When to travel: what is the best time for a novice traveller?
Although Japan is practically a year-round destination, be aware that all four seasons are very distinct here: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Travelling in August may prove too tiring for someone who avoids high temperatures, while a trip in December will freeze you to the bone. Generally speaking, the best time for a tourist trip to Japan is between spring and autumn, from March to April and from May to early June. This is when you can admire the cherry blossoms or the falling red maple leaves – both of which are incredibly impressive. Be aware that the cherry blossom comes in waves all over the country, and in each place it doesn’t last longer than 7 days (depending on the strength of the wind and rainfall), so if you want to go specifically for such landscapes, check the weather forecast carefully. It’s also worth knowing that the last week of April and the first of May is a really bad time for a trip, as it’s Golden Week, when all Japanese people are on holiday and travelling around Japan. From the second week of June to the third of July is the rainy season, which is also not good for extensive sightseeing. The fewest tourists are in Japan in February (it’s very cold) and August (it’s very hot).
What is the best way to travel in Japan?
The best and most recommended transport in Japan is trains. There are many classes to choose from, ranging from economical to very, very expensive (bullet train). They can take you practically anywhere, and the stations and access to them are precisely marked (just like everything in this country). For those who don’t speak Japanese, there are many sites on the internet that will help you decipher routes, compartments and ticket prices. The rail network in Japan is a huge maze and it can take a few moments to find your way around. Taxis are very expensive, so it’s better to get around the city by underground. And planes? Some prefer this way of covering hundreds of kilometres, but to be honest, in Japan it would be a sin! Japanese trains are really fantastic and provide a lot of visual experience.
What to pack in your suitcase? What to buy?
You will definitely need an app that translates the Japanese alphabet into the Latin alphabet. However, this is not required as in the big cities almost everything is written in English and there are pictures on the menu. Be prepared to swim naked in Japanese pools (onsen), so if you are shy, it is better to come early in the morning or late in the evening. It is worth packing flip-flops and moisturising body lotion. At the airport you can buy a Japanese SIM card, which are available in packages for tourists. It’s a good idea to have internet access, especially if you get lost somewhere or want to find your way around some custom (incomprehensible to you). Don’t take too much stuff with you, but remember to have clothes for different weather or a mackintosh.
Money in Japan
As we mentioned, Japan is quite an expensive country, but it is ultra safe! Pickpocketing is very rare here (if it is, it’s definitely not by Japanese citizens). You can feel really safe. A good option for travellers is to have Revolut where the Japanese currency, the yen, is available. Make sure you notify your bank of this before your trip.