While you’re waiting to travel, build up the anticipation for your trip by trying some Japanese arts and crafts at home. You could try your hand at some origami or perhaps some Japanese paper cutting!
Each season in Japan has its pros and cons. Spring is cherry blossom time when hotels get booked up early and prices are high but if you plan your trip well in advance it’s a fabulous time of year to visit with mild temperatures. Summer is typhoon season in Japan (June to October). It’s wet and hot but it’s fabulously quiet and has a unique beauty worth capturing with your camera. Autumn is again a photographers dream when the trees put on a spectacular display of rust and gold and as in Spring temperatures are mild. Winter in Japan can be cold, depending on where you travel but a snow covered Japan is like a scene from a fairytale, prices are low and there are fewer tourists around.
Food in Japan is very varied with some superb dishes you won’t want to miss and some you’ll most probably want to avoid. Read my blog posts on Japanese cuisine, and the best and worst things to eat, before you go to give you an idea about what you would like to try. It’s a unique cuisine that you should discover but it can be confusing to know what to order. You can also read about traditional Japanese breakfast here.
“The app we’ve found invaluable for travelling across Japan is HyperDia, which provides train routes, timetables, and even tells you which platform number to go to at the station.” John, Roaming Around the World
If you are only travelling to the most popular cities, you’ll probably get by in English although learning a few words in Japanese will go down well. If however, you are travelling away from these major cities, you will find learning some Japanese invaluable. Even in a big city like Nagoya we found it invaluable that one of our group spoke fluent Japense. There are many great apps and online courses that can help, such as Rosetta Stone*, which is one of the most popular.
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“The best way to decode menus in Japanese and communicate when you’re having difficulties is to have Google Translate downloaded for offline use, with Japanese language installed. You can even take a photo of your menu and the app will instantly translate it into English.“ Karen, Wanderlusting K
My travel insurance company of choice is World Nomads. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities from air guitar to spelunking! Many of the sports and activities that are covered as standard are not commonly included in other insurance policies. You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 130 countries.
“If you are planning on travelling a lot by rail, buy your JR (Japan Rail) pass before you leave home to save time (although you can now also buy them in Japan). They can save you a lot of money if you are planning to travel by train between cities but are unlikely to if you’re travelling within a single city. You can use the HyperDia app to check if a pass will work out cheaper.”Stefan, Nomadic Boys
“Don’t use tissues to blow your nose in public, it’s highly offensive to the Japanese, just sniff.“Sally, 3 Kids v the world
“My tip is that if you have travelled on a long-haul flight to Japan, you should pre-book an airport transfer, as trying to work out the complicated Tokyo train system when you are tired is pretty difficult.”Anne, Pretraveller