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When we think of Japan, we first think of the busy sidewalks and neon lights of Tokyo. But beyond the capital, Japan is a country that melds ancient traditions and modern life better than almost anywhere else. From hiking Mount Fuji to soaking in an authentic onsen bath and delving into the geisha tradition of Kyoto after a ride on a bullet train, Japan is one of the world’s most unique destinations. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know to start planning a trip to Japan!
- Karima Cammell
- From USA
The best time to visit Japan is between April and May when weather conditions are favorable across the country, be it in mountains or on tropical beaches. Coinciding with the famous cherry blossom season, this is the peak period for domestic and international tourism. A great alternative to this season is visiting Japan in September or November when Japan experiences its gentle move from summer to fall.
When planning a trip to Japan, be sure to give yourself at least a couple of days in the thriving capital to explore Tokyo. Join the locals in a bar amid the bright lights of the Shinbashi district before taking in the city’s historic Edo architecture and discovering more about the Shinto religion at Meiji Jingu Shrine. Then put on your hiking boots and head out to summit Mount Fuji. Learn more about the darkest days in Japanese history at Hiroshima Peace Memorial, which contains some of the only buildings to survive the atomic bomb blast, and continue your journey to Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto. Known for its geisha culture, Kyoto’s 1,300-year-old imperial palace is well worth exploring. If you are planning a family trip to Japan, be sure to make a stop at Nara, whose deer have become minor celebrities, before checking out the remnants of ancient monuments in Osaka.
Given its wealth of attractions, it is important to know how many days to spend in Japan if you are planning a trip there. A seven-day trip will give you an idea of what makes the country tick, with time for touring Osaka, Tokyo, and Kyoto. With two weeks in Japan, you can extend your explorations to the Goto Archipelago and Shikoku Island, among others, that will take you off the beaten path.
Japan’s main international airport is Narita International Airport in Tokyo. However, some international airlines also serve Osaka. There is also a regular ferry service between Busan in South Korea and Fukuoka on Japan’s western Kyushu Island. The vast majority of international visitors opt to reach the country via air.
Most of Japan is served by a clean, efficient, trustworthy public transportation system. The most famous component of this is its bullet train network, which connects major cities with trains traveling at speeds of up to 320 km/h. If your planned trip to Japan involves lots of rail travel, think about buying a Japan Rail Pass. Regional trains and buses complete the country’s public transportation network. Rental cars are available, but the language barrier can make driving in the country difficult.
Japan is not as cheap as other Asian nations to travel in. However, accommodation, food, and transportation are universally excellent and well worth the cost. Budget travelers should expect to spend at least USD 50 to USD 100 per person per day, while higher-end travelers keen to experience Michelin-starred food or luxury hotel stays should budget for USD 150 to USD 280 per day.
Japan’s largely unwritten cultural rules can worry first-time visitors. But follow this simple advice and you will not risk offending anyone! As a sign of respect, avoid looking directly in the eyes of the locals for long periods. You should also be particularly respectful to the elderly and offer them your seat on public transportation if necessary. Do not make excessive noise in public spaces or play music without headphones, which is also considered rude. Please note that getting intoxicated with alcohol (or drugs) is considered a serious offense in much of Japan and can get you in trouble with the police.
- Japan is an incredibly safe country and it consistently ranks as one of the safest in the world.
- Petty crimes such as mugging are almost unheard of and foreign visitors rarely become targets of more serious crimes either.
- It is generally safe to walk around after dark, although it is better if solo or female travelers take a taxi for extra security.
- Never go hiking alone and pay attention to local weather forecasts before venturing into the countryside.
The ‘land of the rising sun’ makes for an incredible vacation destination. When planning a trip here, be sure to take note of the points we have mentioned above. Better yet, let one of our local travel experts do all the hard work for you and arrange the perfect customized trip to Japan!