Japan is a culturally rich country with timeless beauty and ancient heritage. Their lifestyle and old values have a modern touch to them which can be seen when exploring the traditional beauty of the place. Staying at Japan is a truly unique experience. From trying out one-of-a-kind eccentric vending machine treats, to exploring the Japanese spa theme park and staying at the capsule hotel, it will be a trip like no other.
Fashion plays a big role in the modern Japanese culture. You can get yourself a Tokyo style makeover just to blend in with the crowd, or the currently trending ‘Lolita’ fashion makeover to transform into an iconic Japanese doll. Sightseeing and indulging in local treats is a must for every trip, but Japan is not your basic travel destination. Here you get to meditate with the monks, soak in intoxicating bathhouses like Spirited Away, make your own sushi and whisk your own matcha!
You’ll surely enjoy the delicate balance of quirks and traditions, modern and ancient, and peace and chaos in every city of Japan. The country is beautified with over 200 volcanoes, 6,852 islands and over 5.5 million vending machines! You’ll spot one every few steps, each with a different theme. Some of the vending machines even have mystery boxes with surprise treats, the spiciest chili you’ll ever taste, energy packed hornet’s larvae, and bread in a can!
You will be impressed by the locals and vendors of Japan. The literacy rate of the country is a perfect 100%! Besides exploring, there’s a lot to learn and reflect upon in the day to day life here. Kanpai! (Cheers!) And welcome to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Oishi Sushi awaits you. In Japan, you can never be too far away from a delicious and hearty meal. Besides the fun and exciting vending machines, the restaurants have their own eccentric menus. Some of them specialize in only one dish that’s passed down from generations. The dishes have regional variations and even the same meal can taste different depending on the city. Do try the ‘Unagi’, in total state of awareness of course, with the mental image of Ross from Friends in mind. Freshwater eel may not sound that appetizing, but the delicate melt-in-your-mouth flavors will leave you wanting for more.
Octopus balls (Takoyaki) is another famous snack that’s made with chopped octopus and a perfect balance of flavorful spices and sauces. You can get these in local stands and even find it on a busy street late at night. Also try the delicious Ramen, the famous anime food every character is seen slurping. Other famous treats of Japan include tender steamed pork buns (Nikuman), hot noodle soup (Udon), pork katsu (Tonkatsu) and fried noodles (Yakisoba).
Besides the streets and vending machine delights, there are numerous fine dining options too, offering an elaborate menu from dazzling tempura to stunning sushi. Tokyo is the city with the most Michelin stars in the world!
The most common form of classical entertainment in Japan is the stylized Japanese theatre called Kabuki. Tokyo is the main hub of most of the contemporary theatre scene in Japan. The large cities have various spots for stadiums and live music. Tournaments of sumo wrestling take place around six times throughout the year.
Japan is brimming with culture and an exciting nightlife. Their most famous drink is Nihonshu or Sake, and o-cha (green tea). The local breweries have handmade beers and the larger cities have high class bars and cafés. The rural areas are famous for Sake, which can be drunk warm, piping hot, at room temperature or chilled depending on the season.
Most large cities of Japan have a nightlife district. The most famous of these include Minami in Osaka, Susukino in Sapporo and Kabukicho in Tokyo. These districts have a wide range of drinking options from western style pubs, karaoke parlors, and jazz cafes to cocktail bars and izakaya, all of which are filled with psychedelic LED lit signage.
Do you prefer sleeping on tatami mats or futons, or perhaps rent a capsule to stay in for the night? Name an unconventional form of accommodation, Japan has it! Perhaps you’d like to stay in a temple lodging, or go for the value option of staying in a dormitory. The first class hotels of Japan are called Ryokan, but tourists like to experience the unusual and quirky side of the country by staying in unique accommodations. You can even get an overnight bus to stay in with private compartments! Manga cafés are also famous, with booths and seats loaded with ‘Manga’ (Japanese comics) and internet services available 24 hours.
Japan has something great to offer in every season of the year. Here are some highlights of every season. Spring time in April and May brings out the beautiful cherry blossoms, the weather is very warm, but not yet muggy. The summer months can be quite warm and humid and winter quite cold and wet. Of course, during the off seasons, more travel deals can be had.
• Enjoyable weather with low chances of rain.
• A lot of outdoor activities can be planned in spring.
• The blooming of cherry blossoms bring a lot of festivals along with it!
• There are a lot of tourists during this season and accommodations are more towards the pricier end.
• Rainy days with humidity and sunny weather.
• Mount Fuji is opened throughout July for hiking and sightseeing.
• Great time to plan beach vacations in cities like Okinawa and explore the islands.
• Fireworks and festivals are arranged throughout July.
• One of the peak holiday season with large crowd.
• The cities are embellished with changing colors of the leaves and marvelous landscapes.
• Nice and comfortable temperature for both indoor and outdoor activities.
• Most sports tournaments and exhibitions are planned during this time.
• A lot of concerts and festivals to attend.
• Less crowded with low rates for accommodation.
• Enjoy skiing in winters.
• Soak in outdoor Japanese hot springs (Onsen) throughout all the major islands.
• Explore the small towns of Japan beautified with snow.
• Lowest crowd and accommodation fare.
The busiest airport of Japan is in Tokyo. Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT) airports receive the most international traffic. Another major airport is Kansai International airport (KIX) in Osaka. Other lesser used international airports are the Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO), Hiroshima Airport (HIJ), New Chitose Airport (CTS), Kumamoto Airport (KMJ) and Sendai International Airport (SDJ).
Japan is an island nation without land borders, and the overland option of traveling is only through sea. You’ll find weekly ferries to Japan from China and Russia (via Korea), and multiple daily ferries from Korea to Japan. An exclusive route connects Hokkaido with Sakhalin island of Russia and operates only in summers.
This might be the most tiresome option with a lot of crowd, uncomfortable seats and fairly long commutes. We suggest going for a ferry or train rather than opting for the bus.
You’ll need international driving permits, and ‘Syaken’ and registration from Japan if you plan to get your car there. It is far better to take a ferry or travel by air than driving to Japan, as the roads in rural areas can be a nightmare to get past. Also, if you run into any sort of trouble with the vehicle, there’s little support to back up any damage.
Train routes are proposed by both Russia and China to get to Japan, but ferry boats remain the most commonly used mode of transportation to get to Japan overland by adjacent countries.
There are several domestic flights that can be used to get around the different cities of Japan. There are budget carriers that have almost the same fares as bullet train tickets. Peach and Jetsar are amongst these budget carriers that allow you to hop from island to island, especially if you are short on time. The most important thing to consider when taking domestic flight is your proximity to the airport, as some airports can be far away from where you are staying, in which case it can be expensive to catch a flight.
We don’t recommend renting a car in Japan, as it can be quite a hassle. Rental cars will cost you much more than public transport options, which are plentiful. Getting through the traffic can be frustrating, and taking a drive through the roads in rural areas can literally break you down to tears! Although, if you feel adventurous, you can rent out a bike, or better yet, hitchhike! It’s a pretty safe country and you can get a free ride to nearby destinations.
The bullet trains in Japan are called ‘shinkansen’. They are not only an efficient transport solution, but also offer scenic views and can be used to tour the major cities. They are safe, comfortable and very fast as they run on special tracks. If you can afford to spend a little extra, we definitely recommend hopping on a bullet train to get by in Japan.
If you are looking for value options, there are some regional trains and regular limited express that won’t cost you an arm and leg, but they are much slower than bullet trains. Public buses are another affordable option, especially if time is not an issue. Japan Bus Lines and Willer Express have offers with unlimited travel for three nonconsecutive days.
Interisland ferry routes are extensive in Japan. You get to choose from second (with or without a bed), first and special. The four main islands of Japan have bridges and tunnels connecting them, but the smaller islands can only be reached via waters. Japan Ferry Pass 21 is a great option to explore these islands within a budget.
Japan has majorly cash driven economy, and you’ll find majority of the places only accepting cash. The national currency of Japan is Yen. We recommend getting some cash converted before you leave for your trip or visit cash exchange places at the airport while traveling. If you have credit card or money cards, remember that you can only use them at hotels, major stores and a select few restaurants.
ATMs can be found inside post offices and 7/11 stores, which are present in abundance in the major cities of Japan. You can also use travel money cards and load them with Japanese Yen. This allows you to transfer money electronically from other accounts. However, it may take a few days for the transaction and you’ll be charged withdrawal fees.
If you decide to go away, book your hotel, flights and activities through our trip concierge for discounts and benefits. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, free hotel credit and VIP gifts at many luxury hotels for the same price as the hotel’s own websites. (Book direct and you don’t get these benefits so why would you?). Our packaged vacation prices tend to be considerably cheaper than flight and hotel prices available online.