Travel Guide Japan

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Japan
Travel Guide

Where is it?

Japan consists of several thousands of islands, of which Honshu, HokkaidoKyushu and Shikoku are the four largest. Japan’s closest neighbours are Korea, Russia and China. The Sea of Japan separates the Asian continent from the Japanese archipelago. (Reference 1)

 

How to get there:

By plane:

Either Narita Airport (NRT) near Tokyo or Kansai Airport (KIX) near Osaka; a smaller number use Chubu International Airport (NGO) near Nagoya. (Reference 2)

By Boat:

From Korea, China, Taiwan, Russia, there are a few international ferries to Japan, your best bet is to take one to Fukuoka or Osaka as it has a large port and an airport nearby for transfer. (Reference 2)

 

When to go:

The best time of year is Spring and Autumn, these months have the most pleasant weather.

Other times:

Winter, if you like the snow and skiing December to March.

Summer, very hot above 35°C can have extreme humidity.

 

Climate:

Four seasons.

Spring:

From March to May, Around 15-20 oC, it is getting warm but not too hot and not too much rain, it is like baby bear from Goldie locks…. It’s just right.

This time of year you will see the famous cherry blossom, sakura as it is known. Also it is a time of many festivals and can be busy, so get out there and enjoy.

Summer:

From June to August, it starts with the rainy season for about 4 weeks, and then heads in to a steady hot and humid sauna with temperatures consistently around 30-35°C a lot of the time. The best thing this time of year is the many firework festivals known as hanabi taikai.

Autumn:

From September to November. Around 15-20 oC brings light breezes and is very comfortable. Head to Kyoto for the autumn festival, the colours of the trees on the mountains are just amazing.

Winter:

From December to February, in Tokyo it is between 5-10 oC. Other parts, towards the north, are much colder especially Hokkaido.

Go Skiing or to the onsen (hot spring), and get yourself some of the best winter ramen (soup with noodles) from Hokkaido to warm up.

(Reference 2, 3, 4)

 

How to get around (the basics):

How much by taxi?

Very Expensive, starting fees are usually around ¥640-710 and then the fare ticks up rapidly as you go.

How much by train?

As little as ¥130-500 from one destination to the next. Day pass is around ¥1500 depending on the area

Bullet train, known as a shinkansen, is a similar price to a plane fair between cities but a lot of fun.

The Japanese train system is extensive and is probably the best in the world; it is the easiest way to get around japan.

How much by bus?

As little as ¥100 and goes up from there depending on distance travelled.

 

Where to stay:

Personally I like to stay in cheap places, as long as the bed is fairly comfortable and I feel safe is all that matters. I don’t see the point in paying vast amounts of money for a place you just sleep in. You have come to see a country and its culture, not the inside of a room, so get out there!

Type of accommodation:

City Hostel Hotel
Tokyo 2,167.09 ¥ 10,461.80 ¥
Osaka 2,120.27 ¥ 7,323.07 ¥
Kyoto 2,154.09 ¥ 17,225.50 ¥

There is also what is known as a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese guesthouse, their price is like that of a hotel.  (The above list is of average prices), (Reference 5)

 

Where to eat:

In Japan there are many styles of food from western to Japanese, I suggest you eat Japanese food because it’s the most delicious. I love noodles the most, with many different types to choose from. You could stop and eat at just about any place because Japanese are known for quality. You could even eat at the convenience store; They have sandwiches that are always super fresh. Don’t be afraid to use chopsticks, once you get the hang of it you will be catching flies just like Mr. Miyagi from Karate kid in no time.

Costs of food:

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant average 800 ¥

Meal for 2, mid-range restaurant, three course 4,000 ¥

Combo meal at McDonald’s or similar 650 ¥

(The above list is of average prices), (Reference 5)

 

Attractions:

 Tokyo:

Head to Akihabara and shop for electronics

Visit a Japanese Garden

Harajuku fashion district

Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa

 

Osaka:

Dotonbori the famous glico running man, neon sign

Walk around the streets near the canals

Namba shopping

Shinsekai, Tsutenkaku tower (good standing bars and food in this area)

 

Kyoto:

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Sagano Bamboo grove, Arashiyama

Walk the narrow laneways near the river

 

 

Highlights and noteworthy places to visit in surrounding areas:

Mount fuji

Visit an onsen, any onsen!

Kyoto Mountains in autumn

Sumo match

Kiyomizu-dera temple

Stay at a Ryokan

Japan Alps, see wild monkeys bathe in an onsen

Go see an indie idol live show (Tokyo)

 

Festivals and events:

Tokyo:

Tokyo Marathon: February 23

Tokyo International Anime Fair: Late March, 4 days long.

Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi: Late August, everyone is genki (happy).

Asakusa Samba carnival: August 31

Mount Fuji: July 1 – August 31

 

Osaka:

Tenjin Masturi: July 24 – 25, 100 boat procession, bonfires and more.

Kishiwada Danjiri: one in September and one in October. Japan’s biggest cart pulling festival.

 

Nagoya:

World Cosplay Summit: August over 2 days, they invite only the best cosplayers from around the world, around 18,000 people come to watch.

 

Kobe:

Luminarie: December, over 200,000 hand-painted lights.

 

Kyoto:

Gion matsuri: Entire month July, many stalls and a parade at the end of the month.

Jidai Matsuri: October 22, festival of the ages.

Autumn Leaves: Late September – Early December

 

Hokkaido:

Sapporo snow festival: February 5 – 11, Larger than life Ice and snow sculptures in the streets of Hokkaido.

Tengu Matsuri: July, a Japanese demon with a long red nose, the demon appears  then walks through fire.

 

Across Japan:

Various fireworks festivals and displays July – August

Cherry blossom: Late March – April

Summer sonic music festival, 2 days in Tokyo and Osaka

(Reference 6)

 

Tips:

Always be polite, No matter what! And I do mean no matter what. Japanese are always very respectful, helpful and humble people even when there is a disagreement.

 

Don’t speak on your mobile phone on the train, people considered this very rude; They will give you looks of disgust, and I would as well.

 

Sleeping on the train is normal and very safe; it is surprising to see someone who is fast asleep jump up momentarily just as the train comes to a halt and then rush out the doors. How do they know it’s the right stop?

 

If you are lost or need help just ask, Japanese are very helpful and if they cannot help you, often they will find someone who can. It will help even more if you ask in Japanese. You only need to learn one word, sumimasen, pronounced “Su-mi-ma-sen” it means excuse me.

 

You can buy a second-hand kimono in good condition for as little as 500-1500 ¥, you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars.

 

Generally shoes are never worn inside a home or almost anywhere, and especially not on a tatami mat, you will take them off at the door and put on slippers that are usually provided.

 

When invited to someone’s home bring a small gift, usually food or a type of snack that has been appropriately rapped.

 

Do what the locals do?

Go for a couple of drinks at a small standing bar, they are a lot of fun and you always meet interesting people.

 

Sleep on the train! Yes this is normal, you will see many people who have long commutes sleeping, is common for people who commute 2hrs each way!

 

In winter buy a can of hot coffee or hot chocolate from a vending machine, then put the can in your jacket pocket to warm up.

 

Dangers and safety:

The crime rate in Japan is very low, I have left my bag at a restaurant and went back the next day, and sure enough they had my bag.

Safety walking alone during daylight 90.24

Safety walking alone during night 87.80

The closer to 100 the safer it is.

(Reference 5)

 

Other internet sources for information!

Official tourism guide:

http://www.japantravelinfo.com/top/index.php

Fodor’s travel:

http://www.fodors.com/search/results.html?search=Japan&submit=

 

Map:

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Reference list:

  1. http://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1000.html
  2. http://wikitravel.org/en/Japan#Get_in
  3. http://www.statravel.com.au/japan-climate.htm
  4. http://www.worldweather.org/index.htm
  5. http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Japan
  6. http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/100-best-festivals-in-Japan

 

Other references:

http://wikitravel.org/en/Japan#Get_around

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Japan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population

 

 

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