10 Tips For Traveling To Japan From A First-Timer

This is the 8th installment of my Japan travelogue. Read my first impressions right here, my visit to Odaiba right here, my visit to Akihabara here, my last day in Tokyo right here, my first day in Kyoto below, my temple visit right here, and also my standard inn tour right here.

After nine days in Japan, my rest timetable lastly reached Tokyo time. That implied that rather than standing up at 5 AM to create my travelogue, I got up just in time to go taking in the sights.

Our final 2 days in Tokyo passed like a blur, as we maximized our Japan Rail passes as well as cheap train fare. Instead of climbing up Tokyo Tower or the Skytree, we went to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center, a totally free observatory where you can see both. We ate crepes in Shibuya, saw peak cherry blossom bloom among the holy places at Asakusa, and in Harajuku I acquired myself a pill wardrobe on a dime.

Now that I’m home as well as have had time to show, however, I would rather spend my last blog post not stating, yet sharing the most important points I discovered traveling to Japan. If you’re intending on making your initial see there, here are my top ten recommendations:

Tokyo sky line, seen from the government center.

Take a worldwide run flight if you can.

Heading to Japan, we took a United Airlines flight, which was precisely like any residential flight other than that it was 13 hrs long. Heading home, nevertheless, we flew All Nippon Airways and also it was leagues better– roomier seats, footrests, individual TVs on the back of each seat. What was specifically trendy is that, other than smash hit movies, the TV likewise came with lots of docudramas on Japan. They would certainly have been excellent to view en route there.

Obtain a JR Pass if you’re planning to leave Tokyo.

Much excitement has been made from the Japan Rail (JR) Pass for foreigners. For about $250, you get a pass that will certainly enable you to access any type of JR line in the country for seven days, consisting of a number of different shinkansen (high-speed) trains.

I was in Japan for 10 days as well as couldn’t bring myself to spring for $500 on the 14-day JR pass, so John and I made use of the Tokyo metro for the very first few days we existed, activating our JR passes on the day it was time to check out Kyoto. This became a terrific idea! Not only are Tokyo train prices incredibly economical (in the $2 array), yet very simple to get from digital ticket machines, which all have English menu choices. With such affordable price, it would certainly have been really hard to justify a JR Pass simply circumnavigating Tokyo. Nonetheless, a 7-day JR Pass easily costs about the same as a round trip ticket to Kyoto. To conclude: it’s just a large amount if you’re intending to take a trip outside of Tokyo, as well as not a lot of one if you’re not.

Bring cash money as well as a means to obtain even more.

Japan is a cash-based culture and also numerous locations that you may anticipate to take credit card generally– like McDonald’s– do not. A great deal of stores just aren’t geared up to take card and usually have an indication out front on the rarer event that they do. We ended up taking squander of ATMs twice on our trip, at 7-11 and also the blog post office, both advised. I likewise advise taking a card with no foreign deal or money withdrawal costs, like Capital One.

Also, because whatever from 1 yen to 500 yen (concerning $5) are coins, I very recommend bringing a coin purse with you, you’ll require it. After understanding exactly how frequently I took mine out, it had not been any type of shock to me that coin purses are just one of one of the most common keepsakes at traveler shops.

Convenience stores are your buddy.

If I can bring one Japanese point back to the US, it would not also be those amazing commodes with the warmed seats– it would certainly be their convenience stores. Where else can you obtain a filling, semi-nutritious dish for concerning $5 American? From their ambient music (typically an instrumental version of a Beatles tune) to their simple ATMs to their pleasant personnel that will go out of their way to understand your poor accent to the food that they WILL heat up for you right then and also there, I wish I had one. If I had one rather than my local Rite Aid, I would probably never ever cook again.

Virtually every morning, I now admit, we consumed morning meal at 7-11, grabbing pleasant melon or bean jam bread as well as hot coffee (or, on one occasion, cocoa milk that was absolutely darker and also a lot more bitter than any kind of kiddie delicious chocolate milk), and saving ourselves dollars as well as time while we went to it.

Eigo o hanashimasu ka?/ Do you speak English?

Though I highly recommend that you learn Japanese prior to visiting Japan, you must at the very least recognize simply this one phrase. Do not be fooled by Japanese modesty either– as long as somebody does not state “iie” AKA “no,” they speak all right. Some of the most articulate English speakers told us they talked English “just a little” or “not well.”

There are likewise places where individuals are most likely to be great English speakers– train stations, airport terminals, and also significant traveler destinations particularly. Try to conserve your concerns for those places.

The five-story pagoda at Asakusa.

Bring hand sanitizer and also a plastic bag almost everywhere.

In the long run, there were only two points that I didn’t such as about Japan. First was the lack of soap dispensers in lots of public washrooms. People would certainly exit the stall, dribble some water from the sink over their hands, as well as leave. I believed in the beginning that perhaps soap was blended into the water– the bathrooms are high tech, possibly the sinks are too? Yet no luck. To stay clear of finding yourself without soap after utilizing the bathroom, constantly carry hand sanitizer with you.

The second point that was hard to cope with was an absence of trash cans in public areas. Apparently this began as an anti-terrorism step in 1995 after a cult attacked the Tokyo train by leaving nitroglycerins in public trash bin. Now the only trash bin you can discover in Tokyo are independently taken care of, at corner store and so on. I obtained made use of to carrying a plastic 7-11 bag in my bag and simply putting my trash in it, disposing it out at the end of the day.

A wifi hotspot is important.

When we came to the airport, we got our eConnect hotspot at the flight terminal blog post workplace and instantly had information on our phones. At any moment, we could make contact us to the US, look into Google maps, or be ensured of wifi connection even in remote areas (like our hill inn).

I think I utilized my phone in Japan regularly than I usually do, and also I constantly had it open to a couple details programs. First, a yen to buck conversion, so I could constantly inform quickly exactly how costly something was. Second, a Japanese to English translation window in Google. Third, jisho.org, an amazing kanji thesaurus, so I can more conveniently check out indications.

Intend to surf the internet like an American? You need a VPN.

Like many Japonophiles, I’m a huge anime follower. Actually, I review anime skillfully for Anime News Network, a North American follower source. The anime period endings were broadcasting while I was on getaway, so I required to watch those final episodes and examine them for my job.

But when I tried to access US streaming sites, like Crunchyroll, Funimation, Daisuki, and also Hulu, I had not been able to see a thing. None of these sites have consent to air shows online to Japanese individuals. In order to allow them recognize that I’m actually an American, I had to very first attach to my Virtual Private Network (VPN) that I escape of my Raspberry Pi mini-computer back in my Virginia house. If you’re interested regarding setting up an economical VPN before your trip, I once composed a tutorial regarding exactly how to turn a Raspberry Pi right into a VPN.

Deals take initiative.

Japan seems to award a traveler. In general, the more away you go from the train terminal, the more affordable everything comes to be. Memento shrine amulets at the entry to the Fushimi Inari Shrine cost 800 yen; amulets at the top of the hill expense 500. Female’s shirts at the entry to Harajuku’s a lot of stylish street, Takeshita dori, expense anywhere from $15-$30. Yet when I stumbled into basement shop Smile Market, I located comparable clothing for around $2.50.

This might be obvious suggestions, yet I just wish to urge you to maintain strolling prior to you make any type of acquisitions. There may be even more of the very same later on, as well as for much less.

Take it something at a time.

From the moment I scheduled my journey last August, I obtained lots of useful suggestions for cool things to see and also do in Japan. Planning out my trip, I originally had an extra ambitious travel plan that would certainly enable me to check a lot of these experiences off the list, yet after John had to obtain emergency situation surgical procedure on the eve of our trip, I chose to scale it back a ton, to just one activity a day. I thought that would be “taking it easy.” I was incorrect.

I haven’t traveled worldwide for eight years, and also back when I visited Italy I was advanced enough in my language researches that I read Dante’s Inferno. When you do not understand the language or the culture, the little points magnify. Stuff you consider provided in your house country, like checking out the post workplace or buying a coffee with skim milk rather than whole milk, are instantly on difficult mode. Doing one of those points first thing in the early morning, when I am refreshed and have my ideal language skills at my disposal, is OK. Doing among those points at the end of the day when I’m currently tired, not so much.

Given that I’ve returned from Japan, a lot of loved ones have asked me, “Did you do X? Did you do Y?” And I’ve had to address in the unfavorable. I did not see every little thing in Japan, or near it– and yet I still composed a 10,000 word travelogue regarding the things I did see. I don’t feel like I missed out in all, and you won’t either. One thing at once.

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