Planning a trip to Japan? We share how to travel to Japan from the USA, so you know what to expect on your visit.
Can I travel to Japan yet?
Yes! Japan has reopened for all tourists and you can visit with ease; just check which visa you would need depending on your passport and get planning. Learn all the new visa requirements for Japan for US citizens.
What is the best time to visit Japan?
If you’re looking for a break from the sweltering summer heat, there are plenty of festivals to attend and fewer foreign tourists in summer. Aside from that, this is the finest time to explore Japan’s various beaches and climb Mount Fuji, which is only accessible during this time of year.
Spring (March-April) and fall (late October-early December) are the most popular and nicest months to visit Japan. This is the time of year to see the stunning cherry blossoms (Sakura) and fall leaves (Koyo). Even though it’s more busy and pricey, the weather can be spectacular, making it well worth the extra effort.
During the off-season, warm weather and fewer tourists make May and late September/early October ideal seasons to visit.
Things to know before you go to Japan
Here are a few things you might not expect if you’re an American visiting Japan for the first time.
There isn’t much free public Wi-Fi
Japan may not have as much free Wi-Fi as the US, but if you don’t have an international phone plan, you still have a few choices for connecting to the internet while you’re there. Pocket Wi-Fi is the most helpful piece of technology you’ll get in Japan. This is exactly what it sounds like a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can power multiple smartphones and even a laptop or two on a single charge!
You don’t need to leave a tip
Tipping is not common in Japan, as it is in many other countries. Tipping your waiter may even be deemed disrespectful in some situations. While gratuity is not expected, many restaurants levy a table fee, cover fee, or mandatory appetiser price. A table fee is often not disclosed upfront by the restaurant, but if they place an unpaid appetiser on your table, you can be sure you’ll be charged one. However, casual lunch locations, such as ramen shops, did not charge a table fee.
There are fewer restrictions on smoking
Smoke-free laws are common in the United States and prohibit smoking in most indoor areas. That’s why it might seem shocking to see people smoking inside bars and restaurants in Japan. Smoking rules in Japan are generally more liberal than in the United States, so if you want to find smoke-free places, you’ll need to do some digging.
Eating and walking can be disrespectful sometimes
You may be considered rude if you eat while walking because some food scents may bother other pedestrians. Nishiki Market in Kyoto, which sells street food, has signs telling people not to walk while eating; thus, most people grab their meal and eat it while standing outside the stall.
Taxis are expensive and not overly available during daytime
Japan’s public transportation system is remarkably effective and broad, particularly in Tokyo. Consequently, few people use cabs during the day. However, the subways stop running at midnight, so if you need to take a taxi during your stay, be ready to pay more than in the United States. Taxi ride in Kyoto costs 1000 yen, which is about $9 in US dollars. The taxi meter normally begins at around 400 to 700 yen (around $3 to $6). Taxis in New York City start at $3.30, taken as a reference point.
Women-only subway cars
The Tokyo subway system implemented women-only subway trains for early morning and late-night travels in an effort to safeguard women from sexual harassment. Follow the fuchsia signs in the stations to find these cars.
People generally don’t eat or drink on the subway
The Japanese subways are so peaceful and orderly may have much to do with how strictly everyone adhered to the rules. No one generally eats or drinks on the metro. Moreover, no one uses their cell phone. These factors made the subway ride a pleasurable one.
Map your trip before you get a Japan rail Pass
If you buy a flight or a hotel online, you’ll start to see advertisements for the Japan Rail Pass or JR Pass. With this pass, you can travel on any of Japan Rail’s lines at any time. The JR Pass must be pre-ordered before you arrive in Japan. If you plan to take at least two cross-country train rides, this unlimited pass is worth the $251 price tag. If you’re thinking about taking a train across the country to explore various Japanese cities or if you need a round-trip ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto, a JR Pass can be a good option.