5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Japan

Whatever image you have of Japan, it's probably accurate, because it's all there. But you may also have some misconceptions about Japan. Let's see if we can fix that.


For example, many people believe that Japan is one of the world's most expensive countries. In fact, it's cheaper to travel in Japan than in much of North America, Western Europe and parts of Oceania.

Others think that Japan is impenetrable or even downright difficult. The fact is, Japan is one of the easiest countries in which to travel. It is, simply put, a place that will remind you why you started travelling in the first place. 

Did you know? That Japan’s literacy rate is a whopping 99% and that the country has over 200,000 ramen restaurants? Pretty amazing. Here are five things you might not know about Japan from the experts in the field - our friends in the travel industry.

1. Book Ahead

I wish I knew how packed hotels and hostels in Tokyo got on weekends. I normally wait until the last minute to get reservations, but that backfired in Tokyo. I had to spend 2 days in a capsule hotel in Tokyo because I couldn't find a room anywhere else. Plan early to ensure you have a hostel in a safe area of town. – Gary Arndt, Everything-Everywhere.com

2. Manage your Money

Automated teller machines are almost as common as vending machines in Japan. Unfortunately, most of these do not accept foreign-issued cards. Even if they display Visa and MasterCard logos, most accept only Japan-issued versions of these cards. Be sure to plan your spending money carefully so you don’t end up dead broke in the middle of your stay. LonelyPlanet.com

3. Grab a Map

Because location names are often only in Japanese and addresses are often chaotic, be sure to have a good map with you. Mark your accommodation clearly on the map. If you get lost, you can just point to the location to get help from people around, even if they don't speak English. - Peter Daams, Travellerspoint.com

WorldNomads: You might want to learn how to use a traditional Japanese toilet too.


4. Know the Drill

Japan is known for its earthquakes, so should you get stuck in the middle of one crouch under a sturdy table or desk, stand under a doorframe or head for the bathroom – these locations are usually the most structurally sound and offer you the most protection.

WorldNomads: Our staff member Jesse Perez was in Japan the day The Big One struck. Read about his experience and cross your fingers it doesn't happen to you.

5. Get Covered

Medical treatment is expensive in Japan with payment required in advance, so get adequate coverage. - Christina Tunnah, WorldNomads.com

And of course, whenever you’re travelling to a foreign country its always helpful to know a bit of the local language, Learn Japanese with WorldNomads Japanese Language Guide.

Going to Japan?

Want to find the most authentic street food, ways to get around and places to stay?
Get our FREE Japan Survival Guide to find out how!


  • Meredith said

    After losing her passport while traveling in Japan my mother and I found ourselves in a police station trying to ask for help in getting a new one. Luckily we had a hotel employee with us who was able to speak to an officer who spoke no English and translate for us the way to obtain a new one. The officer even drove us to the American Embassy.


  • Helena Wilson said

    I regards to point two... My partner and i recently travelled in Japan and did not have a single issue with ATM's. They are as common as 7/11. Almost every single 7/11 now has an international ATM available in it. As do 90% of post offices. Not once did we have a problem withdrawing cash, not even in the smallest of towns!


    • Tanya Knapp said

      Thank you so much! That point had me concerned; I am single female traveling alone I rarely care a lot of cash even when abroad, I have not needed to since the mid 90's but this is my first trip to Japan - ever!

      Thanks much...


  • Marilynn Smith said

    This is the safest country I have ever traveled in. It is wonderful to know that the Japanese people will go out of their way to help you. I had a young couple walk at least 6 blocks to the right bus stop so i could get back to my hotel. Trains are easy to use and cheap, you do not need to buy in advance except for the bullet train. This is a must see country!


  • vanessa lee said

    learn to speak japanese before going to japan


    • Mark said

      Good luck with that so on average i have the chance to see like 4 countries in my life time by your logic.


  • Zak Darken said

    Yea! make sure to spend the 7 plus years it takes to learn a foreign language before going to another country. Lol really?


  • Santhosh said

    Going to Japan in any case ought to be on the grounds that the spot is mind boggling. An aggregate society stun. Also, I am stating this subsequent to seeing a wide range of spots. The general population are neighborly and courteous, and make a special effort to help out you, regardless of the fact that they don't communicate in english. The nourishment is wild. All that stuff you considered attempting some time recently, you can discover it there. Well perhaps not human tissue, but rather then you ought to be bolted up some place if that is the thing that takes your extravagant for a nourishment treat.Onsen (hot springs) are all over the place and are an unmistakable part of the way of life. Any nation where scrubbing down in hot springs as a national side interest is a place.many individuals trust that Japan is one of the world's most costly nations. Truth be told, it's less expensive to go in Japan than in a lot of North America, Western Europe and parts of Oceania. Others believe that Japan is impervious or even out and out troublesome. The truth of the matter is, Japan is one of the simplest nations in which to travel. It is, basically, a spot that will remind you why you began going in any case. http://buddycab.in


  • Kc said

    You should know at least some of their language before you go there, even if it's just common phrases and simple words. I mean, think about it. Do you get upset at people for not knowing your language in your own country? You think, "well if they're gonna be here, they should know our language!" They probably feel the same. Besides, it's professional and shows your drive. I self-taught myself Japanese, and despite what you might believe, it did not take seven years.


  • Outspoken Photographer said

    This is an awesome post! We read this carefully before we went to Japan. It help us a lot. Thanks :D

    Watch my 2 best friends (8 years) and I recently just went to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto (14 Days) # BestfriendGoals
    Check out our travel video.
    10 Things you should know about JAPAN
    Part 1
    Part 2


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