What To Expect

Language

The national language is Japanese.
English is not widely spoken, but it might be easier to get by with English only in big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Many restaurants have English menus; in other cases just use Google translate, it works great in Japan.

I find it is best to learn the local way to say hello, thank you, yes, no, sorry, and goodbye in any country you are visiting. I found I was treated warmer when I attempted the language.

Most food packages are only in Japanese, although this can be hard at first, using the camera feature on Google translate was a life saver.

Religion

Japan is a predominately shinto and buddhist nation, with 80% of Japan following this. Japan Guide has an excellent post about how to behave at a shrine.

Currency

Currency is Japanese yen.

Cash is the primary mode of payment here. Many shops and restaurants only accept cash, while cards are accepted less frequently. Therefore, it’s advisable to carry enough cash to cover your meals to avoid a sticky situation.

Plugs

Japan uses plug type A.
The voltage is 100 volts at a frequency of 50 / 60 Hz.

Visa Requirement

71 countries are eligible for 90 day entry to Japan visa free! Check here to see if your country is on the list.

If your country is not on that list you will be required to apply for a short term stay visa. The procedure varies depending on your citizenship, check the Japanese Foreign Affairs website for information relevant to your country.

Sim Cards

I find the best option is an e-sim, Airalo never let me down during my time in Japan.

You just download the app, choose the amount of data, and install the sim. It allows you to keep your home sim in your phone.

If you decide to use Airalo get $3 off with my code TARA1104.

Insurance

Do not take a chance, purchase travel insurance just in case you run into any medical issues. Japan has a really good health system, however it is so expensive for foreigners. It is literally THREE times the price for foreigners compared to residents, we found this out the hard way. Even a simple GP consultation can cost about ¥30,000, and that is before any prescriptions and further tests.

I use SafetyWing, I have had to claim a few times over the last three years, each time they were reliable with great communication.

Best Time To Visit Japan

Japan has a temperate climate, it is famous for having 4 diverse seasons; spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The most popular times to visit Japan are Spring and Autumn.

Spring (March – May) is when the stunning cherry blossoms are in bloom. During this time Japan transforms to a pastel pink paradise. The climate is perfect for site-seeing with mild temperatures and minimum rainfall. It is the most popular time to visit Japan, accommodation can be very expensive

Autumn (September – November) is so beautiful in Japan, the foliage is a vibrant red, and the temperatures are mild.

Summer in Japan is very humid, this makes it hard to explore, especially in cities. Whereas winters can get very cold, with high amounts of snowfall occurring.

How To Travel Around Japan

Japan is a dream to travel around. They have the famous bullet train which reaches speeds of up to 360 km/h, connecting the entire country with short travel times.

Within cities the subway system is fantastic. Reliable, clean, fast and quiet. I advise purchasing an IC / SUICA card or download it to your phone. You can also use this card as payment in many shops and vending machines.

Apps To Download In Japan

Google Maps: works perfectly across Japan, especially navigating subways. It tells you the best carriage to use for fast exit, and details what exit is best for where you want to go next. My tip is to use google translate and search for places in Japanese instead of English.
YuMi Translator: this is a great an reliable translator for use offline
Gurunavi: check restaurant reviews and reserve a table
Japan Official Travel App: for up to date events and attractions
Yurekuru Earthquake Warning: realtime earthquake alerts and safety advice in English
Japan ATM Navigation: find ATMs that accept foreign cards
Wolt: use this for food delivery, it is easy to use with a lot of choice
LUUP: e-scooter and e-bike rental
Klook or GetYourGuide: book tickets to attractions here from reputable agencies

Destinations

tokyo blog post by Irish travel blogger

Japan Blog Posts

Kichi Kichi Omurice review
Mipig cafe review Japan
31 best things to do in Osaka - TaraOhReilly
8 best neighbourhoods to stay in Tokyo - TaraOhReilly
3 day Tokyo itinerary - Tara Oh Reilly