Japan has long been a bucket list destination for travellers from all over the world. It’s not hard to see why.
Vibrant, technologically advanced cities contrast with serene zen temples & sushi, ramen and sake tempt the tongue. Iconic Mount Fuji, the beaches of Okinawa, and Kyoto’s geisha district are but a few of the country’s gems. Japan’s idiosyncratic culture will keep you engaged and curious for as long as you’re there, and only leave you wanting more.
In this guide, I’ll cover the basics of traveling around Japan, including the best things to do and see, general costs, as well as my tips for getting the best out of your visit.
*This post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure.
Japan is made up of over 6,800 different islands, but you’ll likely be spending most of your time on Honshu. It’s Japan’s main island, and home to most of its major cities, cultural attractions and people. The popular tourist haunts of Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Osaka are all located here, and you could easily spend months exploring these areas.
If you have time, a visit to the incredible beaches and vastly different culture of Okinawa is also well worth your effort.
Here are some uniquely Japanese experiences to indulge in:
When visiting the Honshu Region, the best times to do so are spring and autumn. From mid-March onwards, colourful flowers and cherry blossoms bloom all over the country. It’s a super fun time to be in Japan, as locals participate in “hanami.” These cherry blossom parties or picnics usually involve friends, copious amounts of alcohol, and a festive spirit.
By June, monsoon rains cover the country, making it the wettest month in Japan. Summer overall is hot, humid, and uncomfortable, so if you can’t make it in spring, it’s better to wait until September to visit. Autumn in Japan is glorious with wonderful foliage and pleasant weather.
Try to avoid going during Golden Week, Japanese New Year or Obon Festival in August. These extended holiday periods in Japan ensure crowded sites, higher prices and more difficulty traveling around.
Minimum daily budget: 6000 yen and up.
Japan has a reputation for being an expensive country, but it doesn’t have to be. With 6000 yen, you could stay in capsule hotels, eat ramen and donburi, and take advantage of many free or discounted activities. However, if you want to do more than just be in the country, budget more.
Recent stories from Japan
In Japan, it’s completely worth booking activities in advance with providers like Klook and Get Your Guide. Prices are usually discounted, skip-the-line access to many attractions is included, and transport is made easy and convenient.