Japan is a beautiful country that has a lot to offer every type of tourist. One trip to the country is just not enough. However, there is plenty to do. In fact, many people regularly visit as it takes a place in their hearts. From futuristic skyscrapers to ancient temples and relaxing hot springs, you are in for a treat when you visit. The blend of new with old is what makes it so exciting. To help you plan the perfect trip to Japan, we have prepared the ultimate guide just for you. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in.
Tips for the Best Trip to Japan
1. Cash Rules
One of the tips that you should consider when visiting Japan is that cash rules. Workers are normally paid in cash. Similarly, most businesses such as shops and restaurants only accept cash. Although your hotel is likely to take credit, it is always best to check first. Carrying around cash in your wallet is the way to go. If you run out of cash, you can visit a 7-Eleven as it always has an ATM. Besides, it is open 24/7.
2. Get a Rail Pass
Save money by getting a rail pass when in Japan. It is especially useful when traveling around a specific part of the country. You should be able to get an unlimited pass that would cover a certain region. It will allow you to rise commuter trains, bullet trains, buses, and even ferries. You must carry your passport to validate the pass. Keep in mind that public transport does not run 24/7. This means that if you do not reach your final destination by 1.00 am, you would need to get an expensive taxi.
3. Learn Some Japanese
A few Japanese phrases and key words go a long way. Nowhere is learning a bit of the local language as important as it is in Japan. You must also understand the etiquette. Familiarize yourself with “excuse me”, “please”, and “thank you”. Otherwise, you would come off as rude which is something that you must avoid. Moreover, you need to learn how to read basic Japanese words such as toilet, exit, karaoke, and ramen.
4. Remove Your Shoes When Entering Certain Restaurants or Someone’s Home
Another tip that you have to follow when in Japan is to take off your shoes in certain places. Otherwise, it would be considered highly offensive. Generally, you are required to remove your shoes when you enter someone’s home. There are also various restaurants that do not allow you to wear your shoes. Hence, you should check with the restaurant and pay attention to others. Most dressing rooms also require you to remove your shoes.
5. No Tipping
If there is one tip that you will love about Japan is that there is no tipping needed. Customers who tip end up receiving their money back from the server. The fact is that Japanese waiters are paid a decent salary. Thus, you do not need to feel guilty about not tipping. The no-tipping rule applies just about everywhere.
Top Things to Do In Japan
Now that we have covered the most important tips that you should know when in Japan, we will share the top things to do.
1. Soak in an Onsen
An onsen is a hot spring bath. It will allow you to have a classic Japanese experience. There is nothing like soaking in hot water after a long day exploring Tokyo or Kyoto. There are both indoor and outdoor options. Some are simple, whereas, others are luxurious. Keep in mind that most of them are shared. Hence, you will need to get completely naked in front of strangers. However, it can be liberating to take off your clothes and just relax for a change.
2. Wear a Kimono
For a complete Japanese experience, you should wear a Kimono. There are many small resort towns where you enjoy wearing traditional dress and live like a local. It is a good idea to book a ryokan as it has an onsen and kimono shops.
3. Watch a Geisha Perform
Considered to be the most fascinating aspect of Japanese society, you need to watch a geisha perform. If you have read Memoirs of a Geisha or watched the film, you might already be familiar with just how skilled a geisha is. Generally, geishas wear bright-colored kimonos and entertain in wooden teahouses. You will find their performance to be spectacular.
4. See a Sumo Wrestler in Action
When you are done watching a geisha perform, you should see sumo wrestlers battle it out. Known as the national sport of Japan, you have to watch a match. It is steeped in tradition and includes rituals that have ancient origins. Tournaments are regularly which means that you should be able to watch a sumo wrestling competition when you visit.
5. Visit Hiroshima Peace Museum
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima is remembered to this day. It was the lowest point of Japan. You should check out the Peace Memorial Park to pay your respects. It is a riveting and heartbreaking museum that tells the tale of the modern city. Learn more about how it was rebuilt following the Second World War during your visit.
6. Go-Kart around Tokyo
A fun thing to do while in Japan is go-karting. You can dress up as one of your favorite characters and hit the streets of Tokyo. Drive alongside cars and buses for a fun time. However, you will require an international driving permit in order to drive in Japan.
7. Head to Disney Sea
Disney Sea is an amazing Disney park that features a nautical theme. It is home to Mediterranean Harbor and Mysterious Island. You must check out the rides and try adult activities such as drinking cocktails and watching a Broadway show.
8. Sing at a Karaoke Booth
The next thing that you should do when in Japan is rent a karaoke booth and sing. Everyone in the country loves to sing, from teens to business tycoons. The booth will provide a tablet for selecting songs, a TV, microphones, and comfy seating. You even have the option to order food and drinks. Singing at a karaoke booth makes for the perfect night out.
9. Be Amazed by the Studio Ghibli Museum
Anyone who loves Studio Ghibli movies such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away should visit the Studio Ghibli Museum. This whimsical museum is located in Tokyo and has all the drawings and props of the animations. As tickets can be expensive if you get them last minute, you should get them a month in advance.
10. Spend a Day at the World of Harry Potter
Located at Universal Studios Japan, the World of Harry Potter is just the place that potter heads need to check out. It offers a truly immersive experience that will allow you to cast spells using a magic wand, get sweets at Honey Dukes, drink butterbeer, walk around Hogwarts, and stroll through the snowy cobbled streets. There are all sorts of rides at the park that you will come to enjoy.
Nothing is weird in Japan. Enjoy your time at the Robot Restaurant. Technically, it is not a restaurant as it features high-energy robots, creepy clowns, drummers, blue-haired dancers, ninjas, and dragons. It is hilarious and outright obnoxious.
12. Go Hiking along the Kumano Kodo Trail
When the crowds and high pace of Japan get to you, it is a good idea to hike the Kumano Kodo Trail. It is the perfect place to find solitude, tranquility, and peace. This ancient pilgrimage trail allows you to explore tiny villages and remote mountains. You can also stay at any of the traditional guesthouses that come along the way.
13. Take Pictures at a Japanese Photo Booth
No trip to Japan is complete without taking pictures at a photo booth. It provides a memorable experience and is super quick. Whether you are visiting with your friends or partner, you can get inside the booth to take some awesome pictures. Besides, the more people there are with you the better. It also makes for the ideal souvenir
14. See Mount Fuji
When in Japan, you have to see Mount Fuji. Chances are that you might have already thought about checking it out. It does hide in the clouds from time to time. You can take a cable car to get a stunning view of this gorgeous mountain.
15. Meet Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Park
The last thing to do on our list is to meet snow monkeys at Jigokudani Park. Escape the chaos by visiting Nagano and walk along the paths. Your best chance of spotting the monkeys is during the winter. As long as the weather is chilly, you will get to see these adorable creatures.
That’s about it. You can now plan your trip to Japan with ease. Pay attention to our tips and add fun things to do to your travel itinerary. Japan is one of those places that you need to visit at least once in your life. It caters to both solo and group travelers.