No matter what kind of traveler you are – from adventurous to history-loving, pop-culture junkie, foodie or anything in between – the country of Japan has something great to offer you!
Japan is a country of welcoming people, gorgeous natural beauty and a storied history. Although it can seem intimidating, the truth is that it is a very accessible country. English is included on much of the signage but where there is none, people are always willing to help. The shinkansen (bullet trains) and extensive public transportation systems also make getting around a breeze!
And it is entirely possible to travel economically in Japan, if you are willing to adapt to small Eastern-size hotel rooms and eat like the Japanese do. That means, saving for a fancy meal or two and sticking with seafood, street food and filling rice dishes the rest of the time.
The key to planning a successful vacation in Japan is to find your own experience. While most articles encourage everyone to climb Mt. Fuji, if you’re not into exercise or not really an outdoor person, this won’t be for you!
Think about what it is that you are most interested in, in terms of experiences rather than particular places and then tailor your itinerary to that. For example, do you want to meet Japanese people and practice your language skills? Do you want to experience as many different kinds of food as possible?
Those are good starting points to get you searching for the locations that might be best for you. Many people who are visiting Japan for the first time choose to fly into Tokyo, as it is an easy point of access. If you do this, from there, you can take the bullet train to any number of locations across the country.
Using Tokyo as a base might also make sense if you want to experience a wide sub-section of Japanese culture. Within a short day trip of the city, you can get to beaches, small towns and lakes, Mt. Fuji, the city of Yokohama and much more.
Another great location to start from is Kyoto, particularly if you are interested in Japanese history and culture. Kyoto is the old Japanese capital and is widely regarded as the country’s cultural heart. Here you can experience traditional culture and cuisine and enjoy beautiful natural settings.
Wherever you decide to stay on your trip to Japan, there will be no shortage of temples and Japanese historical and religious sites. Most of the cities and even some rural areas have both paid and volunteer-led tours available to show you around. This is a great way to get an overview of what Japan has to offer and then hone in on where you want to spend more of your time.
It’s great to plan but it’s also okay to change your mind. You’ll find yourself in awe of the variety of things to see and learn about in Japan. If you can look at your trip as a chance to enjoy all these experiences, rather than ticking off locations on a list, you will find your time much more enjoyable. Japan is truly full of wonders. Odds are that once you visit, you’ll want to return to experience more.