20 Useful Tips for First Time Traveller to Japan

Are you planning to embark on an adventure to the captivating land of Japan? From ancient temples and tranquil gardens to bustling metropolises and delectable cuisine, Japan offers a rich tapestry of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re fascinated by its deep-rooted traditions or modern innovations, this guide will provide you with 15 useful tips to make your first-time journey to Japan a truly unforgettable one. So, grab your suitcase and let’s dive into the enchanting world of Japan!



1. Ensure that you book your accommodation well ahead of time


It’s advisable to make your accommodation arrangements in Japan well ahead of your travel dates, especially during peak seasons when demand is high. By booking your accommodations in advance, you increase the likelihood of securing a wider range of options, including hotels and guesthouses that meet your preferences. Additionally, booking ahead of time often allows you to take advantage of better rates and discounts. By being proactive and planning your accommodation early, you can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience in Japan.



2. Familiarizing yourself with simple Japanese phrases


Learning a few basic Japanese phrases can be helpful in navigating daily interactions, such as greetings, asking for directions, ordering food, and expressing gratitude. It shows respect and can make your interactions smoother.


Don’t worry; you don’t need to be fluent! Here are a few phrases to get you started:

  • Konnichiwa (Hello)
  • Arigatou gozaimasu (Thank you)
  • Sumimasen (Excuse me)
  • Oishi desu! (It’s delicious!)


3. Don’t Forget a Travel Adapter


Japan uses a different electrical outlet and voltage system compared to many other countries. To charge your electronic devices, bring a travel adapter that is compatible with Japanese outlets.


4. Purchase a Japan Rail Pass in Advance


If you plan to extensively travel within Japan, it’s advisable to purchase a Japan Rail Pass before embarking on your trip. This pass grants you unlimited travel on most JR trains and can save you money, especially if you’ll be frequently using the Shinkansen (bullet train).

5. Consider Renting a Wi-Fi Device


Staying connected to the internet is crucial for navigation and communication. Renting a portable Wi-Fi device, commonly known as a pocket Wi-Fi, can provide you with reliable internet access throughout your trip.


6. Bring Sufficient Cash


Although major establishments in urban areas accept credit cards, it’s recommended to carry enough cash, particularly when visiting rural areas or smaller businesses that may not accept cards.



7. Prioritize Safety in Japan


Japan is widely regarded as a safe country for travelers. Nonetheless, it’s always prudent to take precautions and remain aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded areas and tourist hotspots. Keep a close eye on your belongings and follow basic safety guidelines.


8. No Need for Tipping


Unlike some Western countries, tipping is not customary in Japan. Exceptional service is expected, and leaving a tip might even be considered impolite. Instead, express your gratitude with a polite “thank you” or “arigatou gozaimasu.”


9. Embrace the Slurping


When enjoying noodle dishes like ramen or udon, it is culturally acceptable—and even encouraged—to slurp the noodles. This action symbolizes your appreciation and enjoyment of the food.


10. Carry Your Own Trash


Japan places a strong emphasis on cleanliness, which means you’ll find fewer public trash bins compared to other countries. Bring a small bag to store your trash until you come across an appropriate disposal area.


11. Pay the Bus Fare When Disembarking


In Japan, it is customary to pay the bus fare when you get off the bus, rather than when boarding. Look for the fare display or seek assistance from the driver to determine your fare.


12. Be Mindful of Women-Only Train Carriages


Some train lines in Japan designate women-only train carriages during specific hours of the day. These carriages provide a safer and more comfortable environment for female passengers.


13. Avoid Public Phone Conversations


Engaging in phone conversations in public areas such as trains, buses, and restaurants is considered impolite. Set your phone to silent mode and refrain from disturbing others with loud conversations.


14. Experience the Lively Japanese Cities’ Nightlife


Japan’s cities offer vibrant and diverse nightlife experiences, from bustling street markets and food stalls to lively bars and clubs. Explore popular areas like Shinjuku in Tokyo or Dotonbori in Osaka to immerse yourself in the energetic atmosphere.


15. Early Morning Visits to Popular Attractions


If you plan to visit popular tourist spots, it’s recommended to arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds and have a more enjoyable experience.


16. Etiquette at Shrines and Temples


When visiting shrines and temples in Japan, it’s important to observe proper etiquette. This includes bowing before entering, refraining from loud conversations, not touching sacred objects, and properly disposing of any offering materials.


17. Indulge in Cheap Food in Convenience Stores


Japanese convenience stores, known as “konbini,” offer a wide range of affordable and delicious food options, including sushi, rice balls, sandwiches, and hot snacks. They are a great option for quick, budget-friendly meals.


18. Cover Up Your Tattoos


In Japan, tattoos are often associated with the Yakuza (Japanese organized crime). While attitudes are slowly changing, it is still considered polite to cover visible tattoos when visiting public places like onsen (hot springs), swimming pools, or gyms.


19. Save Money Through Tourist Tax Refund


As a tourist, you may be eligible for a tax refund on certain purchases made in Japan. Look for stores displaying the “Tax-Free” logo and follow the required procedures to claim your refund at the airport before leaving the country.


20. Enjoy Your Stay in Japan


Finally, make sure to fully enjoy your time in Japan. Immerse yourself in the rich culture, explore the beautiful landscapes, try delicious local cuisine, and engage with the welcoming locals. Cherish the unique moments and create lasting memories during your stay in this captivating country.

FAQs

Q1: Is it necessary to learn Japanese before visiting Japan? A1: While it’s not mandatory, learning a few basic phrases will greatly enhance your experience and interactions with locals.


Q2: Do I need a visa to visit Japan? A2: Citizens of many countries can enter Japan for tourism without a visa for up to 90 days. However, visa requirements vary, so it’s best to check with the Japanese embassy or consulate in your country.


Q3: Can I use credit cards in Japan? A3: Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist areas. However, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash, especially in rural areas or smaller establishments.


Conclusion

With these 20 valuable tips, you’re now equipped to embark on an incredible adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun! From immersing yourself in traditional customs to indulging in mouthwatering cuisine and exploring breathtaking destinations, Japan offers a one-of-a-kind experience.

So pack your bags, get ready to say “konnichiwa” to new adventures, and make unforgettable memories in this captivating country!

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