Top Tips for Traveling Around Japan

ByJustin Hanus
Mar 23, 2018

Top Tips for Traveling Around Japan

Shinkansen

As Japan has so much to offer, it’s worth taking a trip to see different parts of the country. If you speak only a little or no Japanese, the prospect of such a journey can be daunting. However with the right planning, you can visit any destination from touristic cities to lesser-known spots.

1. Take Advantage of a JR Pass

With a JR Pass, foreigners entering Japan for sight-seeing can travel around the entire country at a discount. You can purchase a pass for seven, 14, or 21 days to best fit your travel plans. With the pass, you pay nothing for travel on most trains (including bullet trains) as well as some local buses, ferries, and subways lines in major cities.

2. Save Even More by Taking a Bus

To save even more money, or if you’re in Japan as anything other than a temporary visitor, traveling by bus is an option. Buses are far cheaper than trains, but as they take much longer, they are best for reasonably short distances.

3. Fly at a Discount Rate

As a foreigner, you can save money on plane tickets by booking domestic flights while you’re still outside Japan. If you want to visit the extremes of the country, this is definitely your best option.

4. Plan to Spend in Cash

Make sure you arrive with plenty of cash or a plan to withdraw from an ATM as many places you may expect to take credit cards do not. You can usually find ATMs that accept foreign cards in 7-Eleven convenience stores and post offices.

Also bear in mind that currency from ¥1 to ¥500 is in coin form. Come prepared with a coin purse.

5. Translate the Menu

There’s no need to limit yourself to places that offer a menu in English. Besides, this may be difficult in some parts of the country — and it could mean that you miss out on great local dishes. Download an app like WayGo and you’ll be able to read any menu. Having such an app will also be helpful in other situations when you need translations.

5. Rent a Pocket WiFi

A pocket WiFi will ensure that you have a reliable, high-speed Internet connection wherever you go, even in remote areas. As well as making your trip more comfortable, this is key for being able to translate signs and check a map to ensure you don’t get lost, especially if you don’t read kanji.

6. Check Out Convenience Stores

Japanese conveniences stores are called konbini. You’ll find that they have everything you need, whether you want a quick snack or a lunch, personal care products or batteries. Plus, if you decided to forgo the pocket WiFi, they’re a top place to find free Internet.

Alternatively, you can find many essentials from vending machines. These dispense foods ranging from toasted sandwiches to instant noodles as well as items like umbrellas and gloves.

If you’ve never visited Japan before, be ready for a culture shock. With so much to take in, it’s best to avoid rushing. Avoid trying to do too much and you’ll get much more out of your trip.

By Nanashinodensyaku (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Justin Hanus editor