As I write this, I am planning another trip to Japan and am buzzing! Although I’m lucky enough to have been to Japan about a dozen times in the last 20 years, I am still as excited as the first time I went! Japan never disappoints, ever!
I’m going on a business trip for just over 2 weeks, spending time mainly in Tokyo, Seto (near Nagoya) and Osaka, but if you haven’t been to Japan before I recommend 2-3 weeks, spent roughly a week in Tokyo, a week in Kyoto and, if you can, a week in and around Hiroshima. The best times to visit are spring and autumn when the weather will be very warm, but not too hot!
(Me with a Japanese interpreter at a gift show event)
If Japan has been on your bucket list for a while, then, then now is a great time to go, the pound is strong versus the Japanese yen making it that bit more affordable! Japan is generally regarded as a very safe country that will delight your senses and you’ll regret it if you don’t ever go, I promise!
To help you plan your trip to be more enjoyable, I have put together some tips for you to consider.
- Be connected - When travelling outside the major cities in Japan Wi-Fi is limited and your roaming charge would probably be quite hefty, so I recommend that you book a portable Wi-Fi unit. They cost about £30 for 2 weeks, you collect it from the airport or have delivered to your hotel and simply returned by post, very simple and efficient.
(a mobile phone and a pocket WiFi)
- Language - Learn a little Japanese, even just good morning (‘ohayou gozaimasu’), thank you (‘doumo arigatou’) and goodbye (‘sayonara’), as with all countries, Japanese people love it when you try and speak their language, however limited!
- Travelling around - Experience the bullet trains! They look incredible and are frequent, fast, smooth, and comfy! Tokyo to Kyoto about 2 ¼ hours (costs about £60), Kyoto to Hiroshima about 1 ¾ hours (costs about £50). Where possible I recommend booking the Premium Car train tickets, which are guaranteed comfy seats for not a lot of extra money! As a non-Japanese traveller, you are eligible to purchase JR pass that offers you unlimited travels on JR railways nationwide plus some bus and ferry services. Don’t forget to buy your ‘obento box’ for lunch or ‘eki-ben’ as it’s known when bought from stations, it’s often made from local specialities and is delicious!
(Shinkansen, or Bullet train)
- Hire a car - The massive neon lit Japanese cities are famous and great fun but about 70% of Japan is mountainous, so do try and hire a car (they drive on the left) and explore the stunning Japanese countryside!
- Gourmet in the alleyway - Discover those little tucked away restaurants in the backstreets, you could stumble across a little gem! Japanese food is delicious, usually healthy, and very reasonably priced too. I recommend the sushi, noodles (miso ramen is my favourite!) and the various meat BBQ’s. Be prepared to use chopsticks and the food always tastes much more delicious than it looks on the plastic displays!
(Streets full of restaurants and shops)
- Soak and relax – After all that exploring and satisfying your appetite, make sure to take a Japanese hot spring bath (called ‘onsen’, see our previous post) so relaxing!
A very rough guide to help you budget, would be about £1,500 for your return (economy) flight, about £100 per room per night in a nice hotel and you can eat out from about £10 per meal.
Just bear in mind that you don’t open taxi doors, they will open automatically, and you don’t need to tip, anywhere, taxi drivers or restaurants.
You will quickly realise what an amazing country Japan is, incredibly clean and tidy with very little graffiti. People are exceptionally friendly and customer service levels are first class, whether that’s in a local shop or a grand department store. I guarantee you a memorable trip that will leave you wanting to go back for more!
If you can’t manage to carry all your souvenirs back from your trip to Japan, don’t worry, visit our website for all your authentic Japanese gifts and we’ll deliver them to your door!
The Japanese Shop