Japan Travel Tips
Japan is a country where the fast paced modernity of the booming cities will excite you, but at the same time you wouldn’t have to venture too far away to experience the laid back atmosphere in towns that have retained their old world charm! So if you’re planning a trip to the land of the rising sun, be rest assured that your trip to Japan will be just as magical as the country; simply follow these tips and tricks of the land along with some planning and preparation, that’s it! Now simply brace yourself for a fantastic trip –
1. Japan Railway Pass
So here’s the deal about Japan Railway Pass! It may not always be economical to buy the pass! Hear us out. If you’re planning on visiting only a couple of cities, buying a pass would rather be expensive as compared to purchasing tickets directly. Secondly, The JR Pass doesn’t cover all types of bullet trains such as privately owned rail lines, Mizuho and Nozomi, which is the fastest bullet train in the country. So calculate all the train journeys that you will be taking and compare the prices using apps such as Google Maps or HyperDia, before you invest.
Now, after comparing, if the JR Pass seems more economical, then be sure to order it in advance so that it is posted to your home address. Alternatively, you could also purchase a Suica card which is a reloadable card to use on the Tokyo subway. Any balance left on your card can be claimed as a refund when you leave Japan.
2. Driving in Japan?
Don’t. That’s what we recommend. The public transport system is very well connected efficient and comparatively economical as well when you take hiring charges and insurance into consideration! Moreover, Japan has left hand driving, so if that is something that you’re not used to, consider using public transport instead. Additionally if you’re driving, you would also have to be aware of all the traffic rules to avoid road accidents and hefty fines!
3. Overcoming the language barrier!
There’s no better way to show respect to the country you’re vacationing in than by greeting the people in their mother tongue. No, we’re not asking you to learn Japanese, but it wouldn’t hurt to know few of the commonly used phrases in Japanese such as how to ask for directions, how to ask the price of something, the correct forms of excuse me, please and thank you, and perhaps even how to say you have an allergy to certain foods or medications in case of an emergency!
4. Planning is key
In Japan planning is key! Unlike in a few other countries, Japan isn’t one where you would enjoy getting lost all that much. So our recommendation would be to plan your itinerary well in advance!
5. Rules about over sized luggage
If the dimensions of your suitcases are more than 160 cm you would have to reserve your seat in the bullet train in advance as per the new railway rules. Alternatively, if you do not want to carry your luggage around, you can simply forward it to the next destination using the luggage forwarding service such as Yamato which is available at many hotels and convenience stores as well!
6. Hiring a guide is not a bad idea!
Local guides know all about the city through and through. Even after extensive research about the places in Japan, it may at times get overwhelming for some, especially because of the language barrier. Therefore, in some of the cities atleast it would be a great idea to hire a local guide who would share all of the insider secrets, hidden destinations, and all information there is to know about the Japanese culture.
Japanese people are extremely polite, so as visitors to their country, be mindful to reciprocate their politeness by bowing when you meet someone as bowing is the way to show respect. You should keep your back and neck straight and bow at the same angle as the person in front of you, and this will get you a lot of brownie points for being polite.
8. Remember to take off your shoes
At many places in Japan, it is considered to be rude to wear your shoes, especially inside homes or at religious places. So before you enter, do a quick scan for any signs that ask you to remove your shoes!
9. Tips @ restaurants
Unlike in most other countries, it is considered rude to leave a tip for your server. People might consider it as offensive and most likely will refuse to accept the tip. This is because in Japan, tipping implies that the person doesn’t earn that well!
Except in Osaka, whenever you travel in Japan, while using an escalator please stand on your left. This is so that any person who is in a hurry can use the empty space on the right side to reach their destination sooner.
11.Don’t smoke on the streets
In most of the big cities in Japan, you are not allowed to smoke on the street. If you get caught while doing so, you would have to pay a pretty hefty fine for it! However there are designated smoking areas outside all railway stations and in some restaurants, incase you do want to take a smoke break!
Japan practices a purification ritual before entering shrines and religious places. The ritual involves using a ladle to wash both your hands with fresh water and then rinsing your mouth with some fresh water before spitting out the water beside the fountain. Do be mindful to follow the purification ritual before you enter!
13. Tattoos aren’t appreciated!
Many Japanese people hold a deep-rooted cultural suspicion towards tattoos, as tattoos are associated with crime gangs such as the Yakuza, who have full-body markings. Because of this you may not be allowed in swimming pools, spas and gyms, unless you cover up your tattoos!
In Japan many stores only accept cash and would refuse to use your credit card. So be sure to carry around the local currency wherever you travel.
15.Best time to visit Japan?
Anytime is a good time to visit Japan! It entirely depends on the season you prefer. The most preferred season is the spring season (March to June) which is also the cherry blossom season. The weather is pleasant, however since the country experiences the biggest inflow of tourists to experience the cherry blossoms in bloom, the prices are quite high. Summer in Japan begins in July and ends in September. Summer is the season of typhoons, so it is hot and you can expect rainfall as well. However, if you want to steer clear of tourists, this is the best time to visit. The fall season starts in October and lasts until December. The fall season is yet another good time to visit as you will be greeted with rust, orange and gold colored trees. The winter season starts towards the mid of December, upto February. Winter can get cold in Japan depending upon the place you’re in!
Bonus tip – For amazing pictures of your travel in the beautiful country of Japan, do book your travel and vacation photographers from Travographer. Our photographers are the best at what they do and are locals; hence they’ll know all there is to know about the best locations for an incredible photo shoot! So go on and hire one of our photographers to follow you around as you create beautiful memories in Japan!