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