Japan. What to know before you travel

Japan: what to know before you travel

Japan is great for independent travel: everyone speaks English, it’s easy to get a visa, transportation works perfectly.

The most expensive expense of the trip is airfare. They will cost 35,000-40,000 R round trip. In second place is travel around the country. Lodging in Japan costs about the same as in Europe, and you can safely save on food: everything is delicious and cheap. Tickets to museums and temples are also inexpensive – 200 -500 R .

If you’re going to Japan, save this article for your bookmarks: we’ve collected important information about attractions, hotels, food and transportation. See the full article for details.

What you’ll learn


Where is the : Japanese Archipelago. The largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. When the season : end of March – beginning of June, September – October. Average temperature: average +21°C in spring and autumn, +30°C in summer. How long will it take to fly : direct flight from Moscow about 9,5 hours. Currency : Yen, 1 ¥ (0.58 R). Time difference with Moscow : +6 hours. Language : Japanese. In big cities many Japanese speak English.

What to see in Japan

If you compare Japan to Russia, Tokyo is like Moscow and Kyoto is like St. Petersburg. If you go to Japan for two weeks, divide it roughly equally between Tokyo and Kyoto: from there it’s convenient to leave for the day and go to other cities.

In Tokyo, tourists walk among skyscrapers and visit the Imperial Palace. From the capital it is convenient to get to the cities of Nikko, Kamakura and the mountain resort of Hakone.

Nikko has a national park with waterfalls, a volcano and a lake. Kamakura has ancient temples from the 11th-13th centuries. In Hakone, tourists admire views of Mount Fuji and bathe in hot springs.

Kyoto is visited to see temples, cultural sites and geisha. Nearby are the cities of Nara and Osaka.

Nara is another ancient capital of Japan, known for its park with hand deer. Osaka is the third largest city in the country. There you see a five-story samurai castle and go to Universal amusement park.

When is the best time to go to Japan

In late March or early April, the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan – the country is in a tourist frenzy. To plan a trip at this time, check the cherry blossom forecast by region.

In late April or early May in Japan, “Golden Weekend” is a national holiday that runs for 6 days in a row. During this time, the whole country is on vacation, so the Japanese go to travel. Train tickets are sold out, accommodation is expensive, and temples, parks and museums are crowded.

Mid-May is the best time to go. There are fewer tourists and accommodation prices go down.

From June to September in Japan is a tropical heat, often heavy rains, and from the ocean come typhoons. Temperatures average +30 °C – most tourists choose a different time to travel.

In October and early November, Japan has “Momiji,” the season of red maple leaves. There’s a calendar for momiji, too.

How to get a visa to Japan

The visa to Japan is free. It is easy to get it, you need the usual set of documents and a program of stay. It asks for a travel plan: what you plan to do and where you will live. In the program it is important to specify the contacts of hotels or apartments on the air-bi-NB – by the time of application you need to book all accommodations.

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There is no need to make an appointment to apply – you just need to come to the embassy with your documents. The staff will take your papers and tell you on the spot whether the visa will be granted or not. If the visa is approved, it will be made in 4 working days.

The embassy can pick on the electronic seal on the bank statement. Ask the bank in advance for a bank statement with a real stamp

✈️ Travel

Only Aeroflot and Japan Airlines have direct flights to Tokyo from Moscow. Japan Airlines flies the coolest of the Boeings, the Dreamliner. It’s a huge plane with comfortable seats, delicious food, and monitors that are built into the seats. The average ticket costs 37,000-45,000 R . Connected tickets are only 3,000-5,000 P cheaper than direct tickets .

How to get from Tokyo airport to downtown

Usually flights from Moscow to Tokyo arrive at Narita airport. It is located 66 km from Tokyo. Most tourists get to the center by bus or by Narita Express and Keisei Skyliner trains.

How to get to the center from the airports: Narita, Haneda


Japan loves cash. Cards are accepted, but between a large bill and paying cashless, the Japanese will choose cash.

Yen can be bought with dollars. There are many exchangers, some are automatic. The exchange rate is acceptable and it’s safe to change money.

When you pay at the cash register, it is customary to put money or a card into a special tray on the counter, not to give it to the salesman in his hands. But the change, check and card will be returned to you from hand to hand with a thank you and a bow.

Tax-free for foreigners is very conveniently organized. The 8% discount is made right at the purchase, if you have your passport with you. Tax-free is available almost everywhere, even at the Seven Eleven grocery store.


Hotels and hostels Ordinary hotels and hostels in Japan are the same as the rest of the world. There are big chains like APA Hotels or Hilton. The average room costs 4500-5500 P for two people per night. The rooms are small, but they have everything you need. Usually check in from 15:00, less often from 13:00. If you want to check in earlier, you’ll have to pay half the price.

Apartments There are many options, but apartments are more expensive than hotels, especially if you rent the whole place. Apartments on Air Bin Bin in the Ginza area of Tokyo cost from 7000 P per night. The older houses have small rooms and tiny bathrooms. In some you have to wash yourself sitting on a stool – such is the tradition.

Capsule hotels A small capsule only fits one person. You can only sit or lie down there. Inside the capsule there is a clock, alarm clock, light setting, and sometimes a TV. Bathroom and toilet are shared on the floor. Things are taken for storage at the reception. A night costs 1500-2500 P .

Love hotels Mostly love hotels have spacious and huge beds. Rooms are furnished in unusual ways – like a schoolroom, a doctor’s office or a huge cage. Rooms cost from 6000 P per night. The more interesting the interior, the higher the price.

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Ryokans A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese hotel. They sleep on special mattresses, futons, which are spread out on the floor. The only furniture in the room is small tables. At them they also sit right on the floor. Showers and toilets are usually shared. Some ryokans have onsen, which is a bathtub with water from a hot spring. A night in a simple ryokan costs 8000-10 000 R . Staying in a ryokan with a beautiful view, hot springs and a traditional Japanese dinner of many small dishes will cost 20,000-30,000 P . At check-in, guests are given Japanese “geta” slippers and a homemade “yukata” robe.

Traditional Japanese houses often have no central heating – it can be cold in winter or fall.

Food and restaurants.

Prepared food In Japan, bento – beautifully packaged food sets – are sold everywhere. A bento with sushi, rice, roasted vegetables and fresh fruit costs about 500 P . Thanks to bentos in Japan, you can’t go hungry: they are sold and eaten everywhere.

How to get around Japan

The main mode of transportation in Japan is railroads. There are many different railway companies in the country, the largest one is called Japan Railways. Fares are expensive. A ticket for the Shinkansen high-speed train from Tokyo to Kyoto costs ¥13,910 (P8,041) one way.

To save money, you need a JR Pass. It can be used for a week or two for unlimited travel on high-speed trains, express trains and electric trains. On them you can see the sights around Tokyo and Kyoto. “J-ar-Pass for a week costs 16,470 P per person and pays for itself in the first three days of the trip.

You can buy a J-ar-Pass at the airport or online at japan-rail-pass.com in advance. On the website is cheaper. After payment, a voucher will be sent, which must be exchanged for the JRpass in Japan.

You can activate the “J-ar-pass” at the Japan-rail-pass information counters, for example at Shinjuku station in Tokyo. When you activate the pass, they will write your name and passport information on it.

The first time you pass with the “J-ar-pass” through the control, it will be stamped. Then you just have to show it to the officer at the station every time you pass through the turnstiles.

In Japan, everyone books trains in advance. If you plan to travel around the country on weekends or national holidays, it’s worth selecting the trains you want on the Hyperdia website in advance, print out a list and take it with you. When you activate the J.R. Pass, ask a staff member to reserve tickets using this list. They can then be changed without any problem. If you’re planning to move on weekdays, you don’t have to reserve train tickets.


There is public wifi almost everywhere in Japan. It is usually free in museums and other attractions.

If you don’t want to connect to new wifi every time, rent a router for the duration of your trip. You can do it right at the airport at the information booths labeled Pocket Wi-Fi.

What to bring from Japan

From Japan bring unusual sweets, Japanese cosmetics, children’s toys and appliances like cameras. Store prices are usually listed without VAT, so at the checkout the total may be 8% more than you planned.

If something happens

Russian Embassy in Japan Address: Tokyo, Minato-ku, Adzabudai, 2-1-1 (〒106-0041 東京都港区麻布台 2-1-1). Phone: +81-3-3583-4224.

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What you need for a trip to Japan

When it's best to go to Japan

Japan lies in the subtropics, and the climate is very warm and humid. To travel to Japan you should avoid the summer months: in August in Tokyo and Kyoto it is incredibly hot, up to 40 C. June is the rainy and typhoon season, and it rains almost every day.

It’s best to go to Japan in spring or autumn. The most beautiful seasons in Japan are March and April (cherry blossoms) and November (red maples). It is important to understand that these are high seasons, and tickets should be booked at least 3-4 months in advance.

Do not go to Japan in Golden week (early May) and Obon (mid-August). These days are the official vacations in Japan. All Japanese travel around the country and it is impossible to book a hotel. For a Japanese, planning a trip to Golden week even before the New Year is a normal thing

How much money does it take to go to Japan

Hotels in Japan are expensive, especially in Tokyo – it will be hard to find a hotel cheaper than $120-130 per night. But, as always, there are alternatives – capsule hotels, hostels, apartments and lav-hotels How to choose accommodation in Japan, we will detail below.

Cafes and restaurants in Japan are relatively inexpensive: ramen or gudon at a chain establishment will cost 400 yen (200 rubles). A bento will cost about the same. For these prices you can eat tasty and inexpensive Japanese food without fearing for your health.

The sushi counter will cost from 100 yen (50 rubles) for a plate of sushi (2 pieces). We recommend to visit Kura Sushi, our favorite sushi place in Tokyo. You can eat the most authentic Japanese sushi for 1000 yen. In the central kaiten sushi, lunch costs one and a half to two times as much. In any supermarket or combo (convenience store) you can buy ready-made lunch, onigiri, sandwiches. In other words, you can eat well in Japan without going to expensive restaurants.

⛩ Most temples are free, the most promoted and located in tourist areas may have paid entrance (100-400 yen).

✈️ Airfare Moscow-Tokyo-Moscow costs an average of 45-50 thousand Russian rubles. If you see tickets for 30-35 thousand rubles – it’s a very good price, and you are unlikely to find cheaper.

One of the things you should also spend on your trip to Japan is transportation. If you plan to see not only Tokyo and Kyoto, it is advisable to buy a JR Pass. You should buy the JR Pass in advance of your trip to Japan and it is valid for 7, 14, or 21 days. Calculate your itinerary costs at hyperdia.com, and then you will know whether you need this pass.

For example, on our first trip to Japan we spent 10 days in the country: we went all over Tokyo, took the shinkansen to Kyoto, saw Nara, and came back to Tokyo. Self-drive for that itinerary was cheaper than JR Pass.

What documents are needed for traveling to Japan

Documents for your trip to Japan

What to do before coming to Japan

How to get to Tokyo

A question that worries many people is how hard is it to make a Japanese visa?

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For Russians in 2017, the process of obtaining a visa to Japan has greatly simplified. Previously, getting a visa to Japan and flying to Tokyo was much more difficult: you needed a guarantor – a host party, which had to take responsibility for your stay in Japan. Now you do not need a guarantor to travel to Japan. The official list of documents for a visa to Japan can be found on the embassy website.

That’s why it’s easy to get a visa to Japan today. You gather the simplest package of documents, hand in and get your visa in a few working days. Visa to Japan is free of charge. When submitting documents for a Japanese visa, you need to provide a travel plan and confirm your financial capabilities.

There are several airlines from Moscow to Tokyo:

1 Direct flight Moscow-Tokyo. Aeroflot and Japanese airline JAL currently offer direct flights to Japan.

2 Moscow-Tokyo flight with connections. The most convenient connection and pleasant prices are usually offered by the Chinese airline Air China. Connecting point for such flights will be in Beijing.

Thus, having arrived in Tokyo, you will find yourself at one of two Tokyo airports – Narita or Haneda. Passport control is very simple in Japan. Do not forget to check in advance the list of prohibited items.

When passing through security control in Japan you will need to fill out a customs declaration form.

From both airports you can travel to Tokyo by bus, cab, or rail. If you fly into Narita, after customs at the airport it is most convenient to take the Narita Express to Tokyo. The Narita Express goes to Tokyo Central Station. A ticket for one person costs 1,500 yen (special price for tourists if you take a round trip ticket at once). This is the most convenient and fastest way to get to Tokyo.

Hotels in Japan

What to know for traveling to Japan

Lake Kawaguchiko capsule hotel

Love Hotel in Japan

How to choose and book a hotel in Japan?

As we wrote above, hotels in Japan are not cheap. Rooms are very small: the standard width of a double bed is 120 cm, and the size of the room on average 9-10 m2. Breakfast also leave much to be desired. Of course, hotels 4* and above will be more comfortable, but they will cost much more.

Planning a trip to Japan, be sure to book a Japanese hotel ryokan for one night. A good ryokan is not cheap and will cost you from 150 to ∞ dollars per night. ∞ is the ceiling, which probably isn’t The Japanese appreciate ryokans. A true true ryokan is located away from cities and noise, it often has its own onsen, and the guest is treated like a king. The history of such ryokans can go back hundreds of years.

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Three of our favorite ryokans in Japan: ❤️ Kinokuniya Ryokan (Hakone, has its own onsen) ❤️ Ryokan Yamazaki (Kyoto) ❤️ Seiryu (a very romantic ryokan in the Izu Peninsula)

How do you find a good hotel in Japan? There are thousands of hotels, apartments, ryokans and authentic inns scattered all over the country. You can check the cost of accommodation in Japan and find the best option for yourself on the well known and loved by many people website Airbnb Discount of ~ 2000 rubles discount for the first booking through Airbnb
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An inexpensive option for an overnight stay in Japan is a capsule hotel. It’s very convenient and economical! A night in a capsule hotel in Japan will cost $15 per person. You can put your suitcase in a special storage box, and you go to sleep in a capsule. The Japanese are obsessed with cleanliness, so everything inside will be fragrant, the linens will be crisp, and space, I’ll be honest, as much as a bed in a Japanese hotel. No claustrophobia. The only disadvantage is that you have to split up: boys and girls sleep separately.

A good option for accommodation in Japan is Airbnb . It is worth considering if you are staying in the same place for more than two nights. Airbnb for one night will cost the same as a hotel, because the cost of the apartment is added cleaning. But 2-3 nights savings will be substantial – up to 50%. In addition, Japanese apartments are very different from ours, and I’m sure you will be curious to live as a real Japanese.

If you have a lot of luggage, an ordinary Japanese room will seem cramped. Try booking a room in a lav-hotel: it costs the same as a regular hotel, but there’s twice as much space. And the beds are wider Don’t worry about cleanliness – the Japanese are very picky about that.

Hotels should be booked a couple of months before your trip to Japan. The higher the season, the more time it’s time to start thinking about reservations and planning your trip.

What you should know before a trip to Japan

Subway in Tokyo

  • Japanese do not speak English. Not at all. Even in hotels (90% of the time). Use Google-Translator. There’s a function of text recognition from photos: you point at a picture, and the text with characters is recognized at best. Works better when translated into English, not Russian.
  • Order a Pocket WiFi before your trip to Japan. You can pick it up at the airport. If you book an apartment, landlords often provide Pocket Wifi for free (sometimes in hotels, too). See the description of services or ask the owners of the apartment directly.
  • Check the timetable in advance. It will be difficult to understand on the spot. Use Hyperdia, take a route, make a screenshot, and save it on your phone
  • Download maps of Japan in advance. Maps.me is best.
  • Get the medication you need . Without a prescription in Japan almost nothing can be bought: only Band-Aids, nasal sprays, painkillers.
  • Don’t take photos of people’s faces. The Japanese do not like it.
  • Be prepared to take your shoes off: in the ryokans, fitting rooms, some temples. It’s better to carry socks in case you come in summer
  • Cover your tattoos and cleavage . Of course, tattoos are no longer as taboo in Japan as they used to be. But if you don’t want any stares, it’s worth covering up your tattoo. Tip for the ladies: in Japan it is not accepted to expose the back, shoulders, chest, navel. But you can wear short shorts .
  • Don’t be afraid of anything. Japan is one of the safest countries in the world! If you do not understand something, the staff at the station or the police will always help you.

If you still have questions about what you need to do before (or during) your trip to Japan, ask them in the comments.

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