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Navigating Japan on a Budget: The Cheapest Rail Pass Options

Japan is a country known for its efficient and extensive railway network, making it a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. However, exploring Japan can be quite expensive, especially when it comes to transportation. That’s why finding the cheapest rail pass options is essential for budget-conscious travelers. In this article, we will explore some of the most affordable Japan rail pass options available to help you make the most of your trip without breaking the bank.

Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass)

The Japan Rail Pass, also known as JR Pass, is perhaps the most well-known and popular rail pass among tourists visiting Japan. It offers unlimited access to most of Japan’s railway lines operated by JR Group companies, including Shinkansen bullet trains, limited express trains, and local trains. With a JR Pass in hand, you can travel across various regions in Japan without worrying about purchasing individual tickets for each journey.

The cost of a JR Pass depends on its validity period: 7-day, 14-day, or 21-day passes are available. While the initial price may seem high compared to other options, it provides excellent value for those planning to cover long distances during their stay in Japan.

Regional Rail Passes

If your itinerary focuses on specific regions within Japan rather than covering the entire country, opting for regional rail passes can be a cost-effective choice. These passes offer unlimited travel within designated areas and are often cheaper than nationwide passes like the JR Pass.

For example, if you plan to explore only Kansai region cities such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara during your trip to Japan, consider getting the Kansai Area Pass or Kansai Thru Pass instead of a nationwide pass. These regional passes provide access to local trains and buses within their coverage area at a fraction of the cost.

Seishun 18 Kippu

The Seishun 18 Kippu, or Youth 18 Ticket, is an excellent option for travelers on a tight budget who have plenty of time to spare. This pass offers unlimited travel on local and rapid JR trains for any five days within a specified period, usually during school holidays.

While the Seishun 18 Kippu doesn’t cover Shinkansen or limited express trains, it allows you to explore Japan at a leisurely pace and experience the charm of smaller towns and countryside areas. It’s worth noting that this pass is only available for purchase during specific periods throughout the year.

Non-JR Rail Passes

Although JR Passes are widely recognized, there are several non-JR rail passes that can provide significant savings for certain travel routes. For instance, if you plan to visit Hiroshima from Osaka or Kyoto, consider getting the Sanyo-San’in Area Pass. This pass covers both JR and non-JR trains within the Sanyo area and allows convenient access to popular destinations like Miyajima Island.

Similarly, if you’re exploring northern Japan, the Hokkaido Rail Pass offers unlimited travel on JR Hokkaido trains across Hokkaido Island. These non-JR rail passes can be more economical options depending on your travel plans.

In conclusion, navigating Japan on a budget is possible with careful consideration of rail pass options. Whether you opt for a nationwide JR Pass or choose regional or non-JR passes based on your itinerary, there are several affordable alternatives available to suit different travel needs. With these cost-effective rail pass options in hand, you can make the most of your time in Japan without worrying about transportation expenses.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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TRAVEL to JAPAN – Tips and Information Guide (2023)

Everything you need to know about travel to Japan in our brand new Japan travel guide.

Japan is an island nation with a tremendous amount of history and culture intertwined with is present fast-paced reputation. 

From the epic wilderness of Hokkaido down to the tropical beaches of Okinawa, travelling to Japan is an experience like no other.

Whether you’re into food, culture, history or the outdoors Japan has it all. Travel to Japan is on the rise and it’s easy to see why.

Of Japan’s four main islands Honshu gets the vast majority of visitors. Travellers are in constant awe of the spectrum of Kyoto’s temples, taken captive with Nara’s deer and consumed by eating everything in sight in Tokyo.

However, the islands of Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku are also home to some of the country’s most stunning scenery and are definitely worth a visit. 

Whatever you want, you can find it in Japan. Let us help you plan your journey to one of the most awe-inspiring destinations on the planet!


Here are the basics about travel to Japan.


Travel To Japan Guide


With so much to see and do in Japan, it really is hard to pick the top experiences.

However, we think that to truly appreciate Japan you need to plan to do these 5 activities during your visit.

Tokyo Sushi Restaurant

Gorge yourself on sushi.

Japan is known for sushi. You can find it everywhere. For added enjoyment, try your hand at making it!

Book a sushi cooking class here .

Pagoda, Nature, Kyoto, Japan

Visit ancient temples in Kyoto

Kyoto is the magical, ancient city of Japan known for being the spiritual centre of the country. Immerse yourself in the beauty and stillness of its many temples.

Check out our 3 days in Kyoto itinerary here.

Ryokan In Japan

Spend the night in a Ryokan

Staying in a ryokan is the most authentic way to experience Japan. Splurge on the experience and find yourself turning Japanese after a refreshing stay!

You can stay in a great ryokan in Murakami .

Mount Fuji Day Trips From Tokyo

Climb/View Mt. Fuji

One of the most picturesque volcanic mountains in the world is accessible to climb, or simply view, throughout much of the year.

This is the best Mt. Fuji day trip you can find anywhere .

Kyoto Itinerary Bamboo Forest Path

Get lost in a giant bamboo forest

Bamboo that stretches to the sky can be found in Kyoto. Be mesmerized by the sound of the swaying forest.

Other Things to Do in Japan

Party with robots in Tokyo: The 90-minute show is one of the most unique and bizarre must-do activities in Tokyo. It may take you a few minutes to figure out what you’re watching (don’t miss that video of it). But you’ll definitely be glad you went!

Watch a sumo wrestling match . Sure, sushi can be found on every street corner. But eating it at every meal won’t give you a chance against world-famous sumo wrestlers. Catch a match and be a part of a long and sacred activity.

Cross the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection . Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo will blow your mind with the number of people moving at any given time when the traffic stops to let pedestrians cross. Head to the QFRONT building to watch 2,500 people cross the streets below.

Hang out with deer in Nara . The normally shy creatures are anything but shy as they can be found in abundance in Nara Park . Whether you want to interact with them, or simply view them in nature, the experience is worthwhile!

Spend the night in a capsule hotel . Japan is known for tiny packaging. A Capsule hotel is just as it sounds: a tiny box-like structure intended for one person to spend the night. Warning, this is not for the claustrophobic!

Relax in an onsen . Onsens are hot springs that can be found in natural and man-made settings. You haven’t relaxed until you’ve spent a few hours in an Onsen. Just know sometimes the dress code is your birthday suit! Check out this one in Hokkaido . Just be careful if you have tattoos, because many onsens don’t allow them.

Go diving in Okinawa . While the northern Japanese islands have a tendency to be cold, Okinawa is located in a more tropical climate and lends itself to spectacular diving. You’ll love the underwater world of these islands!

Go Kart dressed as your favourite cartoon character . If you’ve ever played Mario Kart and wondered where in the world you could go and ride around a go-kart dressed up like Mario, Yoshi, Princess Peach or your other favourite characters, this is it.

Watch the cherry trees blossom . Japan has cornered the market in cherry tree blossoms. This is so much so that every year thousands of people participate in cherry blossom festivals as the trees unload their dazzling colour across the country. If you visit Japan in spring be sure not to miss out! This particular tour is incredible as a day trip from Tokyo .

Hike with monkeys . If you enjoy hiking AND monkeys then the 30-minute hike outside of Kyoto is for you! But if you just prefer to hike and don’t want anything to do with monkeys, there are plenty of other great trails to hike in Japan!



There are plenty of amazing places to visit in Japan. Depending on your interests, trip duration and time of year you will find plenty of things to do during any length of stay. 

Tokyo Tower, Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s capital and a city full of awesome things to do !

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A city where ultra-modern meets ancient and you can do just about anything you can imagine.

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A magical place to explore Japan’s rich culture and history .

Yokohama Day Trip

The second-largest Japanese city, home to a massive Chinatown and plenty of activities to keep you busy!

For more information on specific things to do in the top places to visit in Japan, reference our following city travel guides: 


Travelling In Japan


Depending on whether you are starting from scratch or have a general idea of what kind of things you would like to see and do, we’ve put together a few itineraries that are sure to leave you wanting for nothing at the end of your visit. 

There are so many amazing things to do in Japan that planning an itinerary for your travel can be a little overwhelming. 

In this section, we’ll not only help you plan a 1-, 2-, or 3-week Japan itinerary but also give you an overview of many of the places you might want to consider visiting and things you may want to do. 

Of course, no one-size-fits-all plan will suffice. But if we were to head back to Japan these are the top places and things that we would want to do! 


3-Week Japan Travel Itinerary Highlights

Even with a country that seems as small as Japan, three weeks is hardly enough time to get started in seeing it all! 

However, with three weeks you can have a really nice time both spending more time in places many people only glance by as well as visiting some places that most people don’t see when they visit Japan.

Here’s an overview of how we’d spend 3 weeks in Japan. 

2-Week Japan Travel Itinerary Highlights

With two weeks to travel to Japan, you are going to have to cut out some of the nicer places you could see with an extra week or two. 

But the good news is you are still going to see and do a lot while you are here! 

This is an idea of how we’d spend 2 weeks in Japan. 

1-Week Japan Travel Itinerary Highlights

If you only have 1 week to visit Japan, don’t worry it is definitely worth your time. Of course, you’re going to have to pick and choose where you go and what you do much differently than if you had more time. 

And you likely won’t want to spend all of your time travelling from one island to the next. 

So if we had just 1 week in Japan, this is how we’d spend it. 


You’re well on your way to becoming an expert when it comes to travel to Japan! Now we’ll fill you in on the rest.

Best Time to Visit Japan

There really is no best or worst time to visit Japan. The timing of your trip all depends on what you want to see and do and how willing you are to share your Japan travel experience with other travellers. 

Across the country sakura (cherry blossom) season in Spring is one of the most popular times to visit. But it happens at different times across the country due to the differences in climate from north to south along the island chain.

Another less popular, but no less stunning, time to visit is Autumn as the leaves begin to change colour.

Whilst this doesn’t quite bring in the crowds like sakura season does, the sheer array of colours on display is absolutely stunning, particularly on Japan’s most northerly island, Hokkaido. 

Summer brings sweltering temperatures and typhoons in the south. However, Japan is extremely well prepared for such events. As such is still possible to travel to Japan during this of year. 

Winter brings some of the world’s best skiing on Hokkaido as snow makes some roads and hiking trails impassable. However, this is also the best time to see the famous ice flows close to the Shiretoko National Park.

And, of course, it’s a great time to shred some powder if you’re looking for some world-class slopes! 

Japan Travel Budget Guideline

Japan has an unfair reputation for being incredibly expensive. And whilst you could easily empty your bank account in a short time, it is possible to travel in Japan for less money than you think.

Budgeting Tips

To make your money go further here are a few tips: 

1. Purchase the rail pass you need. There are a huge number of different types of rail passes available in Japan. This is your one-stop-shop for a variety of rail passes. 

2. Take advantage of low-cost internal flights. You can fly affordably between most major cities.  

3. Utilise convenience stores for finding cheap and delicious eats. 

4. Japan has an extensive and reliable night bus service. Use it to save on travel and hotel fees. 

5. Limit your alcohol intake, it’s surprisingly expensive. 1 beer = 500-600 yen (USD$5-$6).

6. Check the subway passes available in the city in which you’re staying and purchase the rail pass you need.


But there are a few things you should know about the different budgets at which you can choose to travel.

Note: Budgets shown as Single Traveller / Couples per day. 

Budget Traveller ($50-60 Single / $80-110 Couples)

Hostels are the best options for single budget travellers. However, if travelling as a couple it’s often cheaper to get a private room. 

There are plenty of awesome free things to do all over Japan. You will need to think outside the box and do your research but it is very possible to travel in Japan on a budget like this.

Your meals will likely come from low-cost restaurants and corner stores. And you’re likely going to spend a fair amount of time walking and taking public transportation. 

Mid-Range Traveller ($60-100 Single / $120-180 Couple)

Whilst you may not get much of an upgrade on the accommodation front, travelling in this budget range will put you in the position to possibly rent a car to explore parts of Japan that are more difficult to reach. 

In addition, you may be able to spend more time eating in some funky izakayas and sushi restaurants and participate in a few formal tours. 

Luxury Traveller ($250+ Single / $400+ Couple)

Luxury hotels and fancy restaurants are the order of the day here. If money is no object then travelling in Japan can extremely luxurious! 

For instance, you can stay in beautiful ryokans instead of hostels or hotels. And you can order a variety of different meals to enjoy while dining at some of the finer restaurants. 

Of course, you’ll also be able to do more by way of renting a car and/or joining up on a variety of different tour groups to keep your itinerary completely packed. 

Getting To and Around Japan

Japan is an island nation, thus travelling to Japan is limited to only air or water transportation.

The majority of International Flights will take you to Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda Airport’s or Osaka International Airport. From there you will connect, as necessary, to other Japanese destinations.

Entry Requirements

Visa requirements for Japan are very straightforward.

Most travellers are visa-free and can stay for 15, 30 or 90 days depending on their nationality. For information about which countries are granted visa-free access click here.

Getting Around Japan

Travelling in Japan is both easy and convenient. 

The public transport network is wide-ranging and extremely reliable. And compared to many places in the world, it can also be quite affordable. 

Additionally, hiring a car is both easy and safe. 

Travelling by Air

Japan has an excellent domestic air travel network. There are two passes run by JAL and ANA that will allow you to take domestic flights for around $100.

The price can sometimes vary depending on where your origin and destinations. 

If you plan this effectively with other transport options available it has the potential to make your visit to Japan even more convenient and affordable.  

Travelling by Car

Although the country is fairly well connected with both public and private transportation options, hiring a car is an excellent option for travelling in Japan.

The best part is that it is not as difficult as you may imagine. 

Driving in Japan is safe and easy. For Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, a car is the best way to see most of each island’s most beautiful sights outside of the city centres. 

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Travelling by Bus

There are a number of bus companies operating in Japan. The biggest of these is Willer Bus Service.  

Not only are fares convenient and affordable, but they can also help you consolidate expenses if you travel at night. 

Combining overnight bus travel with a JR pass can save you a fortune as the difference in price between regional, 1 week national and 2-week national passes are huge. 

Travelling by Boat/Ferry

Often the only way to access some of Japans smaller islands, particularly in the Seto Inland Sea, is by boat or ferry. Japan boasts an excellent maritime transport network. 

Generally, ferries are affordable and in some cases, they are covered by a JR pass (the ferry to Miyajima being the most well-known example).

Naturally, the costs increase if you ferry a car or if you are taking a long-distance ferry.

Travelling by Train

Japan’s train network is simply incredible as it can take you from the north of Hokkaido to the south of Kyushu. 

But it can also be confusing as, like with a lot of things in Japan, there is a myriad of different options available to you. 


How to Maximise a JR Pass

Because your travel to Japan will very likely involve transportation on a JR line at some point, we’ve put together a few tips to help you plan your JR Pass use accordingly. 

  • Download Hyperdia – This amazing app allows to research train times and more importantly prices. Currently, it is free to use for 3 months (after that you will need to pay). You can work out which JR pass is the best financial option. Do note that the seat fare (sometimes two-thirds of the cost) is not optional, you will need to pay it.
  • You don’t need a rail pass for your entire time. Some people may be visiting Japan for 2 weeks and will buy a 2 week nationwide JR pass. You are likely not going to be using the train every day and it’s likely you will pay more than you need to. 
  • Activate your JR pass at the right time. To activate you pass you will need to go to the station and inform them of when you want to activate it. Make sure you activate it when you really need it so you can get the most out of it.
  • Check out the regional passes. There are numerous regional passes available that are much cheaper, but they cover a smaller area and don’t last as long. However, they can be a fantastic option. Combining such passes with night bus services can save you plenty of money. 

Apps and Technology

Japan is definitely well connected when it comes to technology.

When you visit Japan you are likely going to want to remain connected to the outside world as well as take advantage of mobile apps that make travelling through Japan a little easier. 

Here are a few we think you should definitely acquaint yourself with prior to your travels:

  • Hyperdia – Hyperdia is the premiere app for helping you to understand the transportation system in Japan. Find the right rail line, station and even schedules to help navigate what could otherwise be a complicated transportation system. 
  • XE Currency – Transfer, monitor and calculate currency as the need arises. This app may not be totally necessary as you are typically tied into rates the banks charge for services. But it is handy to have around. 
  • Express VPN – This will protect your sensitive information wherever you travel – not just in Japan. Be sure to have this to keep your online information secure as you travel. 
  • GuruNavi – This app will help you to find food options in whatever prefecture you happen to be at the moment. You can search through different types of cuisine as well as to filter your selections for things like English-speaking staff and WiFi availability. 
  • Google Translate – Even if you don’t know more than a handful of Japanese words, iTranslate will help you communicate as you travel in Japan. 

Best Things to Eat in Japan

Japanese cuisine is justifiably one of the worlds popular. It focuses heavily on high-quality ingredients and as a result portion sizes are smaller than you may expect.

Although fried dishes are common in Japanese cuisine, Japan has the lowest rate of childhood and adult obesity amongst the OECD nations.

This is down to a mixture of smaller portions and a culture that promotes restraint and health.

Yakiniku: Japanese BBQ. These restaurants can be found all over Japan, and it is very rare that they are anything other than delicious. Many offer time based all you can eat/drink deals. Look out for the characters 放题 as they usually don’t advertise this in any language other than Japanese. 

Katsu Curry: Fried chicken or pork cutlets smothered in Japanese curry. Heaven on a plate. 

Kushikatsu: All manner of meat and veg skewered and deep-fried. 

Sushi and Sashimi: This can go from cheap to eye-watering expensive. Conveyor belt sushi restaurants offer the cheapest prices. Be brave and try delicacies like sea urchin, horse or chicken sashimi.

Sukiyaki: Meat and vegetables cooked in a hot pot with a small amount of water and soy sauce. 

Ramen: The nations most popular noodle dish, often an excellent budget option. 

Gyoza: Pan-fried dumplings, often filled with pork. 

There is certainly much more available than this, but hopefully this gives you a quick overview. 

Convenience Stores: For budget eating options convenience stores like lawsons, family mart and 7-11 are often an excellent option for a cheap and hearty meal! 

Izakaya : No mention of eating in Japan would be complete without mentioning Japan’s most famous eating places; the Izakaya (居酒屋).

An izakaya is a Japanese pub that is generally a place where friends, colleagues and family members will go to eat, drink and chat. 

The huge menus consist of small plates that are shared amongst the group. Expect to find sashimi, yakitori, cold dishes, salads, fried dishes and desserts.


Japan has a huge range of accommodation options. The most obvious difference is whether it’s a Japanese or western style room.

In Japanese style rooms, you will be sleeping on tatami mats on the floor, which are actually incredibly comfortable.

This option is far more common outside of popular tourist destinations. Western-style rooms have regular beds. 

Many single rooms in hostels, guesthouses or hotels will have bunk beds to fit more people. This will usually be stated when booking.

It is not always the most romantic option but it does help you get more bang for your buck. 

Types of Accommodations

Whilst hostels exist in Japan, they are not as cheap South East Asia. There is a reasonably good hostel network throughout Japan. But hostels are not as common or widespread as in other popular travel destinations.

If travelling in Japan as a couple or pair, a hotel room is often cheaper than 2 beds in a dorm. It’s always worth comparing, hostels are not always the cheapest option when there’s more than one of you. 

Western-Style Hotels

These will be the traditional hotels that you would find in most places in the world.

They include major Japanese and international brands and are more common in larger cities.

You can expect amenities and comfort similar to those you’d find in other destinations. 

Capsule Hotels

A unique way to spend a night or two in Japan is in a capsule hotel. As the name suggests, these are small enclosed spaces usually only large enough for a bed.

Sometimes you will have a television and a small storage space. But more often you can expect to have to stash your gear in a locker. You’ll also, obviously, be using shared restrooms. 

Traditional Japanese Ryokans offer luxurious stays in often gorgeous accommodation and locations. However, they can sometimes be very expensive.

It’s not uncommon for Ryokans to have an onsen. But if you want an authentic Japanese overnight experience you won’t find anything that surpasses a stay in a Ryokan.

Another good option in recent years is AirBnB, and there are more and more amazing places popping up to stay for very affordable prices every day.

As is typical in many destinations where Airbnb accommodations are popping up, you’ll likely find great value and a little more personal space with an Airbnb stay. 

If you’re looking for an awesome place to stay in Port Stephens, we personally love using Airbnb. If you’ve never used the platform before, sign up using this link to get USD$35 off your first booking .

Onsen Hotels

Last, but by no means least; Onsen Hotels. In short, these are hotels that have an onsen attached.

They cover a wide variety of budgets but often they are not the cheapest options available.

However, the luxury of being able to have an onsen whenever you want is well worth it. 

Just note that with onsens there are some basic rules to follow. These will often clearly displayed, but here they are:

  • You must be completely naked – no bathing suits. Leave awkward at the door, with your clothes. 
  • Do not put your towel into the onsen water. Most people wrap it around their head.
  • Shower before you enter the onsen, taking care to splash others with your shower water.

Or, if you’d like to check out a few options on your own here are a few resources to get you started!


Travelling in Japan can definitely be rewarding. But it can also be a bit of a headache – especially if your knowledge of the Japanese language and culture is limited. 

Further, not being prepared for adventure can hamper your optimism as well.

Imagine you’re all set for your day of walking around majestic Kyoto and you failed to pack an umbrella or raincoat. 

Of course, you have your own reasons for travelling to Japan. So likely you know whether you plan to dive in Okinawa or climb Mt. Fuji. 

But for everything else in your journey, let us remind you of a few travel tips for Japan to make your adventure safer, more enjoyable and more affordable. 

General Japan Travel Tips 

While there are many basic travel tips we suggest you use when travelling to Japan, there are also plenty of Japanese-specific tips that will make your visit the best it can be. 

Here are a few we recommend you consider as you plan your trip to visit Japan: 

1. Research Cultural Norms and Behaviour

Japan is a country with a very strong national identity and behaviour. Breaking these behavioural norms is most definitely frowned upon. 

Here are a few basic Japanese cultural expectations:

  • Do not talk loudly or answer your phone on the subway, bus or train. 
  • Do not eat on the above. 
  • Walking and eating are sometimes frowned upon. 
  • Stand on the left-hand side of an escalator. 
  • Follow the rules in an onsen.
  • Do not litter – Japan is immaculately clean. 

If you’re not sure if something is ok, just ask.

Many Japanese people know that foreigners are unlikely to be aware of Japanese norms and expectations and will be happy to help you. 

2. Eat, Eat, Eat.

Japanese food tastes so much better in Japan. Take the opportunity to try things that you are very unlikely to find in your home country. 

3. International Drivers Permit

If you plan on renting a car in Japan you MUST have this document.

Without it not only will you be unable to rent a car, but you also will not be given a refund if you have already paid. 

4. Take your own chopsticks

Single-use chopsticks are the norm in Japan. Take your own and do a little bit for the planet. 

5. Do your research

A bit of planning and research does make a real difference, especially for utilising public transport. Getting a handle on this will leave you in the best place to get the most out of your trip. 

6. Show respect and places of worship:

All temples and shrines will have rules and guidelines clearly displayed in English or with pictures, yet some people are still not able to understand them. Don’t be one of those travellers that give everyone else a bad name. 

7. Remove your shoes

This is common everywhere in Japan. In some cases, you may need to remove them before entering the lobby of a hotel.

However, it is more common that you are expected to leave your shoes in the coves next to the door of your hotel room. This is especially common in more traditional Japanese hotels. 

8. Embrace Japanese toilets

The gadgets available in Japanese bathrooms are the stuff of legend. Soft music can be played so no-one can hear you doing your business, seats can be warmed on cold winter mornings and the variety of spray options will leave you feeling as clean as a whistle. 

Japan Packing List

We always travel with a core packing list wherever we go. And when it comes to Japan, many factors will affect what else you need to bring along with you. 

Check out our travel essentials and be sure to add any of the other additional items listed below. 

Staying Safe In Japan

Japan is a relatively safe country in which to travel.

Clearly you should always practice some basic safety guidelines no matter where in the world you travel. 

  • Keep copies of your passport and financial documents in the event they are lost or stolen. 
  • Don’t be flashy with expensive items or cash. You’re not very likely to be targeted as a tourist in Japan. But this would surely set you apart. 
  • Avoid travelling alone at night. Call a taxi or Uber in advance and wait inside the venue until it arrives. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings, particularly if you’ve had a night out drinking. 
  • Keep your personal items close. Pickpocketing is about as bad as you can expect in Japan, so make sure your purse, wallet and phone, etc are secure particularly when travelling in crowded public transportation.

We won’t bore you with a more extensive list. Unless this is your first trip out of your home country you’ll be better off when you travel in Japan than many other places in the world. 

If this is your first trip, congratulations!

If you practice many of the same common-sense habits you would at home, then you’ll be quite safe and enjoy your time in Japan. 

Staying Connected in Japan

Japan is an ultra-modern country, particularly when it comes to technology. Thus staying connected when you travel to Japan will be no issue. 

Of course, like any place in the world, the further you go away from metropolitan areas the more you can expect slow to no-service in areas. 

For phone and data service, first check with your local cellular carrier to determine if your current plan will cover you when you travel to Japan.

In many cases, carriers have expanded their international coverage to popular places such as Japan. 

If not, they will likely have a very expensive option for you to purchase on a daily/weekly basis.

We feel like your money will go a lot further if you consider a few other options. 

Purchase a SIM Card

First and foremost is to pick up a local SIM card upon arrival in Japan. You will need to make sure that your device is unlocked before you can switch SIM cards.

However, this will be a reasonably inexpensive and fairly common way to access Japanese cellular networks without paying outrageous international travelling fees through your home carrier. 

Rent a Portable WiFi Device

A second option would be to rent a portable WiFi device that will allow you a certain amount of data/service over a set period of time.

These are relatively affordable compared to most cellular plans’ international options.

You’ll typically have to pick these up from central locations such as the airport or train station. But it’s likely you’ll be passing through here anyway. 

Access Free WiFI

And finally, you could always just ensure that your device is on aeroplane mode and then hop from one WiFi hotspot to another.

Plenty of places in the towns and cities you will visit will offer WiFi.

From restaurants, hotels, railway and train stations and even some public spaces, you’ll find many venues that will cater to your need to stay connected. 

Be a Responsible Traveller in Japan

Being a responsible traveller in Japan is important on many levels.

First, you represent yourself wherever you travel.

Nobody likes a jerk – especially people minding their own business in their own country.

Taking the time to learn about Japanese customs and culture will help you understand how you can be more responsible when you travel to the country. 

Second, you represent your home country and other travellers. If you act or say things that reflect poorly on yourself while travelling in Japan then these actions also reflect poorly on other travellers.

While stereotypes suck – the truth is that most people form opinions based on first experiences. So let’s try to make your interactions with others positive while travelling in Japan.

Additionally, the resources of the world are limited.

Even though you might have certain customs or routines back in your home country does not mean you need to extend them when you travel to Japan.

For instance, carrying a reusable water bottle is loads more responsible as a traveller – although you may not think twice about using disposable bottles back home. 

Key Japanese Travel Phrases

You don’t have to be fluent in Japanese to have a great time when you travel to Japan. But it does help to know a few key phrases.

This will not only assist you in your travels but it will also show respect to the local Japanese people that you are doing your best to assimilate into their culture. 

Books To Read About Japan

Maybe you already know everything about Japan. Chances are you don’t!

But even if you are well-read, here are a few suggestions that might be worth your time while you’re on the plane to Japan. 

A Geek in Japan . A fascinating read that takes you into the heart of understanding Japanese culture. This is a top pick among most Japan travellers.

Memoirs of a Geisha . Perhaps the. most well-known book in recent times thanks to its popularity as a movie. The historical fiction follows the story of a young woman thrust into the life of a geisha.

Rice Noodle Fish . A creative way of exploring Japan from a culinary standpoint. Tantalizing pictures of delicious food accompanies the personal story and in-depth information about some of Japan’s best eats.

Hokkaido Highway Blues . Follow a hilarious and entertaining journey by the author to traverse Japan in stride with the cherry blossoms. Meet a cross-section of Japanese culture through the lens of the author.


I know, I know – we’ve already mentioned these resources a bunch in this travel guide.

But here’s the thing… we know you’re going to want and need these resources to help you save money and have a more enjoyable trip! 

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travel guide to japan

Japan travel guide

Where to stay, don't miss.

  • When to visit

travel guide to japan

Jamie Lafferty

Destination Expert

Thursday July 6 2023, 05:58am

Why you'll love it

This article contains links from which we may earn revenue. More information here .

Few countries get people dreaming quite like Japan. Despite the weight of these monumental expectations, it really doesn’t disappoint. From the buzz of its cities to its temples and shrines, its eruptions of cherry blossom to its soothing hot springs, the country offers a feast for every one of your senses. Having been closed off to tourists for more than 200 years, Japan evolved differently from other countries. This singular approach to life is what differentiates it today, and what allowed it to go from near-isolation to creating the bullet train in just under a century.

Today, Japanese culture and inventions are found around the world, but it doesn’t take long to realise that not everything has been exported. Expect to encounter food, traditions and whole cities that you’ve never heard of, alongside more familiar evergreen destinations such as Kyoto and Tokyo. Japan has everything you could hope for, yet far more than you could ever imagine.

Main photo: a pagoda overlooking Mount Fuji (Getty Images)

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travel guide to japan

The much-touted Golden Route from Tokyo to Kyoto is popular for a reason — there’s no better introduction to Japan for a first-timer than riding the bullet train (shinkansen) from the country’s futuristic capital to some of its most spectacular natural and architectural highlights.

With four times more people than London, Tokyo caters to everyone, with options from its unashamedly peculiar maid cafés and ramen joints to Michelin-starred sushi. Around the coast, mighty Mount Fuji is a common stop on the route west, while the ancient capital at Nara is a spectacular Unesco world heritage site famous for its deer herds as well as its colossal, centuries-old wooden temples.

The gritty party city of Osaka comes next, offering Japan’s best nightlife after a day spent exploring the dozens of temples and shrines in nearby pristine Kyoto . From there it’s only a short hop to Kobe, home of the renowned beef, and Himeji, arguably the finest castle in the country.

Explore further afield and it soon becomes clearer that Japan is not a small country. You’ll find varied landscapes with active volcanoes on Kyushu, tropical islands in Okinawa, and skiing on Hokkaido. The Golden Route may feel unmissable, but it’s only one coast on the largest of Japan’s nearly 7,000 islands .

Almost every hotelier in the world has representation in Japan these days, with several luxe brands such as Conrad and Aman saving their very best iterations for Osaka and Tokyo respectively.

While those hotels certainly won’t come cheap, if money isn’t an obstacle then seek out a high-end Japanese-owned property. Establishments such as Gora Kadan in Hakone, near Mount Fuji, have been converted from imperial summer houses to fantastical luxury accommodation. Unapologetically Japanese, these can be rich in tradition and offer the unique experience that is the extensive, regal kaiseki dinner.

For those with a more conservative budget, humble ryokans are found nationwide. These inns often provide hyper-local experiences, with elaborate meals and access to hot-spring baths, known as onsens. Nights are spent sleeping on futons on tatami mat floors and, while they might not be the most comfortable for the uninitiated, staying at least one night is a rite of passage.

For those with a more conservative budget, humble ryokans are found nationwide

If you are looking for something smaller and more budget-friendly, Japan is the pioneer of the business hotel; think a Travelodge or Premier Inn, but with less than half the space. You’ll find Toyoko Inn and Daiwa Roynet are ubiquitous across the country.

Want something smaller still? Larger cities still operate the famous capsule hotels, where guests stay in a space not much larger than a coffin. It goes without saying that claustrophobics need not apply.

To get you started, here’s our collection of the best hotels in Tokyo , Osaka and Kyoto .

While Tokyo offers a vision of Japan’s future and Kyoto a crystallised encapsulation of its past, nowhere helps visitors understand Japanese people as they are today better than Hiroshima.

It seems right that Unesco made the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park  one of its early Japanese inscriptions. After all, it was here that global warfare and politics changed forever on August 6, 1945, when the bomb known as Little Boy became the first nuclear weapon dropped on mankind.

Today, Hiroshima is a vibrant, buzzy city and, if they had not preserved the park as a memorial to that terrible day, there would be few clues about its dark past. The on-site museum is by turns fascinating and horrifying, but presented in admirably neutral prose, with testimony from survivors and explanations of the dreadful science behind it all.

Modern Hiroshima has some of the best street food in the country

The memorial and museum would be reason enough to reach this corner of Honshu, but modern Hiroshima also has some of the best street food in the country, with its version of okonomiyaki (a sort of pancake) locked in an eternal battle for supremacy with the Osaka version. Tucking into plenty of both seems like a reasonable way to decide for yourself.

Meanwhile, just outside the city, the Itsukushima Shinto shrine is also on Unesco’s hallowed list — its huge vermillion torii gate standing in the Seto Inland Sea is officially regarded as one of the best views in Japan.

Travel around the country is made more affordable – and convenient – if you buy a Japan Rail Pass ahead of visiting (they cannot be purchased in the country), which will allow you to enjoy unlimited travel on the majority of Japan’s cross-country trains. There are three different options to choose between: a seven, 14 or 21-day pass and you’ll quickly make your money back if you’re planning on visiting multiple cities on your trip. Book your pass well before you travel and then, upon arrival in Japan, get it validated at a ticket office – usually with green signage – at any of the major train stations. You can also reserve seats beside the luggage rails; essential if you’ve got a big suitcase.

Best time to visit

It all depends on what you plan to do in Japan. Cherry blossom season occurs in March and April, and is so popular for domestic travel that you’ll want to plan and book months ahead to secure accommodation. Peak summer months of July and August can be stiflingly hot, particularly in cities, and may therefore be unpleasant if you’re not used to the heat and humidity. For the peak spectrum of autumnal foliage, aim for October and November; temperatures should still be fairly mild. Skiers heading to the northern islands should aim for the winter months, while those heading south to Okinawa can enjoy balmy weather pretty much year-round.

Best time to visit Japan

Is it easy to visit Mount Fuji? Remarkably so. Go during the official climbing season, which runs from July to September. The majority of hikers looking to summit at dawn stay overnight in spartan cabins on the volcano. Seeking less of a challenge? Take a bus to the end of the road and complete the climb in a single day.

How can I do Japan on a budget? In the past, travel to Japan was notoriously expensive, but the devaluing of the yen has made it more accessible. Street food and the remarkable, bizarre selections inside convenience stores can help you to save huge sums of money on meals.

Currency Yen

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Inspired to visit Japan but yet to book your trip? Here are the best packages from BA Holidays  and Expedia , as well as the best tours of Japan from our trusted partners .

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travel guide to japan

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Japan Travel Guide

Japan is indeed one of the most beautiful countries in the world, filled with a mix of everything. From the hustle and bustle of Tokyo down to the laid-back Okinawa, it’s a timeless country respecting the past while leading the way with advanced technology.

While you may find Japan exceedingly modern, you will find vast opportunities to connect with their fascinating traditional culture. From exploring Japan’s rich culinary scene to wandering through the majestic temples, you will never run out of things to do when visiting the beautiful country.

Discover some tips and the 15 must-do’s with our ultimate Japan travel guide, where you can find out what to do, where to eat, and the best hotels to stay in on any budget!

Japan Travel Guide


Besides planning where to go and which activities to do, what else do you need to know before taking your vacation in Japan? Here are a few tips and practical information to make your trip hassle-free:

1. Bring cash  

Japan is a mostly cash-based society so bring all the cash you can and also ways to get more. Bring a coin purse as well, since everything below 500 yen is coins.

2. Learn Japanese

Learn Japanese, especially the phrase “Do you speak English?” for better communication. People in major tourist attractions or public transportation areas are where you can find help in answering your queries.

3. Get a stable Internet connection

Getting Japan wifi for tourists is essential to avoid getting lost. Through a stable Internet connection, you can make calls, translate Japanese, check maps, and research about the areas you plan to visit.

4. Save money when touring around

To save money venturing out of Tokyo, we recommend that you get a Japan Rail Pass. If you want to save up on meals, have your biggest meal during lunch, which are more affordable and come in big servings.   Make sure that you track your expenses as well, which also keeps you aware of how much you spend.


1. see the beautiful and blooming cherry blossoms of tokyo  .

Japan Travel Guide

One of the most popular sights are the cherry blossoms that bloom during the spring. These soft pink petals are an icon of Japan, with their blooming being one of the most-awaited times for tourists and locals alike. Once these perfect pink blooms appear, you will find many indulging in “hanami,” which translates to “looking at flowers.”

When in Tokyo, it’s best to visit the cherry blossoms between late March and early April. The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the perfect areas to try hanami, with over a thousand cherry trees blossoming!

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Tokyo

After a quaint afternoon with the cherry blossoms, enjoy a filling meal at quality Sushi joint Sushi No Midori . Take note that it’s very popular, so make reservations in advance and avoid peak times (around 12NN and 7 PM).

Wondering where to stay? Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo is a must for its luxurious amenities and pleasant staff. This 5-star hotel has the comfortable rooms and suites that aim to impress.

If you are on a budget, then the Remm Hibiya is an excellent choice. Located conveniently near train stations and with nearby restaurants, they have one of the best hotel deals in Tokyo.


The tokyo edition, toranomon.

Instagram: @toranomonedition Address: 4 Chome-1-1 Toranomon, Minato City, Tokyo 105-0001, Japan

The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon, located in the upscale Toranomon district, offers breathtaking vistas of Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Bay. The lobby, masterfully crafted by Kengo Kuma, serves as a lush green oasis, providing a welcome escape from the bustling streets. The guest rooms provide a sanctuary of comfort with iconic skyline panoramas and the Japanese breakfast served in the hotel’s restaurant is a culinary highlight. For those in search of luxury with a distinctive Japanese flair and an unparalleled view of Tokyo’s splendour, The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon, is a hidden gem not to be missed.

Japan travel guide

2. Eat your way through the Nishiki Market in Kyoto

Japan Travel Guide

If you’re looking for an absolute feast in Kyoto, then look no further! The Nishiki Market is a 400-year-old local food market with a smorgasbord of delicious eats that range from national food traditions down to modern fusions of all over the world. The market is also known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” because you can find top chefs and home cooks visiting to find local ingredients and culinary items.  

It’s a feast where you can try free samples or spend merely a few hundred yen to get your taste buds excited. You can even book a guided tour to get a lot more information and avoid overpaying for food or samples.

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Kyoto

If you’re wondering where to stay in Kyoto, then Hotel Kanra Kyoto is an absolute dream. With its modern Japanese style architecture, you get luxury fused with a touch of tradition.

On a budget? No problem! The Toyoko Inn Kyoto Gojo-Karasuma offers excellent value and is located near subway stations and downtown shopping districts. While the rooms are small, it has many features to take advantage of.


Mimaru suites kyoto central.

Instagram: @mimaruhotels Address: 154-3,Nagahama-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 604-8201

Strategically situated just a 3 minute walk to Karasuma Oike Station, this hotel serves as an ideal hub for exploring the captivating city of Kyoto. It boasts generously spacious and tastefully designed rooms, exuding an authentic Japanese minimalist aesthetic that fosters a tranquil ambiance. The presence of a well-equipped kitchen in each suite significantly enhances convenience, particularly for those who prefer self-catering, and the availability of laundry facilities further elevates the guest experience.

Insider Tip: MIMARU offers a total of seven conveniently located establishments in Kyoto, each boasting its unique charm and character.

Japan travel guide

3. Have a canyoning adventure in Minakami

japan travel guide

For the adventurous souls who are always up for something new head to Minakami, offering bigger thrills outside the bustling city life. Known as one of the most significant canyoning destinations worldwide, you can find many tours in Minakami offering new experiences. There are numerous canyoning courses to choose from, depending on the thrill level you want.

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Minakami

Once you’ve completed the challenge (and burned quite a few calories!), head on to Tenmaru , a soba and tempura restaurant with delicate soba noodles and tempura with perfect crispness.  

Looking for a place to stay? The Hoshi Onsen Chojukan is the perfect Ryokan to stay in. You’ll get to experience traditional Japanese accommodation and feel like you went back in time without foregoing luxury and comfort. Families and travellers looking for a sense of calm after canyoning will appreciate what the Ryokan has to offer.

Another excellent choice is the Hotel Yunojin , a budget Ryokan ideal for backpackers and groups of friends. There are also relaxing amenities and a restaurant serving up sumptuous meals.

4. Pay your respects at the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima  

Japan Travel Guide

The name Itsukushima means the “island of worship.” Also known as Miyajima, or “shrine island” in Japanese, the shrine is best known for their floating torii gate. Both the shrine and gate were built over water, which seems like it floats in the sea during the high tide season.  

You will find majestic views when you enter the shrine complex, which consists of buildings a prayer and main hall, as well as a theatre stage.  

A unique way to experience the shrine is by standup paddle board tours, which you can book online . While you cannot enter the shrine after sunset, you can still enjoy its illuminated island via boat cruises.  

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Hiroshima

Head on to the Guttsuri-an for the ultimate Japanese dining experience. Though a hole-in-the-wall, this hidden gem has a lovely atmosphere and deliciously fresh food to choose from.

When looking for places to stay, the Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel is an ideal choice with luxury and convenience in mind. It’s a one-minute walk from the Hiroshima Station, with the world-class rooms to ensure comfort and a fantastic experience.

The Candeo Hotels Fukuyama is also another excellent choice for those who are on a budget. Less than a kilometre from the city centre, you also get a relaxing room with free internet, a public bath on the rooftop, and flat-screen TVs!

5. Learn all about Japan’s famous beer in the Sapporo Beer Museum  

Japan Travel Guide

Hokkaido is the home of beer in Japan, with Sapporo beer brewed in the area for over a century now. It’s the oldest and most popular beer in the country. In fact, it’s so popular that they opened up their own (and the only) beer museum in Japan.

The Sapporo Beer Museum shows the history of beer in Japan, as well as how the beer-making process is done. And for a small fee, you can taste test the beer to learn more about the differences and distinguish the flavors based on what you learned from the tour.

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Sapporo

You’ll find the Sapporo Beer Garden next to the museum, which consists of some restaurants and beer halls. One of the best choices would be the Kessel Hall, the largest dining hall with the best atmosphere because of its giant brew kettle. The rare lamb and unlimited beer will surely entice.

For luxury accommodation, the Karaksa Hotel offers one of the most comfortable rooms with a modern style but the natural atmosphere. Its minimalistic design will calm your mind.

When on a budget, the Jr Inn Hotel is another excellent choice. Though it comes at an affordable rate, you’ll be surprised that it has impressive amenities and clean rooms.

6. Take in the fantastic views from the Naminoue-gu Shrine in Naha  

Japan travel guide

Naminoue stands for “above the waves,” and the Naminoue-gu Shrine has its buildings perched on a cliff above the beach and sea. This is why you are above the ways, seeing the wondrous views beneath you when visiting. It was once a sacred place of the Ruyuku Islands, dedicated to the source of all life in Okinawan mythology.

The main temple is beautiful and serene, a fantastic way to spend a quiet afternoon from the busy cities of Japan!

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Naha

If you’re looking for a filling and satisfying meal in Naha, Shuri Soba will surpass expectations. Here they serve fresh homemade Okinawa soba, which is made every four in the morning and matching with the transparent dash soup. It’s famous for locals as well, to the point that they may close because they run out of stock!

For accommodation, Hyatt Regency Naha gives you the superb experience with its dark and intimate setting. Close to the shopping streets and restaurants, this fabulous hotel will surely please any traveler.  

Hotel New Okinawa is also an excellent choice for those on a budget, as it’s located in the heart of Naha.

7. Delve into the deep waters in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan  

Japan Travel Guide

Whether you’re with your family or friends, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is an absolute must-see. It’s known as one of the largest aquariums all over the world with the exciting attractions. You start the tour on the 8th floor, working your way down to the 15 tanks until you reach the main attraction, a lovely and healthy whale shark.

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Osaka

Tokisushi is a must-try when in Osaka, a small and friendly sushi bar made with fresh and quality ingredients. All sushi and its seafood are personally picked by the chef, with the right amount of fat from the fish.

When wondering where to stay in Osaka, The St. Regis Osaka Hotel is an absolute stunner. It’s a five-star hotel with majestic views of the city, with the excellent quality furniture and comfortable beds. You are also welcomed to the high-ceilinged lobby with well-trained staff for the ultimate experience.

If you are on a budget, an affordable choice (with value in mind) is the Guest House Neko Neko . It’s a dormitory-style lodge, which is a seven-minute walk away from the nearest train station. You can also have private rooms with free Wi-Fi and usage of bikes!


Mimaru osaka shinsaibashi west.

Instagram: @mimaruhotels Address: 1-24-1 Shinmachi, Nishi-ku, Osaka 550-0013

MIMARU Osaka Shinsaibashi West provides a delightful and culturally immersive experience for travellers exploring Osaka, boasting spacious rooms designed with authentic Japanese aesthetics. Conveniently situated near attractions like Shinsaibashi Shopping Street, Dotonbori and a plethora of delicious food, the hotel simplifies city exploration by being positioned next to nearby subway stations. The well-equipped in-room kitchens enable culinary adventures, and overall a harmonious blend of comfort, culture, and convenience.

Insider tip: MIMARU offers a total of five conveniently located establishments in Osaka, each with its unique character.

Japan travel guide

8. Capture the breathtaking views at the Yamakazi River in Nagoya

Japan Travel Guide

One of the most popular sights in Nagoya is the Yamazaki River, which is known as a “dankei.” What’s makes the river unique is that it connotes a valley, with an area where the trees would slope and cover the stream flow. Many people visit the river for the row of cherry blossom trees, indeed a picturesque sight!

It’s a must-see especially when the trees are in full bloom. Quiet and serene, it takes you away from the usual parks in more popular cities.  

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Nagoya

If you’re hankering for good Tonkatsu, then the Miso Katsu is Nagoya’s number one specialty. It’s the thick miso sauce that makes Nagoya’s version different from the rest. With the tinge of sweetness to balance out the rich and earthy flavours, you will surely want to have seconds!

The Hilton Nagoya is an incredible place to stay when in the area. It’s effortless to go around as it’s in the center of the city. The elegant rooms are also perfect to unwind in after a busy day of sightseeing!

Though a bit farther from the city center, the Daiwa Roynet Nagoya Taiko dori Side is an inexpensive choice for accommodation. You have cozy rooms, free internet connection, as well as a sumptuous breakfast to wake up to.

9. Have a relaxing bath in one of the Onsen hot tubs

Japan Travel Guide

What’s fantastic about Fukuoka is that they have a wide selection of hot spring baths. There are a variety of hotels that offer spas and public baths, which provide the relaxing time that you deserve. Enjoy a cleansing, calming bath by yourself, with your partner, or even your whole family!

In Niseko, Onsens are abundant and with the quality hot springs where you can immerse yourself in. There are many choices of accommodation in Niseko, not only with the luxurious amenities but the fantastic and relaxing onsens you shouldn’t miss out on!

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Fukuoka

Whether you’re a local or tourist, the Yoshizuka Unagiya is one of the top restaurants to visit when in Fukuoka. They offer the excellent unagi, tender with a delicious sauce to match. Just prepare for the long queue!

The Nansuikaku offers one of the best accommodation in Fukuoka, boasting with outdoor and indoor hot springs. They have the chic furnishings and architecture to match its fabulous amenities.

The Obri VII Hakata is perfect for those on a budget. It has the bright and relaxing atmosphere that makes it nice to rest in after a long day. Plus, it’s very near modes of transportation.

10. Brace your fear of heights and head on to the Yokohama Landmark Tower  

Japan Travel guide

The Yokohama Landmark Tower is the second tallest building in Japan, almost 300 meters high. The structure offers one of the most majestic skylines of the city, particularly at night when all the lights are out. Below the observation floor on the 70th floor are a wide array of restaurants and shops where tourists can indulge in after taking their fear of heights to the next level!

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Yokohama

Head on to Chiso Kimura, a two-Michelin Star restaurant that makes it worth the walk from the Yokohama station. You have the quality sashimi filled with authentic flavours.  

The Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu is a five-star hotel located in the heart of Minato-Mirai. It has the spacious rooms with a balcony that features exquisite views. You also have six sumptuous dining options with an indoor pool and luxurious interiors.  

Backpackers and solo travellers on a budget will appreciate the Hotel&Hostel On The Marks Tokyo Kawasaki , which is near public transportation. You can choose between dormitory rooms, capsules, or private rooms. Small and cozy, it’s a cheap and clean area where you can meet new traveller friends.

11. Enjoy the waters at Lake Chuzenji in Nikko 102

japan travel guide

Located in Nikko, Lake Chuzenji is a scenic lake from the mountains. The lake was formed after the eruption of Nikko’s sacred volcano, Mount Nantai. You can book a day trip to the world heritage Nikko region and experience all the highlights in a day.

The lake’s shores are undeveloped and forested, where you can find various waterfalls to cool off in. The lake is best to visit during October when autumn colours begin to show. You can hike, ride on sightseeing boats, and enjoy the panoramic views.

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Nikko

When looking for authenticity and traditional Japanese cuisine in Nikko, Komekichi Kozushi will not disappoint. With the best sushi and exceptional service, you will have the absolute dining experience at moderate prices.

One of the best hotels to stay in when in Nikko is the Kanaya Hotel Kinugawa . It has the homey vibe and hot spring baths for the ultimate relaxing getaway. Your rooms will have an outdoor seating area that overlooks the Kinugawa River, a beauty to wake up to.

If you’re looking to save on accommodation without scrimping on comfort, the Hotel Plumm is a good deal. This is a Ryokan with a bright atmosphere with the spacious and clean rooms.

12. Go skiing in Niseko  

Japan Travel Guide

During the Christmas season, Niseko is the perfect destination for families and friends because of the fantastic slopes and mountains that make it ideal for skiing. Niseko is the biggest ski resort in Japan, made up of four areas. With the light powder snow and the spectacular views, you’ll surely have a fantastic time as you learn how to ski or snowboard.

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Niseko

When in Niseko, Abucha 2 is the perfect place for a warm bowl of hotpot. It’s one of the most popular restaurants in Upper Hirafu, so watch out for the lines.

Niseko is home to many lodges and estates for rent, with Aya Niseko being one of the newest luxury hotels available. With a wide variety of apartments and penthouses to choose from, you have the exceptional decor and the most comfortable rooms with sights to behold from the balcony.

For those on a budget, the Matthew Suites is an excellent choice, as it is only a five-minute walk from the ski resort. All rooms come with luxurious features without the high price, including flatscreen televisions, washing facilities, and a fully-equipped kitchenette.

You may also wish to check out our curation of the Best Villas in Niseko .

13. Burn calories and hike in Fuji, Shizuoka

japan travel guide

With various trails that lead to the fantastic views of the infamous mountain, adventurers and hikers will want to check this off their bucket list when in Japan. Just make sure to visit during the fall or winter season, as it can get particularly cloudy during the summer, blocking the views.

Recommended Hotels and Restaurants in Shizuoka

With authenticity in mind, you get the exquisite dishes in Hama no Kakiageya. The restaurant serves fresh seafood in the local family-friendly setting with unbeatable prices.

The Asaba located in Shizuoka is your ultimate luxury hotel with the wonderful amenities and rooms. They offer open-air baths and hot springs, as well as the traditionally-designed rooms to make it feel like you’re back in the past.

When on a budget, you have Hotel Ra Kuun , a cozy and comfortable hotel that boasts 24-hour spring baths and breathtaking views.  

14. Bike your way around trails in Japan  

japan travel guide

Mountain biking is a fantastic way to tour Japan. Not only can you use it as an alternative to the daily commute, but with numerous biking trails around mountain lakes and small villages, one can explore the breathtaking views in peace. The best areas to go mountain biking in Japan are in the Hakuba and Nagano region, with the scenic and relaxing trails.

Many companies offer mountain bikes for hire at affordable prices, as well as bike tours around specific areas in Japan to explore as a group.

15. Travel in the Shinkansen  

japan travel guide

One thing to appreciate about Japan’s bullet trains (known as “Shinkansen”) is that they are a commuter’s dream: Fast, clean, comfortable, and frequent. It’s a must-do even if you aren’t going anywhere specific in particular because of its bullet speed that can go as fast as 320km/hr! It can be quite expensive, so be sure to book online for the most cost effective way to experience the Shinkansen.

Wrapping It Up

Quite a few first-time visitors may find Japan intimidating from its prices and language barriers. However, there are ways on how to make your trip more affordable and pleasurable. The best way to make the most out of your time in Japan is with Klook experiences . It’s your one stop tour shop for just about everything you can do in Japan for the best price and convenience. One won’t need to spend thousands, nor should they fear to converse with the locals, as Japan is one of the most popular and tourist-friendly countries worldwide.

Do you have any suggestions or want to share your experiences on what to do when in Japan? Do comment down below; we would love to hear all about it!

Author’s Bio: This article was written by Tiffy, the founder for the Asiatravelbug.com , a travel blog that provides a quality and comfortable travel experience in Japan. With all the contents and information of this Japan travel guide, they hope you have an easy, effortless and wonderful trip to Japan.

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travel guide to japan


travel guide to japan


travel guide to japan


travel guide to japan

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Japan Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 15, 2023

an old temple in Japan surrounded by lush trees near a small lake

It was a lifelong dream to go there, and, when I finally did, it lived up to all my expectations. Since then, I’ve been there over five times and will probably keep going back. There’s just so much to do there, and I love the food and culture.

A lot of people delay or skip Japan, because they think it’s super expensive. And while some aspects of traveling there are expensive, there are plenty of ways to make it affordable. I was actually shocked how easy it was to see Japan on a budget .

This Japan travel guide can help you plan an affordable trip so you can see more, eat more, and spend less.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budgets
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Japan

Click here for City Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in japan.

Mount Fuji in the distance on a sunny day with a pagoda in the foreground in Japan

1. Explore Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the best cities in the world. Here you will find shrines, palaces, temples, hip clubs, fancy cocktail bars, weird fashion, and of course, incredible people. Tokyo is a fast paced, futuristic city. Be sure to also hit some of the quirky themed cafés, wander the Harajuku district, walk across the iconic Shibuya crossing, and admire the Imperial Palace. Visit my detailed guide for more information .

If you don’t want to explore alone, take a guided walking tour to get the lay of the land and connect with a local guide who can answer all your questions.

2. Wander Kyoto

Boasting beautiful temples and Japanese gardens, Kyoto is one of the most popular destinations in Japan. It retains much of the traditional lifestyle and is a good juxtaposition to fast-paced and high-tech Tokyo. See as many temples as possible , wander the bamboo forest (just get there early to beat the crowds), and eat your way through town.

3. See Hiroshima

In 1945, the first atomic bomb to be used in combat was detonated in Hiroshima . Around 80,000 people were killed instantly, and tens of thousands more died afterward due to radiation exposure. Visit the atomic bomb memorial and learn about one of the most controversial events of human history. The museum is sobering and eye-opening, but a must-see if you want to understand modern Japan. You can also take a cycling tour around the city to learn more about the bombing and its aftermath.

4. Climb Mount Fuji

This 3,776-meter (12,389-foot) mountain is located near Tokyo, and it makes for a worthy challenge. During the day, fog and clouds often cover the mountain, so ascents tend to happen early in the morning or overnight. But the lack of sleep is worth the jaw-dropping sunrise. Keep in mind that the climbing season is short, from early in July to mid-September. If you’re visiting outside of the climbing season or just don’t want to hike the mountain, there are many tour providers that offer day trips from Tokyo from around 12,000 JPY.

5. Visit Sapporo

The gateway to Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, this city is famous for its surrounding mountains, thermal baths, ski resorts, and lengthy beer brewing history. Hosting the 1972 Olympic Winter Games put the city on the international map, and it remains hugely popular for its cold-weather sports. It’s also home to the hugely popular Sapporo Snow Festival, where you can see world-class ice and snow sculptures each February (over two million people attend!). Don’t miss the Beer Museum, and be sure to take the train to the coastal town of Otaru for uni (which is harvested there).

Other Things to See and Do in Japan

1. visit the tsukiji and toyosu fish markets.

Tokyo’s fish markets start bright and early at 4am. Here you can see the frenzied buying and selling of the world’s largest tuna market. Tsukiji was the original market but, as of 2018, the inner fish market moved to Toyosu and is now known as the Toyosu Fish Market. However, the outer market (where you can find food and shops) is still in place at Tsukiji, of which you can take a guided tour to learn about its history, how it works, and even learn how to roll sushi in a workshop at the end.

2. Spend a day in Kyoto’s Gion District

Otherwise known as the Geisha District, this neighborhood is filled with fascinating historic architecture and is a good area for window shopping. Geishas (traditional professional entertainers) have worked here for centuries, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to spot one going to or from a social engagement at one of the establishments. (Just note that photographs are forbidden on the narrow alleys to prevent harassment of the geishas.) You can also take a nighttime walking tour .

3. Explore Nara

Located just one hour from Kyoto , Nara is famous for its 1,300 “wild” deer that freely roam Nara Park. The Japanese consider deer to be messengers of the gods, so they are free to roam the city (their horns are cut short, so they can’t hurt people). There are vendors selling crackers all around the park, so you can feed them by hand. While here, be sure to take in the world’s largest wooden building, Todai-ji, which dates to the eighth century and was reconstructed in the 1700s. Most travelers visit Nara as a day trip from Kyoto, but I suggest staying at least a night to really see everything.

4. See Osaka

Osaka is the third-largest city in Japan and its financial heart. It’s also a big foodie hub. Mouthwatering sushi and sashimi, Kobe beef, Japanese barbecue, and flavorful ramen can all be found here in abundance. There’s also popular specialties like okonomiyaki (a savory pancake with egg and vegetables) and kushikatsu (skewered kebabs). You can take a food tour for around 12,000 JPY or just wander and eat.

Beyond the food, don’t miss Osaka Castle. While it’s not the original (this version dates to 1931), it’s nevertheless an impressive sight. It’s home to a small but insightful museum and an observation deck that offers some picturesque city views.

6. Relax in Ueno Park

Established in 1873, Tokyo’s Ueno Park is a great place to spend the day for free. Pack a lunch and bring a camera, as it’s a perfect spot to record the many cherry blossom trees (April is the best time of year if you hope to catch them in full bloom). You can also take a three-hour architecture tour around the park , ending at the Tokyo National Museum, where you can then go inside to explore the collections on your own. Also in the park is a zoo, art center, and art museum.

7. Admire the Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is home to the emperor of Japan (whose lineage stretches back over a thousand years). It was built on the site of the former Edo Castle, which was originally constructed in the 15th century. Today, the Imperial Palace is a perfect spot to learn about some of Japan’s history and culture. Though you can’t go inside the palace itself, the surrounding grounds and park are beautiful, and you can watch the changing of the guard. You can visit select parts of the grounds on a 75-minute guided tour at 10am and 1:30pm Tuesday-Saturday. The Imperial East Gardens are free and open daily except Mondays, Fridays, and holidays.

8. Visit Miyajima Island

Miyajima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about an hour outside of Hiroshima, known as “Shrine Island” because of its temple and iconic floating torii gate. Itsukushima Shrine, the main one here, dates back to the 12th century. There’s also a five-story pagoda that dates back to the 15th century, and the tranquil Momijidani Park, one of the most beautiful maple valleys in the country. And, like Nara, there are plenty of deer here too. A trip to the island can easily be made into a full day if you hit the walking trails nearby. And be sure to hike up Mount Misen — it’s a great workout, and the views are stunning! There is also a cable car to the peak you can take for 2,000 JPY round-trip.

9. Tour Bitchu Matsuyama Castle

At 430 meters (14,100 feet), not only is this Japan’s highest castle but it’s also its only remaining original one (most were destroyed in fires or during World War II). The castle was originally built on a nearby mountain in 1240 by Akiba Shigenobu. In 1929, restoration work began, and it is now a popular tourist site. Admission is 500 JPY for just the castle or 1,000 JPY for the castle, temple, and nearby samurai houses. If you’d like to patronize the Takahashi Folk Museum and Yamada Hokoku Museum, the entire combined ticket costs 1,500 JPY.

10. Go on pilgrimage

The 88 Temple Pilgrimage (also known as “Shikoku Henro”) is an ancient route that circles the island of Shikoku, one of Japan’s four main islands. Under consideration for UNESCO status, the route stretches 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) and can take between 30 and 60 days. It’s one of the only circular pilgrimages in the world, with roots dating back over a thousand years. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people do the hike each year. In addition to the 88 official temples, there are also 20 additional sites you can visit as well. You can, of course, just go to some of the temples and not walk the entire trail!

11. Explore Nikko

Located two hours north of Tokyo in the mountains, Nikko has welcomed worshippers of both Buddhist and Shinto traditions for centuries, so there are many temples and shrines in the woods to visit. Nikko is also the home of the imperial summer palace (the only imperial residence opened as a museum) and the resting spot of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of Tokugawa Shogunate (1603–1868). The shrine dedicated to him is beautiful. You’ll also find lots of waterfalls in the area and a beautiful lake to go boating on. The trails at nearby Nikko National Park offer excellent hiking. In short, Nikko is a really nice destination for two or three nights.

12. Stay in a ryokan

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese bed-and-breakfast, usually found in the more scenic regions. They date back over 1,200 years and are known for their traditional tatami floors, communal baths, and sliding doors, and cozy interiors. Ryokan s make for an intimate and unique Japanese experience, featuring included meals and traditional Japanese robes (called yukata ). Beds are traditional futons, and there is usually a common area where you can make tea and chat with the owner.

13. Soak in an onsen

Natural hot springs are widespread throughout the country, and can be found both indoors and outdoors. They are a great way to “soak in” some traditional Japanese culture. Each has a different mineral composition. Expect to pay around 1,000 JPY for a budget bathhouse. (Just note that many do not allow people with tattoos or require tattoos to be covered. They are also separated by gender.)

14. Explore Daisetsuzan National Park

If you make it all the way up to Hokkaido (the northern prefecture of Japan and second-largest island), be sure to spend some time exploring Daisetsuzan (“Great Snowy Mountains”) National Park. Located around two hours from Sapporo, the park offers numerous trails, and some of the most rugged and beautiful landscapes in the country. It’s also one of the last remaining places in Japan to see brown bears. The most popular hike here is Mount Asahidake, a challenging volcano that takes 3-4 hours. The park is a far cry from the tourist trail and usually just sees Japanese visitors, so you’ll get to enjoy a spot locals favor.

15. Relax in Okinawa

If you need a break from the fast pace of Japan, hop on down to Okinawa Prefecture, considered “the Hawaii of Japan.” Life proceeds at a much slower pace here, and the climate is subtropical. Even Naha, the biggest city in the region, is laid-back. Okinawa is famous for its diving opportunities off the coral reefs, as well as World War II sites and memorials. Karate was also created here over 700 years ago.

From Okinawa Honto (the main island), you can hop to other smaller islands by ferry, including some that are very remote and rarely see visitors (such as Iriomote or Kume). Camping, whale watching, and hitting the beach are some of the most popular activities here.

16. Admire Kanazawa

Located on the west coast, Kanazawa is known for its incredibly well-preserved Edo-era (1603–1868) districts (the final period of traditional Japan). Home to under 500,000 people, the city is called “Little Kyoto” — but without the oppressive crowds. I think this is a really nice, off-the-beaten-path destination. Make sure to see Tsuzumi-mon Gate, admire Kanazawa Castle, and explore the geisha districts and samurai district (Nagamachi), where numerous preserved houses remain.

17. Hike in the national parks

Japan may be a small country but it’s preserved a lot of its natural landscapes. There are 34 national parks, each offering respite from the hectic and dense cities that Japan is known for. Nikko (mentioned above) is best for seeing fall colors; Daisetsuzan (also mentioned above) has lots of remote onsen and challenging trails; Keramashoto, located in Okinawa, has some of the best islands and beaches, as well as over 250 types of coral; and Yoshino-Kumano is famous for its cherry blossoms. There are a lot of parks to choose from! Try to see at least one!

18. Visit Takashima

Home to just 50,000 people, Takashima boasts castle ruins, plenty of old shrines and Buddha statues, and a picturesque floating torii gate (similar to the one in Miyajima). There’s also a four-kilometer (2.5-mile) walking route lined with cherry trees. Moreover, this town is famous for its Hida beef, which I think is the best beef in all of Japan.

For information on specific cities in Japan, check out my city guides below:

  • Hiroshima Travel Guide
  • Kyoto Travel Guide
  • Tokyo Travel Guide

Japan Travel Costs

The famous bamboo forest in beautiful Kyoto, Japan

Accommodation – Expect to spend 2,500-4,500 JPY per night for a dorm room in a hostel. Capsule hotels cost 3,000-5,500 JPY for a tiny pod that’s essentially just a bed. It’s not fancy, but it’s a unique (and very Japanese) experience. For budget hotels, expect to spend 6,000-10,000 JPY per night for a double room in a basic hotel. For Western hotel chains, expect to spend around 20,000 JPY or more per night. Note: For accommodation in Tokyo, add 50% to all these prices.

Airbnb is heavily regulated in Japan and, as such, there aren’t too many options. What rooms are listed are mostly hotels and guesthouses. Private homes/apartments usually start around 15,000-20,000 JPY per night, while private rooms (i.e., hotel rooms) run 8,000-10,000 JPY per night and up.

If you are looking for a more unique experience, consider staying at a ryokan , a traditional Japanese bed-and-breakfast. While they are more expensive than a standard hotel, it’s a unique and memorable experience, as you’ll get to sleep on traditional futons and tatami mats.

Food – Japanese cuisine is world-renowned and has even earned a spot on UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage List. While each region has its own specialties, rice, noodles, seafood, and seasonal produce all feature heavily no matter where you are.

Food in Japan is relatively inexpensive so long as it’s not imported (fresh fruit will set your budget back!). The most common cheap eats are using curry, donburi (bowls of meat and rice), or ramen. Curry and donburi bowls cost 500-700 JPY, while ramen or soba noodles are usually around 1,200 JPY.

Fast food (think McDonald’s) is around 800 JPY for a set menu. You can also find plenty of cheap meals and prepackaged items at 7-Eleven (locals actually get a ton of food here — it’s a thing). Noodles, rice balls, tofu, and prepackaged sushi are all available for only 250-500 JPY.

Most sit-down restaurant meals are going to cost you 2,000-3,000 JPY. Sushi conveyor belt restaurants (which are super fun) will run you 125-620 JPY per piece.

Fine dining is a tradition rooted in Japanese culture, and kaiseki ryori is a style of high-end, multicourse Japanese dining that originated in Kyoto. It costs about 8,000-10,000 JPY for a set menu of seven courses, covering everything from chicken to Wagyu steak to sushi.

High-end omakase restaurants (where dishes are selected by the chef) will set you back at least 10,000 JPY, though more likely closer to 20,000 JPY. (In Tokyo, the best ones are 30,000 JPY.)

Domestic beer is around 450-550 JPY, and sake is about 800-900 JPY per glass. A cocktail will set you back about 1,200 JPY. A latte or cappuccino is 500-600 JPY, and a bottle of water is 100-130 JPY.

Buying groceries costs around 5,000-6,000 JPY per week for basic staples like rice, vegetables, and fish. However, given the availability of such cheap food, it’s doubtful you’ll go grocery shopping to prepare your own meals.

Backpacking Japan Suggested Budgets

If you’re backpacking Japan, plan to budget 7,000 JPY per day. This assumes you’re staying in a hostel dorm, cooking some of your meals, eating at the cheap 100-yen shops, visiting free museums and temples, and using public transportation to get around.

On a more midrange budget of 16,000 JPY per day, you can stay in nicer accommodations and private rooms, eat out more liberally, indulge in more drinks, visit more attractions, and, overall, just have some more breathing room in your travels!

On a “luxury” budget of 28,000 JPY per day or more, you can stay in traditional Japanese accommodations or two-star hotels, eat at nicer restaurants each day, splurge on some meals, enjoy drinks as often as you want, take tours, and, overall, just afford whatever you want!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind that these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in JPY.

Japan Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

I think Japan’s reputation as an expensive country is overstated. Outside of accommodation and transportation, it’s actually really affordable. Is it super cheap? No. Is it super expensive? Not at all. There are plenty of ways to lower your costs and all non-imported food is really inexpensive. Here are some ways to save money when you visit:

  • Visit the free attractions – With its countless museums, shrines, temples, historic neighborhoods, and parks, Japan is filled with opportunities to immerse yourself in its culture withouts spending a Yen. Moreover, many of the nation’s parks are also free. Start with them and you’ll fill your days on the cheap!
  • Get a JR Pass – The bullet trains in Japan are ridiculously expensive, with one-way fares costing hundreds of dollars. If you plan to do a lot of traveling around the country, get the JR Pass , which allows you unlimited train travel and can save you a ton of money. It comes in 7-, 14-, and 21-day options. (Keep it mind it can only be purchased outside of Japan, so be sure to plan ahead.)
  • Take the bus – Buses are a far more economical option than the trains. They cost a fraction of the price. For example, the unlimited Japan Rail Pass costs 29,650 JPY for seven consecutive days of travel, but this is far more expensive than using the bus. But buses take a lot longer. For example, the two-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo to Osaka becomes a 10-hour bus ride. Bottom line: if you have the time, take the bus.
  • Shop at the 100-yen stores – There are many 100-yen shops around the country. They all sell meal sets, groceries, water bottles, toiletries, and household items. Store names vary by region, so ask your hotel or hostel reception where the nearest “Hyaku En” store is located.
  • Eat at 7-Eleven – 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and other convenience stores have a lot of pre-made meals that make for a cheap lunch or snack. The food is actually really good and you’ll always see locals dipping in and getting a quick lunch or snack here. Don’t be afraid to at them.
  • Cook your own food – Many hostels have kitchens where you can cook your own meals. Combining this with shopping at the 100-yen stores will drastically cut your food costs.
  • Eat curry, ramen, and donburi – These dishes are the best option for eating cheap, filling meals. These cost from 400 – 1200 Yen (Ramen is 1200). Shops specializing in these dishes are all over the country. They’re delicious and affordable!
  • Stay with a local – Using hospitality sites like Couchsurfing allows you to stay with residents, so you not only get a free place to stay but you get to interact with someone who can share their insider tips.
  • Buy food before grocery stores close – After 8pm, many supermarkets discount their fresh food, as they have to get rid of it by law. You can save up to 50% on almost all ready-made meals.
  • Hitchhike – Japan is one of the world’s safest countries, and many locals are curious enough to pick up foreign visitors. Hitchhiking isn’t really practiced by Japanese, so you will stand out as a tourist, which will increase your chances of finding a ride.

Where to Stay in Japan

Japan has lots of hostels, though they are mostly in the larger cities. Here are some suggested places to stay around the country:

  • Hostel Chapter Two Tokyo (Tokyo)
  • K’s House (Tokyo)
  • Jiyujin (Kyoto)
  • Backpacker Hostel K’s House Kyoto (Kyoto)
  • Len Kyoto (Kyoto)
  • The Pax Hostel Records (Osaka)
  • Roku Hostel Hiroshima (Hiroshima)
  • WeBase HAKATA Hostel (Fukuoka)

How to Get Around Japan

A small shop on a quiet street in Japan

Public transportation – Metro or bus tickets cost 150–300 JPY for a single journey. (The price varies by distance and may often be higher.) Fares are usually around 220 JPY to travel across Tokyo but less for shorter distances. In most major cities, you can buy a day pass, which gives you unlimited travel for 24 hours for around 800-1,100 JPY.

Trains – The bullet train is awesome, comfortable, and super fast — but it’s not cheap. Individual tickets can cost hundreds of dollars. In order to reduce your train costs, get a Japan Rail Pass , which is indispensable for travel here.

Even if you just get the seven-day pass, it’s the same price as a round-trip train ticket from Osaka to Tokyo. Moreover, the JR trains also serve urban areas and so can be used within cities. I used my pass to get around Kyoto and Tokyo instead of buying metro tickets.

So, even if you aren’t going to do much traveling around Japan, buying a pass is better than buying individual tickets. While the high price of the pass can cause sticker shock, the alternative is worse.

Be sure to download the Navitime app , which can help you get around. It has offline maps, train and public transit routes, and info on train stations. It’s a lifesaver when trying to figure out how to get around the country.

Buses – Buses are a less expensive alternative to the bullet train system in Japan, but they take more time. For example, the two-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo to Osaka becomes a ten-hour bus ride. The price for that seat is 4,500-8,000 JPY, but at some point, you need to think about how much your time is worth.

There are also bus passes that offer unlimited travel and begin at 10,200 JPY for three nonconsecutive days of travel. You can use these two websites to book your bus journeys:

  • Willer Express
  • Japan Bus Lines

If you have lots of time and no money, take the bus. Otherwise, I’d say splurge and take the train, because they really are much faster and much, much more comfortable.

Flying – In general, flight prices are on par with bullet train tickets. ANA, the main carrier, offers special last-minute fares via a hidden page on its website , usually for around 14,000 JPY for a seat. It’s only available to foreigners and can sometimes be cheaper than the flights you find on Skyscanner, especially for longer routes around the country.

Generally, unless you’re going up north or down to Okinawa, you won’t need to fly. Flights from Tokyo to Okinawa are around 23,000 JPY (round-trip) while those from Tokyo to Sapporo are around 16,000 JPY (round-trip).

Car rental – With efficient public transportation and nationwide bullet trains, renting a car here really isn’t necessary. However, if you do need one, multiday rentals start at 6,000 JPY per day. Just remember that people drive on the left here!

For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars .

When to Go to Japan

Temperature and weather varies drastically across Japan, meaning it’s always a good time to visit some part of the country. While most of Japan does have four seasons (including snowy, freezing winters in the north), Okinawa and the islands in the south are warm year-round. It gets cold in Tokyo, but it generally doesn’t snow.

Expect warm, humid weather from June through August, with temperatures hovering around 32°C (89°F). Japan also gets a lot of rain, mostly in the summer months, from mid-June to mid-July. It gets a little drier in August, before the precipitation picks up again in September. Typhoon season occurs from May to October. Japan is well-equipped to handle all types of typhoons, but be sure to purchase travel insurance in advance !

Overall, there’s no real bad time to visit. Winter is awesome for skiers or snowboarders, spring is famous for its cherry blossoms, summer is full of festivals, and fall has brilliant autumn colors and nice temperatures. I personally prefer spring and fall, as the summer heat and humidity is pretty oppressive.

How to Stay Safe in Japan

Japan is a very safe country. There’s virtually zero chance you’re going to get robbed, scammed, or hurt here. Your biggest issues will most likely come from other foreigners.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, but the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). Japan does have a problem with groping, especially on packed trains. Most train companies now have “women-only” cars during rush hour (you’ll see pink signs indicating where women should board).

Scams in Japan are virtually nonexistent, but if you’re worried about getting ripped off, you can read about common travel scams to avoid here .

Your main risk here is from Mother Nature. Earthquakes and typhoons aren’t uncommon, so make note of exits when you arrive at your accommodation. Download offline maps to your phone, as well, in the event you may need to navigate the city during an emergency

If you do experience an emergency, dial 110 or call the nonemergency Japan Helpline at 0570-000-911.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancelations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.

Japan Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Agoda – Other than Hostelworld, Agoda is the best hotel accommodation site for Asia.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Japan Rail Pass – This is a flexible transportation pass used for navigating Japan. Similar to the Eurail pass in Europe, it turns expensive bullet trains into budget-friendly modes of transportation. You honestly can’t visit Japan without one.

Japan Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more tips? Here are all the articles I’ve written on Japan travel to continue planning your visit:

How to Travel Japan with a Baby

How to Travel Japan with a Baby

Where to Stay in Tokyo: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Tokyo: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

The Ultimate Japan Itinerary for First-Timers: From 1 to 3 Weeks

The Ultimate Japan Itinerary for First-Timers: From 1 to 3 Weeks

A Complete Guide to the Japan Rail Pass

A Complete Guide to the Japan Rail Pass

How to Teach English in Japan

How to Teach English in Japan

The 30 Best Things to Do in Tokyo

The 30 Best Things to Do in Tokyo

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Japan Travel Guide: How to Book Your First Japan Trip

Home » Blog » Japan » Japan Travel Guide: How to Book Your First Japan Trip

This information-packed Japan travel guide has the answers to all your questions. Find out the best places to visit, which Japanese foods to try, and how to ride the bullet trains. All the research is done for you to help you plan your first Japan trip.


If you have been dreaming of traveling to Japan and want to start planning your vacation, this travel guide is packed with all the tips and information that you’ll need to know before your trip to the land of the rising sun.

From which foods to try, to how much money to budget, to what travel gear to pack, to the best things to do in Japan , we’re covering everything. And I mean everything! 

We’re even answering your embarrassing questions like, “ What are the toilets like in Japan? ”

We are sharing exactly how much it costs to travel to Japan, and we’re throwing in some money-saving budget tips! This is the ultimate resource with everything you need to know to plan your Japan trip. 

#1 Money-saving tip for Japan

Transportation in Japan is incredibly efficient and comfortable, but it ain’t cheap! To save the most money, purchase a 7-day JR Pass and you won’t regret it. 

If you plan to visit more than 1 region, the pass quickly pays for itself – just a roundtrip from Kyoto to Tokyo is enough to make up the steep price. (Plus, you get to ride the famous Japanese bullet trains which is a bucket list experience in itself!)

Sidenote: it’s much easier to purchase the JR Pass before entering the country. Give yourself at least a week for the voucher to be shipped to you.


Also, before you pack your bags and book your flights, don’t forget to do this … you’ll thank us later. 

Japan travel guide contents

  • Important info
  • Best time to visit Japan
  • Top places to visit in Japan
  • Top attractions in Japan
  • Unique experiences in Japan
  • Budget for Japan
  • Typical costs in Japan
  • Money-saving tips
  • Free (and cheap!) things to do

Transportation in Japan

Japanese cuisine.

  • Practical information for visiting

Fun facts about Japan

  • Festivals & cultural events in Japan
  • Japan trip ideas based on interests

How to book your Japan trip

  • What to pack 

Other Japan travel resources

Why should japan be on your travel bucket list.

Ryokan in Japan

Japan is a surprising combination of peace and chaos, old and new and has just the right amount of quirkiness to make it an addicting place to visit that will have you coming back for more!

Did we like Japan?

Short answer: YES!

Long answer: We’ll give you a little background about our first visit and we’ll share with you in this article what we want to see next time we travel to Japan. Come along on our trip through Japan and watch our crazy week in Japan.

If you cannot see the video, please turn off your AdBlocker. Thanks!

Important info about Japan

Here is a general overview of some of the high level important info and things to know before traveling in Japan. We’ll go into more detail about specifics in the rest of this article. 

  • Location: Island nation in Asia, located in the North Pacific  ( view on Google Maps )
  • Capital city: Tokyo
  • Language: Japanese
  • Currency: Yen (JP¥ / ¥)
  • Japan uses the same plugs as in the U.S. but they have a different voltage (100 vs. 120 in the U.S.)

Visa requirements

Kyoto Japan

There are 66 countries in total where their citizens do not require a visa to enter Japan, but the time you can stay depends on which country you’re from.

  • Citizens from many countries (including the U.S.A., the U.K., Canada, and Australia) get a visa exemption (aka FREE) 90-day tourist visa, provided they will not be working in Japan.
  • Other countries get a temporary tourist visa for a period of 15 days or less.

To find out the specifics for your country, check out the Japan National Tourism Organization , which explains the requirements for each country. 

Language in Japan & useful phrases

The language in Japan is, quite obviously, Japanese. But many people in big cities, like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka also speak English. Signs are written in Japanese characters, and in the cities most have their Roman counterparts.

When traveling, we always try to learn a couple important phrases. It shows locals you are trying to learn about their country and it can be fun too!

These phrases are ones we have found to be the most useful in any location we visit:

  • Hello: Kon’nichiwa
  • Thank you: Arigato
  • Thank you very much: Domo Arigato
  • Beer, please: Biru kudasai
  • Cheers!: Kanpai
  • Bathroom: Basurumu
  • How much?: Ikura
  • Delicious: Oishi
  • Beautiful: Kireina

Manners and customs in Japan

Snow monkeys in Japan

When traveling in a country other than your own, it is always a good idea to do a little research on what is polite so that you don’t accidentally offend people like this.

Here are couple manners to keep in mind when traveling to Japan:

  • Eating while you walk is considered sloppy. Instead, find a place to sit and enjoy your snack.
  • Pointing is considered rude. Instead, use an open hand to make gestures.
  • Blowing your nose in public can be considered rude. Japanese people often go into the bathroom to blow a stuffy nose.
  • On a crowded subway or train, it is polite to take off your backpack and hold it in your hands.
  • Slurping noodles not only cools them down as you eat, but it indicates that the meal is delicious. So slurp away, it’s the polite thing to do!
  • Taking off your shoes is common courtesy before entering many places. If the floor is raised at the doorway, it is an indicator that you should remove your shoes.

If you want a full run-down, this article lists 50 Japanese manners and customs !

Tipping culture in Japan

Should I tip at restaurants in Japan? This is a question we always ask ourselves once we reach a new country, and it is never fun being caught off guard, unsure of what to do.

In Japan, tips are not expected, and can even be considered rude. And even if the server is not offended, they will likely be confused.

So in other words, NO , you should not tip in Japan. 

Religion in Japan

Buddhism and Shinto are the main religions in Japan, though they don’t play a huge role in the lives of many Japanese people today.

All throughout the country, you can visit temples and shrines to get a better understanding of the religions and culture. You can even do a temple stay in order to really delve in and learn about Buddhism. 

Read this before visiting a temple or shrine in Japan.

Best times of year to visit Japan


If you’re considering a trip to Japan, you’re probably wondering what time of year is best to visit. 

The wonderful thing is every season is a great time to visit Japan, and you will have a completely unique experience. 

We’ve laid out what to expect in each season, as well as the pros and cons of visiting during these times in our article: Best Time to Visit Japan: When to Go & When to Avoid! .

In short, there truly is no bad time to visit Japan. Each season boasts different highlights such as the cherry blossoms blooming in the springtime, Mt Fuji opens for climbing in the summer, the leaves changing colors in the fall and of course ski season in the winter.

For more info: This website does a good job describing the average temperatures and rainfall around Japan each month .

However, you’ll want to keep the following in mind when planning your first trip:

Before you book your Japan trip in the spring, know this…

Spring is considered by many as a great time to visit Japan for its comfortable temperatures, cherry blossoms and little chance of rain.

One thing you should be aware of is the so-called “Golden Week” which happens in the springtime and is made up of 4 national holidays which fall into a 7-day span. During this week many Japanese people will also be traveling around the country and accommodation and tours are often booked far in advance. 

Dates of Golden Week in Japan:

  • 2018: April 28 – May 6
  • 2019: April 27 – May 12 (Holidays are more spread out)

This site has more information about Golden Week in Japan .

Top places to visit on your Japan trip


Japan is a huge country, and it would be an extensive list if we went through all the notable cities to visit. But if you are visiting Japan for the first time, these cities are a good place to start as they will give you a good taste of the country’s culture and are relatively easy to get to and from.

  • Tokyo : This huge metropolis is likely where you’re flying in and out of, and it is one of the most interesting cities we’ve visited anywhere in the world. From quirky experiences, to amazing foods, Tokyo is definitely worth some time on your itinerary. 
  • Kyoto : Considered the “cultural capital of Japan”, Kyoto is packed with history, important temples, gorgeous architecture and a charming atmosphere. If you are traveling with your little ones, there are tons of things to do in Kyoto with kids .
  • Osaka : Another major hub to fly in and out of Japan, Osaka is worth a visit . Known for lively nightlife and endless street food, there’s a lot more to discover beyond Osaka’s neon-lit facade. 
  • Hakone: At the footsteps of Mt. Fuji, Hakone is a peaceful retreat from the big cities of Japan and a chance to relax in an onsen and sleep in a ryokan. 
  • Hiroshima : This historical significance of this city draws tourism from all over the world, but you can enjoy the lighter side of this beautiful place too. 
  • The ‘Roof of Japan’ : The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a single day mountain traverse where you take 8 different modes of transportation over what’s known as the Roof of Japan .

Want more info? We have an entire article with a round up of the most beautiful places in Japan , including some top things to do and see. 

Top sights to see in Japan

Fushimi Inari Shrine Orange Gates Japan

Just as with places to visit, there are seemingly endless sights to see in Japan. Here is a quick list of our top recommendations for your first visit to Japan.

  • Mount Fuji: The most famous mountain in Japan, you can get a glimpse of this beauty when traveling in Hakone. 
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine:  Known to tourists as the “Orange Gates”, there are thousands of majestic orange gates covering a maze of paths leading up to the shrine. 
  • Arashiyama: Located on the western edge of Kyoto, Arashiyama is an area that is filled with temples and shrines, but the main attraction is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
  • Temples in Japan: Of course temples will be on your list of things to see in Japan. The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is stunning with the garden setting and reflection off the pond. 
  • Shibuya Intersection: Famously known as the “busiest intersection in the world” crossing the street here is quite an experience. 

These places all make for great pictures! If you want to take better travel photos, we wrote up some easy and creative tips to improve your travel photography skills ! 

Unique experiences to have on your Japan trip

One of the many reasons Japan is such a wonderful place to visit is there are so many unique experiences that can only be had in this country. Here are just a few of the things that are quintessentially “Japanese”. 

Quintessential cultural experiences

cooking class in Japan

  • Soak in an Onsen: Strip down to your birthday suit and soak in a hot tub until you get pruney. Don’t worry, they are gender separated and some are even private. The best one we dipped in was in the Hakone region .
  • Stay at a Ryokan: Experience a traditional Japanese-style inn and stay in a ryokan to enjoy Japanese hospitality and relaxation.
  • Take a Japanese cooking class: Learn how to make proper sushi or traditional ramen to impress your friends at home. (Read why we LOVE taking cooking classes on our travels !) Or take a food tour, like this Kyoto food tour from Magical Trip.
  • Sleep in a Temple: Usually taken as retreats to refresh your body and mind or deepen understanding of religion, temple stays are an unique experience you won’t forget.
  • Go Geisha spotting: On the old street of Kyoto, Geisha scurry from one event to the next. Try to get a glimpse of them, or better yet try to get a picture.
  • See the fish auction each morning: Show up around 3 a.m. (yep, that early) as the fishermen come into port and sell their fish at the Tsukiji Fish Market . Then find a shop and have the freshest sushi you’ll ever eat.
  • Take a Sumo wrestling tour in Ryogoku and learn about Sumo culture.


Quirky Japanese experiences

  • Take your picture in a photo booth: Pop into one of these with your friends and take a few snaps. Then, edit your photos instantly, enhancing your eyes, adding blush, or slimming your cheeks. It takes the word selfie to a whole new level.
  • Responsible Travel Tip: Be cautious about animal tourism. Domesticated animal cafes (like dog or cat cafes) seem to take care of their animals. But for non-domesticated animals cafes, like owl cafes, we would just be a little hesitant to visit.
  • Theme restaurant: This was one of the craziest dinners we ever attended! Eat your dinner as robots fight right in front of you to techno music and laser lights. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Unique experiences in nature

deer in Nara Japan

  • See the Nara Deer: Just a little ways outside of Osaka, there is a park (and part of the city) literally flooded with cute spotted deer. They are quite tame, but please do not feed wild animals .
  • Jigokudani Snow Monkeys: A few miles away from Nagano, there is a park where the local macaques monkeys soak in a spring-fed hot tub and play around in the snow.
  • Hike the Kumano Kodo Trail : If you’re feeling adventurous, this is quite literally, off the beaten path. The Kumano Kodo Trail is a historic pilgrimage through the mountainous Kii Peninsula that has been trekked for thousands of years.

Need more inspiration? We have an entire article with a round up of the best things to do in Japan , including all the info you need to make it happen during your visit!

Wanna take a tour?

We recommend taking a tour with the highly-rated tour company, Magical Trip . They specialize in small group tours led by local guides all over Japan, from Tokyo to Osaka. 

Click through to browse all small group Japan tours they offer.

Budgeting for Japan

Hiking the Kumano Kodo Trail

I’ll be straight to the point: Japan is not cheap.  

Contrary to many other destinations in Asia, like Thailand or the Philippines , Japan is not an ideal location for budget travelers. That said, it is unlike any country in the world and totally worth visiting. 

Typical daily budget for Japan

Below is an estimated breakdown of (about) how much money you should plan to budget for a trip to Japan based on your travel style. 

*Note: These are estimations for one person and do not include flights.

  • You’ll stay in hostel dorm beds, grab breakfast from one of the many 7-Eleven’s or Family Marts, and do as many free activities as possible.
  • You’ll be staying in comfortable, though not fancy, hotels or Airbnbs . You’ll want to try lots of Japanese food—both budget meals and a couple nicer ones too. You will use public transportation to get around and you want to see as much as possible, but you’re willing to make some sacrifices to save money.
  • Budget isn’t too much of a concern for you. This isn’t necessarily luxury travel, but you are willing to pay more money for convenience and comfort; and splurging on unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences is not a problem for you. 

More info on Japan travel budgets: This article has a detailed description of how much money w e spent in one week in Japan . We break down each portion of our trip — from transportation to food to accommodation to entertainment. 

Psst! If you want to know how we afford to travel (& how you can too!) , we think you’ll love this article!

Are credit cards accepted in Japan?

Yes, but hold up… 

Major credit cards will typically be accepted at big hotel chains, nice restaurants or shops in large cities, but you’ll want to have cash on hand to use in small restaurants, markets or in more rural towns. 

There are still many places where credit cards are not accepted, so it is a good idea not to rely on plastic alone.

Should I get money from my bank before my trip to Japan?

Sunset in Kyoto Japan

This is a question we get all the time. The answer really comes down to your personal preference, but we never get money out in advance before international travel.

Whenever we enter a new country, we walk right past the Currency Exchange counters (they are a huge rip off most of the time!) and we go to an ATM to withdraw cash. You will get the best exchange rate by withdrawing foreign currency from an ATM.

If the thought of showing up in a new country without cash on hand makes your hands sweaty, then by all means ignore this advice and grab some yen from your home bank before you leave.

But I will say that airports always have ATMS, and they are easy to find in train stations as well as in 7-Eleven’s and Family Marts in most big Japanese cities. 

Before heading to a rural town though, be sure to take out cash just in case you can’t find an ATM.

Credit card travel tips

  • Turn on travel notification: Be sure to alert your bank ahead of time that you will be traveling, and where, so they know your transactions aren’t fraud.
  • Have a backup card: It’s a good idea to carry more than one card in case you have an issue with one of them. Remember to always pack them in two different places within your luggage — for example, one in your wallet and another in your backpack so if one gets lost or stolen, you still have access to the other.
  • Invest in a debit card with no fees: We have a checking account with Charles Schwab , and they reimburse every single ATM fee. This means we never have to take out more money than we feel comfortable with carrying at a time. Try looking into accounts with similar benefits. It will save you so much money on your travels. 
  • Check out which travel credit cards we personally recommend.

Typical costs for Japan


We know it can be helpful to see how much certain things cost to give you an idea of how much you’ll be paying in a foreign country. 

Below are some average prices for common travel purchases in Tokyo. This is only meant to give you a baseline. You can find these items cheaper or you can pay much more. Also, prices will vary around the country.

Average costs in Tokyo

  • Budget: ¥3,000 for a dorm bed (around $22 USD)
  • Mid-range: ¥7,000 – 14,000 for a private room in a guesthouse or cheap hotel ($50 – $100 USD)
  • High-end: ¥14,000 – 35,000 for a Western style hotel or more luxurious ryokan ($100 – $265 USD)
  • Bowl of ramen: ¥800 at a restaurant ($6 USD), ¥300 at a convenience store ($2.25 USD)
  • Train from Kyoto to Tokyo: ¥13,080 one-way ($96 USD) Now you see why everyone gets the Japan Rail pass .
  • Subway pass for the day: ¥700 per person ($5.30 USD)
  • Coffee: ¥300 ($2.25 USD)

To see how much we paid for things like food and accommodation during our trip to Japan, check out this article where we break down all our Japan costs .

Money-saving tips for traveling in Japan


While it’s not a cheap country to visit, there are certainly ways you can save money while traveling in Japan.

  • This article breaks down how much the Japan Rail Pass costs and how to purchase it .
  • Get your breakfasts and snacks at 7-Eleven or Family Mart (they are everywhere around the country!). While you might never consider eating at a convenience store in your home country, the fresh food options are surprisingly good at these stores in Japan. I’m not joking. You’ll see many locals doing the same.
  • Have your biggest meal midday and take advantage of “lunch sets” which often consist of a large meal (sometimes with a dessert) and are typically between $5-7 USD.
  • Conveyor belt sushi is a good way to try all the types of sushi your little heart (and stomach!) desire without a huge price tag. Plus, it’s a fun experience in itself!
  • Use an app to record your spending and see how well you’re staying on top of your budget! We find it’s much easier to overspend when you don’t know how much it’s all adding up to. We love Trail Wallet for recording our expenses. (We’re not affiliated with them, we just love using it ourselves!)
  • Download a converter app on your phone like this one to see the exact exchange rate for your selected currency at the time of your trip, so you always know exactly what you are spending. 
Whether you’re on a budget or not, get personalized recommendations for where to save and splurge during your trip when you use ViaHero —a trip planning platform that will connect you with a local in Japan.


Free (& cheap!) things to do in Japan

Japan food tour market Kyoto

Japan is not the cheapest travel destination, but there are some free and inexpensive activities you can take advantage of to keep your wallet happy!

  • Free Walking Tours: You’ll meet other travelers and learn stories and information that you’d never find out on your own! You can find walking tours in the bigger cities, like Kyoto Free Walking Tour , Osaka Free Walking Tour and Tokyo Free Walking Tour .
  • Visiting Temples: many temples are free to enter and explore
  • Parks: Meiji Shrine is not far away from Tokyo and it is free to enter. The Arashiyama bamboo grove in Kyoto is also free to explore on your own.
  • Join a Meetup: There are plenty of meet up groups that you can find online. Simply Google “ Meetups in _____. ” Here is the Meetup site for Tokyo .
  • Explore the markets: There are thousands of markets all throughout Japan. You can’t miss the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo or the Nishiki Market in Kyoto. The walking street/restaurant haven in Dotonbori area in Osaka.

Japan Rail Pass Money Saved

The best way to save money on trains is to buy the Japan Rail Pass . I know, I know, it is a big price to pay up front, but we’ve done all the calculations, and simply put: if you plan to visit both Tokyo and Kyoto, buying the pass will save you money.

This article lays out exactly how much the JR Pass costs and how to get it taken care of before your trip to Japan so you don’t have to worry about it once you get there. 

Also, in major cities, there are sometimes “package deals” on transportation. In Tokyo, we found the 24-hour metro pass to be well worth the price, and in Kyoto, the all-day bus pass was a money-saving purchase. 

What are the trains like in Japan?

Shinkansen Train Bullet Train in Japan

Overall, the trains are clean, comfortable and efficient. The rail system covers almost the entire country, making it a wonderful way to get around. This article goes into detail with everything you’d ever want to know about the Shinkansen Japanese Bullet Trains .

sushi Kyoto Japan

Japanese cuisine stretches far beyond the sushi rolls we’ve come to associate with this country. (Though of course you must try sushi from the source while you’re in Japan!)

Magical Trip tours have highly-rated food tours throughout Japan, so you should check them out. Here is their Shinjuku food tour in Tokyo.

This article lists the foods you should definitely try in Japan !

Travel in Japan with dietary restrictions and food allergies

Traveling with dietary restrictions can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here is some information on specific allergies and restrictions that can help you plan your time in Japan.

Eating gluten-free in Japan

Japanese cuisine doesn’t appear to be heavy on wheat, so it might surprise you to learn that gluten is found in lots of Japanese dishes . Many of the staple sauces (including soy sauce and miso) have wheat in them. 

Many Japanese people are unfamiliar with gluten-free eating , so it can be a bit tricky to find food that will work for you if you can’t eat gluten.

This article is incredibly helpful for anyone traveling to Japan who is gluten free or celiac . 

Vegetarian / Vegan eating in Japan

Vegetarian and vegan restaurants are becoming increasingly popular in cosmopolitan parts of Japan, but it can still be very difficult to navigate menus if you don’t read Japanese.

Happy Cow Vegetarian travel in Japan

Here are some tips for vegetarians traveling in Japan:

  • Happy Cow (above) is a great website that lists vegetarian/vegan restaurants all around the world!
  • Dashi is a fish stock base that is in many dishes, even if they don’t contain meat. Be careful when ordering soups, or ask waitstaff if the dish contains dashi. Miso soup, however, is typically suitable for vegans.
  • Conveyor belt sushi restaurants are a good place to find vegetarian food as they often have veggie rolls, avocado rolls and cucumber rolls, as well as a variety of desserts.
  • Okonomiyaki is a good dish to try, as it is made to order and you can customize the ingredients to your liking. Check out this article that describes exactly what okonomiyaki is .
  • Try out a vegan food tour with Magical Trip and sample vegan ramen and Japanese desserts.

Allergies or other dietary restrictions in Japan

If you have any dietary restrictions, it might be a good idea to print out these cards and carry them with you during your trip in Japan. They explain your dietary restrictions in Japanese so staff at any restaurant is sure to understand what ingredients you can and cannot eat. 

Dietary Restrictions Card in Japan

Practical information for visiting Japan

Kyoto Japan

Traveling in Japan for the first time can be overwhelming to plan if you aren’t sure what to expect. A lot of questions can arise that you may not think about with other travel destinations. 

We’ve done our best to narrow down some of the more practical information and answer some frequently asked questions about traveling in Japan. 

Do I need travel insurance for Japan?

While it’s not required to enter the country, we always recommend purchasing travel insurance before any trip. It is a small price to pay for the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you will be covered in case of an emergency or if anything is stolen. 

travel guide to japan

For a trip to Japan, we’d recommend getting a plan with Safety Wing insurance . They make it easy to get a quote for the exact duration of your trip and offer the most comprehensive coverage at the best rate.

Check out our travel insurance comparison article for more information on how to pick a policy and what we look for in travel insurance.

How safe is Japan?

Japan is overall very safe and crime is low. 

I once met a girl who was an English teacher in Tokyo, and she said she left her wallet in a train station. It sat there, untouched, and the next day when she retraced her steps it was in the same (heavily trafficked) place she had left it. 

But even though theft isn’t common in Japanese culture, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. As with any place in the world, always be aware of your surroundings and use common sense. 

This is another reason we always recommend getting travel insurance to make sure you’re covered in case anything gets stolen or you run into other emergencies.

Do I need a power converter in Japan?

In Japan the standard voltage is 100 V and the power sockets are type A and B (pictured below). The socket is the same used in North America, but the voltage is lower, so yes you will need a power converter for electronics that don’t already have a converter. 

Type A Power Socket

This website is a super helpful resource when it comes to electricity all around the world. Simply select your home country and it will tell you if you need a converter and/or plug adapter for your visit to Japan. 

We recommend this all-in-one converter-adapter that works in any country. This means you only need one item no matter where your travels take you!

What are the bathrooms like in Japan?

This might be an embarrassing question to ask out loud, but I promise you aren’t the only one thinking it. If it’s your first time visiting Japan, you likely have no idea what to expect when it comes to bathrooms. 

The good news is, many bathrooms around the country are very nice and quite… luxurious . 

In nicer restrooms, you’ll find toilets equipped with a built-in bidet to spray your bum. And some toilets even have buttons that will play music or rainforest sounds to cover up, well, you know…

Be warned though that in some train stations or in more rural parts of the country, you may find squat toilets similar to ones you’d find in many places around Asia. 

How to get cell phone service in Japan

Japan Pocket WiFi vs. Japanese SIM Card

First, I will say that it is not necessary to get a SIM card during your travels in Japan. WiFi is common, and you’ll find it in most hotels or hostels, as well as in coffee shops and restaurants around the country.

While on WiFi, you can easily talk with friends and family back at home through apps like Skype and Facebook Messenger, and you can connect with locals using WhatsApp. 

That said, if you really want to get cell service with a data plan so you always have Internet access, it is possible to buy a Japanese SIM card . (You have to make sure your phone is unlocked and has the capability to accept a foreign SIM card — we found out the hard way!)

This article breaks down how to get a Japanese data plan .

Alternative Idea: If your phone isn’t unlocked or you don’t want to get a Japanese SIM card, consider renting a pocket WiFi device . This allows you to bring a hotspot with you wherever you go so you can search for directions, get train schedules or look up restaurants in the area. Plus, you can connect up to 10 devices, which makes it superior to a SIM card, in our opinion.

Helpful (free!) apps for travel in Japan

We have an entire list of the most useful apps for traveling in Japan that you should check out, but here are some of our favorites:

  • Official Japan Travel App : Created by the National Tourism Organization, this app is the most accurate way to find train times and route we have found!
  • Google Navigation : Can give you the best routes for the metro and trains and even has live updates on delays.
  • Hyperdia : The go-to train scheduling app/website in Japan. Plug in a route and it will tell you the times throughout the day and the prices, including each seating class.
  • Google Translate : This is a go-to app for us while traveling in Asia because you can take a photograph of the characters on a menu or label and it will translate for you. Be warned that some things don’t quite translate into English all that well…
  • GuruNavi Restaurant Guide : We’ve been told this is the app you should use to find restaurants over TripAdvisor because the latter has more reviews from foreigners than locals. GuruNavi is easy to use and will point you in the direction of hole-in-the-wall places where locals eat instead of the typical tourist haunts.

Kenrokuen Garden Japan

These facts will be good conversation starters with other travelers or even locals. So break that ice and let them in on some fun facts about Japan!

  • Japan has an average of 1,500 earthquakes each year!
  • 6,852 islands make up the country of Japan.
  • There are more than 200 volcanoes in Japan.
  • Vending machines are super popular in Japan — there are more than 5.5 million of them around the country and they dispense everything from snacks to fresh eggs to toilet paper. (And some weirder stuff that a quick Google search will reveal.)
  • The literacy rate in Japan is nearly 100%. Seems the rest of us could learn a thing or two from their education system!
  • The first geishas were men. (The word “geisha” means person of the arts.)
Psst! Did you know Japan is a great place to teach English? Find out how to get certified to teach English abroad .

Annual festivals & cultural events in Japan

Kyoto bamboo forest Japan

In Japan, festivals are called matsuri and they take place all year long. This is a list of some of the more unique festivals in Japan.

  • Jan 15: Nozawa Fire Festival , in Nagano, Japan
  • Feb 5-12: Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival), Sapporo, Hokkaido
  • Late March: Sumo Wrestling Spring Basho , Osaka
  • Early June: The Kaiko Kinenbi , Yokohama Port Opening Ceremony (Boat Races)
  • July: Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival), Hiratsuka
  • Late July: Tenjin Matsuri (Festival of the Gods), Osaka
  • October: Warai Festival (Laughing Festival), Wakayama

For a more comprehensive list of festivals in Japan, Boutique Japan or Culture Trip are good resources. 

Japan trip ideas based on your interests

Japan is more than just Tokyo. If it’s your first time traveling to the “Land of the Rising Sun”, we’d definitely recommend a visit to its capital city as well as some of the other more well-known places like Kyoto and Osaka.

But, if you have “been there done that”, or you have a lot of time to play with, here are some ideas for a trip more suited to your interests. 

Japan trip for Couples

Japanese cooking class Kyoto Japan

It may come as a surprise, but Japan can actually be an incredibly romantic place, depending on the destinations you choose.

  • Okinawa : If you’re looking for a romantic beach getaway, this may be just what you’re looking for!
  • Shirakawa: Tucked away in the mountains of Central Japan, this UNESCO historical village is stunning.
  • Kurashiki: Sometimes referred to as the “Amsterdam of Japan” for its canals and charming architecture, it’s easy to see the romantic appeal of this town.
  • Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo : Have a drink at Lost in Translation hotel. It’s an incredible view overlooking one of the largest cities in the world. You can pretend you’re Bill Murray and the other Scarlett Johannson.

Japan trip for Families

If you’re traveling to Japan with children, here are some ideas that are great for families with kids of all ages:

  • Nara Deer Park: See 1,200 adorable and friendly deer roaming freely around this park.
  • Amusement Park(s): There are many to choose from, including DisneySea Tokyo, DisneyLand Tokyo and Universal Studios (which includes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter).
  • Hitachi Seaside Park: Popular with families for the millions of flowers that bloom all year round, ferris wheel, putt-putt golf and bike paths, this could be a nice day trip from Tokyo.
  • Koizumi Bokujo Farm: Visit a Japanese dairy farm where your family can learn about the animals and nature. You can even feed or milk the cows if you like. Oh and don’t forget to get some ice cream from the farm shop before you leave.

Our friends over at Y Travel Blog have a get article about traveling to Japan with your kids on a budget . 

Japan trip for Nature-Lovers

Nakasendo Trail Japan

Despite having some of the largest and busiest cities in the world, there is so much nature to be explored in Japan, especially in the mountains. There are plenty of incredible hiking trails throughout Japan, so make sure you pack your hiking boots.

  • Mount Fuji: The icon of Japan is open for hiking during the peak season of July and August when the mountain huts are open.
  • Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route : To travel through this area, visitors must take 8 different modes of transport, including electric buses, cable cars, and funiculars, all to see what is known as the “ Roof of Japan” . In the summer time you can hike up to Mt. Tateyama, but in the spring you can walk next to the 7 meter high snow wall.
  • Takachiho Gorge: Walk along or even boat through the mossy green gorge in the Miyazaki region of Kyushu Island. The Tatsuzawa Fudo no Taki Waterfall ends the 1 km trail near a Buddhist temple.
  • Cedar Avenue in Hakone: It’s a preserved section of the historic Tokaido Road, this area has over 400 Cedar trees towering over the forest floor.
  • Tottori Sand Dunes: Stretching over 2 km and rising up to 45 meters high, these dunes are a famous attraction with a sand sculpture museum.
  • Mount Tateyama: It has the highest peak of the Toyama mountains and is one of the three sacred mountains of Japan, after Mt. Fuji and Hakusan.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Japan trip

Best Time to Visit Japan | Two Wandering Soles

  • Shinjuku’s Golden Gai Bar Crawl: Tucked away in a corner of Tokyo, these 6 narrow streets are home to a variety of micro bars that can only fit a handful of people, some with only 3 or 4 seats. Most of these establishments have their own themes as well, so be sure to try the rocker bar and the French-themed bar.
  • Yamachan: What?! An all-you-can-drink premium sake bar?! And you can bring in your own food. Am I in Japanese heaven? Located near Shinjuku, you won’t find many tourists in this self-service pour your own drink bar.
  • Tokyo Free Guide: Request the service of a free guide from this non-profit organization. They are free of charge and can take you on a tour anywhere you want to go and they are happy and informative guides.
  • Jidayubori Park Old Farmhouse Garden: Built in the Edo period (1800’s), the series of farmhouses are maintained by an elderly couple who lived in them during the 20th century.
  • Haunted Tokyo Tour: Ready for a good scare? Choose between one of 6 tours that will bring you around Tokyo in search of ghosts of samurais and spooky graveyards. The guide speaks multiple languages and brings you to not-so-popular places in Tokyo.

Japan trip for Foodies

Foods to Eat in Japan | Two Wandering Soles

Japanese cuisine is renowned around the world, and there’s nothing quite like trying it at the source. Foodies will love Japan for its fresh ingredients and careful attention to technique. 

  • Tsukiji Fish Market: Get the freshest sushi you will ever taste. It’s better than you can ever imagine.
  • Cooking Class: Learn how to make your favorite Japanese dishes and then bring your skills back home to impress your friends.
  • Ramen Hunting in Tokyo: Slurp down a proper ramen noodle bowl at a number of ramen shops. You’ll know it’s legit when you have to order at a machine first and hand over your ticket to the workers behind the counter.
  • Food Tour: Try taking a food tour one of your first days in Japan so you know what to look for during the rest of your stay. You’ll leave full of knowledge and with a full belly.

Japan trip for the quirky traveler

teamLab Borderless Tokyo Guide Floating Lanterns

There are endless weird and quirky things to do in Japan, so take full advantage of the culture. 

  • Stay in a capsule hotel: Hope you’re not claustrophobic. These hotels are more popular than you think and they are not that bad. Some have TV’s and personal air conditioning.
  • Visit teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum in Tokyo: Probably the most instagrammable locations in Tokyo, if not all of Japan! Interact with colorful projections of moving art as you explore different worlds that overload your senses.
  • Go to Comic Con in Japan: Time to get your geek on. Anime, superheroes and comics all together under one roof. If that’s not quirky, then I don’t know what is.
  • Take your picture in a photobooth: Not your average mall photo booth. Once you take fun pictures with your friends, head to the editing screen and make your eyes bigger, your cheeks blush, and your smile more white. You can even add captions before it prints it out for you.
  • Vending Machine: Buy something completely random out of a vending machine, from socks to bread to headphones to beer.
  • Karaoke: Ah, a Japanese classic. Rent out a room with your friends or take a night-time karaoke tour and belt out your favorite 90’s hits. Hint: Ben’s is Wannabe by the Spice Girls.
  • Robot Restaurant Show: The most entertaining dinner you will ever go to. Lasers shining everywhere, robots battling right in front of you and dancers banging on drums, this show is unforgettable.

Japan trip for culture seekers


  • Stay at a Ryokan: Enjoy traditional Japanese hospitality in a paper-walled ryokan room while sleeping on a comfy futon on the ground. The service is always excellent and so are the meals.
  • Geisha Experience: Hang around the Gion district around dinner time in Kyoto to spot a geisha traveling to her events that evening. They typically don’t like to be bothered so just watch from afar.
  • Tea Ceremony : There is a specific art form to creating the perfect cup of tea and the Japanese have made that perfection. Probably the best cup of tea you’ll ever have.
  • Temple Hopping: There are thousands of temples throughout Japan. Some in the heart of the city and others resting on the peaks of mountains. Try to understand the history of each temple you visit and be in awe of how many people they have served.

A note on responsible travel in Japan

Animal Cafes: We’ve been to a few dog and cat cafes in Korea , but have heard not so great things about the animal cafe culture in Japan when it comes to animals that are not typically domesticated, like owls and sheep. Again, do a little research and make your own informed decision about if you would like to support this business.

Koguchi Japan on the Kumano Kodo Trail

Planning a trip to Japan, whether long or short, can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Take the stress out of planning by following these simple steps that’ll ensure you don’t forget anything. 

1. Decide where you want to go

Will you be beginning your trip in Tokyo, or another major hub in Japan? Plot out your ideal itinerary with the help of some of these Japan resources:

  • Most Beautiful Places in Japan You Need to See For Yourself
  • Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Where to See Them in Every Region
  • Crazy Fun Things to Do in Japan

2. Book your flights

First, you’ll need to answer these questions: What airport will you fly into? Are you going to make a round trip and fly out of the same airport? Or are you departing out of a new place? 

We like to use Skyscanner to compare flight costs for different airports and days of the week before booking. You never know when you might find a better deal just by adjusting your travel schedule by one day or flying into a different airport. 

Want more tips for finding the best deal on airfare? You’re in luck, because we have an entire article dedicated to how to find cheap flights !

3. Book your accommodation

Ryokan stay in Japan

Booking accommodation in Japan is easily done online with the help of a few sites. Here are our go-to booking sites for Japan:

  • Booking : We’d be lying if we said we only use one booking software. Usually, while traveling in Asia we start by searching on Agoda, but then compare on Booking.com. Sometimes the prices are slightly different, or Booking will offer free cancellation.
  • Agoda : This is our very favorite booking site for finding the best hotels in Asia. We often find hotels on Agoda aren’t listed anywhere else and the prices are super competitive.
  • Airbnb : While in Tokyo, we stayed in an Airbnb and loved staying in a “local” neighborhood. Our Airbnb was more reasonably priced compared with many of the hotels available at the time (during Lunar New Year).

4. Get travel insurance

Even though you might be safer in Japan than in your home country, accidents do happen. We never leave home without travel insurance and neither should you. 

For more information on how to pick a policy and what we look for in travel insurance, check out our detailed travel insurance comparison article .

5. Start packing!

Now you’ve booked your trip to Japan, there’s only one thing left to do… start packing! See our recommendations for your packing list below. 

What to pack for your Japan trip

When deciding what to pack for your trip to Japan, a big thing to consider is the time of year you will be visiting. In the wintertime, for instance, you will encounter cold temperatures and will need warm clothing, whereas in summer the temperatures can be quite hot. 

Find out exactly what to pack for Japan with our free Japan packing list download . Click the image below and fill out the form to get the packing list PDF sent straight into your inbox:

Japan Packing List PDF Download | Two Wandering Soles

For ideas of what clothing to bring, check out our packing list for long term travel or the eco-friendly packing list full of travel gear that will minimize your footprint around Japan. 

Japan-specific travel items

Here are some other items you’ll want to consider packing for your trip to Japan:

  • Universal travel adapter and converter : This adapter/converter can plug in to Japanese outlets (and over 150 other countries outlets) and convert the voltage to for you. No more shorting out your electronics.
  • Away luggage : We recently jumped on the bandwagon and purchased our first Away bags and were not disappointed. These durable hard-sided roller bags come in lots of different sizes and with a lifetime guarantee, they are likely the be the last bags we ever need to purchase!
  • Packing cubes : A backpacking staple, these cubes help keep your clothes organized in your bag.
  • Travel towel : Always good to carry around a fast drying microfiber towel just in case your hotel doesn’t provide them.
  • Lush solid shampoo bar : No more worrying about liquid limits. One all-natural bar will last me up to 3 months and they smell great!
  • Power bank : It’s the worst when you arrive in a new city and your phone is dead. Keep it charged with an Anker Battery Pack, this one can charge your phone up to 7 times.
  • GoPro : One of the best ways to capture your travels. They are lightweight, take great pictures and video and they are waterproof up to 10 meters without a case!
  • Travel tripod : (if you’re into photography) If you want some travel photography tips, we’ve got you covered !)
  • Bamboo sunglasses : Tree Tribe polarized sunglasses not only look great, but for every purchase they plant 10 trees.
  • Kindle Paperwhite : Download all your travel guidebooks onto your Kindle. You no longer have to carry around heavy books that take up space in your bag, and the Paperwhite verison lights up in the dark.

If you’re planning a trip to Japan, we’ve got loads of helpful resources for you! Start with our Japan Travel Homepage , where you’ll find general info, and be sure to check out the articles below. Leave us a comment if you have any questions!

  • Japan Rail Pass: Where to Buy a JR Pass & Is it Worthwhile?
  • Japan Pocket Wifi vs. Japanese SIM Card
  • 15 Best Japan Travel Apps
  • Unique Japanese Souvenirs: What to Buy in Japan 
  • Best Time to Go to Japan: When to Go & When to Avoid
  • Winter in Japan: What to Do + Why It’s a Great Time to Visit
  • Foods to Eat in Japan: Guide to Japanese Cuisine

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Japan Travel Guide | Two Wandering Soles

We want to hear from you!

Now that you’ve read through this extensive Japan travel guide, do you feel more prepared for your trip?! Is there anything we didn’t cover that you still have questions about? Comment below and we’ll try our very best to find the answer if we don’t know ourselves!

Comments (138) on “ Japan Travel Guide: How to Book Your First Japan Trip ”

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Very informative, thanks.

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I just planning to visit Japan. thanks for your guide.

If you aren’t hitting the ski slopes, March to May and September to November are generally considered the best times to visit the country for pleasant weather.

Yes! We are so excited to visit this coming November!

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Thanks Carol! Japan travel is amazing, but sometimes it can be confusing for the first time traveler. We are glad you found it useful!

It is my dream to visit Japan once in my life currently I am a student also preparing for a Job but soon I will definitely visit my dream country Japan once in my life to experience heaven on earth and I bookmarked this article for future Help. I really want to thank to the writer of this post,

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Thanks for sharing, I always want to travel to Japan, a beautiful country.

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Wow! This comprehensive resource covers everything you need for planning a trip to Japan. Discover essential tips and information to make your Japanese adventure unforgettable.

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Thanks For Sharing This incredible information

Regards, Carol Although travelling in Japan is fantastic, it can occasionally be challenging for first-timers. We’re happy it was helpful for you!

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Wow, guys. This is the most comprehensive Japan travel post I’ve ever seen! There’s no way I could read through this entire thing right now, but I’ll certainly bookmarking this for our future trip to Japan. I noticed that you’re a VIPKid teacher as well. It’s amazing how this company has made traveling a reality for so many of us! Keep the amazing content coming!

Thanks for the in-depth wonderful article you turned out here Enjoyed reading the article above and thank you for sharing good knowledge and information it’s very helpful. I was searching for a travel blog and found your blog site. I like your high-quality blog site design plus your posting abilities. Keep doing it

Thanks Jamie, glad you found it useful. Let us know if you have any questions about traveling in Japan

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Wow! Great works guys – this is a superb guide. The amount of work you’ve put into this is seriously impressive. Good practical information and tips too.

I’m also an onsen fan, and I completely agree for the truly immersive cultural experience nothing beats staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn).

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Excellent site except for the lack of info on Tokyo bus and subway passes/fares. Need info on where to buy, how to buy, cost and what they can be used for.

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Really the knowledge given by this blog is 100% thanks for making such a knowledgable article on travelling life.

Thanks for this great article! Have got of tons of ideas for my trip! This country is definitely now my bucket list on more priority now!

Thanks a lot for sharing all the details. would really help me plan my trip in a better way!

This is the first time I visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work.

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Japan is on my family’s bucket list. I am definitely going to pin this guide for reference when I am planning

Thank you for information about Japan! Does anyone have an itinerary with a trip to Japan on the Worldee?

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Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it 🙂

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Glas it’s helpful 🙂

Nara was mind-blowing! The Deer, walking up to you, begging for food, the Mochi pull at the mall and all the beautiful Temples. Unfortunately, it rained during our visit, but I still look at the pictures and think about how lucky I am to have seen this.

Perfect Travel Blog Guide For the Travel to Japan.

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Wonderful content. Really thought provoking and super informative. Keep it up guys.

What an amazing and extensive post. I would like to add something to the foodie part. Japanese food is amazing, and while you can try delicious things in Tokyo, every region and city has its specialties. For real foodies I would suggest visiting the following cities and trying the following foods: Osaka – Osaka style Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki Kobe – Kobe Beef (other regions also have amazing Wagyu) Hiroshima – Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki and Oysters Nagoya – Hitsumabushi and everything with red Miso like Miso Nikomi Udon Fukuoka – Hakata Ramen Of course, there is much much more but these are the foodie highlights of Japan.

wow i have a dream to visit japan

Impressive writing. You have the power to keep the reader occupied with your quality content and style of writing. I encourage you to write more.

very nice info, i will go there soon!

very nice place and recommended to visit

As someone that had lived in Okinawa (Military posting) for two years, I never got to travel around Japan. I’m planning on a trip next year. Should I have one AirBnB that I use as my ‘home’ for my trip (I’ll be in Japan for about 3 or 4 weeks) or should I only book spots for a couple of days while I travel around the country?

Very interesting article, thank you for sharing your travel experience to Japan. By reading this, I want to come to Japan. It’s nice to come there and feel the holiday atmosphere in Japan. landhoteldiever.nl

Wonderful post! Congratulations!

honestly WOW! this website is so useful and helpful and it has really, and I mean REALLY good info on Japan. This has helped me so much to plan my dream trip to Japan and I thank you both! Katie and Ben! for taking the time to share your experience and your knowledge that ultimately helped me in so many ways! THANK YOU!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Outstanding vacation point. Great!

Great Post. Thanks for sharing Great information about Japan tour, The travel experience is great.

Thanks so much for your nice comment! Cheers!

Hey Guys, I just have to say "hats off" on this guide… "Ultimate Guides" are so misused and the term gets thrown around so much it’s nice to actually see one that’s this robust!

Thanks so much Sara! Are you planning a trip to Japan soon? Let us know if you have any more questions. Cheers!

You are very welcome Agen! Let us know if you have any questions!

a very extraordinary website ! your discussion is really very helpful. thank you very much for what you convey. Good luck always.

Thank you so much for your nice comment, we really appreciate it. Let us know if you have any questions about traveling in Japan!

Hi Really grate information. you have done your best. I hope one day I can afford it to take a short trip to Japan which is my wonder land. I have been reading Japanese for a while. (Mai asa watash wa nihon go benki shimasu) (domo arigato gozaimasu)

Thanks so much for your nice comment!

Planning to visit Japan in autumn of 2019, found a lot of interesting information and some very good suggestions/tips here, thanks!

You are very welcome Mari! Hope you have a great trip to Japan!

Wow, thanks for sharing Katie and Ben, this is insanely detailed and covers everything a traveller needs!

If we may add just add some safety issues for fellow travellers to watch out for, mainly do be aware of some of the bar scams and bill padding that happen in Roppongi and Shinjuku, as well as donation touts/scammers. May everyone enjoy Japan!

Thanks for the tip David, but from our experience we didn’t see any scams while traveling in Japan.

Will be using this in the future with specific items to get before hand. Traveling to Japan alone and for the first time in a couple months. Extremely excited and nervous ? Thank you!

Hey Cody, Thanks for the comment. Traveling to Japan solo can seem intimidating, but it is totally possible. Let us know if you have any questions, we would be happy to help. Cheers, Ben

what’s your camera and lens? 🙂

We have a Nikon D7500 DSLR camera that we take most of our photos with. If you want more tips on travel photography, you might want to check out our article on it. Let us know if you have any questions. Cheers!

Oh my your post is verrrrrryyyyy informative. I wish I saw this before our trip. Anyhow, will keep this in my bookmarks for my future travels in Japan. Thanks a lot.

Dang, sorry you missed it. Hopefully it will be a good start for your next trip!

Wow! Very informative. I’ll be sure to use these handy hints when we go there next year!

Glad you liked the tips, Melissa. Hope you have fun planning your trip to Japan!

I literally found this post very interesting and it just cast spell on me. I am soon going to visit Japan, thanks for sharing this post.

You are very welcome. Have fun visiting Japan soon!

Hi Good Morning to all of us! How is it like going to live at Japanese are more confidence swept even though they not shy fronts others? What can they most travel like wise Japanese become the standard language, seeing use in most official communications among JAPAN;which later developed in "Kanji" which is a form of writing used to express ideas in the Japanese and Chinese languages.[11] many ordinary Japanese people tend to consider the languages as dialects of Japanese. This is the result of the official language policy of the Japanese government, which has declared these languages to be dialects and prohibited their use in middle high education after graduation even though they will understand unfortunate front of and others?

Thank you Karen for the additional information on Japan.

Hi Katie & Ben…My better half and I visited Japan last week from India and had a wonderful trip…thanks to your travelog and detailed info! We blindly followed your steps at almost every point and did very little customization. Thanks again for these contents. Keep traveling and guide amateurs like us 🙂

Thank you so much for the kind words. It truly makes our day knowing we have helped make someone’s trip better or easier! Thank you for taking the time to let us know! It just brought a smile to our faces 🙂

Great and useful information about travelling through Japan! But are you sure that a two-way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto covers the price of the 1 week JR-Pass? Maybe it depends on your location, but where I am from (NL) it seems cheaper to buy two separate tickets. Especially considering that you cannot take the fastest Shinkansen (Nozomi) when using the JR-Pass.

Hey there JapanYo, the round trip ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo is basically the same price as the one week JRail Pass. And if you are traveling anywhere else in Japan, even intercity, if you have the pass, you can think of all your other train trips are free, since you can ride JRail unlimited times within the week.

And you still can ride the Shinkansen Bullet Trains with the pass, the only one it excludes is Nozomi.

Hope this information helps others choose what’s best for them when traveling to Japan.

The ultimate Japan travel guide helps me a lot in planning my trip. The pictures look beautiful and stunning. I really enjoyed the trip and please let me know what are the other incredible sights to explore in Japan.

Hey there, Glad you liked the article. We have tons of tips and advice in our other Japan articles, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, be sure to check out our Japan travel page.

Loved your post.

Thanks so much Japan Tours! Glad you liked it!

I’ve been offered a place in japan to intern so cherry blossoms here we come!

Congratulations D on your internship! Cherry blossom season will be a beautiful time of year to be in Japan.

Great guide! So many helpful tips!

Thanks so much DeJuan for your comment.

Excellent guide! I frequent Japan so I’ll be sure to keep your tips in mind 🙂 This is so comprehensive!

Thanks Lev, glad to hear you like it. Let us know how it comes in handy for your next trip. Cheers!

Wow. This is simple epic. Not sure how long it took you to write this but it’s AMAZING and having been in Japan couldn’t agree more!

Thank you so much Paula! We spent a lot of time on it, so it is wonderful to hear that you find it helpful (especially since you’ve been to Japan!).

Wow what a great resource. You have really covered everything you need to plan a trip to Japan.

Thanks Patti, glad you found it useful!

Wow, I think this is the most thorough guide to Japan ever! Guys, you should create an ebook out of it! It’s not only good for first timers, but for anyone giving Japan a visit!

Aww thanks Bistra. We tried really hard to make it one of the best Japan travel guides out there. Glad you liked it!

Japan is on my family’s bucket list. I am definitely going to pin this guide for reference when I am planning.

Thanks Jamie, glad you found it useful. Let us know if you have any questions about traveling in Japan.

Wow, guys. This is the most comprehensive Japan travel post I’ve ever seen! There’s no way I could read through this entire thing right now, but I’ll certainly bookmarking this for our future trip to Japan. I noticed that you’re a VIPKid teacher as well. It’s amazing how this company has made traveling a reality for so many of us! Keep the amazing content coming!

Thanks so much you guys! Glad you like the article. VIPKID is awesome and has really helped us stay on the road. So nice we can teach from anywhere in the world.

Wow! This IS the ultimate Japan travel guide – complete with what to do during what season, costs, and some Japanese words. Thank you for this!

Seriously it’s a total Japan guide

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