9 Essential Tips to Remember for Your First Trip to Japan

Planning your first trip to Japan? Here are some essential tips to remember to lessen the culture shock and make the most out of your visit.

Japan is becoming not just a hotspot destination for tourists, but also for business travelers. However, due to differences in etiquette, heading to Japan can be quite a culture shock for tourists. Here are nine tips to help make the most out of your trip to Japan.

Before You Go:

While most websites and tourist sites in Japan have been translated into English, sometimes you need the help of professional translation services for the small print, especially if you are heading there for business. These sorts of companies can help you translate everything from the terms and conditions for your hotel stay, to public transportation issues, to business contracts, to visa applications.

Most visitors don’t need to apply for a tourist visa. However, if you are planning on staying for longer than 90 days, having a translator to help out can be a lifesaver. They can also make sure you know how to address people correctly and don’t commit a massive faux-pas.

Getting Around Once You’re There:

Japan has one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world. While it can seem daunting at first, once you get the hang of it, you will be able to navigate it with ease. Plus, they have several different options for pre-paid cards to help save you money and make traveling that much easier.

If Tokyo is your only destination, consider ordering an IC card. It works on the extensive metro system and offers discounted fairs. However, if your trip to Japan includes a multi-city tour of the country, a JR (or Japan Rail Pass) is ideal. It is a prepaid travel card and can be good for 7, 14, or 21 days.

Location, Location, Location:

Picking a hotel or Airbnb in a good location can save you hours of travel time. Look for places closed to what you want to see or major tourist attractions. Likewise, choosing accommodation close to one of the major metro or train lines will seriously cut down on how long it takes you to get from point a to point b.

Don’t Forget Your Cash:

Japan, for the most part, is a cash-based culture. Sure, more places are starting to accept card payments, it is still just easier to have yen on you than to risk it. 

However, if you do find you need more money, we suggest you skip the exchange counters and head to your nearest 7-11 or post office. Also, think about taking a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to help save money. 

Foodie’s Paradise:

One of the most famous things Japan is known for is its cuisine. If you ask anyone who has been to Japan, 99% of them will gush about the food. And it is easy to understand why. 

Between the freshness of the ingredients and the cleanliness of the restaurants, even in the smallest of cafes, you are bound to get a top-notch dining experience. Plus, there are bound to be tasty treats available you simply can’t get at your local Japanese restaurant. So, eat up. 

Convenient Stores:

Speaking of food, convenient stores also have an amazing selection and are a great option if you need to grab something and go. They tend to have everything from small snacks to tide you over to fully ready to eat meals. And with their reasonable prices, they can be a great way to eat on the cheap and still get a fantastic sample of Japanese cuisine.


This one is extremely important. Don’t tip: no matter how good the food/service/ambiance is, under no circumstances should you ever leave a tip. It is seen as rude as it implies the server doesn’t earn a decent wage.

Tattoo Taboo:

While this is changing, thanks to the wave of westerns visiting Japan, there are still some places that will not allow you entrance if you have visible tattoos due to their link with the criminal underworld. So, if you want to enjoy one of Japan’s world-famous saunas or even swim in your hotel’s pool, be prepared to cover up if asked.

Brush Up On Your Manners:

Manners and etiquette are at the foundation of Japanese culture and, even as a foreigner, it is important to know and understand them on a basic level. So, make sure you look up some tips on Japanese etiquette. This will help ensure you don’t make a glaring faux-pas and potentially save everyone from an embarrassing situation.

Getting the Most from Your Trip to Japan:

Japan is a country with a wide and varied cultural landscape. From ancient temples to modern shopping malls, there really is something for everyone. So, as you plan your Japanese holiday, make sure you keep your options open and experience at least a little of everything.

For more tips and ideas on how to get the most out of your trip to Japan, take a look at our blog. It can be a great source on some of the best Japan has to offer.

Victoria Brewood
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Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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