Embarking on a journey to Japan is like stepping into a realm where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with modern innovation. From breathtaking landscapes to bustling metropolises, Japan offers an array of experiences that cater to every traveler’s desires. In this complete Japan travel guide, we delve into the must-do activities, the best places to visit in Japan, and the top things to do In Japan, ensuring you make the most of your visit to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Japan Visa Requirements: Do You Need a Visa To Visit Japan?

Japan offers visa exemptions for citizens of certain countries who are visiting for short stays, usually for tourism, business meetings, or family visits. These exemptions often allow you to stay in Japan for up to 90 days. Travelers from many countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and many EU nations, can enter Japan for short stays without obtaining a visa beforehand. Japan E-Visa Website.

Japan QR Code: Travel Requirement

The Japan QR Entry Code is a digital tool developed to facilitate health screenings and contact tracing for travelers. If you’re planning a visit to this captivating country, you must obtain one before hand at Upon arriving in Japan, your QR code will be scanned at immigration. Japan QR Code

Travel Insurance: A Must-Have For Adventure Traveler

When embarking on international journeys, considering the purchase of traveler’s insurance becomes crucial. We strongly recommend opting for a SafetyWing policy. The reality is that unexpected events can occur anytime, leaving you in need of medical attention, dealing with misplaced luggage, or facing missed connecting flights. For a comprehensive exploration of Travelers Insurance, delve into our full write-up on Travelers Insurance here. Remember, being prepared is the key to stress-free and enjoyable travel experiences.

SafetyWing Travel Insurance

Internet and SIM Cards:

As you step into Japan’s major airports, you’ll find an array of options for purchasing SIM cards or pocket WiFi’s. While majority of SIM Cards will only be for data plans. Both Japan SIM cards and pocket Wi-Fi options offer unique advantages. While SIM cards are ideal for solo travelers or those looking for a straightforward solution, pocket Wi-Fi shines when you need multiple devices to connect. Consider your travel companions, data needs, and device preferences when making your choice. You can read my full write up on Japanese SIM Card Options here or Save time and purchase a Sakura E-SIM online here before you go.

Japanese Electrical Outlets: Do You Need A Travel Adapter?

In most cases, if your devices use a plug that matches the Type A or Type B outlets (USA) and your device’s power supply is compatible with the 100V voltage, you won’t need a travel adapter. Many modern electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, are designed to handle varying voltages and can adapt to the Japanese voltage. However, it’s crucial to double-check the specifications of your devices before assuming they’ll work seamlessly in Japan. If you need a travel adapter, we can recommend the following.

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How To Get Around In Japan

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Navigating Japan’s transportation system is an adventure in itself, offering a seamless blend of efficiency and innovation. Japan travel tips: Use Google maps and ride the trains to get around this captivating country:

  • Trains: Japan’s extensive and punctual train network is a traveler’s delight. A must do experience in Japan, is mastering the train networks. The Japan Rail Pass offers unlimited travel on JR trains, including the iconic Shinkansen (bullet trains).
  • Subways and Buses: In urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka, subways and buses are essential. Grab a rechargeable IC card like Suica or Pasmo for hassle-free entry.
    Book online with Willer Express or Japan Bus Online
  • Taxis: Taxis are reliable but pricier. Most drivers don’t speak English, so have your destination written in Japanese or use a translation app. Japan travel tips: Try to avoid using taxis.

Live Currency Conversion of Japanese Yen

In Japan, the Official Currency is the Yen (¥). Japan travel tips: We recommend using a Capital One Debit Card, which is part of the ATM network in Japan, so there are no ATM fees.


Cost of Living in Japan: Is Japan Expensive?

While Japan is known for its relatively high cost of living, the advantages it offers to those with the means are plentiful. Access to top-notch public services, a secure and steady environment, and a system of low taxation are among the enticing benefits of residing in the country.

Average Meal in Restaurant 1200¥$8.29
Beer in Restaurant or Bar550¥$3.80
Bottle of Water120¥$0.83
Apartment Rural 86,000¥$595
Apartment City Center150,000¥$1037
Average Monthly Net Salary¥574,000$3966
JAPAN Cost of Goods

Japan Travel Tips On How To Save Money While Traveling In Japan

  1. Stay in Budget Accommodations

While Japan offers luxurious hotels, there are also budget-friendly options like hostels, guesthouses, and capsule hotels. You can experience Japanese hospitality without draining your wallet. Japan has the best hostels, they are clean, and in great locations.

  1. Leverage Convenience Stores

Convenience stores in Japan, such as Lawson and FamilyMart, are true lifesavers for travelers. They offer affordable, high-quality delicious meals, snacks, and beverages, making it easy to keep your food expenses in check.

  1. Explore the Bento Culture

Bentos are delicious, affordable boxed meals available at train stations and department stores. They come in various styles, from sushi to tempura, and are an excellent way to enjoy Japanese cuisine without the restaurant price tag. After 6pm, department stores will start to mark down prices to clear out inventory.

  1. Eat at Budget Chain Restaurants

Japan is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine, but dining out doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some options for budget dining in Japan: Ichiran Ramen, where you can customize your delicious ramen bowls. Sukiya specializes in beef bowls (gyudon) and offers other affordable Japanese dishes, while Yoshinoya is famous for its gyudon and rice-based meals. Matsuya is another gyudon chain known for its variety of toppings and side dishes, and Coco Ichibanya offers a wide selection of customizable curry dishes.

  1. Take Advantage of Free Attractions

Japan is not just about paying for attractions. There are plenty of free top things to do in japan, like exploring parks, temples, and shrines.

  1. Use a Japan Rail Pass if traveling to multiple destinations

If you plan to travel across Japan’s cities and regions, the Japan Rail Pass can save you a substantial amount of money. This pass is available for tourists and allows unlimited travel on Japan Railways (JR) trains, including the famous Shinkansen (bullet trains).

  1. Shop at Thrift Stores and 2nd Hand Shops

If you’re interested in unique souvenirs and clothing, Japan’s thrift stores and 2nd hand shops can be treasure troves. You’ll find vintage items and affordable gifts for friends and family.

Best Times to Visit Japan

Japan Travel Guide

Spring (March to May):

Spring is perhaps the most popular time to visit Japan. Cherry blossoms, known as “sakura,” blanket the country in delicate pink and white hues. This breathtaking sight usually occurs from late March to early April, varying depending on the region. The weather is generally pleasant, making it ideal for outdoor exploration.

Summer (June to August):

Summer in Japan is vibrant and lively. Festivals like Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and Tanabata across the country showcase Japanese culture at its finest. However, be prepared for high humidity and occasional rain. Hokkaido, with its cooler temperatures, is a summer haven for those seeking respite from the heat. Japan travel tips: Avoid the months of July and August, the humidity level is too high.

Fall (September to November):

Autumn brings a burst of colors as the leaves change, creating picturesque landscapes. This season is particularly popular among photographers and nature enthusiasts. September and October offer mild temperatures and less rainfall, making it an enjoyable time to explore.

Winter (December to February):

While winter in Japan might not be as cold as some other destinations, it offers a unique charm. Snowfall graces regions like Hokkaido, providing opportunities for skiing and enjoying onsen (hot spring) baths. Cities like Sapporo host the stunning Snow Festival. In more temperate areas, plum blossoms start to bloom, offering a touch of color.

Each season has its own distinct beauty, cultural events, and activities. Consider your preferences for weather, events, and scenery to choose the best time for your Japan adventure. Japan travel tips: I recommend visiting in either spring or fall months for the best weather.

Japan’s Customs and Cultures

Diving into Japan’s rich tapestry of customs and cultures reveals a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity. From the elegance of tea ceremonies and the art of kimono-wearing to the high-tech urban landscapes, the country seamlessly intertwines its historical heritage with contemporary living. Bowing as a form of respect, seasonal festivals, and a deep-rooted sense of community further exemplify Japan’s unique way of life, making it a captivating destination that harmoniously bridges the gap between the past and the present.

Japan Travel Tips: Do’s and Don’ts in Japan

Because social cohesion is highly valued in Japan, you’ll find numerous etiquette, traditions, and customs guidelines. The following are a few intriguing customs that are must do experience in Japan.

  • Remove your shoes before entering homes and certain establishments. 
  • Using a mask when sick.
  • Use provided slippers before using the restroom.
  • Do not stick your chopsticks upright in a bowl, as it’s associated with funerals. 
  • Do not talk loudly on public transportation. 
  • Do Slurp noodles while eating them.
  • Pay attention to the queuing process. Japanese will form organized single file for entering and exiting.

Languages Spoken in Japan

The primary language spoken in Japan is Japanese. It’s the official language and is used for communication in all aspects of daily life. While English is taught in schools and many Japanese people have some level of English proficiency, especially in urban areas and within the younger population, it’s not as widely spoken as Japanese. So, having a basic understanding of Japanese or using translation tools can be helpful for travelers. Japan travel tips: Learn a few basic Japanese words for communication; hello, good morning, goodbye, thank you, yes, no, excuse me, etc.

Top Things To Do In Japan:  Events & Festivals

Must do experience in Japan

Japan is renowned for its vibrant and diverse festivals that provide a unique glimpse into its rich cultural heritage. Here are some popular events, must do experience in Japan, and festivals:

  • Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festivals: Springtime brings a wave of cherry blossom festivals across the country, especially in Kyoto and Tokyo. The delicate pink flowers create a mesmerizing atmosphere, making it a must do experience in Japan
  • Gion Matsuri: This grand festival in Kyoto is held in July and is one of the most famous in Japan. It features processions of massive floats and traditional performances.
  • Tanabata: Celebrated on July 7th, this festival involves writing wishes on strips of paper and hanging them on bamboo. It’s a time for colorful decorations and community gatherings.
  • Awa Odori: This dance festival in Tokushima (Shikoku) is held in August and features lively performances by both professionals and amateurs.
  • Obon Festival: Held in August, this event honors deceased ancestors. It includes traditional dances and lantern lighting ceremonies to guide spirits back to the world of the living.
  • Jidai Matsuri: In Kyoto, this “Festival of Ages” occurs in October and showcases Japan’s history through elaborate period costumes and reenactments.
  • Takayama Matsuri: Held in spring and autumn, this festival in the Hida region of Gifu Prefecture features ornate floats and traditional music and dances.
  • Kanda Matsuri: A biennial festival in Tokyo, this event features a lively procession of mikoshi (portable shrines) and traditional performances.
  • Sapporo Snow Festival: Taking place in February, this festival features incredible snow and ice sculptures that attract visitors from all over the world. Making this a popular must do experience in Japan.
  • Nebuta Matsuri: Held in Aomori in August, this festival showcases massive illuminated paper lantern floats depicting mythical figures and historical scenes.

Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Japan

Japan travel tips

Japan, a land of timeless beauty and rich traditions, boasts an array of captivating destinations that cater to every traveler’s desires. From bustling metropolises to serene countryside, the country offers a diverse tapestry of experiences. In this guide, we delve into the best places to visit in Japan, each with its unique charm and allure.

1. Kyoto: A Cultural Treasure Trove

Kyoto stands as a living testament to Japan’s rich heritage. This historic city is a treasure trove of traditional architecture, enchanting temples, and serene gardens. Don’t miss Kinkaku-ji, the famed Golden Pavilion, whose reflection shimmers on the surrounding pond. Fushimi Inari Shrine with its iconic torii gates is a spiritual journey through a vibrant corridor of vermillion. An authentic must do experience in Japan is to immerse yourself further, partake in a tea ceremony or dress in a traditional kimono.
Top 20 Things To Do In Kyoto

2. Tokyo: Where Tradition Meets Futuristic Innovation

Immerse yourself in the dynamic spirit of modern Tokyo’s vibrant cityscape, showcasing some of the best places to visit in Japan. Experience the mesmerizing rhythm of Shibuya Crossing, where pedestrians harmoniously converge. Seek solace amidst the city buzz at Meiji Shrine, then delve into the realm of anime and electronics in Akihabara Electric Town. Rise to the heights of Tokyo Skytree for breathtaking urban panoramas and delve into history at Asakusa’s Senso-ji Temple. And for a contemporary art extravaganza, the teamLab Borderless digital art museum is an absolute must-see. Tokyo Travel Guide

3. Osaka: Culinary Delights and Urban Adventures

Osaka, known as the “Kitchen of Japan,” offers a culinary journey making it one of the Best Places to Visit in Japan. Sample street food at Dotonbori, from takoyaki to okonomiyaki. For thrills, visit Universal Studios Japan for themed attractions and entertainment. The Osaka Castle, standing tall amidst lush grounds, offers a peek into Japan’s history. Amidst the modernity, the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine provides a serene escape with its unique architectural style. Top 15 Things To Do In Osaka

4. Hiroshima: A Beacon of Peace and Resilience

Hiroshima, a poignant symbol of peace and strength, offers top things to do in Japan. The Peace Memorial Park and Museum honor atomic bomb victims, advocating for a nuclear-free world. The Atomic Bomb Dome, or Hiroshima Peace Memorial, solemnly stands as a testament to history. Amidst this resonance, Hiroshima’s lively urban scenery and serene Shukkeien Garden weave a juxtaposition of resilience and solace.

5. Hokkaido: Nature’s Playground in the North

Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, beckons nature enthusiasts with its untouched beauty. Explore the expansive Daisetsuzan National Park for hiking and hot springs. In winter, revel in world-class skiing in Niseko. Witness the ethereal beauty of the Blue Pond and marvel at the Shirogane Blue Pond’s turquoise waters. Hokkaido’s landscapes, from flower fields to snowy vistas, make it a year-round paradise.

6. Nikko: Serenity Amidst Nature’s Grandeur

Nestled in the Tochigi Prefecture, Nikko is a serene escape adorned with stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. The Toshogu Shrine complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting intricate carvings and the iconic “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys. The picturesque Lake Chuzenji offers boating and tranquility, while the Kegon Falls cascade dramatically amidst lush forests.

7. Nara: Where Deer Roam Free

Nara, the ancient capital, enchants visitors with its harmony between nature and culture. Roaming freely through Nara Park are friendly deer, considered sacred messengers. The awe-inspiring Todai-ji Temple houses the Great Buddha, a monumental bronze statue. Experience the Best Places to Visit in Japan with refined beauty of Isuien Garden and marvel at the traditional architecture of Kasuga Taisha Shrine.
Nara Day Trip Guide

8. Kanazawa: Artistry and Elegance

Kanazawa, on the west coast, is a city steeped in refined artistry and architectural marvels. The Kenrokuen Garden is one of Japan’s most celebrated, showcasing the essence of Japanese landscape design. Explore the Nagamachi samurai district, with preserved samurai residences. Discover the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and Kanazawa Castle for a blend of history and modernity.

9. Okinawa: Tropical Paradise and Unique Culture

Okinawa, a group of islands in the south, boasts a distinct culture and breathtaking scenery as a Best Places to Visit in Japan. Crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches make it a haven for water activities and relaxation. Immerse yourself in the Ryukyuan culture at Shuri Castle and the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, home to whale sharks. Don’t miss the Orion Beer Factory tour for a taste of Okinawan brew.
Okinawa Travel Guide

10. Takayama: Tranquil Traditions in the Alps

Nestled in the Japanese Alps, Takayama offers top things to do in Japan for seekers of tranquility and tradition. Stroll the Edo-era alleys of Sanmachi Suji, adorned with merchant abodes and sake breweries. Step back in time at the Hida Folk Village, where traditional thatched-roof dwellings create a vivid historical panorama. Savor the indulgence of Hida beef, a local treasure, and surrender to the embrace of rural beauty.

Klook.com

Must Do Experiences in Japan

Top things to do in japan

Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami): The most popular must do experience in Japan is to Witness the ethereal beauty of cherry blossoms in spring, a cultural phenomenon that paints the landscape in shades of pink and white.

Explore Kyoto’s Temples: Uncover Kyoto’s captivating history through top things to do in Japan. Explore renowned temples like Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and the enchanting Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Savor Traditional Cuisine: Experience one of the top things to do in Japan by savoring sushi, ramen, and other exquisite Japanese delicacies that embody the essence of the nation’s culinary legacy.

Bathe in an Onsen: Unwind in a natural hot spring bath, or onsen, and embrace a soothing ritual deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. Visiting an Onsen, although you must be fully nude, is one of the top Must Do Experiences In Japan, checkout my Onsen Etiquette & Best Onsens in Japan

Experience a Tea Ceremony: A must do experience in Japan is to participate in a tea ceremony to understand the grace and elegance that define Japan’s tea culture.

Sumo Wrestling: Engage in one of the top things to do in Japan by witnessing a sumo match or participating in training alongside sumo wrestlers, gaining insight into the profound dedication and discipline of this ancient sport.

Kimono Dress-Up: Another must do experiences In Japan Is wearing a traditional kimono and stroll through historic streets for an authentic cultural encounter.

Stay in a Ryokan: An Enjoyable must do experience in Japan is embracing the hospitality of a traditional inn, complete with tatami mat rooms, futon beds, and kaiseki meals.

What to Eat in Japan

Japanese Food Must Try

Exploring Japan’s culinary landscape is a must-do experience that immerses you in a universe of flavors. From the artistic finesse of sushi to the heartwarming embrace of ramen, Japan presents a rich variety of dishes suited to all tastes. Whether relishing street fare like takoyaki or savoring the sophistication of kaiseki, each bite reflects the fusion of tradition and creativity. Embarking on this gastronomic journey leads you through lively markets, tucked-away lanes, and celebrated eateries, where every plate narrates its unique tale.
Check out my Top Japanese Dishes To Eat.

Healthcare Services

Japan has a universal healthcare system, known for its excellent healthcare system. The system is funded through a combination of premiums, taxes, and co-payments. Everyone in Japan is required to have health insurance. There are two main types: Employee Health Insurance (for employees) and National Health Insurance (for self-employed individuals, retirees, and others). Japan has a wide range of medical facilities, including modern hospitals, clinics, and specialized medical centers. The quality of medical care is generally high, and many doctors and healthcare professionals are well-trained.

Japan Travel Guide Conclusion 

Embrace the allure of Japan, where tradition and modernity entwine seamlessly. This captivating tapestry of experiences, from breathtaking natural landscapes to cultural treasures and technological marvels, entices global travelers. Follow essential Japan travel tips, indulge in must-do experiences, and uncover the top things to do in this remarkable land. Let the best places to visit in Japan paint unforgettable memories as you journey through its depths. Plan your adventure, welcome the unknown, and allow Japan’s enchanting magic to unfold before you.

Is it necessary to learn Japanese before visiting Japan?

While learning some basic phrases can be helpful, many tourist areas have English signs and staff. It’s beneficial, but not mandatory.

What’s the best time to witness cherry blossoms?

Cherry blossoms typically bloom from late March to early April. Check local forecasts for precise timings.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes, major credit cards are accepted in cities, but having some cash for rural areas and small establishments is recommended.

How’s the public transportation system?

Japan boasts an efficient and extensive public transport network including trains and buses. The Japan Rail Pass is a great option for travelers.

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