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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Most Frequently Asked Japan Travel Questions

Everything you want to know about traveling in Japan is right here. I'm going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about traveling in Japan. They are in no specific order, but I'll have a short answer and a long answer for each question so that you can read as little or as much as you'd like on each question. I hope I cover any topics you may be interested in. Enjoy!

Q: Is it expensive to travel to Japan?

Short answer: Not really, no.

Long answer: Traveling to Japan can be as cheap or as expensive as you'd like. Your biggest hurtle is the airfare, but once that's settled you can pretty much get away with the cheapest options possible. I did a blog post on budgeting a trip to Japan that may help further with this question in full detail.
Enjoy free activities, like visiting a shrine. This is Ikuta Shrine in Kobe, Japan.

Q: Should I buy a Japan Rail Pass?

Short Answer: Yes.

Long Answer: It's always a good idea, just in case you unexpectedly travel around Japan. It really is a great deal and leaves out all the nonsense of purchasing a ticket. If you know for a fact that you are only staying in one city the whole time then the Japan Rail Pass may not be for you and your Japan adventures. People who are traveling throughout Japan more will benefit more from this than someone who is only staying put in one place such as Tokyo. I also did a separate blog post on the Japan Rail Pass for those of you interested in this travel option.

Q: Do I need to know Japanese before going to Japan?

Short Answer: No.

Long Answer: No. You can get by with English and hand signals, especially in big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto (these cities are used to tourists). As you get further into the countryside of Japan you could always use your phone as a translator, but only if you have internet access like a pocket wifi (I highly recommend renting one while in Japan). Learning Japanese wouldn't hurt though. If you could at least speak basic Japanese you will be able to communicate with the locals on a personal level and it will make your Japan trip more memorable. I also did a blog post on this topic of not needing to know Japanese.

Q: How will the Japanese treat me as a foreigner?

Short Answer: The average Japanese person will treat you very nicely.

Long answer: Japanese people are always willing to help out foreigners, especially if it looks like you're lost. There were times when I asked for directions and I had three people help me, but then there were times when I was trying to figure things out on my own and they just came up to me asking if they could help. Japanese people are generally nice and want to welcome you to Japan. They want you to enjoy their country. The people who end up having bad experiences either take things the wrong way, like getting offended because of something a Japanese said to them that wasn't meant to be mean. Or sometimes you just have bad luck and come across a Japanese person who had a bad experience with a foreigner and you get punished for it. You need to remember that you are a guest in their country and you are representing your country even though you are only thinking of this as a vacation. I did a blog post on this topic in more detail regarding learning the culture before going to Japan. The culture is key to having a good time in Japan.
Little restaurant owner in Kyoto wanted us to take a picture at his restaurant with his props.

Q: How do I make friends in Japan?

Short Answer: Online.

Long answer: Unless you are going to school in Japan or taking a job in Japan, you won't be making Japanese friends easily as a tourist. There are lodging options such as guesthouses or housing dorms that may give you the opportunity to meet Japanese people and other foreigners from around the world. You can also try to make Japanese friends at the local izakaya, or Japanese bars. If you're looking for a more meaningful friendship and something to look towards in the future, I suggest starting online. You can meet all sorts of people online. To make Japanese friends online I suggest using platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, as these two are frequently used by Japanese people. Like a few photos and comment on a few posts, they'll start following you back and you can start a friendship from scratch. I've done this with a few Japanese people already. If the friendship progresses you may have to get a LINE account for actual in-depth conversations. I don't think you should expect them to house you while you're in Japan but I'd bet they would be willing to meet up with you and show you around.

Q: Where should I go in Japan?

Short Answer: Everywhere!

Long Answer: Go out and explore Japan. You know you best. You know what you like about Japan, so go out and experience all of Japan for yourself. Yes, it's always nice to ask other's opinions but they will have a biased opinion on where you should go. Like me for example, I will always tell people to go visit Kyoto for 3 to 4 days and that's because I'm biased about Kyoto because I lived there for a short study abroad program. Just because I love Kyoto with all my heart and soul does not mean you will feel the same way. So make a list of what you like about Japan and visit the different areas that cater to your interests.
Heading to Gion in Kyoto, Japan.

Q: Will I be able to eat anything if I'm a picky eater?

Short Answer: Yes.

Long Answer: I am also a picky eater (I have many people who can vouch for me one this statement). I remember going to Japan for the first time and being worried about not being able to eat anything but I was totally wrong in this assumption. I'm not a fan of fish and was worried that was all I would have available to me. I was very wrong. I ate so much food in Japan! They have everything you can think of and more, so please don't let food be your worry. Trust me, you will find stuff to eat that you'll like.

I hope that answered some of the questions most people have about traveling to Japan. If you have any questions that I have not answered please let me know. I can always make another Q&A like this. Thank you for reading my blog! For more Japan content follow me on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Until next time!!