Japan, Things You Should Know When Visiting

The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). This is when Japan is at its most vibrant, with delicate cherry blossom or bright red leaves adding contrast to the scenery. Remember, it can also be very crowded at this time.

The summer months (June to August) offer ideal conditions for hikers and lovers of the outdoors, but only in the mountains of the Japanese Alps and Hokkaido’s wild national parks. Elsewhere, the weather is hot and humid. Rainy season occurs from the end of May until the middle of June or July.

For a very different experience, head to the north of Japan in winter (December to February). It’s snowy, but the people brighten the dark days with a variety of festivals and events.

On the surface Japan appears exceedingly modern, but travelling around it offers numerous opportunities to connect with the country’s traditional culture. Spend the night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), sleeping on futons and tatami mats, and padding through well-worn wooden halls to the bathhouse (or go one step further and sleep in an old farmhouse).

Meditate with monks or learn how to whisk bitter matcha (powdered green tea) into a froth. From the splendour of a Kyoto geisha dance to the spare beauty of a Zen rock garden, Japan has the power to enthral even the most jaded traveller.

japan things you should know

Getting around in Japan

Japan is incredibly easy to get around: you can do a whole trip using nothing but its immaculate, efficient public transport. The shinkansen (bullet train) network now runs all the way from the southern tip of Kyūshū (the southernmost of Japan’s major islands) up to Hokkaidō (its northernmost), and reasonably priced rail passes make it affordable. Major cities have subway networks that are signposted in English and these days we’re seeing and hearing more English all over. But if getting off the beaten track and outside your comfort zone is what you’re after, you can have that experience, too.

japan things you should know

Learn the Lingo

English is widely spoken in cities and around major tourist attractions; in rural areas, though, it can be hit or miss. Some Japanese words that will come in handy when dining out: 

• omori (large portion, often free at ramen stalls)
• okawari (refill) 
• mochikaeri (takeaway) 
• tennai de (eat-in) 
• onegai shimasu (please). Follow up any of your orders or requests with this; for example, if you want tea, say “O-cha onegai shimasu.” 
• sumimasen (excuse me) 
• arigato gozaimasu (thank you). Because it’s a bit of a mouthful, it’s tempting to shorten it to simply arigato. Think of it as the difference between “thank you” and “thanks” and go for the politer “arigato gozaimasu.”
• toire (toilet; pronounced “to-ee-rey”)

Who needs a Visa?

Residents of 68 countries can enter Japan for tourism purposes without a visa – you’ll get a stamp in your passport on arrival granting permission to stay for up to 90 days. The list of countries on the scheme includes the UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, many nations in Asia and Latin America, and most countries in Europe.

While most visitors on the scheme are granted entry for 90 days, citizens of some nations are only granted a 30-day or two-week stay. For a complete list of visa-exempt countries and durations of stay, consult the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

japan things you should know

Have a listen...

Have a glimpse into Japanese Culture with this Omoiyari Audiobook. Omoiyari is the art of being compassionate, take what you learn with you when visiting Japan.

The Omoiyari Audiobook can be listened to here: 

Omoiyari – The Japanese Path to Compassion

Flying to Japan

If you are interested in visiting Japan, it’s well worth researching flight wherever you are in the world. If you are travelling with a budget your best shopping around to find the best deals. There are many travel agencies with good rates, however Aviasales have very good prices for travelling to Asia; especially Japan.

Aviasales also offer accommodation, if you wanted to keep both your flights and hotel from the same agency. 

Have a search below..

Or even look at car hire with us, see our Cars page for more info.


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