Japan Travel Guide
Japan is timeless: its ancient temples, soaring skyscrapers, progressive technology and abundant nature from forests to idyllic beaches can keep the pickiest traveller busy. Even when you’ve conquered the spring flowers, fall colours, Geisha dances and Tokyo’s hustle, you’ll find the reason, again and again, to return to the fascinating, ever-changing Land of the Rising Sun.
Mt Fuji is more than just a tall mountain - it’s an active volcano and the country’s tallest peak at 3,776m. It has been a pilgrimage site for centuries, considered a sacred mountain amongst the Japanese. Easily reachable from Tokyo, many people hike to the summit to this day.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto
This bamboo forest in Kyoto is open 24/7 and admission is free, making it a breathtaking destination for a traveller of any budget. It’s hard not to be impressed by the endless streams of bamboo towering around you - go early to avoid crowds and get the most out of this serene location.
Kiyomizu-dera Pagoda, Kyoto
Translated as “Pure Water”, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a Buddhist temple where worshippers believe the Goddess of Mercy resides. Over 1,200 years old, it was built around the Otowa Waterfall, where it is said that visitors who drink from the waterfall can get their wishes granted.
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
One of the world’s busiest intersections with over 250,000 people using it every day, it’s no wonder this Tokyo intersection is nicknamed the “scramble”. If you want to experience the eccentricity of the capital city, the Shibuya Crossing is a good place to start.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
This shrine at the base of Mt Inari is famous for its bright vermilion torii gates forming a tunnel leading to the summit. You’ll find numerous fox statues around the site as it is said to be the messenger of the god of rice, Inari, who the mountain is named after.
Jigokudani Monkey Park
Jigokudani is home to about 200 macaques, or “snow monkeys”, which gather in the hot springs, soaking up the warmth they provide. Visitors can’t bathe with them, but the surreal scene has become a popular attraction, especially during the picturesque winter.
Japan is an island nation in East Asia, located in the Pacific Ocean. It consists of thousands of islands, but the largest four are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. Flying to Tokyo from the UK and New York takes between 11-14 hours.
Tokyo is located on the main island of Honshu and is home to over 9 million people. It’s known for its busy streets, quirky restaurants and a mix of the ancient and modern worlds. Tokyo is also the city with the most Michelin stars in the world.
Tokyo has two international airports, Narita and Haneda Airports. Outside of Tokyo, the main airport is Osaka’s Kansai Airport.
- Major airlines
- Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways
The official language of Japan is Japanese. English is not spoken commonly outside of major metropolitan areas like Tokyo.
Japan uses the Japanese yen (¥). The currency code is JPY. You can order in yen at a currency exchange prior to your trip, at the airport on arrival or withdraw money from ATMs and banks in Japan.
Australian, British, Canadian and US citizens do not need a visa when visiting Japan for stays up to 90 days. Visa information can change often and varies from country to country. We recommend checking your country’s travel advisories in advance of booking a trip.
The Japanese voltage is 100V/50-60Hz, different from North America (120V) and Central Europe (230V). Japanese sockets and plugs are compatible with American electrical devices.
While no vaccinations are compulsory for entry into Japan, talk to your doctor about whether you should get a Hepatitis A and B vaccine, and depending on the length of your trip and where you’re going, you may need a vaccine for Encephalitis or Rabies.
The phone number to call in case of emergency is 119 for fire and ambulance and 110 for police.
When to Visit
Visit ResponsiblyTravelling responsibly means respecting the communities, culture and environment of the places you visit. Keep these tips in mind when travelling to Japan:
Go green. Be environmentally conscious on the road by taking short showers; turning off the lights in your hotel room when you leave; and resisting the urge to collect any plants, seashells, or other natural flora.
Respect cultural differences. Before travelling, read about the local culture and customs – even just knowing the dress code and a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way.
Support local businesses. Enjoy a more authentic experience and directly support the local economy by travelling with a local guide, eating in local restaurants, buying from local artisans, and staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations.
Wherever possible, avoid single-use plastics. Pack reusable items such as your own shopping bags, utensils, a water bottle, and a straw. These items are typically lightweight and compact, and will greatly reduce your consumption of plastics.
Be conscious of overtourism. Opt to visit the lesser-known regions of Japan or travel outside the peak season – you'll likely even get a better deal and won't have all the crowds!
Sustainable Tourism in JapanEcotourism Japan (EJ)
An NGO focused on creating a network of tour operators, researchers, and professionals, Ecotourism Japan (EJ) aims to revitalize local communities. In addition, EJ has a web portal called “eco-tour.jp” that is dedicated to providing people with information on ecotourism, conservation, nature-based tours, and more!
For nearly two decades, the rural town of Kamikatsu has been implementing low-waste practices such as separating household trash into more than 30 categories. Now, approximately 80 percent of Kamikatsu’s waste is either recycled, reused, or composted – making it almost a “zero-waste” economy. Residents also have the ability to bring any clothes or household items they no longer need to a “kuru-kuru” store, where they can exchange them for other goods.
The Japanese word mottainai, which translates to “don’t waste anything worthy,” plays an instrumental role in the nation’s environmental awareness. Influenced by the Buddhist culture, mottainai focuses on the essence of objects. It encourages people to respect each item and look beyond the wasteful mindset. With this word guiding the Japanese, it’s no surprise they’re a world leader in recycling, reusing, and reducing waste.