The Ultimate Guide to Japan You Never Knew You Needed

The Ultimate Guide to Japan You Never Knew You Needed

You may be experiencing a range of emotions, from enthusiasm to worry, as you prepare for your first trip to Japan. If you haven’t done much overseas travel, the thought of planning a trip to Japan may be daunting. After planning your trip thoroughly, you can begin preparing for departure by packing your bags. But before you leave for Japan, make sure you have everything you need. Your wallet and passport are two examples of essentials that you should never forget to bring on every trip, but the other items on your packing list will change based on the climate, local customs, and infrastructure of your final location. This means that your essentials will vary with each destination. Continue reading to learn the must-haves for a memorable sightseeing adventure in Japan.

Be Sure to Have Your Yen

To get around in Japan conveniently, you’ll be needing cash. It is highly recommended that you bring cash with you to Japan, as most businesses do not take credit cards or other forms of payment outside of cash, with the exception of convenience stores and major commercial facilities. While it may seem irrational to bring so much cash on a trip back home, know that Japan is actually a very secure destination. In the past, only JCB, Visa, and Mastercard were accepted at locations that accepted credit cards, but recently, alternative credit cards and electronic payment methods including PayPay and LINE Pay have been accepted as well. While in Japan, utilize an ATM at a post office or 7-Eleven to withdraw Japanese yen from your foreign bank account. The Smart conversion currency conversion machines can be found in roughly 400 sites across Japan and can convert 12 different currencies into Japanese yen. Google Maps keeps track of all of these locations, so you can easily locate the one closest to you.

Purchase a Japan Rail Pass

In order to fully experience Japan, a rail pass is essential. The Japan Rail Pass is a must-have for any traveler looking to see as much of the country as possible on a budget. Japan Rail (JR), the country’s largest railway business, provides this service via its extensive network of trains, buses, and ferries stretching from the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern island of Kyushu. Japan’s efficient and well-connected rail system is one of the favorite aspects of the country. The shinkansen (bullet train) makes rapid travel between many cities possible, and even somewhat distant places typically have access to some form of rail service. However, this mode of transportation is not exactly budget-friendly. Getting from Tokyo to Kyoto on the shinkansen will set you back about $120 (USD) one way. If you take the subway around Tokyo for a few days, it will cost you hundreds of dollars. Luckily, the Japan Rail Pass provides an incredible option for tourists to conveniently and economically travel throughout the country. With a Japan Rail Pass, you can ride the shinkansen as many as you like on any of the JR train lines. In addition to the Narita Express and some buses, it can be used on the JR-operated Tokyo subway lines, including the popular Yamanote line. It is cost-effective and saves you time, too. You can save money by inserting the pass into the turnstile’s ticket slot and retrieving it on the other side, eliminating the need to purchase individual tickets for each trip. Now that the pass doubles as a ticket, there’s no need to produce any additional documentation to the gate agent. The JR Pass is available in 7, 14, and 21-day durations. You will be sent a voucher in the mail that can be redeemed at any JR office for your pass. (all the Japan airports have one). It can begin as soon as the trade is made, or on a date of your choosing. If you want to know if the JR pass is worth it, you should plan out your itinerary and do the math. To me, the ease is worth paying up to $20 more for a pass rather than buying multiple tickets. A JR pass must be ordered prior to arrival in Japan as it cannot be purchased once in the country.

Think About Your Outfit Of The Day Fot The Entire Japan Trip

Reading Japan packing guides that tell you what to wear in Japan based on the season sends any traveller insane. Japan is a large country with a wide variety of climates, from balmy islands to frigid mountains. The weather in each region of Japan is different, so don’t bother packing for Japan based on the seasons. You may begin your vacation in late spring in Osaka, when you won’t need a jacket during the day, and end it with a hike in wintery Nagano. Before you pack, make sure you’ve checked the weather forecast for somewhere you plan to go. Warm weather in Japan is typically accompanied by high levels of humidity, so keep that in mind. To avoid overheating on days when temperatures can approach 30 degrees Celsius, choose for light, breathable fabrics. Tsuyu, the rainy season, occurs between June and July, so plan accordingly when buying a coat and shoes. The majority of Japan, outside of the island of Hokkaido and the country’s hilly regions, experiences pleasant winters with temperatures that rarely fall below freezing. You’ll be doing a lot of walking around and exploring in the great outdoors, so make sure to bring along a sturdy raincoat, some warm gloves, and some thermal undergarments. Last but not least, Japan is known for its relative conservatism in the fashion world. It is respectful to cover your shoulders and stomach when visiting religious sites such as shrines and temples. 

Japan Traveller Guide

Opt for local tours for the authentic experience

Traveling across Japan is a piece of cake. Even while the frosting on top looks and tastes great, the real treat is in what lies beneath. Unfortunately, it is difficult for non-native speakers to get past the surface level because of language barriers and cultural norms. Booking at least one local tour will ensure that you see and experience the best of Japan and its distinctive culture. Here are some well-liked things to do while you’re there:

  • Walking tour of Shinjuku and the hidden pubs of Golden Gai
  • Explore Kyoto and its tea ritual.
  • Walk around the “Geisha” neighborhood in Gion, Kyoto, at night
  • Travel the culinary aisles of Kuromon Market in Osaka.
  • Private guide service for viewing snow monkeys and cherry flowers

Of course, every traveler needs to do what works best for them in terms of their schedule and expectations. These are just a few of the essential sections from the Japan Traveller Guide that you should read before your trip. However, don’t forget to bring your passport, visa, and other necessary paperwork.