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13 Must-Know Do’s and Don'ts When Planning a Trip to Japan

  Japan is one of those countries that is warm and welcoming to travelers, but its strict cultural rules and all the hurdles along the way can be a little inscrutable especially if you have never set foot in the land of the rising sun.

  But don’t worry! This foreign country is not as impenetrable as you think. We are going to dive into all the ways you can do to be well-prepared and have a comfortable stay in Japan. Here are 13 important tips for planning a trip to Japan:


Secure the necessary documents

Secure the necessary documents

  Secure your passport, visa, and airline tickets before your flight. Make sure that your passport is still valid to avoid problems and delays in your vacation. If there are any passport-related concerns, settle it before you leave your country. There are no passport services at the airport.

Also, it’s strictly necessary to know the rules that come with your tourist visa and even “visa-free” visits.

Book your accommodations ahead


  Hotels and inns in Japan usually fill up fast. To get the best deals and the most comfortable accommodation, look for a place to stay and relax in at least weeks before your trip. You don’t want to waste your time looking for a place in an already fully-booked city. Aside from that, locals like to prepare for your arrival. So it’s only respectful to book ahead.

Grab a Japan railway pass

japan railway pass

  If you plan on exploring the country as much as possible, a railway pass will be necessary for you. This allows tourists to get unlimited rides to trains and other modes of transportation for a certain period of time.

  All things considered, it’s necessary to reserve a pass while you’re still in your home country. You cannot purchase the pass when you’re already in Japan because this is available to foreigners only. Purchase a Japan railway pass here.

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Purchase tickets and passes in advance

Purchase tickets and passes in advance

  Famous attractions like Disneyland and Universal Studios allow you to purchase a ticket in advance. This will save you a lot of time and keep you away from long queues. Some online booking sites also give you discount rates if you book in advance. Thus, secure your passes weeks in advance.

  Additionally, preparing an itinerary gives you the chance to read about the places and temples you want to visit. It’s hitting two birds with one stone.

Learn some basic Japanese

Learn some basic Japanese

  You don’t have to be fluent in Japanese. All you need is an armor of basic knowledge in their language. Try to learn basic greetings and phrases before your trip. Remember, not a lot of locals speak English, and most signages and transport maps are stated in Japanese only.

  Aside from that, locals appreciate it a lot if tourists learn their language. It’s just a better way to connect to the people and their culture.

Book your own travel photographer

Book your own travel photographer

  In Japan, everyone is minding their own business. In that case, it can be difficult to ask someone to take a picture of you. With J-Snap, you can have your personal photographer to capture your best memories in the most wonderful places.

  For more information, click here.

Know their meal etiquette

Know their meal etiquette

  In Japan, there are quite a lot of meal etiquettes to keep in mind. Here are the most important ones that you need to remember:

  • Put your palms together and say “Itadakimasu” before you eat. It is a polite way of expressing gratitude to the meal that you receive.
  • Avoid burping at the table because it is considered rude in Japan.
  • Lift bowls and small plates off the table so that you can eat with chopsticks much easier. In contrast, don’t lift the larger plates to eat out of them.
  • Don’t blow your nose at the table or near areas where people are eating. If you need to, you may do it in the restroom.
  • Slurp your broths and soup. While it is uncommon in other countries to make loud noises of slurping, it is quite the opposite in Japan. For the locals, slurping is actually considered a compliment to the chef.
  • Don’t slurp noodles like spaghetti that don’t have a broth.
  • Don’t pour too much soy sauce in your soy dish. Take only as much as you need to avoid waste.
  • Try to use and eat with chopsticks. However, if you can’t use them, don’t be afraid to ask for a spoon or fork.
  • Use the opposite end of your chopsticks to put food on your plate from a shared dish.
  • Avoid stabbing your food and pointing at things with your chopsticks.
  • Try new kinds of food and be adventurous.
  • Don’t drink until everyone has been served and others around you raise their glasses for a toast.
  • Put your palms together and say “Gochiso sama deshita” after finishing a meal. It’s a way of saying thanks for taking the time to prepare the meal.

Pack appropriately for the season

Pack appropriately for the season

  There is really no bad time to visit Japan. The country’s four distinct seasons make the place equally magical all year round. However, it won’t be as magical as it should be if you don’t prepare for its season. So pack clothes and other things that are suitable for hot or chilly weather. Also, pack only the ones that are important to your trip. You don’t want to jump from one place to another carrying bulky bags.

Download a converter app

Download a converter appjapan railway pass

  Download a converter app on your phone to see the exact exchange rate for your selected currency. A converter app comes in handy when you need to withdraw cash in ATMs or convert cash in currency exchange counters. Aside from that, it is so much easier to keep track of your expenses and stay under your spending limit if you know the equivalent amount of Japanese yen you are using up. Also, it’s your personal preference if you want to get some yen from your home bank before heading to Japan.

There are a lot of converter apps available for Android and Apple devices that you can download for free.


Not track your expenses

Not track your expenses

  Remember that your finances can easily get out of control. Traveling to Japan can cost you so much. Even in the preparation stage, you may already have to shell out a huge amount of cash. So it’s better to know how much you are already spending while you’re still in the comfort of your home. Tracking your expenses from the very beginning can also help you stay on budget.

Not come unprepared

Not come unprepared

  The last thing you want to happen is to not get caught up with the Japanese etiquette. As mentioned, Japan has strict cultural laws. There might be some things that are pretty normal in your country that are not common in Japan. For example, it’s considered rude to leave a tip in Japan, which is pretty normal in the US. The Japanese also never eat or drink while they roam around the city.

If you plan on visiting sacred temples, there are also a whole lot of rules and etiquettes that you have to keep in mind. Thus, get yourself acquainted with their culture and norms.

Packing not-so-light

Packing not so light

  Depending on the circumstance and the nature of your trip, it is almost always better to pack light. Leave the unnecessary things behind. You may also opt to leave the ones that you may need but you’re 100% sure you can still buy in Japan. Packing lightly avoids the possible hassle of checking in your baggage at the airport. Additionally, you may get more room in your baggage for souvenirs that you bring on the way home.

However, you don’t necessarily have to compromise comfort and style. So plan your outfits wisely while still keeping your baggage at a comfortably carriable weight.

To sum it all up…

  It’s best to prepare all you need before you visit Japan or any country for that matter. Japan is an amazing country with amazing people, cuisine, and culture. We hope these tips make you confident about traveling in Japan. And now that you are equipped with this knowledge, we hope you have a lovely stay in Japan.


To sum it all up


“10 Cultural Dos and Don'ts in Japan”
“102 Must Know Do’s and Don’ts of Japanese Culture”
“Planning a Trip to Japan: DOs & DON’Ts”
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