Japan is such an incredible country that manages to mix some of the most advanced cities in the world with a rich cultural heritage and beautiful natural landscapes. It’s definitely a country that should be on everybody’s bucket list. But it is a country unlike anywhere else in the world, and that can be daunting if you are visiting for the first time. There is so much to take in and it is important that you do your research if you are going to get the most out of your first trip to Japan. It can be quite an expensive country to visit, so you need to make sure that you squeeze every last drop out of the experience.
If you are visiting Japan for the first time, these simple tips will help you to get more out of your trip and make sure that you experience everything that this amazing country has to offer.
1.Get Out Of Tokyo
In some countries, there are one or two great cities to visit and there’s nothing wrong with spending all of your time there. However, Japan is a very diverse country and if you stay in one place, you will miss out on a lot. Tokyo is an incredible city and there are so many great things to see and do, so it’s always a good place to start your trip. It’s a good idea to spend some time there to get your bearings, but you should also plan to visit some other destinations such as Osaka and Kyoto during your trip.
2.Consider A Tour
The reason that people end up staying in Tokyo for the entire trip is that they are not really sure where else to go because they don’t know the country that well. That’s why tours are such a great idea for a first time visitor. You can explore Japan with On the Go Tours and they will take you to some of the best destinations around the country. There are different tour options so whether you are more interested in the history and heritage of the country or you want to visit the major cities, there is a tour that is right for you. It’s a good way to experience the different things that Japan has to offer so you know where you want to go on your next trip.
3.Buy A Rail Pass
All of the major cities and tourist destinations around Japan are easily accessible by train. You can always rent a car, but if you want an easy way to get around, the train is perfect because they are so efficient. However, buying separate tickets for every journey will quickly get expensive, so you should invest in a Japan Rail Pass instead. You can get a pass for one, two or three weeks and that will give you unlimited travel while you are there. I used this when travelling to
You can use this website to check the timetables and add up the cost of all of your trips. You can then compare the overall price to the cost of a rail pass. If you are only making a few trips, it may be cheaper to buy the tickets separately, but if you will be using the train a lot, a rail pass will usually save you a lot of money.
4.Bring Plenty Of Cash
In most restaurants, you can pay with a credit or debit card, but smaller places usually only take cash. A lot of train tickets can only be paid for in cash as well and the ATM machines often have a very large minimum withdrawal on them. This can land you in a sticky situation if you run out cash, so make sure to bring plenty with you. If you can, always pay on card and then save the cash for situations where you cannot pay with a card.
5.Cover Your Tattoos
Japan has a long history with tattoos and a lot of people in the country still do not like them. In the 17th century, the government used tattoos as a way to punish and single out criminals, so they were considered very negative. Tattoos were eventually banned altogether in Japan, and even though the ban was lifted after the Second World War, tattoos are still very rare and they are not widely accepted by the locals. Organized crime groups often have tattoos, so they still people still see them as very negative, and that can be a problem if you have a lot of tattoos. In some public places, you are required to cover tattoos before you are allowed to enter, but even if there are no strict rules in place, it is still a good idea to cover them if you can.
6.Observe Cultural Customs
There are a lot of cultural customs in Japan that you may find strange, but it is so important that you observe and respect them so you do not offend people. Taking your shoes off is a big one that people struggle to get to grips with, and it’s very common. The flooring in a lot of Japanese homes and buildings is made with a bamboo weave material, which is tough to clean, so shoes are forbidden. In most restaurants, they will ask you to take your shoes off, and you may also be asked to wipe down the wheels on your luggage before entering a hotel lobby. If you are unsure, just watch what everybody else is doing and follow their example. You can always just ask somebody as well because the locals would prefer that you did that rather than breaking conventions.
Tipping is another thing that you need to be aware of. In Japan, it is considered insulting to give a tip to tour guides or in restaurants but a lot of people get it wrong because it is rude not to tip in their home country. Although it may feel strange, you should never give a tip.
Japan is a very child-friendly country and it’s a great place to go with the family. However, it is important that you talk with your children beforehand and make sure that they understand the cultural customs as well.
As long as you follow these tips, your first trip to Japan will be a huge success and you will want to go back again and again.
Looking for things to do in Tokyo, here are a few suggestions.