Travel to Japan, the land of the rising sun
Intro and Geographical info
Islands offer a peace of mind that’s hard to find elsewhere. The very thought of being surrounded by the tranquility of the ocean engulfs the human mind into pure bliss. One such divinity can be experienced in the land of cherry blossoms, Japan. It is an island country in the Pacific Ocean bordering the East Asian continent.
Famous for its rich heritage and historical events, Japan stands a witness to many battles of yesteryears and testimony for disciplined culture. It is the world of technology and creativity, some of which we can name are Anime, Sumo, Sushi, Sakura and what not!
This little island country has one of the most favorable climates. However, it varies greatly with regions from north to south. Northern Japan is a climatic treat to people from tropical areas with its cold winters and cool summers.
To get enthralled by the snowfall, regions on the coast of the Sea of Japan are a pretty sight. Southern regions are more like home with their cold winters and hot summers. Ideally, a Japanese year thrives with all the four seasons.
Japan’s culture (Shinto, Buddhism)
Although a cosmopolitan country with people from all walks of life, Japanese people are usually followers of Shinto and Buddhism. The tenets of Shinto were the imperial family’s descent from their Sun Goddess that reflected from the divinity of the emperor. Although after World War II, the emperor’s divinity was renounced, he stands as the official head of the Shinto religion in Japan.
Experience Shinto in Japan
In literal terms, Shinto means ‘the way of the Gods’ and this religion has a strong relation to nature. The believers are worshipers of nature and natural places like mountain tops, forests, waterfalls, specific trees, unusual rocks, and more. Shinto believers respect their deities through a process of ritual purification.
Shinto is less solemn than the Westerners relate worshipping to. However, you will notice commercial bustle around the Asakusa shrine in Tokyo that evokes an atmosphere like a Western country fair.
People clap their hands, toss coins to drop it in a box, bow respectfully, and offer prayers. The believers then move to the food stalls, souvenir shops, and amusement booths inside the sanctuary.
As you talk to locals or people who follow Shinto, they will have great insight to give you about their religion and what they believe in. Most Shinto people are ethnic and follow rituals strictly. They strike a balance between modern-day Japan with its traditional past and have unique stories to tell about their lifestyle, upbringing, and beliefs.
Buddhism in Japan
Buddhist philosophy dates back to 500 BC and originated in India. The pure doctrine of Buddhism urges people to seek Nirvana or enlightenment by giving up on desires – the main source of pain in life.
In Japan, Buddhist practices transformed from private contemplation into public charity. The need for asceticism and celibacy faded with time. Initially, the Japanese people looked as Buddhism as a protect of the noble families and the state. These were the people who built Buddhist temples near their homes.
The new sect of Buddhism spread after the 9th century in Japan and expanded all across the country. The religion transformed from protecting aristocracy and became the means of hope and faith for every common man. They were all attracted to the beliefs, prayers, and rituals of Buddhism.
By the end of the 12th century, the religion was as prominent as Shinto in Japan. It suffused with aspects of the Chinese Confucianism, which was relatable to the Japanese people. These included filial piety, loyalty, and family solidarity.
Why you should visit Japan?
Japanese unique culture
Japnese culture will never fail to inspire you. It thrives in its age-old traditional values in spite of all the technological advances. You get to experience the best of both worlds throughout your stay.
Though dominated by a mechanical life with a number of renowned companies headquartered in their country, people treasure their virtue more than anything else.
Japanese culture stands apart in terms of their approach towards others. They’re the politest people you’d have ever come across. In this modern era, Japanese people are one among the few countries where people greet each other with a slight bow.
You’ll be surprised that even bus drivers thank each person for purchasing a ticket. The three magic words – thank you, sorry and please are used at all times. However, people speak only Japanese, though English is taught as a second language in school.
This reveals their patriotism towards their mother tongue. Throughout your stay, you’ll hear the word ‘Arigato’ very often, which means ‘Thank you.’
Rules are never meant to be broken. They are staunch believers of ‘First come, first serve.’ You’ll find queues everywhere, be it a lift or a billing counter. Libraries are not the only place where people maintain silence, the everyday commute is as serene as a place of worship.
Road rules are kept up at all times. Pedestrians are respected, most of the vehicles stop if people are walking by. Chaos is absolutely forbidden. As travelers, it is highly important to follow their values so as not to offend them.
Landscapes in Japan
Japan comprises of tiny islands, mountains, and valleys. Mountains dominate the country. Mount Fuji, one of the holy mountains of Japan, is a highly popular tourist destination. Being a dormant volcano, it is totally harmless. UNESCO claims Mount Fuji to be an inspiration for many artists and poets.
Active volcanoes also contribute to volcanic landscapes. Showa-Shinzan and Sakurajima to name a few. One shouldn’t miss Fuketsu on their visit to Japan, it is a cave where cold wind breezes out from the inside.
Besides the mountains, Japan also possesses several relaxing coastal areas. Beaches, sidelines and coral reefs are found in abundance. Check out Okinawa main island for a day out, to soak in the goodness of vitamin D. It is the abode for adventurists as it provides snorkeling opportunities.
Kerama Islands are famous for their corals and most of the tourists have been lucky enough to spot sea turtles near the beaches. For those who revel in solitude, Amami Oshima is a safe haven. It is one of the less crowded beaches in Japan.
However, metropolitan cities are lined with skyscrapers that are tall and sleek. The land is prone to earthquakes. But thanks to the brilliant minds, their architecture is made sure to withstand earthquakes. Wooden floorings are found in most of the buildings.
There’s more to Japanese food than ramen or sushi. A must-try is the Okonomiyaki pancakes made from cabbage, topped with a variety of toppings. You can choose any toppings from meat to seafood. Other must-haves are Soba noodles, Yakiniku barbecue, Tempura, Sukiyaki, and Yakitori.
For your sweet tooth, Japan offers matcha-flavored sweets. Matcha is green tea, made from the finest tea leaves that are steamed, dried and made into a powder. You’ll get matcha-flavored ice creams, chocolates, and cookies which are healthy and tasty!
Did you know that Japan has over 200 flavors of KitKat to choose from? These range from Apple, Double-cookie to green tea, soy sauce, cherry blossom, sake, crème Brulee and ginger ale. These are just some of the things you must try in Japan.
The busy Tokyo metropolis has served as the capital for Japan since 1869. Unlike other countries, Japan has remained constant in its choices from the very beginning. The city bustles with life and energy. You’ll never witness a lag in the speeding lifestyle of the people in the capital.
Home to some of the tallest towers in Japan, the Tokyo Sky Tree stands proud at 634 meters. Though the city is lined with skyrocketing skyscrapers, shrines are plenty in number. Asakusa shrine tugs at the heartstrings with its beautiful architecture.
In spite of being a business hub, traffic is maintained and is perfectly under control. Road rules are to be followed at any cost. Japnese people never overtake other vehicles or switch lines. However, public transport is a preferred everyday commute.
While in Tokyo, do experience the Odaiba cruise. The vessel is designed in such a futuristic way, that it almost resembles a spacecraft. It is spacious and fully air-conditioned. A truly magical voyage.
Tokyo doesn’t compromise on its greenery either. Lush green parks and botanical gardens seep the much needed eco-friendly retreat into our systems. Zen gardens are world-famous.
Japnese people close their days much earlier. However, that doesn’t put an end to the nightlife activities that are lined up for tourists. It’s a popular saying the ‘Tokyo is the city that never sleeps!’
Party enthusiasts must visit the Robot Restaurant. It’s located in the Shinjuku district. Make sure to reserve seats for the place is super crowded. There’s no end for all the fun, neon lights, booze and pretty girls. For those of you who are into clubbing, do check out Roppongi and Shibuya.
Smitten with Japnese pop culture? Kawaii monster cafe is a colorful pop culture themed hang out. From Tuesday to Friday, special shows are put up for entertainment. Never miss an opportunity to brag about the famous pop shows.
Huddle around the biggest baseball stadium, Tokyo Dome, if you happen to visit during the baseball season. It is the home to the Yomiuri Giants. Japan is truly diversified having something to offer for everyone. Be it a party or sports, this country will satiate all your needs.
First time to the land of cherry blossoms? Let’s put an end to all the if’s and but’s battling in your mind with these 10 curated tips for people traveling to Japan for the very first time.
Best tips when traveling in Japan
Transit within the country
Let those bulky wallets remain bulky. Always prefer public transport, railways are the best. There’s no hassle as in waiting for a long time. The trains are always on time. Do experience the fastest bullet train, Shinkansen. However, if you prefer cabs, better start early to avoid traffic.
Japnese people aren’t very much into honking, so horns are seldom used and that adds up to the time taken for resolving the traffic. Be prepared to face the intervals if the travel is longer, cab drivers halt for a rest every hour.
Try the capsule hotels, has been vouched by many travelers for its prime locations and service. Make sure to pre-book to avoid last-minute confusions.
Tickling taste buds
If you’re a foodie, worry not. You’ll never run out of options. The Japnese cuisine has loads of mouth-watering dishes to satisfy your taste buds. With the only downfall that almost all the restaurants have really skyrocketing prices for most of their dishes. However, traditional Indian eateries are harder to find. You’ll have to make-do with baked foods. Cafe’s are abundant, Tully’s coffee is deemed the best.
Mind the escalator rules
Make sure to keep left when you’re on an escalator unless you’re running out of time. Because the right side is reserved for people who are in a hurry.
It’s natural to feel that we have to go the extra mile to show that their service was good. And it’s also mandatory to tip the waiters in a few countries. But never tip Japnese for their services, they get offended.
Visa cards to the rescue
Currencies come in handy. However, for hefty purchases, visa cards are accepted as credit cards are not very popular in most of the stores.
Please do not get flustered with so many websites giving out information that handwashes/ sanitizers aren’t available. They do have all the basic necessities in restrooms unless it’s some run-down place. But, jet hoses are not available, instead, they have an automatic button system.
It costs a lot to continue with your existing phone plans. It’s advisable to get a local sim if you plan to stay for a good number of days. And almost all the places offer free wifi, so it’s better to rely on WhatsApp messages and calls for shorter stays.
Souvenirs and goodies
What are travels without a souvenir to hold all the memories intact? Do check out Daiso, it’s the biggest 100 yen shop for goodies. The good old Lawson Familymart is omnipresent and is a good option to purchase goodies for a fair price without compromising on quality.
Time to cross Japan off your bucket list. Happy journey!
Do’s and don’t in Japan
While gambling is frowned upon in so many countries, it is a wonderful recreation in Japan. However, people don’t gamble with money. Instead, they trade vouchers for food and drinks.
It is absolutely harmless. Many parlors are present across the country. Pachinko parlor is one of the most famous gambling parlors. They are in no way lesser to world-famous Casinos. It’s known for its noise and colorful ambiance. Even if you’re not into gambling, do check out their booths just for the jazz and thrill of it.
Experience the onsen
The Japanese word for geothermally heated springs that supply hot water for public baths is termed as an onsen. A bath in the onsen feels almost cathartic. They calm your nerves, soothe your aching muscles and ease stress. Villagers are said to have two onsens every day after hectic fieldwork.
Satiate your taste buds
When in Japan, try only Japanese cuisine. Get hold of your chopsticks and do it the Japanese way. Don’t mind if you don’t get it right. It’s all worth it in the end. The menu cards will leave you awestruck with loads of dishes to choose from.
Learn basic Japanese
Japanese are very patriotic about their language. It feels good to put a smile on their face by conversing in their mother tongue. Here are a few courtesies that will refine your pleasant stay
- Good day – Konichiwa
- Thank you – Arigato
- Sorry – Gomen’nasai
- Please – Onegai shimasu
Karaoke all the way
It’s a favorite past-time in Japan. All the karaoke booths are private. So, get together with your friends and sing your heart out.
Litter at your own cost!
Trash cans are seldom found in Japan. People carry rubbish with them and deposit it in the recycling bins. This process is followed by a rigorous task, where rubbish materials are separated from potential recyclable materials. So, it is advised that instead of littering, travelers carry a paper bag with them. It’s better to co-operate with their complex recycling process.
Say no to booze competitions
Sake and beer drinking competitions are very popular among Japanese men. However, please stay away from getting into one as your chances of winning are very slim when compared to them.
Don’t finish your meal or drink
Japanese people value hospitality above all. When someone has finished their entire meal or drink, they assume that they’ve under-fed you and that you’re still hungry. This offends them. So, always leave bits and scraps of food on your plate.
In most of the western countries, it is mandatory to tip a certain percentage of the total bill to the waiters. However, in Japan, it is an offense. Express your gratitude only through praises.
As mentioned previously, all public transport in Japan is very calm. Stay away from talking loudly on cell phones when you’re commuting. Japanese people don’t like to be disturbed.
Japanese people respect their food more than anything else. Do not talk while eating or drinking. It is considered bad manners.
Don’t blow your nose in public
Japanese people are very sensitive about this. They’re easily disgusted when people blow their noses in public. Make sure you don’t put them in an awkward situation. When the need arises, excuse yourself to one of their so-called musical restrooms and blow your nose. However, sniffing is tolerated.
Fascinating Facts about Japan
- Since it is believed that Japan is the first country to see the sunlight first so in Japanese the term japan means Nihon or Nippon which means “Land of the rising sun”.
- The famous Hello Kitty was born in Japan in 1974 as a plastic purse. Now there are about 20000 variety of Hello Kitty products available in the market. She is known as kitty Chan for Japanese people.
- We all are aware that Japan is the largest producer of the Automobile Industry and Toyota is a great significance over there. But did you know that the eight brush strokes on Toyota are considered to be lucky in Japan? The company is more than a brand for the locals.
- In Japanese, the tearing of gift wrap is considered as a sin.
- Japanese considers belly (hara) as the center of emotions and they value silent communication.
- Shinto is one of the few religions with a female solar deity in the world.
- In a year, Japan faces 1500 earthquakes as minor tremors are common to them. The nation sits on the top of 4 tectonic plates and this the reason for such activities.
- Japan has the world’s oldest continually operating company. They had a construction company that was operated by the same family for 40 generations and the company name is Kongo Gumi Co. Ltd. It was founded in 578 AD and ran up to the year 2006 until another company bought it.
- Japan is mostly made of up of archipelagoes and comprises of 6,852 islands.
- Japnese is a home for pet animals there are more pets compared to kids below 15.
- In Japnese culture, chopsticks should not be kept crossed on the table as it symbolizes death and the vertical chop on rice bowl as the funeral.
- Many of the streets in Japan doesn’t have a name so the postal cards contain substation name and the visiting cards have the map on it.
- There are more than 20 ways of saying sorry in Japan.
- The life expectancy right of Japan is higher compared to other countries.
- The laws in Japan are very strict and the crime rate is very low.
Best time to visit
Japan has loads of options to choose from. One particular season cannot be chosen in general. It all comes down to what you’re very much into. With every season and every region having dozens of festivals and activities year-round, you could never end up with a dull vacation. Plan your stay based on the following activities,
Forget-me-not blue skies
Not everyone is fond of monsoons and ski slopes. To revel in a holiday similar to those cheerful rising sun postcards, plan your stay in the months from March to May and from September to November. The weather is perfect with very little or no rainfall at all.
Temperature is mild. This picture-perfect weather chimes in for hiking. It’s also the season for outdoor festivals like the outdoor beer games.
Witness the cherry blossoms
The very thought that strikes our mind at the mention of Japan would be cherry blossoms. Plan your trip from late March, that’s when the trees in the warmer regions of south start blooming.
However, the trees in the northern regions start blooming only in the month of May. Apart from these two regions, if you happen to stay at Kansai or Kanto, the first blossoms of the season are in the early weeks of April.
In general, Japan is an expensive holiday destination. It’s not very budget-friendly. With travelers flocking from all over the globe, it’ll be tough bargaining for hotels and flights. To make the most out of your limited means, plan your trip beforehand. Target winter, from mid-January to March, to grab the best deals on hotels and flights.
Rugby world cup
If crowds aren’t your thing, avoid traveling to Japan during the months of summer Olympics and rugby world cup. The country swarms with people from around the world and the ruckus will ruin your ideal getaway.
Planning a trip to Japan
Japan is a diverse country. Unless you’ve got a perfect sketch of what you want to do right from the first day to the last, you’ll end up feeling lost in a new country. You’ll waste time and money. Planning your entire trip well in advance is pretty tedious and time-consuming. But, it is very important that you do so.
Plan your activities
Analyze your interests. Make a list of your likes, dislikes and hobbies. Thrown in a few festivals that you don’t want to miss during your stay. Japan has four seasons and each season has something unique to offer.
Choose your destination
Once you’re done with drafting your to-do list, decide where you want to go.
For instance, if hiking is your thing, autumns in Hokkaido are the best. The weather is the right blend that favor hikers.
For those of you who are from tropical regions, a cold retreat might sound great. Try the ski resorts in Hokkaido’s winter.
People who are more inclined towards archaeology and spirituality must head straight to Kyoto. It is the humble abode for many temples and shrines.
Chart out your duration of stay
Your budget is directly proportional to your stay in Japan. It’s important to get them straight. If you don’t mind spending lavishly, the duration should be the least of your worries.
The more you stay, the more you get to experience. However, not all of us are blessed with such hefty bank balances. In that case, plan your expenses before you land in Japan and start saving up. Plan a shorter stay and try to make the most out of it.
Make sure you have a valid passport. This might sound silly, but it is very critical that you understand that your passport should remain valid throughout your stay. If your country is exempted from a visa, you can travel with your passport.
If not, apply for a visa. Provide accurate details about flight and hotel bookings while doing so. Once your visa is issued, proceed with the next step.
Don’t dump your schedule with more places than you can cover in a single day. Holidays are supposed to be relaxing.
Keep it simple. Don’t rely on blogs that boast of ‘7 days itinerary, 4 days itinerary.’ Understand your pace and trust your instincts. Plan according to the season that you are targeting. Once you’re done with your itinerary, purchase your Japan rail pass.
This is a very crucial step. Book your flight and hotel. Watch out for last-minute flight deals. You never know when luck strikes, you might land a really good offer. While booking hotels, go through the reviews with the utmost care. Don’t get deceived by fake reviews and images.
Double-check everything. Make sure you book your room in advance and consider the cancellation policies. Contact the hotelier in case of any queries. For longer stays, book your hotel room near the train station. However, for shorter stays, don’t purchase a rail pass. Cabs will do.
Invest in travel insurance
Insurance’s intention is not to dampen your spirits. But, it is wise to expect the unexpected. You never know what comes next. Extensive travelers clearly understand the importance of travel insurance. Make sure your insurance covers medical expenses, lost luggage, flight cancellation, camera breaks, etc.
Pack your bags
As pointed out time and again, Japan has 4 seasons. So, pack according to the season you’re visiting.
Winter in Northern Japan is extremely harsh. Pack your clothes that are ideal to survive the cold. Stock up on layers of clothes, boots, and socks to stay warm throughout your stay.
Summers are hot and humid. There’s not much to meddle with packing. Light clothes will do. However, for early autumn and late spring, carry a light jacket as it tends to get chilly.
Check out travel blogs and magazines
It can be a really exciting and daunting experience for people who are traveling to Japan for the very first time. Read as many travel-related blogs and magazines you can find online. They are up-to-date with tips and day to day happenings. It’s also useful to follow up on Japan’s weather and general headlines.
Safety in Japan
Japanese people adhere to hard and fast rules, making it one of the top ten safest countries in the world. You’ll be astounded when you find children riding the subway unaccompanied, lost wallets found and returned with money intact and homes being unlocked with no negative consequences.
The country is full of surprises to a commoner. Japanese government prides itself for the lack of criminal headlines in their newspapers.
If you’re a solo female traveler, be sure that you’ll enjoy your trip. Japanese people go out of the way to help women when they’re in a crisis. A few hotels even offer female-only accommodations. Plus, female-only cars are found in most of the trains. You’re provided with top-notch security throughout your stay.
Stop the buses when you please
All the buses are provided with a stop button just like trains. If you’re uncomfortable about something or feel that someone is not behaving the right way, just press the button to get down.
Tourist Information centers
Most of the railway stations in the country have an information center to carter to the needs of tourists. City
Crime rates are at an all-time low. Pickpockets are almost unheard of, even in crowded cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. It’s perfectly safe to go backpacking all alone, any day, anywhere.
Gangsters of yesteryears
It’s a cliche, the Yazuka gangsters. Gone are their days of reign. They were considered to be the violent and corrupt criminals Japan has ever come across. With the police breathing down their necks, they are scared of bothering people.
The ‘me-too’ movement has left the laws rewritten. The Japanese cabinet ministers have taken special measures to devise new laws against sexual harassment. Groping and harassing are considered illegal and are punishable by law.
Goodbye to Fukushima disaster
The 2011 tsunami destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power station. But, there’s absolutely nothing to be scared of. The radioactive debris has been cleared and the area surrounding the plant is off-limits for everyone. So, your safety is their primary concern.
Rumor has it that Tokyo is polluted beyond limits. However, it is just a rumor. Tokyo is cleaner than Los Angeles.
Prevention is better than cure
No country is more prepared than Japan when it comes to safety. Given that Japan is more prone to earthquakes, there are certain measures that you can follow
- A good number of apps are available that will notify you of an oncoming disaster
- When in an earthquake, protect yourself by taking shelter under a wooden table or desk
- Approach the locals. They are more than willing to help you out in a crisis.
Don’t fear the contagious diseases
When sick, people of Japan usually wear surgical masks to prevent spreading the infection. Even if the country doesn’t impress you, its humanity will sweep you off your feet.
Visa to Japan
Visa is mandatory to visit Japan unless your country is exempted. A visitor who wishes to fly to Japan on a tour must obtain a tourist visa before entering the country. The tourist visa is a short term visa. It’s valid for 90 days. Tourist visas can be obtained for sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, attending business conferences and pursuing a very short term course.
The eligibility criteria to obtain a visa are as follows:
- You must have a valid passport
- The passport must be valid throughout your stay
- The passport must have two blank pages for the visa
- You must submit a –
- A copy of your completed visa application form
- A copy of your round trip ticket
- Proof of your hotel reservation and financial ability
- Photocopy of your birth certificate and marriage certificate (if applicable)
- A formal statement of your financial situation from the bank for the past six months
- Certificate of employment if your trip is not sponsored
- You must leave Japan at the end of your authorized stay.
It’s quite normal to feel daunted by the process of applying for a visa. The entire process has been broken down into steps to make it easier.
- With the internet available just a few clicks away. Nothing is a very big deal. Download the visa application form online.
- After downloading the form, read the application twice. Sort out any issues or doubts through the help-line.
- Fill the form carefully. Do not forget to put your signature once the form is completed.
- The required documents are available for download along with your form. Make sure you download that. Gather all the required documents. Don’t deem anything unnecessary. If it’s mentioned, you have to produce it during verification.
- Create a checklist to double-check. Keep the documents ready on the previous day to avoid last-minute confusions.
- The photo that you provide for visa application must be a recent one. It shouldn’t be older than 6 months. The photo must meet the specifications mentioned in the visa application. Refrain from applying filters to your photo.
- You’ll have to pay for the visa application form. Check the fees required and the mode of payment that will be accepted by the Embassy of Japan where you are supposed to submit your application form. The fees differ depending upon the nationality of the visitor. Check with the Embassy regarding the fees beforehand. Keep the fees ready to have a hassle-free experience.
- Once you are done with all the formalities, submit the visa application form along with the fees to the embassy of Japan. Approach the Embassy that’s nearest to you. Based on your country of origin, you may submit the application form in person or through an accredited travel agent who has been approved by the Embassy of Japan.
- You may have to attend an interview.
- Once your visa is issued, you’ll be notified. Collect the visa after showing your invoice cum receipt provided at the time of submission. In case you want the visa delivered to your location by a travel agent, you should provide an authorized letter duly signed by you along with the invoice.
How to save money in Japan
Though Japan is considered an expensive holiday destination, there are many loopholes that you can make use of.
Eateries and pubs within budget
Just like other countries, Japan is also dominated by chain restaurants like Yoshinoya, Matsuya, and Sukiya. These hang-outs offer lightning deals, discounts, and occasionally seasoned dishes at an affordable price. Do check out their web pages when you are there, you don’t want to miss out on these amazing deals.
Getting street smart will save you a few bucks. Tachigui is one such local food chain where you have to dine while standing. But the lack of furnishing will actually cost you very little.
Don’t compromise on the nightlife. Similar to chain restaurants, chain pubs called Izakaya are found in abundance. Torikizoku is a must-visit, you’ll be surprised to find that everything on the menu is ¥298.
When it comes to supermarkets, the good old Lawson family mart comes into the picture. Be on the lookout for discounts. OK and Aeon are convenience stores where you can get your hands on some authentic baked goods and goodies.
Walking and cycling are always the best
You might be tempted to give in to public transport. But, Japan has so much to offer within walking distance. It is one of the most pedestrian-friendly countries you’ll ever come across.
Make use of the opportunity and burn a few calories that you’ll undoubtedly add up as a result of all the mouth-watering dishes. However, renting a bicycle is also a good option.
Public transport to the rescue
When you have to cover long distances, cabs might empty your wallet. Instead, depending on your duration of stay, purchase the Japanese Rail Pass. Commonly known as JR pass.
Another good option would be to take the bus. Compared to railways, buses are cheaper. To check out towns far away from Tokyo, night bus services like Willer Express offers good prices and comfortable rides.
Accommodations at a fair price
If you don’t have a relative or friend’s place to return after sightseeing, plenty of accommodations are available. If you prefer something much more personal than lodges, try the capsule hotels. It is very popular among travelers.
They make you feel at home with amazing cultural experiences. Some of the capsule hotels also have a sento public bath to help you relax after a long day. They charge as low as 2000 yen per night. For social gatherings and get-togethers, guesthouses are also available at a slightly higher price.
100-yen stores come in handy for everyday purchases. Goods are available at a fair price without compromising on quality. The products range from basic necessities to large appliances, cookware, clothing, and bicycles. Souvenirs and goodies can be purchased in bulk to distribute to your near and dear ones back at home.
Drugstores also sell food and drinks at a very reasonable price. Sometimes, they might be cheaper than the 100-yen shops. So check the difference in prices before you buy anything.
Transportation in Japan
You’ll understand while calculating your budget that transportation within the country constitutes a huge amount. Compared to transit, other expenses are pretty low. Careful planning of your itinerary plays a major part.
Limiting yourself to visit a particular region and avoiding long-distance travel within the country is a foolproof method to cut down costs. However, if you wish to travel to different regions, the following modes of transport are suggested.
Japan bus pass
It’s one of the wallet-friendly transport options. If utilized properly, transit costs can be reduced to half. The passes can be purchased according to our needs. 3, 4 and 5 days passes are popular among the tourists.
Highway buses are suggested for long-distance travels. Though these buses are slower when compared to trains, transit expenses can be reduced unbelievably, provided you don’t mind spending a night in the bus.
Japan rail pass
People who have plans to travel cross-country should prefer railways. The passes can be purchased for 7, 14 and 21 consecutive days. JR passes provide unlimited, nationwide transit on almost all the trains operated in the country, including the bullet trains.
Apart from nationwide passes, if your itinerary covers only a particular region, exclusive passes are available. These passes are called ‘regional passes’ and offers good deals. For example, JR Tokyo wide pass, Nikko pass, and Koyasan World Heritage Ticket to name a few.
If you don’t mind being lavish, domestic airlines offer comfortable transit. You’ll come across many discounts owing to the competition between the airlines and the railways. Skymark Airlines, Peach Aviation, and Jetstar Japan offer considerably low fares and bookings are done in English.
However, passes are not only limited to buses and railways, but air passes are also issued exclusively for foreigners.
For people who are into trying different modes of transport, do check out the ferries. Though ferries are available only for a limited number of routes, it can be a truly magical experience. Different classes are available and second class fares are considerably inexpensive.
When holidaying as a group or if you are interested in exploring on your own, rental cars are the best option. It’s the only transport where you can enjoy your privacy. However, gas expenses and highway tolls sneak into your budget. So, plan accordingly. If convenience and privacy top your expectations, go ahead with this option.
You’d have come across this term everywhere. Your entire itinerary, right from your first day to last is planned by tourist agencies. You don’t have to devise an elaborate plan.
All you have to do is maintain the schedule and go with the flow. Based on the package you choose, the number of people accompanying you differs. For a higher price, you get to explore the places with just your family and a guide from the agency accompanies you.
Though very popular among the young generation, it is not common in Japan. Will Fugerson’s book ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Japan’ covers this topic. But, it was last updated in 1998, rendering it almost useless. However, that shouldn’t stop you from backpacking and exploring the country the way you want it to be.
Don’t stress with devising a budget plan. The following subheadings will help you choose your preferred plan.
On average, a roundtrip flight from most parts of the US to Japan costs around $2,300. However, booking your tickets well in advance could save you a lot. It is important to note that flight tickets depend on your boarding place, season and other factors.
If you travel from countries in Western Europe, like Germany, Spain, Portugal, and France, the roundtrip flight ticket costs approximately € 970
Traveling from Australia to Japan will amount to A$ 1,425.
Flight fares from Canada to Japan is approximately CAD 1,907
It’s well known that Japan is an expensive holiday destination. Different hotels are available for different budgets. For those of you who don’t mind being lavish, try the luxury hotels in Tokyo. Aman Tokyo, Andaz, Conrad Tokyo, Palace Hotel Tokyo to name a few. These star hotels charge around ¥90,000
For people traveling as a group or family, guest houses are perfect. They can be found at different prices based on the amenities offered, ranging anywhere between ¥20,000 to ¥90,000
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Shangri La hotel and The Ritz – Carlton are very famous among honeymooners.
The Capsule hotels are very popular among travelers. They are really cheap at ¥2,000 per night. The hotels are packed with cultural experiences.
The railways, buses, cabs, rentals and domestic flights are the means of transport within the country. Buses and railways cost the least.
The railways offer Japan Rail Passes that can be purchased for a week or more. You gain unlimited, nationwide access. Long-distance travels cost around ¥25,000
Highway night buses are very popular much cheaper than trains. For example, the bus pass for an entire week costs around ¥12,000
Cabs are pretty costly. Sightseeing for 2 hours costs around ¥10,000
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs about ¥900
If the restaurant you choose is mid-range, a three-course meal for 2 people costs around ¥4,000
McDonald’s comes to your rescue if you are very keen on cutting down costs you spend on meals. They are as low as ¥650
Traveling with people
Backpackers needn’t worry a bit. You have to look out only for yourself as you are not responsible for anyone else. It is advised that couples book fairly decent hotels to have a really good time and privacy.
Families are suggested to put up in guesthouses. They are more convenient in terms of space and comfort.
Biggest festivals in Japan
Traditional Japanese festivals are called Matsuri, they are very colorful with a long history. The dates and the way these festivals are celebrated differs from community to community. More than 300,000 Matsuri festivals are celebrated in a year. The locals of that area organize the festival and the shrines sponsor them. The biggest and the most famous festivals are listed below,
During the month of July, the entire city of Kyoto participates in this festival. The highlight is the procession of floats called ‘Yamaboko Junko’ on 17th and 24th of July.
12th to 15th of August, Tokushima city is engulfed in a dance mania. Men, women, and children dance on the streets of the city. They wear traditional cotton kimonos teamed with straw hats. If you happen to visit Tokushima around this time of the year, do not hesitate to join them. You’ll have the time of your life.
This festival is unique to Tokyo, dedicated to the Kanda Myojin shrine. The portable shrines are taken on a parade by the people. The procession starts in the morning and continues through the Kanda district, Nihonbashi, and Akihabara before returning to the shrine in the evening.
It’s also called ‘The Snow Festival’ and takes place in Sapporo in the month of February. The festival originated in 1950 when local school students started making statues out of snow. However, at present, it’s a huge snow statue contest.
It is a parade festival from 2nd to 7th of August in Aomori city. Lantern floats are made in the form of human figures and are accompanied by several chanting dancers. It’s a spectacular sight.
Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri
It’s a thrilling contest that takes place in the city of Osaka in the middle of September. Danjiris are wooden floats which are heavier than 3000kg. People divide into teams and pull the wooden floats at breakneck speed while the crowd cheers on.
This festival is also a procession, held on 24th and 25th of July, in Osaka. However, in addition to land procession, a river procession via boats also occur.
Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri
It’s relatively a new festival that was started in 1954, in Kochi, as a tribute to the birth of Yosakoi Naruko dance. It is a passionate dance to an old folk song. Dancers carry clappers called ‘Naruko’ that creates a click-clack sound. To take part in this power-packed festival, visit Kochi in the middle of August.
This festival originated as a result of cultural contact between the Japanese and Chinese. It is based on the legend of two Chinese stars, Altair and Vega. If you visit the Sendai City from the 6th to the 8th of August, you’ll find colorfully crafted paper decorations hanging in the streets.
Hakata Dontaku Matsuri
It’s held on 3rd and 4th of May in Fukuoka City. It is a combination of dance and procession. People dance and parade with a utensil used for serving rice, called ‘Shamoji.
Best sites to visit
Divide your visit into three parts – Northern Japan, Southern Japan and the Tokyo area (Central Japan). Cover each area one at a time to make the most of your holiday. Don’t rush around, enjoy every minute. The best sites to visit in each region are listed below,
Places to visit in Northern Japan
The first thing that you’ll note is the greenery. North Japan is clean, green, welcoming, and historic in its own way. It is very similar to New Zealand. But, fabulous in its own old-world charm.
The western side of North Japan borders the Sea of Japan. It is lined with rivers, flatlands, and fertile rice farmlands. Visit the samurai district of Kakunodate, it is well-known for its cherry trees in spring. Stroll around the village and engage with the craftsmen.
One shouldn’t miss the Akita museum of art which houses large collections of the famous Western-style painter, Fujita Tsuguharu. Bordering Akita, lake Towada is at the top of a 400-meter-high mountain. It’s a good retreat for hiking.
Next, visit Aomori, the northernmost region on Honshu, that has the world’s largest virgin forest of the beech tree. It is added to UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
When in Hakodate, visit the morning market for breakfast. It has many stalls to keep you munching through a variety of seafood.
Similarly Ekini market is a photographer’s paradise. The display of seafood will stun you.
Every place, even the fish markets in Hokkaido are rich in greenery. However, to point out specifically, Shiretoko National Park and Daisetsuzan National Park are very popular places to witness really unique flora and fauna.
Jewelry ice is a phenomenon that occurs in Otsu shores of North Japan. It is formed from ice in the Tokachi River. It looks splendid.
Travel with kids
Take your kids to Shiroi Koibito Park. Let them squeal with delight on the different train rides. Here, you’ll find the Shiroi Koibito Factory, where the famous Hokkaido cookies are baked is a must-visit. Amazing lessons on skiing are taught for kids here.
9 Days Charms of Hokkaido tour is a package that comes at a decent price. The package is available for three seasons – The cherry blossoms, winter festivals and summer flowers.
Places to visit in Tokyo (Central Japan)
As mentioned previously, Tokyo is the capital of Japan. It is full of life and energy. The city, home to many companies, is dominated by some of the tallest skyscrapers.
Tokyo sky tower is one of the largest towers in the world. It has an observation deck, so feel free to get on top of the tower and enjoy the view it offers.
Do visit the imperial palace, its 17th-century parks are well-preserved and are surrounded by moats and walls.
Next, visit shrines in Tokyo. The architecture will blow your mind. Senso-ji temple, Asakusa temple and the Meji shrine are notable sites.
Don’t miss out on the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo National Museum and National Museum of Nature and Science.
The top 6 markets to visit in Tokyo are listed below,
- Nakamise Shopping street – Mementos
- Mottainai Flea Market – Retro clothing
- Takeshita Dori – Harajuku fashion
- Boro-Ichi Street Mart – Folk cultural asset
- Ameya Yokocho – Candies
- Toyosu Fish Market – Seafood
To get lost in the greenery, visit Ueno Park in Tokyo. You’ll be astonished to find a paradise of an oasis in the heart of the busy city.
Mount Fuji, one of the three holy mountains of Japan, is located 2 hours driving southwest from Tokyo. No holiday in Japan is complete without climbing the mountain to revel in the sunrise.
Travel with kids
What more could kids ask for other than Disneyland? With lots of emphasis on Mickey, Minnie, and the gang, it’ll turn out to be the best vacation for your kids. Fire Museum is another cool place. Your kids get to dress up as firemen and play with firetrucks.
Based on your interests, tour packages are available to cater to everyone’s need.
- The Tokyo day tour covers Meji Shrine, Asakusa Temple and Tokyo Bay cruise.
- Kyoto Highlights tour the Golden Pavilion and the Kiyomizu temple
- Small group Tokyo Biking Tour for ride enthusiasts.
- One day Tokyo bus tour and Japanese food tour.
- Tokyo Pub Crawl
Places to visit in Southern Japan
It’s one of the least explored regions of Japan. However, it must make it to your bucket list for its pure authenticity and tradition.
Trace Shikoku’s pilgrimage trail. It’s sure to attract both Buddhists and eco-tourists.
Do not forget to pay your respects at Hiroshima. In spite of the scars endured by the people of Hiroshima, they’ve built a city more powerful and colorful than the previous one. It’s a city that has risen from its ashes.
Do check out the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. It’s is the city’s must-see sight, a sober reminder of the blast.
Do not miss Naruto Whirlpools, they’re a fascinating phenomenon. Take your tourist boat on a spin around the whirlpool.
Nowadays, getting access to subtropical Yakushima’s island is not a big deal. You get an opportunity to hike among massive cedar trees that are at least a thousand years old.
Hiroshima is a city re-built on its very destruction. In spite of the disaster, the city booms with trade. The list of popular markets are as follows,
- Senda Wasshoi Matsuri Flea Market – Collectibles, food stalls and live entertainment
- Portpia – Antiques and clothing
- Daisho-in’s Tsuitachi-ichi – Old kimonos, handmade jewelry and books
Travel with kids
Take your kids on a day out to Dkunoshima – Hiroshima Rabbit Island. The bunnies are really cute and your kids will have a good time playing with them.
A number of tour packages are available that covers the important attractions of South Japan. Pick the ones that suit your itinerary.
- 1-day Hiroshima and Miyajima (Round-trip from Osaka/Kyoto)
- Private taxi tour to the Rabbit Island
- 2-day Hiroshima and Kurashiki tour
Best Japanese experience
On your visit to Japan, ensure that you don’t miss out on the following places and the experiences they offer.
Like every other Asian country, Japan is also unique. Certain spices that are native to Japan cannot be found elsewhere. The market is closed on Sundays and Wednesdays. So, plan your trip accordingly. Whether you want to eat or shop for culinary supplies, Tsukiji market won’t let you down. You name it, they’ve got it. Stock up!
Luxury hotels in Tokyo
Pamper yourself for at least a day in one of the luxury hotels of Tokyo. The city is loaded with beautiful hotels. Aman Tokyo, Andaz, Conrad Tokyo, Palace Hotel Tokyo to name a few.
The art island
For all the creative minds and art lovers out there, Naoshima is a must-visit. It has one of the mind-blowing museums in the world, housing some of the great works of world-class artists.
While visiting Kyoto, don’t miss out on the bamboo forest. Iconic bamboo forests and Zem temples are located on the outskirts of Kyoto, in the Arashiyama district. The trip is really worth it.
Your holiday in Japan is not really completed without a bowl of ramen. Wherever you go in Japan, you’ll come across the best ramen serving shops. Dig your chopsticks into a steaming hot bowl of authentic ramen.
The bullet train (Shinkansen) must top your to-do list. The ride will leave you in awe of the technology Japan is capable of. Throughout the ride, you’ll be mesmerized by the beautiful landscapes it zips by.
What’s a vacation in Japan without Sushi? It’s almost meaningless. Bask in the aroma of seafood and vinegared rice.
Please don’t mind the crowd. Witness the blossoms, the most magical time of year in Japan. The parks and gardens in the country are canopied in a riot of pretty pink flowers.
A walk through the woods
Hikers will never have a dull moment in Japan for it’s a hiker’s paradise. Two of the best places are the Nakasendo trail and Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route
There’s no place more apt for sake than Japan. The country is lined with sake bars, shops or restaurants specializing in high-quality sake
Most of the castles you come across in Japan are reconstructions. However, the famous Himeji Castle and Matsumoto Castle are truly magnificent. They’ve been well-maintained after all these years and holds the essence of ancient Japanese architecture.
Matcha green tea
Treat yourself to a heart-warming cup of green tea. It not only tastes heavenly but is intact with all the goodness of tea leaves. You’ll find plenty of charming tea houses in Japan.
Islands of Okinawa
Don’t let your holiday be monotonous. Do check out the beautiful beaches of the islands of Okinawa. They are very different from the rest of Japan.
Not only does ancient architecture dominate Japan, Tokyo has some stunning world-class buildings constructed by both Japanese and non-Japanese architects.
Climb Mount Fuji
It might sound daunting, but it’s really worth it when you reach the summit to view the sunrise.
Best Attractions in Japan
Japan is a land full of surprises and an amazing place for all tourists and travelers. Although there are hundreds of attractions in Japan, here is a list of the best lot of places for you to explore.
Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and brings out the best of Japanese culture in every way. Your trip will be incomplete without a visit to Tokyo. There is huge scope for you to explore in Tokyo ranging from historical sites to the anime culture and the lip-smacking Japanese cuisine. The top attractions in Tokyo are:
- Tokyo Disneyland
- Disney Sea in Tokyo
- Sky Tree Tokyo
What you can mainly do in Tokyo include:
- An evening around the Tokyo Tower
- Visit the Meiji Shrine in all its glory
- Shopping in Odaiba
Kyoto is considered as one of the sacred cities of Japan and is a common name in the list of all Japan trip packages. Kyoto is known for its gardens, palaces, shrines and temples and some beautiful bamboo forests. The versatility of the attractions a single city has to offer is amazing. The top attractions in Kyoto are:
- The Imperial Palace of Kyoto
- The Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine
- The Philosopher’s Walk
Some activities for you in Kyoto that you should not miss are:
- A visit to the Kiyomizu Temple
- Visit the famous Kinkaku-Ji
- Exploring the majestic Nijo Castle
A common mention of Nara can be found in any Japan travel blog. This city is known for the several monasteries, temples, shrines and of course the very important Nara Park. Nara is also home to many beautiful deer. Therefore, a visit to Nara will bring you closer to Japanese culture and tradition. The top 3 attractions in Kara are:
- Nara Park
- The Ninja Museum in Igaryu
The unmissable things to do in Kara are:
- Exploring the beauty of the Isuien Garden
- Interacting with the deer at the Nara-Koen Park
- A visit to the National Museum of Nara.
An ideal place to visit during summer especially, Hokkaido has several hot springs here. Besides this, there are some volcanoes and ski areas which make it more popular as a tourist attraction. The variety of places to visit and scope of activities, make it a favorite of adults and kids alike. The best places that you should not give a miss are:
- Asahiyama Zoo
- The Blue Pond
- Farm Tomita
The major tourist activities here include:
- Bathing in a hot spring
- Exploring the National Parks here
- Gorging into the delicious sea-food
This is a small island and is presently voted as the most popular tourist attraction in Japan. Hundreds of tourist flock over here because of the scope of various activities that you can experience in Ishigaki. The top attractions here include:
- The Kabira bay
- Limestone caves in Ishigaki
- Taketomi Island
Top activities that you can experience in Ishigaki include:
- Relaxing by the beach
- Devour the taste of Ishigaki beef
This city makes Japan more beautiful and also glorifies the history of Japan. This was the victim of the terrible atomic bombings along with its neighboring city of Nagasaki. Though tourists mainly visit Hiroshima to pay their respect to the victims of the bombing and to visit the memorials, there is a lot more than that here. Places to visit for sure includes:
- Hiroshima Museum and the Memorial Peace Park
- Hiroshima Castle
Activities to do here are:
- Try the delicious Okonomiyaki
- Visit Shukkeien Garden
- Exploring the Mazda Museum
This is heaven for ski and beer lovers and also the Winter destination of Japan. You should visit this place when you are tired of the heat around and see the several snow towers here. Besides, the Annual Sapporo Snow Festival is an important time to visit Sapporo. Top attractions in Sapporo include:
- Moerenuma Park
- Government Office of Hokkaido
What you can do in Hokkaido includes:
- Attend a party in Susukino
- Explore the Beer museum in Sapporo
- Taste the amazing local delicacies in the Curb Market area
Osaka is one of the best shopping destinations in Japan. Also, it is known for selling some of the most delicious food in the country. You visit Osaka and shop till you drop. Then get yourself a delicious meal and relax. Secondly, Osaka has an awesome nightlife. It is like an all-in-one place for all that you can wish for as a tourist. The three main attractions here are:
- Studio Universal Japan
- Osaka Castle
Three best activities here:
- Visiting the Kaiyukan Aquarium
- Partying and beer tasting
- Worship in the Hozenji temple
Yakushima is an island that is part of the Kagoshima Prefecture. It is known for its waterfalls, cedar forests, and wildlife. The natural beauty of Yakushima is a treat for your eyes and you should not miss this place on any cost. Moreover, if you are traveling to Japan for the first time, this should be one of the top 10 places to visit on your list. The best 3 attractions here are:
- Senpirono Falls
The best tourist activities are:
- Going to Oko-no-Taki Waterfall
- Watching turtles lay eggs
- Canoeing or kayaking in Anbo River
Hakuba is a small village situated in the Japanese Alps. It is also known as the best location for any kind of winter sports such as snowboarding, hiking, and skiing. Hakuba just sticks out a little of Nagano- a Japanese city. Several mountain resorts organize sports and other tours. The top three attractions in Hakuba are:
- Winter Resort of HakubaHappone
- Aoki Lake
The best activities to do here:
- Skiing at Cortina Resort
- Happo Pond hiking
- Going to the Hakuba 47 which is a sports park for Winter season
Kamakura is a town situated by the sea. It is known as a replica of the city of Kyoto. The difference is just that Kamakura is located in eastern Japan. Kamakura boasts of bamboo groves, ancient shrines and temples, beautiful beaches, shopping destinations, and the best local food. You ask for something and you are sure to get it here. You should not miss
- Literature Museum in Kamakura
- Enoshima Aquarium
- Kannon Museum
- Visit the Kamakura Buddha
- Go to the Jufukuji Temple
- Experience surfing at the Shonan Beach
Nagano is the tropical capital of Japan and mainly known for its breezy weather throughout the year. There is a variety of tourist attractions here ranging from adventure sports clubs to children’s parks and shrines too. The best attractions of Nagano are:
- Matsumoto Castle
Activity ideas for you:
- Visiting Zenko-Ji Temple
- Freshen up at the ShirahoneOnsen
- Take part in winter sports such as skiing at the Shiga Kogen Heights
When all the cities are getting more and more commercial, Takayama, situated on top of the Gifu mountains is a peaceful retreat. Get away from the hustle-bustle of the cities and spend some time in Old Japan. Takayama has a special old-school aura to it which is very different from all other attractions on the list. Attractions that you must visit are:
- Hidan Sato
- District of SanmachiSuji
- Takayama Hall of Festival Floats
Shibuya is one of the most crowded places in Japan because of 2 reasons mainly. First, the awesome-looking crossing which is also known as ‘scramble crossing’ and the several options for shopping here. The best shopping destination in Shibuya is 109 Mall. It is a one-stop destination for the best brands in Tokyo. The best attractions are:
- Yoyogi Park
- Meiji Jingu
Best to-do ideas for you:
- Shop at the Takeshita Streets
- Enjoy clubbing at Roppongi
- Enjoy the views from the Roppongi hills
This is a beautiful island situated in the middle of the Seto Inland waters. If you are staying for a few days in Tokyo, you can go Naoshima to end your Tokyo trip in the best way. There are several sculptures and museums here and you are sure to be busy the whole day. It is not very close to Tokyo so you should make an overnight plan for a better experience.
Must visit places:
- Museum Lee Ufan
- Naoshima Bath
- Benesse House
What you must do here:
- Explore Chichu Museum and enjoy Tadao Ando Art
- Spend some time in the cherry blossom gardens
- Go to Kojin Island for some peaceful time
Asakusa is known as the cultural hub of the capital city of Tokyo. The Asahi Beer Hall is the prime attraction of Asakusa. There are many other places of interest here. Asakusa is party paradise for fun-loving people and you can try some awesome booze. A Nakamise shopping area is an ideal place for street shopping. The other major attractions are:
- Asakusa Shrine
- Hanayashaki Children’s Park
- Amuse Museum
Things you could do:
- Meditate at Senso-Ji
- Visit the Kappabashi-Dori restaurant street for A-Class food
- Enjoy game time at Nazoboko Escape Game in Tokyo
Akihabara is the ‘Geek Capital of the World’. This is because it is a hub for several computers and other video game clubs. The Fantastical Akihabara is the best out of all. Visit Akihabara for an amazing gaming session. Just beware of any kind of hoax. The best tourist attractions in Akihabara are:
- Anime Center Akihabara
- Ginza Crossing
Ideal activity option for you are:
- Shopping at 2k540 in Aki-Oka
- Tour Akihabara on a bike. You can get one on rent easily.
- Visit the Chidorigafuchi Moat for the beautiful greenery
The thrill factor in Japan mainly comes from Mt. Fuji. If you into adventure sports and trekking, then Mt. Fuji is the ideal place for you. While the trekking season only lasts from July to September, you can always experience the grandeur of Mt. Fuji from far away for the rest of the year. The top 3 attractions around Mt. Fuji are:
- Mount Tenjo
- Shrine of FujiyoshidaSengen
- Chureito Pagoda
- Do a lot of skiing
- Explore the ArakurayamaSengen Park
- Stand near the 5th station of Subashiri for a breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji
Best Attractions for Kids
When we go for trips and tours, we hardly plan separately for our children. However, they are the ones who get mostly bored at shrines and art museums. Children always like lively and bright places. With Japan’s friendly culture and options to visit for kids, it is now possible to keep your child happy and content while the adults go about their plans. The main attractions to visit when you travel to Japan with kids are:
Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo
Tokyo is always a crowded city but the large area will not let you feel that you are in a crowded place at all. Takeshita Street here is a small block where you will find an array of cute little shops where you can take your children to. Besides, you can buy the kids some yummy crepes and bubble tea. For more, grab a fairy floss on the way back from there.
Harajuku Hedgehog Café
This is not a complete children’s café but there is a lovely attraction for children here. While the adults can chat over a hot cup of coffee, the kids can grab some pet-themed muffins and pastries along with some shakes.
Kiddiland in Shibuya, Tokyo
Have you ever seen a 5-story building which is all filled with toys? Well, Kiddiland is exactly that. They have so much for children to buy and to play with too. You can let the kids have all the fun they want to. The highlights of Kiddiland are the nano-lego toys, the hello kitty stuff and origami work display here. There is so much color over here that you might forget your age and end up buying some of this cute stuff from here.
District Odaiba, Tokyo
Your visit to Odaiba will give you weird yet awesome experience step by step. First, you will take a ride in a monorail which will take you past replica of Japan with some futuristic buildings and different-looking streets. Then you have to visit the Science and Fiction Museum called Miraikan. You will also be able to interact with Asimo, the human-like robot in the museum.
This is a very exciting and colorful place in Tokyo which lights up when it gets dark in the evening. The kids can sit here with some candy and enjoy the neon-lights show. The highlight of this show is the creation of the Godzilla that rises from behind the Chancery Hotel here. Apart from this, you can also take the kids to SeaWorld for some 3-D experience and to Karaoke kan for some fun music.
Snow in the Japanese Alps
We already know about Hakuba from the list of attractions and that it is located in the Japanese Alps. You can take a train ride from Tokyo along with your kids and let them enjoy the pristine, white snow. Make snowballs and do gliding with them in Hakuba.
Food Court Basement
In every department store, there is a basement which has a huge display of some of the most colorful and exotic foodstuff. You should be adventurous enough to get inside these shops and try the food to experience a new taste.
Osaka Universal Studio and Tokyo Disney
These are some of the most expensive in a whole lot of kid’s places here. You may not take your kids if they are too small to enjoy the total experience of these places. However, they are surely big names in the list of tourist attractions for kids in Japan.
Best Nature Parks and Sites
Japan is home to several serene National Parks and other bits and parts of tranquility and natural beauty. The following are some of the most beautiful National Parks of Japan:
This national park is in the Okinawa Prefecture and encompasses the Kerama Islands. The stunning turquoise-blue waters and white beaches. Snorkeling and swimming are the most common activities to experience here.
This national park in Hokkaido is mainly known for its brown bears. It is named as one of the World Heritage Sites under UNESCO. You can take a boat wildlife safari of this National Park.
Akan National Park
This is also an attraction in the Hokkaido city of Japan. The highlight of this park is the group of volcanoes that surround the three pristine lakes here. The famous Lake Mashu is one of the three lakes here.
Nikko National Park
Nikko National Park is another World Heritage Site under UNESCO. It is a part of the Kanto region of Japan and houses the Toshogu Shrine. The Kinugawa Onsen is a town of hot spring by the Kinu River banks.
The name comes from the fact that the Mt. Yoshino is aa part of this National Park. The Kumano Sanzan is a collection of shrines which is also a part of this park. This park is also one of the top Spring attractions of Japan due to the abundance of lush cherry blossoms growing here.
Night-life in Tokyo
Tokyo is a modern city full of life and light. The nightlife in Tokyo is exciting and fun for party-lovers. There are several nightlife spots in Tokyo including restaurants, bar, cocktail joints, clubs, and karaoke to stay energetic throughout the night. Some of the highlighted places of Tokyo nightlife are:
If you do not enjoy noisy and loud nightclubs then this is the place for you. This place is for posh people who only visit upscale clubs and subtle parties. This is also one of the most expensive shopping streets along with the pricey restaurants. You can go to one of the member-only clubs to party gracefully.
This place is mostly occupied by foreigners and is thus known for the presence of Western culture here. The clubs and pubs here are full of celebrities and other influential people. Most of the restaurants and clubs here open till morning.
Shibuya is the place for young fashionistas and social media obsessed people. This is one of the most lit places in Tokyo and something is happening here 24/7. There is a lot of live music and karaoke in Shibuya and something for everyone’s taste.
This is another famous night-life district in Tokyo with shops open 24/7. Shinjuku is known for clubs, pubs, bars, and mainly Tokyo’s red-light area.
Routes for Most Effective Time Usage
The transport system in Japan is a little complicated and it takes time to understand it. You have to first know that there are several ways of commuting easily from one place to another. You can vouch on Google maps for the best and shortest routes. The types of transportation include Jr Railways, private trains, subways if you want to walk and cover short distances and a variety of bus operators.
Shopping in Japan
Shopping is the favorite pastime for many people and Japan is a common favorite for many. There are several places to shop in Japan and here is a list of the most popular ones:
This is an immensely versatile location which is also known as one of the popular shopping destinations of Japan. The main places to shop here are the departmental stores and the luxury brand shops.
Almost like Ginza, Shinjuku is known for high-end shopping brands and clothes for young people. You can also do a lot of street shopping here.
This is an old shopping location and is known as a famous market where you would like to shop for electronic items.
Known as the “Geek Capital of the World”, this place is known for the plenty of game parlors and underground anime, manga art, and geek culture. You can also shop for gadgets and other electronic items from here.
Shibuya and Harajuku
Both of these places have walking distance from each other. This is the International shopping street in Japan which comprises of outlets of major International fashion brands such a Zara and Forever21.
Medical Treatment in Japan
Medical treatment system in Japan is highly effective. They provide high-end treatment for screening, prenatal problems, and other infection-causing diseases. The patients here ow only 30% of the total treatment cost and the rest of the 70% is borne by the Japanese Government.
If you are a tourist, you are suggested to purchase good travel insurance which will cover any serious illness or accident in the foreign land. If you are a tourist, you cannot expect the Japanese government to share a major part of your health care expenses except under very rare situations.
Best Local Food in Japan
Japanese cuisine is one of the most loved and ate cuisine in the world. The number 5 is very important when it comes to Japanese cooking or ‘Washoku’ here. The balance in Japanese food can be achieved by maintaining 5 colors including black, red, green, yellow and white. There are also 5 ways of cooking including raw food, frying, grilling, boiling and steaming. Most importantly, the 5 flavors include sweet, bitter, spicy, sour and salty. Some of the best Japanese traditional dishes are:
This is a type of ancient Japanese cuisine which was born by preserving fish in fermented rice. Presently, it is served with vinegar flavored rice and fresh fish.
This is the old form of eating sushi without rice. Sashimi means any thinly sliced piece of meat including beef, chicken, fish or any other seafood.
This is a process of batter frying fish, vegetable, meat or any other sea-food. In this process, the temperature of the batter should be very cold and the oil for frying should be boiling. It uses some dipping sauce on the side or the tempura is dipped in some flavored salt.
This is the process of cooking cuts of bite-sized pieces of meat on skewers. This process became popular in the mid-17th century. Before that, meat was rarely eaten in Japan.
This is a comparatively simple but a very hearty meal for the Japanese people. This is mainly made with dashi stock which may be kelp or fish stock. Any seasonal meat and vegetables are added to this soup along with miso bean paste for beautiful umami in it.
Best Hotels in Japan
Some of the best hotels to stay in Japan are:
- NIPPONIA Sawara Merchant Town Hotel: This is a luxury hotel with AC accommodation and beautiful rooms. The rooms are separate houses with pretty balconies. There is also the availability of multi-cuisine food here. A night here costs around 44,783 JPY.
- Narita View Hotel: The highlights of this hotel are the hot spring bath, free wired internet, and shuttle facility. This is a budget hotel that costs about 4,612 JPY.
- Hotel Universal Port Vita: This hotel has comfortable AC accommodation, high-end TVs and courteous and friendly staff. Cost of a night here is 14,285 JPY.
- Kamon Hotel Namba: This is a modern hotel with beautiful interiors and courteous staff. The location is very close to the Nippombashi Railways station. One night in this hotel costs approx. 5842 JPY.
- ICI Hotel Akasaka by RELIEF: this is a 3-star hotel in Tokyo with a well-furnished room, an amazing terrace, a bar, and a restaurant. They also have free internet facilities. A night here costs 7,936 JPY.
Recommended Insurance in Japan
Whether you travel to Japan alone or in a group, travel insurance is a must. You will not know what to do in a foreign land in case of any mishap and this is when good travel insurance comes handy. The main benefits of purchasing travel insurance include:
- 24/7 helpline in case of any emergency or urgent query.
- Besides from Travel to Japan vaccinations, you will receive medical assistance at any time and anywhere you are in Japan. Starting from evacuation to repatriation, the insurance company looks after everything.
- They assure your baggage protection
- Your travel insurance company covers any kind of medical or dental emergency when you are traveling overseas.
- They help in easy trip cancellation.
Apart from assisting you at any time of the day, they cover several adventure sports under various categories. The categories include snow sports, aerial sports, water sports, normal field sports and more. The top examples that are covered by your travel insurance are bobsledding, tennis, mountain biking, tubing, skiing and more. The general activities covered under good travel insurance includes hospitality, admin work, restaurant, teaching and fruit picking.
How Much Does It Cost to Vacation in Japan?
Japan is a little more expensive than the neighboring Asian countries. This should not be the reason however for not visiting Japan. It is a little difficult to calculate the cost of a vacation in Japan to be exact. For this, you first have to chalk out a proper plan including the number of days you want to stay and the part of Japan you would want to cover.
It is next to impossible to travel to Japan completely even if you stay there for a month. On average, a 2-week trip would need a budget of $1200 out of which a major part will vanish if you include a rail pass. The average cost for a week would come up to $560 and at $80/day.
How Much Money Do You Need Per Day in Japan?
Japan is often considered as one of the expensive countries for a vacation which is however not true. On the contrary, if you are planning to travel around a lot, stay at western hotels and eat at the best places, the scene can be a little different. In that case, you may have to spend about $200 per day which is quite a lot.
However, your vacation need not be that expensive actually. You can travel at a lot less if you keep control of your pocket and follow a few tips and tricks on where to save money. If you want to take up a budget trip, even $70-$75 is enough for a day. Some people have ever stayed in Japan at a bare minimum of $50 per day.
How Much Does a 2 Week Trip to Japan Cost?
First, you have to plan which part of Japan you want to cover within 2 weeks. Once you have done that and also read tips on how you can cut off on your budget, you are good to go. You should need about $1200 for 2 weeks if you are on a mid-budget trip.
What Can You Do in Japan for 10 Days?
10 days is very less time to cover even a small part of Japan but you are suggested to make the most of it during your stay. Allot the first 4 days to explore the best of Kyoto. Kyoto houses more than 2,000 shrines and temples. You just have to choose which ones to visit. You can divide the 4-day trip in this way:
A good way to start touring Kyoto is to visit Higashiyama which is a well-preserved heritage site. There are several tea-houses, temples, Japanese gardens, and shrines in Higashiyama. It is best to explore this place on foot. The best place here is the Kiyomizu-Dera temple.
Kinkaku-Ji and Arashiyama
On day-2, you can go to Arashiyama, which is district towards West Kyoto. The highlight of this district is the tall bamboo groves. It is usually a crowded place and you should reach their early to avoid such crowd. The Iwatayama Monkey Park and the Golden Temple or Kikaku-Ji are the best places that follow.
Fushimi Inari, Markets and the Manga Museum
The stunning Fushimi Inari is known for its Torii Gates, all orange in color. The pathway of gates is on the mountainsides and the crowd keeps reducing the higher you walk. After spending a couple of hours in this forest area, you can come down to Kyoto and head straight to the Manga Museum.
The Museum and the collection of comic books here highlight the famous pop culture of Japan. This is where you can get the best collection of Manga art and books. You can finish the day with a visit to the Nishiki Market. It is a small market that just covers 5 blocks of the shopping street.
- Day-4 of your trip can cover the Edo Era highlight of Japan or the Nijo Castle. It is a 400-year old monument with amazing architecture and beautiful Japanese Gardens. You can also include Nara, Karama, and Kibune on the same day.
- On day-5 you can experience the famous bullet train journey to Tokyo. These trains are also called shinkansen. On your way from Kyoto till Tokyo, try to take a seat on the left side to get a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji on the way.
The rest of the 5 days should be completely dedicated to Tokyo as you have so much to explore here. Starting from amazing food to nightlife, city scenes, bridges, gardens, shopping and everything you can think of. You name it and you get it in Tokyo. The main places that you should visit in and around Tokyo are Harajuku and Shibuya, Ueno and Asakusa, Shinjuku and Tsukiji Market, Hakone and finally all the shopping destinations here.
Is Food Expensive in Japan?
It depends completely on what you choose to eat. Japan is known for sushi and sashimi but these are quite expensive when compared with other stuff here. If you choose soups, rice bowls and ramen bowls over other pricey food, you can cut down on your expenses. Also, food carts, food trains, and roadside shops sell cheaper food than in the other western restaurants. Fresh fruits are quite expensive here.
Are 5 Days in Tokyo Enough?
Honestly, 5 days or even 10 days is not enough to explore everything in Tokyo. A lot of people have said that they could not explore Tokyo completely even after staying there for a few years. However, if you have the 5 days planned out, then at least you can get an idea of some places and activities in Tokyo.
How Many Days in Japan is Enough?
You have to stay here for years to explore all parts of Japan and still not be content. For starters, you can plan a 1- month trip to Japan to elaborately explore at least some parts of the country. Mostly, people visit Japan for a week or maximum of 10 days but tourism in the country is increasing at a fast pace.
How Much is McDonald’s in Japan?
McDonald’s is one of the premium food outlets even in Japan. The menu has several dishes to offer. The price of food here ranges from 200Yen to as much as 750 Yen.
How Long Do You Need in Hiroshima?
Hiroshima is a historic place in Japan which is mainly known for its museums and memorials. However, if you start in the morning from Kyoto, you could reach Hiroshima in not much time. You can spend the late morning and afternoon exploring Hiroshima and then move to another place in the evening.
What Month is The Cheapest to Fly to Japan?
The peak season of Japan in July is in June-July. October is when the travel fare is lowest in Japan.