Japan Travel Guide

Tips For Traveling To Japan

24 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Japan

Simply put, Japan is a fascinating destination. Here, you’ll find a seamless blend of old traditions and new technology. You’ll also discover gorgeous natural landscapes just a short train ride from sparkling, sprawling cities and loud, jarring outlets a short distance from quiet areas full of nuanced rules. It’s the kind of place where people will wait patiently in line for water after a natural disaster, but socially ghost you if you accidentally offend them. With a culture and language so distinct, it’s tough to list all the things you should know before heading to Japan.



We could spend hours describing the country’s spectacular cuisine, listing the top spots to get ramen, sharing all the hidden gems, and explaining the different ways you’re likely to accidentally offend someone. However, for now, we’re sticking to the basics: all the things we think you need to know to help make sure your trip to Nippon is fun and only full of good surprises. Oh, and hopefully we’ll help you save some money along the way, too. Here are 24 things every traveler should know before going to Japan.

1. It’s safe.

One of the best things about Japan is that it is safe. Repeatedly shining on top ten lists of the world’s safest countries, Japan is also a great place for solo female travelers. That doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind. As with any destination, you’ll need to be vigilant as a foreigner, stay out of shady areas, avoid flaunting your cash, and don’t provoke anyone.

2. Cash rules.
Cash is king in Japan. Workers are usually paid in cash and most businesses and services, including restaurants and shops, accept only cash. Your hotel and some big department stores will usually take credit, but always check first. That said, make sure to always have plenty of yen in your wallet in order to avoid awkward conversations that can easily get lost in translation. Tip: If you find yourself without cash, head to a 7-Eleven to use the ATM. Not only is your bank card guaranteed to work every time, but it’s also open 24/7.

3. Buying a Rail Pass is totally worth it.
A Japan Rail Pass can help save you plenty of money, especially if you are planning to travel around a particular region or the whole country. You can buy an unlimited pass that’s valid for a specific region or country-wide. This will give you access to the bullet train (Shinkansen) and JR-branded commuter trains, buses, and ferries, often for about the same price as two individual train tickets. Keep in mind that passes are valid for a certain number of days within a seven, 14, or 21-day period and cannot be used on the Nozomi trains. JR passes should also be bought before you arrive in Japan, though you’ll still have to validate them at a JR office with your passport and voucher in-hand.

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HOW TO TURN HIGH-COST JAPAN INTO A CHEAP PLACE TO VISIT

For years, I put off traveling to Japan because I was afraid of how expensive it would be. The rumors I’d heard about the country’s high prices made me hesitant to go. I’ve always loved Japanese culture, and I knew any visit would involve gorging on sushi and ramen, visits to lots of temples, and heavy train travel through the countryside. And the thought of how much that would cost always made me think, “I’ll wait until I have more money.”

When I finally visited Japan years ago in 2011, I was shocked to discover that, while it isn’t cheap, Japan isn’t the prohibitively expensive country many people think it is. In fact, I actually found Japan to be very affordable and on par with (and sometimes cheaper than) countries in Western Europe. In subsequent visits, I’ve learned to further master the country and turn high-cost Japan into an affordable place to visit.

Travel to Japan doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Here’s a detailed breakdown on how you can cut your expenses to visit Japan on a budget and save lots of money!

Note: 110 JPY = $1 USD

How to Save on Transportation in Japan

Trains
The bullet train, while awesome, comfortable, and fast, is not cheap. Individual tickets can cost hundreds of dollars. Yet I think train travel is the best way to see the country, so in order to reduce your……
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15 Beautiful Places In Japan That Are So Dreamy You Need To Slap Yourself To Make Sure You’re Not Sleeping



Have you ever visited any beautiful place in Japan? The land of the rising sun seems to be a world of its own, very unique and different than any other place on Earth. Their culture is very rich, ancient and deeply rooted in all segments of their society which give the special mark to almost anything you can see.

Here is a collection of fifteen places in Japan which represent sights specific to this country, simply breathtaking and definitely will be placed on your dream destination travel map, for sure.

Beautiful Places in Japan #1 Sagano Bamboo Forest, In Arashiyama
Plan to visit this magical bamboo forest out of the tourist season to enjoy its charm fully and undisturbed by hordes of people. Its the second most visited touristic place in Japan.

2. Fields Of Shibazakura – one of the best places in Japan to visit

The flower festival held between April and June under the magnificent Mount Fuji. Early mornings are heavenly experience in this part of the year in The Fuji Shibazakura.

3. Autumn In Hitachi Seaside Park

Plan to visit in autumn Hitachi Seaside Park on the east coast of Honshu, Japan’s biggest island and enjoy this remarkable sight.

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A super efficient 2-week itinerary for Japan

Before you start to read this itinerary, there’s a very important question you have to ask yourself: Are you a “do it all, see it all” traveler? Or do you prefer to take things slow and steady? If the first describes you: perfect, you’re going to LOVE this two week itinerary for Japan. If you you fall into the second camp, allow me to explain why you might still enjoy this whirlwind tour of Japan without getting overwhelmed…

Why visiting 12 locations in 14 days is completely doable in Japan

The key to success here is the Japan Rail pass. This pass allows you to take the super fast “bullet train” between locations, which is critical in a country that is surprisingly big (150% the size of the UK!). Here’s why the bullet train makes it work:

You can make it between huge stretches of Japan in relatively little time.
The train is so comfortable, that traveling to your next destination feels relaxing.
Every train station has coin lockers, where you can store your backpack while you explore a city and haven’t checked into your Airbnb or hotel yet. This means you can pop into a new place, store your stuff, and get going.
Let’s look at the awesome experiences packed into these two weeks, and then you can tell me if you think it’s crazy or kinda clever 😉

Here’s what you’ll see in these two weeks
Tokyo (1 night + 1 night)
Kyoto (3 nights)
Inari & Nara (day trips)
Hiroshima (1 night)
Miyajima, Himeji (half-day trips)
Osaka (1 night)
Takayama (2 nights)
Shirakawa-go (half-day)
Hirosaki (1 night)
Nikko (1 night)
Mt. Fuji (1 night)
Duration 14 days
Recommended Accomodation in Japan Sumiyoshi Ryokan (Takayama), Nikko Backpackers Nikkoriso (Nikko), Airbnb (any large city: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto)
Before you go Buy a Japan Rail pass, as they can only be purchased outside the country. I also totally recommend bringing the Lonely Planet’s Japan Travel Guide with you, because it really has the detailed information you need to get around. I bought several guidebooks for Japan but LP’s was the best. It’s also great to read on the train to refresh you ……
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27 Free Things to Do in Tokyo — Walking Tour Routes and Maps!

Our first stop in Asakusa isn’t exactly an attraction, but do make a stop at the (16) Tourist Information Center building. If possible, take advantage of the free guided walking tour of the area, provided on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1.15 p.m. At other times, this is the place to go if you need directions, Wi-Fi, or air conditioning.

From here, you can clearly see the Kaminarimon gate across the street, marking the entrance to (17) Sensoji Temple. Walk past the gate and along (18) Nakamise Dori. This shopping street is lined by little shops selling snacks and souvenirs, stretching all the way to the temple. (Tip: try the rice crackers.)

This area of Asakusa near Sensoji Temple is the only place in Tokyo where you can take a rickshaw ride. The price starts from about 2,000 yen for a 10-minute ride for one person. From what I observed, the drivers were friendly and charming, chatting with their passengers in English.

Another cool thing you can do here is get dressed in a kimono by professionals who will also do your hair and makeup. A friend of mine did this and got asked to stop for pictures multiple times throughout the day in Asakusa. It’s a great conversation starter, but it may not be a good idea if all you want is a quiet stroll.
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27 Free Things to Do in Tokyo — Walking Tour Routes and Maps!
JANUARY 15, 2016 BY DEIA 10 COMMENTS

Asakusa
Walking tour route map of free attractions in Asakusa, Tokyo

Our first stop in Asakusa isn’t exactly an attraction, but do make a stop at the (16) Tourist Information Center building. If possible, take advantage of the free guided walking tour of the area, provided on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1.15 p.m. At other times, this is the place to go if you need directions, Wi-Fi, or air conditioning.

From here, you can clearly see the Kaminarimon gate across the street, marking the entrance to (17) Sensoji Temple. Walk past the gate and along (18) Nakamise Dori. This shopping street is lined by little shops selling snacks and souvenirs, stretching all the way to the temple. (Tip: try the rice crackers.)

This area of Asakusa near Sensoji Temple is the only place in Tokyo where you can take a rickshaw ride. The price starts from about 2,000 yen for a 10-minute ride for one person. From what I observed, the drivers were friendly and charming, chatting with their passengers in English.

Another cool thing you can do here is get dressed in a kimono by professionals who will also do your hair and makeup. A friend of mine did this and got asked to stop for pictures multiple times throughout the day in Asakusa. It’s a great conversation starter, but it may not be a good idea if all you want is a quiet stroll.

Behind the busy Sensoji Temple, there’s a smaller place of worship called (19) Asakusa Shrine (Asakusa-jinja or Sanja-sama). Asakusa Shrine is dedicated to the three men who founded the Sensoji Temple.

There’s another temple in the area that’s a little off the beaten path……….
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HOW TO SPEND A WEEK IN TOKYO

Happy Friday! I know some of you were following along with my trip to Japan on snapchat (classicingray), but I’m so thrilled to share my official Tokyo travel diary with you. I decided to break the trip report into two parts because we spent half of the trip in Tokyo, and half in Kyoto… and both were so different!

Tokyo was full of hustle & bustle, cute toys, packed subways, quirky shops, and the freshest sushi in the world. This was our second trip here, so we had a better idea of where to go and what to see… here’s the full run down of our favorite sights & eats for a week spent in Tokyo.

TSUKIJI FISH MARKET


Tsukiji fish market is the largest seafood market in the world and a sight to behold… this is a non optional Tokyo activity for my fellow foodie babes! I recommend going on day 1 since this is a morning activity, and you may as well take advantage of your jet lag and wake up early. If you’re planning on going for the famous tuna auction, prepare yourself to arrive at 3AM to wait for a spot as it’s first come first serve.

Not into waking up quiiiite that early? No sweat, you can still experience all the charms of the fish market. The outer market (which is full of restaurants and shops) is open from about 5AM to 11AM, and the inner market (where the wholesale fish are processed and sold) opens to the public at 9AM. I recommend exploring the inner market, then grabbing an early lunch at any of the various sushi restaurants…………..
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10 customs you must know before a trip to Japan


1. Addressing Someone, Respect
Bowing is nothing less than an art form in Japan, respect pounded into children’s heads from the moment they enter school. For tourists, a simple inclination of the head or an attempt at a bow at the waist will usually suffice.



The duration and inclination of the bow is proportionate to the elevation of the person you’re addressing. For example, a friend might get a lightning-fast 30-degree bow; an office superior might get a slow, extended, 70-degree bow. It’s all about position and circumstance.
In addition to bowing, addressing someone properly is key. Just as a “Dr. Smith” might feel a little insulted if you were to refer to him as “Smith”, so would a Japanese if you do not attach the suffix “san” to their last name, or “sama” if you are trying to be particularly respectful.

Usually children are content with just their first names, but you can add the suffix “chan” for girls and “kun” for boys if you like.
2. Table Manners
Some simple bullet points here:

If you’re with a dinner party and receive drinks, wait before raising the glass to your lips. Everyone will be served, and someone will take the lead, make a speech, raise his drink, and yell “kampai!” (cheers).
You will receive a small wet cloth at most Japanese restaurants. Use this to wash your hands before eating, then carefully fold it and set it aside on the table. Do not use it as a napkin, or to touch any part of your face.
Slurping noodles or making loud noises while eating is OK! In fact, slurping hot food like ramen is polite, to show you are enjoying it.
You may raise bowls to your mouth to make it easier to eat with chopsticks, especially bowls of rice.
Just before digging in, whether it be a seven-course dinner or a sample at a supermarket, it’s polite to say “itadakimasu” (I will receive).
3. No Tipping
There is no tipping in any situation in Japan — cabs, restaurants, personal care. To tip someone is actually a little insulting; the services you’ve asked for are covered by the price given, so why pay more?

If you are in a large area like Tokyo and can’t speak any Japanese, a waiter or waitress might take the extra money you happen to leave rather than force…………
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7 Day Tokyo Itinerary

After spending months exploring the Japanese capital, we decided to put together a 7 day Tokyo itinerary to help you better tailor your trip. Japan is a wonderful country and Tokyo really is as colourful as you can imagine. Even though I’ve seen some incredible places in this world, Tokyo remains my favourite place on Earth. It is an electric city, with unique zen corners, diverse restaurants and delicious dishes. This Tokyo itinerary will take you on a journey through historic quarters, spiritual sites, peaceful parks and thrilling districts. Grab a cup of tea, get ready and let’s find out what to do in Tokyo.

Tokyo Itinerary – Day 1
Tsukiji Market
Hamarikyu Gardens
Imperial Palace
Hibiya Park
Roppongi Hills
Chiyoda is one of my favourite places in Tokyo because it is the quietest. During the day, it gets busy with salarymen who work in the many offices around the area. During the evening, Chiyoda becomes incredibly quiet, a place of night zen. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the centre of a city and heard no noise. I would have never expected this from the world’s largest metropolis. So here is the Tokyo itinerary for day 1, around Chiyoda. We’ll be starting off with a visit to the Tsukiji Market, continue around various green spaces so you can relax and get over your jet lag and finally, go to the Mori Building in Roppongi Hills, to admire Tokyo from above.


Tsukiji Market
It’s a very good chance that you will be quite jet lagged and you will wake up super early in the morning. This is what happened to us, so we decided to start our Tokyo itinerary by sampling Japanese food. Where? At the Tsukiji market, of course.



If you wish to attend the tuna auction, you may consider visiting from 5 am. There is no reservation system and there is a limited availability on a first come first served basis. The number of visitors to the tuna auction is limited to 120 per day. You can go around and visit restaurants in the inner and outer market which open from 5 am. The wholesale area is not open for tourists until 10 am. There are a few rules to remember when visiting the Tsukiji Fish market: don’t bring large suitcases, don’t come in high heels or sandals. Make sure to not bring small children or pets, don’t smoke and don’t touch anything.

Getting there:
Tsukiji Market is just above Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Oedo Subway Line. Alternatively, it can be reached in a five-minute walk from Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya Subway Line. The closest JR station is………….

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