Japan Travel Tips
Japan can be tricky for travellers!
Read up on Japan Travel Tips to avoid the pitfalls!
1. Fly into one city and out of another!
Japan although seemingly compact is still relatively large in terms of distances. To appreciate this country and utilise your time, it is best not to back-track.
If you can fly into one city and out of another try and do so.
Tokyo is the major international airport and a good starting point for travellers. You can then visit areas such as Mt Fuji, Hakone, Kyoto, Nagoya and Hiroshima before departing from Osaka international airport.
For Japan Travel tips and to find details on airports, flights and airlines use Bookmyowntravel.com/Japan
Read up on Japan Itinerary Ideas
2. Buy a Rail Pass before you arrive
Japan has an excellent Rail system. Purchase a JR rail pass (at least 2-3 weeks in advance). The pass will allow you to visit multiple long distance areas in Japan and is ideal if you want the most convenient, efficient way to travel in Japan and to experience a Bullet Train. Passes are sold in Green (1st class) and Ordinary (Economy), in durations of 7, 14 and 21 days.
The trick with the pass is validate it on the first day of your long distance travel.
In major cities for local travel buy a Pasmo and Suica cards (similar to a Metro Card) they provide access to public transportation, taxis and even buying items in convenience stores. You can purchase these at Subway stations or order online with your JR Rail Pass.
Purchase rail passes online at Japan-rail-pass.com
An absolute must do if you are using any rail services in Japan is to utilise Hyperdia to check train timetables. Available in English and as an app.
Signage in Train stations is generally in Japanese and English but can get confusing. The trick is to look for the name of the Train Line!
3. Bring Cash and No need to Tip
Japan is yet to embrace tipping and in most instances, staff will chase down patrons who have left any additional amount to return it to them. Cash is more widely accepted than credit cards, particularly in small restaurants, so always have some on you. There are plenty of ATM’s to obtain cash particularly in 7-Eleven’s.
Tip – Take a purse (you end up with heaps of coins!)
4. Free WIFI is hard to find
Free Wifi in Japan can be hard to find. The best option for Wifi is to rent a Pocket Wifi on arrival at the airport. These devices allow you to access Wifi anywhere (even on trains), you can also make calls using apps such as Messenger and Skype.
To order online before you arrive try econnect.
5. Meet the Locals for FREE
An excellent way to experience a country is to meet the locals. The way to do this is to join a local walking tour or a tour operated by a local.
Our Number 5 Japan Travel Tips is to go on a Free walking tour operated in Tokyo by Freetour.com
An excellent alternative is Toursbylocals.com who offer unique local experiences around Japan. (The Hakone tour and Mt. Fuji was exceptional).
6. Stay with a Local
The local traditional accommodation is a “Ryokan.” These Japanese styled Inns are found throughout the country and offer unique experiences. They showcase the traditional Japanese lifestyle and hospitality and include elements such as tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style baths (hot springs) and local cuisine.
For details on Ryokans visit Japanese Guest Houses
7. “Sake” means “Alcohol” in Japanese
Sake is only used outside of Japan to request “Rice Wine.” The word for this beverage in Japan is Nihonshu. There are plenty of choices of alcohol, Japanese beers include popular brands “Asahi” “Kirin” “Sapporo.”
Another of the great Japan Travel tips is to visit a local brewery for a tour. Try Viator
Whisky is also increasing in popularity with local whisky bars the new trend. Consider visiting one of the best 10 Whisky Bars in Tokyo
8. Learn some of the Language
The Japanese are extremely polite. They will generally help if they are able. As a courtesy it would help to learn some of the basic sayings. Very useful when you are in regional areas, such as the Jigokudani Yaenkoen park in Nagano, home to Snow Monkeys.
Hello – Kon’nichiwa Thank you – Arigatōgozaimashita
For a list with Audio try Fodors Basic Japanese Phrases
9. Eat the local cuisine in Unusual places
A strange place to buy Japanese food is the local 7-Eleven, they have delicious snacks and interesting treats. If you are after something more formal, try Yakiniku (BBQ) – which you cook yourself on a small grill and burner, or Kaiseki a must try multi-course culinary experience.