Top 5 Tips For First Time Visitors To Japan

The phone is ringing. The caller is from unknown international number.  Battery level on my iPhone is draining, sparing me an 8% energy le...

The phone is ringing. The caller is from unknown international number.  Battery level on my iPhone is draining, sparing me an 8% energy level. The sky (oh, it's too melodramatic to be real) is casted with thick dark clouds, a little drizzle on the background and half of my group is nowhere in sight among the dense crowd of a popular theme park. 
I answered it with half attention while scanning the crowd for them with my poor eyesight. The caller said something about bullet train tickets for 11 persons and it was delivered. Our tickets! And then they said something about cancelled hotel booking so I've got to pick it up on the hotel address I gave them. 
Huh! What cancellation is she talking about? Is she fooling me?  
I dropped the scanning part and zero-in the nearest available bench under a roof to cover from rain. This is going to be my most important caller for the day. Haha!

A true story and I can tell you a lot more. But to cut a long story short, first, my konichiwa for my new travelogue to share!

Hello, folks! Traveling to Japan must have made me dreamy again. All in all, it was fun and exciting! But it has surprises in it where I've learned valuable travel tips. My own experiences had me into writing these guides for the first time visitors like me and my group.

Here's my top 5:

1. How to Get There

Aside from a valid passport (not less than 6 months before expiration), visa is required from Filipino visitors. I have secured ours  from a travel agency and I'll share it on a different post. If you have a passport, book a flight to Narita for Tokyo entry or Kansai for Osaka/Kyoto entry. There are other entry points like Nagoya and Fukuoka. It will depend on where in Japan you'd stay the longest. We got our air tickets from Manila to Tokyo from Cebu Pacific and Jet Star from Osaka to Manila.


To know how to get an entry visa in Japan, read this post - How To Get Your Japan Tourist Visa.

2.  What Money To Bring in Japan

Before leaving the airport, you should have plenty of cash in hand. Yen is Japan's official currency. It is best that you buy it from your country of origin coz I didn't notice where foreign currency exchangers in the city are. There are some hotels with automated Forex machine but before you get there, commuting thru public vehicles needs paying thru cash. Using credit card is not much of a practice on most transactions. To get a good deal, plan ahead to give much time in buying your yen. From my experience, it's pretty much lower at the start of the year than it was last month.

3.  Transportation Around Japan

The best and practical mode of transport if you're moving around the city a lot is by train for tourists staying less than 7 days. JR pass is recommended if you'll be staying for a week until three weeks. It can be used for riding buses, local trains and Shinkansen (bullet trains) as much as you want. We purchased bullet train ticket from Tokyo to Osaka online. You may want to use Voyagin services, too. In retrospect, if you'll do interprovincial trips and you'll be riding bullet trains, a JR pass is practical even if you'll stay for less than a week.

4.  Seasons in Japan

September was the month when we were there. It wasn't too cold at all but we still felt chilly during early mornings, at night time and when we were at Mt. Fuji. It was suppose to be an autumn visit but it was still summer weather with rain showers, hence, a not too cold temperature at all. It was just fine. The only thing to consider is the weather forecast. Maybe, I wasn't taking it seriously that I'd needed to buy umbrellas on repeat coz it rained hard and we're out touring. What was I thinking? I have an excuse, tho. *cough* I'm looking for the kawai feel of their umbrellas. Haha. You know, that transparent, Asian-appeal umbrellas under the rain?! Yeah, that's my goal. 

Anyway, October until November will continue to have the autumn vibes. We're really aiming for the fall foliage but we're too early for it. After the fall comes the cold winter months of December until February. And the most beautiful season and best time to visit Japan as they say, is the spring season which falls on March to May. Now, I have reasons to come back sooner or just sooner (lol) because I missed what the other seasons can offer. *wink

And my advice is to check first the weather when your date of visit is closer so you'll know what you need to bring.

5. Accommodations in Japan

There are lots of options now and I can tell you that this shouldn't be much of a concern, even if miscommunications happen, like what we had. Well, I was surprised on that incident and it was a first for me but a lot of Japanese people are ready to help. All I need is just ask for help for the nearest phone booth and talk to the hotel receptionist to reaffirm my booking. There are so many nice hotels to choose from all around the city. Let me share to you my choices here, here, here and here.

You can also use my code for good deals from Agoda on the right side of this page. The best choice is the one near a train station.

For a big group, it's practical to rent a house. You may choose from modern, fully-furnished apartments or the traditional Japanese houses called Ryokan.

I've been lucky choosing houses for at least two occasions now from different places using AirBnB. So, I'm sharing to you my code for your apartment hunting on your travels for any parts of the world!

By lucky, I mean, nice, clean, fully equipped houses with best hosts! Just grateful.

Finally, it's best to be clear that Japan is NOT a cheap destination. Be prepared for it by planning ahead, doing research and connecting to best people that can help your stay enjoyable, memorable, efficient, safe and budget stretched. About that, I can tell you more on my next posts and all the awesome adventures.

Stay tuned!

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  1. Always thought of what it will be like going to Japan. In my mind it is this out-of-this-world place. Like travel in time to the future :) Thank you for these helpful tips!

    1. It has its historical/old Japan sites and modern cities. Both worlds in one. You just have to choose the city you'll most likely want to explore more coz each one is a destination by itself. Nearly impossible to cover much when we're there coz we only had few days. Plan ahead! :)


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