Land of the Rising Sun.
Or Nippon to the locals.
This stunning island nation will spirit youaway to a place where modernity and history come together.
A travel destination truly fit for an emperor.
And for the indecisive traveller, the oneswho want to see it all and do it all, Japan is paradise.
Stay with us as TourRadar’s ultimate travelguide reveals everything you need to see, eat and do to ensure your time in Japan isboth inspiring and painless.
Are you ready? Welcome, to Japan.
Let’s start with the basics.
Japan is 377, 972 square kilometres big, that’ssmaller than California but larger than Germany and the country is made up of 6, 852 islands, 66 percent of which are covered by trees that provide shade to the nearly 130 million peoplewho call Japan their home.
Apart from shade the Japanese also enjoy havingthe highest life expectancy in the world at 83.
The country boasts the second lowest homiciderate after Iceland and is listed in the Global Peace Index’s top 10 safest countries tocall home.
It’s not unusual to see bikes left unlockedand lost wallets returned.
However you should always remember to takethe same precautions you would at home.
And the Japanese speak, well Japanese of course! We suggest learning some basic phrases sinceEnglish is not widely spoken throughout the country.
Of course, you can always rely on the Japanesefor their exceptionally accommodating and notoriously polite demeanors to get you frompoint a to point b.
After all, the Japanese have 3 different waysof saying ‘I Love You’ & 20 different ways of expressing that they’re sorry.
During your visit you’ll be paying for thingswith the Japanese yen.
Keep in mind that it’s fairly uncommon topay for things using debit or credit cards.
You may also be surprised to learn that accessto public wifi is rare.
Remember to bring an international SIM cardor rent a pocket wifi device.
Now of course, once you arrive you’ll certainlywant to explore as much of the country as possible.
For travel within Japan’s capital, the TokyoMetro will be your main choice of transportation, welcoming more than 6 million passengers everyday.
However, travel throughout Japan can be veryexpensive if you don’t plan ahead.
The easiest and cheapest way to get aroundthe country is by using the Japan Rail pass.
This pass allows you unlimited access to mostmajor railways around the country for one lump sum.
And of course you’ll absolutely want toexplore the country because well there’s something for everyone.
Fashion lovers have Tokyo’s Harajuku Bridge, near Meiji Jingu Shrine, where on Sunday afternoons travellers can spot Japanese youth dressedto the nines in impressively complex and extravagant clothing, not to be confused with cosplaying.
Looking for a little live entertainment? Then witness the art of kabuki, a traditionalJapanese theatre performance that combines dance, drama and elaborate makeup.
You can catch a show in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
Or maybe you wish to take the stage? In that case, stop by a karaoke bar in Tokyo’sRoppongi neighborhood and enjoy your moment in the spotlight.
Big fan of sports? Then watching a game of baseball at the TokyoDome or “Big Egg” as the locals call it, is a can’t miss event.
Or maybe you’re the one seeking some adrenalinepumping activities to cross off that bucket list.
Don’t worry, Japan has you covered.
Forget Aspen and Whistler, the Japanese Alpsare the new place to ski.
The snow is world renowned and the slopescome with unbeatable views.
Check out the hundreds of resorts on the northisland of Hokkaido, and the main island of Honshu.
The most popular resort, Niseko, is a popularfirst choice for foreigners as it’s fairly English friendly.
Hiking is one of Japan’s national past timesso you absolutely must partake while visiting.
You can start with shorter, less intimidatingtrails in Kamakura, which are only about 3km in length and then work your way up to Japan’shighest mountain at 3776m, Mt.
This active volcano welcomes most of its climbersfrom July to October.
The rest of the year the mountain is fairlytreacherous for inexperienced climbers due to heavy snowfall.
Not a fan of the cold? Then take some well deserved “me time”and rejuvenate at an onsen.
Onsens are Japanese hot springs whose steamingwaters are naturally warmed by the country’s many volcanos.
The temperatures are hotter than a standardjacuzzi and combine indoor and outdoor bathing facilities for a truly unique experience.
Once your body is at ease you must visit Japan’sshrines and temples, each with their own impressive history.
While these sacred buildings can be foundjust about anywhere, Kyoto is the ideal place to see them as this prefecture alone is hometo over 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines.
At the top of your list should be FushimiInari and Toji Temple.
Many temples even allow you to do a templestay, where you will be immersed into lifestyle of the Buddhist monk.
Other uniquely Japanese experiences includea visit to a cat cafe, a day petting deer in Nara, an evening playing games at ClubSega arcade in Tokyo, studying the geisha way of life in Gion and more.
Thanks to the country’s incredible length, there’s never a bad time to visit.
You can go skiing during spring if you’rein the north, and then head down south to take a dip in the sea.
Spring runs March through May and is oftenthe most popular time to travel to Japan, because of special festivities like GoldenWeek and the cherry blossom festival.
Locals will also be on vacation throughoutApril and May so book accommodations and transportation in advance to avoid missing out.
Summer runs from June to August but June andJuly are considered Japan’s rainy season in nearly every region aside from Hokkaido.
You can expect oppressively humid temperaturesnearly everywhere you travel so be sure to pack breathable clothing.
Fall begins in September when the weathercan be both unpredictable or typhoon ridden.
October is a decent time to visit becausethe crowds will taper off and the humidity begins to disappear and the leaves begin tochange.
Winter begins in December and is a great timeto travel to Japan if you’re a fan of winter activities, New Year celebrations, and smallcrowds.
The Japanese Alps, the northern island ofHokkaido and the Japan Sea coast all get a lot of snow so be sure to pack a winter jacket, sunglasses and the sort.
You can expect to get little to no snow ifyou’re staying in Tokyo where average seasonal temperatures sit around 5 degrees celsius.
No matter the time of year, you’re alwaysless than 500 metres from a great meal.
But beware, dining in Japan can be very differentfrom what you’re used to.
When you first enter a restaurant you cantypically expect to be greeted with “irasshaimase” which means “welcome, please come in.
” In Japan, it’s not common for restaurantsto have guests seat themselves so wait to be guided.
Most restaurants in Japan offer western-styledining experiences, meaning tables and chairs, but many also have zashiki-style dining settings, which include low tables where guests sit on pillows on the floor, and remove theirshoes upon entry.
You will dine with a set of chopsticks andkeep in mind that tipping is neither expected nor encouraged.
Japan boasts plenty of gourmet restaurantsfor the connoisseurs among us, where a dinner out can cost more than 20, 000 yen.
To put that into perspective, meals at anaverage restaurant cost between 1, 000 to 3000 yen.
During lunch you can usually purchase setmenus for about 1000 yen and they’ll leave you.
and your bank account just as contented.
And what should you be sure to try duringyour visit? Start with a serving of okonomiyaki, pannedfried batter and cabbage topped with everything from seafood to cheese and sliced meat.
Next, sample crunchy tempura, made of deepfried pieces of seafood and vegetables that have been cooked in canola and sesame seedoil.
You will also have a variety of noodles tochoose from, ranging from ramen noodles to soba and udon as well, each varying in flavourand thickness.
And of course you couldn’t talk about Japanesecuisine without mentioning sushi, small rolls of vinegar flavored cold cooked rice servedwith a garnish of raw fish, vegetables, or egg.
When it comes to drinks, a beer in Tokyo willrun you around 600 yen.
We recommend the classic three: Kirin, Sapporoor Asahi.
The Japanese are also expert whiskey distillersso don’t shy away from a sip of the good stuff.
And there’s always sake, Japanese rice wineserved either hot or cold.
To nurse your impending hangover enjoy a cupof green tea or an iced coffee drink.
Once your thirst is quenched and your stomachfull you can get back to discovering everything this impressive country has to offer.
A place truly frozen in time yet constantlyevolving, Japan will leave you breathless, inspired and astounded.
We hope these tips ensure that your time inthe Land of the Rising Sun is tanoshii.
If you still can’t get enough then checkout Days to Come for more inspiration and travel tips.
If you’re ready to experience the country, visit tourradar.
As they say in Japan, farewell, sayonara andmata ne!.