4 Things to Consider When Planning Your Trip to Japan
There’s just so much to see and do in Japan: the majestic Mount Fuji, dark against the rising sun, the beautiful colours of the cherry blossoms during the peak of the spring season, the delicate flavours of fish and rice, rolled in nori and dipped in soy sauce. From its cuisine to its culture, its geography to its people, Japan has a little something to offer any adventurous traveller, whatever it is they may be looking for.
But as with any trip abroad, there are a lot of things to bear in mind too before you get those tickets! Here is our handy checklist of things to know before you get packing for your trip!
When to visit?
This depends a lot on what you want to do, and where exactly you want to go. Do a little bit of research on the area you’re planning to visit first and the best season for sightseeing.
Each season holds its advantages and disadvantages, but you will always have plenty to do no matter what time you choose.
Springtime, for example, is one of the best seasons for cherry blossom viewing, whilst summer is the time for Japan’s liveliest and most exciting festivals. Autumn, on the other hand, is much milder in climate, offering the best visibility for visiting and viewing Mount Fuji, where as winter allows for a much more peaceful season where one can enjoy the onsen hot springs and cosy kotatsus at their finest.
What might be useful to check, however, are the typical holiday seasons for Japan, which might affect transport and accommodations, as well as making for a potentially very busy trip. The key, however, is to try and book well in advance to avoid any unexpected hiccups and tears!
One of the best things about Japan is its large variety of accommodations, each with their own unique character, the most famous being Japan’s trademark ‘capsule hotels’.
Here, visitors can enjoy a compact, minimalist ‘capsule’ to stay in for the night. It’s typically used by travelling businessmen who have missed the train. Despite the limited space, the capsules are usually fairly well equipped with air conditioning, lights, and a TV. It’s definitely an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re looking for a more traditional experience however, you could also consider staying in a ryokan. These are traditional inns where visitors can enjoy all aspects of life in a normal Japanese home. The prices, as you might expect, are a little steeper than a typical hostel or hotel, but included within is a gourmet feast every breakfast and dinner, which is certainly worth the bill! Furthermore, you can enjoy the experience of sleeping on the tatami mats and the relaxing sensation of a good, hot Japanese bath, which can be both communal or private.
The JR Rail Pass is a must-have for anyone who wants to travel around Japan. This pass allows any tourist to take any JR bullet train in Japan with no additional cost for up to 3 weeks at a time.
This pass is a godsend for any would be travellers who want to explore Japan in its entirety, and can save you a lot of time and money if you use it well. JR rails is one of the leading railway companies in Japan, and its trains connect most of Japan’s major cities, such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.
Unfortunately, the pass is only limited to the JR company’s bullet trains, but depending on how you plan your route, it would be more than enough to get you around the best tourist destinations. There are other companies who also offer their own passes for train, bus, and underground routes, which you might also want to invest in.
Just remember that JR Passes are only available for sale for those abroad and cannot be purchased within Japan. So if you’re planning to get one, make sure you get it before you arrive!
Why else would you travel, if not for the culture and the language?
People are often more appreciative of someone who attempts to speak their native language rather than just communicating in English. Having a grasp of a few basic phrases and keywords would definitely be helpful on your journey, such as asking for directions or learning how to pronounce numbers.
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It’s worth remembering that members of staff in more traditional ryokans may not always speak English, so knowing a few essential phrases will make your life a lot easier!
Planning a trip abroad always involves a lot of considerations, but we hope that this list has got you started on your journey. What are some handy tips you know that you would like to share with a fellow traveller? Drop us a comment below and let us know!