The land of samurais, geishas and a lot of mystery. The 4 main islands of Japan, hosting the 127 million’s population, keep the long history and unique culture, which is interweaving with the modern life and high technologies in very interesting way. Skyscrapers next to an old temple; a street with shops of the latest fashion and in front of it girl dressed in traditional colorful kimono. Capsule hotels with pleasant Japanese style hot spring downstairs. But this is Tokyo! The islands have mostly mountainous terrain with many volcanos, deep forest with small and pretty villages, wild monkeys and deer, and also beautiful seacoast landscape! The politeness of the people will turn upside down your notion of how kind the human beings can be! Japan is said to be the safest country in the world, where the people walk with a wallet half pulled out of the back pocket. This is ”The country of the rising sun”, which you’ll fall in love with!
When to go?
The most popular season is from the end of March to the end of April, when the famous Sakura (cherry tree) is blooming and everything is covered with pale pink color. May is also great option, as the weather is nice (sunny, with temperatures of 20-25 degree) and you’ll find many colorful bushes. In June-July is the rainy season, when the sky is almost constantly covered with clouds and it’s drizzling. Summer (August and September) is too hot and very humid. After the 3rd minute outside under shadow you’ll start sweating. October has temperatures of 20-25 degree. November and the beginning of December are very popular with the beautiful red leaves (Momiji). January and February are cold (5 to 15 degree) and not very green, but February will greet you with the purple and white blooms of the Japanese plum trees. Though most of the cities in Japan generally don’t see snow, some of the nearby mountains have up to 10-16 meters snow.
If you want to enjoy some of the popular festivals in Japan, check our festival calendar.
How many days?
Some tourists come for a short one-week trip to Tokyo and/or Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto). But having 2 weeks will allow you experiencing more of Japan. If the budget allows, for a month or two you’ll be able to see the main attractions across the country.
Check some of our recommended itineraries.
How much would cost?
One-week budget: 60,000-160,000 yen
Average price for hostel: 2,000 yen; Double bed in hotel or Japanese style Ryokan: 10,000-20,000 yen; Subway or bus ticket: 200-300 yen; Train/bus between Tokyo and Osaka: 14,000/3,000 yen; Restaurant: 600-1,200 yen; Entrance fee for touristic spots: 500-800 yen
The local currency is Japanese Yen. Exchanging money is possible at any airport and any bank in the cities. Though Japan is very high-tech country, it’s more cash economy and not all the shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Having cash with you before entering a store or restaurant is strongly recommended. Also, some ATMs don’t accept foreign cards. We recommend Japan Post Bank (ATMs in Japan have a work hours and are NOT available 24 hours) or other option are 24 hours ATMs in convenience stores.
Japanese is the official language and most of the people don’t speak English. Even so, the local people always will try to understand and help you, and they might even go bring you to the place you’re asking for. Only be patient – sometimes it takes long time for Japanese to say something, especially in English. In recent years, most of the station masters in Tokyo and Osaka speak English, as well some bus drivers in Kyoto, etc.
Tipping in restaurants or for taxi drivers is not a custom.
If you have a tattoo, you might not be able to enter hot spring. Read more about Japanese hot springs here.
The most popular destinations:
The most populous metropolis in the world, which has everything for everybody and will amaze you with its skyscrapers and dazzling night lights or old temples and Japanese gardens.
The old capital which keeps the authentic Japanese atmosphere with wooden houses along old street, plenty of impressive temples and wearing traditional kimono girls.
An important city in past, the 2nd biggest metropolis after Tokyo nowadays, Osaka is a modern city that keeps its Asian origins. The castle is the symbol of the city, but the friendly and talkative locals are who make the city so lovely.
The biggest castle in Japan and also UNESCO heritage.
Anice park in the mountains near Tokyo with amazing view to the majestic mount Fuji.
One of the old capitals with old temples, one of which hosts the biggest Buddha in Japan, and a laidback park with freely walking deer.
Except the dark history, the city has a nice castle and few nearby must see spots like island Miyajima with its red gate in the sea and town Iwakuni with its bridge build only from wood.
Takayama and Shirakawago:
Takayama is also called “The small Kyoto”, and the nearby UNESCO site of village Shirakawago will impress you with its genuine mountainous houses.
Famous not only with the beautiful beaches, but also with the local culture and food.
Japan’s the most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Shogunate.
Mostly famous with Kenrokuen - the most magnificent Japanese garden in the whole country.
The most green island you can ever see, all covered with most, deserves been a UNESCO site.