10 tips for visiting Japan
Lucky you if you are planning a trip to this beautiful country.
Here are my top 10 tips for visiting Japan! Everything you MUST know before going.
It will help you get a feel of what to expect…
1. Don't stay in Tokyo
- Tokyo is a great place to start and you should not miss it.
- However if you want to get a feel of Japan I believe you definitely have to see more cities, especially of different sizes and environment.
- Look for subjects you are interested in: art, nature, craftsmanship, even skying!
2. DO NOT skip the line
- Come on, you are on vacation, so take your time and follow the basic rules. Actually seeing everybody waiting in line and respecting the order will make you want to do the same.
- And believe me if it is not the same in your country (I live in Paris and people are crazy here) this will be heavily missed when you get home. The metro is such a battleground (sigh).
3. Destress about politeness...
- You are a foreigner so you can’t know all of the rules Japanese people follow.
- They will not hold it against you. Just don’t do anything you would not do in your own country.
- Universal rule, personal space: don’t hug. Unless you pass through the Shibuya crossing and see young people with a Free hugs sign! Yes it is still a thing.
The famous Shibuya crossing.
4. ...but be mindful about sleepers
- When entering a restaurant, a house or sometimes a shop you will have to take off your shoes. Especially if you visit other cities than Tokyo. It will take you a bit of getting used to it, fair warning.
- Don’t worry you will know when. Outside of the place or at the entrance will be either a genkan (slightly lower ground) or some lockers to put your shoes. There will be sleepers for you to use so you can walk around the place, like from the entrance of the restaurant to your table.
- If you go to the bathroom once at the door you will have to change to other sleepers. Sometimes they have a logo on them and they are slightly different. Do not wear sleepers (of any kind) on tatami.
- Extra tip: in any doubt be attentive and look on the floor before entering a new space, you will then notice sleepers or not on the ground. This will help you know if you need to wear some.
- Finally if you are not sure, just ask your host, they will be happy to know you care.
5. Don't look for a trash caN
- They are extremely rare, people are expected to go to length to dispose of their trash.
- Either bring it back to a konbini (convenience store) or home. Which I think is amazing considering how ugly a public bin usually is and how quickly they can fill up, especially in touristic areas.
6. Enjoy the multitude of bathrooms
- You can walk in any metro station, train station and konbini to use the bathroom. So in center cities think about every 5 meters.
7. The Konbini is your friend
- Besides using the bathroom and getting rid of trash, this kind of store will have all the things you might need. Snacks, basic hygiene needs, and so on.
- Just don’t buy fresh food from there, like cooked buns or else, they are full of chemicals and not good for your health. Seriously don’t.
8. Get a bento at the train station
- While waiting for your Shinkansen go get a bento for the road. It is a full meal with hot and delicious food. You can get any kind beef, chicken, fish, whatever works for you! It is always good, cheap and you feel so full after, ready to take a power nap before reaching your destination.
9. EAT, EAT, EAT
- Seriously if you do not like food there is no point for you to go to Japan. Get ready to have your mind blown. Everything is AMAZING. I believe I did not try something I did not like. And even then I could tell the food was still good!
- Forget about the typical stereotypes regarding Japanese food (NO sweet soy sauce and California rolls are not a thing) and try them all!
- Just remember to not eat and walk at the same time, nobody does it there and it is quite logical, first you may drop food (so dirty) and also you will walk too slowly so not efficient!
10. Don't get easily offended
- Don’t get confused if people stare at you and not smile. Especially if you are a westerner, you just look different and the person staring might not be used to seeing someone who looks like you.
- In the same spirit people will smile at you but maybe not speak, even sometimes service staff. There is a strong possibility that their English is not good and they don’t want to make a mistake.
You are all set to travel to Japan! Come back on the blog for more travel tips: soon posts about what to eat, where to go in Tokyo to see art and much more…