What to know about traveling to Japan

Japan: what you need to know before you travel

Japan is great for solo 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

A 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 accommodation.

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 .

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How to get from Tokyo airport to the center

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.

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 autumn.

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 (8,041 P) 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.

Japan's Mount Fuji, where man meets mountains

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.

We are looking for people who travel independently. If you have organized vacations in Russia, near abroad, popular resorts, or more exotic places, please share your experiences with us.

What you need before you go to Japan


Before I start telling stories about my 10-day trip there, I want to give you my top tips for traveling alone to Japan – what do you need to know before you go to Japan? Japan is a beautiful, welcoming, friendly country. It is also very different from any country I have been to. Read more on our website anonssmi.ru

What you need to know before you go to Japan

Japan is actually a pretty easy country for travelers. People line up for things. Trains run on time. There are just enough English signs and announcements to help the tourist get around the language barrier.

But that doesn’t mean that navigation is easy or that anything Japanese consider good manners is obvious to the traveler from abroad. That’s why I put together this information about traveling in Japan.

With only 10 days of experience, I can’t say this post is exhaustive. But I’m sure many readers who have traveled in Japan have noticed differences from other countries that can be shared with additional tips for travelers who have yet to travel.

Please feel free to leave comments with your tips.

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32 tips to know before traveling to Japan

Cash Presence . Everything I’ve read suggests that Japan is a money society. I found that many places accept credit cards, including hostels, the ryokans where I stayed, the 7-Elevens that are everywhere, and many restaurants. Although I often used a credit card, having cash was necessary. In 10 days I spent about $300 in cash.

Be careful when crossing . In Japan, cars drive on the left. However, pedestrians sometimes walk on the left and sometimes walk on the right. Escalators were constantly on the left, and then I found an exception in Tokyo when it was on the right. By default it is on the left, but be prepared to make a mistake.

Cleanliness is very much appreciated . You will notice that Japan has very clean streets. But that’s just a manifestation of cleanliness to the house and to yourself.

Outdoor shoes . If you see slippers at the entrance of the building, you should take off your shoes, put on your slippers. At each step, if you see slippers, repeat the process. For example, when you visit the ryokan, leave your shoes at the door, replace the slippers provided, go to your room. Leave those slippers at the entrance to the room, and use socks or barefoot inside the room. When you go to the bathroom, you will find another pair of slippers used only there. If the bathroom is down the hall, you will wear house slippers when you leave the room, go to the bathroom – put on your bathroom slippers, then switch back to house slippers when you leave, and then leave the house slippers at the entrance to your room.

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Japan’s toilets are interesting . Yes, enter the cabin, and the sounds of a gentle waterfall and birds are usually heard. Sit down, and you will often find that the seat will heat up. The control panel will allow you to turn off the sound, and the women’s restrooms will offer many bidet options. You’ll have two or three spray options, so you can often control the intensity of the spray. There is also toilet paper. Many public restrooms do not have paper towels or a hand dryer. People often carry a small face cloth for this purpose.

Culture of public baths . There are thousands of natural hot springs all over Japan. They are called onsens, used as public baths. When you walk up to one, you undress (everyone is naked in the onsen), soap, drink completely, and only then enter the pool (or pools). It’s a Japanese experience not to be missed.

Juicing . The outlets are the same as in all of North America, so if you’re from there, you don’t need an adapter.

English? And yes and no . The most important words in Japanese are arigato gaziemos, which means “thank you.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard it, I would recoup the cost of the trip. Don’t expect the cab driver or anyone else to speak English. If possible, get logistical information, hotel name, address, phone number written in Japanese. There is more English than I expected. Station names are written in Japanese and English. Important announcements in all trains and subways are also made in English.

Chain hotels can be of great help . If in doubt, ask for help at a large hotel where they probably speak English. When I first arrived, I visited Shangi-La (Tokyo) to get help finding my hostel. I had a backpacker, but still this upscale hotel treated me very well. They wrote the coordinates of my hotel on a card in Japanese, then called me a cab.

Missing your pet? If you miss your pet or just want some quiet time, try a cat cafe. There are also owl cafes (with real owls on hand) and dog cafes. Pay about 1,300 yenhour for a drink while having the pleasure of sitting with the animals.

Traveling in Japan: how to get around by train and subway?

Traveling in Japan with enough English on the signs requires patience. Here’s what you need to know.

From the airport to the city of Tokyo


If you’re going to Japan for two weeks, divide it up roughly equally between Tokyo and Kyoto: from there it’s convenient to leave for the day and go to other cities.

Public transportation . You have two options for public transportation from Haneda Airport. The monorail connects to the subway system, taking you anywhere in the city. The Keikyu line leads to downtown Tokyo. Get off at the Takaracho station and you will be next to the Imano Tokyo Ginza hostel, where I stayed. Take the bus to Tokyo Station as well as other points. Upon arrival, there is a very obvious bus ticket office on the left. You can buy a ticket to Tokyo Station for 1000 yen (12 Canadian dollars).

Cab . There are cabs, but they are expensive. It seemed to me that in Tokyo or Kyoto a 20 minute cab ride costs about 2,000 yen. You can use Google maps to estimate the length of the trip. Make sure your destination is written in Japanese on a piece of paper, as drivers will not necessarily speak English or read Western letters.

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Traveling by railroad in Japan

Before traveling, buy a voucher for JR Rail Pass. A rule of thumb – if you go for more than one train ride, it’s worth it. Exchange your voucher for a JR Rail Pass. Go to the ticket office at the train station. There will be a wicket specifically for your JR voucher to turn into a train pass.

Get a train ticket . Once you have your pass, you need to go to the regular gate to get your train ticket.

Note. If taking the train from Tokyo to Kyoto, ask to sit on the right side of the train to see Mount Fuji. The left side is in the opposite direction.

Plan ahead . When you arrive at your destination, visit the ticket office for your next train ticket to get your reserved seat, while making sure you don’t miss out on the trip, especially if it’s a busy day. This is important on weekends.

Information about your ticket . Your ticket shows your train number, car number, and seat number.

Match your ticket to the platform . Find the platform for your train number by looking at the digital signs or asking an agent, of which there are many. Remember that the next train to your platform may not be your train. Look for electronic signs with the next train number so you know when your train will arrive. When the next train arrives, look for where you should stand on the platform to know your train number. They also have signs indicating where your car number will stop along the platform. Wait at the entrance for your car number. When it arrives, go in, you will easily find your seat.

Listen for announcements . The announcements on the train are also in English, so you don’t have to worry about missing your stop. They also tell you which side of the train you will get off.

Smoking is allowed in designated areas . Some Shinkansen train cars have smoking rooms and food carts. Not all regional trains have them either.

Your JR Pass, a city trip . There are times when you transfer to a JR train to get to your destination outside the city. You can usually use your JR Pass to do this, and save on subway costs in the process.

Subway – Subway.

Here are the ticket options in Tokyo.

Transportation Card . You can get a pass in almost any city. The ICOCA card for Kyoto costs 2000 yen or about 12 Canadian dollars / 10 U.S. dollars. You can buy it at a ticket machine. 500 yen is a deposit on the card, which you can get back at the kiosk along with any balance before you leave town. My research shows that you can use it in Tokyo, but you cannot cash the card in that city.

A day passes . Depending on your plans, a 24-hour day pass might be a good idea. In Tokyo, be careful, there are two subway companies. A day pass for the Tokyo subway costs 600 yen. For the Tokyo and Toei subway, the price is 900 yen.

Pay per ride . Buy a ticket at each station depending on your destination. The farther you go, the more you will pay.

Ticket machines offer English language. There is a button in the upper right corner of the display that translates the information into English. There is a picture of the subway near the ticket machines. Find the destination station, the price of the ticket will be marked with a circle. Buy a ticket for that amount.

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Using the transport card . As you pay for the trip depending on the distance, you need to press at the starting point and exit when you exit the subway. The balance on your card will be displayed each time you press.

Accommodations for individual travelers: Japanese ryokan and hostels

Naturally, all the major hotel chains in the world are present in Japan. However, there are many other lodging options that are worth it.

Ryokan . In Takayama, I stayed at the Hodakaso Yamano lori Ryokan. It was spotlessly clean, although the carpeting was a bit tired. Apparently this is not uncommon. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese hotel or guest house that doesn’t have many amenities, although the Hodakaso has a public bathhouse. It’s about 150 Canadian dollars a night. As described on the Japanese Guest Houses website, here’s what a typical ryokan room includes:

  • “agari-kamachi” (by opening the door, guests enter this small area and remove their shoes);
  • “shoji” (sliding paper doors) separating the agari-kamachi from the room;
  • Flooring “tatami” (cane flooring);
  • Low wooden tables;
  • “zabuton” (seating cushions);
  • “futon” (blankets for sleeping);
  • “tokonoma” (a decorative niche built into the wall, used to house flower vases, scrolls);
  • oshiire (closet for futon blankets);
  • “engawa” (a glazed seating area separated from the shoji room).

Dorms . I also stayed in two hostels, Hostel Niniroom (Kyoto) and Imano Tokyo Ginza Hostel (Tokyo). Both were less than six months old, which I chose at random. Both were beautifully designed with very private bunks with tight curtains. Security is fine as codes are required to enter the rooms. The cost in each case was about 50 Canadian dollars. I was very pleased with my choice. Great value for money!

Tips on how and what to eat in Japan

I expected to love Japanese food, but found that food was a problem for me. First of all, I eat fish but not meat, even though I am vegan, the Japanese eat a lot of meat. If you eat meat, especially beef, go to heaven.

Sushi is available . I expected to eat so much great sushi, but I only ate it twice. It was great, but sushi restaurants are not everywhere like I expected.

Imagine your own food . Pictures are available outside of restaurants and on menus, so unless you have food allergies or preferences such as vegetarianism, they are easy to pick and order.

Buddha Bowls . There are often restaurants that serve rice plates with any variety of vegetables and proteins on top, whether it’s meat, seafood or tofu.

There is a coffee culture . I found cafes everywhere, the coffee wasn’t bad.

Grocery stores . The fruits, vegetables in the stores were unfamiliar to me, big, very bright, often packed in liquid vacuum. It was strange, a little disturbing. Since all the information was written in Japanese, no one could explain anything to me, I found myself paralyzed in the grocery stores. I’m ashamed to say that I once walked out with a small jar of peanut butter and bananas for dinner.

Looking for something special . Like at home, find restaurant reviews online. While eating .

  • You will be provided with a damp towel to wash your hands before eating. Use it, then fold it neatly, leave it next to you.
  • Take food from the serving bowl, add it to your bowl.
  • Sushi is eaten in one bite. Do not use too much soy sauce or wasabi, as this may offend the sushi chef.
  • Hold bowls in one hand and chopsticks in the other.
  • Eating everything on the plate down to the last grain of rice is good manners.
  • When you’re done, return all the dishes to their original state with the lids closed. Place the chopsticks back on the chopstick rack.

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Did you know, for example, that it’s not customary to shake hands in Japan? Well, if you’re a foreigner, no one will scold you. The Japanese are used to shaking hands with travelers. But if you want to pass off as one of your own, you’d better bow when you meet someone and say thank you or apologize. But don’t bow back if you are a customer, such as in a hotel, restaurant, or store.

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