5 Tips: Japan
Imagine a world full of fast trains travelling over a distance of 950km in less than 5 hours, imagine a world full of interesting foods, plants and culture, say for example square watermelons and grapefruits costing over 150Us dollars. Imagine a place with almost 130 million people all living on one small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
This is japan! A place so in tune with the new day and age, a place where inventions and the creation of lean comes into play, this country is so advanced its crazy to think how far behind we all are in our everyday appliances and transport!
As I sit here on a bullet train travelling at over 200km per hour, without feeling motion sickness, dizzy or like I’m in a space ship, I’m wondering how it is possible I can be in Hiroshima in less than 5 hours time from Tokyo, and pay less than I would have on a airplane ticket! Isn’t that just insane?
Japan is AMAZING! It’s one of those must see destinations so many travellers will travel through at some point along their adventures. It’s safe, clean, easy to get around. Although there are some communication barriers, Japan, once you know the ropes and whistles, becomes a wonderful and extremely easy place to travel through.
Solo, couples, retired and young families. It’s a place anyone and everyone should visit.
I want to give you the run down on Japan. Located around a 10 hour flight from California, America or around 8 hours from Sydney, Australia (Just to give you an idea of distance) it’s population is almost one third of America! and less than a quarter of the size of Australia. Japan is home to some of the most technologically advanced systems and ideas this world has ever seen.
As a traveller it’s important to know how to get around, eat, communicate and you guessed it, travel!
So here’s the run down, The Top 5 things to know for when you plan a trip to Japan. Covering packing, travelling, speaking, spending and eating:
- WHAT TO PACK: Less is more, as the very system itself originated for the island of Japan, less is in fact more! When you plan a holiday to anywhere in the world, you should always look up the climate to make sure you have packed all you need and nothing more. As a traveller who hasn’t been home in months, it’s been so hard to carry around what I need and nothing more, but just incase you are infact the same, make sure you know this – Japan is cold, hot, raining, snowing, and extremely sunny all in one week! The weather can change dramatically, especially between city to city. It varies, a lot! In this case I recommend packing a pair or jeans, two or so long sleeve shirts, a few tee shirts, some shorts, swimmers, and a nice down coat which isn’t overly heavy. This way you are prepare for anything.
- HOW TO GET AROUND: There is this sweet little thing in Japan known as a “JR Pass” standing for Japan Rail pass, which is an amazing train ticket which travellers can buy for a set amount of money and set amount of days that enables you to travel all over the county on the train lines saving you hundreds of dollars compared to if you were to just buy passes along the way throughout Japan. Now this pass can be expensive (500Us for 7-14 days pass per person) and doesn’t include the Nozomi bullet train which is a pretty big train line, but it does save you a lot of time and money so it’s worth taking a look at! CLICK HERE to find out more about the JR Pass.
- SPEAKING LOCAL: The Japanese are lovely people, I mean they are just so sweet and helpful and love to talk to travellers (especially if you have light coloured hair!) you may have a lot of locals coming up trying to communicate with you, and although there is normally a big communication barrier, it is always nice to know a few words to be polite, and to seem interested in their culture. Some great words to know include: Hello –”Kon’nichiwa”, Thank you – “Arigatōgozaimashita”
Washroom/toilet –”Senmenjo.” Also keep in mind most locals don’t know much English, but will try to learn more by coming up and speaking with you.
- CURRENCY: Japan uses “Japanese Yen” which at the current time (Dec 2016) the conversion rate is around $1 AUD = $0.85 JYP or $1 USD = $1.15 JYP. Which at the end of the day is pretty good! For travellers it means it’s around the same price as home. Which for some isn’t too good, but for others is ok. To give you a break down on the average costs of things throughout Japan the first thing to realize is it’s a massive population of people, so what you pay for may not always be worth what it would be at home. For example, a 140sq room (which is a very tiny room with a small bed and tiny bathroom) is around $8,500 JYP for one night. Some may think this is pretty steep, however most places in Japan are very small as that is just how they live. Expect small rooms, but on the bright side, they are always extremely clean, comfortable and have everything you need. In terms of eating, an average meal is around 1,200 JYP for a large sized family pizza, or around 600 JYP for a traditional meal such as noodles, soup, tempura vegetables/meat/seafood and rice.
- FOOD: Food, glorious food. Japan has some very…interesting foods. From “Shaved fish flakes” and square watermelons, to the odd chicken dish that doesn’t actually look or taste like chicken. Japan is full of soups, noodles and delicious and fresh seafood, It’s basically a food heaven if you ask me! If you’re not a big noodle or soup eater, fear not, as there is a wide range of rice dishes with tempura, seasoned meats and seafood, and of course beautiful tofu dishes. Moving on into sweets, well Japan is a sweets heaven, and an even bigger bread heaven! This place is full of glorious pastries, and sweets. Now if you’re a keen tea drinker, then look no further than the HOT vending machines! Yep, that’s right they have vending machines, EVERYWHERE. Japan has a vending machine on at least every corner, from ice cold drinks, iced teas, and soft drinks to hot tea, soups and even canned foods, all at the push of one button on the side of a road, train station, and shops! However, just be aware as there isn’t many garbage bins around, so expect to be carrying your rubbish for a while, and don’t even think about leaving your rubbish anywhere other than a bin, heavy fines are in place.
Japan is easily one of the cleanest places I have ever visited! It’s full of lovely people, very safe and the prices aren’t too bad compared to home. I would highly recommend a visit to stunning Japan, It’s full of wonderful history and extremely rich culture.