You will have a lot of questions if you are planning for the first time a trip to Japan. It was exactly like that for us. There is a lot of information about Japan, and honestly, you have no idea where to start. This is why I tried to do something very simple in order to keep in mind the most important things.

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Where is Japan?

Is located in East Asia, in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Surrounded entirely by this ocean, the Sea of Japan, The Sea Okhotsk, the East China Sea.
At 3 hours of flight from China or Taiwan, 11 hours from Los Angeles, 12 hours from Paris, and just 2 hours from South Korea.

Japan Currency – Where exchange my money?

The currency used in Japan is the Japanese Yen (JPY). The third most traded currency in the foreign exchange market, the others are the United States Dollar and the Euro. For checking the value of Yen and your currency (Yen to US or Yen to EUR…), please check this link

Bills: ¥1,000, ¥2,000, ¥5,000, ¥10,000
Coins: ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100, ¥500

The best exchange rate you will find is at the airport, in the exchange machines that you will easily find. The machine works in several languages.

Some Important Facts about Japan

Japan is an insular country covered by forest or mountains on 73% of its surface. As a result, the mainly habitable regions have a high density of population.

The country is divided into 8 regions: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu (incl. Okinawa).

LANGUAGE: The official language is Japanese. In the biggest cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto…) some persons speak English, but out of these regions is very difficult to communicate in English.
But don’t worry the Japanese will always find a way to communicate.

ELECTRICITY: Electricity in Japan is 100V (50Hz in Tokyo, Tohoku y Hokkaido) and (60Hz in Kyoto, Osaka,…). The plug is type A/B.

If you use 110 V in your country you will be able to use your electric appliances. If your country uses 220V-240V (Spain, France, Germany, UK, Australia…) you will need a converter.
Check the range of functioning of your electronics.

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Requirements for entering to Japan. Do I need a visa?

Most countries are excepting of visa. For checking costs and if you need a visa, you can read all the information about requirements in this article

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How to organize a trip to Japan?

When we were going to travel to Japan for the first time, we thought that we had to work with a travel agency. We thought that everything was going to be complicated, and actually, when we started to look for information, we saw that you just need a little patience and a lot of envy to read.

Japan is so organized that you do not need a travel agency to plan your trip, you just need to plan everything before departing, and write your own schedule, and all it’s going to be exactly like that in 99%.

Take into account my tips and you will be able to organize your own trip to Japan at your rhythm. In that way, you will probably find better accommodations at the same price proposed for an agency, or visit more cities, or spots you are interested in, and not only the tourist stops included in an organized journey.

Before departing for your trip to Japan:

  • Choose the regions you want to visit and consider the travel distances between them. Japan is full of fantastic places to meet, and you have to make a selection and not try to cover too many things in a single trip.
  • BUY THE TRAIN PASSES that must be done in advance because you will receive them by post and before leaving your country. It is not possible to buy this pass on-site. There are different passes: national, regional, and interregional. That’s why it’s important to select the cities or regions we want to visit first of all. Passes are purchased online. We use: Japan-rail-pass
  • Book hotels in advance. Do not venture with reservations on-site or at the last minute, they risk running out of accommodation or paying for it very very expensive if unlucky and unknowingly fall on the dates of a festival.
  • Not necessarily traveling in the high season. It is beautiful to surely see the cherry blossoms, but it is one of the most expensive times to travel to Japan.
  • Consider the weather during your trip. The summer in Japan is super hot and humid, which will prevent us from fully enjoying the place. During the end of summer, there is a possibility to be blocked or affected during the journey by large typhoons. We need to look at this climate by region because there is no total homogeneity in the Japanese island climate.
  • Forese a pocket WIFI, is extremely useful in Japan, serves to consult train schedules, do translations, locate you with GPS… They are not expensive and are very practical. They can usually be purchased before the trip, via the internet, and picked it up at the airport (at the post office). It can be delivered equally by post or with the help of your accommodation.

Japan Post for traveling light

Did you know that you can send your luggage with the Japan Post to the next location where you are traveling inside Japan?

To ease your commutation from a city to another one by train, send your luggage by the Japan Post to your next accommodation. Actually, your hotel can arrange everything for you and the next hotel receive your luggage and keep it until you arrive. It’s something wonderful for traveling relax and light! It’s not very expensive and worth every cent!!

You just have to inform your hotel that they are going to receive the luggage, it’s very common in Japan. And you have to send it 2 days before leaving for being sure that you’ll find your luggage on time.

During the trip:

  • To organize when you can take the train and whether or not you should book, you can use the Hyperdia website. Attention, sometimes you’ll have fees to pay, depending on the train.
  • To save a little on meals and if you don’t want to eat every day in restaurants, there are plenty of options with the supermarkets and B plants (basements) of the malls. Tin these places you will find a lot of excellent quality prepared dishes, to go or to eat on-site (the case of B plants).
  • Supermarkets do not keep the dishes fresh, so from 8pm, they put these prepared dishes on offer. A good time to buy and save.
  • There are many temples and heritages that do not require paying a ticket. It is possible to organize a trip that mixes very touristic sites that always ask to pay for a ticket and others less well-known but just as fascinating to balance the budget.
  • Using the Pocket WIFI we advised you before, you can help yourself from the Google Translate app to be able to make purchases. Most products do not have English translations and it will be difficult to know whether they are. There is one version for Android and another for Apple. You can photograph the label and get a more or less faithful translation.
  • If you like shopping, book a moment to visit the 100Y stores. They have different names (Daiso, Cando, Seria…) you can find things of excellent quality at exceptional prices, but it takes time to snoop. Avoid those that are left in the busiest places and at peak times, so that you don’t have to make a massive queue to pay.
  • Are you a fan of cosmetics? you arrive at the perfect place. Check my article about Japanese cosmetics in order to know all the incredible things you can buy there.
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