What you need to know before you travel to Japan
What are the best ways to get around in Japan?Anyone who is hoping to visit as many places in Japan as possible should consider getting a Japan Rail Pass. This will help you save money, as well as give you the chance to easily get around when you are checking out the sights of a single region or when you are getting across the country. An unlimited pass could provide you with convenient access to JR-branded commuter ferries, buses, and trains, as well as the bullet train. And when you can’t travel by train, taxis are available, but they will typically be more expensive.
When is the best time to go to Japan?When you are planning your trip to Japan, consider the weather. There are four seasons throughout the year, and the climate will also vary from one region to the next. For example, you will find a subarctic climate in Hokkaido, a subtropical climate in Okinawa, and an extratropical climate in places like Kyushu, Shikoku, and Honshu. So when you have the option of skiing in the spring up north (from March to April), you could also hang out at the beach on the islands of the southwest, if that’s what you’d prefer instead. It’s a lot to consider, but below is a basic breakdown of the climate throughout the year to help you plan the perfect vacation.
- Typhoon season is one that you want to avoid. From July through October, cyclones could form over the Pacific Ocean, and it is during the months of August and September that they are more likely to move onshore.
- The rainy season could also put a damper on your plans from the middle of May to the middle of June in Okinawa, and from early June through early July in Honshu. It could rain for a few days straight, and increased humidity could even boost the risk of food poisoning and mold. Yikes! But the good news is that you could stay in a place like Hokkaido, which is, for the most part, not really affected by this rainy season.
What should you pack for a trip to Japan?
What you pack for your trip to your Japan will depend upon the time of year in which you are going to be there.
- During the autumn, which runs from September to November, you can expect cool temperatures and light breezes. This is a popular time of year to explore Japan, as the trees will be showing off their colors, and flowers like Chrysanthemums will adorn gardens and parks. It is a good idea to pack light sweaters and light jackets, as well as comfortable shoes for walking and exploring the great outdoors.
- If you are going to stay in one of the locations on the Pacific coast during the winter, which runs from December through February, the temperature will usually remain above 0°C (32°F), and the weather will typically be sunny and dry. And the southern regions are also pleasant and mild in the winter too. But if you are going to be in the northern or central parts of the country, you can participate in winter sports and pack accordingly. Generally, sweaters and warm coats will certainly be helpful in keeping you comfortable as you head to restaurants, shops, museums, and outdoor attractions.
- The spring season from March through May is a beautiful time of year, as well as the ideal time to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms. Visitors enjoy taking in the views of gardens, fields, and mountains that are filled with blooms, and all you need to be comfortable will be some light sweaters and jackets, much like in the autumn.
- Summer runs from June through August, but there could be up to four weeks that make up the rainy season in June, so pack accordingly to shield yourself from the rain. Then you can expect humid and hot conditions in July and August, so plan for time at the beach or head to the cooler mountain areas. Packing light clothes that will help you stay cool will be necessary.
What do you need to know about Japanese culture?Japanese culture is certainly unique, and once you are there, you will pick up on a lot of the rules rather quickly. One important rule is that you should never leave your shoes on when you enter someone’s home. But in addition to taking your shoes off before going into someone’s house or your hotel, you might also have to take your shoes off at some of the restaurants that you visit. You will likely be given slippers to wear after you take your outdoor shoes off. And there are also different types of slippers that you can wear, such as bathroom slippers and slippers for shared areas.
Which electrical outlet adapter do you need for Japan?In Japan, you can expect to find Type A power sockets, so you may need to purchase an adapter, depending upon what you use in your home country. Also, the voltage is 100 V, while the frequency will be 50 Hz in the east and 60 Hz in the west, so you may need a voltage converter too, depending upon the appliances that you are planning on packing and using during your trip.
What is the currency of Japan?Before going to Japan, you will need to have your money converted into the Japanese yen (JPY). Remember, most businesses will only accept cash, so use a currency converter to see how far your money will stretch.
If you don’t convert your money before entering Japan, you can access currency exchange services at post offices, banks, and some of the large hotels, as well as ATMs at 7-Eleven locations, as a few examples.
Do you need vaccinations to go to Japan?According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you are planning a trip to Japan, you should consider getting up-to-date on your routine vaccinations, such as your flu shot, your polio vaccine, your varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, your diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, and your measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
You can also talk to your doctor about the following vaccines before your trip: