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21 tips for travel to Japan (and other essential information)

Tips for travel to Japan

Looking for tips for travel to Japan? Japan is a unique and fascinating destination that attracts travelers from all over the world. With its rich culture and stunning natural beauty, the country offers an unforgettable travel experience.

However, traveling to Japan can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. In this blog post, I gathered the best tips and valuable information to help you make the most of your Asian adventure.

Explore a new Japan Travel Guide made to use directly on your mobile phone


1. Plan ahead

One of the most important things to do before traveling to Japan is to plan ahead. Japan is a busy and vibrant country with a lot to see and do. To make the most of your time, it’s essential to research and plan this trip in advance.

You should consider the places you want to visit, the distance between them, the time of year you’re going, and the transportation you will use.

Keep reading this post because I will give tips on these travel points.

2. Learn basic Japanese phrases

The dialect can be the biggest challenge when visiting Japan, so learning some basic Japanese phrases can be helpful.

Japanese people appreciate it when visitors try to speak their language, and it can make your travel experience more enjoyable.

Some useful phrases to learn include “Arigato” (thank you), “Sumimasen” (excuse me), and “Gomen nasai” (I’m sorry).

Keeping your phone close by with a translation app can also be a great idea. Besides, there are plenty to choose from, like Google Translate, Deepl, or Say Hi.

3. Use public transportation

Japan has an extensive and efficient public transportation system that includes trains, buses, and subways. Public transportation is the most convenient and affordable way to travel around Japan, especially if you plan to visit multiple cities.

You can purchase a Japan Rail Pass before your trip, allowing unlimited travel on JR trains, buses, and subways.

In addition to the Japan Rail Pass, you can also use a prepaid IC card. These cards, such as Suica or Pasmo, can be purchased at train stations and convenience stores and topped up with funds as needed.

4. Carry Cash

Japan is still a heavily cash-based society, and many places don’t accept credit cards.

Carrying cash with you at all times is essential, especially when visiting small shops and restaurants.

ATMs are available but may not accept foreign debit or credit cards, so it’s best to withdraw cash upon arrival at the airport or at a bank.

5. Follow local customs and etiquette

Japan is known for its unique customs and etiquette, and visitors should know them. For example, it’s customary to bow when greeting someone, and it’s considered impolite to talk on the phone or eat while walking on the street.

It’s essential to respect these customs to avoid offending locals and to make your trip more enjoyable.

6. Try local food

Japanese cuisine is known for its unique flavors and presentation, so trying local food is an essential part of the travel experience in this country.

Some popular Japanese dishes include sushi, ramen, tempura, and yakitori. You can find these dishes at restaurants, street food stalls, and convenience stores throughout Japan.

You can also have an immersive culinary experience in one of the big cities and make your trip to Japan even more special.

7. Visit cultural sites

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is one of the tips for travel to Japan
Photo by Chantal Lim in Unsplash

Japan has a rich cultural heritage that’s worth exploring. From ancient temples and shrines to modern museums and art galleries, the country offers a range of outstanding cultural sites to visit.

Some popular cultural places include the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto (in the picture), the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and the Tokyo National Museum.

Find out the top places to visit in Japan for first-timers

8. Take part in local festivals

Attending a Japanese festival is a great way to experience local culture and traditions. Some popular events include the Cherry Blossom Spring Festival, the Kyoto Gion Festival, and the Winter Sapporo Snow Festival.

You can find information about local festivals on tourism websites and at tourist information centers.

9. Dress appropriately

Like in any other country, it’s essential to dress appropriately in Japan, especially when visiting religious sites and cultural events.

You should avoid wearing revealing clothing and remove your shoes when entering temples and traditional Japanese buildings. Comfortable shoes are also vital, as there may be a lot of walking involved in your travels.

Of course, this doesn’t apply if we’re talking about some of the streets of Tokyo, where the clothing often takes its inspiration from Anime, especially among the youngsters.

10. Respect nature

Japan is known for its stunning natural beauty, including mountains, forests, and beaches. For that, it’s always important to respect nature when visiting these sites. This means not littering, staying on designated paths, and avoiding damaging the environment.

Additionally, some natural sites may be off-limits during certain times of the year to protect wildlife and ecosystems. So get informed before making the trip.

11. Purchase a SIM card or eSIM

To stay connected during your trip, consider purchasing a SIM card or an eSIM. These can be purchased at the airport or online.

I’m personally a fan of eSIM since, as I buy it online in advance, it’s one less thing I have to worry about when I arrive in a country.

Access to the internet will allow you to use maps and translation apps and stay in touch with loved ones back home.

12. Respect personal space

In Japan, personal space is highly valued. Therefore, it’s important to respect it and not stand too close to someone or touch them without permission.

This can be a challenge when using public transportation, where overcrowding can be expected, but try to do your best.

13. Go prepared

It’s common for public restrooms in Japan not to have paper towels or hand dryers. Thus, to avoid any inconvenience, carry a handkerchief or tissues with you. They can also help wipe away sweat during the hot and humid summer months.

Also, Japan has strict rules about littering, but it’s not uncommon for few or no public trash cans to be available. So, carry a small bag to collect any trash you generate during the day and dispose of it properly when you find a trash can.

14. Be mindful of noise levels

In Japan, loud talking, shouting, and making noise in public are generally discouraged. So, be mindful of noise levels, particularly in residential areas.

Despite that, public transportation during rush hour can be incredibly noisy and overwhelming. Consider investing in a noise-canceling headset to help you relax and block out the commotion.

15. Take advantage of the onsen experience

Japanese osen
Photo by Roméo A. in Unsplash

Talking about relaxing, Onsens are traditional Japanese hot springs that are a popular way to unwind. If you have the opportunity, try to visit an onsen during your trip.

However, it’s important to know the etiquette when using an onsen, such as washing thoroughly before entering the hot spring and not wearing any clothing or swimwear.

16. Take shoes off when entering buildings

It’s common practice in Japan to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home, a temple or shrine, or certain restaurants. Look for signs or ask if you need help deciding whether to remove your shoes.

17. Be aware of smoking laws

Smoking is banned in many public areas in Japan, including on the streets and in some restaurants and bars. Be aware of the designated smoking areas and avoid smoking in prohibited zones.

18. Be aware of the weather

Japan experiences four distinct seasons, with weather patterns varying wildly depending on the time of year and location (see next section). Therefore, be aware of the weather conditions during your visit and pack accordingly.

If you’re traveling during the summer months, remember that it’s necessary to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.

19. Plan ahead for peak travel times

Cherry blossom season in Tokyo, Japan
Photo by Yu Kato in Unsplash

Certain times of the year, such as the cherry blossom season in spring and the New Year holiday period, can be hectic in Japan. So, if you’re traveling during these peak times, be sure to plan ahead and book accommodation and transportation in advance.

20. Learn about Japanese history and culture

Japan has a rich history and culture, and learning about it can enhance your experience. Consider visiting museums and historical sites and attending cultural events to learn more about Japan’s past and present.

21. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Feel free to ask for help if you’re lost or confused. Many Japanese people are happy to assist tourists, and information centers and English-speaking staff are usually available at train stations and major tourist attractions.

Tips for travel to Japan: Remember your travel insurance!

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What is the Visa law in Japan, and how to get it?

Visa to visit Japan
Photo by ConvertKit in Unsplash

Visa requirements for Japan vary depending on your nationality and the length and purpose of your visit. Under the visa waiver program, visitors from many countries are generally allowed to enter Japan for a short-term stay (up to 90 days) without a visa.

However, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days or engage in certain activities, such as work or study, you must obtain a visa in advance. You can check the visa requirements by contacting your home country’s Japanese embassy or consulate, or doing it online.

What is the best time to visit Japan?

Japan summertime
Photo by Kaori Chin in Unsplash

The best time to visit Japan depends on your interests and what you want to see and experience during your trip. Japan has four distinct seasons, each with its own unique attractions and weather conditions:

  • Spring (March to May) — Spring is a popular time to visit Japan, especially for the cherry blossom season. The blossoms usually bloom in late March or early April, and it’s a magical time to visit parks and temples to see the beautiful pink and white blossoms. However, this is also the peak tourist season, and prices may be higher than usual.
  • Summer (June to August) — Expect hot and humid, but it’s a great time to visit beaches, enjoy festivals, and climb mountains. Summer festivals, such as the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, are a highlight of the season.
  • Fall (September to November) — The changing colors of the leaves (koyo) are a major attraction. The weather is generally mild, making it the perfect time for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking.
  • Winter (December to February) — This is a great time to visit if you enjoy winter sports or want to experience Japan’s hot springs (onsen). Ski resorts in Hokkaido and Nagano are popular destinations, and the Sapporo Snow Festival is a must-see.

What is the cost of traveling to Japan?

The cost of traveling to Japan can vary widely depending on factors such as the season, the length of your trip, your travel style and preferences, and the activities you plan to do.

Here are some estimated costs for a typical one-week trip to Japan, based on mid-range accommodations and activities:

Flights: A round-trip flight from the US or Europe to Tokyo can cost between $600 and $1,500, depending on the season and airline.

Accommodation: Mid-range hotels and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) can cost anywhere from $60 to $150 per night, depending on the location and season. Hostels and budget hotels are also available for lower prices.

– Transportation: The Japan Rail Pass, which allows unlimited travel on most JR trains and buses, costs around $270 for a 7-day pass. Local transportation, such as subways and buses, can cost around $1.50 to $3 per ride.

Food: Japanese cuisine ranges from budget-friendly street food to high-end sushi restaurants. Depending on the type of food and restaurant, you can spend, on average, around $10 to $20 per meal.

Activities: Sightseeing and cultural activities such as temple visits, museum admissions, and guided tours can cost anywhere from a few dollars to $30 or more per activity.

Overall, a one-week trip to Japan can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 or more, depending on your travel style and preferences. Therefore, planning and budgeting for your trip in advance is necessary to ensure you can find the best prices.

Tips to save money in Japan

In conclusion, traveling to Japan can be a fantastic experience filled with culture, history, and natural beauty. You just have to plan ahead so things can go smoothly.

With this information and by following these tips, you can ensure that your trip to Japan is enjoyable and memorable.

If you found this article useful, give me a shout-out in the comments box below, and remember to share it on your social media.

Tips for travel to Japan


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Marlene On The Move

Marlene Marques

Marlene is the creator of Marlene On The Move. A journalist by profession, she created the blog to share her adventures around the world. It is not unusual for her to set off to discover new countries and cultures with a surfboard as luggage.



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