Travel to Japan – A Comprehensive Guide of Tips and Information (2024)

2023 japan travel guide

Everything you need to know about travel to Japan in our brand new Japan travel guide.

Japan is a captivating country, a unique blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and a fast-paced modern society. It offers a diverse range of experiences, from the stunning wilderness of Hokkaido to the tropical beaches of Okinawa. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, a history buff, or an outdoor adventurer, Japan has something for everyone. It’s no wonder that travel to Japan is on the rise.

While Honshu, one of Japan’s four main islands, attracts the majority of visitors with its stunning temples in Kyoto, deer in Nara, and bustling Tokyo, the lesser-known islands of Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku also offer breathtaking scenery and unique experiences that should not be missed.

At Themedipia, we are here to help you plan your journey to this awe-inspiring destination. From the basics of traveling in Japan to the top experiences and best places to visit, we have you covered.

Traveling in Japan: At a Glance

Here are the essential things you need to know about traveling to Japan:

  • Travel Insurance: Before embarking on your journey to Japan, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance. It’s an essential item that will give you peace of mind throughout your trip.

Travel To Japan Guide

Top 5 Travel Experiences in Japan

With so much to see and do in Japan, it can be challenging to pick the top experiences. However, we believe that these five activities should be on your itinerary:

Party with Robots in Tokyo

One of the most unique and bizarre must-do activities in Tokyo is the 90-minute show with robots. It might take a few minutes to figure out what you’re watching, but you’ll definitely be glad you went!

Watch a Sumo Wrestling Match

While sushi can be found everywhere in Japan, witnessing a sumo wrestling match is an experience like no other. Test your strength against world-famous sumo wrestlers and be a part of this long and sacred tradition.

Cross the World’s Busiest Pedestrian Intersection

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo is an absolute spectacle. When the traffic stops, 2,500 people cross the intersection at once. Head to the QFRONT building and be amazed by the sheer number of people bustling below.

Hang Out with Deer in Nara

Nara Park is home to an abundance of deer that roam freely. Interact with these normally shy creatures or simply observe them in their natural habitat. It’s an experience that you won’t forget.

Spend the Night in a Capsule Hotel

Experience Japan’s unique packaging culture by spending a night in a capsule hotel. These tiny box-like structures are intended for one person and offer a cozy and efficient sleeping experience. Just make sure you’re not claustrophobic!

Relax in an Onsen

Onsens, or hot springs, are a popular Japanese tradition. Whether in natural or man-made settings, spending a few hours in an onsen is the ultimate relaxation experience. Just remember that sometimes the dress code is your birthday suit!

Go Diving in Okinawa

Okinawa offers spectacular diving opportunities in its tropical climate. Explore the underwater world of these islands and marvel at the vibrant marine life that surrounds you.

Go Kart Dressed as Your Favorite Cartoon Character

If you’ve ever dreamed of riding a go-kart dressed as Mario, Yoshi, Princess Peach, or any other favorite character from Mario Kart, Japan is the place to make that dream come true.

Watch the Cherry Trees Blossom

Japan’s cherry blossoms are famous worldwide, and participating in cherry blossom festivals in spring is a must-do experience. Witness the entire country come alive with dazzling colors as the cherry trees bloom. Don’t miss this incredible day trip from Tokyo.

Hike with Monkeys

If you love hiking and monkeys, the 30-minute hike outside of Kyoto is perfect for you. But if you prefer just hiking without the monkeys, there are plenty of other fantastic trails to explore in Japan!

These are just a few of the amazing experiences that await you in Japan. For more ideas, be sure to check out our comprehensive list of things to do in Japan.

Best Places to Visit in Japan

Japan is full of amazing places to visit, catering to a variety of interests and trip durations. Consider these top places when planning your itinerary:

  • Honshu
  • Hokkaido
  • Kyushu
  • Okinawa

For more detailed information on specific things to do in each city, make sure to reference our city travel guides.

Travelling In Japan

Best Japan Travel Itinerary

Planning a trip to Japan can sometimes be overwhelming, considering the multitude of things to see and do. Here are a few suggested itineraries for different trip durations:

3-Week Japan Travel Itinerary Highlights

With three weeks in Japan, you can delve deeper into popular destinations and explore less touristy areas. Here’s a sample itinerary to make the most of your time:

  • 3 Days in Tokyo
  • 3 Days in Kyoto
  • 1 Day in Nara
  • 2 Days in Hiroshima
  • 1 Day in Miyajima
  • 2 Days in Osaka
  • 5 Days in Hokkaido
  • 3 Days in Okinawa

2-Week Japan Travel Itinerary Highlights

If you have two weeks to travel in Japan, you can still cover a lot of ground and experience the best the country has to offer. Consider the following itinerary:

  • 3 Days in Tokyo
  • 2 Days in Kyoto
  • 1 Day in Nara
  • 2 Days in Hiroshima
  • 1 Day in Miyajima
  • 1 Day in Osaka
  • 1 Day in Hiroshima
  • 2 Days in Hokkaido

1-Week Japan Travel Itinerary Highlights

If you only have one week to visit Japan, don’t worry! You can still have a memorable experience. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a one-week trip:

  • 3 Days in Tokyo
  • 2 Days in Kyoto
  • 1 Day in Nara
  • 1 Day in Osaka

Japan Travel Planning

To make the most of your trip to Japan, it’s important to plan ahead. Here are a few key aspects to consider:

Best Time to Visit Japan

The best time to visit Japan depends on your preferences and interests. Some popular times to visit include:

  • Spring: Cherry blossom season attracts thousands of visitors.
  • Autumn: Witness the stunning fall foliage across the country.
  • Summer: Expect sweltering temperatures and typhoons in the south.
  • Winter: Enjoy skiing in Hokkaido and witness the famous ice flows near Shiretoko National Park.

Japan Travel Budget Guideline

Japan has a reputation for being expensive, but it is possible to travel on a budget. Consider these tips:

  • Purchase the right rail pass for your needs.
  • Take advantage of low-cost internal flights.
  • Utilize convenience stores for cheap and delicious eats.
  • Consider utilizing night buses to save on travel and hotel fees.
  • Limit your alcohol intake, as it can be expensive.
  • Check out regional passes for cheaper options.

Getting To and Around Japan

Japan is well-connected by air and water transportation:

  • International Flights: Most international flights arrive at Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda airports, or Osaka International Airport.
  • Domestic Flights: Japan has an extensive domestic air travel network, with affordable options available.
  • Car Rental: Renting a car is recommended for exploring destinations outside of city centers. Driving in Japan is safe and easy.
  • Public Transportation: Japan has an extensive and reliable public transport network, including trains, buses, and ferries.

Apps and Technology

With Japan’s advanced technology, staying connected and navigating the country is easy. Here are some recommended apps:

  • Hyperdia: Helps you navigate the transportation system.
  • XE Currency: Convenient for calculating currency exchanges.
  • Express VPN: Protects your online information.
  • GuruNavi: Helps you find food options and filter preferences.
  • Google Translate: Useful for communication.

Best Things to Eat in Japan

Japanese cuisine is renowned worldwide for its quality and variety. Here are a few must-try dishes:

  • Yakiniku: Japanese BBQ with a variety of meats and vegetables.
  • Katsu Curry: Fried chicken or pork cutlets with Japanese curry.
  • Kushikatsu: Skewered and deep-fried meat and vegetables.
  • Sushi and Sashimi: Fresh, high-quality raw fish and seafood.
  • Sukiyaki: Meat and vegetables cooked in a hot pot with soy sauce.
  • Ramen: Japan’s most popular noodle dish.
  • Gyoza: Pan-fried dumplings, often filled with pork.

These are just a few examples of the incredibly diverse culinary scene in Japan. Don’t forget to explore convenience stores for cheap yet delicious eats and visit Izakayas for an authentic Japanese dining experience.

Accommodation in Japan

When it comes to accommodation in Japan, a variety of options are available. Consider the following types of accommodations:

  • Hostels: Ideal for budget travelers, but private rooms can be more affordable for couples.
  • Western-Style Hotels: Similar to hotels found worldwide, offering a range of amenities.
  • Capsule Hotels: Unique and compact accommodations for a single person.
  • Ryokans: Traditional Japanese inns that offer a luxurious experience.
  • Airbnb: A popular option for affordable and personalized stays.
  • Onsen Hotels: Hotels with attached onsens, offering a unique and relaxing experience.

Travelling In Japan

Japan Travel Tips

Traveling in Japan can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to be prepared. Here are some travel tips to enhance your trip:

  • Research cultural norms and behavior to show respect to the local culture.
  • Embrace Japanese cuisine and try new dishes.
  • Obtain an international driver’s permit if renting a car.
  • Consider carrying your own chopsticks for an eco-friendly option.
  • Do thorough research and plan ahead for an efficient trip.
  • Respect places of worship and follow their rules.
  • Remove your shoes in appropriate settings, such as temples or traditional hotels.
  • Embrace Japanese toilets and their unique features.
  • Be aware of safety precautions and keep personal belongings secure.
  • Stay connected with local SIM cards or portable WiFi devices.

Be a Responsible Traveler in Japan

Being a responsible traveler is crucial, both for yourself and the destination you’re visiting. Here are a few tips to be a responsible traveler in Japan:

  • Learn and respect Japanese cultural norms and customs.
  • Be mindful of your impact on the environment and local communities.
  • Support local businesses and communities by shopping locally and participating in sustainable activities.
  • Reduce waste by using reusable water bottles and shopping bags.
  • Follow responsible travel practices, such as leaving no trace and conserving resources.
  • Engage in ethical wildlife tourism experiences and avoid supporting activities that harm animals.

Learning Key Japanese Phrases

Although you don’t need to be fluent in Japanese, learning a few key phrases can go a long way in enhancing your travel experience. Here are some essential phrases to know:

Japanese Phrases

Books to Read About Japan

If you’re looking for some reading material to immerse yourself in Japanese culture before your trip, consider these recommended books:

  • “A Geek in Japan”: Explores Japanese culture and customs in an engaging and informative way.
  • “Memoirs of a Geisha”: A captivating novel that delves into the world of geishas and traditional Japanese culture.
  • “Rice Noodle Fish”: Explores Japan’s culinary scene and provides insights into regional dishes.
  • “Hokkaido Highway Blues”: A humorous and entertaining travelogue of a journey through Japan.

Booking Resources

To make your trip to Japan more convenient and affordable, consider using the following resources:

  • Klook for booking activities and tours.
  • Nomadasaurus for comprehensive travel guides and tips.

Read Our Japan Blog Posts

For more travel inspiration and detailed information about Japan, check out our blog posts dedicated to this fascinating country.

By following these tips and guidelines, you’re well on your way to planning an unforgettable trip to Japan. We hope this comprehensive guide helps you make the most of your time in this awe-inspiring destination. Safe travels!

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