Are you planning to travel to Japan? It is one of the most amazing destinations I have ever been to, and I have always liked to define it as a beautiful delirium. The country of the rising sun is the land of the unpredictable, which is given between a fusion of almost futuristic modernity, together with its ancient traditions, which are still deeply rooted in its culture today. For your info, traveling to Japan is now quite affordable for most people. By using the services provided by TravelVerse you can even vacation there for more than a week for less than 4,500 dollars!
Although Japan is a narrow archipelago, it presents a great variety of options, not only geographically, but also culturally. From its large metropolises, such as Tokyo or Osaka, the old Kyoto, the cultural capital, or the mountainous areas surrounded by a natural environment, which are ideal for contemplating beautiful landscapes and experiencing the tranquility that the place offers us, such as the Niko city.
Due to the existence of the Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train, it is possible to reach almost any destination that makes up the country, even in a few hours. Through this article, I want to give you a series of tips for traveling to Japan for the first time, so that you can make the most of your time and enjoy planning an unforgettable experience. The tips in this article will not discuss specific tourist locations in Japan, but important things that you should know whenever and wherever you travel in Japan.
Yen is Japan’s official currency. And it is extremely important to keep in mind that, in all the destinations we visit, the best option will always be to have cash, because few places are handled with a credit card, with the exception of hotels, some restaurants, or large shopping centers. In general, in our day to day, whether in tickets to attractions, temples, museums or in transportation, cash will be used.
It is always advisable to make an estimated cost per day, (bearing in mind that 100 yen is equivalent to 0.95 dollars, so the account is quite simple). Once we estimate our daily expenses, multiplied by the number of days of our trip, we can either change all of our currency to yen, or take dollars with us to be able to do it once we arrive at our destination, either at the airport or in exchange houses located in the main cities.
On the other hand, in the case of needing to withdraw money from ATMs, it must be taken into account that for this, we must go to international banks, and also have our card enabled for international travel, (although we will be charged a surcharge for the transaction). Another way in which withdrawal will be possible is through the ATMs located in the kombinis (convenience stores), which are super popular in all areas of Japan, due to the number of branches that exist, such as 7eleven. (And that are available in English).
There is a wide variety of options when choosing accommodation, which could make us dizzy at first glance. Ideally, if we already have a defined itinerary of days and places/cities that we are interested in visiting, as well as how many we will dedicate to each of them, it is to make the reservation before carrying out our trip. The possibilities of accommodation, that is, the different types that exist, we could divide, in summary, into 4 (and that, as a personal suggestion, I recommend that you try each of the options, especially if you are going to stay in several cities):
It is an option that usually gives some rejection from some travelers, but I always insist that it is only given for one reason: not knowing it. Perhaps, I would not make this recommendation for the entire stay on a trip (which is not usually less than 10/15 days), but, to try the experience for a few days, is more than recommended. Not only are they the most comfortable, but many of them also include artificial onsen (traditional Japanese bath), which is an unforgettable and pleasant experience.
In general, the capsules have individual light (which can be adjusted in intensity), electrical outlets or USB ports, pajamas or yukata, towels, toothbrushes, wi-fi, and in some cases, TV. Likewise, upon entering they will give us a key that corresponds to an individual locker (to store personal items), and a space to leave our suitcases (on one side of each capsule). Finally, as additional information, these capsule hotels are divided into those exclusively for women, exclusively for men, or mixed.
It is the option already known to us westerners, where we will be assigned a room, and depending on the type of service that we contract or that the hotel offers, we will have breakfast included or not.
This is the traditional type of hotel in Japan, generally with more options in more traditional cities, such as Kyoto. They are usually more expensive than the traditional hotel, and of course, than the capsule hotels. But investing in it, even for just one night, is a totally recommendable experience, not only because of what it entails but also because it is an experience that we can only have in Japan. It is a complete cultural immersion. The offer of the Ryokan is usually varied, and the “luxury” of the room will depend on the level of the ryokan and the price.
The common characteristics that we can find in all of them are:
-The tatami (rice straw floor, traditional Japanese)
-Sliding doors of wood and paper
-A small room with a closet where you will find the clothes for your stay (yukata, haori, and stockings).
For example, from platforms like Airbnb. This assumption is interesting to consider if we are several members on a trip. Highlighting in this case the comfort of living during our stay in an apartment, townhouse, or loft, entirely for us.
One of the great concerns that usually appears when preparing for a trip to Japan usually has to do with the language. But, unlike what you might imagine, communicating in Japan is very easy, even without knowing the Japanese language. You will wonder then, how can it be easy if we don’t know it. First of all, because we will also be able to communicate in English. If we know the language, it will be of great help. In large cities particularly, whether in attractions or tourist places, such as hotels, the vast majority of people know and speak English, so we can communicate without problems.
On the other hand, the Japanese are super friendly and every time we need to ask a question, they will help us and make us understand each other. A great help to be able to communicate is to use a translator on the phone, for example, the google translator, which offers not only the option of speaking, but also the option of writing, and photographs (it is ideal to use when shopping, and take photos of the labels, or those posters located in the streets, or train stations (although, in most cases, they will also be available in English).
Last but not least, there, sign language (although it may seem strange) is something that we will have to resort to on many occasions, and that, in turn, the Japanese have it super incorporated. So don’t be ashamed!
Those are some important things that you should know when you are traveling in Japan, no matter where you are in the country. Thanks for reading and happy holidays!