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Japan Travel Guide

Destinations > Asia > Japan

👋 Konnichiwa! My name is Trisha and I’ve traveled Japan solo several times. I mostly come to Japan because of food but I am also continuously learning about the Japanese culture in my visits. Majority of my trips to Japan were motivated by local cultures. I’ve stayed with local families in Japan through Couchsurfing and I also volunteered here to stretch my finances further.

Obviously, this blog is about solo travel and if you are wondering if Japan is safe, it is absolutely safe and you don’t need to worry about your safety. I’ve visited Japan ALONE many times and through this aloneness, I actually made a lot of Japanese friends!

In this Japan travel guide, I will share with you everything I know about Japan travel including budget, things to do, cheap flights, affordable accommodations, what to avoid, and more!

Should you have more questions about Japan, please don’t hesitate to ask me on Tiktok or send a message on Instagram. Enjoy your trip and let me know how I can be of help!

🇯🇵 Japan Travel quick info

  • 💲 Currency: Japanese Yen (¥). $1 USD = ¥130 Japanese yen
  • 🔌 Power plug: Japan uses type A (two flat parallel pins) and type B (two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin).
  • 📱 Japan sim card: Unlimited data for 30 days in Japan costs $30.50 USD. You can order your Japan sim card before your trip and pick it up upon arrival at any major airport in Japan.
  • 📡 Wifi: Japan is a first-world country so expect fast Internet connection everywhere! Wifi is also FREE all over Japan. Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi and Travel Japan Wi-Fi are two of the apps you can use to find free wifi all over the country.
  • 🛃 Visa: Americans, Canadians, Australians, and Europeans are visa-free in Japan for 30 days. Depending on where you are from, you can check the Japan visa requirements for your country/passport or contact the consulate in your city.
  • 🤟 Language: Very few people can speak English in Japan so make sure to practice some basic Japanese before your travel! You’d most likely to survive with hand signals – the Japanese are used to it and despite the language barrier, they try their best to help!
  • Safety: Japan has a very low crime rate and is on the top 10 of the safest countries in the world.

  • ✅ Visit Japan web form that can be completed here.
  • ✅ COVID vaccination card with 3 doses or a negative PCR test valid 72 hours before arrival.
  • ✅ Japan travel insurance coverage. Check  SafetyWing for cheaper insurance!
  • ✅ Round-trip ticket. Find the best deals on WayAway.
  • ✅ Proof of accommodation

🗺️ Japan Map

📅 Best time to visit Japan

  • Spring: This is one of the best times to visit Japan because of the Cherry blossoms season. Temperatures during this season is from 21°C (69°F) so you’ll definitely enjoy these months. It’s not too cold and it’s not too hot! The cherry blossoms start the first bloom in the month of March and goes until the first week of May (depending on where you are in Japan). May and June are rainy seasons so avoid these months.
  • Summer: Summer months is from June to mid September. These summers are intensely humid so if you like the heat, this is the best time to visit Japan. August and September may also bring occasional rain showers and thunder storms. Avoid these months as typhoons can be harsh in Japan.
  • Autumn: This is the best time to visit Japan as the weather is not too cold and not too hot. Autumn also brings so many colors, especially in Japan’s countryside. Autumn fall in the months of late September to early December.
  • Winter: Winter is cold in Japan but is sunny and with blue skies. This country is well-known for skiing and many people who want to stay in ski resorts travel to Japan from December to February. These are the coldest months so take note!

✨ Japan Travel Tips for First Timers

  • Japan is one of the most expensive countries in Asia so you may need at least $70 USD per day to travel Japan. A complete budget guide will be provided below for you to know how much do you need to travel Japan.
  • English is not widely spoken in Japan, even in the travel industry. Check the basic Japanese phrases you need to know and practice before your trip.
  • Public transportation in Japan is very efficient. The bullet trains can go anywhere in the country, the busses are comfortable, and there are also ferries and trains within Japan. You don’t need to rent a car!
  • Japan is a safe country. You can walk the streets of Tokyo at night (even in the wee hours of morning). You will see many Japanese children commuting alone in train stations.
  • Make food your priority for Japan travel. Japan has Michelin-star street food and it is 1 of the 3 best cuisines in the world, together with French and Mexican.

📍 Places to visit in Japan

🚍 Getting around Japan

  • 🚆 Japan Railways (JR): JR is the biggest transportation company in Japan operating many different routes all over the country. Each city has their own JR pass and you can also purchase regional passes depending on where you are going in Japan. The price of a JR pass starts at $226 USD and has 7, 14, and 21 days passes.
  • 🚅 Shinkansen (Bullet Train): This world-class bullet train is the fastest train in the world. If you are traveling Japan on a shorter period, the bullet train can take you to different destinations in Japan real quick! Please note that the JR Pass is not valid for this train. You will need to purchase your Shinkansen pass separately.
  • 🚇 Subways: all major cities in Japan has underground subways that cover the whole city. A one-day subway pass costs $3.21 USD.
  • 🚂 Local Railways: the local railways has the exact same routes as the Shinkansen Bullet train but this is of course, way slower. This is the best transportation to travel slow and see the views of the countryside. Get the Greater Tokyo Pass (3 days) for Tokyo and the suburbs.
  • 🚕 Taxis: Taxi drivers in Japan are honest and fares are calculated by the distance. In the evenings, there are late-night surcharges (10:00 PM – 5:00 AM) which is about $5 USD more. Japan uses three major taxi apps namely Takkun, Japan Taxi, and Tokyo Musen.
  • 🚌 Busses: There are so many bus lines in Japan so you may have to do your research specific to your destination. To start off, use Japan Bus Web and Japan Bus Lines to familiarize yourself with the routes.
  • ✈️ Domestic Air Travel: There are over 90 airports in Japan so flying is very convenient. For domestic flights in Japan, book with Ana Air or Japan Airlines. These are the two major carriers of Japan. For budget airlines, check out Jetstar Japan, Peach, SkyMark Airlines,  Fuji Dream Airlines, and  IBEX Airlines.

🌏 Japan Travel Blog

🧭 Things to do in Japan

🛏️ Where to stay in Japan

🍣 Japanese food: what to eat

japan travel guide
Okonomiyaki
Japanese savory pancake
japan travel guide
Yakitori
Chicken skewer
japan travel guide
Yakiniku
Japanese Barbecue
japan travel guide
Takoyaki
Grilled Octopus
japan travel guide
Sukiyaki
Japanese hot pot
japan travel guide
Udon
Japanese noodles
japan travel guide
Sushi
World-famous dish
japan travel guide
Unagi
Freshwater eel
japan travel guide
Tempura
Battered shrimp
japan travel guide
Shabu Shabu
Hot pot
japan travel guide
Ramen
Noodle dish
japan travel guide
Tonkatsu
Pork cutlet

💲 Japan Travel Costs

  • Daily travel budget: Backpackers and budget travelers, prepare at least $70 USD per day for accommodations in a hostel, food, and transportation costs. Mid-range travelers can go up to $100 USD per day while luxury travelers need at least $300 USD per day.
  • Food costs: A meal in Japan starts at $15 USD and this is in a decent restaurant. For street food, expect to pay less than $10 USD.
  • Accommodation costs: Accommodations in Japan start at $25 USD for a hostel, $75 USD for a boutique hotel for 2, and $150 USD and above for luxury hotels.
  • Tour costs: A walking tour in Japan costs $35 USD (with food) while day trips can cost up to $140 USD per person.
  • Transportation costs: Japan is big on daily and weekly transportation passes! The JR Pass costs $224 USD while bus and railway passes for 3 days start at $65 USD.
  • USD exchange: The airports are still the best currency exchange houses in Japan although you will find so many USD exchange offices in all cities. Try both and compare prices but I always convert mine at the airport.
  • ATMs: You can use your debit card from home to withdraw Japanese yen if you don’t want to bring USD, GBP, AUD, or EUR in Japan. ATMs can charge up to $5 USD per transaction but this still depends on your bank (at home).
  • Credit cards: Credit cards are widely used in Japan except for local street food joints. Major credit card companies that are widely accepted in Japan include Visa, American Express, Diner’s Club, Discover, and JCB.
  • Tipping: Tipping is not required in Japan and it may come to a surprise that they will often refuse tips from tourists and visitors.

💵 Money-saving tips

  • Japan Rail Pass may be expensive but if you put together all the individual train rides in Japan, it will cost more! I learned from this lesson twice and I never ever go to Japan without the JR Pass. A weekly pass starts at $224 USD.
  • Jetstar Japan is the low-cost airline that covers many destinations in Japan. This is the best airline to book with, especially if you are one a budget.
  • Take overnight busses to save on accommodations. Night busses in Japan leave at 10:00 PM and arrive to the destination early in the morning. Use the evenings to travel and sleep on a sleeper bus.
  • Use Hostelworld to book cheap accommodations in Japan. A bed in a 8-bed dorm starts at $25 USD per night. There are also private rooms in hostels that are way cheaper than normal hotels in Japan.
  • Eat at convenience stores: For most countries, eating at 7/11 are a no-no but in Japan, the convenience stores have cheap gourmet sections and the food are always good! A bento box at 7/11 starts at $7 USD.
  • The Grutt Pass will give you discounts on attractions, entrance tickets, etc all over Japan!
  • If you are traveling Japan on an indefinite time, the best way to save on accommodations and food is to do volunteering. Volunteering in Japan requires at least 2 weeks and you get free food and accommodations in exchange for a 25-hour volunteer work.
  • Eat street food! Japan has Michelin-star street food that are less than $10 USD. Don’t worry, you won’t get sick with street food in Japan. You’ll love it, I promise!

📱 Useful apps for Japan travel

  • Tokyo Metro Subway Map: did you know that even the Japanese themselves get lost in the stations of Tokyo? This is a good app to learn about Tokyo’s subway and avoid getting lost in the big city.
  • Tabido: an app that will give you an overview about cultures in Japan. This is a great app for digital nomads and expats who want to integrate in the local life in Japan.
  • Japan2Go!: an app that will provide all the tourist attractions near you including information on how to get there and what to expect when you visit.
  • Japan Restaurant Guide: find all the best restaurants in the area including places that you will not findin any other Japan travel guide.
  • sakefan World: An app where you will find all the best sake places in the country. Yep, they have their own app for this iconic Japanese drink!
  • Travel Japan Wi-Fi: search for free wifi within your area. Wherever you are in Japan, you’ll always get to connect to the Internet because of this free wifi service!
  • WeatherJapan: a detailed travel weather app that will give you accurate weather forecast in Japan.

🈲 Helpful Japanese phrases

  • Konnichiwa: hello
  • Ohayou gozaimasu: good morning
  • Konbanwa: good evening
  • Moshi moshi: hello for answering the phone
  • Ogenki desu ka?: how are you?
  • Genki desu: I’m good
  • Ohisashiburi desu ne: long time no see
  • Namae wa nan desu ka?  what’s your name?
  • Watashi no namae wa Trisha desu: my name is Trisha
  • Watashi wa Philippines kara kimashita: I’m from the Philippines
  • Sou desu ka? Really?
  • Arigatou gozaimasu: Thank you
  • Douitashimashite: you’re welcome
  • Sumimasen: Excuse me
  • Gomen nasai: I’m sorry
  • Itadakimasu: Bon appetit
  • Gochisousama deshita: that was delicious!
  • Wakarimasen: I don’t understand
  • Shirimasen: I don’t know
  • Mou ichido kudasai: can you repeat that please?
  • Tetsudatte kuremasen ka? Can you help me?
  • Doko desu ka? Where is it?
  • Itsu desu ka? When is it?
  • Doushite? Why?

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