Trip to Japan - Planning a trip to Japan

If you are planning a trip to Japan, we really envy you. Even though trips are fun wherever you go, there is just something so exciting and adventurous about going to Japan. It's a country filled with natural beauty and an exciting lifestyle. Just one glimpse at any photo of it would be enough to fall in love with this mesmerizing island. It doesn't matter if you are a first-time tourist or an experienced traveler, we're sure this blog will help you find interesting places and activities to your taste and spirit. Some of the things you'll find out: 

amazing view on mount fuji
Author: David Edelstein on Unsplash

Things to know before going to Japan

Japan is a country with a very specific culture and tradition. Before traveling there, you'll need to gather some basic information about the country and its way of functioning. You'll find out when is the ideal time to visit cities of Japan, how much you'll spend on your trip and much more.

When is the best time to visit Japan?

The ideal period for visiting Japan is undoubtedly from March to May and between September and November. Reasons for that are many. During the period of spring months, you'll have an opportunity to attend a nature festivity - cherry trees blooming all over the country. Just keep in mind that many people would like to enjoy the same beauty as you, so expect crowds in this period of time. But in autumn everything is calmer and the temperatures are mild, which is just perfect for exploring the country.

spring and cherry blossom in japan
Author: Sora Sagano on Unsplash

Trip to Japan cost?

One of the main questions we search on the internet when want to travel somewhere is - how expensive this destination is? We'll save you trouble searching the same about Japan. The answer is yes, Japan is considered an expensive country. But, there's always a but. Japan is costly compared to its neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. But, it is still cheaper than UK, Skandinavia, or Australia. So expect your daily expenses to be around 150€ without accommodation. That is not much if you consider you'll have a chance to eat in traditional Japanese restaurants and visit some of the country's most famous landmarks.

japanese shop
Author: Clay Banks on Unsplash

Japan travel tips

Here are some of the tips that will make your stay in Japan easier.

  • There is no need to tip in Japan. It may come as a surprise to you, but tipping is not common in Japan. Waiters will usually give you your money back if you leave more than needed.
  • Wear comfy shoes. Sometimes it's easier to walk from one attraction to the next one than taking public transport. So make sure you have comfortable walking sneakers.
  • Take cash with you. The official currency of Japan is Yen. Since you may not find ATMs at every corner, make sure to bring cash with you whenever you go.
  • Buy tickets in advance. Some attractions and landmarks tend to be pretty crowded, so make sure to book your tickets in advance. This will also help you organize better your time and route.
  • Learn some basic Japanese words. We'll help you start your little dictionary. Since the Japanese are extremely polite, here are some of the most common phrases you'll need on your trip. You'll thank us later.
    • O-negai shimasu -  Please. おねがいします。; 
    • Arigatō - Thank you. ありがとう。; 
    • Dōitashimashite - You're welcome. どういたしまして。; 
    • Sumimasen - Excuse me. すみません。
japanese city and geisha girls
Author: Sorasak on Unsplash

What is Japan known for

Japan may not be a big country, but it is surely well known worldwide. From tea ceremonies to the most advanced technological achievements. This country has it all. And if you're a manga and anime lover, you probably already know that Japan is the country where the two originated from. The rich culture results in great cuisine, sumo wrestling tradition, geishas, and much more. The main symbol of Japan is, however, the famous Mount Fuji. Take your time to experience all the beauties of the country.

matcha tea powder

Tourist attractions in Japan you shouldn't miss

Making a list of attractions and landmarks worth visiting is not an easy job. There are so many things you should see and discover. But, it will also require a lot of time to do it. So for the first-timers in Japan, we created a checklist of places you should definitely mark on your map.

  • Mount Fuji - Expectedly, this is on the top of our list. Actually, it's on top of almost every traveling blog about Japan. That is completely understandable, having in mind that Mount Fuji is Japan's most recognizable landmark. More than a million people climb Mount Fuji every summer to see the sunrise from its peak. Mount Fuji is a part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, and it represents the country's highest mountain peak at 3.776 meters. You, as well, should try climbing it. You can choose to do it from the base, or if you are not that experienced, you can start above the halfway mark at the 5th Station. We assure you it will be a memory to remember forever.

mount fuji in the distance

  • Disneyland - There is not much to say about the place of a kind. We all know and love Disney World, and so will this Disney-themed park located in Tokyo. An amazing place dedicated to Disney enthusiasts covers the area of 47ha. There are placed seven themed sections where you can see all your favorite characters from this franchise. Restaurants, cafes, fun activities and much more await happy visitors. It doesn't matter if you are a kid or an adult, we're sure here you'll find a piece of your Disneyland paradise.
  • Tokyo Imperial Palace - This is the most famous palace in Tokyo, known as the residence of Japan's Imperial Family. You sure can't miss it, since it's located in the very center of the city. If you are lucky or smart enough to book your tour through the palace on January 2 or February 23, you'll get a chance to enter the inner palace, which is usually closed to the public. On those days, you may also see the members of the Imperial Family who make public appearances. On any other day, you are free to visit the Tokyo Imperial Palace complex on a guided tour.

view on tokyo imperial palace

  • Himeji Castle - There are many castles in Japan and it's impossible to see them all. But on your trip to Japan, you should at least go to Himeji Castle. This is the most preserved castle in Japan, and when we say preserved, we mean in a perfect shape. But the castle was rebuilt numerous times due to enemies' attacks throughout history. Still,  you can observe all the different architectural influences and design periods. Its elegant, white exterior will surely enchant you. 
  • Jigokudani Monkey Park - Jigokudani Monkey Park is a famous hot spring area near Nagano. And it is one of the cutest things you will see in nature. Why? Spring as a spring, hot water comes from the ground, forming a lake. Okay. But, there is a small detail that will make your heart melt. This place is home, or let's say, a bathtub to many wild Japanese macaque monkeys. Here you can come and observe these snow monkeys in their natural habitat, involved in their social activities. There is no fence between the tourists and monkeys, which gives you an extraordinary feeling of connection to our animal friends. A small piece of advice - if you want to see monkeys actually taking a bath in the hot spring, visit during the winter. This is one of the reasons why we had to mention Nagano in our blog about winter vacation ideas which we recommend you check out. 
wild snow monkey on a hot spring
Author: Boris Guyon-Pelfrene on Unsplash

Places to visit in Japan

There are so many touristic destinations in Japan worth visiting. We've made a list of the ones that you should not miss during your stay in the country. Whether you travel in your car or take well-known Japanese trains, it doesn't matter. You can make a great round trip through Japan visiting these amazing places.

Welcome to Tokyo - Manga and Anime capital

Yes, Japan is known as the birth country of manga and anime. But, Tokyo is the city where everything started. If you are a fan of pop culture, you'll love wandering through the city in search of just one more manga and anime-related attraction. If you are a real otaku, brace yourself for leaving your money in Tokyo. There are just so many shopping malls dedicated just to this culture. From the first TV anime series, Astro Boy, to the ones recently made, you can indulge yourself in the world of fiction and anime creation. We are sure that all old-school fans of anime production will be thrilled to see the Nerima Ward, the place where it all started. Of course, many museums, such as Ghibli Museum, Doraemon Museum, and Tokyo Anime Center, are opened just to keep together valuable collections from the manga and anime world. And if you visit Tokyo in March, you'll be welcomed to the world's largest anime exhibition - Anime Japan. Put on your most comfortable shoes and prepare for the most colorful tour in Tokyo! 

postcard with anime characters
Author: Susann Schuster on Unsplash

Take a trip to Osaka - the Snack City

Osaka is definitely considered a paradise for all foodies who love Japanese cuisine. Known as the Nation's Kitchen, it surely has much to offer. You can take numerous culinary tours to explore all of Japan's flavors. Here, street food is very delicious and well prepared. So you should take an adventurous street food tour and try some delicacies such as takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushikatsu in the famous Dotonbori and Namba areas. So if you want to eat cheap and eat good, don't miss Osaka. Besides street food corners and restaurants, various food festivals take place every year in Osaka. If you visit the city in December, don't miss a unique Ramen Expo. It's an event dedicated solely to delicious Japanese ramen. Here you can try many variations of the dish, so make sure to get there ready to eat. 

view of the street in Osaka
Author: Nomadic Julien on Unsplash

Enjoy Hokkaido nature

Welcome to the second largest and one of four main islands in Japan. The whole island is known for its mesmerizing and unspoiled nature. There is something for every outdoor enthusiast, from hot springs and lakes to tall mountains perfect for snow sports. The best time to visit the island always depends on the activities and weather you like the most. If you're a winter person, any time from mid-December to March will be perfect for you to enjoy ski slopes on the finest powder snow in the world. The resorts are mainly in the area of Niseko, so take your time and check all the winter activities it offers. However, visiting Hokkaido during spring is the best time to make a tour exploring all of the six island's national parks. Untamed nature lives on its own, far away from any human activities, and it's an unrepeatable occasion to see it with your eyes. Trekking and sea kayaking are just some activities you can indulge in. Hokkaido is a rich island full of natural beauties, so make sure to plan your route and activities ahead.

red trees in blue pond hokkaido
Author: Jarrett Kow on Unsplash

Spend your holiday in Okinawa, the Hawaii of Japan

The major island in the Okinawa prefecture, which also includes more than 160 magnificent small islands, is Okinawa. And its nickname, the Hawaii of Japan, is certainly well deserved. White-sand beaches, clear water and coral reefs are just some of the natural beauties of this and near islands. It's the favorite destination of people who seek nice weather even during the winter. Even though winter temperatures are low in most parts of Japan, Okinawa stays sunny. And with rich wildlife, what is more to ask for? Swimming and snorkeling will reveal to you magnificent marine life, and you'll be able to spend time in the company of sea turtles and jellyfish. If we haven't sill convinced you about the benefits and beauties of the island, just take a look at the locals. Okinawans are known to live very long lives. They say they own it to the beautiful sceneries, tasty food and loved ones they spend time with. So why not try all that yourself as well?

aerial photo of the sea of okinawa
Author: Ryo Yoshitake on Unsplash

See the footprints of history in Hiroshima

If you are a world's history fan, you should not miss visiting Hiroshima. Of course, the name of the city is inseparably linked to the dropping of the nuclear bomb at the end of the Second World War. This was a huge tragedy for citizens, nature, and the whole country in total. Today, the situation has drastically improved; now, Hiroshima is home to more than a million people. Its story is sad and unforgettable, and you should hear it too. The best way to understand this huge event that happened in the past is by visiting the Peace Memorial Park. Once, this area was the commercial center of the city, but after the nuclear blast, the place was destroyed. This is now made into a memorial park commemorating all the attack's victims. The main landmark of the park is surely the Hiroshima Dome, one of the partially destructed buildings that still exist. It's an amazing feeling standing just in the middle of history, seeing today how one city got back to life after a catastrophe that caused the dropping of an atomic bomb.

hiroshima dome
Author: Rap Dela Rea on Unsplash

Meet Japanese culture and history in Kyoto

Kyoto is known as the cultural and historical hub of Japan. And for a reason. In this city exists more than 1.600 Buddhist temples! Of course, it would be an impossible task to visit them all in just one trip to Kyoto, but there are some you should not miss. Temples such as Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji, and Tō-ji should be on your to-see list. Besides Buddhist temples, Kyoto is also home to more than 400 Shinto shrines, places that worship Japan's oldest religion. The famous Tunnel of Torii Gates known worldwide is located in the most famous of them all, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. It all looks majestic and experiencing the Japanese culture through temples and shrines is priceless. But that's not all. Meet the sumo, geisha and sake tradition that has been curated here for a long time. Kyoto is a wonderful city you will not want to leave. But around four or five days will be enough to soak up the atmosphere of the city.

view of a temple and nature in kyoto
Author: yomogi on Unsplash

Japan activities - Things to do in Japan

Japan is a lively country with dozens of activities for everyone's taste. Depending on what you like, you'll be able to find fun for yourself and at the same time experience the Japanese lifestyle.

Go on a hiking adventure in Japan

The natural wonders of Japan are numerous and the best way to enjoy them is by hiking. This is a very famous destination for all nature lovers who come from all over the world just to live through some of the best trails ever. But what is there so special to see? There are many long-distance hiking routes that will take you to Japan's volcanos, hot springs, lakes, forests and much more. As already mentioned, you should add Hokkaido to your bucket list, as well as Tohoku, Kanto and Chubu areas. The country has more than 30 national parks, leaving you plenty of options for hiking destinations. Of course, you should not forget the mighty Mount Fuji, which may be the peak of your hiking achievements in Japan.

a hiker in japan
Author: Andreas Chu on Unsplash

Japanese Food tour

You probably already know Japanese cuisine. Yes, we've all tried sushi and most of us love it. But imagine going to the birthplace of this delicious dish and trying it in the authentic Japanese atmosphere. It surely is an unforgettable experience. The same goes for ramen, takoyaki, and sashimi. Take a tour and explore all of the flavors of traditional Japanese food. The best places to do that are Tokyo, Kyoto and, as already mentioned, Osaka. Tokyo is known as the city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants. Fine dining in Tokyo is a must and you should not skip it. And when in Kyoto, treat yourself to a Geisha or Maiko dinner show which will entertain you during your meal. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see beautiful geisha performing in their stunning kimonos. If this doesn't make Japan one of the best destinations for luxury vacation we don't know what does. 

different kids of sushi served in a japanese restaurant
Author: Andreas Chu on Unsplash

Don't miss the famous Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan

Hanami, as they call it in Japan, is the most amazing festival of the year. From one to two weeks of spring, sakura, cherry blossoms, appear all over the country. It's the most beautiful period when many gardens become completely pink. They symbolize beauty's impermanence, and many people enjoy them as long as they can. This means that you'll see families and friends gather under the trees to make a picnic in this magical scenery. So you should do the same. Pack some food and blankets and spend the day or evening sitting under the cherry blossoming tree. And the most amazing activity you should try on your journey is a tea ceremony under the trees. Just keep in mind that cherries bloom at different times in different regions. Most of them are held from March to May, especially in Tokyo and Kyoto. So check the locations and climate, so you can enjoy this festivity as long as possible. This is just one of the reasons why Japan is the ultimate spring vacation destination

a person riding a bike on the street of japan during cherry blossom period
Author: Agathe Marty on Unsplash

Explore endless Japan Nightlife

We've seen so many beauties and particularities of Japan til now. Now it's time to shake things up a bit and go on a nightlife tour through Japan. The possibilities are countless, and you can have fun wherever you go. Japanese people love drinking and they usually do it after a long day at work. This means you can find bars open on weekdays filled with people who drink not just sake but different kinds of spirits and beers. If you are staying in Tokyo, you will be happy to visit areas such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi and Ginza. The nightlife there is the most vivid and places are always crowded. If you want to check out some of the most prominent Tokyo nightclubs, we recommend you hop on to the nightlife blog, where we listed some of them. One more thing Japanese people never miss is karaoke. It's a very fun activity, because you can pay for a private karaoke room where you can sing with your friends, or alone, why not! If you want to see a geisha show, there are geisha districts in Japan where beautiful girls entertain visitors with their performances. 

a street in a japanese city during the night

There is so much to say about Japan. It's a lovely country with polite and nice people, and even more beautiful nature. It may not be big, but it surely has used all of its sources to make it the most amazing place to live and visit. So don't waste your time, change your dollars to yen, pack your backpack, and head on to the adventure of your life!