Japan is the perfect mix of old and new. It has retained so much of its traditional ways, yet it has absorbed many western influences over time creating an incredibly unique culture. There are ancient temples, castles, and shrines to visit, there are many different types of Japanese foods to try, usually in an exciting and unique restaurant or food stall! The Japanese people are incredibly warm and welcoming, and depending on the area in Japan it is possible to experience an entirely different trip, a city getaway, a ski-holiday, a mountain hiking trip, Japan has it all… even sandy beaches! These are 17 tips to help when planning your trip to Japan!
If you want to see a lot more detail about trip, check out our VLOGS on Youtube:
What currency is used there?
Japanese Yen ¥ (Nov 2022 conversion)
1 GBP = ¥160
1 AUD = ¥90
1 USD = ¥145
1 EUR = ¥140
How expensive is Japan?
Japan can be portrayed as being one of the most expensive Countries in the world, and whilst it can be if you were to stay at luxury hotels, eat out in posh restaurants every night and do a lot of activities, there are definitely ways to reduce the costs!
Here is a breakdown of average costs that we found on our trip:
Cheap Restaurant (Food courts, business areas): ¥500-¥1,000 ($3 - $7) per person
Mid-range Restaurant: ¥1,000-¥3,000 ($7 - $20) per person
Upper market restaurant: ¥3,000 plus ($20 plus) per person
Accommodation (hugely affected by season in Japan)
Hostel dorm rooms: ¥1,500 plus ($10 plus) per night
Budget: ¥5,000 - ¥12,000 ($35 - $85) per night
Mid-range: ¥12,000 - ¥30,000 ($85 - $200) per night
Luxury: ¥30,000 plus ($200 plus) per night
Ryokan stay (traditional Japanese stay with Kaiseki dinner) ¥30,000 plus ($200 plus) per night
Taxi: typically start at ¥600 (~$5) and the most expensive way to travel in Japan
Bus: typically ¥200-¥300 (~$1.50 - $2)
Train: typically ¥200 (~$1.50) short train or subway ride
Bullet train (Shinkansen): one way from Tokyo to Kyoto from ¥19,000 ($130) (it is worth purchasing a JR pass for travelling between cities)
What is a Japan rail pass (JR pass)?
The Japan Rail Pass is a rail pass available for temporary visitors to Japan. It covers train travel on the six rail companies comprising the Japan Railways Group (JR Group) and is the most convenient way of traveling throughout Japan by rail.
There are two types of passes available for purchase:
- Ordinary car pass
- Green car pass // first class
We recommend purchasing this in advance as it can be considerably cheaper than purchasing when on the ground in Japan. Check out KLOOK WEBSITE for JR Pass options, costs and delivery times.
Are the JR passes worth the money?
The Japan Rail pass, also known as the JR pass is a very popular purchase for foreign tourists visiting Japan. To consider whether a JR Rail pass is worth the cost when planning a visit to Japan, you can compare the costs against a 7, 14, or 21 day pass.
It depends on how much rail travel you plan to take, but as an example, the cost of a 7 day pass is already covered after making a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto (14,000 yen each way) A 7 day pass costs ¥29,650. If you are planning to travel to more than one city, it usually is worth purchasing.
Do I need a tourist visa to visit Japan?
To visit Japan on a holiday (less than 90 days) some Countries will need to apply for a tourist visa, however there are 68 visa-exempt Countries.
Visa exempt Countries include:
- United Kingdom
- Majority of Europe
- United States
- New Zealand
- Some Asia and South America
If you hold a passport from these Countries you are able to visit for a holiday, to visit relatives, and business purposes. However, visitors cannot receive any paid work under this visa and would need to apply for a work visa.
Here is further information for specific Countries if you are not visa exempt.
Do I need travel insurance to visit Japan?
Travel insurance is an essential part of travelling and we would always recommending purchasing travel insurance for any trip! If you were to be super unfortunate and have an accident then you’re covered to go to hospital and have your medical expenses insured. We also travel with our camera equipment and so we need this to be insured at a decent level!
How easy is it to get around without speaking Japanese?
Easy! Even in the remote parts of Japan we still managed to communicate through broken Japanese and broken English. We even had one instance in a restaurant where we visited a very traditional local restaurant and the waitor couldn’t speak English, the head chef called his friend to speak to us in English so that we could order our food! An example of how accommodating the Japanese are, and it ended up being one of our best food experiences during our entire trip.
What is the food like in Japan?
The food is Japan is one of our absolute favourites and it one of the reasons alone to go to Japan, to try the local food! The food that most people associate with Japan is sushi and sashimi, there is tempura which is a deep fried dish usually vegetable or seafood, ramen which is a noodle soup dish and tastes different in every city, and our favourite, okonomiyaki which is similar to a pancake full of vegetables, or meat and seafood topped with cheese and green onion.
Are the menus in English?
Depending on the restaurants you visit, you may not have an English menu. We found an app called ‘Google translate’ that you can download. You just hover your phone over the menu and it brings up a translation to help figure out what dish it is. This came in super handy especially with vending machines ordering food.
How safe is Japan?
Japan is very safe with it’s crime rate being very low. Like anywhere in the world, there is always a possibility to fall victim to petty crime, and as a tourist should always be aware of your surroundings. However, Japan is repeatedly voted as one of the safest places to visit in the entire world.
Any tips on savings money in Japan?
Japan will never be as cheap to travel around as Thailand, Cambodia and alike, however there are many ways to stay within a budget:
- Eat the local food
- Be clever with accommodation, book in advance where it is possible and search for deals through third party sites such as BOOKING.COM
- If travelling between cities look in to purchasing a JR pass to significantly reduce costs
- Book in advance where you can for activities
- Picking the season in Japan also plays a huge part, as an example Cherry Blossom season will always be the most expensive time to visit as it’s their peak season, and may be worth considering which time of year to go if you are on a tighter budget.