Planning a big Asian tour? Then one of the countries on your list has to be Japan. In 2014, Ria Travel Bug listed 5 key reasons why you should visit this beautiful country, and they still hold up today. But before you head to the Land of the Rising Sun, be sure to check out these tips below:
1. Learn a Few Phrases
While the language situation has improved over the years, the majority of Japanese still can’t speak English. So, you will have to learn at least a few useful phrases in order to communicate with them. Read up on how to ask for directions in Japanese, or be familiar with Japanese greetings.
2. Bring a Ziplock Bag
There aren’t many trash bins on the streets of Japan, yet the country still manages to maintain a high level of cleanliness. While the rules on waste disposal are quite strict, an article on Live Japan explains that the reason there are no trash bins is because of the Tokyo sarin gas attack in 1995. The trash bins were removed to ease any fears of dangerous objects hiding in them.
Therefore, you will have to carry your garbage around until you can dispose of it. So, be sure to bring a ziplock bag to temporarily store your discarded items.
3. Secure a Japan Rail Pass
Frequent travelers know that the Japan Rail Pass is the most economical way to get around Japan by train. It‘s a card that allows unlimited access to the Japan Rail network for 7, 14, or 21 days, depending on your purchase.
It’s best to get one if you plan to leave Tokyo to explore other cities in the country. But if you’re only staying in the capital, don’t bother with a Japan Rail Pass as Tokyo subway tickets are way cheaper.
4. Visit During Sakura Season
The Japanese cherry trees are one of the country’s most popular attractions. When you see them in any form of media, you instantly associate them with Japan. Take for instance the popular Hollywood film Lost in Translation, which is set in Tokyo. Although there are no scenes that feature real cherry trees, the movie still paid a small tribute by showing a very pretty cherry blossom mobile in Scarlett Johansson’s room.
In the Westworld TV series, a Japanese character called Sakura is introduced in Season 2. On her back is a tattoo of the cherry tree. No wonder it’s also the star of a Japanese-inspired game on Expat Bets. In the game Sakura Fortune, the trees make up the backdrop of the cover image. The country itself is proud to take ownership of these stunning trees for tourism purposes. As an example, Legoland Japan has honored the cherry tree by creating a life-sized likeness of it using over 800,000 Lego bricks.
While it’s nice seeing the cherry trees on screen, it’s a lot better if you see them in person. Try visiting the country around the end of winter and or the start of spring — and don’t forget your camera!
5. Get Familiar with Convenience Stores
Japan’s convenience stores have almost everything you need, from decent meals and toiletries, to first aid supplies and more. If you want to skip fancy Japanese restaurants in order to save, these stores provide a really good alternative. There are also ATMS that accept foreign cards, as well as Wi-Fi hotspots if you need to look up something online.