ViaHero · October 21, 2018
Traveling to Japan is a thrilling experience, but preparing for your trip can be difficult—especially if you don't have much time! But never fear: we've created a last-minute checklist for anyone traveling to Japan on a tight schedule. After you've given the article a read, feel free to message us with any questions you still have about preparing for your Japan adventure.
Last Minute Japan Check List:
1. Book your Local Travel Planner
It is not too late to have your trip planned by one of our local experts! This is the best way to guarantee you see everything (and then some) while you concentrate on booking other things.
ViaHero surveys its users on their travel preferences (museums? food? hiking?) and then has a local Hero plan a personalized trip for them, packed with insider tips and off the beaten path suggestions.
2. See if you need a Visa
Depending on where you are coming from (and how long you are staying), you may or may not need a Visa. It is important to read up on the Japanese Visa restrictions from your home country.
3. Book your JR Pass
The "Japanese Rail Pass" is a discounted train pass for tourists in Japan. It can only be purchased from outside of the country, so you must book it before you arrive. There are several lengths and prices, one of our Japanese travel experts can help you decide if it is worth purchasing a JR pass for your trip.
4. Book your accommodations
Hotel? Hostel? Apartment? You need to find some affordable places to stay on your trip! Things book up very fast in Japan, so be sure to do this ASAP. One of our local travel planners can suggest some exciting neighborhoods. Additionally, check out our blog post on "6 Airbnbs in Japan You Need to See"
5. Travel insurance
It is always important to get travel insurance, especially for long, international trips. This will help you secure your trip. Many providers also offer cell phone and camera insurance in case something happens to them while traveling.
6. Figure out the weather and pack appropriately
Depending on the time of year, Japan has it all—hiking, skiing, flowers, beaches. Figure out what the weather is going to be like while you are in Japan, and pack accordingly. Remember to pack some smart street clothes for going out, as the Japanese take fashion very seriously.
We offer these small suggestions for things to include in your suitcase:
- Shoes that slip on and off
- Small gifts from home
- Pack light—there is usually not much luggage space on trains and planes
7. Make sure you have the right chargers
Chances are, all your cords and chargers aren't going to work in Japan. Make sure you have a universal adapter.
8. Learn about Japanese earthquakes
Earthquakes are very common in Japan, and if you are there long enough, there is a pretty good chance you will experience one. The engineering in the country is brilliant, and you may not even realize it is happening. However, it is always smart to educate yourself on proper earthquake protocol before arriving in Japan.
9. Register your trip with the State Department
This is a great idea for any international vacation: 1. The State Department can give you text alerts while you are there, and 2. They know you are there if something bad happens.
10. Learn a little Japanese
English is not as widely spoken here as in other parts of the world. Plus, you are the outsider—take the time to learn a little Japanese. It will certainly come in handy.
- Sumimasen (sue-me-mah-sen)—“Excuse me/Sorry”
- Arigatou (a-ri-ga-tō )—Informal way of saying “Thank you”
- Konichiwa (kohn — nee-chee-wah)—“Hello”
- Oishi (oh-ee-shee)—“Delicious”
11. Write out key words in multiple languages
Figure out some key words and phrases and have them written in:
- English phonetic version of Japanese words (so you can try to pronounce them)
Printing out an icon guide (or having it on your phone) can be helpful.
12. Buy a paper map
A lot of signs and maps in Japan do not use the English alphabet, and it will be impossible for you to figure out where you are going. Always keep an English map on you for emergencies.
13. Learn proper etiquette
Check out our Japan for the First Time guide to learn Japanese etiquette tips.
14. Book tickets to the Ghibli Museum
Tickets for this wonderful Tokyo museum cannot be bought in Japan, and must be booked in advance.
15. Check your seat on your flight
It is a long flight, and you're not going to want a middle seat.
16. Plan your route
This is where you're going to want to dedicate your extra time. Have one of our local Heroes make a suggested route and work with them to perfect it.
17. HAVE FUN!
Have more questions about last minute Japan travel? Here is a list of our local Japanese Travel Experts who can help you or you can message us any questions you have. And before your trip, make sure to check out:
- Connect With a Local to Plan Your Trip
- The Best Time to Visit Japan
- First Time in Japan
- Japan Itinerary
- Accommodations in Japan
- Contact Us