Japan’s popularity as travel destination has been rising quickly in the last few years. Colorful street fashion, modern technology and traces of ancient culture make Japan once in life time travel destination that has found its way to travelers’ budget lists. This Japan Travel Guide introduces you to country of rising sun and its interesting culture. Just read ahead and start planning your future trip with our help.
General Japan Information:
Money: Japan’s currency is yen (¥). One of the most important thing one can mention in Japan travel guide is that you should change a lot of cash before going to Japan. Even if nowadays you can also pay with card in bigger places that isn’t norm. Usually you will only have option to pay with cash.
Another important money related thing in Japan is cash withdrawing. Even if Japanese cities are super safe you will not want to carry too much money with you. Interesting fact is that you will find ATMs from post offices. Usually these ATMs have English guides so just find the closest post and get more cash when you need it.
Language: In Japan people speak surprises Japanese. General assumption is that Japanese people don’t speak English. This is kind of true. Older people don’t speak English and when talking for younger people you have to encourage them to speak for you. Usually university students can speak quite good English but be always prepared to not find anyone with good language skills.
Even if locals don’t speak English (surprisingly in Tokyo you can find a fewer English speaking locals than for example from Kyoto) they are always ready to help you. Everyone is friendly and helpful. Just keep map with you so asking for directions will be easier. In addition to this you should learn a few Japanese words. Starting with sumimasen (excuse me) is sure way of getting help from local.
Other words you should learn to say or recognize to survive in Japan:
Woman 女 Man 男
Exit 出 Thank you Arigato
Goodbye Sayounara Hello Konnichiwa
Sorry Gomennasai Tasty Oishi
Transportation: Transportation in Japan is easy to use and fairly cheap. Bigger cities like Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto have good metro networks but even smaller cities have working bus connections. Ticket sellers don’t always know how to speak English so remember to check more information about your destination’s public transportation from internet. Also ticket machines have often option for English so prefer those over normal ticket counters.
Accommodations: Choosing right accommodation may be hard because there is so many options. For people seeking luxury there is expensive overly modern hotel chains and for budget travelers cheap idyllic hostels. You can use our booking website to search for the best deals.
If you want to experience something unique, Japan is the right place to plan your next trip. In a last few years capsule hotels have made reputation for themselves around the world. In these simple hotels you get small bed sized “capsule” that serves as your room. Other unique Japan experience is to spend your night in Japanese traditional inn Ryokan.
Flights to Japan: Japan has many busy airports and it is easily accessed from around the world. Tickets are usually cheaper when bought at least three months before your trip or if you book flights with layover. For cheap flights & hotels, use handy cheap flight searching option to find the best flights for you.
How To Survive In Japan?
Japanese Food: One of the major things to experience in Japan is food. We all probably know about sushi but there is also so many more tasty options. Matcha products may first taste odd and not so good but after a while you will get used to them and even name them as one of you favorite foods. Normal foods in Japan are formed from rice or noodles and fish, chicken or meat.
Most restaurant owners don’t speak English but fortunately restaurants have menus with huge photos or plastic model plates on windows. Just point out what you want and language barrier will not be a problem anymore. If you have problems eating with sticks, you can always ask for a fork.
Japanese Culture: Culture in Japan differs greatly from non-Asian countries. Because of this there is many things one should know about Japanese culture before traveling to the country of rising sun. Because we don’t have that much time and space we will mention just the most important one: Politeness.
Japanese people always consider other people, respect their elders and bow in every possible situation. As foreigner you are not obligated to follow local difficult rules of polite behaivior. You should be okay if you remember saying thank you to everyone. Don’t be too loud in public places and especially avoid talking to phone in public transportation.
Religion: When you travel to Japan you can’t avoid seeing religion everywhere. You will see Shinto shrines and buddhis temples everywhere. And when we say everywhere we mean every street corner and even when you are walking in nature. One of the most known marks of Japan are red torii gates. For example in Kyoto’s Mt. Inari you can see hundreds of these red beautiful gates going up the mountain.
Japanese people are very understanding so they don’t require you to follow their religious customs when visiting hole places. However remember always be respectful. If there are inside areas, take your shoes off and change to slippers. Just follow what locals are doing and you should be fine.
One of the most interesting sides of shrines and temples are small vendors selling everything from sweets to lucky charms and future predictions. Just remember that if you buy lucky charm never open it! That will let your lucky out.
Visiting locals: If you find new local friends, they may ask you to visit their home. Usually Japanese people are friendly and accepting so as foreigner you can make mistakes and get forgiven. There are a few things you should remember to make this visit flow smoothly.
Firstly when going to Japanese home you have to take your shoes off. They have slippers somewhere near the entrance so change to those. When you visit bathroom many homes have different slipper for toilet areas. Change to these and leave your current slippers outside of the bathroom door. Be prepared to small living are where you will be spending time with your friend. Apartments in city and especially in Tokyo are usually tiny.
Most Popular Japan Travel Destinations:
Tokyo: Japan’s capital city. Known for its cool neighborhoods and dazzling street fashion. Visit places like Harajuku, Ueno Park, Akihabara Electric Town, Imperial Gardens and Sen Soji Temple.
Kyoto: Best city to get familiar with old Japanese culture and traditions. If you want to see geishas, Kyoto is the right destination for you. Kyoto also has good connections around Japan so it is easy to do day trips from here to cities like Nara and Osaka. Remember to visit attractions like Mt. Inari, Bamboo Forest, Monkey Park, Nishiki Market, Kinkakuji and Gion.
Hiroshima: You have probably learnt about Hiroshima at school. It is the place where atom bomb hit during World War II. This is why many of the attractions concern this subject. Don’t miss Peace Park, Hiroshima Castle, Miyajima and the colorful downtown area.
Osaka: One of the big Japanese cities only about 20 minutes train travel away from Kyoto. Has colorful good culture and well-known red light district. Other important travel attractions are Universal Studios, Osaka Castle, National Art Museum, Shitennoji Temple and huge shopping malls near Osaka Station.
Nara: Nara is city known for its cute deer. Nara Park has plenty of these cute animals that walk around freely and sometimes even come close to the park visitors. In addition to seeing deer and doing some deer souvenir shopping you should check out these attractions: Heijo Palace, Kasuga Taisha, Omizutori and Todaiji Temple.
Takayama: Traditional city in Gifu prefecture that is also known by name Hida-Takayama. Is best known for its spring and autumn festivals that are often named as the best festivals in Japan. Remember to visit following attractions: Old Town, Hida Folk Village, Matsuri no Mori and Higashiyama walk.
Interesting Japanese Things
Anime: Japanese cartoons (anime) and comics (manga) have huge following around the world. It is almost as important part of the culture as Japan’s history and religions. You can see these big eyed and colorful haired characters everywhere from food packages to TV adds. One must to do thing in Japan is visiting anime/manga shop where you can find endless rows of comic books and small figurines.
Japanese Toilets: Who wouldn’t know about Japanese toilets? If you haven’t heard about them yet, we recommend doing some research. Unlike western ones Japanese toilets have many different functions from music and heaters to bottom washers and fresheners.
Vending Machines: Vending machines are normal things around the world but Japan has taken them to totally next level. Firstly, cities have vending machines at every street corner. Secondly, these vending machines aren’t only for drinks but also for food, umbrellas, clothes and almost for anything you can think about.
Japanese Cherry Blossoms: Spring time in Japan is like straight from romantic movie. Pink cherry blossoms are taking over the streets, parks and gardens. Whichever Japan travel destination you choose there will definitely be local cherry blossom viewing spot.