Japan can be quite an intimidating place for first-time travelers, but if you are well enough prepared, you’ll be fully able to appreciate how special this country is. These 15 travel tips should help you manage the culture shock of going to Japan for the first time.
You may also like:
1. Get a Suica Card
Also known as IC cards, these are an absolute must for those who are planning to travel around Japan or even just a city. You top them up with money, then they can be used as train tickets and even in some shops.
They just make the entire travelling experience whole lot easier and quicker.
2. Learn some Basic Words/Phrases
Not many people in Japan can speak good English so it definitely helps to know at least a little bit of Japanese. Even if you just know how to say “hello”, “thank you” and a couple of basic questions, that can be enough.
Check out our article on 15 basic Japanese words and phrases.
Overcoming the language barrier is a huge step in adjusting to Japanese life.
3. Make Use of Convenience Stores
Stores like Seven Eleven and Family Mart are everywhere in Japan, especially the big cities.
These can be really helpful for getting snacks and easy, ready meals. However, the main benefit of these stores is the fact that they all have ATM machines that accept foreign cards and they all translate into English.
This can be particularly helpful when it comes to tip number 4…
4. Use Cash Whenever Possible
Not many places in Japan will accept card payments. That’s why it’s handy to alway have cash on you. And don’t worry about carrying around too much cash. Japan is so safe! You could literally leave your wallet out in the street and no one will go near it!
5. Shop at Pharmacies
Pharmacies in Japan also act as small supermarkets. The advantage of doing your weekly shop at a pharmacy compared to a regular supermarket is that pharmacies do not charge tax. Over time this will save you a heck of a lot.
Be sure to check out our post on how to live cheaply in Japan.
Although, one negative is that you cannot but fresh fruit and veg, but do not fear because there are…
6. Vegetable Shops
Fresh fruit and veg shops are the best places to get your greens. They’re a lot cheaper compared to supermarkets, and they’re often a bit nicer too!
7. Respect the Locals
This one’s important!
Japanese people are among the most polite and respectful cultures in the world. Although there will often be a language barrier, they will do their absolute best to be friendly, respectful and helpful towards gaijins (foreigners).
If you are just as respectful in response, this will make your time in Japan a whole lot more enjoyable as well as improve the reputation of all us gaijins!
Check out our post on rules to be aware of when traveling to Japan.
8. Stay in Hostels/Capsule Hotels
In terms of places to stay, especially in the big cities, hostels or capsule hotels are the best options.
For one, they’re most likely going to be the cheapest option, and also, you’re likely to meet other travelers like yourselves!
One example of a hostel that we recommend is East 57 in Asakusabashi, Tokyo. It’s affordable and it also has an awesome bar with a great selection of beer.
9. Rely on the Trains
Trains are on time in Japan, they just are. And on the occasion that they are delayed, there is one every few minutes.
Enough said! It’s pretty safe to rely completely on them.
10. Try Out the Toilets!
Hear me out!
If you think you know what toilets are, abandon all that knowledge before visiting Japan. The toilets here are just on another level!
They can play music, to give you extra privacy. Some even speak! The tech they put into these things is unbelievable! Perhaps the best feature of all is the water jet, a jet of water that fires up between your cheeks, providing one of the most satisfying sensations one can experience while dropping a deuce!
I never thought that going to the toilet could be such an event!
11. Get a Japanese SIM Card
Get one of these for your phone to get prepaid data without turning roaming on. This is great for travelers who may need features like Google Maps to find their way around.
They’re pretty cheap, costing you around $30. Definitely worth it.
12. Be Careful Where You Talk on Your Phone
It’s considered rude in Japan for you to be talking on your phone while on a train. When you’re on a train, just keep your phone on silent, or just have earphones in to be on the safe side.
13. Bring a Pair of Slip-on Shoes
This is one I wish I’d thought of sooner.
In most Japanese restaurants, you have to take your shoes off. The amount of time I spent taking my shoes off and putting them back on again, I wish I’d thought to get a pair of slip-on shoes or flip-flops, or just something to make my life easier!
14. Try Out All You Can Eat/Drink Restaurants
For many of the restaurants in Japan, you pay for a certain amount of time instead of paying for the food. I advise that you make the most of this time!
If you want to get drunk, it’s all you can drink! You usually get between 1.5-2 hours. More than enough time to get plastered!
For those with the munchies, it’s all you can eat.
And for those just looking to cheat the system, bring tupperware and pocket some food to take home. (I’m not actually advising this, you may get kicked out)!
15. Don’t Hesitate to Get Naked
I feel like I need to provide some context here.
Obviously, I don’t mean just strip off in the middle of the street!
Onsens (also known as “public baths”) are very popular in Japan. These are places where you go, get naked, wash and chill in amazing, naturally heated water!
This may sound strange, but give it a try guys!
If you’re unsure about this, go ahead and read our post on visiting an onsen in Japan.
Hopefully, these can help you guys on your own travels to Japan. Let us know if these were of use by commenting at the bottom of the page.
Latest posts by Gaijin Crew (see all)
- Travel Essentials: How to Eat Cheap on the Road - February 24, 2018
- Minimalist Travel Packing: 9 Reasons Why You May Be Packing Too Much - February 21, 2018
- The Ultimate Thailand Travel Guide - February 18, 2018