Japan for the First Time
Is it your first time in the land of the rising sun? Welcome to a place that is truly unlike any other! Your visit to Japan is sure to be a completely new experience. However, being an outsider in this wonderful country may result in some confusion.
Because Japan can be hard to navigate as a foreigner, one of the best ways to visit is to have a local plan your trip - you'll be able to see all the big sights and wander off the tourist path with ease.
Top Tips For Your First Time in Japan
Places To Go:
There are so many unique destinations in Japan, but for your first time in the country, make sure to check out...
You can't miss Tokyo for your first time in Japan. Check out our must see Tokyo list!
Kyoto is famous for its beautiful gardens, architecture, and Geisha. This guide has good information on visiting Kyoto.
Go to Osaka and EAT! This town is famous for its street food. This guide has a good itinerary for a few days in Osaka.
Learn important history in this bustling city in Japan.
A stunning and tranquil island in the Hiroshima Bay. It is known for its forests and ancient temples - a must visit if you have the time.
A Japanese island that is known for its impressive collection of modern art museums, architecture, and sculptures.
See the famous wandering deer in Nara park.
Activities To Do:
Visit Japanese bars - Japan is truly the country that never sleeps (but when it does, it is in odd places, like park benches and subway cars!)
Karaoke - Sing your heart out in the country that named Karaoke
Drink rice wine
Ride a super fast bullet train
Visit a hot spring
Animal cafes - cat? hedgehog? owl? Japan's got a cafe for that.
Things To Know:
Japanese toilet are kinda bizarre - expect a lot of buttons
Do not litter - litter is not tolerated in Japan
There are not a lot of trash cans - carry around a small bag and empty it out at your hotel
Earthquakes happen - and the buildings/locals are prepared... so you should be too!
Collagen drinks exists - and you might as well try them
Taxis are expensive - take local transit
Don't tip at all
Use cash - ATMs and card readers are hard to find
Pay at the front of the restaurant - usually, no one comes by to collect your bill
Vending machine can get you anything you need
Convenience stores (Konbinis) have you covered otherwise
Maps are in Japanese characters - ViaHero can provide and offline map with your destinations already saved
Not everyone speaks English
Wifi isn't great - consider getting a mobile dongle
On an escalator, stand on the left and let people pass on the right
Try to finish everything on your plate - every noodle and grain of rice
Bow when you meet someone, thank them, or say goodbye
Be "open" - don't cross your legs and arms, and remove hands from pockets
Do not speak on your phone, or play loud music, while on trains and bus
Feel free to slurp your noodles and soup - it shows that you are enjoying your meal
Don't be too loud
Don't blow your nose in public
Take your shoes off a building has a sunken-foyer entrance
Take your shoes off if you see someone else taking their shoes off
Don’t receive anything (a gift or card) with just one hand
Don’t enter a hot spring/tub without washing your body first
Don’t wear shoes in any houses/temples/shrines
Don't eat while walking around
Sumimasen “Excuse me/Sorry” - sue-me-mah-sen
Arigatou Informal way of saying “Thank you” (a-ri-ga-tō )
Konichiwa “Hello” (kohn — nee-chee-wah)
Oishi “Delicious” (oh-ee-shee)
Before You Arrive:
Organize your JR Pass - a discounted train pass for visitors that only can be purchased from out of the country
Realize the high season is in early April - places will be (even more) crowded and expensive
Pre-plan your trip - there is a lot to see, and you don't want to miss any of it because of lack of planning... let a local plan your tripto make sure you see it all
Print out key words in English, Japanese Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana symbols (and pronunciations)
Check if you will need a visa to enter