13 Important Japan Journey Suggestions for First Time Guests

Japan is a captivating nation to go to and extra foreigners than ever earlier than are planning a go to.  One of many large sights 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 superb purpose to go to. With this in thoughts, we now have put collectively our high 15 Japan journey tricks to get you off to an excellent begin.

Understanding a number of of those variations early within the strategy planning stage in your journey and a number of the alternatives they current is effectively value doing.  It may well 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 must be the case.  Though it could possibly’t be executed on the identical form of finances that many international locations in South East Asia can we discover it no costlier than travelling in Australia and in lots of facets can provide some nice worth.

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

The Japan journey suggestions you gained’t wish to go away residence with out

1. Determine whether or not you want the Japan Rail Cross

We’ve heard so many tales from mates and thru this web site of disappointment across the JR Cross and it goes each methods.  We hear from those that didn’t find out about it in time to reap the benefits of what will be an incredible 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 excess of you’ll want to and all of us wish to get one of the best worth from our journey spend.

We now hear tales weekly and it prompted us to publish our information on all the things you’ll want to know in regards to the Japan Rail Cross – together with when NOT to purchase it.

Japan Rail Shinkansen

It’s additionally been introduced that the value will enhance by round 70% in October 2023. If you’re travelling after that date it would be best 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.  Usually you’ll have the ability to rule it in or out in a short time however generally 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 joyful to work out what I wish to see and do as soon as I land within the nation.  With not talking the language and lots of the issues that we’d wish to see and do being broadly unfold out, even inside the main cities, it’s value having a good thought 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’re higher suited to basing in a single or two cities and taking day journeys from there or doing a touring fashion vacation and transferring on each couple of days. It can provide help to stability seeing as a lot as doable with nonetheless feeling relaxed and having fun with all the things you do.

3. Take into account 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 value desirous about.  It may well save time not needing to backtrack to town you began in and in consequence, it could possibly additionally prevent cash too.

One of the vital common itineraries for first-time travellers in Japan is what is named 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 choice.

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 residence the place most issues are paid by card or by tapping the cellphone.  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 cheap precautions.

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

You possibly can simply get money out from cash machines utilizing your EFTPOS card from residence in comfort shops and at Put up 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 fastened charge per transaction that’s disclosed on the machine up entrance different prices 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 value doing as we journey commonly and you too can discover bank cards with no worldwide transaction charges.

5. Staying related – WIFI in Japan

Considered one of our greatest suggestions for travelling in Japan is to get a pocket WIFI or cell knowledge connection in your cellphone.  There’s public wifi round and if all you want is to ship an e-mail out of your resort at evening and submit to Instagram at main vacationer spots you’ll be wonderful nonetheless public networks do at all times pose a knowledge safety danger 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 cell optimised not the app) commonly.  These get you the place you’re going simply together with the varied public transport choices.   Usually you’ll want to change traces and even railway firm through the journey something to make that smoother is nice. Google Translate can be useful within the digicam mode to learn indicators, packaging and menus.

An area 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 related for some time however this actually works and is fairly correct.  It enabled us to have an affordable dialog that will have been inconceivable 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 selections are Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka that are Japan’s 3 best-known cities.  We love spending time in all three but it surely’s effectively value contemplating an tour or two off the principle vacationer path.  This is likely to be one thing additional afield resembling Aomori, KanazawaSapporo and Hiroshima, or a number of the simply accessed day journeys from the most important cities, we now have some nice strategies 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 house, that’s both populated or used for agriculture, the rest is forests and mountains so there may be 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 mountaineering, soaking in an onsen and staying in a ryokan.  For a little bit of inspiration listed below are a few articles which may present some inspiration:

7. What to pack

Whereas there’s a lot to be stated in favour of travelling gentle, it’s not my high precedence when travelling in Japan. The common Japanese and the common Westerner are usually fairly completely different in construct. That makes shopping for garments or footwear difficult and whereas it is likely to be enjoyable to maintain an eye fixed out for a particular piece to take residence, feeling stress to buy one thing you want since you are actually chilly / scorching / forgot to pack it, isn’t perfect for many.

In Japan footwear are a giant consideration after I’m packing. I do know I’ll stroll so much, excess of I do on a median day at residence so I need footwear that I’ve worn sufficient to know they’re snug, pretty simple to get on and off, and can stand as much as the climate, material 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 wish to have my lodging booked effectively prematurely for many journeys. There are a number of benefits to this, it means I’ve already executed some preplanning on what I wish to be based mostly near and ensured there are good transport connections close by. You’ll usually get one of the best offers a number of months, and as much as 6 months prematurely plus if you’re travelling at a well-liked time chances are you’ll not have the ability to get into your first selections if you happen to go away it too near your journey date.

To offset the danger of plans altering, which we’ve all discovered in the previous couple of years will be fully out of our management, I exploit an on-line reserving website 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 principle ones you’ll come throughout are PASMO, SUICA and ICOCA however there are numerous others across the nation.  They’re every supplied by completely different practice corporations but it surely doesn’t matter which one you purchase, they’ll 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  while you decide one up which you will get refunded on the finish of your journey by returning the cardboard however you may solely do 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 value 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 go away with a big stability excellent.

Along with transport, you too can 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 selecting up issues commonly as Japan’s 8% tax means you find yourself with a variety of Y1 and Y5 cash in your purse that aren’t simple to do away with.

10. You don’t tip in Japan

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

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

In case you use the providers of a free information or somebody goes out of their means that will help you a small reward resembling a meals or consumable merchandise from your private home nation is appreciated, I took notebooks with our metropolis on the quilt one 12 months that labored effectively and had been simple to hold round.  Do preserve it small although or folks will really feel the necessity to reciprocate.

11. Neglect all the things you understand about comfort shops

Except you’re on an excellent restricted finances 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 check out a number of the dishes and snacks.  Neglect any experiences you’ve gotten from residence about comfort retailer meals.  In Japan, there’s no challenge with meals hygiene or sitting too lengthy underneath warmth lamps,  on account of its recognition it sells rapidly and what’s on the cabinets is freshly delivered day by day.

This does provide a chance for anybody searching for a little bit of a discount, within the early night in supermarkets and at evening within the comfort shops, there may be usually meals bought at a reduction.

Among the issues value attempting from the comfort shops are:

  • Onigiri.  Our high picks are the spicy cod roe, prawn and mayo, salmon items and salmon eggs (ikura).
  • Bakery choice.  The Japanese choice for bread being candy does take some getting used to however it’s tremendous smooth and scrumptious.  Effectively value giving a number of of those a attempt.
  • Sunscreen.  I now carry residence 6-8 packets of the Biore Watery Essence 50+ face sunscreen each time I’m in Japan, it’s out there 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 value.
  • 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 smooth mochi pores and skin, it’s scrumptious and as you may not purchase mochi-cremes at each Shinkansen station that is my new best choice. (Sure it has been 10 years now, I promise I’ll recover from them disappearing quickly)
  • Bottles of drink are usually 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 if you happen to 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 practice then a number of snacks alongside the way in which will be good, there’s a big vary of distinctive choices to attempt so we often simply select a number of that look attention-grabbing even when we will’t make out what they’re.  More often than not it seems effectively.

12. Utilizing the Public Bathrooms

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

The one factor that we now have regularly discovered lacking from a Japanese public toilet was a option 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 seen lately hand dryers are showing extra regularly though they often aren’t the supersonic Dyson dryers you would possibly anticipate to match with the flowery bathroom.

Loos have been amongst my most shocking (each optimistic and damaging) experiences in Japan. The ultra-modern washrooms in a stationery retailer known as Itoya in Ginza undoubtedly stand out. As a stationery nerd, I really like this retailer for a lot of causes however you actually do want to move to the loos.  As you enter birds begin chirping as if you’re within the midst of the forest.  The bathroom bowl is totally cleansed in blue gentle earlier than and after you utilize it, the basins and benches are drip-free and the hand dryer offers your fingers a radical blue gentle cleaning.  Only a phrase of warning, if you happen to love stationery you’ll spend an excellent quantity on this retailer,  it’s multi-story and continues on the opposite aspect of the street.

The memorable for a much less optimistic purpose was utilizing a squat bathroom on a long-distance restricted specific practice whereas it was transferring.  When your stability isn’t nice this can be a problem though it was nearly 10 years in the past now and I’d be shocked if all long-distance trains don’t provide a Western bathroom choice now.

Whereas fairly a number of public restrooms nonetheless provide the selection of the 2 types there are extra Western fashion than conventional.  Within the ladies’s queue anyway, most girls underneath 40 will choose to attend for them to be out there moderately than use the extra conventional choice.

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 cheap quantity to get me by way of.

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

A resort visitor laundry or an aparthotel with a washer is now one among my standards when deciding on accommodations for travelling in Japan. I don’t want it at each resort however I attempt to verify each 3-4 nights we’ll have someplace I can put a load by way of. If you’re acutely aware of your journey finances or simply produce other stuff you’d choose to spend your cash on this could be a important saving over both extra baggage or resort laundry service with minimal affect in your journey.

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