Japan is considered one of the most beautiful and culturally rich countries in the world. It is blessed with the ultra-modern lifestyle mixed with traditional heritage. From the hustle and bustle of cities to laidback and idyllic villages and towns, there’s something for every kind of traveler. Below are vital tips and must-do travel experiences you need to consider before your upcoming adventure in Japan.
Choose Your Location Strategically
Play it smart by choosing the right location to save time on transportation. In Tokyo, anywhere near the JR Yamanote Metro Line or Tokyo Station is ideal because it’s close to everything. Shibuya and Shinjuku are also popular places to stay at. In Kyoto, the most convenient area is Nishiki Market, many malls, shops, and restaurants will be within walking distance. In Osaka, there are two main city centers: Namba and Umeda. Namba has a great nightlife and is louder than any city in Japan. Umeda is ideal if you’re looking to do some great shopping.
First Time Visits and Experiences to Try
Mount Fuji is one place you shouldn’t miss for that postcard-like view. The “orange gates” or Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is a vast maze leading up to a beautiful shrine. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto is a top attraction to visit, so is The Golden Pavilion for an idyllic setting by the pond. There are many temples to visit but be sure to leave the city to soak in hot spring baths in Onsen and stay for at least one night in Ryokan to experience true Japanese hospitality. Be sure to look for summer events and festivals because they’re an enjoyable experience.
Public Transportation is Intricate but Efficient
Tokyo boasts around 150 metro lines with almost 2,000 stations. As much as it can get overwhelming trying to figure out how to get around, it’s actually super-efficient. If you’re traveling long distances outside of Tokyo, Japan also boats an incredible rail network. Consider getting a Japan Rail Pass; it will save you time and money.
Learn the Language
You have no idea how much it will help you if you learn a few Japanese phrases, especially if they’re about directions or even a simple “do you speak English?” There are many apps that can speed up your learning or even look up a Japanese learning program that will guide you through the intricacies of their language as well as the polite form to speak. When you’re lost, it can help you a ton if you can ask for help or directions. It will also go a long way if you know how to thank someone or ask for something politely.
Don’t be iffy when it comes to Japanese cuisine, it’s one of the best in the world. Go on a tantalizing food experience, especially at street markets, by trying anything and everything. Standards are high in Japan and you probably won’t find a bad meal. Their service is top-notch and they hold an array of restaurants. It’s the best place to eat delicious homemade Ramen, Soba, and Sushi, but for the adventurer, try other types of food like Gyozas (shrimp or veggie stuffed crispy rice), Okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and Takoyaki (fried dough stuffed with octopus) are just to name a few. They also create some of the best seasonal treats, especially during the spring or summer.
Mannerisms to Adopt
It’s a good idea to understand Japan’s customs and culture so you won’t offend anyone. For starters, tipping is optional, sometimes even unnecessary; many find it offensive when you tip. Pointing somewhere is also considered rude, so use open hand gestures instead. Carry cash with you at all times because your credit card won’t be accepted everywhere. Don’t find it strange if you’re at a noodle shop and you hear slurping, it’s actually a way to cool down hot noodles and a polite way to show that this meal is delicious. Taking off your shoes is a common courtesy before entering any private place. Finally, Japan prides itself on its cleanliness so littering is not an option. Eating or smoking in the streets isn’t welcomed either.
A Trip to Remember
This guide will never be enough to show you how beautiful Japan really is. A country rich in culture, tradition, and experiences, there’s definitely an array of travel experiences awaiting any kind of traveler.