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Tips to know before going to Japan

Tips to know before going to Japan!


Planning a vacation to the land of the rising sun? Not sure where or when to go? Fret not, I have compiled some tips and tricks in this article for you travellers that are planning to have a good time in Japan.




What’s the best time to go to Japan?


So you’ve already determined to go to Japan. Great for you. Exhilarated, you start packing your clothes, socks and snacks to prepare for the trip. However, you’re faced with a dilemma soon after; when do you go? 

The 4 seasons of Japan

Japan has four distinct seasons: Spring (March to May), Summer (June to August), Autumn (September to November) and Winter (December to February). The climate and temperature vary based on season and region. Each season also offers various attractions and sightseeing spots that can only be best enjoyed in a particular season.


Spring

The most popular time for tourists to visit Japan. With temperatures varying from 12 °C to 20 °C, it’s the most suitable time to sightsee Mt Fuji as well as feast on the sight of the famous cherry blossoms. It’s also the best overall time to go to Japan considering there are many festivals and public holidays such as the Sakura Matsuri. Be sure to pack moderate clothes like a jacket as well as a light coat since temperatures can get cold!




Summer

The only and perfect time to go to the beach! Weather in Japanese summers can get very hot and humid so be sure to wear lightly with T-shirts and shorts plus a hat for the sunshine. Summer can get very packed even without tourists as the school holiday shares the same period. Due to this, you may see hikes in prices in hotels and resorts, as well as an absurd amount of people at the beach as well as amusement parks. Summer also houses the Natsu Matsuri festival, a traditional summer festival, as well as other smaller festivals. Lastly, if summer is your go-to pick, be sure to watch the summer fireworks that are held almost every week!


Autumn

Normally dry and warm at later, autumn in Japan meets the typhoon season during September, which can ruin your fun trip. If you avoid the typhoon season, you can enjoy the bright and colourful autumn leaves, along with the beautiful nature. The temperatures are similar to Spring so you can wear light clothes such as a jacket and a coat. Halloween is also in the events list for autumn and Japan is one of the countries that highly celebrates Halloween with many special events as well as special attractions at Universal Studios and Tokyo Disney Resort!


Winter

The perfect time for skiing and skateboarding, Japanese winters are one of the best out there with tons of activities as well as festivals celebrated all around the country. However, since it’s close to New Years as well as Christmas, it can get pretty packed, which means that most tourists spots like hotels, resorts and other accommodations will be crowded. Most tourists recommend skiing and skateboarding in winter so be sure to visit Hokkaido and Nagano for snowy mountains and breathtaking views. Of course, wear warm and heavy clothes to combat against the freezing 3 °C weather in Japan. 




What do I do in Japan?


You’re in the airport, stoked to finally be in Japan and can’t wait to venture to your heart’s desire. But where do you go? How do you enjoy the Japanese experience?


Hotels and residence

If you’re looking for a place to stay while in Japan but don’t know what’s best for you, I’ll list out some hotel choices that vary from traditional to straight out of a sci-fi movie.


Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku - Located in central Shinjuku just a 4-minute walk from Shinsen-Shinjuku Station and JR Shinjuku Station, Hotel Sunroute Plaza features rooms with satellite TV and free WiFi.


ONSEN RYOKAN YUEN SHINJUKU - Attractively set in the Shinjuku Ward district of Tokyo, the hotel is located a 17-minute walk from Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, 1.8 km from Zenrosai Hall Space Zero and 2.3 km from Yamano Hall. 


nine hours Shinjuku-North -  An odd but fascinating area to stay in. Located just a 2-minute walk from JR Shin-Okubo Station, nine hours Shinjuku-North offers capsule units in Tokyo. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property. Their capsule rooms are their main attraction.




These are only some of the places you can opt to stay at. As it’s located near popular areas, it would make it easier for you to enjoy Japan to its fullest. If you’re not too keen on these and want to enjoy Japan at it’s most traditional, the next option might just be the one for you!




Ryokan – Ryokans date back to the 17th century, back in the Edo period. At that time, guests slept on tatami mats rolled on the floor. The tradition has been preserved in the form of a ryokan. If you prefer to stay at a Japanese traditional inn instead of a modern hotel, ryokans are a good choice to consider. Generally paired with an onsen (hot spring baths), you can fully enjoy the Japanese experience. Most serve a delicious breakfast/dinner set at the ryokan so you don’t have to worry about your stomach rumbling.


Food

Now that you’ve found your residence for your period of stay, a familiar feeling washes over you. You crave something in your stomach and walking past all the delicious-looking food stands and restaurants only made your hunger spike. Faced with countless food choices, what do you eat?

Udon – A type of noodles made with flour that’s frequently eaten with soup stock. A staple food of the Japanese, udon come in many varieties depending on the restaurants. Finding your favourite one can be quite difficult if you’re a fan of noodles.


Takoyaki – Deep-fried dough in the shape of a ball with different fillings inside. Mostly served with bonito flakes, takoyaki can be found almost anywhere in Japan.


Tonkatsu – The world’s first pork cutlet restaurant originated in Japan and to this day, many tourists and locals frequent the humble outlet. Tonkatsu is basically deep-fried breaded pork cutlet.





Soba – Soba is the thinner version of udon, made from buckwheat or wheat flour. They can be served either in a hot broth or a cold broth with a dipping sauce.


Ramen – Joining the noodle siblings is ramen, wheat noodles served with toppings like seaweed, menma and green onions in a meat or fish-based broth.


Well then, you’ve had your fi-


No. No, no, no. You can’t be serious. You’re in Japan for the first time but you’re not going to try out genuine Japanese sushi? Surely you have room for sushi!


Sushi – More of a premium meal, sushi in Japan is topped with fresher ingredients and a different environment than most places. What's distinct here is the fact that you can see the sushi chef preparing your meal, right in front of you.



Places of Interest


Alright. With a full stomach, it’s time to go sightseeing in some of the most beautiful places Japan has to offer.


Shibuya – The world-renowned “Scramble Crossing” can be found near the Shibuya Station. With nearly 2.8 million people a day crossing the intersection, it can make the perfect selfie. Be sure to reach the other side of the intersection before the lights go red though!




Akihabara – If you’re a fan of the Japanese sensation, animes and manga or anything game related, then Akihabara is the place for you. It’s filled with shops full of animes and mangas, PC cafés and more. If you search hard enough, you might even find the legendary maid café!


Hitsujiyama Park – If you’re travelling to Japan during the cherry blossoms season, then you should add Hitsujiyama Park to your to-do list. It offers one of the best cherry blossoms viewing locations. It has over 3 different colours of cherry blossoms and is a picturesque view for many!




Okinawa – Scattered off two and a half hours from Tokyo by plane, the Okinawa islands are known to be the best place for a tropical retreat by many locals. It not only has an astounding beach but it also has a rich history of being an old kingdom.


These are only some of the places that you can visit in Japan and if you’d like to know more, be sure to research to fully enjoy your first trip to Japan! With that said, I’ll be presenting you with a few obscure tips for you first-timers that may help you a little while in Japan.


1.    If you think using a chauffeur is too expensive, public transportation is still a good choice as it’s very efficient and can get you to almost anywhere in Japan.

2.    Learn basic etiquettes and customs. There are some rules that you need to know as it can often be seen as rude if you don’t do so. Entering someone’s house with shoes on and taking photos of people are some of those things to take note of as it can be seen as such.


3.    Do not tip! Even if you think the customer service was exceptional or you think the food was delicious, it’s seen as rude in Japan to tip.


4.    Don’t cause a ruckus. While it may be normal in your home country to socialize and talk loudly, it’s not the case for Japan. Even your “library voice” might be too loud for Japanese citizens too so try to speak in a way that it’s only audible to your group.


5.    Lastly, I’ll add my tip for travelling. Make sure to exchange your currency to Japanese yen in your home country to avoid poor exchange rates in Japan.



That brings an end to my tips to know before going to Japan. Whether you’re going there for a business trip or a vacation, it’s always good to know what you can expect before reaching there to avoid unexpected situations. If you’d like to know more about Japan, I suggest doing some homework on the Internet, it has many materials for research and you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for. Lastly, I do hope that you enjoy your trip to Japan!


Written by Yeon Hee








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