Although there have been many times in Japan, and although we have not always visited it as tourists, we have also faced many times the same doubts as anyone who decides they want to travel to Japan. For this reason, we have compiled in this post some tips for traveling to Japan that we have put into practice in all our trips. Advice on topics, in addition, that you often ask us by mail or through social networks.
Of course, they are just that, advice or recommendations, we do not want to be categorical and we do not want to tell anyone how to prepare their trips or how to enjoy Japan. So think that our advice is nothing more than ideas that can help you on your trip to Japan. Surely some things you had already taken into account, and maybe not others.
We hope that with all of them your visit to the country of the rising sun will be even simpler and more pleasant. And remember, to plan your trip to Japan we have a page with a wide range of content categorized by themes and, recently, we have created beautiful maps that are integrated with your Google Maps and contain all the recommendations we make.
- Plan when to go
- Stay tuned for the prices of airline tickets
- Decide whether to buy the JR Pass and get your exchange order
- Investigate events and parties in advance
- Plan the train schedules with Hyperdia
- Hire the Internet for your trip
- Carry enough money in cash
- Carry an extension cord with plug adapter
- Learn some typical phrases
- Learn the basic Japanese etiquette
1. Plan when to go
Traveling to Japan is a joy at any time of the year. We’ve already told you how much of the summer, the autumn, the winter, and spring are great times to do so. And in each season of the year, Japan surprises us with something unique. So in this case, be calm.
But it is important to know the average temperature that you will have, which we have compiled on the weather page. It is also important to know the main events of each season so that you decide according to your tastes which is the best time. Cherry trees in spring, heat, and humidity but with wonderful matsuris in summer, red leaves in autumn, snow and Christmas decorations in winter … In Japan there is something special at each time of year and, as you can see, we have everything covered.
2. Stay tuned for the prices of airline tickets
If you travel to Japan from Europe, we have an entry with all the airlines that fly to Japan from Europe.
Of course, do not buy the first flight that you put in front, and use a search engine even if it is to compare prices, because of more and more, airlines publish timely offers. And we can get to fly at very affordable prices, even in summer. And we tell you from experience.
3. Decide whether to buy the JR Pass and get your exchange order
Although it is true that a JR Pass does not always come to mind (for this we must take some calculat ion, as we already tell you), it is likely that having this train pass is your best ally in a trip to Japan . Especially if it is your first time and you are going to visit at least Tokyo and the area of Osaka and Kyoto.
But be careful, the JR Pass cannot be bought when you arrive in Japan, as some of you have asked us by mail. You have to buy before you leave for Japan an exchange order that, once there, you will exchange for the pass itself. This can be done at the train stations of the airports or at some of the main JR stations.
Remember that you can buy the JR Pass comfortably from this website of our total confidence (and in doing so, you help us a little bit to keep Japonismo alive).
4. Investigate events and parties in advance
Once you have decided which station to go to, once you have the plane tickets and even the exchange order to get the JR Pass, take a look at the special events in the city that will serve you. Headquarters. It will help you to plan the itinerary not only in terms of temples, buildings, parks or other “permanent” attractions, but also those activities that only occur a few days a year. And that without a doubt they are worth it and contribute to your trip a personal charm and make it unique.
As we know that this is important, we have written very extensive entries for each of the months, with all the Japanese festivals and festivities distributed by region and city. And although conventional guides usually include information of this type, they tend to focus on the most well-known events, but many are left out, so beware.
5. Plan the train schedules with Hyperdia
Although Japan is a railway country par excellence, not all destinations have a fast or easy connection by train. Also keep in mind that dawns soon and, likewise, the sun sets soon. It is important, therefore, make the most of the days and for this, it is best to plan in advance the schedules of the trains that we are going to use.
In this way we can know exactly what time we will arrive at the destination and make the most of the daylight hours, to return later when the sun begins to fall. Also, if it is high season, we can book in advance (as long as we go with JR Pass on trains with reservation) and have no problems with the trip. If the whole railway issue is complex, we have an extensive and very visual guide explaining how to use trains in Japan.
6. Hire the Internet for your trip
In these times, being able to count your trip live through social networks and being in contact with family and friends has ceased to be an option to be almost something sought after by all. In Japan, there are not many Wifi networks open, except for the case of Starbucks (which requires previous registration, as we have) or the network in the northeast of Japan for tourists. And although it is possible to find networks in metro and train stations, they usually require that we are still or that at least we do not move too much, since as soon as we leave the station, goodbye connection!
Right now, the two best options to have Internet when traveling in Japan is either buy a SIM card with data connection or rent a Mifi or Pocket Wifi system, which will give us all the connectivity we want while we are visiting the Japanese country. In this post, you have more information about it although as you know, we have always trusted Japan Wireless, which has Pocket Wifi with unlimited data and a very high download speed.
7. Carry enough money in cash
Whether you change it before you travel or if you do it once, do not rely too much on credit cards in Japan. In hotels, it is normal for you to have no problem paying by credit card, at least in business hotels and large chains. But many Japanese restaurants and shops will not accept them, and if you do not have enough money changed, you may find yourself with a problem.
In addition, there is a problem that not all ATMs allow you to withdraw money with foreign cards. Those of Citibank, those of 7 Eleven and those of Japan Post, as a general rule, yes they will allow you to withdraw money with your credit card, but better to be cautious. Especially with how safe the country is since we should not be afraid of being robbed.
Remember that if you do not like to get to Japan without any money in your pocket, we have the perfect solution and it is to change online before traveling. For this, we recommend Exact Change a company of our confidence that allows us to request yen conveniently by Internet or by telephone at very good prices (better than at the airport). And we can select whether to pick them up or receive them comfortably at home, without having to move. At the moment it is only available in Spain, so we are looking at options for those who live in other parts of the world. But while, if you want to look at their prices click here or call free at 900.103.740and use the Japonisme code (JAP0533V) to treat you better if possible. It does not cost you more, but it helps us keep the web alive.
8. Carry an extension cord with plug adapter
I do not believe that we are the only ones who travel with countless electronic devices. Between mobile phones, tablets, cameras, battery chargers for the camera flash, etc., ends up being crazy.
And carrying an adapter for each of the chargers that we carry can be complicated because we probably do not have as many as there are so many plugs in the room. Staying in a hotel with plugs adapted for European plugs is not frequent, besides. What is the best solution then? Well, take a single adapter flat pegs (such as we use for the United States) and an extension that allows us to connect all our chargers.
9. Learn some typical phrases
In a different country, where everything surprises you, it is quite possible that you go clueless on more than one occasion. And surely you’ll stumble on someone, or put yourself on the escalators where you should not, or anything else.
Being able to say “thank you”, “I’m sorry” or “sorry” is something basic, and like in any other country, being able to say it in the local language is always very well received, it gives a good image and says a lot about you as a tourist.
10. Learn the basic Japanese etiquette
When we travel to another country, we will always find different customs, different ways of doing things. And although on many occasions people usually look at the tourist with benevolence, because the locals know that we do not know all their customs, it is worthwhile to learn some basic rules of coexistence and etiquette.
And there is nothing uglier than eating in Japan and using chopsticks as in a funeral. Or get to a place with tatamiand not take off our shoes and leave it dirty and spoil it. Or get to a sanctuary and want to drink water from the pile at the entrance without knowing the ritual of the temizu . Knowing these basic details a little will make our experience more pleasant and much more Japanese.
Finally, we also recommend you to take out travel insurance (you can do it from here with our trusted provider and get a 5% discount for being Japonismo readers) and check our store in search of the best excursions, experiences, and tickets to shows of all type … there are many interesting things!
Enjoy your trip to Japan!