Indispensable Tips for your first trip to Japan

  • HOW TO
  • The lure of Japan is often how different it is to your home country, the culture, history and even the food are unique. That also means that the customs and etiquette of Japan differ to many other countries too and so it is good to be prepared for your first visit.


    Often the biggest shock when people first get to Japan is how little credit and debit cards are used. As a country notorious for its technology, this is a little odd. Therefore, a top tip is to take a lot of cash with you on your holiday. This may make you feel a little nervous to be carrying around so much money, but Japan is one of the safest countries there is and crime is very low, which means your money is quite safe. If you do need to take out more money there are ATM machines in most Post Offices, however, there is a withdrawal limit which makes it quite expensive if your bank will charge for withdrawing money abroad. A more convenient option is to go to a convenience store, such as 7-11. These stores are open longer hours than post offices and also have a higher withdrawal limit so are a great place to top up your cash. Always remember that tipping is not welcomed in Japan, so try not to slip into old habits when you are here.
    Related: Japanese cash customs and traditions


    Japan is renown for its train system, and this is rightly deserved. In large cities such as Tokyo, the Metro system is extensive and means you can quickly cross the city at a relatively low cost. However if you are not very good at reading Japanese it can be tricky when getting tickets to use the metro as the signs seem a little confusing. A good way to make sure you do not over or underpay is to get a Suica or other pre-paid cards or rounds-tickets. Then all you need to do is swipe yourself in at the station you leave from and swipe out at your destination. The exact amount for that journey will then be discounted from your card! Other modes of transport, such as buses, can be a bit more confusing to a foreign traveller, but bus drivers are very friendly and can help you not miss your stop. Different areas of Japan offer different pre-paid cards, so choose the right one for your trip.
    If you will be travelling long distances regularly when you are in Japan it may be the best option to get a Japan Rail Pass, for whatever area you are travelling in, as this can really save you money.
    Related: Budget Traveling: What Railcard to Use in Japan


    What to wear is often a big consideration when going on holiday, especially if the climate is quite different from your home. What clothing to pack is especially key when travelling to Japan, are really varies according to what time you year you visit, and what areas you go to. Japanese summers are notoriously hot and humid, especially in central Japan. In order to try and keep cool many Japanese will wear loose clothing and the women will wear a short skirt or shorts. You may notice that even in summer many Japanese wear tops with sleeves, this is because it is seen as a little inappropriate to show the cleavage area or shoulders when out (although younger generations are moving away from this). Dressing like the Japanese in the summer can help keep you cool, but remember to drink plenty too and maybe pick up a sun parasol, they are popular in Japan and help keep the hot sun off. In the winter temperatures can get quite low, especially in the north of Japan. Therefore make sure you pack layers of clothing to keep warm when out, but easy to remove when you go inside so you do not overheat. I always find I end up doing a lot of walking when in Japan, so sensible footwear that is comfortable is a must for me!
    Whenever you visit Japan make sure you enjoy your time there, being prepared can make your trip much easier and more enjoyable too!
    Related: The Japanese fifth season and what to wear throughout the year