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These are the 7 biggest mistakes tourists are making when visiting Japan right now

These are the 7 biggest mistakes tourists are making when visiting Japan right now


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Few places in the world are as unique as Japan. Understandably, many visitors from the US, Europe, and other countries take a detour or two when encountering cultures that are very different from their own.

That said, no one wants to be the typical ignorant tourist.

Here are the top five mistakes travelers are currently making when visiting Japan, and how to avoid them:

Women in traditional kimono walk through orange gates in Kyoto, Japan
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Bought the wrong type of train ticket

The Japan Rail Pass (or JR Pass) is a transportation pass for unlimited use of trains, airport transfers, buses and ferries in Japan. As the pass is only available to overseas visitors, it must be purchased online prior to travel.

At $212 for 7 days (or $338 for 14 days), the JR Pass is a really worthwhile purchase option.

So how do you know if the JR Pass is worth buying?

  • Prioritize time if your multi-city trip. – A one-week JR pass is cheaper than a round-trip Shinkansen bullet train ticket between cities, such as Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka and back. While Buget travelers can opt for Japan’s neglected luxury buses starting at $15, the shinkansen is definitely still the best way to get between cities in Japan. It’s almost an experience in itself.
  • If your travel is between October and December 2023. – Even if you’re not sure how many trains you’ll need, you can buy your JR Pass online before September 25 to avoid a 70% price increase from October 1. You have 3 months from the date of purchase to activate your pass.
  • If you are traveling with kids. – For JR Pass holders, children under 6 years old are free, and children 6-11 years old are half price.
  • If you are traveling during peak tourist season or peak hours. – During the world-famous cherry blossom season from March to May, the peak summer holiday season, and other busy times, you may need to reserve a seat on the train. Reserved seats are more expensive than unreserved tickets, so the JR Pass is worth the money.

Still not sure the best deal for your trip? Try the handy Japan Rail Pass calculator.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of forgetting to claim watermelon card Depart from any airport or train station when you arrive in Japan.

Surprisingly, cash is still king in this technologically advanced country, so the Suica card is a great solution for contactless payments on Japan’s public transport network as well as vending machines, shops and restaurants.

Japan Rail Pass at the train station
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eating and drinking in public places

With so many delicious meals, snacks and drinks available for any budget, it can be easy to get so excited that you forget the etiquette of eating in Japan.

In Japan, it is considered very bad manners to eat or drink in public.

Visitors should be extra careful not to drink water or eat snacks while walking, and definitely not no way on public transport. (The exception here would be to carry a water bottle with you or a bento on a long train ride.)

If visitors must eat and drink on the go, they can find a quiet spot in the park, or sit on a public bench. The area directly in front of the vending unit is also usually a safe zone.

Japanese woman in traditional dress eats on a bench
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Spend your entire budget on food

Yes, you’re in a gourmet paradise, home to the most Michelin 3-star restaurants in the world. But in Japan, you definitely don’t need to pay to go to fancy restaurants to eat well.

Westerners usually think sushi As an expensive meal option. But in Japan, sushi is fresher and more affordable than almost anywhere else — and You don’t even need to pay a fortune to visit one of Japan’s many amazing sushi restaurants to enjoy this delicacy.

Both sushi lunch sets are from Depackas $4-6 (department store basement food hall), $8-12 at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, great value.

Japan is also convenience storeor convenience store, This puts 7-11s all over the world to shame.If hundreds of instant noodles are not to your taste, try it rice balla triangular rice ball wrapped in seaweed paper, filled with all kinds of delicious meat and fish, for only one yuan.

Japanese conveyor belt sushi
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Did you know that if Japan’s 5 million vending machines were all lined up side by side, they would stretch from Tokyo to Hawaii?

Quantity does not compromise quality at all either. While visitors might expect chilled sake and hot lattes, they might be surprised by fresh produce, steaming dim sum, traditional curries and stylish tinned cakes.

when it comes to crowd pleasing Hand-Pulled NoodleThere are plenty of affordable options besides cup noodle vending machines and convenience stores. Many budget and mid-range ramen shops use vending ticket systems to simplify the ordering process, with prices starting at $5.

female tourist eating food in japan
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tip

Travelers may think they are tipping to compliment a restaurant’s service. Unfortunately, this would be a tricky cultural blunder in this corner of Asia.

Tipping is indeed an offense in Japan.

Staff get embarrassed and don’t know how to treat you or your bill. Some restaurants do charge a service charge of a few dollars per person, or a flat 10% fee that will be included in your check.

Lanterns and signs light up Tokyo's dark streets
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Poorly planned arrival and departure from Tokyo

Most international travelers start their Japan adventures in Tokyo – or so they think.

Narita International Airport is no in Tokyo. In fact, Chiba Prefecture can be reached in an hour and a half by the Airport Express train from central Tokyo. JR’s Narita Express and Keisei’s Skyliner cost about $35, but operate from about 7:30am to 9:30pm.

Many tourists also make the mistake of arriving in central Tokyo during rush hour. It’s hard enough cramming your body into a train with the help of a trolley man between 7am and 9am and 5pm and 7pm, let alone squeeze your luggage into it. There are also no trains between 1am and 5am.

Without proper planning, travelers can find themselves clueless, drowning in a sea of ​​commuters, getting bogged down, or paying exorbitant airport taxi fares of $180 to $220.

Women riding the Japanese subway

Stay in boring chain hotels

This is definitely not a country for staying in plain old chain hotels.

Japan offers a variety of unique lodging experiences at every price point.

  • hostel – These Japanese hotels range in size from traditional family homes to large designer hotels.What they have in common are tatami mats, public roads, public areas, traditional multi-course dinners Kaiseki, And immerse yourself in Japanese culture.
  • fireplace – Countryside traditional guesthouses offer visitors a breath of fresh air and a step back in time.
  • Shukubo – Pilgrims have sought refuge in Buddhist temples for centuries. Many temples now offer once-in-a-lifetime overnight stays for the open-minded visitor.
  • Spa Hotel – Natural hot springs give life to Japanese people spa, or public hot spring baths. Many hotels and resorts offer spa-like facilities and private baths for a zen wellness retreat.
  • capsule hotel – They’re not just compact cabins for backpackers. Modern and stylish capsule chains like First Cabin offer space-saving “first class” rooms with plenty of room to move around and hotel-grade amenities including humidifiers, smart TVs and shaving cream.
Couple enjoying food at Japanese traditional hotel
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Stick to the old ways (and the fast lane)

Many tourists try to see too many of Japan’s iconic sights in just a few days. Traveling between Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and the picturesque islands, they spend so much time packing and transiting that they only scratch the surface of what Japan has to offer.

Focusing on one area and veering off course can elevate a typical tourist tornado into a transformative experience.

Try grouping popular Kyoto or Osaka with destinations like Nara and Kobe, or even out-of-the-way gems in nearby prefectures:

  • Arashiyama – Some tourists from Kyoto visited the Bamboo Forest and then flew directly back to the city. Instead, you can spend the night in this sleepy town. Explore its tea plantations and traditional way of life.
  • egan – This remote fishing village is worth the trek north from Kyoto for its floating guesthouses and local boat tours.
  • Uji – Even the most skeptical tourist can’t help but fall in love with the allure of the matcha capital. A paradise for tea lovers!
  • Awaji – This quirky island near Osaka has everything from an anime-themed park to lush, flower-filled hillsides.
Woman traveling in bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Japan
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Traveler Alert: Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance for your next trip!

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