Budget Travel Tips for Japan

Surviving Japan. Is it possible to make it out of Japan with your wallet?

As I mentioned in my Tokyo on a Budget post, it seems that travel costs are more related to individual travel style , how much you want to spend and where you want to splurge.

It depends on your travel style and your preferences

I tried to envision friends’ travel styles against mine. Firstly, I travel mostly for sightseeing and photography. I explore places a lot on foot and prefer slow travel to fast.  In many ways, my travel style is deterrent of a lot of eating, partying and shopping expenses (the top four budget killers) and I often like my experiences to be as close to “the street” or as local as possible.

How can Japan be traveled in under $50/day? 

Let me tell you a secret… you could do it for far less and still have fun.    Compared to Southeast Asia, it’s expensive, but next to European or U.S. prices, it felt comparable.  In my post about getting around Tokyo cheap, I quote the average of $30/day if you had to shrink-wrap your spending.  Of all the cities, Tokyo felt like my biggest challenge, but the budget options were there.

Like anything,  admission-charged sights (Tokyo Cheapo lists 101 freebie things to do), nicer restaurants and buying stuff from souvenir shops are all add-on expenses that will quickly add up. You’ll also pay a higher price for convenience and speed, like if you want to take express trains vs. local (I’m talking about Tokyo mostly).

japanese rickshaw, tokyo attractions

Budget Travel in Japan: Taking a rickshaw to sightsee Tokyo probably isn’t going to be cheap.

But if you take your sightseeing at a slower pace, eat on the streets or away from touristy areas and check out 100 yen shops, traveling doesn’t have to be wallet rape, but a creative adventure that results in discovering Japan’s more unique and local budget crawls.

 The biggest expense for traveling Japan will be transportation. Budget accommodations are easily found, but transportation, you can’t skirt. This is where it costed me the most.


Budget Travel Tips for Japan: Top 4 Budget Killers


Budget Accommodations in Japan

Budget accommodations range from standard to “interesting”.  It’s the difference of going from $100-$200/night hotel to $40/night business hotel or hostel to a $15/night manga cafe.

A hotel is a hotel, a hostel is a hostel. You’ll experience more of the local culture by stepping outside of that ring and looking at the more unique flavors, like ryokans, capsule hotels, love motels, minshukus (aka locally-run guesthouses), temple stays, Air BnB’s, manga kissatens… even an overnight bus!  I haven’t tried couchsurfing but Wandering Soul has done a bit of it here.

People think that staying with a friend is cheap or free. Not the case in Japan unless you’re a freeloading friend, as it’s Japanese-style to bring gifts if you’re visiting a home. I stayed with a friend and brought pre and post gifts and as she also lived outside of Tokyo, that bill racked up!  Here’s Japan Guide’s breakdown of budget accommodations in Japan.  

manga cafe popeye, tokyo cubicle manga cafe, media cafe popeye fukuoka, manga community in Japan

Budget Travel in Japan:  Sleeping at a manga cafe isn’t so bad if you find the right one


Budget Souvenirs  and shopping

Shop at the 100 yen stores.

Did you know they sell Evian water for a $1.00 in Japan? At least they do at the 100 yen stores.

100 yen shops are Japan’s equivalent to $1.00 stores and they’re stocked with a variety of stuff anywhere from household to toiletries, beauty products and gadgetry. It’s not only cheap trinkets but there’s a lot of cool stuff  that in the U.S. might cost me more with export tax. They even sell drinks, food and snacks, so you could even stock up on food products, that you could easily cook up in a hostel kitchen.

You can find a lot at 100 Yen stores. Daiso is a well-known one but there are many others, as well. This was 3 floors.100 yen stores japan, 100 yen stores tokyo harajuku, dollar stores in japan, daiso one dollar stores


Budget Transportation in Japan

Transportation is the unavoidable cost. From city to city, prefecture to prefecture… you will be charged for your distance.  Going from city to city, your budget is guaranteed to pass the $50/day mark.  But with planning and research, there are loopholes.

For long distance travel, your options are:

Cheap Flights

In Japan, there are times air travel is cheaper than land.  Jetstar is one of Japan’s low cost carriers. The prices they quote are surprisingly low if you don’t add-on extras like seat reservations, baggage check-in, etc…  My two-hour flight from Fukuoka to Tokyo  cost me $60 , but ultimately turned out to $80, because of my add-ons.

Tip: Reduce your luggage to a carry-on and you can save money. But remember, if you have liquids in your bag, that’s an automatic check-in.  Ultimately, a smaller luggage bag will also help you get around Japan a lot easier, like on the metro during peak time.

JR Railway

Many travelers opt for this if their itinerary is crunched with cities. Passes are sold at 7 day, 14 day and 21 day categories, includes all trains (shinkasen, express, local, etc..) and a few highway buses .  It starts at 28,000 yen and you must pre-purchase your passes in advance. Also big note: you can only buy these passes outside of Japan.  In this sense, you must plan ahead.

While the pass offers tourists a big discount on travel, if you only have a few cities to visit, it may be more cost-efficient  to book point-to-point travel.

Highway and Overnight buses

This was my preferred option. I only had 3 main cities to get to (Tokyo – Kyoto | Osaka – Fukuoka).

Highway and overnight buses cut efficiency into my sightseeing time and cut down my hotel expenses by allowing me to travel, while I sleep. Schedule your departures around 10pm-12am (when the city and subways close down).

I used Willer Express . It offers anything from a cramped economy seat to a luxury recliner with your own personal entertainment system. If you book in advance, you may get a discounted rate or an upgraded seat from economy.  See the Japan Tourism website for more information.  A Tokyo to Kyoto overnight trip cost me $60 USD (a savings of $40-75 off the JR/Shinkasen trains ).  Travel time was 7 hours and I arrived at 7am.

Fortunately, I was booked at a guesthouse (A-yado Gion Guesthouse), which conveniently allowed check-ins at 7am.

Note: Not all buses have luggage storage under the bus. If you’re planning to go this route, it’s best to pack as light as possible.

Bus and Subways

Japan offers good discounts for tourists such as  one to three-day unlimited transportation cards, where you can either use the bus, train, both or on exception. Check it out with the tourism offices as soon as you land. Each city may have different deals depending on their tourism industry.

If you’re coming in through Haneda or Tokyo, you can only pick  up a Tokyo metro ticket (photo below) from the airports, not in the city.

Some cities in Japan sell tourist day passes, which offer unlimited rides on buses, subways, and sometimes even JR trains.


Budget Dining in Japan :

Japan has really delicious food. You’ll want to go crazy trying things if you’re not careful. Just walking past the market on the way to the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, I was wanting to try everything. All the rice cracker senbei snacks, mochi, you name it, were being cooked up before my eyes for 100 or 200 yen per pop.  It can appear cheap until you add it up and realize you spent it all on snack time.

Eating Street -style

Y0u can easily find onegiri (aka rice balls) on the street  for 100 yen, visit yatais or street food tents to slurp noodles or buy cheap food from 7 -11’s.

Restaurants away from touristy areas might get you a bowl of piping hot ramen for around 400-500 yen as well as,  vending machine restaurants (photo below or a better one here). Food in Japan is generally tasty…even if it’s fast food.

fast food japan, vending machine restaurants

Grocery stores and basement level of department stores.

Food is prepared fresh daily in Japan. Even in the supermarkets and thus, they want to sell as much of their bento plates and pre-cooked foods by the end of the day. Thus, there are discounts.  Sushi plates, salads, tempura… all fresh and delicious Japanese food.

Tip: After 8-9pm grocery stores do a mark down on foods in the take out section.

how to eat cheap in japan, japan on a budget, grocery stores discount food in japanBudget Travel Tips for Japan on Dining on the Cheap

Cook at your hostel.

The first night I arrived in Tokyo I stayed at a hostel and you would not believe how many travelers cook and bring their own food (just look at my photo of the hostel refrigerator below). But it’s definitely an option if you’re really cutting corners.

hostel refrigerator

Japan Travel Tips: Packing for Japan

In our Japan Travel Tips series, we share quick and useful information to help you get the most out of your trip to Japan.

One of the most common questions we get from travelers is about how to pack for a trip to Japan. So we’ve put together a list of our Top 7 Tips on Packing for a Trip to Japan.

Top 7 Tips on Packing for a Trip to Japan

kayotei ryokan yamanaka onsen japan

Geta at a traditional ryokan

For even more on packing, check out our travel essentials checklist, including recommended books, gadgets, travel bags and more.

1. Bring shoes that slip on and off easily

No, you don’t need to wear wooden clogs. But unless you enjoy untying and lacing your shoes every few minutes, it’s wise to bring shoes that slip on and off easily.

Many places in Japan – including ryokans (traditional inns), temples, and many izakayas and restaurants – require you to remove your shoes before entering.

As a rule of thumb, if you see tatami mats, you’ll need to take off your shoes.

Tatami mats at a ryokan in Japan

Tatami mats at a ryokan

2. Pack as lightly as possible

Packing light is a useful skill for travel to any country, but in the case of Japan it is especially worth noting.

Navigating Japan is much easier when you travel light.

Most travelers in Japan rely heavily on Japan’s comprehensive and easy-to-use railway networks, but unfortunately Japanese trains and train stations do not cater to travelers with a lot of luggage.

What do we define as “a lot of luggage”? Anything more than a small rolling suitcase (airplane carry-on size) and a backpack or duffel.

bag luggage travel essentials for japan

Japanese train stations themselves are often crowded, and to make matters worse they often don’t have as many elevators or escalators as you might wish, particularly in rural areas.

Japanese shinkansen (bullet trains) typically have a small dedicated area for suitcases, but space is at a premium.

Fortunately, on most shinkansen the overhead compartment is fairly spacious, and perfect for a small carry-on sized suitcase.

Other trains in Japan – especially small local trains and urban subways or trams – typically have much more limited space, and not all have any overhead compartment at all.

For all of these reasons, we recommend traveling either with a small rolling suitcase or backpack, if at all possible.

shinkansen bullet train Mount Fuji Japan

Not willing or able to pack light?

You’re in luck.

Japan has a wonderful luggage-forwarding service that will make traveling through Japan a breeze, even with loads of luggage…

3. Use Takuhaibin, Japan’s incredible luggage-forwarding system

We know not everyone can or wants to pack light.

Fortunately for you heavy packers, takuhaibin – Japan’s incredible luggage-forwarding system – means you don’t necessarily have to.

Takuhaibin (also known as takkyubin) is a fast, reasonable and reliable service that allows you to easily and efficiently send suitcases from hotel to hotel.

While in some instances same-day forwarding is possible, delivery between most destinations within Japan takes about a day, so at times you may need to spend a night or more without your main luggage.

Map of Japan

Map of Japan

In cases like this we typically recommend traveling with just a small overnight duffel or backpack.

If you’re going to a country ryokan, you won’t need much anyway. While staying at a ryokan you’ll probably spend most of your time in yukata (Japanese-style robe).

Even though some people don’t want to part with their main suitcase, it can certainly be worthwhile – especially when traveling to remote locations for a day or two.

Not only can traveling in rural Japan be a hassle with a large suitcase, it can also be very freeing to travel light while exploring Japan’s countryside.

Kiso Valley Magome Nakasendo trail Nakatsugawa Gifu Japan

Read one man’s account of how he used takuhaibin while cycling around remote Japan.

How to use takuhaibin?

Using takuhaibin is easy and the front desk at almost any hotel or ryokan can make the arrangements for you.

Make sure to let them know a day or two in advance. This way they can easily make the arrangements for you with enough advance notice.

The price will depend on factors such as luggage size, but expect to pay in the vicinity of US $20 per suitcase per way (this can vary depending on several factors, including the exchange rate).

japanese yen 10000 yen bill

If for any reason your accommodations cannot assist you with the arrangements, as is often the case at very budget-oriented properties, local convenience stores can usually assist.

While takuhaibin is a fantastic service – and very reliable, as most Japanese services are – please make sure to use it at your own risk.

4. Style & Fashion: How to Dress

You don’t need to go out and buy a new wardrobe for your trip to Japan. In fact, we recommend the opposite.

If anything, leave space in your luggage so you can go shopping here in Japan, where you will find some of the most unique and best-quality fashions in the world.

Tokyo is renowned as a shopper’s paradise, but you’ll find great cutting-edge and vintage styles throughout the country, particularly in other cultural centers such as Kyoto and Osaka, and even in smaller towns like Onomichi.

packing style boutique japan

In major cities, the level of dress is similar to that in other major cities of the world.

You don’t necessarily need to dress up for every occasion – and casual clothing is fine for urban exploration or rural hikes – but you’ll want to wear something nice if you plan on any fine dining or other sophisticated outings.

At elegant traditional Japanese restaurants there is usually no specific dress code (for example, jackets or ties are typically not required), other than very common-sense regulations such as no hats, flip flops, shorts, etc.

As long as you make the effort you should not have a problem, and it is definitely fine to ask if you are not sure.

geisha geiko maiko kyoto japan

Kimono not required

5. Packing for the Weather: Seasons in Japan

Japan is famous for the beauty of its four very distinct seasons, and it is essential to pack accordingly.

For a closer look at each season’s weather, look at month-by-month temperatures in Japan or see our article, When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Japan?.

Since each year is slightly different, make sure to check the weather forecast a couple of weeks before your trip.

If you’re traveling to various parts of Japan, it’s worth checking the forecast for each place, as weather can vary drastically between different parts of the country.

Snow monkeys in onsen in winter Jigokudani Nagano Japan

6. Other Items for your Trip to Japan

Here are a few other things you may want to consider bringing with you to Japan:

  • Small gifts from home: Small local gifts are wonderful for giving to guides and other people you meet along the way. Tipping is not common in Japan, but thoughtful gifts are always appreciated. Gifts representative of your local region or country are especially loved, e.g., a famous local product or local artisanal product.
  • Pocket Wi-Fi Device: If you rely on connecting to the Internet at least once or twice a day (or more), we highly recommend renting a pocket Wi-Fi device (see our article on Wi-Fi and staying connected in Japan).
  • Japan Rail Pass exchange voucher: The Japan Rail Pass isn’t perfect for every traveler, but if it’s right for you make sure to order it in advance.
  • Hand sanitizer: As wonderfully clean as Japan is, public restrooms – despite usually being spotless – often lack hand soap.
  • Travel Adapter: Most of Japan’s electrical outlets are 2-pronged “Type A” (100 Volt, 50-60 Hz), so if you have a device with a 3-pronged plug you may need an adapter. Thus it is not absolutely essential for everyone, but read here for more about electricity in Japan.

mobile phone cell phone iphone boutique japan

7. Leave Space for Gifts & Other Purchases

Even for people who typically hate shopping, Japan offers an incredible variety of unique modern and traditional goods that may prove difficult to resist.

From traditional crafts to futuristic gadgets – and clothing you won’t find anywhere else in the world – the offerings are such that we always recommend leaving some extra space in your luggage.

Even if you don’t enjoy shopping for yourself, you’ll find innovative and high-quality gifts for friends and family back home.

boutique japan sushi camera

We hope you’ve found our tips on luggage and how to pack for a trip to Japan helpful!

Top Japan Travel Tips

I imagine most of you are here because you have an interest in travelling to Japan. Admittedly, it’s the very reason we started this Japan travel website in the first place.

Travelling to Japan can be an exciting as well as intimidating experience. There are few places where you’ll feel more like a foreigner than when visiting Japan. So here are some of our top Japan travel tips that will make your visit a smashing success!

1. Cash is King

Japan travel tips

Photo by 7D-Kenny on Flickr

Forget about the travelers checks and you can probably leave your credit card in your wallet; in Japan – cash is king.

This means having an adequate amount of cash with you when you travel in Japan. And since Japan is a extremely safe place (see our article on safety tips for travelling in Japan), carrying a lot of cash will seldom be a problem.

We recommend using your debit card at one of the postal offices or any of the abundant 7-11 stores. It seems like there is 7-11 store on every corner, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one. Be sure to take out enough cash to last you a few days. I’ve found taking out around $500 worth of yen will get you enough spending cash without having to constantly pay banking transaction fees.

Remember, carrying $500 around way seem risky in North American or Europe, but this is Japan – you’ll be fine.

2. Learn the language

Japan travel tips

Photo by colodio on Flickr

We’re not saying that you have to be fluent, but we really recommend either buying a Japanese phrase book (Lonely Planet and Berlitz are my favorites) or learning some basic Japanese phrases. You’ll likely find yourself needing to use Japanese a least a few times when you’re traveling.

Check out our basic Japanese language lessons on how to say things like – sorry, goodbye, how to ask for directions, how to ask how much something costs and how to say thank you.

Trust us, it will make your travel experience much more interesting.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new things

Japanese Izakaya

Photo by JanneM on Flickr

Take a day and leave the guide book in the hotel room. Part of experiencing Japan is trying new and different things.

The first time we visited Japan we were nervous about entering Japanese businesses and restaurants. But then we realized how many great places we were missing out on by just sticking to the safe guidebook recommendations.

Get out there and get brave. Who cares if you make a bit of a fool of yourself. I’ve entered restaurants that were not open for business, places without a scrap of English anywhere and held long conversations with old ladies at the pharmacy (I don’t think any of us really knew what each other was saying) – they were all great experiences that I would have missed if I only stayed in my safety zone.

4. Know where you’re going

Japan map

Photo by sinkdd on Flickr

Face it, you’re going to get lost in Japan. But unless you love the feeling of not having a clue where you are, getting constantly lost is rarely fun.

We highly recommend researching where you want to go and how you want to get there before you head out the door. Take some time to get familiar with the subway or trains you’re going to take, the exit closest to your destination and the direction you want to head in. Doing this will cut down on the need to ask directions or wander the streets of Japan aimlessly.

Japanese maps are notoriously hard to figure out. While some maps will have the world standard design of North pointing up, the next map you encounter may decide that West pointing up is much more fun. I’ve often used Google Street View to map out a location and fix certain landmarks or buildings in my mind so when I hit the streets I have a better idea of what I’m looking for and which direction I want to go in.

5. The JR Pass

JR Pass Japan Travel Tips

Photo by fletcherjcm on Flickr

Almost every travel guide will tell you to get the JR Pass for Japan (it allows unlimited travel on JR trains during a set period). And while we don’t want to outright disagree, sometimes you’re better off without the pass.

If you’re planning on doing a lot of travel in Japan, then by all means pay for the pass. But if you’re staying within a certain area, then a pass may not be worth the money.

For example, when we first went to Japan, other than a trip up north to Takayama, we stayed pretty much in the Kansai area. We were able to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Hemiji using local trains at a rate much cheaper than if we paid for the JR Pass. We tested this out on our last trip by purchasing a local rapid train ticket from Kyoto to Osaka and a shinkansen (bullet train) ticket using a JR Pass. The local train cost us around $6.00 while the shinkansen would have cost us around $30. We ended up actually getting to our destination quicker with the the cheaper local ticket.

So think twice about the JR Pass. Train service in areas that are close together are relatively inexpensive.

Japan: readers’ tips, recommendations and travel advice

Japan: readers' tips, recommendations and travel adviceThis week’s winning review

Mad, big and beautiful

Fancy a city break? Then head for Tokyo, the biggest, safest and maddest city on the planet. Arm yourself with a guide book, a subway map and a prepaid train card from a station and off you go. Tokyo has no real city centre but is made up of many districts, each with their own distinctive attractions.

If you want high fashion then it’s Ginza and Aoyoma. If you want to see how the youth dress then it’s Harajuku, particularly on a Saturday when young girls pose in costume – this can be combined with the nearby Yoyogi Park (especially in cherry blossom time) and the Meiji-Jingu Shrine. If you want nightlife then it’s off to Shibuya or Shinjuku (a word of warning – Shinjuku Station is the largest in the world with many exits – one false move and never to be seen again).

Food: everything from Michelin star to Izakaya (pubs) to ramen houses (cheap noodles, just remember it’s polite to slurp).

If you fancy a day away from the neon, catch the train to Kamakura where you find a lovely country setting with many shrines and the Big Buddha to visit.

Best time to visit is either spring or autumn. Avoid summer (too hot and humid) and Christmas when Tokyo closes for a week. Japan is still very much a cash society so back up your credit card with lots of yen.

  • Liz Berry, from Warwicks, wins £400 worth of accommodation with spain-holiday.com

Rail’s the thing

Travel independently – public transport is surprisingly easy and a Japan Rail Pass is very good value. In Kyoto, Wakjapan (wakjapan.com) can organise a range of cultural experiences.

Walk the Old Post route from Magome to Tsumago in the Kiso Valley. It’s an easy stroll. We stayed in a traditional guesthouse. You only need to carry a small rucksack as luggage can be sent on using Takkyubin delivery service – efficiently and at reasonable cost.

The Japanese do not expect tips but would really appreciate small gifts, beautifully wrapped. They like Earl Grey tea, which is light and easy to bring from Britain.

  • Janet Conradi, Bucks

Count on experience

I would suggest you stay in some of the less popular/touristy cities. Locals are invariably very helpful, perhaps responding to the fact that you have made the effort. Try Kanazawa for crafts and the castle, where we enjoyed a first-class tour from a voluntary English-speaking guide; Sendai, where the service in the old-style department stores was superb; Hakate, where the city was excellent for just strolling around. With the rail system all are easily accessible and you have a chance to see the countryside. Being taught to count in Japanese by a three-year-old on the train just put to shame my lack of Japanese. As for the lavatories – mechanisation taken to a new level. A visit to Japan is not a holiday, it’s an experience.

  • David Steele, by email

Off the beaten track

Away from tourist trails, I would recommend a trip to Okayama for the temple and Kurashiki for the traditional canal-side museums and craft sellers making unique wood, leather garments and stone ornaments in the traditional way.

Hiroshima is fascinating for its history, museums and, surprisingly, the warm welcome of the Japanese who you join there. Ringing the Peace bell gave me, as an Englishman, great joy that all seems to be forgiven for one of the most terrible acts of the Second World War.

Yokahama has a modern feel but traditional boat trips around Tokyo bay, can be made without pre-planning and the vast array of different restaurants enlivens the visit in any season.


Beware of school exam times when visiting the major cities as budget accommodation is impossible to book.

Visits to Tokyo Motor show or Disneyland Tokyo can be rewarding experiences for the well travelled as they are so different from those in Europe.

  • Roger Lea, by email

Sure about sushi

The range of foods and eateries is vast. The best “at a glance” book for the what’s and how’s plus dos and don’ts is Squeamish about Sushi by Betty Reynolds (published by Tuttle) – an illustrated guide to the pleasures and pitfalls of dining in Japan.

  • Jeanette Davidson, Edinburgh

Garden guide

I visited Japan with the Japanese Garden Society (jgs.org.uk) in 2010 and we stayed in two centres, Kyoto and Okayama. A day-trip by train from Okayama took us to Matsue, where we hired taxis to Yuushien Garden. It consists of a wonderful stroll garden, peony nursery and restaurant. There are waterfalls, ponds, moss garden, teahouse and beautiful planting.

After two hours we returned to Matsue and took a short train journey to Yasugi Station from where a courtesy bus took us to the Adachi Museum. Adachi Kenzo, a wealthy businessman, built up a fabulous collection of Japanese artworks and ceramics, then had a museum built with a surrounding garden in his home town to showcase his collection.

The gardens are breathtakingly beautiful and artistic perfection in all seasons. From Okayama we also visited the Peace Park at Hiroshima and the Torii gates of Miyajima, and many more gardens.

  • Alison Blake, Cumbria

A matter of etiquette

The Japanese are a gentle and courteous people. When presenting and receiving a business card (Meiji) hold it with two hands gripped between thumb and forefinger at the corners, give a slight waist bow when presenting. When receiving, again, hold in the same bow, and study the giver’s card with reverence, taking time to study it, even the Japanese language (usually the reverse will be in English). Sometimes, draw a slight breath in between clenched teeth.

Never, never, scratch yourself, bend or fiddle with the giver’s card. Do not use a handkerchief to blow your nose in public. Japanese men keep a folded hankie in their pockets to use when dabbing or drying their hands after a bathroom break.

There is no tipping in Japan, even in taxis. Allow the driver to open and close the nearside rear door when entering and exiting (This is done via a mechanical lever near the drivers thigh). Enjoy, it is a wonderful, busy country, exciting and traditional.

  • Geoff Rawes, Gwynedd

Sake warning

My son’s wedding in Tokyo was a full-blown traditional Japanese affair, with lots of music, dance and poetry. At one stage, the sake was introduced, served in small saucers to be held between finger and thumb. I must have dipped my thumb, then wiped my eye, for the next thing I knew was that my left eye was scalded and streaming – the right eye stayed normal.

There is, as I discovered, more to sake than meets the eye – it comes hot or cold, still or sparkling, sweet or dry. The best place to experiment is the Sake Plaza, where you can read all about it, and taste through the range. For 525 yen (about £3.40), you can choose five different variations, each presented in a tiny cardboard cup.

  • Arthur Taylor, by email

Temple time

If arriving at Narita Airport, try de-jetlagging in Narita itself by visiting a temple in the Japanese gardens. Once the stresses of modern Tokyo begin to tell, head to Nikko, a short train ride away. Here there are elaborate five-storey pagodas and shrines scattered through beautiful gardens and the tranquil imperial villa with contrasting low-key domestic architecture. In Osaka, the old capital Nara has a temple complex where locals feed wandering deer.

Winter highlights include ski resorts in Hokkaido but more easily reached is the Olympic area Nagano. Here day trips, including passes, can be booked in the railway station information centre. A winter side trip can be made to nearby Yudanaka, where the host at the Uotoshi Ryokan spoke English, and presented a breakfast of dreams: 12 different beautiful and delicious dishes. Close by, after a short forest walk, you can watch snow macaque monkeys disport in the hot spring.

  • Pete Coultas, Yorkshire

Speak like a local

Study a map to decide your route and overnight stays. Use hyperdia.com to plan your rail journeys; it gives all the times, platform and the train’s number. With a J R Rail Pass, free reserved seats are bookable up to 15 minutes before departure and J R buses are free.

Japanese people are polite and a few words make a difference; sumimasen for apologies or excuse me: konnichiwa, a daily greeting, works wonders, and remember, ichi, ni, san is 1,2,3!

Use noodle bars for lunch: about £5. ATMs are available at main post offices. There is virtually no tipping anywhere.

  • David North, Isle of Man

Child’s eye view

What can you say about this country – it’s amazing. We took our two children, then aged four and two, and from the moment we stepped on to the plane, we knew we were in for a good time.

Origami animals were quickly made and passed down the plane to soothe the youngest, and once we landed we were whisked through immigration to save the children getting worked up after such a long flight.

The different sights and smells in each place were fascinating and we even ended up being stranded in a typhoon in Tokyo. The bullet train was spotless and efficient and we were fascinated by the old temples and modern gadgets on offer. Our children were particularly impressed with the singing lavatories and pedestrian crossings which gave us bursts of Robert Burns’s Auld Lang Syne!

The food was wonderful, too, from noodle sandwiches to green melon bread. We stayed in a traditional ryokan and the children were soon adept at using chopsticks and taking off their kimonos ready for a dunk in the Japanese bath! Toyko was fascinating with its neon lights and mobbed railway stations; Kyoto was a real contrast with lots of green and geisha girls.

  • Rebecca Hay, by email

Eat what you see

If you like food-based theme parks you need to go to Namja Town in Sunshine City in Tokyo. The ice cream selection is mind-boggling with squid and horse flavours (not together) at the extreme end of the taste spectrum. The Gyoza Stadium has the best and most varied selection of gyozas (dumplings) too.

Visit the town of Numazu, in Shizuoka, where on the busy seafront there is an aquarium specialising in deep sea creatures. Here you can see darkened tanks of bio-fluorescent fish, prehistoric sharks and the giant crustaceans that live on the ocean floor. After gazing in wonder at these terrors you can move on to the restaurant next door and taste them. The deep sea platter looks horrific but tastes amazing.

  • Phil Corbett, Sussex

Private view

The imperial palaces in Tokyo and Kyoto are a must see. Special tours lasting just over an hour and involving the use of audio guides are given around the beautiful private grounds. The best part is that they are free. The tours aren’t well advertised and must be applied for in advance by phone, internet or in person so the groups are often small. Find out more at: sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english.

  • Maria Hickey, Essex

The reasons for visiting Osaka in August

There are many reasons for you to choose Osaka is your destination in August.

Contemplating Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is seen as the symbol of Osaka city which represents for Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s power and assets (Hideyoshi Toyotomi was a famous Lord of Japan). Especially, a lot of furniture and decorations in the castle was made of gold.

Around the castle is a 60.000m2-park which is surrounded by cherry trees. It becomes the most beautiful place to see sightseeing in the springs.

Add: 1-1, Osaka-jo, chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Visiting Sumiyoshi-taisha temple

Sumiyoshi-taisha Temple
Sumiyoshi-taisha Temple

This is one of the oldest temple in Osaka which was built in the 3rd century. This temple is followed Japanese style. It is always crowded on the holidays, special occasions, festivals and the first day of the months, especially the new year time. Many couples hold their weddings here.

Add: 2-9-89, Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Walking on shopping street of Tenjinbashi-suji

Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street
Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street

This street is 2,6 km of length that is the longest shopping street in Japan. It divided into 6 zones with many stands of clothes, food, and grocery.

Add: 1 Tenjin-bashi, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Contemplating Osaka from Tsutenkaku tower

Tsutenkaku tower
Tsutenkaku tower

Tsutenkaku tower was built in 1912 with 64m of height. After the occurrences of fire and war, the tower was rebuilt in 1956 with the height of 100m. From the 5th floor’s observatory, visitors can see the overview of the city.

Add: 1-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Sitting on the boat and sightseeing in Dotonbori

Dotonbori street
Dotonbori street

Dotonbori is a crowded street which is at the south of Dotonbori river. There are many famous shops and restaurants here, especially, the Tonboriribakuruya service – seeing the street on the boat.

Add: Doton, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Entertaining in Shinsekai

Shinsekai street
Shinsekai street

Shinsekai is a bustle street in Ebisu-higashi which has a lot of restaurants with Showa style (Showa is an period of historic time in Japan (1926 – 1989)). Besides, it is well-known for the famous opera houses and park, especially the Gay town – one of three biggest Gay streets in the world.

Add: Ebisu-higashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Nakaza Kuidaore Cuisine Building

Nakaza Kuidaore building
Nakaza Kuidaore building

There are many restaurants with a lot of wine, Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, grilled food, sushi, sweet food here with the really attractive flavors. Besides, the Internet Coffee, convenient shop, and souvenir shop in this building are worth to try.

9 Tips for Travelers Visiting Japan for the First-Time

If you are planning to spend your next holidays in Japan, you have really made a great choice. Japan is a fabulous country with amazing natural beauty, unique culture, friendly people and interesting language. However, as every country is different from another, you, as a foreigner, may find Japan to be very different from your homeland. With some tips, you can easily cope up with this difference and enjoy the land’s incredible offerings.


Japan Travel

Image Courtesy: services.flikie.com

Here are some tips to help you make your stay in Japan as pleasant as possible.

1. Use the subway

Japanese people are quite proud of their subway systems that connect a large number of places. These subway systems are faster than buses and cheaper than taxis. The signs and announcements are generally in English. If you are lost, locals would happily help you. Young people of the country often speak English.

2. Don’t tip

Japan is a nation where you don’t need to tip. Here, waiters, porters and cab drivers decline gratuities politely. Sometimes, waiters are offended on being offered tip. In some upscale establishments, your bill is often added with a service charge. However, you can give money gifts in certain situations, like to your private guide or the head maid in a ryokan (Japanese-style inn). To present a money gift, put flat and new bills in an envelope.

3. Learn to bow

Japanese people greet others by bowing. Bowing in response would signify that you are a polite person. However, it’s not mandatory to bow. Business travellers may bow to contacts but tourists don’t need to. Hotel employees often bow to guests. Ticket inspectors greet train passengers by bowing. But, they don’t expect reciprocation. But, it is always good to greet the Japanese people in their way and create a good impression of yours.

4. Choose accommodation carefully

Accommodation in the country is quite expensive, especially in the big cities. Here, the word “hotel” is mostly used to refer business hotels. Business hotels come in mid-range, and have small rooms that are suitable for one individual. They have all amenities required by business travelers, and are clean. Business hotels are mostly aimed at accommodation of business travelers, so, you may not always find English-speaking staff.

If you are looking for the best possible accommodation on a budget, go for Minshuku, which are budget inns. The more expensive forms of Japanese inns are the Ryokan.



Image Courtesy: www.theguardian.com

An interesting and unusual way to get accommodation on a budget, is to stay in Capsule hotels. Just like hostels, here you get a single bed, power outlet, light, a small desk and a privacy curtain. Work spaces, toilets and showers are shared. Capsule hotels are recommended for single individuals only and many of them don’t accept women.

Capsule Hotels

Capsule Hotels

Image Courtesy: www.destination360.com

Hostels are also a good choice, if you are ready to stay in cramped quarters with bunk beds crammed in them.

5. Get Suica Card and buy Japan Rail Pass

Traveling here in a taxi is very expensive, and you can do so only if you have enough money. Using a train is far better. A JR (Japan Rail) pass would help you use all train transportation services at a low cost. You need to buy a JR pass prior to arriving in Japan. You can buy it online, but not within Japan. To know more about the JR pass, visit the Japan Rail Pass website.

With a Suica card, you would be able to pay for things purchased from stores, and for traveling by metro or subway.

Japan Rail Pass

Image Courtesy: www.bookme-travel.co.uk

6. Drive and walk on left

Here, vehicles are driven in the left side. So, drive car on the left side, instead of the right side. The correct side for walking here is also the left side.

7. Bring cash with you

Carry a lot of cash with you as most ATMs of the country don’t accept foreign cards. Carry travelers’ checks also, for your vacation duration. The ATMs of the busy areas are open till 9 pm, and most of them remain closed in weekends.

8. Carry tissue paper

Tourists may need to bring their own tissues while using some of the public restrooms. Many tissue packets are given for free to tourists as they walk on the major streets (this is a common method of advertising). It is always good to carry a few packets of tissue with you, in case you find a restroom without tissue papers.

9. Use vending machines

You can find vending machines everywhere in the country, and they are out of order very rarely. These vending machines sell various products like ice-cold beers, steaming soups and cold or hot drinks.

So, plan well in advance of the amazing places you would visit in this amazing country, and follow the above tips. These tips would certainly help you have a great vacation in Japan.

11 extremely practical Japan travel tips

The flat-rate, foreigner-only Japan Rail Pass can be used throughout the extensive JR train network and save a lot of money for travel by train. They must be reserved outside of Japan. Japan isn’t a country to which you just show up and wing it.
For foreigners, the language barrier can be intense, the technology overwhelming and the prices terrifying for just about everything other than instant ramen.
The key is preparation.
We’ve taken care a lot of that for you with the tips below, leaving you to puzzle out the fun stuff, like getting out of a karaoke bar with your dignity intact and figuring out how to ask them to hold the katsuobushi at breakfast.
1. Rent a wireless router
Getting a prepaid SIM card with local calling service is difficult in Japan.
It’s better to rent a handy little wireless router, known as “pocket Wi-Fi” in Asia.
This will allow multiple gadgets — smartphone, laptop, tablet, Kindle — to connect at once with un-throttled, unlimited data.
Local calls are then possible via cheap Internet phone services like Skype.
You can rent and return one of these devices easily at the telecom company counters at most airports.
Booking online before the trip brings the price down even lower.
Global Advanced Communications, for example, offers a deal of ¥5,550 ($53) for a seven-day rental plan if you book before the trip.
They deliver the device to the airport/hotel/office for free the day before your arrival, and include a prepaid envelope for returns.
2. Book a Japan Rail Pass before arrival
A Japan Rail Pass can save a lot of money, but must be booked outside of Japan.

Booking the flat-rate foreigner-only Japan Rail Pass, which can be used throughout the extensive JR train network on all four main islands, can save a lot of money for travel by train.
There are two types of Japan Rail Pass.
The Green Pass (¥38,880 or $374 for a seven-day pass) is for “superior class” green cars on trains.
The Ordinary Pass (¥29,110 or $280 for a seven-day pass) applies to economy class cars only.
As green cars are less likely to be full, the Green Pass makes it easier for couples or groups to sit together (or sit at all).
Important: the pass must be booked outside of Japan before the trip.
To procure one, visitors must do the following:
• Buy an exchange order from JR sales offices and agents in a foreign country (see the list here).
• Make sure their passport is stamped with “Temporary Visitor” when they enter Japan.
• Bring exchange order and stamped passport to a JR Station with a Japan Rail Pass exchange office (list of stations here).
READ: The cat that saved a Japanese train station
3. Buy a Pasmo card or a Suica card
For multiple trips on short-distance trains (including the subway and metro area JR trains), get a Pasmo card or a Suica card that can be charged in bulk.
These transportation cards save time otherwise spent buying individual tickets for each journey (it can be difficult to figure out how to select your destination on ticket machines).
They’re especially handy when transferring trains, and are available for purchase at ticket vending machines in train stations, bus stations and subway stations.
Preloaded options range from ¥1,000 to ¥10,000, with a deposit of ¥500 included in the price.
While some trains don’t accept Pasmo and some won’t accept Suica, most will accept both and the two are pretty much interchangeable.
They can also be used to make purchases at stores and vending machines.
4. Download the Hyperdia app
Cabs are extremely expensive in Japan — the price is hiked up even higher at night from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. — so it’s good to have a firm handle on the public transport system.
This easy-to-use Japan train app is a godsend to foreign travelers and is free for the first 30 days.
Upon entering train departure and arrival stations, the app displays (in English) the exact journey time, distance, fare and transfer stations, as well as which track your train is departing from.
This includes long-distance shinkansen as well as subway trains.
Woe to those who are late by even a minute — the schedule is incredibly accurate.
MORE: 5 Tokyo bars for train nerds
5. Take advantage of discount rates on domestic flights
Thanks to a fierce price war for domestic flights, Japan’s major carriers offer discounts for foreign travelers for any air travel within Japan.
ANA’s Star Alliance Japan Airpass allows international visitors to take up to five domestic flights for just ¥10,000 ($96) each.
Japan Airlines offers a Oneworld Yokoso/Visit Japan fare starting at ¥10,800 ($103).
Tickets must be booked outside of Japan on the airlines’ global websites.
6. If there’s a choice, fly into Haneda, not Narita
Haneda Airport is a lot more convenient for most travelers to fly into than Narita International Airport owing to the distance from Tokyo for both. It is not always an option. Delta for example only flies in and out of Narita while Cathay Pacific serves both airports.
A train ride from Haneda to Tokyo Station takes approximately 28 minutes and costs around ¥580 ($6), while the train ride from Narita to Tokyo Station takes approximately 58 minutes and usually costs at least ¥2,600 ($25).
If you need to, there are easy train connections between the two airports, just factor in around an hour of travel time to be safe (see the route map here).
7. Book N’EX or Keisei from Narita
Check your Hyperdia app for the next N'EX train from Narita.

If you’re flying into Narita, the N’EX (Narita Express) and Keisei Skyliner are competing services, both with their advantages.
While ticket prices are usually higher than ordinary trains, N’EX is currently running a deal on one-way trips from Narita into the city for ¥1,500 ($14), half the usual price. The deal is for trips to Omiya station only, not Tokyo Station which is where N’EX terminates and starts from (Tokyo Station to Narita is ¥3,020).
The Keisei Skyliner connects Narita with the Ueno and Nippori stations — depending on your final destination, this can be a better and more timely connection that Tokyo Station. Tickets are ¥2,470 ($24) while there is a special e-ticket discount (¥2,200) for foreign visitors, full details are here including the available trains for discount.
READ: 50 reasons why Tokyo is the world’s greatest city
8. Download Google Translate app
The extent of the language barrier may come as a surprise to first-timers to Japan.
We asked translators and a publisher of English study materials in Japan, and they agree that the Google Translate app is one of the handiest ways for translating what you want to say on the spot.
It has a camera input option and is available offline for Android 2.3 and above, and is free to download.
Many of the translations are hardly perfect, but your hosts and others you meet will at least get the gist of what you’re trying to say.
9. Print out your hotel address in Japanese
This goes for travel to most foreign countries as well, but it’s a particularly useful tip in Japan.
Just in case your phone battery runs out and you can’t look up the address in a taxi, have a print-out to show the driver.
10. Know where to get cash
Getting cash in Japan can be a nightmare.

It can be surprisingly difficult to find an ATM that accepts foreign cards, even in Tokyo.
The ATMs that do can be found in 7-Elevens, post offices and Citibank ATMs.
Again, this sounds obvious, but you can save a lot of frustration by double checking before you arrive that your card is activated for withdrawals in a foreign country.
11. Know where to find refuge
When in doubt, head to a konbini — a Japanese convenience store, including 7-Elevens.
They sell everything from phone chargers to underwear to concert tickets.
The hot food selection is also extensive — varying from fried chicken to udon to yakisoba sandwiches.

22 lessons learned services

The Best Online Booking for Your Vacation

Vacation is coming and you want to explore places you have never visited before. This is especially true for regular travelers. You are always eager to discover new things and get new insights from new places. Of course, you have to prepare your travelling and ensure that you will have adequate accommodation and transportation. You do not want to have a bad experience with your flights, cars, hotels, and anything related to your travelling.

Bali is one of the most favorite destinations for tourists who visit Indonesia. For many tourists, Bali represents the whole Indonesia. A beautiful nature, especially its coastal area, is among some of its unique selling points. Not to mention its cultural heritage that offers some of the most beautiful traditional dances.

To enjoy this special place, you should have a good accommodation. Some people choose to stay in a hotel. Nevertheless, some people choose to stay in a villa in Bali when they enjoy their vacation there. Booking a villa can be difficult if you do not have information about where and how to book it. Thanks to technology, now you are able to book any accommodation for your perfect travelling through internet without being confused about where and when to book.

Booking flights or hotels online have many advantages. First, it saves your time. You do not need to go to any agent to book your flights or rooms. You only need to open your laptop, connecting it to the internet, and book the flights or rooms. After that, you will get confirmation email that will help you to finish your booking. Anything in only about 15 minutes!

Are you looking for online booking sites? Then misteraladin.com can be one of your choices. While most of online booking sites offer only one package, this site has some special packages to sell. The packages are suitable for many groups of people with different demands and purchasing power. For instance, it has Family Package for those that want to get special offers when they book for their family, Budget Package for people with limited budget, Luxury Package for people who want luxurious accommodation, as well as Weekend Getaway for people with limited times who only want to enjoy their short vacation during the weekend. You can choose the most suitable package for you and enjoy your vacation with a package that suits your need.

10 Tips to avoid problems when you travel in Japan

japan-travel-sakura-2Keep abreast of the customs-and avoid false-steps can be a minefield for those visiting Japan, as is discovering the American model and restaurateur Patrick Schwarzenegger field.

The son of the star of “Terminator” -and the former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and nephew in second grade of US Ambassador in Japan, Caroline Kennedy, has been posting photos and videos of your trip.

In general are normal tourist activities such as visiting the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and eat sushi.

But he was the subject of disapproval on the Internet and in Japan this week when it released a video-which has already been withdrawn from your account Instagram- in which he made a joke on a seemingly unsuspecting tourist at a temple in Kyoto to tickle in the neck with a branch.

In response, Schwarzenegger issued a defense on Twitter, in which he told his critics that he knew the woman and that she had laughed at what happened.

“By the way, for those who thought the video of the prank was wrong, knew the girl in the video. So calm down. She then laughed out loud what happened,” says PatrickPSchwarzenegger.

This is what you must do to avoid problems when you travel in Japan:

1. Do not cross the street recklessly, use always use the crosswalk

Many Japanese drivers are insistent as to the rules, and bocinarán sign of disapproval even from a considerable distance if they see someone crossing the street at any point other than a designated crosswalk.

2. Eye, smoking may face a fine for lighting up

Although there are no laws against smoking in bars and restaurants, or in any other privately owned business, quite logically outdoor spaces are those with problems.

Smokers should not even consider lighting up in the street, as many Japanese cities Tokyo and Osaka-among them have ordinances prohibiting smoking outside, except in the “corners of snuff” designated.

Challenge this ban is punishable with fines of up to 50,000 yen (roughly $ 400).

3. Do not litter; The streets here are impeccable

While many other countries would turn a blind eye to a person who carries a plastic bag or a cigarette butt that decorate the streets in Japan assume a stance of zero tolerance of garbage in the streets.

You can expect to be the subject of disapproving glances or looks horrified if that sweet wrapper is discarded in a way that is not appropriate.

Anyway, there is really no excuse, since public garbage cans are scattered liberally throughout major cities in Japan.

4. Be sure to throw trash in the right boat

And anyone who dispose of waste in a designated container should also ensure it properly.

At a minimum, garbage is separated into flammable containers, and others that are not, as Japan is concerned with much of its garbage to incinerate.

Even fast food restaurants insist that the waste to be separated into paper, plastic and so on.

5. No signs people

Again, this is pretty universal, but designate someone directly, either with your finger, a stick, or foot, is considered rude.

If necessary refer to someone, this must be done with a wave of the hand, while keeping that finger stretched under control.

6. It is also quite rude sneak

From the station to the escalators in Japan, it is possible to see large numbers of people standing in row in an orderly manner.

Sneak is something you definitely should not do, especially on trains, where passengers will take the same hope aside to let the other passengers down before joining.

Metros and suburban trains in major cities can be quite busiest, particularly during rush hour in the morning, but good manners are kept.

However, on the contrary, it is customary to keep the door open for the person to come back.

7. When traveling by train, put your phone in silent and avoids talking on the phone

The talks are quiet, most people do not even speak.

Makeup, sleeping, texting and playing in the cell (silently) are acceptable to carry out activities on board, but silence is gold in the extensive network of trains in Japan.

Oh … and never eat or drink on the train.

8. Always take off your shoes at the door when you visit someone’s home

You must wear socks same positions without holes, this somehow is implicit if you are over 12 years old.

The Japanese usually say “O-jama Shimasu!” (“Sorry for the inconvenience”) when entering the house of another person, and often carry a small gift, called o-Miyage to their hosts.

9. No need to tip when eating out or traveling by taxi

Here, service providers do not accept it.

The service is included almost universally, and stories abound diligent restaurant employees pursuing foreign customers down the street to return the change service providers believe that tourists “forgot”.

Similarly, drivers of taxis -the majority of those who wear clean uniforms, hats and gloves whites give exact change and do not accept tip.

Another aspect that should be noted about taxis: they are equipped with automatic doors controlled by the driver, and should not be opened or closed manually.

10. Do not wear bathing suit to swim in hot springs; you should do it naked

Patrick Schwarzenegger did something good was undressing to visit a Japanese, or onsen hot spring.

Many Japanese consider totally strange to see someone in a swimsuit or bikini in a hot spring.

Bathers should remember to wash and rinse before entering the water, whether in a public restroom or someone’s home.

The Japanese are accustomed to sharing the hot water, so in reality, part of the cleanup occurs before entering the water.

But while having little clothing is the general rule for bathing, tattoos must be covered in the hot springs or public gyms if that matter, as they often are related to the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia.

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