Travelling the world has always been the dream and leisure activity that most of us desire. More often than not, travelling to another country has its share of troubles. Here is a quick but comprehensive guide to Japan travel.
Good time of the year to travel to Japan
Late March or early April for Cherry Blossoms
Seeing Cherry Blossoms has always been a childhood dream for many and definitely one of the bucket lists of every traveler. Cherry Blooms often occur in central Japan and between Kansai and Kanto regions during mid of March or the first week of April. Japan usually celebrates Hanami (a.k.a flower viewing) during this season as the trees start to bloom. Gatherings and street parties are all around the corner, usually, couples enjoy this season so much. Expect peak season rates from hotels down to the local souvenirs and local foods in Japan. Plan your trip ahead to get the best deals and enjoy your stay in Japan during this season.
January and February to experience snow and visit the snow monkeys of Nagano
People who have strong endurance for coldness and are brave enough to feel the cold breeze are the perfect travelers for the winter season in Japan. Thick leather jackets, multiple shirts underneath another shirt, and other clothing material to cover your body is a must during this season. January and February are the coldest months of Japan, an awesome time to visit the monkeys of Nagano. Seeing and feeling the cold breeze of snow is also a rare experience since some countries don’t have it - travelers await this season to check it out of their bucket list. It’s a great time to bond with your family for snowball fights, skiing, checking out temples and castles covered with snow or just making snow angels and sipping a bowl of ramen after. Famous sites are easily accessible due to less traffic so make the most out of it!
Avoid June to mid-July for they are rainy seasons but this might cause flight tickets to become cheaper
Cheap airline tickets and low season hotel rates are what a traveler always looks for and considers before traveling. Budget-friendly trip yet a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Japan looks possible during the months of June to mid-July because it's their rainy season throughout the country. Some take this season as an advantage to see Japan in the cheapest way possible, yet they also get what they paid for. Some famous sites can still be visited with fewer tourists so you can enjoy visiting without crowds. Indoor activities, exploring museums, or going to shopping malls are the best alternative during this season; nevermind the rain because at least you’re still in Japan! Expect that you’ll end up soaking wet while walking down the busy streets of Japan even if you just want to grab some food to eat. Explore the beauty of the rainy season and don’t let it bother you, Japan has a lot to offer, just be optimistic!
Coincide with international events held in Japan like the 2020 Olympics
The 2020 Olympics is scheduled to be held from July 24 to August 9, 2020, but due to the Covid-19 virus, Olympics 2020 in Japan will be celebrated from 23 July to 8 August the following year. The International Summer Olympic Sports Federations and the National Olympic Committees decided to postpone until 2021, a fair solution that was reached with the International Olympic Committee.
Recommended locations to travel in Japan
Not just mountain climbers are attracted to this beautiful symmetrical mountain but also simple travelers who just want to witness this famous landmark of Japan. This mountain towers at 3,776 meters making it really visible for Instagram worthy pictures. Before climbing the mountain, you need to know that the best time to go is early July through the middle of September. You must prepare yourself physically because the hike might take 3-8 hours going up and 2-5 hours when going down depending on your pace. Tourists are determined to climb as an act of pilgrimage, which culminates in watching the sunrise from its summit. But of course, if you don't have that adventure seeker vibe, you can just see the beautiful mountain from afar.
Japanese architecture is incomparable and can be seen from different castles built across Japan, one of which is the Himeji Castle located in the town of Himeji in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan. The castle is a maze-like arrangement fortified in 1333 CE with walls, towers, and gates to defend and confuse enemies and because of that, the castle through time has never been attacked. It’s the pure white facade and the design of lifting pagoda roofs has given Himeji Castle the nickname “The White Egret Castle” (Shirasagijo). Great place to exercise your camera and take pictures acting like ancient people of power!
Another pride of Japan, is the famous Osaka Castle, a historical landmark that was built by the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi who ruled over Japan at that time. It has an observation deck that peaks from 50 meters above the ground where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Osaka Castle. The castle museum caters to the historical materials, dioramas, and artifacts that make you travel back to those times. This place is beautiful, but during the tourist season, it is always packed. It is an interesting place to visit with history and culture that is always well maintained through time.
One of the national treasures that are located in Nara is the Todaji Temple also known as the Great East Temple, an eighth-century temple that is famous for its huge bronze statue of Buddha (Daibutsu) inside the largest wooden building in the world. The temple is surrounded by beautiful scenery and a garden perfect for meditation as you worship and pray. It preserves many precious cultural treasures from the past that every generation must see.
Experience the anime culture in Akihabara
Are you an anime lover, manga addict, or just an avid fan of fictional characters? If so, Akihabara is the perfect place for you to go here in Japan! It caters shopping buildings focusing on anime-related products such as replicas of weapons, that can be found in various anime and games and various exhibitions related to manga and anime. Diehard fans and anime beginners often put this in their itinerary upon going to Japan. Dreams of many anime lovers came true here and built a unique community that can exist in reality.
Japanese hot springs or Onsen
A great way to sit back and relax after a long trip is the ultimate Japanese experience, a hot spring, or "Onsen." Hakone and Beppu are areas that are well-known when it comes to an onsen, but you can enjoy onsen in Tokyo as well. Unwinding at hot-springs and delicious foods await you when you visit places in these areas. Every onsen place has a variety of baths, from natural springs to hot springs that have different facilities that can satisfy their customers. Expect that the prices of each onsen place may vary depending on the services you desire.
Disneyland and DisneySea
Japan's experience wouldn’t be complete if you did not visit their famous theme parks, Disneyland and DisneySea. It caters to different attractions, not just perfect for children, but definitely also for those that are children at heart. Just outside Tokyo lies the almost 300-acre Tokyo Disney Resort in Chiba Prefecture. Most of DisneySea’s shows have, naturally, a nautical theme while in Disneyland it has a condensed version of the films with the same enchanting musical numbers. Whether you choose Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea, you’re guaranteed a magical time at “the Happiest Place on Earth”!
Tips and other things to note of when traveling to Japan
Prepare appropriate clothing like winter coats or cool summer apparel depending on the time of travel
Japan has 4 distinct seasons but the weather varies depending on the area you’re going.
During the winter season, layering is the key. Choose clothes that are not just comfortable but also can keep your body temperature warm. Try to wear some pair of leggings and cotton undershirts and 1 heavy coat or leather jacket for this season. You can also add some beanies and gloves for extra comfort.
During summer, choose clothes that are flowy, lightweight, and breezy clothes that keep things nice and cool without exposing too much skin. Japanese are generally conservative and conscious about the impressions of other people.
Generally, prepare clothes that are comfortable yet appropriate during your visit. Research first on the weather before going to any place, be updated. Your activities may vary also so choose proper clothes accordingly, pack smartly to avoid taking anything you don’t need or forgetting anything you need to do!
Make a travel path to follow to truly maximize your visit
Planning your trip ahead, making an itinerary and allocating proper budget for your travel is the key to maximize your visit to any tourist destination not only in Japan. Research on the local transportation that can help you get cheaper rates and put it along with your itinerary. Walking is common in Japan, so expect to walk a lot. Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes. Choose a famous destination ahead that suits your interest and also your budget. Try asking the locals for directions and don’t forget to bring your common sense and respect.
Contact a friend or relative living in Japan or hire a local guide
Depending on your privileges, some travelers have relatives or friends as their tour guide during their visit in Japan, this gives them easy access to the tourist spots free of charge. But some travelers prefer hiring a local guide, because it’s hard traveling abroad to a country with a completely different language and it is difficult to communicate with locals. Some avail a tour package from a travel agency if their budget permits, who prepare a special tour according to your desire that allows you travel not just on your own. Either way it’s not a bad idea, it’s better than getting lost.
Experience the local cuisine and culture
Japanese cuisine is one of the most passionate and unique food cultures today. Food has become one of the reasons why people travel, not just for its tourist destinations. Japan has a diverse range of food that every season also has different specialties, which makes each dining experience different in Japan. Learn the local customs when it comes to food and feel free to be a local also!
Make your own plans to visit nearby tourist spots you might come across
One of the reasons why some travelers don’t avail travel packages from travel agencies is that they want to have their own time with no call time to wake up early and get up to go to the designated tourist destination. Do-it-yourself travel is the new trend nowadays, being able to have your own itinerary, spontaneous trip and just go with the flow but of course limiting your budget. To maximize your time it is advisable to travel to an area with different tourist spots nearby, you will also spend less in terms of transportation expense.
Japan has a lot to offer, beautiful sceneries can be seen anywhere you go regardless of its location even if it's not a famous destination. Pleasant vibes and unforgettable adventures can be experienced here. Since Japan has distinctive seasons, choose wisely whenever you want to visit it. Any of the seasons definitely will give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Don’t forget to be fashionable when traveling to Japan and take instagram worthy pictures to every place you visit. Food definitely comes with it, explore not just the tourist spots but also the local cuisine of Japan, forget about your diet and just make the most out of it! Always remember to have fun and get along with the locals too!
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