Planning a Trip to Japan

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Having only less than a month to plan my vacation was by far, the most stressful part of this whole trip. Mainly because I wasn’t really expecting that my application for a visa would be granted so I didn’t do much planning.

Although I’ve been looking for hotels prior to submitting my application (for the itinerary) I booked my hotel only a week before my flight and thankfully I was able to purchase a promo airline ticket from an agency just two weeks before my departure date. Whew! Another important thing was having my money converted to Japanese Yen. It’s a good thing to have a credit card handy but better to have the currency available since most establishments only accept Japan Yen as payment.

Helpful Apps/Websites for your trip to Japan:

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1. Tripadvisor

  • Used this app/website to search for budget hotels, flights and also places of interest. (Read the reviews!)

http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/

2. Japan-guide.com

  • Everything you need to know about your trip to Japan can be found here.
  • This site has an event calendar, itinerary suggestions and forums for your Japan-related questions.

3. Japan Travel Guide by Triposo

  • This is my go-to app before and during my stay in Japan.
  • OFFLINE map available! If you have a GPS-capable smartphone or tablet you can use this app to check for direction to places you want to go.
  • Fact: I got lost in Kyoto and didn’t know which bus to ride to go back to the Kyoto Station. And to top it off, I had no wifi or internet connection on both my phone and tablet. So instead of riding buses and praying that it will pass by the station or at least somewhere close, I decided to use this app to direct me back to the station. Got back to my hotel safe and sound.
  • It’s free and works offline! (Available in the App store and Google Play)

4. NAVITIME for Japan Travel or HyperDia

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  • Use this for route search, timetable for railway arrival/departure in each station and ticket price.
  • NAVITIME for Japan Travel is available for iPhone users and Android users while HyperDia is available for Android users only.

5. Japan National Tourism Organization website

  • This site is similar to Japan-guide.com.

 

TIPS that might help you in planning (and during) your stay in Japan

1. Volunteer Guides

There are both goodwill and professional guides available to tour you in your place/s of interest. For cost-covered guides you won’t have to pay the guide but you have to pay for their transportation, food and entrance/admission ticket/s to establishments needing it. I suggest looking for a guide as early as a month prior to your trip.

Check this site for the list of volunteer guides (professional and goodwill guides).

2. Rent a pocket Wi-Fi

You can find pocket wifi rentals at the airport or you could also apply online and they can have it delivered to your hotel. Pocket wifi is convenient to have since you can bring it with you wherever you go.

3. Learn Japanese phrases

It is frustrating when you want to talk to people when you want to or need to (especially when asking for directions) and you are overcome by fear that they wouldn’t understand you or vice versa. Learning even simple phrases can help you.

Here are a few:

Eego-o hanashimasu-ka. –> Do you speak English?

Wakarimasen. –> I don’t understand

Onegai shimasu. –> Please.

(Survival Japanese by Boye De Mente with Junji Kawai was helpful)

4. Did you know that you shouldn’t tip in Japan?

There may be things that you are accustomed to doing in your own country but I suggest reading about a country’s culture, manners, etiquette and the like.

Here’s a helpful site: 10 Things You’re Probably Doing (That you Probably Shouldn’t) in Japan. (credits to Tsunagu Japan)

 

So there you have it. Pack your bags and enjoy your trip to Japan! πŸ™‚

Β “Only someone who is well prepared has the opportunity to improvise.” – Ingmar Bergman

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6 thoughts on “Planning a Trip to Japan

    • Hey alyla89! Had my vacation in Japan for 2 weeks end of July so it was the summer and it was so hot! I’m planning to visit again maybe next year either during the winter or spring season (for the cherry blossoms). Enjoy your trip and have fun! Let me know how Japan’s winter season is.. πŸ™‚

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  1. Good tips, especially Japan-Guide and Hyperdia (I use both of them a lot). I can also recommend http://tabelog.com/ if you’re looking for places to eat – it’s a bit like TripAdvisor but with a culinary focus. Unfortunately it’s only in Japanese, but if you know a little of the language it’s a handy resource.

    As for Japan in winter, I’m currently blogging about my 5th visit to that country which took place just this February, pretty much one of the coldest times of the year (especially up north). The annual Sapporo Snow Festival was absolutely incredible, though if you ever plan on going, you’ll need to start putting things together way more than just one month ahead. I started booking my hotels back in 2013 and many places were already booked solid for February 2014; that’s how popular the event was.

    You mentioned thinking about going in spring for the cherry blossoms. If you time your visit right (and choose the destinations well), there will be lots of those. For example, Tsuyama’s a great place for sakura – I visited it last year and it was spectacular:

    http://withinstrikingdistance.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/field-report-tsuyama-05-april-2013/

    Autumn is also a great time because that’s when the leaves change colour. Here’s a post I wrote on an older blog about one particular spot I visited in Kyoto:

    http://animeaffairs.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/diegos-day-at-jojakko-ji/

    The only season I haven’t experienced in Japan is summer – been avoiding it as I’m iffy about the heat, humidity, and potential for bad weather. It’s a great time to catch local festivals though, so I’ll probably end up doing a summer trip in the not-too-distant future. You mentioned that you went during the summer; I hope you’ll blog about that trip as it might give me some good ideas. (^_^)

    Cheerio, and happy travels.

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    • Hi Diego! Thanks for the input! Really helpful! I’m planning to apply for another Japan tourist visa maybe end of this year or next year just in time for the spring or autumn or winter. I would really love to experience all seasons in Japan.
      In my 2 weeks stay during the summer I probably spent two or three days indoors. The heat was too much for me but there were a few days that the weather was a bit bearable. I’d be happy to blog about my summer experience soon.

      Cheers! πŸ™‚

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  2. Pingback: How to Apply for a Japan Single/Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (From Philippines) | Freelancer Escapades

  3. Pingback: How to Apply for a Japan Tourist Visa (Filipinos) | Freelancer Escapades

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