5 Must-Know Travel Hacks for Your Trip to Japan
Japan is known to be a wonderful, exotic, and, at times, crazy fast-moving nation! Whether you’re planning on heading to the Land of the Rising Sun for holiday, or have a business trip you’re looking forward to, visiting Japan can be a very exciting experience. Although this amazing country has a stellar reputation as an efficient and punctual place, there’s still quite a bit of planning required on your part if you want to make the most of your trip. Not to worry, we’re here to help you cover your bases. So read on to discover 5 must-know travel tips for your Japan journey:
1. Staying Connected
Being able to access the web during your jaunts around Japan is a must, whether you want to check up on the best restaurants to try, find good directions, or simply keep up with your social media accounts. The great thing about Japan is that you don’t necessarily have to invest in an expensive sim card if you only need internet access. You can rent a Wi-Fi pocket device to carry with you wherever you go. The device can be shipped to the airport post office for pick-up and you just need to place it in the addressed return envelope and drop it off when you leave!
2. Getting Around
Take one look at Tokyo’s train/metro system with its swarming population of close to 13 million and you’ll probably start to feel pretty overwhelmed. Japan’s capital city features a myriad of different subway and train systems – and you need a different type of ticket for each! A Japan Rail pass (or JR pass) is probably your best bet if you plan on traveling outside of Tokyo as well. With the JR pass you can board bullet trains to other destinations outside the city, and it goes to most major hot-spots within Tokyo itself. It’s a good idea to plan the places you want to visit in Tokyo beforehand though, just so you can be sure JR is the right pass for you.
3. Avoiding Crowds
If you’re going to Japan on business, there’s probably very little chance you can avoid the rush-hour crowds. However, if you’re planning a holiday, you should take care to avoid riding the metros and trains at certain hours of the day. Morning rush hour is promptly from 8-9am while evening rush hour starts shortly after 5pm. The morning rush hour, especially in major cities, is denser and more concentrated than in the evening, so unless you want the experience of being shoved into a packed subway car by a white-gloved employee, steer clear of the train stations!
4. Eating Out
Japan has a reputation of being a nation rich in varied cuisines, making it every foodie’s dream to try its varied fare. Unfortunately, Japan also is known for being very expensive, which may lead you to believe that you’ll be stuck eating cups noodles in your hotel room. If you want to avoid breaking the bank when it comes to enjoying Japan’s delicious food, eating like a local is definitely the way to go. Seasonal items are generally cheaper, so check to see what foods are in season when you arrive. This way you can feast on sushi, tempura, and other dishes to your heart’s content. When looking for your lunch time fix you can save money by seeking out restaurants with lunch-set menus. These three-course meals cost around $12 but can only be found during the work week from 11:30-2:00.
5. Cashing Out
Something many travelers don’t know about Japan is that the majority of transactions are carried out solely with cash. Whether you’re eating out, buying souvenirs, or grocery shopping, you’ll want to make sure to have plenty of cash on hand or risk getting odd looks when you start pulling out the plastic. Luckily, there are ATMs aplenty in Japan and they can be found at the nearest convenience store or post-office. These ATMs accept all foreign cards, so no need to worry about which one you use. And if you find yourself stuck in a situation where you’ve run out of cash, more likely than not there is an ATM just a few seconds of a walk away!
Japan’s unique culture, fascinating way of life, and lovely people are some of the many reasons why it features so highly on any traveler’s must-see list. Knowing a few good hacks to getting around may not be enough for a smooth journey, though. The best tip you should take into account is to learn the Japanese language! Before you head overseas be sure to sign up for some excellent Japanese language classes and use free online Japanese placement tests to keep track of your level. Then with these 5 tips and your language know-how, you’ll be ready to take Japan by storm!