Last Minute Trip Checklist: Japan Essentials

Last Minute Trip Checklist: Japan Essentials

ViaHero · January 28, 2019

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.

japan streets

Want to make the most out of your trip? Tap into our network of local travel planners—Heroes—who build unique, locally-curated trip plans, designed just for you. Get started.

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.  While you didn't used to be able to buy one inside Japan, you now can (though it's much more expensive than buying it online). 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. 

japan jr pass public transportation

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 allhiking, 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 lightthere is usually not much luggage space on trains and planes 

japan mountain hiking and skiing last minute trip

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 outsidertake 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
  • Japanese 
  • 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.  

last minute trip to japan icons

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.  

last minute trip to japan house and trees

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. 


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:



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