
Japan inherits the ancient civilizations, compelling history, and painting-like scenes that hold you spellbound. In addition, the stunning, various panorama with breathtaking mountains would attract you at first sight.
In the ultimate Japan travel guide, we provide you with our best Japan travel tips to make a safe, sound visit to this country at least one of your unforgettable experiences or unfaced memories in your lifetime.
To help you have a nuisance-free trip, we will give you a step-by-step process. During the Covid epidemic, you need to meet Japan’s entry restrictions and requirements at a link: entry rule in response to coronavirus.
A fully-information-packed guide will reply to questions about what to expect, where to go, and how to allocate a budget for your visit. Also, we give some money-saving tips that help you feel at ease before planning a trip.
Citizens of 68 countries are exempted from visas to visit Japan when they have a short-term stay there. These countries include Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, the USA, Canada, the UK and almost all European nations (terms and conditions of visa application).
If you are not among 68 countries, you must apply for a visa before a visit. To smooth your preparation, just visit the official web of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for further information.
It is crucial and even more so in the time of Covid. We recommend you purchase it during your visit to Japan. This minor expense offers you peace of mind in case of an unexpected emergence and unlucky theft.
If you don’t have any clue about insurers, you can visit World Nomads, which provides trusted, good, comprehensive coverage out there. You have another choice at Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance with reasonable rates and good customer service.
We also encourage you to walk through special needs about the insurance you want for your trip before you decide to purchase an insurance package by navigating the Japan travel insurance.
The Japanese are proud of efficient and comfortable transportation, but it isn’t cheap. You have to buy a 7-day JR Pass to save you money, and you won’t regret this purchase, mainly if you visit Japan for long.
If your trip passes more than one region and you take bullet trains, the 7-day JR pass is better than anything else. With this pass, you make seat reservations free of charge, save your travel time, view an excellent means to admire the vast areas.
Japan operates a network of 20,000 kilometers of tracks which provide you with the majority of the most gripping destinations and valuable experiences due to the access to the JR Pass.
Suppose you are a budget passenger. you can choose the most critical midday meals of between $5-7 USD. 7-Eleven or Family Mart exists everywhere across the country, where you can find fresh, plentiful food choices.
Further, it’s a chance for you to enjoy all the kinds of sushi your stomach longs for without paying an arm and a leg for food. You should use an app to monitor your budget and keep you on top of spending, avoiding overspending during your trip.
Best time to visit Japan
Do you know what the best time to travel to Japan is? An exciting thing for you is that you will have advantageous characteristics in each season, which brings you a unique experience. Thus, what to expect for every season in Japan.
In a word, each season is proud of various highlights, for instance, viewing cherry blossoms flowering everywhere in springtime, or climbing Mt Fuji in the summer, or seeing colorful leaves in the fall, or skiing in the winter. But spring is an ideal time to visit Japan.
In spring, you can find enjoyable temperatures, cherry blossoms and a minor annoyance of rain. “Golden Week”, starting Apr 29, falls into a 7-day time when many locals travel across the country during the period. Thus, you need to book accommodation, tours far in advance.
The rainy season in the majority of the country falls in early summer or from June to mid-July. According to facts, Tokyo is one of the rainiest cities in the world. You may have some dry time and heavy rainy days; meanwhile, some days are sunny before or after the rain.
Consequently, the rainy season is not appropriate for visiting Japan compared to other seasons throughout the year. The rate of travel activity is a little low during a rainy season, as it clears outdoor attractions from visitors.
But, in the other aspect, the rain attracts more people to temples where you find sacred Buddhist objects, or go to gardens which evolve into different kinds of styles, such as strolling gardens or visiting various hot springs, distinguished by the minerals.
Japan ranks as one of the safest countries. A story tells an English teacher in Tokyo who left her wallet in a train station. The following day, she found it untouched, unmoved at the heavily trafficked spot.
The story reveals safety in Japan; however, we don’t mean unlucky, unexpected things won’t happen to you. The best practice is you are always aware of your belongings and surroundings anywhere in the world.
The currency is the yen ( ¥ ). We don’t list the current exchange rate as it changes regularly; instead, we recommend downloading the global convert currency for an updated, exact exchange rate.
Japan accepts credit cards. Travel credit cards offer your good choice to pay for big hotel chains, fancy restaurants, and eye-catching shops in big cities. Furthermore, you can pay cash in small restaurants and markets.
Credit card tips
The Japan travel tip encourages you to Inform your bank of your visit to Japan to ensure your transaction smoothly. It’s clever to bring more than one card just in case one of them has a problem.
For instance, one credit is in your wallet and the other in your backpack when you go out. If this one gets lost, you still have the other in hand.
Bank account Charles Schwab reimburses every single ATM fee. We recommend looking into accounts with some benefits. It is sure to save your money on your travels.
Budget for a 7-day trip
As you may know, Japan is not cheap. In other words, Japan maybe not be an affordable choice for a budget tourist, compared to Thailand or the Philippines. The following is a breakdown of the expense for one person:
- USD 450 a week, including accommodation in a hostel, breakfast of 7-Eleven or Family Marts, plus some free activities.
- USD 850 a week, including a stay in a comfortable hotel or Airbnbs
- USD 2,000 a week offers you convenience and comfort.
The rate of English communication in Japan is kinda low, and you don’t expect to speak English with the locals as much as possible. To be convenient, you should learn some Japanese words which are difficult to read but fun to practise.
- Hello: Kon’nichiwa
- Delicious: Oishi
- Beautiful: Kireina
Useful phrases, sentences:
- Bye bye: bai bai
- Thank you: Arigato
- How much? Ikura
What's your name?: Anata no namae wa nandesuka
Courtesy and customs
When you travel to another country other than your homeland, you should google culture, tradition, and custom to learn about in advance to be polite and not offend the locals out of your intentions.
Here are some situations you should pay attention to:
- You are sloppy to eat while walking. Instead, you sit in a place to eat.
- Pointing is rude. To avoid this, make gestures with an open hand.
- Avoid blowing your nose in public as it is disrespectful. Instead, do it in the bathroom.
- Take off your backpack and carry it in your hand at a crowded subway or train.
- Slurping noodles showing the meal or food is detectable. So do it when you can to express a polite thing.
- When entering a house, you take off your shoes. It is common courtesy.
Apart from sushi, Japan’s most famous dish, Japanese cuisine offers a wide range of foodies. To experience the essence of gastronomy, you make a Tokyo night food tour to learn about the food culture.
Japanese cruise doesn’t contain much wheat; gluten is the main element in most Japanese dishes. If you are allergic to gluten, it is a challenge to find gluten-free dishes as you want.
To know a variety of food and drink, check out food and drink.
Vegetarian and vegan restaurants appear everywhere in large cities of Japan, but it is tricky for you to read Japanese on menus. Below are some tips for vegetarians who travel to Japan.
- A fantastic website Happy Cow provides you with lists of vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the world!
- Dashi is a kind of fish stock base. When you order soups, check with a waiter if it contains dashi. Miso soup is suitable for vegans.
- Conveyor belt sushi restaurants are a destination for vegetarian food as you find avocado rolls, veggie rolls and cucumber rolls, and a variety of desserts well.
The standard voltage is 100 volts, and below illustrate two types of power sockets: type A and type B. This socket is popular in North America. Hence, you need a power converter.
The power sockets are types A and B (pictured below). The socket is the same in North America, but the voltage is lower, so you need a power converter for electronics.
Type A Power Socket
Type B Power Socket
Select your home country on the website Japan - Power Plugs & Sockets; it tells you whether you want a converter or plug adapter for your trip to Japan.
It seems to be a silly or embarrassing question to speak aloud in public, but it’s not you who is the only person to ask. If you visit Japan for the first time, you may not expect how a bathroom is. In some toilets, you can play music by pressing some buttons to cover up … what you already know.
Additionally, some train stations and rural countries still have squat toilets like the ones you may see in many countries all around Asia.
WIFI is ubiquitous in Japan. You find it in hotels, hostels, coffee shops and restaurants across the country. In addition, you talk with your buddies or loved ones in your homeland through Skype, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
The Japan travel tip gives you a whole list of the most popular apps in Japan, which support your communication.
We have an entire list of the most useful apps for travelling in Japan that you should check out, but here are some of our favourites:
- Official Japan Travel App: gives train schedule.
- Google Navigation: releases the best routes for the metro and trains.
- Hyperdia: inform schedules per day, prices, and seating class.
- Google Translate
- GuruNavi Restaurant Guide: tells restaurants over TripAdvisor plus reviews and comments.
Japan Travel Guide With Me: It has helpful information for travels in Japan, and it is used offline.
Tokyo – The huge metropolis is worth visiting and spending some time in your itinerary to experience amazing foods. Navigate unique things to do in Tokyo to have more options.
-> Read more: Tokyo Travel Guide
Kyoto – Full of relics of history, ancient temples, magnificent architecture and a compelling atmosphere, this city is a favourite place to discover Japan’s history. You will find tons of things to do in Kyoto with kids.
-> Read more: Kyoto Travel Guide: The Ultimate
Osaka – It’s packed with history and food and is a place to have a night out with buddies. Check out things to do in Osaka to decide what to do.
Hakone – At the foot of Mt. Fuji, Hakone gives you a peaceful retreat far away from the hustle and bustle cities of Japan and a chance to relax.
Mount Fuji – One of the most well-known mountains in Japan, you can have a glimpse of the beauty of nature on the way to Hakone.
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine – Known as the “Orange Gates”, as it has thousands of gorgeous orange gates covering meandering paths leading up to the holy shrine.
Arashiyama – It is full of temples and shrines. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a tourist attraction.
Temples – These temples are a place for religious pilgrims. The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is impressive, with the garden surrounding and full of ponds.
Shibuya Intersection – It’s the “busiest intersection in the world”.
Souvenir hintIf you wanna scout out souvenirs that help spark unforgettable memory about your travel, buy meaningful souvenirs such as thoughtful, authentic, handcrafted items. Visit souvenirs from Japan for more information