I’m adding a new page to my Japan guide. The Otaku Guide will continue to grow but I’ve decided to add a page showcasing real world tips for first time travellers or even seasoned travellers as well. After all, I’m still learning new stuff each time we go to Japan too 🙂
Thanks to Yasemin for these very helpful tips, it’s good to have a starting point!
1. Don’t sleep in an Internet cafe. They’re uncomfortable as hell and I assure you aren’t as cheap as everyone makes them out to be.
If you’re specifically in Akihabara, there’s a unisex capsule hotel called Grids that in a nice quiet area. Amazing hotel and affordable.
2. If you want dirt cheap meals but don’t want to sacrifice quality, buy your meals at any 7/11. I’d get a nice dinner, dessert, and snacks for under $10.
3. If you’re going during peak season, there will be ALOT of Mainland Chinese tour groups, especially in Kyoto. You have been warned.
4. Most temples and shrines are currently being repaired or refurbished. Expect some disappointments for now, but some are still cool to see. The Shiroishi Castle is badass.
5. The fox village is a mixed bag. I was very uncomfortable there and saw a lot of things I’d consider animal abuse (2 skeletal Shetland Ponies, hoardes of rabbits with bitten off ears and battle scars from stress, many foxes with bad scarring which is probably from fights from the crude way they feed them, etc.) but make your own judgement if you go.
6. PLEASE check out Nikko national park. It’s spectacular! Many great hiking tracks!
7. I also had a great time in Tokushima. Very in touch with nature there.
8. Kyoto was by far my favourite city. Got to see geisha and eat some amazing foods. K’s Guest House is a great place to stay and also hire bikes for the day for cheap.
9. Tsukiji is a once in a lifetime experience. Got to see the tuna auctions. You MUST get there at 2:30am; first in gets tickets and they only let a few in.
10. If you do need a last-minute sleeping option, stay at a love hotel.
11. Japan is still primarily a cash based society so don’t rely too much on your credit cards. Always have cash on you as a lot of the smaller food places you’ll inevitably eat at accept cash only. But don’t feel funny or worried about carrying a lot of cash on you, you’re in one of the safes countries in the WORLD!
12. Leading on from the previous tip, if you can help it, don’t use an ATM to withdraw small amounts of money. If you absolutely need to withdraw money, make it 4 figures at least as you’ll get stung by standard currency exchange rate and on top of that, you’ll also get charged and international transaction/withdrawal fee. It can hurt so don’t be withdrawing $100 at a time, think big.
13. We’ve been to Japan numerous times and granted we’ve mostly stayed in the larger city areas but not being fluent in Japanese was not a hindrance in the slightest. Don’t panic about going to Japan thinking the language will be a barrier. There is English everywhere and most people at train stations, food places and stores speak some English. Even if they speak no English, you can get by by pointing to what you want. They’re completely fine with that 🙂
14. This is more for travellers coming from countries where you would normally tip for service but there is no tipping in Japan. Their customer service is seriously next level and it’s right to want to let them know that by tipping but great service for them is normal day to day and they may get offended by you trying to tip them.
15. Make use of the website Hyperdia (http://www.hyperdia.com/en/). It’s a train route planning site that lets you enter your starting point and destination and it’ll show you which train and line to catch plus it lets you know if there are any transfers along the way and how long the trip will take. If that wasn’t enough, it will also let you know how much the trip will cost. We used it non stop during our first trip and didn’t get lost once and from to time, we still use it. There’s also an app that you can download.
Stay tuned for more helpful tips in our Japan Guide!