One thing that I absolutely love about blogging and social networking, is the people you meet along the way. Be it through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you are likely to have discovered some really cool people online. Rhiannon from Rhiannon Travels is one of those people!
I started following her Instagram account when she was a relatively new blogger and was really impressed by her motivation in the blogging world! When I found out she was going to Japan for a month with her boyfriend, I was excited to see what kind of adventures she would be getting up to!
I have not yet made it to Asia, unfortunately, but feel that I should be able to cover topics from all over the world (even places I haven’t been to) on Diaries From The Window Seat. Hence this guest post! I hope you enjoy it and send some love over to Rhiannon’s own blog!
Guest post written by Rhiannon from rhiannontravels.com.
Check out her website to see more posts on her adventures in Japan, along with the rest of the world!
After spending a whole month in a foreign country, it started to become less overwhelming and difficult to get the hang of than it was when we first arrived. Japan is an amazing country, where every single person you meet is incredibly friendly and polite. Their transport system is world class, always on time and impeccably clean. Even their convenience stores make budget shopping a totally new experience.
If I could, I would have spent much longer than a month in Japan. There’s still so much I didn’t get a chance to see and do. So much that I would have loved to experience. But you can also learn a lot about a totally new country, in four weeks.
I’ve come up with 12 tips to help you plan your Japanese adventure. From train schedules and hotel check in times to where to eat breakfast! All the important topics, obviously!
1. If you plan to travel between cities (or prefectures), purchase a Japan Rail Pass
These passes let you ride the Shinkansen Bullet Train, which is a super fast and just as fancy train that travels almost anywhere across Japan. This is the best way to travel between cities, especially if you’re short on time. You can also use this pass to ride any regular trains around Japan, as long as you’re entering via the JR gate! The only downside is you can’t purchase the JR passes whilst in Japan. They are only available to foreigners who are staying in Japan for less than 90 days. So think ahead, and order one online!
2. Hotels generally don’t allow check in before 3pm. So definitely make sure you plan your travels around this!
Say for example you’re catching the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo. This trip will take between 2 and a half to 3 hours. So I would suggest checking out at the correct time and have the hotel hold your luggage, then head out and grab some breakfast before leaving for the train station!
3. Don’t be disappointed if you get small hotel bathrooms
ALL Japanese hotels and hotel bathrooms are going to be small. You may get lucky and score a normal Western size hotel room, but for the most part, be prepared to live in a tiny space. That’s just how Japan is, so please don’t be one of those people who complain that everything is so different!
4. Food can be pretty cheap if you know where to go
Convenience stores and fast-food places will have the cheapest food. Japan isn’t big on breakfast, so you won’t find many breakfast style restaurants around. If you’re someone who enjoys eating a big meal in the morning, McDonalds or convenience stores will be your best bet. Most convenience stores sell sandwiches and other cheap, healthy foods, and they’re super delicious too!
5. The train stations aren’t as scary and confusing as they first look
Most train stations will have the English translation for all trains, buses, cities and stops around Japan. So if you’re at Tokyo Station and are trying to get to, say, Disneyland, there will be signs everywhere leading you in the right direction. As long as you know which platform you need, the rest is pretty easy!
6. Speaking of Disneyland, if you’re staying in Tokyo, add it to your itinerary
Japan has two Disney parks: Disneyland and DisneySea. If you’ve visited other Disneyland parks around the world, I would definitely recommend hitting up DisneySea. It’s super unique, with incredible sets and decorations. Definitely worth spending a day at DisneySea if you’re looking for things to do in Tokyo!
7. Don’t worry about budgeting extra for tipping, it isn’t a thing in Japan!
This was one of the coolest things about Japan. Tipping isn’t expected, and is almost frowned upon! You aren’t required to tip anyone in a hotel or restaurant, or anywhere else for that matter! So whatever money you decide to budget for food and shopping, it’s unnecessary to include extra for tipping. #score
8. The Google Translation app will be your best friend
You’re in Japan. Everything is in Japanese. Well, almost everything. There will be times where you’re in a restaurant and aren’t sure what something on the menu is. Download the Google Translation app. You can take photos of anything written in Japanese, and it will translate it into English! The translation won’t always be smooth, but you’ll get the gist.
9. Japan has escalator etiquette
In Japan, if you’re riding up or down an escalator, it’s expected that you stand on the right hand side (left hand side in Osaka). This allows the other side to be free for people who are in a hurry, and don’t want to stand waiting on the escalator! Which is totally understandable, because Japan has some crazy high and long escalators!
10. Stores generally open at 11am
There are some exceptions, of course, but for the most part stores don’t open until 11am. This is because they tend to stay open later at night. In Australia, stores are open from 9am until 5pm (longer on Thursday nights). So it was odd heading out to start our shopping days, and seeing that everything was still closed!
11. Buy your alcohol at convenience stores
This blew our minds. Alcohol in Japan is incredibly cheap. You can buy a full sized bottle of whisky for under $20. Bottles of wine are generally under $10, and if you want a vodka premix to drink while walking down the street, it’ll cost you around 2 dollars. Did I mention I love Japan?
12. Make sure you learn a few key Japanese words and phrases
Japanese is a cool language to listen to, but it’s super hard to learn. One thing we learnt during out stay, is that very few people actually know and speak English. You’ll come across a person here and there who you can have a broken conversation with, but fluent English speakers are rare. Make sure you learn a few key words and phrases before you arrive. General greetings and ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ should definitely be memorized!
Despite what most people assume, Japan isn’t a very difficult country to navigate and adapt to. Almost everything is written in English as well as Japanese. Plus, if you’re stuck, the world’s friendliest people will do anything they can to help! I absolutely loved Japan, and will definitely be back. This time, at least I (and now all of you!) know the basics about this beautiful country.
If you enjoyed this post, check out some more like it on Rhiannon’s blog rhiannontravels.com. Also make sure to check out her Instagram and twitter!
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