To accompany all travelers preparing their journey in Japan, we already offer you a quite complete guide of traveling to Japan. However, information is dense so here is a smaller article, more convenient, about the things to do and/or to know before going for a travel in the land of the rising sun.
10 things to do and know while preparing your travel to Japan:
Find a flight
Purchasing a flight ticket… sounds like a good start!
Of course, you might reach Japan with the Transsiberian or by boat, but for all common people, around 12 hours of flight are already way enough. Compare prices, think about your preference for a direct flight or one with stopover(s) (you can save up to 300$ by stopping one hour or two in an airport elsewhere in the world), well, dig a little before ordering a flight ticket.
We suggest you to use the meta-search engine Skyscanner which browses into all companies to offer you the best price:
Book an accommodation
Where are you going to sleep once there and how many nights in each city? In a hotel (often times hotels.com is the most competitive one), in a guest-house, in an apartment or house rental, in a homestay? Will you stay in one and unique city for the whole travel or move from one place to another?
Have a passport or visa
Be all set with your papers. It does not mean that the Japanese police will catch you at every corner of the streets, but the minimum is to know if your passport is enough or if you need a visa.
The good questions to ask yourself are the following: How long will I stay in Japan (less than 90 days for most nationalities = one passport / more than 3 months = mandatory visa)? Will I only do tourism or do I want to work there (in this case, a minimum of a working holiday visa is necessary)? If you plan to stay several month or years, inform yourself more precisely about the insurance and healthcare systems in Japan.
Exchange your currencies before the travel so you have at least few thousand Yens in your pocket when you land in Japan, even if it is only to pay the transfer to your accommodation.
Eating out in Japan is not very expensive but you will always need cash, especially because the ATM close at the same time as the banks, that is around 4-5pm.
To have an estimate of how much money to forecast before leaving, use our Japan travel budget calculator.
Know the weather forecast and prepare accessories
Prepare your clothing according to the visited period and places. We dress up sometimes more lightly in Okinawa in winter than in Hokkaido in summer, so it is always advised to check the weather and the climate of Japanese cities and regions.
Moreover, prepare your practical accessories for your travel: electrical adaptor to charge your electrical appliances, hydroalcoholic solution to wash your hands without water, jetlag preparation (sleep mask and earplugs for the plane…), a pharmacy case with the necessary (first aid kit).
Learn some Japanese
If you do not master Miyazaki’s language, plan to purchase some methods, dictionaries and other conversation guides. For the beginners, we develop a specific methodology to learn Japanese Kana (hiragana and katakana) in a short time, and therefore be able to sight-read numerous written signs once in the archipelago.
And since you are at a bookstore, if you are planning to go outside of the beaten tracks or to simply go around with a free mind, it could be a good idea to purchase a map of Japan.
Plan your transportation in a schedule
You obviously will move once in Japan, but should it be by bus, subway, train, car, bike… or maybe a little bit of everything? Read carefully our Japanese transportation guide before arriving to Japan. Of course, the Japan Rail Pass will be essential in most cases.
And plan your visits! Some museums are crowded during weekends and you need to book several weeks or even months in advance (for example: the Ghibli museum), some other museums are free during a specific day of the week etc. In the same idea, it is more fun to go have a karaoke with a local than only by yourself. You get the point here, so planning, even just a little, can happen to be extremely convenient especially if you are in Japan for a short stay.
Use a guide services
Won't have the time to do and plan everything? Fear of missing the main sites, or, on the contrary, fear of visiting only must-see places and therefore passing by the "real" Japan? Desire to understand all that is happening around you with the reading keys and a live time translator?
Using the services of a local guide can definitely be a real advantage during your stay in Japan.
Read and find information
Indeed, such an important trip like Japan recquires to spend some time into reading. Lots of paper guides exist about Japan, but their quality and updates are not all at the same level. Moreover, even the big players of tourism demur at sending even one journalist over there, so you can be missing some precise details.
Discover Japan outside of fantasies
Well… do you really know Japan?
Ask yourself that question to know if you are going to Japan to discover the country and level up your knowledge ? To do a pilgrimage based on video games or manga-anime (well, to do the otaku indeed….)? To date a Japanese girl in a love hotel (fyi: this golden age is over folks…)?
If you still want to go after all this, congratulations! Enjoy at 100% your travel in Japan!