Planning the Japan trip for the first time?
There is tremendous information to visit Japan, but unfortunately, some information is old, not exactly right, and also writers who have traveled once or a couple of times to Japan tell you information.
Like you can’t blow your nose in public? It’s nonsense. Yes, you can. (read here)
Or download HyperDia? It’s not the best navigation app for Japan trip. (check out my recommendation apps)
I am from Japan, and I fly Japan every year, I want to help your first trip to my country better with my knowledge.
So, today I am going to talk about 7 tips for preparing what you can do in your country before leaving.
In the end, you can print my checklist freely.
- Order Japan Rail Pass
- Make sure your insurance policy
- Download useful apps
- Get Simcard or change your plan
- Order “Luggage Free Travel” service
- Notify Your Bank Before Traveling
- The season (Choose the time of season carefully)
- My Printable Free checklist
- Order Japan Rail Pass
- Make Sure Your Insurance Policy
- Download Useful Apps
Order Japan Rail Pass
You might have heard about “Japan Rail Pass” if you think about going to Japan once.
“Japan Rail Pass” is the muti-JR Line pass gives you unlimited “JR Line” public transportation ride includes Shinkansen.
If you are traveling several cities for the short-term, for example, visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima, or visiting Tokyo, Kanazawa, and Tohoku region, for 2 weeks and more, it worth it.
Shinkansen saves your time, and very handy to travel around the main island.
Also, Japan Rail Pass also provides you free-ride airport shuttles which are “Narita Express” and “Haruka Express“.
You don’t need to be rush. Think about whether Japan Rail Pass is worth it for you after reading this.
I don’t recommend to buy Japan Rail Pass those people who…
- not travel around the main island during the trip
- not need to use Shinkansen
- not an active traveler
- prefer other transportation than Shinkansen
- travel Japan for less 7 days
- don’t want to spend much money
- book domestic flight in advance
You could use highway buses. In a short distance, it worth it. But for long-distance, it takes much more time to get to the destination.
Driving in Japan, you need to know the different traffic rules, high-way is not free, difficult to find parking in downtown (and expensive), and the price of gas is not cheap in Japan.
Make Sure Your Insurance Policy
First, Check out the insurance policy and credit card contract that you own currently. You need to make sure policies have global medical insurance, emergency evacuation, travel protection, baggage protection, flight cancellation, and so on.
Especially during Typhoon season, or winter season in Japan, you don’t know what’s going on your flight and also, there is still a chance of an earthquake.
Also, the number of car accidents has been increasing by overseas travelers in Japan so make sure you have the right insurance policy if you plan to drive a vehicle.
Here is the insurance policy that you can buy after entering Japan.
Download Useful Apps
There are countless travel apps in the market, must-download apps are
“Google Translate” “Google Map”.
I like “Google Translate” is the best because it’s just simple to use, the instant camera translation, and off-line use.
Don’t forget download “Japanese” in advance to use off line mode.
Especially, I am surprised the instant camera translation is enabled for the sentence and words written with vertical.
(Japanese is often written vertically.)
Translation accuracy has been improved, you will not have too much trouble for just travel conversation.
If you look for more accuracy for Japanese translation, “Voice Tra” is recommended as the second translate app.
Once you download “Google Map”, I don’t think you don’t need another navigation app.
Because it provides the route, the closest station, costs, timetables, platform numbers which you supposed to go.
Travel Guide ( & Navigation)
Oh no, I just said you don’t need another app for navigation, however, there two apps are helpful to find out the attractions, hotels, and train route for especially Japan Rail Pass holders.
Japan Official Travel Guide app has also Disaster alert function includes Typhoon and Heatstroke.
I don’t reccomen “HyperDia” for Japan trip, I see some information is not useful.
Think about “Get Sim Card or Change Carrier Plan”
I told before Free wifi service in Japan was really sucks before, but now, it has been getting better. You can find free wifi service easily, at hotels, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, JR trains, and convenience stores.
However, you will still get a suck service.
I couldn’t get online at the 7-eleven convenience store forever, as well as Nagoya station.
Narita Express, Shinkansen were very fine. Starbucks, Macdonald’s, Yes.
Honestly, I really don’t need to use networks much while traveling abroad, yes in Japan, I can understand Japanese.
Outside of Japan, I prepare everything I need for the day plan at the hotel in advance, such as taking notes and screenshots, collecting paper maps and marking landmarks ( I always ask a front desk for the local map), download the area map on Google Map, and using public maps on streets.
If you think you will need the same network service as well in Japan,
- Get International Sim Card (but phone number will be changed)
- Get “Pocket Wifi”- portable router
- Change carrier plan to the international plan
1, Check out on Amazon?
1 & 2, you can check out here how it cost and work.
3, I am using the Verizon plan which has already this.
For just $2 a day per line in Mexico and Canada, $5 a day per line in Brazil and Spain and $10 a day per line in more than 100 countries you can take your domestic talk, text and data allowances with you. You’re only charged on the days you use your device abroad.Verizon-International Travel Preferred Pricing Plan
Order “Luggage Free Travel” Service
Do you want to send your baggage right away to the hotel from the arriving airport?
Here is the handy delivery service which you can order online in your country before leaving.
The best thing is about this service, you don’t have to fill out the waybill and worry about the language barrier, and it will save your time a lot.
I explain easy steps to use the “Luggage Free Travel” service on this page.
Notify Your Bank Before Traveling
Not many sites talk about this tip, but actually my husband, recommends to notify your bank to use your credit card or debit card abroad.
This might be the one small tip, but you can avoid being frustrated in case of the bank stop transaction money via your card in foreign countries.
It also help to withdraw cash from ATM in Japan.
Don’t forget, you may be in a few countries for a layover.
Why The Bank May Stop The Transaction?
The Bank will do the best to protect your identity from theft. If they find a transaction in an unfamiliar place, or in several countries shortly, your bank may assume that your card has been used fraudulently and stop your card.
The situation has often happened to my husband, so just pick up the phone and call your bank. (You will be asked your itinerary. )
The Season (Choose the time of season carefully)
I am NOT talking about THE BEST SEASON to travel in Japan, I am talking about that you should know THE RIGHT SEASON you can enjoy in Japan.
Personally, I don’t recommend the summertime and the period of “Golden Week” in Japan AT ALL.
The Risk Of Heatstroke
The hot season lasts 2.7 months from the end of June through Mid-September, with an average daily temperature of over 78F.
The hottest season, August, has an average maximum temperature of 88F, and even the lowest of 78F at night.
Don’t think about the Japanese summer is like California, the summertime in Japan is Humid and Hot (just miserable).
Also, you must be careful of “Heatstroke” if you still want to visit during summertime.
The Terrible Busy During “Golden Week”
The “Golden Week” is the longest holiday week for Japanese people.
People travel around the same period, so everywhere will be packed, crowded, and very busy.
Moreover, accommodation fees and transportation tickets will be pricier, hard to book.
Hardly find a seat on Shinkansen especially at the beginning and end of the “Golden Week”. (It happens during the New Year’s holiday too)
Be careful to visit around this period, book everything in advance.
Japan’s Winter Is Beautiful…But
It’s all easy tips but help your Japan trip perfect for sure.
If you have a smartphone and credit cards, you don’t have to worry so much to travel around Japan nowadays.
“Google Translate” translates all for you, “Google Map” navigates you, and you can book attractions and accommodation via smartphone.
To make it work, you may need Sim Card, pocket wifi, or check your carrier about the international plan.
Even you change your mind after entering Japan, you still can buy a Sim card at the airport.
Read my post to consider whether purchasing Japan Rail Pass is worth it or not for your trip.
Just don’t forget to check out your insurance policy, and
Call your bank.
I am happy if my advice will help the preparation of your dream trip to Japan, and really hoping it will be the perfect trip in your life!
Free my checklist
You can Print out “my checklist” freely!
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How To Cut The Budget For Japan Trip
Do you want to know how you can save money to book a flight?