Japan is a gorgeous country, offering plenty of miracles to explore. Though it has a different culture and life philosophy than western countries, thus it is always helpful to know some tips before your first trip for that extra peace of mind. Here are the top 7 travel tips for your first time in Japan.
1. The Best Time to Travel to Japan
Japan is a year-round travel destination, sounds fantastic, right? However, the best time for each traveler depends on preferred weather, activities, and tourist crowds.
The most popular season to visit Japan is spring (March – May) and Fall (September – November) when the weather is pleasant. Also, people are eager to admire the stunning cherry blossom season! Indeed, it’s the most beautiful time to visit Japan, when the country is covered in white and pink blossoms. Typically, Sakura season in Japan starts sometime from late March to early April, and it’s undoubtedly an excellent time to see Japan. However, during those months, cities are full of tourists. Therefore, to avoid crowds some people prefer to visit Japan in winter, plus, it’s an excellent time for skiing!
2. Best Areas to Stay in the Cities
Where to stay in Tokyo?
One of the best areas to stay in Tokyo is close to the circular JR Yamanote Line because it offers a good connection with all necessary locations in the city. Also, Shinjuku and Shibuya are popular and arguably the best spots for sightseeing and food exploration.
Where to stay in Kyoto?
Definitely, the best area to reach the major attractions of Kyoto is Nishiki Market which is surrounded by numerous malls, bars, and restaurants. But if you crave a more authentic experience, stay in Gion, the famous Geisha district.
Where to stay in Osaka?
There are two places you cannot go wrong choosing for your stay in Osaka – Umeda, and Namba. Umeda is more of a business area but full of great food options, while Namba is perfect for nightlife.
3. Places to Visit During your First Time in Japan
For first-time visitors, it’s always best to have a well-planned itinerary. Not surprisingly, Japan has countless incredible sights, but keep in mind that it’s impossible to see all of them during the first visit! Here’s what we recommend:
- See the majestic Mount Fuji that is the country’s highest mountain peak!
- Explore Imperial Tokyo. Include to your list the Imperial Palace, The East Higashi-Gyoen Garden, the famous Nijubashi Bridge.
- Reveal the history of Kyoto. See the original Kyoto Imperial Palace, the significant 14th-century Golden Pavilion, and enjoy legendary Geisha culture.
- Discover Osaka. Mark the Osaka Castle, which is the largest fortress in the country, and walk around its large park on your map.
4. The Must-Try Food
Many people would say that Japanese cuisine is their favorite one. Indeed, Japanese food is delicious! First of all, the amount of restaurants in Japan is incredible, meaning that there are plenty of options to immerse yourself in mouth-watering food. Take a look at the list of the foods to try:
- Gyozas – iconic dumplings – crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. Inside you would usually find pork or shrimp and veggies.
- Udon – wheat noodle soup.
- Sushi – you already know what this is!
- Ramen – wheat noodle soup served with seaweed, green onions, and menma.
- Tempura – deep-fried vegetable or seafood.
5. Transport in Japan
Before traveling to Japan, you have to know that the best way to get around is by train. The Japanese trains are very efficient and have an extensive network, frequent departures, and modern facilities. Maybe you already have heard about the famous Shinkansen bullet trains? Those trains are super fast! However, the prices might be higher, so it’s better to book your train ticket in advance.
6. What to Know About the Language
While traveling around the cities in Japan, you might notice that not many people speak English. However, many Japanese people can understand English, but they are too shy to answer because their language domain is not perfect. To increase the chance of getting a response, be polite and friendly. If it doesn’t work, you can try using gestures; everything is pretty straightforward in Japan.
7. Japanese culture and etiquette
Good manners are essential in Japanese culture, and the most important is to show politeness and respect. There are a few rules to know:
- Bowing: In Japan, bowing is used as a greeting or sign of respect. If someone bows to you, make sure to reply with a slight bow too!
- Shoes: Remove your shoes before entering homes, temples, traditional ryokan houses, and some restaurants. In Japan, people wear slippers indoors.
- Tipping: Do not tip in Japan. People in Japan consider it insulting.
- Eating: Loud eating is considered rude. Do not slurp your noodles.
Japan is a truly unique country that will give a lifetime of memories. So make a mental note of our top tips and have a smooth vacation in Japan!