Japan: the Final Journey Information

So that you’re going to Japan. Cool… take us with you?
At STA Journey, our motto is ‘we all know as a result of we go’. Or in my case, we lived there. I’m Jo, and I lived in Japan for simply over one yr working as an English trainer in a small, mountaintop center faculty in Hyogo prefecture. My college students and fellow academics not solely taught me learn how to survive, but additionally the place one of the best little-known journey spots have been hidden. Now it’s my pleasure to cross on the knowledge so that you may be the savviest gaikokujin (foreigner) strolling out of the airport.

Moreover unwaveringly glorious meals, epic historical past, and colourful traditions, the entire nation is virtually one big UNESCO World Heritage Website. As a lot as we’d love to point out you the ropes ourselves, this final journey information will in all probability say it higher than we are able to—it’s arduous to speak whereas shoveling tempura into our faces.


Japan’s highlights

We’d often offer you 5 right here, however we’ve break up it out into 25. That’s 5 for every of the 5 main vacationer spots you’ll be able to’t miss.


Tokyo high 5

From forest-enclosed shrines to blaring neon streets, Tokyo has every part. EVERYTHING. Like…

  • Akihabara – For those who’re a complete otaku (nerd), the Akihabara district is the most important anime hub on the planet and sells each piece of merch you’ll be able to dream of. Put together to be transformed right into a full-on foodie as eating places and cafes are elaborately themed into no matter you’ll be able to, or can’t, think about.
  • The Mori Artwork Gallery – Nonetheless not funky sufficient? The Mori Artwork Gallery has huge, interactive reveals and, with a ticket, you get to squeak into one of many metropolis’s finest viewpoints and rating a selfie with the highest of Tokyo tower.
  • Harajuku – The epicentre of teenage tradition, Takeshita road is an explosion of colourful wigs, J-pop merch and syrupy crepes. Stroll 15 minutes into the woods throughout the road and discover the Meiji Jingu Shrine. If the Harajuku Lady look isn’t fairly you, buy groceries on close by Cat Avenue for modern, luxurious manufacturers and killer classic finds.
  • Shibuya – After becoming a member of 1000’s in crossing the world’s most well-known (and busiest) intersection, watch the chaos from above within the Starbucks above Tsutaya or head to one of many 1000’s of close by bars or izakayas (snack bars) for an evening out. For those who love canines, don’t neglect cross the Hachiko Memorial Statue and provides that pupper a superb pat.
  • Ueno Park – As a traveler, the museums in Ueno Park have the best artifacts and artwork works to help in your understanding of the historical past of Japan. For those who’re extra into the popular culture facet of matters, this landmark is closely featured in books and films as a spot the place love and heartbreak occurs. Come spring, the rows of cherry blossom bushes are good for the ‘gram.

Additionally don’t miss: Senso-ji temple, wandering down the infinite yokochos (slim alleys) across the metropolis and Tsukiji Fish Market, for all of the noms.


Mount Fuji high 5

Don your goggles and facemask, and enterprise up Japan’s iconic summit… or simply chill on the backside of it, gazing in awe.

  • Climbing up – It’s finest to kick off your pilgrimage within the early afternoon, bundle up in a hut in a single day, and see why Japan is known as The Land of the Rising Solar the subsequent morning. Certain, Fuji sounds daunting, however getting up is the simple half—getting down after your journey and an intoxicating dawn is the place the problem lies.
  • Lake Kawaguchi – If the two-day journey doesn’t fairly peak your curiosity, view it from certainly one of 5 lakes surrounding the mountain. Lake Kawaguchi is essentially the most accessible and widespread, flaunting onsens, lodges, and the temple-framed views of Fuji pictured above.
  • Lake Motosuko – When you’ve got an urge for food for one thing slightly extra distant although, Lake Motosuko’s vistas are away from buildings save a few stand-up paddle board rental retailers and campsites. Assuming you’re driving from east to west, the drive previous the 4 different lakes is a further deal with as properly, and a powerful contender for our favorite of the 5 lakes.
  • Water sports activities and rollercoasters – For those who like lining up for ages to see nice heights, hop on to one of many rollercoasters at Fuji-Q. This widespread theme park is house to the Takabisha, which has the steepest drop on the planet at 121°. It’s identical to climbing Fuji once more, however a lot, a lot sooner on the journey down.
  • Exploring caves – If rock compositions excite you want this geography nerd, you’re in for an training about volcanic magma, limestone caves, and the way three of the Fuji 5 lakes are literally related by underwater tunnels. Give Bat Cave, Ice Caves and Wind Cave a go.


Kyoto high 5

Practically each Instagram you’ve seen of Japan was in all probability taken right here. Does bamboo forests and rows of vibrant orange torii gates ring a bell?

  • Gion – Think about Kyoto the cultural capital, sprawling with kimono-clad guests scuttling previous within the historic alleys of Gion. Your solely indication that you simply weren’t transported to the Edo interval would be the dozens of different camera-wielding vacationers, all hoping for a glimpse of a  real-life geisha.
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine – You possibly can pose together with your again to the digicam as you stroll via the tons of of torii gates close to the underside of the mountain, however a whole pilgrimage means slowly winding all the best way up the mountain to the ultimate shrine and a large vista over the entire metropolis. You possibly can even see Osaka from up there on a transparent day.
  • Arashiyama – This nook of Kyoto is house to the well-known bamboo grove, a monkey park, and fairly unbelievable gardens. The very best teahouses are discovered on the temples right here, although make sure you ask for a chair if sitting in your knees is a problem.
  • Golden Temple – There are actually tons of upon tons of of temples. For those who cease to go to each single one you cross, you severely received’t get very far! Even when it means tying horse blinders to your face, it’s essential make it to Kinkaku-ji, aka the Golden Temple, on the northern finish of Kyoto. It’s the birthplace of a lot artwork and cultural historical past, and it sparkles brilliantly within the solar.
  • Ryoan-ji’s rock backyard – The Ryoan-ji temple neighbors the Golden Temple, however is rather more area of interest. The dry panorama backyard right here is assumed to been constructed within the late 15th century and nobody is aware of its authentic creator. Fifteen rocks sit able that makes it unimaginable to view all of them from any perspective. Ponder the implied existential which means of your existence as you sit quietly on the viewing platform.


Osaka high 5

There’s no higher drugs for getting slightly templed out in Kyoto than diving head-first into the neon sprawl of Osaka.

  • America Mura – This village is a divine mixture of stylish and weird. A rooftop Statue of Liberty will watch over you as you wander from modern cocktail bars to funky eating places. Essentially the most healthful delight is listening to folks sing their hearts out to karaoke at 7am as you stroll again to your lodge after an extended evening out.
  • Dotonburi – Talking of an evening out, one is incomplete with out posing with the Glico man in Dōtonburi—simply don’t get too excited and fall into the river. Be happy to pose with the huge dragon, crab, and fish robots that sit above store doorways. To burn off some further power, take a look at Round1/Spocha within the Namba space. This 24-hour sports activities centre has tons of of arcade and sports activities video games together with a mechanical bull, a curler rink, and people inflatable bubble matters you’ll be able to play human soccer in.
  • Spa World – Foreigners who dwell Japan share whispers amongst themselves of this fantasy waterpark for adults. It’s a lodge with its most engaging options being a number of onsens, waterslides, stone spa and eating places. You don’t have to remain in a single day to delight in Spa World’s stress-free waters. Did we point out it’s open 24-hours?
  • Baseball Sport – Right here, the locals are identified for being a bit extra boisterous than their Tokyo counterparts. The easiest way to witness that is at a Hanshin Tigers baseball sport. The group is doing higher as of late, however there was as soon as believed to be a curse on the group resulting from a misplaced statue of the KFC mascot, Colonel Sanders, that was throw right into a river. It’s fairly hilarious and also you received’t remorse trying it up.
  • Keep in a Love Lodge — Japanese folks often dwell with their household till marriage. So love lodges make large enterprise on {couples} who’re nonetheless within the courting stage of matters. Despite the fact that they cost by the hour, they’re nonetheless typically cheaper than an atypical lodge. They’re SUPER clear, offer you free condoms, have karaoke and video video games, and are a normal great spot to catch a day nap when it’s an extended stroll again to your hostel.



It is a place of peace and mournful tranquility. It’s properly value paying your respects and educating your self about Japan’s devastating conflict historical past.

  • Peace Memorial Park – This curved monument is engraved with all of the names of the identified victims of the 1945 atomic bomb. Burning within the pond is the Flame of Peace, which is able to solely be extinguished as soon as the entire nuclear weapons on earth have been destroyed.
  • Atomic Bomb Dome – This constructing was the Industrial Promotion Corridor till the bomb exploded instantly above it. It was certainly one of only a few buildings left standing within the epicentre, and serves as a reminder of the injury that was brought about.
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum – Study Hiroshima’s ongoing legacy for peace on this expansive museum. Inside options gadgets discovered within the aftermath of the bomb, first-person accounts proven on video and a spread of pictures. It’s upsetting, however an absolute must-see in Hiroshima. All websites are translated into English and different languages for max accessibility.
  • Shukkei-en – This backyard was created in 1620, and the buildings have been largely destroyed when the bomb fell. Nevertheless, many bushes survived and bloomed the subsequent season. The remainder of the backyard has lengthy since been restored and is calming to walk via.
  • Orizuru Tower – That is boasted as one of the best viewpoint in Hiroshima. It oversees the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome in addition to the remainder of town and the mountains past. It’s a fantastic place to take a break and ponder every part you’ve realized about Hiroshima.


Getting round Japan

The JR cross is probably the second most necessary matter you’ll need to convey when going to Japan (your passport clearly being the primary). There are some exceptions in terms of limitless rail journey, however until you’re headed to very area of interest areas of Japan, you must be capable of get to each journey in your record. You possibly can select to dwell life on the tracks with one-, two-, or three-week cross choices at costs that will drive locals to jealousy:

7 days — ¥29,110/ $279
14 days — ¥46,390/ $444
21 days — ¥59,350/ $568

Fikri Rasyid, Unsplash

You’ll want to purchase your cross on-line BEFORE arriving in Japan. Once you buy your cross on-line, you might to rearrange your trade order to be delivered to both your private home or your lodge in Japan. An trade order isn’t your JR cross although! You need to then go to any JR Change Workplace in Japan together with your trade order to lastly possess your coveted cross.

Guard you JR cross together with your life — it’s irreplaceable, so that you’re out of luck if you happen to lose it. To rearrange your precise prepare journeys, go to the JR places of work at every main station as you go alongside your journey. You must typically be high quality to easily present as much as the station on the day you need to journey, however you must in all probability e-book no less than just a few days forward if you happen to’re touring throughout hanami (cherry blossom season) or Golden Week. Severely, Japanese folks e-book their journey about six months prematurely for these occasions.

An IC card (often known as the Suica card inside Tokyo) goes to be your finest pal when gallivanting inside the cities. You merely faucet on and off the metro and busses such as you would an Oyster card in London. Every area has its personal cute IC card title and mascot. Are you able to catch all of them?

Transfer over CityMapper, and whats up HyperDia. This goddess of an app is available in English and has the most recent prepare occasions, costs, connections, and platform numbers of every journey. You’ll by no means be late or get misplaced if you happen to pledge your timeless love for HyperDia. Severely although, Google Maps is drunk in Japan. Don’t belief it.


Lodging in Japan and learn how to e-book

Motels and hostels may be perused and booked on-line as you’d in every other nation – begin looking out now. Whether or not you’re up for flopping on a futon or crave the comforts of house with a western-style mattress, you’ll discover an enormous number of rooms that may match your model and finances. Similar to…

Capsule lodges – These environment friendly little pods are made so that you can rock up and flop inside, and are a traditional ‘Japan’ expertise for lots of vacationers. Usually essentially the most finances pleasant, they provide shared showering services and particular person telephone chargers, radios and mini TVs in every capsule. Each place you’ll keep is nearly assured to be extraordinarily clear, even when it’s not rated 10/10.

Ryokan are conventional Japanese inns which can be often run by households. Lounge in a yukata gown and, soak every night in a standard onsen (sizzling tub), and make sure you go for a standard night meal or breakfast cooked by the ryokan’s chef. After your knees are sore from kneeling on the tatami flooring, slip below the nice and cozy sheets of a futon. These indie spots was difficult to seek out if you happen to didn’t communicate Japanese, however concern not! We’ve bought you coated with our reserving web page proper right here.

Love lodges, mostly discovered within the Roppongi and Shinjuku areas of Tokyo, are… properly, precisely what they are saying on the tin, so that you would possibly need to method with care. Japanese {couples} pays by the hour to make use of their services, making for his or her seedy popularity. However if you happen to do your analysis, yow will discover completely clear and amazing-value rooms, full of every part from revolving beds, to karaoke machines and futuristic-themed sizzling tubs. F-U-N.

We hate to interrupt it to you, however Airbnb is sadly not your pal in Japan. On account of new laws being enforced in the previous few years, the variety of Airbnbs listings have dramatically dropped. Some can nonetheless be booked, however your host will probably offer you directions to not inform their neighbors you might be friends from the positioning. It’s okay although—our lips are sealed.


How a lot ought to I finances?

Relying on how a lot yen you have got in your coin purse, your typical evening in Japan will in all probability appear to be certainly one of these.

On a budget: Begin the evening by bagging a collection of ready-to-eat yakitori, croquettes, or sushi from a comfort retailer equivalent to Lawson, FamilyMart or 7-Eleven (¥600/$5.50). Whereas at stated retailer, refill on the miracle elixir often called Robust Zero (¥160/$1.25!) — cautious although… don’t take that 9% alcohol evenly. End up the night in a hostel (¥3,000/$26) that appears identical to a European hostel, solely it’s ridiculously tidy.

Like a neighborhood: Pop into the native izakaya (a Japanese pub) and order a pint of Asahi beer (¥300/$2.50) and munch on an insane number of greens and fried meats often known as kushi katsu. (¥1,500/ £11). You possibly can go for an atypical lodge, (¥5,000/$46) or you’ll be able to uncover first-hand that love lodges are surprisingly cheaper and rather more entertaining (¥3,500/$30).

Luxurious: Indulge on the finer matters in life and incite wild envy in your Instagram followers. Take extra time photographing your multi-course artisanal dinner than really consuming it (¥4,000/$37), and ask the server what sake pairs finest (¥900/$8). Prance off to your ryokan to retire, and ensure you choose one with an onsen (¥8,000/$75).


Prime 10 Japanese phrases it’s essential be taught

Do you communicate English?: Eigo ga wakarimasu ka?

Sorry, I don’t perceive: Gomenasai! Wakarimasen.

Good morning — Good day: Ohayo Gozaimasu — Konnichi wa.

Excuse me/Sorry: Sumimasen.

The place is the washroom?: Toire wa doko desu ka?

I would really like that one please: Kore wa kudasai.
(Remember to level to one thing whenever you say this!)

Is that this/are you okay?: Daijoubu desu ka?

It’s okay (helpful when declining matters/No thanks): Daijoubu desu.

Is there a bin I can use?: Gomi ga arimasu ka?

Thanks!: Arigato gozaimasu.



You’ll by no means have a nasty meal in Japan. Individuals right here by no means half-ass something, and it reveals of their painstakingly perfected meals creations.

In large cities, you’ll be capable of discover an array of worldwide delicacies that has affectionately been remodeled with a Japanese twist (for instance, pizza with corn as a topping). Western-style vegetarian and vegan eateries will also be discovered if you recognize the place to go. Outdoors of huge cities, you’ll discover six Japanese staples reign supreme: Sushi, Japanese Italian, Japanese curry, okonomiyaki, yakitori (grilled hen), and ramen.

Remember to additionally take a look at a comfort retailer and suss out the seasonal flavors of KitKats and different sweets. Whereas your folks and fam are just about anticipating you to convey them again a handful of matcha-flavored Package Kats, additionally check out the crème brulee, chocobanana, blueberry cheese cake and… baked potato(??!) flavored ones.


Are you able to style Tokyo in your mouth but?! Try our Japan vacation spot hub, the place yow will discover flights and a great deal of journey excursions.

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