What You Need to Know Before Visiting Japan

By SuitcaseTravelBlog | Aug 10, 2023
Asia > Japan

Japan is one of my favorite countries. Beautiful, amazing, modern, and very traditional.

Traveling across the country is simple if you plan ahead of time.

Here is some useful information you should know before traveling to Japan to make your vacation easier and more enjoyable!

Best time to visit Japan

The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).

Japan is at its most brilliant in the spring, with delicate cherry blossoms, also known as Japanese Sakura.

The ideal time to see Sakura in Kyoto, Tokyo, and the surrounding areas is usually during the last week of March and the first week of April.

In the fall, Japan becomes pretty gorgeous, with vibrant red leaves giving an outstanding contrast to the natural scenery.

Keep in mind that it can potentially be very crowded at this time.

The summer months (June to August) are hot and humid.

However, for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, this season may be best in the Japanese Alps and Hokkaido's wild national parks.

The rainy season lasts from late May through the middle of June or July.

Winter in Japan normally lasts from early to mid-December through the middle of March, however, the duration and intensity vary by region.

Winter temperatures in most parts of Japan (including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka) range from -4 to 7 C.

There are many things to do and see during the winter.

How many days should you spend in Japan?

I would recommend spending at least two weeks in Japan. This is the minimum travel time required to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, and possibly the surrounding areas. Tourists usually spend 6 days in Tokyo and the rest in other destinations during those two weeks.

It would be great if you could stay for more than two weeks. There is so much to see and experience.

Transport and passes

Japan offers the most advanced railway network in the world. The transportation there is really great.

When your route is finished, you should estimate the cost of the tickets and check the passes, which might save you a lot of money.

Here are some options for you:

Option 1: Suica/Pasmo pre-paid card:

Consider using a Suica or Pasmo card if you plan on staying in one city, using the metro, or going on a day trip to nearby places.

Suica is a prepaid card that allows you access to almost all forms of public transportation in Japan (metro, trains, buses, monorail, and taxis). The card is charged for each journey or purchase.

Please keep in mind that the Suica card is not valid for usage on express trains, Shinkansen, highway buses, or airport shuttles.

The Suica card can also be used to make small purchases in convenience stores, vending machines, parking, taxis, and a variety of retailers.

Option 2: Regional pass

Regional passes are great for visitors who want to experience different parts of Japan, from the snow-capped mountains of Hokkaido to the vibrant shore lines of Kyushu.

Option 3: JR Pass

JR pass is perfect if you want to travel the whole of Japan.

With a JR pass, you can travel on bullet trains throughout Japan for 7, 14, or 21 days, as well as use the Hiroshima-Miyajima ferry.

Cash Country

Japan is a technologically advanced but still cash-based country. Having thousands of yen in your wallet is not uncommon in Japan. However, this country is completely safe. Carrying significant sums of cash, even as a tourist, will not put you in danger.

There aren't many places that accept credit or debit cards. Few restaurants, large stores, and local supermarkets accept just Visa or MasterCard, but most Japanese stores do not accept debit cards. The most practical use of a debit card is to withdraw money from ATM.

7-Eleven convenience stores provide a 24-hour ATM service. This will be an easy way to withdraw cash.

Another great alternative option is to use the Suica card. The Suica is a prepaid e-money card for transportation and shopping.

It can be used for JR trains, subways, buses, stores, vending machines, and much more. We used Suica card and found it quite useful.

No tips at hotel or restaurant

Tipping is not anticipated in Japan, including in restaurants, hotels, hair salons, or even taxis. The tips might be considered rude and disrespectful.

The Japanese people are hardworking, and they perform their job with pride. You will receive the most outstanding services in the world. Excellent service is considered standard, and tips are unnecessary.

So, bowing and saying “Arigato (thank you)” will be enough to express your gratitude.

No garbage bins

In Japan, the streets are incredibly clean and there are no public garbage bins. Of course, you might find some train stations, convenience stores, or beside of vending machines. But that's it. So, there are no garbage cans like in other countries.

The idea is to carry your rubbish with you and properly dispose of it at your home or hotel.

This rule occurred after the terrorist attack in 1995, during rush hour, at the Tokyo subway. Terrorists used lethal sarin gas: 12 people died and around 5,000 people were injured. The terrorist attack led Japan to remove all public trash bins

So, my practical advice is to keep a little bag with you than you so you can carry your waste in that bag until you find a trash can or simply take it to the hotel.

There are high fines for littering and possible jail time.

So, please, don't litter!

Be quiet

In Japan, visitors must follow etiquette rules. One of them is that people are not allowed to talk on the phone while riding the metro, trains, or other public transportation. People should mute their phones and avoid disturbing or bothering passengers around them with the sounds of messaging, games, music, etc.

People speak quietly even in the streets and other public places. Nobody yells or actively gesticulates.

So… follow and respect the rules and be quiet!

Hopefully, my travel advice will be helpful for your vacation.

Have a great time in Japan!

Asia Culture Etiquette Japan Transportation

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Written by Suitcase Travel blog
Hi! I'm Angela from Suitcase Travel blog. Travelling is one of my passions. Exploring new places, meeting new people, and learning more about cultures and traditions brings me incredible joy. I would like to share my travelling experiences: how to travel inexpensively yet comfortably, and see as much as possible on a short vacation. I sincerely hope some articles will be informative for the traveler, or even just entertainment for the curious. Thank you!

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