Here, we compiled some tips that we really find useful when we were in Japan, all of which are based on our personal experience during our 8-day trip.
- Kyoto is easier to navigate by bus than by train, so make sure to get the The Kyoto City Bus & Kyoto Bus One-Day Pass for JPY500 per day (applicable to flat fare zones only).
- Tokyo has a complex but very efficient subway system. We recommend you to buy the Tokyo Subway Ticket – Unlimited use of all subway lines (Toei and Tokyo Metro). Ticket prices – 24 hours: 800 yen, 48 hours: 1200 yen, 72 hours: 1500 yen.
- We’d not recommend you to buy the JR Pass if you’re just riding the Shinkansen only once during a week-long trip, not worth it.
- If you’re planning to ride the Shinkansen from Osaka or Kyoto to Tokyo, better to reserve tickets early to get a window seat on the rightmost side to be able to see the majestic Mt. Fuji while in transit! (you’ll thank us for this, so you’re welcome! :D) We bought ours at Kyoto Station two days before our trip to Tokyo.
- Traveling from one city to another can be a hassle if you have big suitcases. Of course you’d not want to carry your luggage while touring, more so, wait for the hotel’s 2:00 PM check-in time so you can leave your luggage there. Therefore, the best thing to do is to ask your hotel if they have a storage room for your luggage. If you booked through AirBnb (like us), most hosts are accommodating, they have a storage area and even allow early check-in for no additional fee. 🙂 Otherwise, there are lockers available in big train stations.
- In Kyoto, be very EARLY at the popular tourist destinations like Fushimi Inari Taisha, Arashiyama Bamboo forest, Kinkaku-ji, or Ginkaku-ji temples. You can visit the Shinto shrines like Fushimi Inari anytime of the day. You can go there as early as 6:00 AM so you can capture nice photos and enjoy the place without having to deal with a lot of tourists. But for temples, they usually open 9:00 in the morning.
- Shrines and public parks have no entrance fee; while Temples usually charge JPY300-600 entrance fee per person.
- Temple fatigue is real, so strike a balance among the places you’re going to visit. Remember, entrance to the temples are NOT free. And check if the temple is under construction at the time of your visit because that’s what we overlooked when we visited Kiyomizudera last April, it was being renovated!
- Bring a big coin purse, because any amount below JPY1000 are all coins!
- Bring a raincoat or an umbrella especially during spring. You can buy transparent umbrellas from local shops or convenience stores for JPY500-600 each. It’s a nice souvenir, actually. 🙂
- Wear your most comfortable and easy-to-wear shoes, and always wear socks!
- Pocket Wi-Fi or data connection is a must! Pocket Wi-Fi devices are available at any Japan airport. We rented ours at Kansai Airport for JPY700+ per day.
- Always ready your Google Maps app when navigating your way whether you’re walking or riding the bus, train, subway, or taxi.
- When verbal communication fails, make sure you have installed Google Translate app. It helped us a lot of times when we were trying to read instructions, signages, or even restaurant menus.
- Bring a multiple socket plug or a USB hub charging port because not all accommodation provide enough electric sockets.
- Don’t forget to bring a Power bank with at least 16000mAh that can charge your phone and pocket wi-fi enough to survive an entire day. Remember, you’ll be heavily using navigation apps which are battery-draining.
Food and Drinks
- Even if you’re on a budget, please don’t deprive yourself so much on food because you’re really missing a lot! We’d suggest you just lessen the frequency of your meals. What we did was to have light breakfast while on our way to our first destination (usually, we just had sandwich and coffee from Lawson or 7/11) and then have heavy BRUNCH and DINNER. (See our next post Food Trip in Japan)
- Freshly brewed coffee is available at convenience stores. JPY150 only for a regular cup – almost the same price as the coffee-in-can from vending machines.
- Always bring with you a water bottle and just refill it from water fountains mostly found in parks. Yes, tap water is safe to drink in Japan.
- Uji is a small city in Kyoto that is known for producing the best matcha/green tea in Japan, so don’t miss the opportunity to try matcha-flavored desserts in Kyoto.
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- Royce chocolates are available at the airport for JPY750 or Php340 only per box! (because in the Philippines, it’s so expensive!)
- Don Quijote is the place to go for pasalubong shopping. Lots of Japanese snacks, goodies, and souvenir items to choose from to bring back home. It’s a one-stop shop! For Pinoys out there, sobrang sulit dito promise! 😉
That’s all for now, we hope you’ve found some tips here that might help you in planning your trip. Or if you’ve been to Japan and have other useful tips too, kindly share them below in the comment section. 🙂
Thanks for reading.