14 Japan Travel Tips for first-timers

According to the Japan Tourism Agency, almost 32 million foreign visitors came to Japan in 2019, hitting a new record for the seventh consecutive year with an increase of 2.2% from 2018. Japan is one of the most popular countries to visit in the world. If you are planning to go to Japan soon, here are 14 Japan Travel tips for first-timers to guide you on your dream Japan vacation.

1. Bring a good pair of walking shoes

You will be walking a lot in Japan. A National Health and Nutrition Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare shows that on average Japanese adult men walk 6,846 steps a day, while women walk 5,867. Try to exercise before going to Japan, the average steps we made during our trip was 25,000 steps per day according to the pedometer. Choose a good pair of comfortable shoes that you can do a lot of walking.

You will be walking a lot

2. Pack light

Not all train stations have elevators so there will be occasions where you will need to carry your luggage and walk either up or down the stairs. 

3. Bring a coin purse

The 1000 yen you’re carrying will be quickly broken down into usable coins. You will end up with a lot of change, and it’s good to have a coin purse with you. It is not customary to leave a tip in Japan so if you don’t pay the exact amount, you will be getting a lot of coins. Don’t worry because there are thousands of vending machines and convenience stores in Japan to spend all your coins.

You can use your coins to...
Buy beer!

4. Pre-book your train passes.

Buying train tickets or train passes before your trip is usually 10% cheaper. Plan your itinerary well to know what train passes to buy. If you think getting a JR pass is too expensive, check JR pass calculator

Travelling by Japan’s bullet trains or Shinkansen is a must-do in Japan and reserved seats can sellout in advance so buy your tickets early.

Tokyo to Osaka or Kyoto Bullet Train Discount Link

Osaka to Tokyo or Nagoya Bullet Train Discount Link

5. Choose the perfect accommodation

Check if it is near a train station and a supermarket or a convenience store. Popular hotels in Tokyo and Osaka gets fully booked one or two months in advance so it is better to book your accommodations early.

Airbnb is legal in Japan. You’re required to send a copy of your passport to your Airbnb host. Most Airbnb apartments in Japan have pocket wifis that you can take with you around the city. 

If you are a booking your first Airbnb stay, click the link below to get a discount!

Get 10% discount on your hotel booking, just click the button below.

Airbnb apartment

6. Buy food in the supermarket

Supermarkets in Japan are required to sell fresh food everyday, so food that are not sold during the day will be on sale at night. Visit the supermarket before its closing time. You can buy food with 50-70% discount. Grab a 500 yen bento box for just 200 yen!

Food!

7. Overnight buses will save you time and money.

Bus fares are cheap and you will save money on accommodation. These sleeper buses are comfortable and they also have free wifi. Make sure to google the location of the bus station.

Sleeper bus going to Tokyo

8. Save money on tax refund.

Foreign visitors are qualified for tax refunds. Purchases 5000 yen and above will give you 8% sales tax refund. Just present your receipt and passport at the tax refund counter of the shop.

No tipping in Japan

9. Book popular places in advance.

The number of tourists in Japan increases every year. Peak months in Japan are April, July, August, October and December. Places like high end restaurants usually need to be booked in advance. Tickets for Attractions like Teamlab Borderless gets sold out easily so buy tickets early.

teamlab discount ticket

teamLab borderless
30 million foreign visitors went to Japan last 2019

10. Download Google maps.

Google just introduced offline maps (Japanese). Google maps will be your best friend in Japan. It is very reliable and accurate. If looking for directions, it will give you all different options and how much it will cost for each option.

11. Download translator apps

Fluent Japanese-English speakers are a minority in Japan. Apps like google translate and Itranslate will be very useful. This will help you how to use the remote of the air conditioner of your Airbnb apartment . Help you read the menu and communicate with a taxi driver with ease.

Wakarimasen!

12. Japanese toilets will change your life!

72% of Japanese households have bidet-style modern toilets. The feature set commonly found on Japanese toilets are bidet washing, seat warming, and deodorization. Japan will give you the best poop experience!

13. Japanese are very helpful

In Japan, you will meet the most amazing people. Even if they barely speak English, they will try their best to help you. From buying train tickets to giving directions they will surely help you.

14. Plan your next Japan trip!

Your Japan trip will be life changing. You’ll definitely fall in love with Japan. From its culture, food , transportation and food. So to overcome your Post-vacation blues, book your next Japan trip!

Fall in love with Japan!

These are the the 14 travel tips to guide the first time travelers to Japan! Don’t forget to share this with your friends.

49 thoughts on “14 Japan Travel Tips for first-timers”

  1. Japan will always be part of my bucket list of places to visit! I can’t wait until this pandemic is over! thank you for sharing this info.!

    1. Just by reading your blog, I already fell in love with Japan. This is my ultimate travel goal and I hope to visit in the future. Thank you for all these helpful tips.

  2. Cancelled my trip to Japan due to Covid-19. But this country is one of my favorite places to go to. Everyone is disciplined and everywhere you go is clean especially their public restrooms.

  3. Thanks for these great tips! My trip to Japan earlier this year was canceled, but I’m hoping to reschedule it sometime soon. I will definitely take note of all the things you mentioned!

  4. Adventures with Docah

    I am glad I stumbled in this post. I agree with whats on the list. Thats what we kept in mind during our first time in japan. And its truly helpful. Thanks!

  5. Aww! I really enjoyed your post! Not saying it as a cliche but really, it was very informative 🙂 I’ve never been to Japan but I will surely remember all of this (I hope I can retain it haha!) Lastly, that last picture is <3 🙂

  6. Japan is my ultimate dream destination! Ever since nung nahilig ako sa anime nung highschool. I have also relatives there so gusto ko talaga makapunta. We are planning to go to Japan on my son’s 7th birthday, matagal tagal pa yun kase turning 3 years old pa lang sya haha! Gusto ko kase pag-ipunang maigi.

  7. Thanks for this travel tips. Japan is also one of my dream destination next to South Korea. Dahil may pandemic pa, i-note ko na lang muna yung mga tips mo for future reference.

  8. Super practical tips. I am sure these will make those planning to go to JP better prepared. Keep them posts coming. So proud of this. Of you.

  9. nakakaexcite! i havent been to japan as an adult. i went here and stayed for 3 months yata, as a 4 year old child lol. looking forward to bring my son to japan. btw, marami ba wifi sa paligid or better na me data sim ka na bilin prior to the trip. sa HK kasi i got a sim card na good for a week na data eh.

  10. I agree with all these tips!!! Especially bring a handy coin purse! Hahaha good thing there were a lot of vending machines nga, so we spent those spare coins there. Missing Japan so badly.

  11. if we get to have a trip to Japan again, will follow these. need ko ang mga travel tips mo kasi ang tagal tagal na ng last trip ko sa Tokyo. a decade ago na.

  12. I love the beers in Japan! All my spare coins are for beers haha! I actually plan to go back there on September. I hope there’s no more travel ban by that time. I still haven’t cancelled my flights. LOL.

  13. Never went out of our country’s borders and these tips are timely to learn about. A lot of travelers would indeed recommend Japan since of its culture, discipline, and amazing sceneries. Agree on booking advance, this will save you a lot from future headaches.

  14. blair villanueva

    I love the tax refund, and I always allocate enough time after my check-in before departure from Japan. Having a coin purse IS A MUST! Japan might be an advanced country but many shops prefer CASH!

  15. Reading this blog it makes me feel that I wanna go to Japan too.
    Nakakaexcite because I’ve never been to anywhere except Korea.
    Thanks for the tips, I’ll bookmark this para if ever makapunta ng Japan eh may guide ako to follow.

  16. Thank you for sharing your tips. Japan is one of the places I’d really want to visit!! This is very helpful!!

  17. I will definitely remember these handy tips when I go to the japan!! We may not be able to travel soon, but it’s already next on my life. I will have sooo much fun there. Huhu

  18. These are great travel tips! I especially enjoy the tips about bringing a change purse, that’s something not too many people think about nowadays!

  19. Those night buses look good and comfortable, and if you stop off at a shop for some discount food before you go .. it’s going to be a fabulous trip. A double win!

  20. You can also add these to the list…

    Buy SIM card if you’re staying for 7 days or less

    Rent a Pocket Wifi if you’re traveling as a group

    Buy bento meals at Convinience Stores late at night for uber discounts.

    These helped me survive a 27-day trip last 2024-2015 and another 23-day trip last 2018.

  21. Been to Japan and most of these I agree with.
    Also,
    – Best ramen house: Ichiran
    – And do not tip!
    – If you’re planning to stay for more than a week get an IC Card.
    – Tattoos are banned in most onsens/saunas. I know, it sucks. 😂

  22. Japan is at the top of my bucket list- I can’t WAIT to travel there. I bookmarked this so I can read it again once I get closer to actually going! Thanks!!

  23. I like the money saving tips of buying from the grocery store or taking overnight transportation. Japan is so expensive, in my view, so those are helpful tips.

  24. Most of these are valid for any big city, mainly “Bring a good pair of walking shoes”, but the best poop experience!!! WOW, I love it!

  25. Some good tips for first time visitors to Japan. We too were amazed at the variety of things we could buy in vending machines. Good thing we had lots of coins! A good tip about buying end of day grocery products. We love to picnic once a day when we are travelling to save a little money for other splurges. And Japanese toilets did spoil me forever!

  26. Japan is super high on my list to visit! These are all great tips that most people wouldn’t think about or know before hand 🙂 I will definitely be following these whenever I am able to go! I had no clue about sleeper buses so that seems like a great idea

  27. This is such a helpful list, and I’ll remember your tips when I visit Japan (hopefully in the next few years). I especially love the tip to buy discounted food at night – that’s a great way to save some money!

  28. Wished I’d seen this before I went to Japan. Didn’t know about the supermarket tip, that could have saved me a fortune. Totally adore Japanese loos, everyone should have those. And you’re right I should start planning my next trip back 🙂

  29. Good tips there for the first time visitor to Japan! Pre-booking the Japan Railway pass is probably the best tip for every visitor to Japan.

  30. This was kind of eye-opening and encourages me to visit Japan. We can eat low-cost foods at supermarkets and that we should choose hotels that are close to supermarkets and train stations. And love the experience those cool toilets!!!

  31. These tips are very helpful. I haven’t visited Japan yet, so these are good things to know. I would definitely hit up a super market, I always try to stock up my hotel room with food/snacks, so its great to know that the food goes on sale at night. I would need to be prepared and download a translator app as well. Thanks for sharing!

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