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13 Important Japan Journey Ideas for First Time Guests


Japan is an enchanting nation to go to and extra foreigners than ever earlier than are planning a go to.  One of many large points of interest is that it’s so completely different from many locations they’ve been earlier than; the language, meals and tradition are uniquely Japan and that have alone is a good motive to go to. With this in thoughts, we have now put collectively our prime 15 Japan journey tricks to get you off to a great begin.

Understanding a number of of those variations early within the strategy planning stage on your journey and among the alternatives they current is effectively price doing.  It could make sure you get the very best expertise and maximise the worth you get out of your journey greenback.  There’s a broadly held perception that Japan is a really costly nation to go to however that doesn’t need to be the case.  Though it may possibly’t be performed on the identical form of price range that many international locations in South East Asia can we discover it no dearer than travelling in Australia and in lots of points can supply some nice worth.

We’ve been lucky sufficient to journey to the nation many instances up to now 9 years and are repeatedly requested for our prime suggestions.  On this article, I’ve put collectively those which can be most helpful as you get underway within the planning course of.  I’ve linked up associated assets to delve extra deeply and when you’ve got any questions please ask within the feedback part beneath.

The Japan journey suggestions you gained’t wish to depart dwelling with out

1. Resolve whether or not you want the Japan Rail Go

We’ve heard so many tales from associates and thru this web site of disappointment across the JR Go and it goes each methods.  We hear from those that didn’t learn about it in time to benefit from what could be a tremendous saving and others that bought it on the idea of listening to how fabulous it’s however didn’t have an itinerary that suited it.  Both means, you may find yourself paying way over you want to and all of us wish to get the most effective worth from our journey spend.

We now hear tales weekly and it prompted us to publish our information on all the pieces you want to know concerning the Japan Rail Go – together with when NOT to purchase it.

Japan Rail Shinkansen

It’s additionally been introduced that the worth will enhance by round 70% in October 2023. In case you are travelling after that date you’ll want to learn this JR move pricing and worth replace.

I gained’t repeat all of it right here however I extremely counsel anybody travelling to Japan takes a glance into whether or not the move is worth it for them early of their planning course of.  Typically you’ll have the ability to rule it in or out in a short time however typically a small tweak such because the order of locations could make a major distinction.

2. Do some planning earlier than you land

In lots of locations, I’m completely happy to work out what I wish to see and do as soon as I land within the nation.  With not talking the language and most of the issues that we’d wish to see and do being broadly unfold out, even inside the main cities, it’s price having a good concept of your plans and priorities forward of arriving in Japan.

Planning will assist making a decision on the necessity for rail passes as we touched on above, work out whether or not you might be higher suited to basing in a single or two cities and taking day journeys from there or doing a touring fashion vacation and shifting on each couple of days. It can enable you stability seeing as a lot as doable with nonetheless feeling relaxed and having fun with all the pieces you do.

3. Contemplate making use of multi-city flights

Multi-city flights are the place you fly into one metropolis and out of one other.  We have now used this selection a number of instances now when flying to Japan and it’s effectively price fascinated with.  It could save time not needing to backtrack to the town you began in and because of this, it may possibly additionally prevent cash too.

One of the standard itineraries for first-time travellers in Japan is what is called the Golden Route, from Kyoto (0r Osaka) within the west by way of to Tokyo,  Flying into Kansai Airport in Osaka and out from Tokyo could be a nice possibility.

4. Money remains to be king

Regardless of its superior expertise in most issues, Japan has remained a cash-based society.  We supply much more money when travelling in Japan than we’d at dwelling the place most issues are paid by card or by tapping the telephone.  We’ve by no means had a difficulty with it, Japan could be very protected with regard to non-public security and property however I’d nonetheless suggest taking affordable precautions.

With the Rugby World Cup after which the Olympics preparation, we’ve observed that bank cards at the moment are much more generally accepted by retailers and the hospitality trade than on our earlier journeys.  Prior to now, we actually solely used them within the lodge and main shops however I’ve observed on the final couple of journeys there have been bank card indicators welcoming them in locations like taxis, prepare stations, smaller izakaya, family-owned eating places and shops.

You possibly can simply get money out from cash machines utilizing your EFTPOS card from dwelling in comfort shops and at Submit Places of work.  There’s no must get a pre-loaded international money card or traveller’s cheques.  The machines will often cost a small mounted price per transaction that’s disclosed on the machine up entrance different costs will rely by yourself financial institution.  In Australia, you may store round and discover a financial institution that doesn’t cost any charges on abroad withdrawals which I discovered price doing as we journey repeatedly and you can too discover bank cards with no worldwide transaction charges.

5. Staying related – WIFI in Japan

Certainly one of our greatest suggestions for travelling in Japan is to get a pocket WIFI or cellular knowledge connection in your telephone.  There’s public wifi round and if all you want is to ship an e mail out of your lodge at night time and put up to Instagram at main vacationer spots you’ll be nice nevertheless public networks do all the time pose a knowledge safety threat and we discover it very helpful to have connectivity on demand all through the day as a number of apps will make travelling in Japan that little bit simpler.

Starbucks in Uji near Byodo-in temple

We use each Google Maps and Hyperdia (the web site which is now cellular optimised not the app) repeatedly.  These get you the place you’re going simply together with the assorted public transport choices.   Typically you want to change strains and even railway firm throughout the journey something to make that smoother is nice. Google Translate can be useful within the digicam mode to learn indicators, packaging and menus.

A neighborhood in Osaka additionally put us onto the VOICETRA app which was superb.  You obtain and set the language it’s going from and to, communicate into the microphone or have the opposite individual and it interprets it by voice and textual content.  I do know Google Translate has been doing one thing comparable for some time however this actually works and is fairly correct.  It enabled us to have an inexpensive dialog that will have been unimaginable in any other case.

We talk about intimately the pocket wifi choices for Japan on this article.

6. Deciding the place to go

The obvious decisions are Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka that are Japan’s 3 best-known cities.  We love spending time in all three however it’s effectively price contemplating an tour or two off the primary vacationer path.  This is perhaps one thing additional afield akin to Aomori, KanazawaSapporo and Hiroshima, or among the simply accessed day journeys from the key cities, we have now some nice ideas from each Kyoto/Osaka and Tokyo.

By heading to a few of these locations you’ll expertise a Japan that could be very completely different from the cities.  Though a small nation solely round 25% of Japan is usable area, that’s both populated or used for agriculture, the rest is forests and mountains so there’s 75% of the nation the place you may just about get away from all of it.

Some nice Japanese experiences so as to add selection to your itinerary are climbing, soaking in an onsen and staying in a ryokan.  For a little bit of inspiration listed below are a few articles that may present some inspiration:

7. What to pack

Whereas there’s a lot to be stated in favour of travelling mild, it’s not my prime precedence when travelling in Japan. The typical Japanese and the typical Westerner are typically fairly completely different in construct. That makes shopping for garments or footwear difficult and whereas it is perhaps enjoyable to maintain an eye fixed out for a particular piece to take dwelling, feeling stress to buy one thing you want since you at the moment are chilly / sizzling / forgot to pack it, isn’t preferrred for many.

In Japan footwear are an enormous consideration once I’m packing. I do know I’ll stroll lots, way over I do on a median day at dwelling so I need footwear that I’ve worn sufficient to know they’re comfy, pretty straightforward to get on and off, and can stand as much as the climate, cloth and suede that you simply don’t wish to get moist aren’t good choices.

Learn extra: ALL of our important Japan packing suggestions.

8. Selecting and reserving lodging

I prefer to have my lodging booked effectively prematurely for many journeys. There are a number of benefits to this, it means I’ve already performed some preplanning on what I wish to be primarily based near and ensured there are good transport connections close by. You’ll typically get the most effective offers a number of months, and as much as 6 months prematurely plus if you’re travelling at a preferred time you could not have the ability to get into your first decisions for those who depart it too near your journey date.

To offset the chance of plans altering, which we’ve all realized in the previous few years could be fully out of our management, I exploit an on-line reserving web site that gives no deposit and free cancellation on most properties.

9. Decide up an IC Card

An IC Card is a saved worth card for native transport, the primary ones you’ll come throughout are PASMO, SUICA and ICOCA however there are various others across the nation.  They’re every provided by completely different prepare corporations however it doesn’t matter which one you purchase, they will all be used on trains, subways and buses across the nation.

The one actual distinction in deciding which to get is that there’s a small deposit, often Y500  whenever you decide one up which you may get refunded on the finish of your journey by returning the cardboard however you may solely try this within the area the place it was issued, so for instance PASMO in Tokyo or ICOCA in Osaka.  Our expertise is that it’s effectively price it for the comfort of tapping on and off with out fussing with particular person tickets we simply handle the reloading later in our journey to make sure we don’t depart with a big stability excellent.

Along with transport, you can too use your IC Playing cards on some merchandising machines to purchase drinks or at comfort shops often known as Konbini in Japan.  This may be fairly helpful if you’re choosing up issues repeatedly as Japan’s 8% tax means you find yourself with loads of Y1 and Y5 cash in your purse that aren’t straightforward to eliminate.

10. You don’t tip in Japan

Tipping isn’t a part of Japanese tradition.  Relatively than being seen as beneficiant, a tip could cause confusion and even be insulting.  Respect the native tradition and comply with native customs reasonably than inserting your individual even when it feels a bit uncomfortable.

The exception is the customized of a ‘seating price’ that one can find at some eating places and izakaya.  That is often within the type of a small dish you didn’t order however need to pay for.  It’s not a lot and they’re usually fairly tasty.

If you happen to use the companies of a free information or somebody goes out of their means that will help you a small reward akin to a meals or consumable merchandise from your own home nation is appreciated, I took notebooks with our metropolis on the quilt one 12 months that labored effectively and have been straightforward to hold round.  Do maintain it small although or folks will really feel the necessity to reciprocate.

11. Neglect all the pieces you recognize about comfort shops

Until you’re on a brilliant restricted price range you don’t wish to restrict your self to consuming on the 7-Eleven, Lawsons and Household Mart however you do need to have a look and take a look at among the dishes and snacks.  Neglect any experiences you might have from dwelling about comfort retailer meals.  In Japan, there’s no problem with meals hygiene or sitting too lengthy beneath warmth lamps,  attributable to its reputation it sells shortly and what’s on the cabinets is freshly delivered day by day.

This does supply a possibility for anybody searching for a little bit of a discount, within the early night in supermarkets and at night time within the comfort shops, there’s usually meals offered at a reduction.

A few of the issues price attempting from the comfort shops are:

  • Onigiri.  Our prime picks are the spicy cod roe, prawn and mayo, salmon items and salmon eggs (ikura).
  • Bakery choice.  The Japanese desire for bread being candy does take some getting used to however it’s tremendous gentle and scrumptious.  Nicely price giving a number of of those a attempt.
  • Sunscreen.  I now deliver dwelling 6-8 packets of the Biore Watery Essence 50+ face sunscreen each time I’m in Japan, it’s obtainable at just about each comfort retailer and for me, that is higher than all of the high-end make-up model sunscreens I’ve tried through the years (besides Shiseido) however at a fraction of the worth.
  • Mochi ice cream.  This one is Lawsons particular however within the freezer part there are packets of two ice cream balls wrapped in a skinny gentle mochi pores and skin, it’s scrumptious and as you may not purchase mochi-cremes at each Shinkansen station that is my new most suitable choice. (Sure it has been 10 years now, I promise I’ll recover from them disappearing quickly)
  • Bottles of drink are typically barely cheaper within the 7-eleven than the merchandising machines however additionally, you will discover a wonderful number of alcoholic choices. The flavoured waters in Japan are nice too for those who want a little bit of encouragement to maintain your hydration up, the peach or lychee ones are particularly good.
  • Snacks.  If like us you’re taking longer day journeys by prepare then a number of snacks alongside the best way could be good, there’s a big vary of distinctive choices to attempt so we often simply pick a number of that look attention-grabbing even when we are able to’t make out what they’re.  More often than not it seems effectively.

12. Utilizing the Public Bogs

Japan is the land of distinction and that goes for the bogs too.  You’ll sometimes discover both a squat rest room or a high-end, ultra-clean automated rest room bowl with a wide range of further features from a bidet to a heated seat and tunes that masks the sound of you peeing.

The one factor that we have now regularly discovered lacking from a Japanese public lavatory was a method to dry your fingers.  I nonetheless counsel carrying a small towel for this, particularly within the colder seasons when moist fingers will get chapped and sore very simply. We observed just lately hand dryers are showing extra regularly though they typically aren’t the supersonic Dyson dryers you would possibly count on to match with the flamboyant bathroom.

Loos have been amongst my most stunning (each optimistic and detrimental) experiences in Japan. The ultra-modern washrooms in a stationery retailer known as Itoya in Ginza undoubtedly stand out. As a stationery nerd, I like this retailer for a lot of causes however you actually do want to go to the bogs.  As you enter birds begin chirping as if you’re within the midst of the forest.  The bathroom bowl is completely cleansed in blue mild earlier than and after you utilize it, the basins and benches are drip-free and the hand dryer provides your fingers an intensive blue mild cleaning.  Only a phrase of warning, for those who love stationery you’ll spend a great quantity on this retailer,  it’s multi-story and continues on the opposite facet of the highway.

The memorable for a much less optimistic motive was utilizing a squat rest room on a long-distance restricted categorical prepare whereas it was shifting.  When your stability isn’t nice it is a problem though it was virtually 10 years in the past now and I’d be shocked if all long-distance trains don’t supply a Western rest room possibility now.

Whereas fairly a number of public restrooms nonetheless supply the selection of the 2 kinds there are extra Western fashion than conventional.  Within the ladies’s queue anyway, most ladies beneath 40 will favor to attend for them to be obtainable reasonably than use the extra conventional possibility.

13. Don’t overpack – laundry and laundromats

I do know that I discussed above that I’m not a ‘hand baggage solely’ traveller in Japan, who am I kidding, I not often handle that for a weekend away however I additionally attempt to take the minimal affordable quantity to get me by way of.

You don’t want 3 weeks, and even actually one week’s price of garments. Even for those who don’t wish to use the lodge laundry and dry cleansing service, as these can get fairly costly, many lodges have a visitor laundry that you’ll be able to use at an inexpensive price. There are additionally laundrymats in lots of areas you may make use of if mandatory, I simply favor the comfort of getting it onsite.

A lodge visitor laundry or an aparthotel with a washer is now certainly one of my standards when choosing lodges for travelling in Japan. I don’t want it at each lodge however I attempt to verify each 3-4 nights we’ll have someplace I can put a load by way of. In case you are aware of your journey price range or simply produce other belongings you’d favor to spend your cash on this could be a vital saving over both extra baggage or lodge laundry service with minimal influence in your journey.

If you happen to discovered this text helpful please contemplate saving it to Pinterest. It makes it straightforward so that you can discover it once more, it helps us, and it helps different travellers to seek out the knowledge they’re searching for.



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